Happiness is in Costa Rica, is in El Despertador

    The house of awakening to the here and now, where you learn that happiness is not sought externally, it comes from feeling, from the way we relate to the present moment...

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    Wake up! it’s time to tell you about the happiest place in Costa Rica… The place is called, by the way, El Despertador, and the people who come out of there call it “the school of happiness” or “the house of experience design”.

    A few days ago, our TCRN team was talking to Aisha Michal (co-founder) and YanivShanti, director of El Despertador, who has an incredible vibe.

    They are a traveling couple and, therefore, explorers of the paths of consciousness, spirituality, culture, science, and philosophy. Truly both are multifaceted.

    Aisha and Shanti are natives of Israel. Shanti has been living in Costa Rica since he was a child, the country they love and value so much.

    Where did they meet? Whenever we talk about a place, for us it is wonderful to make a flashback (a term that is used a lot in movies or series) or better said – a look back to the past – of the people who had the wonderful idea of founding it, in this case how or where they met.

    Everything was through wanting, deepening, the desire to have a spiritual life, to learn more about consciousness and, in that search for learning, Aisha and Shanti met in India in a school of a lot of inner work-, “there we met so many incredible and inspiring people and we said that when we arrived in Costa Rica we would have that life, we would open the house for a parade of inspiring people to pass by, those wishes were fulfilled” expressed Aisha.

    In turn, Shanti said that “the vast majority of people who are dedicated to teaching tools to live well, we are in this because we had to resort to explore tools to work our own life, that is a denominator of all this and we were lucky to place ourselves in alternative ways to help and, in that search, we found wonderful tools and the inspiration to want to share them”.

    Now, it is important to know, of course, who are the founders of the happiest place in Costa Rica. Aisha has 25 years of experience, thanks to the fact that she is a therapist who graduated and is certified in Traditional Chinese Medicine (Israel), thanks to her knowledge she combines Thai massage (certified in Chiang-Mai, Thailand) and complementary healing practices, to offer a pleasurable and powerful body therapy session.

    She also studied energy work in Pune, India. She is a bearer of the Sacred Obsidian Pipe of the Aztec-Mexican Tradition, a celebrant of rites of passage, symbolic weddings, and different intentional ceremonies. She is a self-taught chef with more than 25 years of experience in exotic vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free cuisine, which is why she carries out in “La Casa de la Felicidad” the well-known cooking workshop called “El Ingrediente Secreto” (The Secret Ingredient). Aisha is a woman committed to the spiritual path as a practitioner, healer, teacher, and student.

    YanivShanti is a happiness activist and emotional health promoter; speaker, motivational speaker, life coach, mindfulness, meditation, and personal growth instructor, developer of experiential learning tools, designer and facilitator of transformational experiences, intentional ceremonies celebrant, architect, DJ, and entrepreneur. He works with static dance.

    The couple’s mission is to inspire people by owning their happiness unconditionally.

    The house, the name, and the location

    The house El Despertador is located in Los Yoses, San José.

    Regarding the ideas of the name, one of them comes from the awakening of that life on autopilot (monotony, routine), that life we follow from a program that we all have from a world of conditioning, learning, and influences, for Yaniv, -living awake is to be above that autopilot-.

    Aisha says that -living on autopilot-, “is almost like saying that you are asleep to all those positive influences that always come to you, but you are on autopilot and you don’t realize it”.

    The logo is a clock with a heart in the middle, and according to the founders, El Despertador alludes to the here and now, “you can only live awake when you are in the present”.

    Another of its missions is to inspire people to take ownership of their happiness and that means to stop looking for it and dedicate themselves to practicing it, to have it as a way of life.

    During the pleasant conversation with Yaniv and Aisha, the questions “What is happiness for you?” and “Is happiness to be found or do we all already have it?” were both answered and are inspiring…

    According to the experience of the explorer couple, happiness cannot be found, true happiness comes from the inside out. Happiness is lived in the form of positive emotions, “we are educated to look for it outside, but really where it exists is where it is felt and felt inside, so happiness is a feeling that is a product of how we relate to the present moment. From my point of view, it is a love relationship to the present moment,” said Shanti.

    Happiness is a practice within El Despertador, it is part of an experiment that has been the basis of the house of learning, this experiment had 5 years of testing, to see if happiness can be awakened from within us:

    “What we did was to look for and collect different techniques of emotional stimulation, we looked for them in spiritual paths, in traditions, in culture, in science, in a lot of different sources and what we did was to put them together in one session and we added music, movement, and play; we created the dynamic that is called The Cortis, which is an experience of activation of happiness. For five years, every week we worked with different groups, in different sessions, we experimented and then we declared it a success, from there, we have dedicated ourselves to sharing it in all kinds of organizations, corporations, festivals, retreats, conventions, even marriages we have done and we realized many things from that experiment: first the certainty that indeed, you can practice, you can awaken happiness from within… and how do you do that? We realized that yes, happiness is experienced in the form of positive emotions, for example: if I am living in the moment and there is a great positive emotion awakened in me, means that I am living in the happy moment and there are many different positive emotions, most people confuse happiness with joy and that is the big mistake because one cannot be dead laughing all the time, there are other positive emotions that can be experienced even in hard moments and we have the opportunity to bring out our best qualities and there is a wonderful feeling when I can give the best of me in a hard moment, which does not necessarily have to be joyful,” explained Yaniv.

