Review by Alice.
To review all that I experienced with Ayahuasca during the August 2018 retreat at Nimea Kaya would not only be exhausting but near impossible. There are complexities to the medicine and ceremonies that cannot be categorised into words; instead they are, and should remain, an experience: much like that of each moment we spend in life. But if I had to make one comment on my time there, it would be that it was an experience like no other. That goes for the unconditional love and kindness displayed by the volunteers working there, the exquisite vegetarian food and the quality of yoga, meditation and mindfulness classes on offer throughout the whole 9 days. And then there’s the medicine…
Whether you’ve taken psychedelics in the past, recreationally or as a panacea, there was a profound sacredness to this medicine that united me with all that lived and breathed. The trees emanated a force of energy that mesmerised me during my second ceremony. I had taken myself outside for the first time and sat in solitude on a bench looking up at a marquis of green and black prints, the inside of a circus. I had anticipated having to face some of my deepest fears on this retreat; I knew that I was there to process severe childhood traumas and the thought of revisiting them frightened me. However, on that second night, the darkness didn’t frighten me. Instead it invited me to sit with it, a mesh of life all as one, outside the wooden Maloka hut on that bench. It was really something else. I was a part of nature: the light and the dark.
I had spent the whole of my first ceremony sweating, vomiting, purging, crying. Twenty years of on-going trauma had left me with complex PTSD and a pit so deep I barely identified with myself when I looked in the mirror. But, like the phoenix, I was determined to rise again. And Ayahuasca showed me the way. Of course, she works with you, so she will only give you what you are able to process at that time. For me, it took three ceremonies until I experienced any visuals with the medicine. And when I did, they came all as one: a wave of black bats washed over me and I stood rooted to the ground on the way out of the bathroom. I had taken myself in there to cry my eyes out. I sobbed and sobbed as I forgave all those who had hurt me from the past. And when I finished sobbing, what felt like a bolt or a brick lodged in the back of my head, was released…and then in came the bats. I sank down to the ground to take it all in and was helped back to my bed by one of the beautiful volunteers working there. The rest of that night took me somewhere very hard to describe: a spiritual world that was so real and yet so removed from reality as we know it. A part of me identified with this aspect of my psyche – the aspect that she was showing to me – and it scared me to think I had this tyrant or sultan in me. I’ve always considered myself as an open, bright, loving, kind person but this side of me was sinister, stubborn, derisive. It is a side of me that I needed to see. A side of me that I needed to be aware of so that I can manage it in my daily life with consciousness and love. It was a part of me that may have developed due to my childhood difficulties and, since becoming aware of it, I have invited other forms of healing into my life to balance out this aspect of my psyche. They include a lot of heart-opening meditations, yoga and Reiki energy healing. That night lasted for what seemed like a spiritual eternity and it did frighten me, I won’t lie, but I needed to see it. It opened up a new portal for me that has stayed with me ever since.
The fourth ceremony was full of love, beauty and acceptance – much of what I had hoped to experience at this retreat overall. We had created this batch of ayahuasca ourselves on our first day of arriving and it had been brewing ever since. It was a more delicate taste, dissimilar to the bitterness of the previous three and I had the feeling that most of the other participants on the retreat also experienced a much softer, more gentle experience during this ceremony. It was a good way for me to finish. I knew I had more to see with this medicine so I have intention of doing it again in the near future and I know for sure that, when I do, I will choose to go back to the beauty of the jungle at Nimea Kaya where I felt loved, safe and cared for throughout my entire healing journey.