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Like most things in life, there a broad variety of Ayahuasca retreat options, and a number of factors that effect the quality and cost of an ayahuasca retreat that you may like to take into consideration:
Given the potential, power, and sensitivity of working with Ayahuasca, who you choose to work with is undoubtedly one of the most important decisions of your life, so we encourage you to take the time and the energy to educate yourself to be able to make a good one. If you're in a position to do so, you may also like to consider a private retreat.
If our recommendations above feel energetically aligned for you, and you'd like to explore a journey with Behold, apply below.
There are the 3 main reasons why people travel to Costa Rica, Mexico, and other beautiful locations for spiritual awakening, self-discovery, and healing.
1. Legality - DMT (the psychoactive component in Ayahuasca) is a Schedule 1 drug, and illegal in the USA. That being said, you don't need to travel all the way to Latin America to experience a sacred ceremony with plant medicine. There are a handful of Ayahuasca retreat centers in the USA that operate under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a legal safeguard giving protection to ceremonies performed for religious purposes. Those who serve medicine under the RFRA are required to do so in alignment with the cosmology and belief systems that govern their permission. Over the past years, a number of USA-based ayahuasca medicine providers have tried to adjust their practices to appeal to a more Western audience and retreat style but unfortunately lost their licenses, as they were deemed to no longer meet the strict religious requirements set out under the RFRA. Others who are currently operating in the USA have legal proceedings ongoing. If a USA-based retreat is a must for you, we strongly suggest you do your own research and due diligence.
2. Cultural Context - The indigenous shamans and healers working under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in the USA are doing important work, and the value of supporting and protecting indigenous wisdom carriers is a priority. At the same time, when a Westerner attends a ceremony that by tradition and by law exists to expand specific religious goals, the resulting cultural differences can sometimes stand in the way of receiving the level of attention, service, and focused healing that Westerners are often looking for. It is worth recognizing that many indigenous traditions live by a cosmology entirely different from those of us from the West, and that these differences can be intensely felt and sometimes even overpowering in ceremony, especially for first-timers. There's no right or wrong, but in our experience, people benefit greatly from working with sacred plant medicine in a context that allows the subjectivity of the experience to unfold in a way that is not in contradiction to their own belief set. These energetic differences can deeply influence the safety and quality of the experience (again, especially for first timers).
3. Anchoring the New You - There's something about the process of jumping on a plane that provides a sort of energetic reset, like we've stepped through a portal. Even without Ayahuasca, there's a sense of newness, freedom, adventure, and of possibilities yet to unfold.
What supports your transformation: A week-long, immersive experience with mother ayahuasca in a beautiful, serene setting connecting to the vibrancy of nature, and some time for rest, reflection, and integration before heading back to the real world. You deserve it! You and this work are too important.
Not so good: Driving to a retreat on Friday, back to work on Monday. Straight back into a context that has "old you" expectations of what should be the "new you" when this work is done well (you are prepared, working with expert facilitators, and give yourself the space and time for a retreat and integration).
After almost 60 years, psychedelics are back! Resurfacing with extraordinary momentum, institutions such as the Imperial College in London, John Hopkins, and Harvard University have Federal permission to study, for example, the anti-depressant effects of psychedelics and entheogenic plants such as psilocybin (magic mushrooms), Ayahuasca, and 5-MeO-DMT. The results of these studies for treating mental health concerns such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, addiction, depression, trauma, and recurrent negative behaviors has been overwhelmingly positive with one caveat - the right set and setting is key to positive outcome.
The healing that Ayahuasca offers can be positively life-changing, and as the psychedelic movement grows in popularity, the options for choosing a retreat can get a bit overwhelming. The abundance of options can lead us to what we call "analysis paralysis", causing us to either give up, or choose a retreat impulsively. Choosing a place to have your experience may be one the most important decisions you'll ever make, and it's important to choose your retreat with diligence and care. Published research based upon 2,267 ceremonies has shown that ayahuasca:
Choosing an Ayhuascsa retreat (or any psychedelic experience for that matter) is isn't like planning mindful meditation or yoga retreat. You are putting your consciousness in someone else's hands. You are entering a space of equal potentials for ecstatic empowerment and tender vulnerability. The competency and integrity of your ayahuasca retreat facilitators - all the way down to the person who cooks your meals - are not to be underestimated.
