Ayahuasca is an ancient amazonian psychedelic plant medicine that is brewed by shamans from two plants – the ayahuasca vine and the chakruna leaf. The main active component in this plant is dimethyl tryptamine or DMT, which is found in many living things, plants and animals, it exists inside of our pineal gland, which is a gland inside our brain that is often referred to as the “seat of the soul.” Small amounts of DMT are released when we dream at night, and many believe that DMT is released when we die, because of the belief this is the direct gateway to the afterlife.
Traditionally, ayahuasca was used by indigenous communities from Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia as a way to gain insight in regards to anything from crops and droughts, to connect deeply with the cosmos and gain a universal understanding of where we come from and why we are here. It was used by one person only, to then give insight to others about what they saw.
Nowadays, it has made it’s way into our western world and in a very big way. Over the past two or three decades, ayahuasca has assisted in the healing process of addiction, trauma, and depression recovery and has helped people to gain insights into their subconscious, which inevitably can help to let go of all of the baggage that is holding us back and clouding our minds with so much pain, remorse, shame, guilt and anger.
Ayahuasca has allegedly caused deep physical healing from cancer, to digestive health, respiratory issues, muscle/joint pain, neurological issues and more. Our physical ailments are directly connected to our emotional pain body, and once these emotions and blockages are cleared, the manifestation of these emotions in our physical bodies quickly follows.
Sounds Great, But What’s The Catch?
The biggest issue in regards to ayahuasca today is that it has been exploited, and unfortunately, in many cases, completely corrupted. This is a tradition with the capacity to give us insight that can help us eventually do the work we need to heal our challenges. It needs to be understood, studied, and treated with the utmost care and respect and should only be used and administered by trained, professional shamans in a sacred and ceremonious space. Sadly, this isn’t always the case.
Even if the medicine itself is brewed correctly, it could still have a positive impact in your life, but the setting and intention also plays a very important role. Not all shamans are working in the light, this is part of the duality between ‘darkness’ and ‘light’ that exists on our planet today and not all have the best intentions. There have been some unfortunate instances involving ayahuasca when the shaman doesn’t have the best intention in his/her heart.
Aside from this, there are a number of ayahuasca retreats in places like Peru, or even just opportunities to drink ayahuasca that don’t have the proper intentions, support, guidance, or understanding of the medicine. This could also drastically hinder your experience, and while you still might gain some insight into your life and have some profound realizations, if their isn’t a proper education and integration process in place, these insights may not stick and this could be damaging for some.
My Past Experiences
I have been to 4 separate ayahuasca retreats, one of which was in Peru. This one, I won’t mention names, but I will tell you that it is now closed down, and was a fine example of a retreat which had a lack of thorough understanding of the medicine and proper integration processes in place. Because of this, although some members of my group did have some very beautiful, insightful experiences, I left feeling more depressed than I did in the first place.
I had what’s known as “Nada Visions” for the majority of my ceremonies here, which is actually perfectly fine, normal, and even understood as one of the best experiences one can have on ayahuasca, but because there was no knowledge of this given to me at the time I left feeling truly broken, “If even ayahuasca can’t help me, what will?” This was the sort of dialogue that went through my head. Though, I have a firm belief that everything happens for a reason and now, in hindsight, I see how this was all perfect because of how my journey unfolded, but it would have been nice to have a little more guidance.
It seems to me that some shamans care more about the “woo factor” than actual deep healing. The goal is to make you trip and have a ton of visions, but not necessarily to face the darkness, discomfort, and difficult emotions that we may have been suppressing. Without doing this, there isn’t much point of doing ayahuasca as it’s intention is to heal, not to give someone a colourful psychedelic trip, although sometimes that is the plan that the Mother has for you.
It Doesn’t Necessarily Have To Be Super Traditional
Another retreat I went to in the state of Washington was a lovely experience and was the first time I had a real breakthrough with the medicine. The facilitators of this experience have a passion for ayahuasca and its capabilities and have decided to use their intuitive gifts and musical talents to facilitate a beautiful healing experience for all of those who attend. They don’t consider themselves shamans per-se, as they have no formal training, but they have good intentions and are working in the light. The only downside to this is that their understanding of the medicine may not be as vast as some of the very knowledgeable shamans who are out there and unfortunately, just don’t have the man power to ensure a thorough integration process.
During this experience I was able to come to terms with my alcohol addiction, take responsibility for my actions, face all of the shame and guilt that I had been holding onto for years and inevitably quit drinking.
I’ve been sober for 1.5 years now and have never felt better.
Now, Onto The Most Transformational Experience I’ve Had So Far
Notice I didn’t say, most transformational ayahuasca experience?
Enter, The Rythmia Experience at Rythmia Life Advancement Center in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Let me see if I can even find the words for this truly magical place…
Rythmia is the first medically licensed and supervised, legal ayahuasca facility in the world and it comes with top notch accommodations. Generally, ayahuasca retreats offer a small mat, sometimes as thin as a yoga mat, but this one has a small mattress for everyone, a large bucket (as ayahuasca tends to make you purge) a large and very open ceremony space, ample hammocks so you can walk around and lay out under the stars, a fire pit for a sacred fire and enough highly trained professionals to assist the shaman in the facilitation of the ceremony. Not that it’s a common occurrence, but there are always medical staff on duty and ready to take action if something were to go wrong. Your safety and comfort in order to have a profound healing experience are the top concern of the founders and staff at this facility and every detail to ensure this happens is addressed. At the end of the ceremony, there are even golf carts to drive you back to your 5 Star room with a comfortable bed and guess what? There’s even air conditioning, something you definitely won’t get in the jungle.
