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.
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.
The Hero’s Adventure: What Movies Can Teach Us About Facing Our Shadow
- The Facts:
The Hero's Journey is a multi-staged adventure whereby the 'hero' grows to become a new version of themselves, one that is evolved and at a 'higher level' per se.
- Reflect On:
Movies can be viewed in many ways. Some see it as programming others as inspiration. How can we use what we see in movies in our own lives? To grow and evolve as people? To recognize our true callings vs those of Hollywood?
The hero’s adventure is a term popularised by Joseph Campbell based upon his 1949 work “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”. The late Campbell was an American Professor of Literature and a philosopher who described the adventure one must embark upon to fully realise who he/she is.
A simple explanation from Campbell:
“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”
Campbell uses the word monomyth to describe this adventure which was taken from James Joyce’s book Finnegans Wake.
According to Campbell the monomyth contains 3 stages, with 17 subsections. Not all journeys contain all sections and no two adventures are the same, yet the hero’s adventure follows a surprisingly similar pattern. The 3 stages are 1. A call to seek out some kind of adventure. 2. A trial or initiatory period where the hero must face an obstacle or series of obstacles. 3. The return back home with that which you were seeking to find. This often repeats in a number of ways, with various steps being repeated, but this is the idea.
The 17 Steps Of The Heroes Adventure:
- The call to adventure
- Refusal of the call
- Supernatural aid
- Crossing the threshold
- Belly of the whale
- The road of trials
- The meeting with the goddess
- Woman as temptress
- Atonement with the father
- The ultimate boon
- Refusal of the return
- The magic flight
- Rescue from without
- The crossing of the return threshold
- Master of two worlds
- Freedom to live
When you look to Hollywood movies and best selling fiction books they all follow the same pattern. Star Wars writer, George Lucas, was a friend of Joseph Campbell and famously said that without Campbell there would have been no Star Wars.
If you take Star Wars, it is the perfect example of the Hero’s Journey:
The Call: Luke Skywalker is living a mundane existence, and then while cleaning R2D2 he is shown a holographic recording seeking help from Princess Leia.
The Initiation: Obi-Wan becomes a mentor to Luke, and teaches him to “use the force”. Along the way he meets Han Solo, Chewbacca and other unsuspecting helpers until he completes his apprentice (which he does not know is taking place). Finally after much fighting, Luke is able to rescue Princess Leia and destroy the death star.
The Return: Then he returns home a new man where Leia awards Luke with medals for his heroism.
The Matrix is another example.
The Call: Thomas Anderson is fed up with life at a dead end job and knows there is more to his existence. He has a dream in which his computer types “follow the white rabbit” when someone comes to buy illegal computer programmes from him they ask him to join them on a night out. He declines, but when one of the group turns, she has a tattoo of a white rabbit, so he decides to follow.
The Initiation: Thomas Anderson becomes his computer alias Neo. He meets Trinity, and later Morpheus and is offered to be shown the truth in the form of the red pill (truth) or blue pill (fantasy). He opts for the truth pill and is initiated into a mysterious world where reality as he knew it is actually a computer programme. He gets to download multiple skills, thinks he is The One, but then realises he is not The One. Morpheus gets taken by the agents and he decides to save him.
The Return: Upon trying to save Morpheus he realises he is The One, saves him and defeats the agents. This is him returning with the realisation he is The One, although the return and initiation cross over a little.
This is the same structure you see in Harry Potter, The Wizard Of Oz, Alice In Wonderland, The Alchemist and just about every story based movie there is.
But how is this helpful?
This is the same story we can use as a metaphorical representation of who and where we are in our lives.
If you think life is meaningless and mundane, this means you should be on the lookout for synchronicities and clues of how to break free.
If you have just had a strong urge to go and do something very far removed from your comfort zone that has the potential to change your circumstances, then you probably should.
If you are stuck in a painful situation that seems to have no end, this means you are in an initiation. Being in an initiation does not guarantee you will pass “the test” but at some point you will be given an opportunity to break a cycle or take an opportunity.
If you have just been through an ordeal and conquered your inner (and sometimes outer) demons, bask in the glory, but remember there was 9 Star Wars movies, 4 Matrix movies and 8 Harry Potter books. Your Heroes Adventure may have many chapters, so strap in and try to enjoy the journey.
Much love, Luke.
If you would like to download my free eBook- Psychology Meets Spirituality- Secrets To A Supercharged Life You Control YOU CAN DO SO HERE
On Taking Life Too Seriously
- The Facts:
Much of the time in life, we allow ourselves to take situations VERY seriously. This will sometimes turn pain into suffering, or prolong the challenges we face for growth. It also stops us from truly finding peace in life.
- Reflect On:
Do you feel a constant sense of anxiety in your life? Underlying everything? Where do you notice you take life or situations too seriously? What do you do to begin connecting back to self, and taking life less seriously?
