I am a skeptical person by nature and a professional auditor in the healthcare industry. Initially, finding my way to Peru, to Iquitos and to La Luna seemed to be a combination of luck and timing. However, after my second ceremony with Maestro’s Benigno and Guido, the center’s shaman, it became clear that there was nothing lucky about it, I was supposed to be at La Luna and had been called home. Having just left, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the past week … it was profound, to say the least, in addition to being the most important thing I have ever done for myself. Moreover, because of what I experienced, this “review” has been incredibly difficult to write, as my words seem to insufficiently convey how I’m feeling and what transpired. This is my first feeble attempt, however I will need more time before I can better articulate just what happened.
To begin with, it is important to understand that everyone’s experience is going to be different. As with anything, you will get out of it what you bring into it. Having undergone decades of personal therapy, taken antidepressants and antianxiety medication for years and even after seeing a hypnotherapist, I still know what it’s like to get stuck on the path to personal growth. With that in mind, I prepared myself for at least a month in advance by thinking about and writing down my goals and intentions. What did I want to address and why. What questions did I need answered for myself and what would resolution look and feel like. In my introductory communication with Enrique, co-owner of La Luna, I briefly explained my situation and what I was looking to resolve. His response was supportive, encouraging and welcoming. It sounds almost crazy, but it was as if I could feel the love in his message. He is someone who cares and it was abundantly clear this was where I needed to go.
Getting to the La Luna is an adventure in and of itself. Traveling to Peru, to Iquitos, then taking a boat up the Amazon River, and finally making your way through the jungle… you realize how important the journey is. How it begins to prepare you for what you are going to experience. Without effort, there is no reward. The staff at La Luna are incredibly good communicators and I was met in Iquitos and personally accompanied to and welcomed at La Luna with open arms. Again, preparation for success is essential. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail. Bring bug spray and After Bite (ammonia based anti-itch product), shower sandals, and your own soap, shampoo and conditioner. If you require any special food or have allergies, tell them ahead of time or try to bring it yourself. For most electrical equipment, you should probably have a spare battery and your own little solar powered charger would be ideal. La Luna has a solar panel but the reality is that no electricity means you need to be self-sufficient. Take it to heart and prepare.
The huts are nice, clean, and furnished with a desk, bookcases, and bedding. The doors have little locks and you never feel unsafe. The food is also nice and clean. The meals are communal, nutritious and flavorful. Jose, the chef, has over 25 years of experience working in the kitchen and will surprise you with what he can do with a few simple ingredients. It feels important to note here that the diet is integral to the endeavor and cannot be underestimated. Cutting out alcohol, pork and caffeine for days or weeks in advance will help you acclimate that much easier. Red meat, and fried or fatty foods also tend to linger in the gut and you will feel unwell in the heat of the jungle if your intestines are literally full of …. Don’t do that to yourself. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you will get caffeine withdrawal headaches at the same time you are trying to tune into nature and experience the interconnectedness of it all. It is distracting and not worth it. Prepare.
Although I was pressed for time, I was able to participate in four ayahuasca ceremonies (not enough but all I could squeeze in) and San Pedro once. You must experience these things for yourself and I will let others attempt to describe or explain the benefits and effects of each. What I could not prepare for, and failed to even understand before this journey, was how important the songs are. Songs so powerful you will probably cry. I certainly did, and while sober. Between the singing, the whistling, and the rhythms and rustling of the percussion instruments, the enchantment is nothing short of divine. The magic of laying there listening to the Shaman cast their spell and weave beautiful music while watching the moon play with shadows over the rainforest as birds continue to sing and call was simply transformative. Add ayahuasca and now the real journey begins.
This is more than I intended to write however, I want to be honest about how this last week changed my life. I know that I am better than before I went. I shed a lot of anxiety and self-doubt. While I’m not ready to announce victory, I am going to announce that I have confidence in my path forward. I have found the love in my heart for who I am, as I am. Strangely, I felt like I had simply forgotten to remember. And I realized there is more to this existence than what we can perceive with our eyes. I’m not sure I would believe it if I heard someone else saying the things that have been coming out my mouth as I try to describe it to others. While I’m not sure if it was spiritual … I can honestly say I have experienced an awakening. The concepts and practices of honesty, respect, humility, fearlessness, humor, compassion and most importantly, self-love, truly comprise the path to enlightenment. La Luna helped me re-discover all of these things and more during the past week. To write a simple review does not quite seem to do the center, the Shaman, or Chris and Enrique justice, but this is the best I can do right now. You should go where your heart leads you. I am going back to La Luna.