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Ayahuasca as a Catalyst for Personal Discovery, Growth, and Healing

Ayahuasca retreats have grown in popularity within the realm of alternative therapies and spiritual practices. These retreats can offer participants a transformative journey by embarking on a deep and introspective exploration of their inner worlds.

There is even more that one can gain when sitting with Ayahuasca in a way that honors the ancestral traditions this ritual stems from. Native communities follow many ancestral traditions steeped in wisdom, which we can learn and apply in our lives to support us in feeling and living well.

The Healing Power of Ayahuasca Retreats

Ayahuasca retreats offer participants a supportive and structured environment specifically designed to facilitate healing and personal growth. What I’ve learned from my own experience drinking Ayahuasca in different settings and with different facilitators, is that who you drink with, where you are, and the structure provided all influence your experience.

What to Consider Before Drinking Ayahuasca

For the past 6 months, I’ve been working at a retreat center in Ecuador. If you are feeling called to drink ayahuasca, here are three things to consider before sitting in an ayahuasca ceremony:

  1. Where the Ayahuasca grows, how it’s tended to, how it’s harvested, who prepares it, and how is of utmost importance, because there’s far more happening than the seemingly straightforward actions described above. Native communities have a relationship with nature and mother earth that is so conscious and full of respect. They know how to truly honor the earth and be in right relationship with her. From the little, I can say I understand about this, one thing I can say I’ve taken away is that the integrity of the individual and their intention in planting, harvesting, and preparing Ayahuasca has a significant energetic and spiritual influence on the brew that I ultimately consume. I would not drink Ayahuasca without knowing where it comes from, who prepares it, and whose hands it passes through from the start to the end of the process.

  2. This one may be obvious but put in the effort to feel really sure about the person who will be guiding your ceremony. Is it someone who truly embodies what it means to be a medicine man/woman? Are they someone who has done and continues to do their own work to be able to show up as clear a vessel as possible to hold the sacred space that opens in an Ayahuasca ceremony, or are they bringing their own projections, wounds, and unresolved issues into the space? Have they walked the path of learning with humility and patience to reach the point where they can serve others with compassion? Are they honoring the ancestral wisdom traditions the ceremony originates from? Every time I walk in to sit in ceremony with Mercedes, I am profoundly grateful that my path crossed hers. Not only is she a Shaman that has received the blessing to share medicine with others, but she is also a trained therapist. The space she holds feels so safe and with her guidance, participants are able to confront and address unresolved traumas, emotional blockages, and personal challenges so that they may foster profound transformation and self-discovery.

  3. Where is the ceremony taking place? For me, everything is about energy, and the energy of a retreat center or simply the space where the ceremony will be held is influenced by its guardian. What is their intention for the space? What principles or values influence the actions carried out in the space? How does the proprietor care for the land their establishment is on, for the people they employ? What is done to give back to the earth for the medicine she provides? All of this influences the energy of the space and for me, is something I am now acutely aware of.

Writing this, the importance I place on integrity is reflected back to me. It’s what I look for in all aspects of medicine work, and how I strive to live my life.

What I Learned Working at an Ayahuasca Retreat Center:

Ayahuasca is an incredible ally on a journey of self-discovery.

Through the altered state of consciousness facilitated by Ayahuasca, participants gain deep insights into their psyche, unraveling patterns of behavior and uncovering core beliefs. They often express a newfound clarity about their life purpose, an amplified self-awareness, and a profound sense of connection with themselves and the world around them. Acting as a potent catalyst for self-exploration, Ayahuasca ignites transformative shifts in perspective, leading to a renewed and revitalized sense of identity. The activities and workshops offered on Ayahuasca retreats can further support the process of healing, unlocking inner potential, and integrating and catalyzing a transformative path of personal growth.

The Journey of Personal Transformation

Ayahuasca retreats are transformative journeys that go beyond temporary experiences. The insights and healing that can occur during the retreat are seeds for ongoing personal growth. As Mercedes often says after the last ceremony of a retreat -- the real ceremony begins now. The ceremony that is our life. Participants are encouraged to integrate the insights and lessons from their Ayahuasca experiences into their daily lives, adopting practices that support the changes they wish to make, or new patterns in thinking and being to sustain and deepen their transformation. The retreat acts as a catalyst for change, empowering individuals to make conscious choices aligned with their authentic selves.

Ayahuasca Retreats

In my opinion, the best Ayahuasca retreats offer a sacred and safe container for healing and self-discovery. The environments are carefully selected, and the facilitators embody the teachings they share with others. Their heart and mind are aligned and they serve as examples of what it means to live from the heart and to spread love. If this is a journey you are considering embarking on, take the time to speak with those organizing or facilitating the retreats to ensure the container is right for you so that you will be supported in the ways in which you need to allow yourself to open up and give yourself to the experience that awaits you.


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