Do you go through life with constant angst? A feeling deep down that there is always a little bit of stress or a little bit of worry? I’ve been through this. And in some ways, I thought it would never go away. But I focused on self awareness and living in the heart enough to kiss those days goodbye.
We can sure take life too seriously at times can’t we? I mean it’s fair. We have stresses in life that we get caught up in, we go, go, go, go, and often forget to take a moment to breathe. In Western culture, it’s all about obsessing over goals and getting there and telling ourselves sotries about what life will be like when we do finally get there… but what often happens to us when we live this way? We step into unconsciousness. We stop taking time to FEEL.
I want to help us remember to be STILL with this.
Various experiences and events have taken place in my life that have challenged some of my deepest ideals, belief systems and concepts that I felt were a part of me. This has gone on and occurred in my entire 11 year journey of truly changing myself. Whether it had to do with the work I do, friends, the world, relationships or big decisions in life, many things were challenged. It has truly been an incredible ride.
We sometimes might think “when will all the change and ‘chaos’ end?” A good question indeed, but isn’t this what we are here for at this time? To truly look at ourselves, look at all that we hold onto and all that we define our reality with. Literally everything! If you are feeling like you are the only one out there going through this stuff and feel like everything is backwards -that things are constantly being challenged, know that what you are experiencing is perfect, and we must remember to have fun with it!
Not Just A Human Experience
We are not here at this time to simply have ‘a human experience,’ we are here to evolve the human experience. It’s different! Stop looking at the past to tell us what to do, how we should move forward, and what ‘the greats’ did in our past to figure things out. We are not in that time, and the zeitgeist of our time now is not to simply exist but to be present as we deeply evolve the way of life on this planet.
We hear a lot “but we’re human, just embrace that!” That’s all fine, but what does that mean? What is a human? How should we be? Does being human mean accepting the world as it is? Are we capable of more? Can we redefine what it means to be human and what life should look like? Why do we give up so easily on dreaming big about these things?
I used to accept MANY limitations about myself and what I could do. But eventually, I was faced with the chance to let all that go, and reimagine what was possible. Even when everyone told me I was crazy and I couldn’t do what I was trying to do, I used my connection to self and consciousness to create it. Because I believed I was capable of more, and so is everyone else. This is how Collective Evolution, the site your on, came to be.
After experiencing the many deep questions and challenges I have thus far, overcoming them and moving forward, I have one very special thing that I have reminded myself about over and over and truly understand to a deep level. We are here to play and evolve! None of what we are experiencing is as serious as we think!!
The mind and ego can make things very real, very dramatic, very frightening. I know! But the highest aspect of who we are is always clear, always neutral, and always sharing with us exactly what we need to hear because IT IS US! We are not the mind or the stories it creates that makes things so serious. They are there because that is our challenge. To go beyond the mind and the stories it creates -so we can experience this sensorial world and remember who we truly are (click to listen to my podcast on this topic.)
So let’s remember, whether it’s life choices, relationships, friends, work, family, sports, or everyday events, know that it’s just an experience! We can spend our whole lives always caught up in the drama and the intensity, saying “oh my gosh things are so tough, the world is so crazy, my life is upside down, and I’m so busy!” but where does this lead us? This is a question we must ask ourselves.
If we remain caught up in these perceptions, repetitive patterns of mind, we will continue to miss out on the entire journey we are on because we are lost and caught up in the mind. We perpetuate our so called “suffering” when we make things serious and make them a big deal. When we can see it for what it is, we allow the emotions to subside, allow back in our full potential and know how to take action forward. This is called finding true peace.
I’m not talking about simply accepting things and saying “well get over it” or “that’s how it is, so deal with it.” No. I’m talking about truly seeing things for what they are. Seeing why we color something in a particular way. Seeing the belief system behind why something is good or bad or right or wrong or even why it’s serious!
I promise you, behind every strong emotion, every serious situation, there is a belief system that makes it that way. One that is held in the mind and made real by the mind. But the mind is not YOU! See the story! Let it go and just play! You will find much peace and joy in flowing through your experience in this way.
Have You Realized The Profundity Of Our True Nature?
- The Facts:
In life, we typically move about, seeing all material for what we define it as. This makes things convenient in a way, but there is a profoundness to not only seeing beyond these definitions, but also tapping back into full potential.
- Reflect On:
Have you ever tried practicing the awareness that you are not your mind nor your body? Why do we identify so strongly with just our physical body, and is it time to begin to remember we are much more than that?
Who we really are has been staring us in the face the whole time.
Take a look at your body, but look at it from a completely impersonal perspective; free of any thought about it at all. Without labels like arms and legs; without any sense of ownership, just as it is. Look in the mirror at your face, your eyes, but look without the thinking mind. This body that you get to use and throw around the joint, is a product of the universe. Conditions were apparently perfect here on Earth for Humans to exist. A magnificent sculpture, carved from stardust, gases, cells, minerals, heat – one of the most complex arrangements of cells and energy you have ever laid your eyes upon.
