If you have an interest in techniques for gaining spiritual balance, integration or development, you've probably heard of ayahuasca. This ancient “vine of the soul” has gained a lot of interest in the West. Reported benefits include increased mindfulness, profound spiritual awareness and a general improvement in psychological health which is sustained for weeks, months or longer.
If you'd like to experience ayahuasca for yourself, one of the best options is to do so within its native environment – the rainforest, and with guidance from people who are dedicated to providing the ideal set and setting for its use. The ayahuasca journey can provide life-changing and at times very challenging insights, so it's a wise idea to take time to prepare yourself before taking the spirit vine and allow yourself time and space afterwards to process the experience. You can do this by visiting Brazil for an ayahuasca retreat.
Brazil is one of the places where there's a long tradition of using ayahuasca in a ceremonial setting. The plant is well understood and studied, and it has been legally approved for spiritual and religious purposes in designated churches and centers.
There's also something to be said for making such a positive commitment to your spiritual development. Traveling from most places, whether it is US, Asia, Africa, Europe, Brazil is certainly a fair distance away. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
The spiritual journey starts with the physical one. The whole idea of any retreat is to take a break from everyday life in every possible way. This helps to get a better perspective on your everyday patterns of behavior. This offers the opportunity to both explore possibilities for change in areas that are not bringing contentment and also to more fully appreciate that which is already good. Travelling a great distance to a new place with a different culture makes it much easier to assess your current life from an 'outside' perspective.
And is if that wasn't enough, Brazil is a beautiful place which deserves to be visited and explored! The spectacular beaches, the Amazon and Atlantic rainforest, and the rich culture are going to rejuvenate you perfectly for when you get back home.
What to Expect From an Ayahuasca Retreat
The details will vary according to the retreat you choose but there are certain things that will mark a responsibly run center. If you're looking at different options beware of anywhere that doesn't offer the following:
A clean environment - The center should have a clearly stated and firmly upheld drug-alcohol-tobacco-free policy. A period of detoxifying before ingesting ayahuasca is an important step in preparing yourself for the ceremony. The lifestyle of the facilitators and the guidelines they uphold is an important factor because this gives visitors the opportunity to overcome habits that are self-detrimental or limiting.
A harmonious setting - A well-run retreat center will put a great deal of energy into ensuring that every aspect of your stay is tailored towards providing you with the most positive experience. This covers everything from comfortable accommodation, set in a beautiful and peaceful location, to a healthy and varied diet which will probably be mainly or totally vegetarian, and compatible with the ingestion of ayahuasca. There are many healthy foods and common medications that are incompatible with ayahuasca. A sign to look for is a thorough questionnaire that evaluates the potential for someone to drink ayahuasca.
Experienced and supportive facilitators - Who are comfortable when speaking your own language and who are available to you before, during, and after the ayahuasca ceremony. While the traditional experience is appealing to many, the cultural difference can often be a limitation in getting the most out of your experience in the context of your everyday life. The ayahuasca experience has the most transformational potential when you can integrate the experience and insights in your daily life.
Workshops – A key part of having an optimal ayahuasca experience is preparation. While the diet is one important part, going into an ayahuasca ceremony without the proper mindset can lead to a “bad trip”. What is usually referred to as a bad trip is an experience where you are confronted with repressed memories and emotions, or shown things for which you are unprepared and you don’t have the proper tools to deal with the experience, and so you try to control or avoid the experience.
The Spirit Vine center in Brazil is most popular for the spiritual development workshops during the ayahuasca retreat conducted by the organizer Silvia Polivoy, a licensed psychologist who also trained in shamanism and many other modalities specializing in modified states of consciousness. During these workshops, she teaches techniques to participants to navigate the ayahuasca experience. Some examples of workshops include Regression to childhood, Spirit releasement, soul retrieval, and unveiling the shadow.
After the ayahuasca ceremony, there are also integration sessions where participants share their experience and can get help to apply the content in the context of their everyday life.
These are key things to look for in an ayahuasca retreat that can help you to get the most out of your experience.
Other Benefits of Experiencing Ayahuasca While on Retreat
The chance to meet with like-minded people - Having an interest in spirituality or personal development when you live in a world that seems increasingly materialistic can be very isolating. Spending time with others who share your interests is validating and life-affirming. The experience during a retreat helps to form bonds with other participants that cab become long-lasting friendships and a support system that is available even after the retreat.Other activities that complement the ayahuasca ceremony - Mediation, art, yoga. massage and similar activities can be very helpful complements. Whilst the ceremony itself forms the center of the retreat, these other activities enhance the experience. Visiting Brazil for an ayahuasca retreat with yoga or meditation is a powerful way to examine and refocus your life. Continuing the meditation or yoga practice on your return to your home environment will help you to maintain your new sense of purpose in the face of the hustle and bustle of the world.