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April's Ayahuasca Retreat

Next week, the first of four six-day-long ayahuasca retreats in Ecuador planned for the year begins.  The six-day ayahuasca retreat is intended for those traveling from abroad, so they can be immersed in the experience and maximize the benefits of the ayahuasca medicine.  


The six-day ayahuasca retreat in Ecuador was inspired by my own experiences on retreats and the benefits I felt from having multiple days to receive therapies and rest.  


Ayahuasca is such a powerful medicine to work with and I find that the movement of the ayahuasca retreat mirrors the phases within ayahuasca ceremonies.


The first phase of the retreat is about landing and settling into the space.  When we arrive at a new space, we need time to settle in, get comfortable, and have our energy arrive with us as well.  So the first day of the retreat is for arriving and accommodating to the grounds that will sustain us throughout the retreat.  It's time to ground after all the movement that comes with travel.  


Activities, therapies, and workshops are always included in our retreats, however, the participants and what we feel energetically as we get closer to the start of the ayahuasca retreat informs how we structure the itinerary and the specific activities we decide to include.  Next week, we'll open with a shamanic circle where mambe and ambil will be shared.  These ancestral medicines connect us to our hearts, open our memories, and connect us to our word.  During the opening circle, everyone will share their intentions for the retreat, and it will be an opportunity to begin to get to know each other on a deeper level.  


For this month's Ayahuasca retreat, we decided to work with the Ayahuasca medicine during the day, with ceremonies beginning around 3 p.m. and ending around 11 p.m.  The first ceremony is the day after arrival. Leading up to it, we always sit with the participants to provide an introduction to the medicine and the ayahuasca ceremony.  We share how the medicine works, what to expect, and how we will guide the ceremony.  It’s an opportunity for those participating to ask questions or share anything they feel.


We’ll follow the introductory conversation with a plant bath for cleansing.  The plant bath consists of a combination of bitter plants that cleanse and purify the body and spirit.  It removes negative energies and helps to restore inner balance.  We do this right before the ayahuasca ceremony begins to enter it in a lighter state.


The day following the first ayahuasca ceremony, we will head out for a hike to a waterfall.  With the ayahuasca ceremony the day prior taking place during the day, everyone will have had time during the night to rest, as opposed to the traditional style of beginning in the night and ending at sunrise.  Having our ayahuasca retreats in Ecuador means we have so many opportunities to take in the natural marvels of this small country.  Bodies of water, in general, are extremely purifying, and waterfalls are allies that help deepen the cleansing process and give force to our spirit.  Ecuador is loaded with waterfalls, and we always include a visit to one during our ayahuasca retreats.  


Upon returning from the waterfall, we’ll come together for a formal integration circle and have time and space to rest in preparation for the next ceremony.


By the fourth day of the retreat, we’re in the phase where it’s normal to feel a lot of internal movement.  After the first ceremony, it’s possible to feel raw, there may be discomfort or a lot to sit with and process.  What’s planned for this day are activities that invite us to be in a more meditative state with ourselves, so we can connect to what we want to project into our future and enter the second and final ceremony with that energy.  


During the fifth day of the ayahuasca retreat, we will focus on workshops to support the integration of all that has been lived up to this point.  These workshops are opportunities for participants to go deeper in their understanding of what they became aware of and are taking away from the experience, as well as what they learned and are taking away from those they have been on the journey with.  


Ayahuasca awakes us to the truth about ourselves and our lives and infuses us with a feeling of rebirth that can inspire us to move forth and return to our lives to live and be in a way that is more authentic to who we are.  Receiving this level of clarity and being infused with such energy in a short period can be intense, in a beautiful way, so we focus heavily on integration the last two days so that this beautiful surge of energy can be grounded and oriented in the best possible way.  It is the phase of the retreat where we are infused with a feeling of celebration and gratitude for life.  It is a beautiful feeling to return home with after experiencing the powerful ancestral healing medicine on our ayahuasca retreat in Ecuador.   




 

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