There is no boundary to the human body; there is no “in here” and “out there.” The body is a constant flow of energy, never a stationary or permanent thing we could pin down. There is a constant flow of air coming in and out, molecules by our skin, bacteria breaking down food in our stomach, there is no boundary between the body and the environment. It’s like a river, never the same body of water in any two moments.
Then, how about all the stuff the body perceives. All the sounds, tastes, smells, visual images and so on. The human body makes the whole world we’re privy to. The brain selects a very narrow band of frequencies and constructs reality according to the bandwidth of what our senses relay for us. The visual spectrum is only a very narrow band, while other sentient beings select out different bands for their viewing pleasure. So reality as we know it, never exists objectively, only subjectively through the being that is observing it. Without an observer what does it exist as? Just a soup of frequencies I suppose.
I find this phenomenal! There are little reality bubbles existing wherever a sentient being is alive. Energy has coalesced into the form of a human being, a giraffe, an ant, a butterfly, a chameleon, an amoeba, and through these configurations, the universe is observing itself. It is having experiences with itself.
So essentially, the whole world that you exist in – the reality bubble that you spend your entire life in – is entirely made by the human body. Your human body. Everything, all of it. Look at the image your eyes are creating. Look at how immaculate, perfect and impeccably high the resolution is! Check out how infinite the colour palette is. Take another look in the mirror at the wonder of your eyes. Those things stuck in that head, those things that we call eyes are absolutely wondrous biological organs, composed of trillions of living cells; living in harmony, being fed by the fuel you place in your mouth. Those things are taking frequencies of energy, sending it at light speed to your brain, where trillions more cells convert it into a picture. WOW!
And while I’m on that subject: have you ever wondered how electrical signals in the brain – how realistically an infinite amount of neurons in our brain – can create the conscious experience of sound out of electrical impulses? How does something biological turn electricity into the conscious experience of smell? Into the emotion of love, of anger?
So look around you. Look what you’re part of. You’re on a planet zooming through space at hundreds of kilometres per second, circling around in a gigantic galaxy. You’re amongst animals, forests, bodies of water, lightning, rain, drought, plants and soil. You’re amongst life! You’re seeing it unfold right before your eyes, seeing life in all its animation. I don’t see why it should seem like there’s anything else to do, other than admire what we’re amongst, and create.
Just as the bus motors down the street, so too does the galaxy arms revolve around its core. A child eats breakfast, while an asteroid erupts as it passes through an atmosphere. We are as much an expression of this universe as the plants and galaxies. This universe has arranged itself in such complex ways, in such exquisite patterns, so that it may know itself through our eyes. We have become an aperture for energy to know what it inherently is.
When we look deeper into our own nature, we find that things are even more extraordinary than what exists in the physical realm of bodies, animals, plants and stars.
There is this notion of separation in our society, where we exist separately from the outside world of other stuff. We are separate from the table, our house, other people and the whole cosmos. We feel this too, because we feel that we are the human body, or the thinker somewhere in the head. But this notion is learnt, cultivated, but not all cultures prescribe to this way of being at all.
The whole world is consciousness; it all exists within, not out there somewhere. This is the worldview slowly being ushered in by quantum mechanics and eastern traditions. They’ve arrived now at the same point, but there is obvious resistance because the old system composed of survival-of-the-fittest, authority, institutions and competition rely on our illusory separateness for vitality.
Consciousness is the way in which biological functions of firing neurons in the brain are turned into a conscious experience. Consciousness is something transcendent of the physical world, and is therefore never affected by the realm of form. It is so perfect and complete already, not needing fulfillment or healing in any way.
The thing is, most of us don’t feel this way though. We still feel separate, small, incomplete and not an integrated part of the whole. We still feel like we are locked up inside a head looking out at separate stuff. But there are ways in which consciousness can shift and identify with something much deeper. The first step is usually quieting the mind through meditation. Our thoughts have run rampant, and we’ve taken this incessant internal monologue to be who we are. But if you do one session of meditation, you’ll see that the mind comes in all by itself, starts up fantasies, conversations, judgments and memories all by itself, while you are trying to focus on your breath. While you’re trying to be silent, the mind has other ideas. Meditation shows us we aren’t the thinker at all; it shows us that we are the witnessing presence OF thought.
A thought is as much a sensation as the taste of ice cream is; we’ve just placed too much emphasis and belief in thought. So rather than identifying consciousness with something superimposed upon it (the mind, the “small self”, the ego) we can shine the light back in on itself via techniques like meditation, and identify as pure consciousness itself. We become not only the witnesser of all sensation, but we merge with it, just as we did with the mind. The feeling of self shifts from the mind with all its thoughts and ideas about the world, to sensation. And sensation is essentially the universe! You become the whole universe.
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