“Slow down, I’m in a hurry!”
and other Advice from Paradise
By Polina Pinchevsky | January 28, 2022
Pilar Salazar is the co-founder of Costa Rica’s Bodhi Surf + Yoga, which encourages sustainable living through surfing, yoga, nature immersion, and community engagement.
Why don’t you tell us about yourself and a little bit about the business’ beginnings in 2010.
Pilar: I’m one of the co-founders of Bodhi Surf + Yoga. I come from the tourist industry and love traveling and giving people the opportunity to travel to new places and be in contact with nature, and that was why we started Bodhi. I’ve been practicing yoga for—I can’t even count anymore—but let’s say 20-plus years since I met Travis [Bays, my husband].
We moved down here to Uvita, Costa Rica, Travis and I, and, with our friend Adrianne [Chandra Huff], we decided to put surfing and yoga together. In the beginning, it was more the thought of just doing yoga retreats and surfing. Back then, we weren’t thinking about packaging the experience into a week-long camp program. That came later. So we started Bodhi just as I got pregnant with our first child. Now we have two kids. Maya, she’s almost 11-years-old, and Clea, she’s six years old.
Let’s take a step back to when you were younger, did you ever think you were going to own your own business? Does it surprise you?
Pilar: No, it doesn’t surprise me. When I connect the dots, it makes so much sense. I felt like I was imagining my business growing up as a teenager, and when I was 21, I tried to open my own hostel. And then I tried a few things, like yoga clothing—there was always a part of me trying to do my own thing. I also remember how much I loved traveling. And I was a dancer—I love movement and the body and everything. And I love humans!
I know some people like animals since they’re kids, but I was especially drawn to humans, and what we carry inside. And everything in yoga, in its philosophy, its depth, was a way for me to understand and to share. And I ended up having a business in which all the little things that were part of me acted together in a way that give me purpose. I feel that this was my path.
It sounds like you were trying different kinds of entrepreneurial opportunities, and to be in business, you have to be a risk-taker. How comfortable are you with risk-taking?
Pilar: I know it’s important when it comes to business. But what I have found out is that there are other components that are important when you build the business. I would say that among the three co-founders, I might be the least likely to take a risk. Travis is very visionary and is the one who goes out of his comfort zone.
I think I bring another aspect that is very important. Travis is really good at saying, we’re going that way, guys, let’s move on. And then boom, he leads the way. I’m the “how” person. This is step one. This is step two. This is how we’re going to get there. I’m the administrator. I’m good at holding the pace. He started the race and I hold the pace. And once I’m rolling the ball, I don’t give up. I have a lot of resilience and going and going. But if you pull out a new idea, in the moment, I’m maybe like, oh, no!
I think we, as women, tend to be really hard on ourselves. How does that translate to your parenting?
Pilar: I never was someone to say, “I want to have kids.” If I were to have kids, I would want to continue working. I would never like to be a stay-at-home mom, but I want to see my kids, so it’s complicated. I wanted to see my kids all the time, and it’s pretty much the situation I’m in. We work a lot—seven days a week—but there’s a lot of diversity. I work seven days a week, but I don’t feel it.
I don’t know if I created a balance or it just showed up. There’ve been moments that have been overwhelming, especially when the kids are very, very young, and you’re breastfeeding and you’re trying to figure out when are you going to work on the email you have to send and how are you going to find the energy for the next yoga class if you have barely slept?
Over the years, we have been through so much, but things are going to pass. I learned to be more present in whatever I do without worrying about the next thing. And for me, it works because I don’t spend unnecessary energy worrying. And most of the time I get to do everything I have to do. Worrying is not going to take you anywhere. And I feel more centered and relaxed to move to the next thing. This is what works for me.
“I learned to be more present in whatever I do without worrying about the next thing. And for me, it works because I don’t spend unnecessary energy on worrying.”
– Pilar Salazar
In Western culture, there’s this big push, especially among women, to multitask. And it sounds like what you’re describing is exactly the opposite.
Pilar: Yes. I think it’s maybe a yoga thing. And in Costa Rica, there’s this saying that means, “Slow down because I’m in a hurry.”
It works like a charm for me. If I hear it, then I worry and I’m stressed and I try to do everything at once. Then my energy is so erratic that it’s just not there. I always believe that anything you do, the energy that you put out is going to be there. Even in something as simple as an email, replying to a message fully conscious is different than replying to a message on your phone while you’re trying to stir the soup, you know?