Furthermore, working with Ayahuasca (and it's naturally occurring DMT) means opening the door to a world of infinite possibilities. One must be weary of seductive claims or facilitators who look the part, but lack the heart. The world of plant medicine is not without corruption. By taking the time to choose the right experience, we honour the sacredness and intensity of this work, and thus take accountability for our own well-being. Take you're time. Find a place with a solid reputation and listen to guest testimonials. Some other considerations you should make are:
It's important to keep in mind that DMT (the active component in Ayahuasca) is a Schedule 1 drug, and more illegal than cocaine. I know, it's sort of ridiculous, especially considering that DMT is produced naturally in the human body. Of course, there always has been, and always will be, underground options to find psychedelic ceremony, but for those wanting to stay in the USA and still be in good legal standing, you'll have to do your research. That being said, you don't need to travel all the way to Latin America to experience a sacred ceremony. A handful of Ayahuasca retreat centers in the USA operate under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a legal safeguard giving protection to ceremonies performed for religious purposes within the context and beliefs of that tradition. While the RFRA does give some protection to facilitators and guests, the majority of expert practitioners prefer to work outside of these limitations, choosing instead to travel to destinations like Costa Rica, Mexico, or Iquitos or the Sacred Valley in Peru.
There's no right or wrong here, but in our experience, people benefit greatly from working with sacred plant medicine in a context aligned to (or at very least not in contradiction with) the world in which they live. Indigenous healers are naturally more equipped to work with the needs of indigenous people, which may not always be relevant or useful for people from the West who are more inclined towards issues of depression, anxiety, PTSD, relationship issues, stress, disconnection from nature, etc. On the other hand, working with someone who comes from a long lineage of healers can be a once in a lifetime experience. It's all about your intention - what is aligned with your heart's true calling?
Regardless of what you choose, we highly recommend speaking to the ayahuasca centers themselves to ensure that you feel confident and comfortable, beyond just reading many ayahuasca retreat reviews online. Follow your intuition. There are many great centers out there, but maybe only ONE that's great for YOU.
Behold is here to to guide you to the right experience for you. We have a team of expert coaches, psychologists, healers and therapists will help you identify your mental and emotional blind spots, enabling you to set intentions that relate to the ego structure and the opportunities to improve everyday life, which will set you up for success on retreat. If you'd like to learn more about raising your consciousness and getting the most benefit from your plant medicine experience, check out this preview from our 7-week life accelerator:
If you'd like to learn more about how to get more breakthroughs and avoid the common mistakes, years of retreats, and slow progress, check out our webinar. If you're willing to take a short flight for a high quality retreat in nearby Costa Rica, Mexico, or Portugal, request a complimentary Discovery Call.
Are you ready for a life-changing medicine journey?
Because of the legal grey areas, Behold Retreats doesn't facilitate Ayahuasca in the USA, but we do offer some very close-by options. As we mentioned, there are very few places in the USA serving Ayashuca legally, so if you're willing to take a short flight, Behold Retreats offers a holistic and modern approach to plant medicine refined over serving 1,500+ clients. Our organization curates and facilitates life-changing plant medicine journeys with an emphasis on client goals, preparation, and integration.
Guests of Behold Retreats can also choose between a variety of other entheogens, locations, and options, for example a small group retreat overlooking the jungle in Costa Rica, on the dutch country side with Psilocybin in the Netherlands or perhaps a culturally immersive encounter in the golden mountains of Mexico with 5-MeO-DMT (Bufo).
For those who do choose to attend a retreats in the USA, Behold Retreats offers high quality coaching before and after your retreat, and we can point your in the direction of a trusted retreat within the country. Apply for a free consultation with a plant medicine expert to share your individual needs and preferences, and to understand whether (or not) there is a mutual fit.
