I attended a retreat in August 2017. It was slap bang in the middle of a 6 months travel sabbatical I had embarked on in South America and it was the perfect half way mark for me in so many ways.
What I love about these ceremonies and retreats is on day 1 you meet with the group for the first time, you make your assumptions and judgement as we humans do and you start out as a bunch of strangers. The trip to the Valley from Cusco via the weavers with a very enthusiastic and bubbly Dani was a good start to what would be a wonderful adventure.
From the moment we arrived at the most exquisite setting of Petra and after meeting Neils and Bernhard, I knew I was in the right place at the right time.
One of the things I noticed was the attention to detail. The small little things to aid us on our not always so easy and pleasant journeys. The beautiful grounds, relaxation areas and quiet areas we could retreat to were scattered around aplenty. There was always someone to talk to or a little nook you could hideaway in to gather yourself. The kitchen wizards and their healthy and hearty Aya style food were perfectly suited to keep us nourished for our 10 days. I will never forget the delicious morning banana pancakes!
The ceremonies were a wonderful balance of solemnity, reverence, lightness, and fun. There is a beautiful freedom to be yourself within the temple and the after ceremony fruit, nuts and yucca stick chats is one of the best things I can remember. Gume is an incredibly powerful magician, so humble, so wise beyond his years yet he retains his childlike youthfulness. He is very caring for each and every person in the room, nothing is too much trouble for him and before, during and after each of the 4 ceremonies, the one on one “counselling” is hugely beneficial and always incredibly accurate.
Cool Neils and the beautiful Sara were not what I was expecting at all and in saying so, they were so much more than I could have ever asked for. Both so grounded, so human, so talented in various ways, so fun and so caring and compassionate. These are the kind of folks you want to be spiritual with. I was lucky enough to share a home with a couple who were staying there on a more long term basis, Sharmaine and Jin and they were incredibly gracious hosts, adding to the fun and family feel to the retreat. I felt like I was among good friends and I could be free and myself at all times.
The group I was privileged enough to be a part of, was a perfect mix of all I needed to mirror that which I had to heal within myself. These gatherings never turn out to be by chance and I hold each and every one of them close to my heart. All initial judgement and assumptions fly out the window, leaving only a deep sense of love, understanding and compassion. The feelings you share after true and deep connection. Something I feel we have lost as a species, especially in the West. How wonderful to find a place where we can come together as a community and share these experiences. What we shared and saw and felt together was pure magic. Even the head bumping, crying, laughing, freaking out, purging and whatever else happened was just perfect for each of our healing.
The added extras Spirit Plant Journeys offers are just the sprinkled nuts on top of the ice-cream. The trips to the ruins, walks to the waterfall, the daily yoga classes, the massage and even for those who wanted, a trip to the famed Machu Picchu, was a wonderful way to really immerse oneself in the group dynamic, the culture and to deeply feel and connect with the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
The way it was setup for the 10 days with 1 San Pedro and 4 Aya ceremonies, with much needed breaks in between was the perfect container for full and complete healing.
I trusted Dani, Neils, Sara and Gume with my whole heart and soul and even though it was tough at times, it was worth every shudder at the thought of swallowing that potent brew, the food sacrifices, the money, the time and the difficulties faced within the journeys.
I arrived at the retreat on the 1 Aug with a bunch of strangers and whole lot to heal and I left on the 10th August feeling part of an extraordinary family with my head, heart, body, mind and soul all in alignment. It was the most free and at peace I have ever felt in all my waking adult life, and boy was it a wondrous feeling.
I am inspired, deeply touched and in awe of these individuals who would go out of their way, make enormous and selfless sacrifices, putting themselves physically, mentally and spiritual on the line for us, a bunch of strangers, so that we can heal and transform so that we may be the best versions of ourselves. The only ulterior motive I feel they could possibly have, is that we take the joy, light and peace we were shown we had forgotten we had within us, out into the world, for others to see and feel.
So I thank the team at SPJ for allowing me to find my peace, joy and true happiness and for bringing the GRANADILLA into our lives every night. The fruit of a 1000 eyes, which brought us so much joy. I shall forever be grateful and hope 1 day I can return to again experience the KALEIDOSCOPE PANIC ATTACK!