Via a Llayzhatan Bajo, Ecuador
The medicine and support network to improve quality of life.
I attended this retreat twice: once a little over two years ago, and again in April 2017. Although it was terrific the first time I attended, it is now really at the next level under the new General Manager Jerry Rabas, with enhanced supplemental activities and support. All the below details refer specifically to the April 2017 retreat.
The ceremonies alone were enough to have a huge impact on my life, but when you throw in the opportunities to take group/private meditation and yoga classes, get massages, go on group hikes, attend a shamanic cleansing ceremony, and receive exceptional social support, the retreat was a truly transformative experience.
There are two equally vital components of this retreat that I think would be unlikely to both be matched at other retreats:
1) The Medicine (Ayahuasca; San Pedro): Ayahuasca seems to be the more well known of these two medicines, but after doing 4 Ayahuasca and 5 San Pedro ceremonies, it has without question actually been the San Pedro that has had the bigger impact on my quality of life. San Pedro does not seem to be offered at many retreats, and I don’t think I’d consider attending a retreat that did not have at least 1 San Pedro ceremony.
2) The Support Network: I would be very surprised if the support network at Gaia Sagrada is matched at any other retreat. I interacted with 4 shamans and found them all to be incredibly supportive, loving, engaged, and knowledgeable (and one is even a psychologist). On top of that, Christine and Jerry provided valuable wisdom and encouragement throughout the whole retreat. There are now 20 work interns at Gaia Sagrada with varying degrees of experience with the medicine, and I was totally blown away by their helpful insights and kindness. Finally, I found my fellow students in the retreat to all be incredibly inspirational and supportive.
The most significant differences I have noticed since returning to my daily life has been an increased sense of a) inner peace and ease in a human body, and b) security and confidence in myself.
A few particularly key takeaways from the most recent retreat that really got ingrained in me at a deep level during the ceremonies and will guide me moving forward include:
a) Being more authentic and willing to be vulnerable
b) Being present in the moment and having faith in the journey (resisting life less)
c) Letting go of my ego. Not be so judgemental of others
Some key changes to my daily life that I have implemented immediately upon return from the most recent retreat include:
a) Practicing two new meditation techniques daily
b) Starting a daily stretching routine to work on my flexibility (previously a huge weakness for me)
c) Committing to attend 1 social group event each week to connect with new people and expand my social network.
d) Implementing changes to my diet including eating more fruits and vegetables and reducing meat consumption.
I would highly recommend attending a retreat at Gaia Sagrada, and do not know of anything else out there that has a greater potential for improving well being and reducing suffering.