Group retreat sizes are smaller than most retreat centers - typically no more than 10-12.
Client safety and confidentiality are given the highest importance, and healers, facilitators, therapists, and coaches have decades of experience under their belt.
Origen Sagrada is a group of like-minded people providing health, healing and celebration through the power of sacred plant medicine, as well as the guidance from their indigenous Taitas and Elders.
These spiritual leaders and healers, Abuelo Claudion and Abuelita Bernadita, indigenous people from the Muruy tribe of the Native American Amazonas of Colombia, are highly respected in the tribe and have extensive knowledge on many types of medical plants, rites, ayahuasca rituals, and ceremonies.
Their ayahuasca brew is prepared in the Amazon and is pure, consisting of only the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and Chacruna leaves.
Origen Sagrada’s other location in the USA is also facilitated by their spiritual leaders and healers, Abuelo Claudion and Abuelita Bernadita from the Muruy tribe of the Amazonas of Colombia.
Their retreat is 2 nights and includes 2 ayahuasca ceremonies and is a great way for newbies to get acquainted with the spirit of Mother Aya. The work with the Elders and the plant medicine is intensive and remote, located in a private, tranquil, rustic camp near Castle Rock. Ayahuasca ceremony participants can expect their sessions to be held in a private lodge, with shared accommodation.
The retreat will begin with a herbal plant blessing and practical orientation to answer any questions you might have. In between ceremonies, there will be traditional therapies, personal spiritual cleansing and healing ceremonies, and time for reflection and meditation. They will play beautiful live music during the psychedelic ceremony to help you go deeper on your journey.
At (retreat center removed), you can be comfortable knowing that they have cultivated a safe space for growth and healing to occur during their psychedelic medicine circles.
Your ceremonies will be facilitated by (retreat removed), who has been practicing with shamans and medicine men and women from different indigenous cultures in the Americas, and also teaches at The School of Shamanic Teachings. To train to become an ayahuasca shaman, he apprenticed alongside an Andean shaman and continued his initiation alongside the Q’eros priests of the High Andes in Peru in South America.
Their retreats include 2 ayahuasca ceremonies as well as a cacao, rapé and sananga ceremony, with the opportunity to attend a san pedro ceremony. During the experience they provide a safe environment in nature, and offer eco-environment accommodation, where you will surely get in touch with Mother Nature.
Soul Quest retreat center (or also known as Soul Quest Ayahuasca Church) was founded by medicine man Chris Young, who left the medical industry after seeing the negative consequences of the pharmaceutical industry, and Verena Young, an integration coach who is finishing her PhD, certified in Spiritual Counseling and Addiction Recovery and Psycho-Spiritual Integration Coaching.
Their team consists of traditional medicine men and woman, integration coaches, and doctors.
Accommodation ranges from sleeping in the ceremonial space or camping if you want to stay connected with Mother Earth, to higher-end options in private cabins or lodges. They even have a family cabin for larger groups.
Church members can enjoy a sacred smoke cleanse ceremony around a fire pit, join group integration circles, and participate in a sound meditation to get more out of their ayahuasca journey.
Soul Quest church also has been a leader in providing preparation and integration coaching for the last 10 years, helping you feel fully prepared for your journey into a deep healing experience with mother ayahuasca. Their approach is holistic and includes ways to prepare your body, mind, and soul for the experience, tools to navigate and ground yourself during the journey, and methods to overcome challenges.
After the journey, you can feel supported by their coaches who will help make sense of your insights and lessons, and help you integrate this experience and spiritual awakening into your life in a lasting way.
Don't feel like spending your time learning about what a Shipibo shaman, Santo Daime, or master plant dieta is? Don't want to put weeks of research effort to find the right ayahuasca center, whether the practitioners are trustworthy, and whether or not they provide yoga?
If you're looking for an expertly guided ayahuasca retreat with a small group, share a few details, come have a chat with us and decide whether (or not) we're a good fit to facilitate your transformation. Retreats are facilitated in Costa Rica, Mexico, and Portugal.
