For many weeks, if not a few months, I’ve been feeling this ever-increasing calling to explore Ayahuasca and the countless benefits this powerful plant medicine carries within. Being in my nature, I did a lot of research, reading accounts and testimonies, watching videos, researching providers, trying to piece it all together.
Intrigued, mystified, terrified, curious, the list goes on and on, I realized that despite some apprehension and some fearful respect for this, I needed to follow the calling.
We finally settled, again after much research, vetting and careful choosing, to opt for the best provider (in our opinion), based on a carefully constructed pros-and-cons list and not wanting to go somewhere “over-commercialized”, yet reputable, and in a safe and loving environment, on the NEW LIFE AYAHUASCA Retreat, owned and operated by Matt Mormello and his wife Jeanae White, in San Ramon, Costa Rica.
From the initial email contacts and the phone conversations, through to booking and making all arrangements, our choice could not have been more clearly the correct one!
Living in West Central Florida, our trip to San Jose, Costa Rica, was only about a 3-hour flight. (2 hour backward time change). The retreat is held on a spacious and luxurious 20+ acre villa and property, with private accommodations for each guest or couple. Matt and Jeanae limit their participants to about 8 persons per 1-week retreat. All meals are home-cooked, healthy and provided in-house. (Read this article on their blog, regarding number of participants)
Over the course of the week, you arrive with strangers, and you depart from one another again as family, or at least close friends. Words cannot adequately describe the transformative bonds of trust, love and compassion you form between Matt, Jeanae, their helper Drew and the other retreat participants. (we called each other “fellow travellers”).
During our retreat, we experienced multiple sessions of yoga, massages, Kambo, Rapé, and of course the mother of all ceremonies: Ayahuasca.
Matt, our Maestro Ayahuascero and Shaman, oversees and personally conducts the ceremony rituals, giving it his ALL for at least 3 hours, of the entire 8+ hours ordeal of your very personal and intimate Ayahuasca experience, culminating in a late night sit-around the camp fire. The ritual and ceremony conducted by Matt is INTENSE, full of chants, incantations, smoking and smudging, singing, instrument playing, prayers, and many more aspects of guided protective and cleansing spiritual work. Attempting to describe the ceremony and one’s own experience of it, would sincerely detract from what would be YOUR OWN experience. Suffice it to say, no amount of words will ever be sufficient to convey adequately or accurately everything that transpires in a night from 6pm through 3am or 4am…. it’s easily one of the most remarkable nights OF YOUR LIFE!
Our week with our group in San Ramon, brought much laughter, many tears, countless hugs, intimate stories and personal accounts, deeper insights into Self (and others), family-like time spent together in harmony, sitting, relaxing, eating, enjoying the small things of life together, without pressure, without judgment, without any needs to hold up a mask.
Time works differently at the retreat, perhaps its a Costa Rican thing, too. The “PURA VIDA” attitude embodied. Time really did move much slower there. One hour there felt like 3 hours elsewhere. 6 AM felt like 9 AM, 10 PM felt like 5 AM. The days there felt so much longer and more purposeful than they do at home, “in the rat-race”.
Between our various ceremonies, many of which are immensely impacting on your own psyche, mindfulness, and physical and emotional well-being, you have thoughts of “what did I get myself into?” or “did I really pay money to do THIS?” (referring to pain, discomfort, vomiting, nausea, intense bowel movements, headaches, “mental trips”, etc.)
But having ‘survived’ all of these first-hand, having come out again on the “other side”, I can only assure you that you will too, should you be brave enough to follow that call, IF and when you ever should receive it!! These experiences are NOT for the weak- or faint-of-heart, nor should you ever take these lightly. DO NOT simply go on a retreat like this, because you think it’s the “new IT thing” or someone else famous is doing it….
These ceremonies and plant medicines are VERY DEEP and VERY MEANINGFUL, and they will deal with you on a level you have probably never been dealt with before, ever, …at least in THIS present life.
I am immensely glad and grateful for the experience of spending a week with Matt and Jeanae (thank you, Drew, also!), and my new family of fellow travelers in my group. I wouldn’t change it for the world. And I will certainly return there in the future!
If you feel the calling to take on a retreat like this, or if you know of someone who might: https://www.newlifeayahuasca.com