I attended a retreat at Nimea Kaya in February, 2019—an experience I hold very close to my heart. I did a whole lot of research on different centers, and ayahuasca in general, before booking a retreat. I came across Nimea Kaya early on in that process, and considered several different options, yet I had this inner nudging that kept drawing me back to NK—this seems to be a common experience, and one of the (many) things I have learnt from ayahuasca is to honor these mysterious nudgings, even when they might defy our sense of logic. Of course, after an encounter with Madre Ayahuasca, you’re unlikely to hold the reasonings of the logical mind in quite the same regard.
Even if you have some experience with psychedelics, it’s hard to imagine what the ayahuasca experience will specifically entail, and it’s a challenge to convey what actually happens to you in ceremony—nobody’s experience is quite like anybody else’s and yours will be unique to you. I spoke to many people about the medicine before heading to Peru, and the way in which people became humbled and misty-eyed when they spoke of Madre Ayahuasca completely fascinated me. I now share this deep reverence and respect for the medicine, however, it’s not hard to imagine how things could go very, very wrong in less than capable hands.
Throughout my four ceremonies at Nimea Kaya I never felt anything less than completely supported. When you drink ayahuasca you are essentially surrendering to the unknown and placing your safety and wellbeing in the hands of perfect strangers, yet this act of surrender is utterly essential for the healing process to unfold. The more challenging aspects of ceremony seem to occur when there’s a failure to truly surrender, and I have no sense of how you can trust and let go in circumstances in which you feel even a hint of mistrust or uncertainty about the intentions of the people around you. I believe wholeheartedly that the team at Nimea Kaya have the very best interests of the participants in mind. I think Jill and Casey are genuine in their approach and select facilitators/volunteers who mirror their values. Ceremonial experiences can take a variety of bizarre and unexpected turns which require a whole lot of improvisation and instinct on behalf of the team, and they were consistently attentive, responsive, and compassionate to our needs.
Ultimately when you are signing up for an ayahuasca retreat you are signing up to experience firsthand a generations-old shamanic healing tradition. As a Westerner I had no frame of reference, absolutely no way of imagining the power and beauty of participating in such a tradition. What the shamans do is truly remarkable—at times I was utterly overawed by them. One of the reasons I was drawn to Nimea Kaya was their employment of both male and female shamans. I tend to respond better to more feminine energy and there’s plenty of respected centers out there that employ a single male shaman, a set-up I knew would not be for me. The interesting thing is that Nimea Kaya’s two male shamans, Agusto and Diodemero, both have an incredibly soft, loving presence which I can only describe as grace—graceful is not an adjective I apply a lot, and not an adjective typically applied to masculine energy, yet these two men have grace to spare. Working with Agusto, Ercilia, Diodemero and Rosenda was one of the most special experiences of my life, and I’m immensely grateful to Nimea Kaya for making such a magical experience possible.