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Highly trained, skilled and experienced shamans are at your service and you just know that they are in this business (so to speak) for the right reasons. They have all had major transformations of their own, which ultimately led them down this path of service to others. They play amazing music and are always there when you need them to offer support, guidance, energy clearing or to just give you a hug if that’s what you need. Drinking ayahuasca is scary, especially your first few times, but you have nothing to worry about with these shamans, who often intuitively know when you’re in need of assistance and will make their way to you before you can raise your hand to ask.
What Else Does Rythmia Have To Offer?
Rythmia is SO MUCH MORE than just an ayahuasca facility! So if ayahuasca just isn’t your thing or you’re not completely sure yet, there is still magic waiting for you to experience.
The Rythmia Experience includes Transformational Breathwork as well, with trained, certified facilitators, Nicole Rager and Christian Minson. If you’re unsure of what Transformational Breathwork is, it’s essentially a type of breathing method, similar to holotropic breathing made famous by Stanislav Grof and more recently Wim Hof (AKA The Iceman), and is believed to be the only way to access your subconscious mind in the same way as ayahuasca or other psychedelic plant medicines. The process involves a form of breathing and the results from this are almost unbelievable! People have as many breakthroughs from this one hour, drug-free experience as they do on ayahuasca. Never underestimate the power of the breath. The simple act of breathing also connects us deeply with our soul, offers incredible insights into our lives and a universal understanding, it is profoundly powerful stuff and something that you can take with you anywhere you go after you learn the method, unlike ayahuasca.
In addition to the breath work, you have the option to participate in The Answer Is You workshops, taught by the beautiful author and life coach, Paola Castro who radiates life and has designed these lessons to be fun and interactive, filled with tons of quotes, references and even some YouTube videos to get the point across. This workshop is based off of the book written by Reverend Michael Bernard Beckwith, The Answer Is You, from the well-known Agape Non-Denominational Church in So Cal. This course will help you connect deeply with your heart, trust your intuition and find all of the answers you need from within so you can unlock your highest potential and live the life you’ve always dreamed of.
On top of all of that, Rythmia also has a colon hydrotherapy facility that they refer to as a deep sea cleanse and a spa that offers Swedish and Deep Tissue massages from registered massage therapists, a volcanic mud bath, steam room, hot and cold tubs, a salt water pool, and a delicious all you can eat, super healthy, dieta (ayahuasca approved diet) friendly restaurant called Roots.
Imagine this compared to your typical all inclusive vacation in Mexico. Wouldn’t it be nice to go somewhere and come back better, revitalized, full of life, passion, and purpose than to drink your face off and stuff yourself full of toxic food? That’s what I thought. At Rythmia, there is a bar, but you won’t find any alcohol but instead, fresh juices, coconut water, and tea, anytime you find yourself a little parched.
So, How Did This All Begin?
Rythmia was founded by Gerard (Gerry) Armond Powell a former, self-proclaimed mind you – alcoholic, drug and sex addict, womanizer, terrible father, and all around asshole of a guy (his words not mine), who also just happened to be a millionaire. His life completely transformed from a chance occurrence that led him to trying another psychedelic plant medicine called Iboga. This plant medicine helped Gerard to come to terms with events, unknown to him, that happened in his early childhood and allowed him to get back in touch with his inner child.
To hear more specifics about his story, I highly recommend reading about it in depth in his hilarious new book, “Shit The Moon Said: A Story Of Sex Drugs & Ayahuasca.”
The medicine inevitably led Gerry to open up Rythmia in 2015, with the sole purpose of helping as many people as he could with the assistance of this medicine the same way it helped him to completely transform his own life. Gerard became a recovered addict having given up drugs and alcohol, he become an amazing father, found love and married a beautiful woman named Brandee, and was finally able to step into his highest potential; a path of service to others.
You’ll always find him around Rythmia, he’s very approachable and easy to talk to and gives some extremely beneficial and helpful advice in regards to exactly what to expect from the medicine, what might come up, how to make the most of it. His advice was echoing in my mind every night and became extremely handy a few times, something I only wish I could have had my first 10 or so times drinking ayahuasca. Gerry has also, developed 3 clear and concise intentions that help tremendously with getting the results that you are expecting.
Based off my fairly extensive experience with this sacred medicine, I have come to the understanding that what is happening at Rythmia offers a great equation for the opportunity to look at our challenges, let go of our baggage, feel our emotions, connect deeply with our souls and heal our hearts once and for all so that we can unlock our unlimited potential and be who we were always meant to be.
If you would like to learn more about this magical place it was featured in the full-length documentary, The Reality of Truth and be sure to check out all of the incredible 5 star reviews on Trip Advisor from hundreds of people who have received a miracle or had a life-changing transformation.
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