Sacred Therapy retreats host their ceremonies in a modern way, rather than recreating South American or Native American style ceremonies. To join their ceremonies you must be a member of Cosmic Valley Native Americas church, which you can apply to join on their website.
Their North American medicine people are trained with US ayahuasca churches and offer a holistic and yogic approach to their ayahuasca ceremonies. They provide full integration before and after your ceremony and care deeply about each retreat participant’s experience and growth.
Retreats are two nights, hosted in Washington and California, and they provide accommodation with comfortable bedding and vegan meals. The founder has been leading ceremonies for 5 years and has trained with multiple shamans and yogic teachers in the USA, Mexico, Thailand, and Lebanon, as well as two years learning from the Lakota Tradition.
The Sanctuary is a shamanic healing center and branch of Oklevueha Native American Church, an ayahuasca church, located on the land of the Sacred White Dee, a Bee Sanctuary and certified wildlife habitat and holistic sanctuary with 6 acres of wild forest containing over 100+ fruit trees, edible bushes, and medicinal plants such as the coca leaf. You really will get a chance to connect with Mother Earth here.
Come here for a fully immersive shamanic experience, with shamanic healing practices, shamanic breathwork, and even a shamanic school with facilitator programs. They have a variety of retreats at their healing center as well as in Peru near Cusco.
If you’re looking for intensive ayahuasca healing retreats to dive deeper into medicinal plants, healing modalities, and shamanic wisdom this is the place for you. In addition to ayahuasca, they offer a week long tobacco and master plant diet retreat, a shamanic camp, vision quests, shamanic wisdom circles, rebirthing breathwork ceremonies, and more!
To help you integrate your experiences, they also host a regular community connection and healer / integration calls for ayahuasca users to share from the heart and continue to learn and grow together.
Aya Quest, also commonly spoken about as Kentucky Ayahuasca, approaches their ceremonies with a holistic attitude, and does not recreate Native American traditional ceremonies or maintain any dogmatic style. They are modern shamans and medicine people who are well trained.
Their founder Steve Hupp, has worked with ayahuasca for 15 years, and trained by a shaman from South America, leading over 1000 healing ceremonies.
Aya Quest offers small group, private and at home ayahuasca ceremony, as well as the option to join their membership club. Their ayahuasca brew is made from scratch and the ingredients, such as the ayahuasca vine, are all individually ordered so you can be assured of what exactly is in the tea, and they are confident that their brew is safe and effective.
This ayahuasca retreat center is under The União do Vegetal (UDV) is a Christian Spiritist religion that originated in Brazil and is recognized for their community and environmental service, and have hosted countless ayahuasca religious ceremonies. União do Vegetal literally means “the union of the plants,” and their followers drink Hoasca, which is the sacred sacrament of plants indigenous to the Brazillian Amazon.
Also considered an ayahuasca church, you can join their spiritual fellowship legally in the USA.
Like Ayahuasca tea, Hoasca contains the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and the Chacruna plant leaves (psychotria viridis), which is their sacrament and sacred practice serving to heighten spiritual understanding and perceptions.
The spiritual ceremony emphasizes mental concentration and solemn reflections of their guide Mestre Gabriel and Jesus. They last around four hours and include periods of silent contemplation, rituals, hymns, and religious teachings.
Good to know! An Ayahuasca church, the Santo Daime Church, founded by Raimundo Irineu Serrawhich, involves ayahuasca consumption (Daime tea) as part of their religious rituals. Sometimes difficult to find, you can try to find locations around the country by searching for Santo Daime USA.
Another Ayahuasca church known as the Peaceful Mountain Way is a Native American Church that specializes in an ayahuasca ritual as a spiritual sacrament.
We would be honored to guide you in choosing the best retreat for your needs. Behold Retreats coordinates expertly guided retreats with Ayahuasca, Psilocybin, and 5-MeO-DMT (Bufo Alvarius) with highly experienced facilitators. Reach out to us to set up a complimentary discovery call to see whether we can be of service.
Behold Retreats sets the standard for safe, legal,
and transformative plant medicine retreats.
Ready to heal, find peace, and live your purpose?
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