THE RYTHMIA WAY AND POST-PLANT-MEDICINE INTEGRATION TIPS

The WITMA team recently traveled to Costa Rica to experience Rythmia, one of our amazing brand-partners! 

Rythmia is an all inclusive, medically licensed resort in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. It is the first medically licensed resort to be able to offer plant medicine ceremonies and integration therapies. You may remember one of the core Rythmia-team members, Brandee Lynn, who spoke on Psychedelic Integration at our recent WITMA LA event at Hudson Loft.

“The medicine initiates a healing process that unfolds over time. 50% of the healing happens on the medicine while the other 50% is up to us to take action to create a practice and implement the insights we received into our everyday life.” - Brandee 

ARRIVAL

This being my first experience with Ayahuasca, I was thrilled to be joined by my collaborators Anna Lundgaard, Jennifer Sodini, and WITMA NYC speaker and friend, Valeria The Mexican Witch.

I don’t think I realized how overstimulated and nervous I was when I arrived until the end of the week, when everyone is glowing and appears to float through the property in a state of love. 

I stuck to the recommended dieta (see: Ayahuasca Dieta) pretty strictly, an undertaking that I’ve since realized I didn’t give myself enough credit for. No coffee, sugar, alcohol, fried food, refined salt, or red meat. I also avoided vinegar, gluten, and dairy, started practicing yoga more intensely again and even deleted my Instagram for the week leading up to this trip. “You look so…healthy” was a compliment I became very familiar with. Is it absolutely crucial that you suffer through your best friend’s birthday without a drink? Or, maintain your hectic schedule without a single drop of caffeine for the first time in a decade?

According to everyone else, it isn’t, but it helps. It did allow me a true sense of presence in my body and everyday experience. After all, committing to the dieta, for me, was an intention to connect more with myself and my physical vessel, an alchemy of sorts preparing me to be as clear as possible for the medicine to do what she needed to. I’m still not drinking coffee or alcohol the way I used to, vices that had silently become habitual that I secretly wanted to be free from, I finally am.  

Upon arrival guests are given a branded tote bag, water bottle, pen, and workbook. An employee is at your side immediately after sitting down with a cold towel with lavender essential oil, and a glass of ice-cold water. Luggage is taken mysteriously to your room while you’re filling out any remaining documents before you even notice it’s gone.

These welcoming rituals may seem small, frivolous to some, but after a long flight, an hour shuttle ride, and engaging with so many new people in a short amount of time, they were a life raft. The details make a difference, and this check-in felt like I was being welcomed home rather than another transactionary cog in the customer wheel. Also gifts are my love language! We love a branded tote bag!

NIGHT ONE

The first night introduces the group to Therapeutic Breathwork. I went into the experience not expecting too much, I had tried breathwork before and it was *fine* but I quickly learned just how much I had been letting my ego take the wheel. In the past I would pull back and stop when I started to feel any uncomfortable sensations (tingling in my face and hands). Which is a lesson in itself: where else in my life am I running away from even the mildest discomfort? Where am I choosing escapism and bypassing over confrontation and acceptance? Where am I avoiding simply being in my body?

In this class I was given the licensing to stick it out with the support of assistants floating through the room, gently touching certain pressure points, and reciting affirmations in my ear such as “you’re safe in your body” and “it’s okay to breathe.” Two hours felt like twenty minutes, and as the teachers began to conclude our practice I sat up and started crying (a regular occurance at breathwork). My body was releasing stuck energy. Who knew mouth breathing for two hours could bring up so much juicy work and leave me in tears all before dinner! 

Which brings me to the food.

Chef Meg Pearson has created a buffet of high vibrational ingredients sourced as locally as possible. To be able to wake up at a hotel and walk out to fresh ginger tea, chia pudding with all the toppings necessary to make an instagram worthy bowl, and grain free vegan muffins to top it off is, in short, my dream. There’s even a juice cleanse available at extra cost for guests really wanting to go all in on their detox experience. 

THE MEDICINE

What Rythmia refers to as Herbal Support Therapy is the 4 Ayahuasca ceremonies included in a weeklong stay. Monday through Thursday we stopped eating at 2pm (easier than it sounds) and lined up outside the Malloca for entry into the ceremonial space at 5:30. 

Before drinking Ayahuasca, optional Rapė, a sacred tobacco blend, is served. It acts as a complementary medicine with Ayahuasca, allowing you to open up a bit more by providing a calming and grounding effect, clearing the sinuses, and clears a person or space energetically before the first drink is served. It felt like snorting wasabi straight into my third eye. It loosened me up immensely. I felt like I was feeling my body for the first time, and I walked up for my first ever drink of Ayahuasca grounded and ready for what was to come. 