Do you take the time to acknowledge and celebrate the good things? Or are you always thinking about what’s next?
Pilar: We always think that there’s no time, when actually in life, all we have is time. I mean, what is given to us is time. How we manage it, it’s our business, but all we have is time. Because of the society we live in and the way our minds have been trained, it’s really easy for all of us to fall into the trap, always jumping into the next moment instead of enjoying the beauty of the present.
And sometimes everything we do is a means to an end, like, I’m going to have breakfast and then I can go surfing, so then I can go back and I’m going to pack. So then I’ll leave, without really embracing the beauty of the ordinary moment.
Kids grow up so fast. It’s painful how true it is. All of a sudden, my daughter is almost 11! A few years ago, I was reading this parenthood manifesto by Brené Brown. The last phrase struck me so much that I always try to remember it when I’m with them: “Most of all, I promise to see you and to really see you for who you are.”
Being in a sustainability mindset and thinking about social impact and about how you connect to your community—how much do you think gets translated to the kids?
Pilar: Ooh, good question. I think the future will tell how they are absorbing all this. I want to trust and say they’re immersed in this. The girls come and go, they speak with the clients, they play, they interact. They are always around when we have meetings, and if we have this initiative in the park, they know what is involved. And every once in a while, something kicks in and they’re connecting everything. And then I am hoping for the best. I hope that this reflects in the future, in their actions, in the way they’re thinking and the path they choose and all of that. We are involved in social, environmental causes, but then it’s not like my kids, instead of wanting to go play soccer, they want to go and plant trees. It’s not like that!
It will be interesting for you to see, because it does come back, all those dinner conversations about what’s happening in the community and in society or how you treat people who work for you. They’re watching, they see it, they hear the things you say.
Pilar: That is so true. They have these little bites of wisdom. And I don’t know what they’re going to get, and how are they going to manifest. If I describe my parents and then what I like, it’s completely different. I like the outdoors. I like being in nature. I am a vegetarian. I practice yoga and meditation. My parents are nothing like that. You could never sit my dad down for five minutes to meditate. But I always found my parents working really hard and being nice to other people. My dad is very disciplined, and he takes responsibility for the mistakes he made.
And I feel these characteristics are in me. He never actually told them to me. But now that I think back, it was just things that I picked up unconsciously. I wonder what is it that my kids are going to pick and choose from what they see from Travis and me, from mommy and daddy? And it might be completely different than what we see here, but I’m hoping it’s positive.
So what’s happening for Bodhi? What’s in your future?
Pilar: Well, in these hectic times, our short-term plan is just to successfully run next year. Travis and I have come up the hill and we would like to slow down our pace and allow the new generations to come in and play a bigger role. We’re not expecting Bodhi to grow in a way that we’re managing 60 people. I want Bodhi to grow in social and environmental impact, in impact for our guests, for the staff we work with. That is the north star.
I would like to step back a little bit from the daily operation and be more available to work on projects that contribute to the community and the environment. And to spend more time with our guests, more time talking and teaching. I will teach as long as my body allows me to teach because it gives me energy.
As we close out, do you have any advice for young women who are early in the journey?
Pilar: Stay true to your purpose. Because it is my belief that we are all born with specific qualities and characteristics that make it possible for us to come into and serve this world in a very unique way. Figure out your purpose. If you don’t have it, it will come. If it doesn’t come, then continue doing what you love. And if you can do what you like, great. If you cannot, then find the heart to serve wherever you are.
“Figure out your purpose. If you don’t have it, it will come. If it doesn’t come, then continue doing what you love. And if you can do what you like, great. If you cannot, then find the heart to serve wherever you are.” – Pilar Salazar
I would say the other advice is don’t worry. Worrying is a waste of time. We can spend our whole lives and life is going to happen, whether we worry or not.
Don’t worry about, “Should I run a business?” Try it. If it fails, it failed; if it works, it worked. It’s part of life. Maybe you rejected trying a business or being an entrepreneur because you were afraid of failing, but it might also happen if you have a job. In the end, what is failing? What does it mean to fail? What do I earn if I am worried? Sometimes it’s an attitude that we’re addicted to, I feel. And then we have lost this capacity of having a little bit more trust to just keep moving forward, hoping, hoping for the best.
And that’s it. But maybe it’s a little bit easier not to worry as much when you live on a beach, in paradise!
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This post is part of our Founding Mothers series. View the rest here.