Take this short quiz to assess your mental and spiritual readiness for a psychedelic retreat.
Written by Jonathan de Potter
After years of misinformation regarding the power of plant medicine and human potential, we find ourselves in the throes of a psychedelic renaissance.
The truth is that most of us have been suffering.
We are only JUST beginning to recognize that we've set the bar for health in entirely the wrong place. We are in a healing process of global proportions - a mass awakening to the true spiritual nature of human beings. It is our destiny to live in radiance and abundance. Our success in does not need to be at the cost of peace, love, and joy.
Ayahuasca tourism, with its blessings and its dark side alike, has played a significant role in our collective spiritual awakening. As thousands have traveled for an Ayahuasca retreats in Mexico, Costa Rica, and different parts of Latin America and South America for life-changing experiences and returned home humbled, empowered, and grateful, their souls longing to communicate that which can never be. Such is the power of sacred plant medicine.
Its not to say that great experiences can't be found closer to home, but with a decision as big as this one, it's important to keep your horizons open.
Ayahuasca retreats in the USA are either underground (100% illegal) or operate under the RFRA - the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. These retreats are required to operate within the cosmology and belief systems that govern their permission to serve medicine, which are typically in the ways of the indigenous people from where the medicine originates.
A number of USA-based ayahuasca retreat centers have adjusted their practices to appeal to a more Western audience and unfortunately lost their licenses, as they no longer meet the religious requirements set out under the RFRA.
Working with and supporting indigenous healers and who carry ancestral wisdom is essential to the health of the intercultural and planetary ecosystem. At the same time, language barriers and cultural gaps can sometimes stand in the way of receiving a level of attention and focused healing that folks in the West might be looking for.
Retreats outside of the USA vary greatly, from full jungle mosquito immersion and 10 days of silence in a hut by yourself, to high end resorts with 50+ people in a single ayahuasca ceremony, which is quite, uhh.... shall we say... an energetically vibrant experience, and of course, everything in between.
Despite what you may read, there's no right and wrong here. Pros and cons certainly, but there's no single best ayahuasca retreat. Ultimately what matters is what resonates with you.
Those operating under the RFRA serve plant medicine to extend and deepen their religious and spiritual understanding, and often to grow their following.
The container (property, staffing, schedule, services) has not necessarily been designed for someone who is coming for a week long ayahuasca retreat.
In addition, if there is a group of people in a ceremony with a shared belief system that differs from your own, that can add another layer that may not be welcome at a time when we are more focused upon working on our own stuff.
Working with medicine is powerful and subjective. Make sure you feel there is space that allows subjectivity of experience, and that you feel aligned with those who are organizing and facilitating the experience that you choose.
Our recommendation is that you choose a retreat experience that is oriented around service. Working with medicine, we can find ourselves at our most vulnerable, and often require a highly supportive context to allow us to go through what we need to go through.
If there is an ayahuasca retreat that you've heard about that is happening and you've been invited to participate, take the time and energy to understand whether there is a depth and breadth of services available to you to ensure your safety, well-being, preparation, and integration.
Regardless if your facilitator is an indigenous shaman or a western-oriented practitioner, you should feel a loving, welcoming energy from them. Of course, its harder to connect with your healer when your ayahausca retreat has a large number of participants, so smaller retreats are usually preferable for those looking for more personalized, deep healing.
There's something about the process of jumping on a plane that provides a sort of energetic reset, almost like we've gone through a portal of some sort. Obviously, this applies whether we travel within the 50 states or whether we travel internationally, but do your best to consider the energetics around the experience.
Good: A week long experience with mother ayahuasca in a beautiful, serene setting, and some time for rest, reflection, and integration before going back to work
Not so good: Driving 3 hours on Thursday for Friday and Saturday ceremonies, and back to work on Monday. You and this deep work deserve better.
Make sure you choose the right ayahuasca retreat.
Another benefit of traveling for an Ayahuasca experience is that we are able to connect with another culture, way of living, and to meet a broader cross-section of the good souls participating in the human experience.
Connecting with the ocean, the jungle, and mother earth is also a profound aspect of our individual and collective healing, so choose a location that sings to you.
When we travel, we also make friends from all over the world, which opens up new opportunities and connections that we may have never found without leaving the homeland.
Regardless of what ayahuasca retreat center you choose, we highly recommend that you take time off after the retreat to anchor the new you. If you've done your preparation work and attended a high quality retreat, it's highly likely that you've had insights that could be transformative to your life.
We say "could" be because the integration and "making it last" are things that happen after the retreat. If we go back to our old ways of being, our patterns, our limiting beliefs, and allow the expectations of those around us to be who we are, we can lose the magic in weeks.
Our recommendation is to take 3+ days, a week if possible after your ayahuasca journey to anchor your newest version of yourself. Free of expectations from work, free of expectations from friends, family, etc. Allow the new you to explore a new world (culture, location, people, cuisine, etc), and then bring home that confidence in your new self to your "old world".
This gives your new self a fighting chance - it gives your spiritual transformation the respect it deserves. The respect YOU deserve.
Written by Jonathan de Potter, founder of Behold Retreats
Learn more about consciousness, plant medicine, and spiritual transformation