    Aisha and Shanti evaluated what is common to all humanity – that we all want to be happy – but there are different beliefs, ideas, and opinions of what it is to be happy. “Within our experiment, we realized that, behind every ability to feel a positive emotion there is an emotional muscle, which operates just like a physical muscle, the better you exercise and nourish the muscles, the better performance you will have. When a long time goes by without feeling certain emotions, it is like those muscles go to sleep, many people do not believe they are capable of feeling those emotions, but those muscles can go to sleep, but they do not disappear. In those muscles, we can develop a good and healthy emotional condition, and in this way, we can connect with life, and relate to it from a better emotional place, and the experience is determined by the emotional quality. We activate the muscles and remind people of what they can feel”.

    The Cortis, is a medical experience of a journey in the present, an urban retreat: because it is on a Saturday, people go to do the activation of happiness, return to their homes, and come back on Sunday. It’s a happiness activation workshop, an experience to get you out of the routine and connect with the things that make you happy.

    Other activities inside El Despertador

    Aisha and Yaniv, inside the house of happiness, perform other activities, among them, symbolic ceremonies, and intentional experiences to celebrate love, union, and life. The ceremonies are full of meaning and magic, they are perfect for couples looking to interpret their union in a different, original, but above all authentic way, reflecting their values and true vision of love.

    From love, spirituality, connection with nature, and using sacred ancestral elements, with El Despertador you live a completely personalized experience, where you can also choose from various rituals and together design a memorable celebration full of emotion.

    The ceremonies are for couples who wish to renew their wedding vows, celebrate anniversaries, and more; the service is also for births, birthdays, divorces, departures, inaugurations, and even closings.

    The Red Capsule is one of our most beloved events, dedicated to celebrating the human experience and one of the things that makes it most wonderful: the ability to appreciate life through the senses. An event accompanied by Aisha’s exquisite food and an intimate and inspiring musical performance.

    One-on-one sessions, are another activity in which Yaniv performs mentoring of good living, a work in which she shares tools for good living in the understanding behind them and putting them into practice, it is a program, which makes it different from the others, “it is an experiential learning, we share different practices of day to day, observe how I feel during the practice, but in itself the experience is the teacher” detailed Shanti.

    What do they still need to do, to create, to experience?

    Talking about what they think they still need to do… “We want to grow with what we do,” said Yaniv, the Director of El Despertador. Then Aisha emphasized “One of the things we are doing is that we design and facilitate various happiness work experiences and we are offering them to the corporate level, organizations, festivals, to individuals. We want to do retreats and enrich other people’s retreats, creating partnerships. We have made an authentic proposal of meditation, which comes together with Taishi, and yoga as well, it is a mix for a more entertaining practice”.

    On mindfulness and gratitude in the face of life’s hard moments.

    For Shanti, one of the most beautiful and powerful practices on the path to happiness is gratitude.

    “The idea is to start the day making an inventory of gratitude: people, things, or situations for which I feel grateful today, you can do it for about 3 or 5 minutes and close the day reviewing what things happened that deserve to be grateful, can be about three things, the ideal is to always keep in mind the gratitude, “he said.

    The founders of El Despertador also mentioned that attention follows intention, so if gratitude is being exercised, attention begins to find situations or things throughout the day that deserve to be grateful for. We can train ourselves to focus our attention on the good, the beautiful, the constructive, and the positive.

    An example from Shanti on how attention works is when a person goes to buy a car and keeps thinking about a particular make, a model and suddenly starts seeing it on the street, everywhere, and in the case of when women think about a different hairstyle, a new color and suddenly starts seeing on the street women with the same color and hairstyle, it is because the attention follows the intention.

    The hard moments…

    There are very hard moments in life and in the face of that, Aisha and Yaniv say that it is not that hard moments and emotions should be ignored, “we can balance the diet, just because there is a hard moment does not mean that we should stay there, we can take a moment and connect with nature, bring peace to the heart. One of the requirements for happiness is to take responsibility for our emotions, so if we are going through a hard moment, we must know the emotions involved -recognize them-, and then do what is necessary and corresponding; sometimes what the emotion requires is that we give it space to be and come out, sometimes what is required is to pacify ourselves, think about what we want to do: go for a walk, have a glass of water, go for a walk, talk to someone, take a meditation, have a cup of tea… we must be aware of our emotions to be able to respond and not be a victim of the emotion, but rather navigate with it.”

    You need to know that the activities of El Despertador are face-to-face and now also via Zoom.

    When you visit “the house of happiness”, you will be left admiring the beautiful spaces made with intention, and designed for meeting, growth, and celebration. An old house restored and refurbished, with all the facilities and amenities to enjoy meaningful group experiences, in a unique environment, where it is impossible not to feel at home.

    If you want to know more about the dates of the activities and further details, you can visit their website: and find them, follow them on Instagram: @eldespertadorcr and Facebook, as El Despertador.

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