As I sit here on the plane looking deep into the clouds, watching the sky melt from blue into yellow, golden, then into soft tones of orange, I think, “Holy shit, is this really happening?” I’d always wanted to travel to Costa Rica. Beach. Sun. Surf. I mean, what more could you want? I had a lot of friends who’d traveled the country. But my trip wasn’t going to be like theirs.
I had fire in my belly. A pull towards something bigger. The universe had perfectly placed each stepping stone on this winding path that led me here. This trip wasn’t about sipping margaritas on a beach. This trip... this trip would help bring awareness to things inside of me I didn’t even know existed.
The idea of sitting with the ancient medicine, Ayahuasca, had been slipping in and out of my mind over the past couple of years. I have always been drawn to spirituality. I have this deep love for the earth and a passion to help protect the planet. Meditation helped me through college and I loved practicing yoga. But I didn’t really know much about plant medicine.
Working at Retreat Guru has fuelled my curiosity. I have spoken to so many retreat providers across the globe about the power of spiritual practices, especially, plant medicine ceremonies. I hear of people working with these sacred plants every day so there's no way I can ignore the healings, tools and knowledge these plants hold. It was so interesting.
Some drank the medicine to guide them in their addiction recovery, others, to help aid them after a heavy breakup. Ayahuasca has been used as a healing tool for all types of disease, mental health issues, and even for people suffering from PTSD. Personally, I wanted to embrace the lifestyle I was already living.
I wanted to understand more. To continue this wake up.
I had been raised in a small community of seven hundred people, in the prairies, which meant I was very closed off to alternative ways of thinking. My parents went through a really stressful divorce, and the next thing I knew I was pulled between two worlds. Where I grew up, cliques were tight-knit and gossiping was the norm. Fights outside the bar were almost encouraged, but you still went to church on Sundays. And if your meal didn't include meat, it wasn't a meal. Long story short, after my first tastes of travel, I found out there was a lot more to this big world. I can be who I want!
So why Ayahuasca? I wanted to find peace. To let go of a lot of hurt, anger and bitterness towards my childhood and where I grew up.
For some reason, at 24 years old, I knew my curious soul was ready.
I was destined to spend the next week at a beautiful resort in Costa Rica. But this, I knew, wasn’t just your typical retreat. This was Rythmia Life Advancement Center.
Over the last 5 months, I immersed myself in an abundance of Ayahuasca knowledge provided by the center. I read Shit the Moon said by the founder, Gerry Powell. I watched the documentaries. And then came the podcasts. I wanted to know everything I could about the center I was going to spend the next 7 days at.
It didn’t feel real yet. Is this really happening?
The way I describe it? Rythmia is a hybrid retreat center. They use a number of healing tools to fully incorporate healing of the mind, body and spirit. They offer daily education created by world-renowned teachers like Michael Beckwith. There’s mud baths, breathwork ceremonies, massage, hydro colonic therapy. They have doctors and nurses, shamans and helpers. The menu is designed by a nutritionist. You get to experience 4 powerful plant medicine ceremonies with a community who are all on this same path of healing. Think: spending your time completely relaxed in luxury, with a pool of course, but then also attending classes that will make you question things and really transform your way of thinking. Rythmia is the first legal medically licensed Ayahuasca center in the world. This place is a big deal.
Driving through the gated community, on my way to the center, my mind started to spiral.
Should I really be here?
The man at the gate happily greeted me and handed me my parking sign. It was three numbers. My birthday.
I smiled to myself, full of excitement. I was reassured about this journey.