That first night lasted an eternity. I was in and out of states of consciousness with vivid dreams I couldn’t remember. I was convinced the night was coming to a close when they announced the second drink. They say if you hear the second drink announcement, and you can get up, you should drink more. I felt velcroed to my bed but I eventually pulled myself up for round two. Shortly after I began feeling nauseaus. Everyone around me was purging, heavy purges into buckets, being blessed by shamans and soothed by assistants. I desperately wanted to release, to be blessed, to be soothed! I laid back frustrated by the lack of action and psychedelic experience.

“Why were they getting attention and I wasn’t?” I thought.

I realized I was holding back tears. I couldn’t let go and stop comparing my experience to others. And all at once I was sobbing. I was flooded with memories from my childhood that led me to my perfectionist habits, my yearning for the attention I believed would make me feel loved. I witnessed all of it until I came to acceptance of who I’ve become: fearful of losing what I have if I’m honest about my needs or desires, years and years spent not feeling good enough after endless comparison. And that’s the way Ayahuasca works sometimes. It’s not all psychedelic visuals. If she has to, she’ll put you in your own personal hell so you can really see who you are. To be radically honest about the responsibility you’ve had in your own difficulties in this lifetime is a superpower. We cannot change the past or heal others, but we can begin the work to heal ourselves. Looking ruthlessly at who I’ve become allowed me to forgive people for things I didn’t realize affected me so much, to see their trauma and understand that they did the best they could with what they had. And more importantly to forgive myself.  

By the end of the ceremony the nausea remained and I was actually fearful of coming back into ceremony the next day. I didn’t want to spend another night crying, reliving childhood traumas, and in a constant state of *almost throwing up*. Or rather, my ego didn’t want that. But I awoke early the next day feeling incredibly light. The sun was shining and I wandered through the property going to appointments and enjoying the spa without a care in the world for what anyone else was doing. Not in a self centered way, I was simply unattached. I was alone, and I wasn’t lonely, I was free.

I saw who I was, I merged my soul, I healed my heart. The holy trinity, as founder Gerry Powell calls it. 

 Ayahuasca frees us of stuck energy. The purging that everyone speaks of can come in many forms, not just vomiting. I was told by Aya one night “if you aren’t going to throw up, it has to come out somehow.” A purge can be crying, laughing, shivering, shaking, yawning, dancing. One night I couldn’t stop laughing so hard I couldn’t even stand up in front of the shaman for my second drink. My purge was laughter as the medicine showed me what divine pleasure was.

The most fascinating part of the experience of sitting in ceremony with so many people at Rythmia is how different our experiences are. We all take one shot of ayahuasca, the same batch and the same amount, and have such wildly different nights. If a group of 70 people all took shots of alcohol, we’d essentially all have the same experience, right? But Ayahuasca gets to know you, and works by her priority on you.

In this community we’re lucky enough to be so entrenched in expanding experiences with people in plant medicine, ceremony, and the psychedelic world, that I forgot just how foreign and “crazy” an idea it still is to so many people that I was travelling to Central America for a week to take Ayahuasca. I think all of us experiencing plant medicine can agree that with it’s healing also comes a confrontation with the stigma that remains. But I’ll admit, I too once thought Ayahuasca was something I absolutely would never do. Drink a strange concoction in the jungle and throw up? No, thank you! But as my own work grew towards herbalism and holistic healing, I was increasingly more often invited into conversations around other kinds of plant medicine. And that’s all it took: conversations. Conversations with people I trusted who had taken the medicine and shared their experience, shared the science behind it, shared their healing journeys. Slowly and then suddenly Ayahuasca didn’t feel like a distant witches brew that I wanted nothing to do with, she was now a powerful plant medicine with an astoundingly long history offering deep healing to so many people, some with seemingly nowhere else to turn.

INTEGRATION

FEATURED ART BY    MORY SETTA

FEATURED ART BY MORY SETTA

Integration of the psychedelic experience is becoming more and more recognized as a crucial part of the therapeutic benefits of working with entheogens. Ayahuasca can present some challenging work to an individual looking for healing, and it also presents one of the greatest returns from doing that work. The focus on integration is one of the highlights of the Rythmia experience and what really sets them apart. Rythmia invites many top teachers, including Michael Beckwith, Ben Decker, and our very own Jennifer Sodini, to lead workshops for guests to experience during their stay and schedules daily Plant Integration groups for guests to share their experiences with each other and hold space to process it together. 

While speaking at our most recent event, Brandee Lynn, shared that she’s a firm believer that integration of the medicine is a continuous process that happens long after the ceremonies are over.  So we’ve asked Brandee to share her top recommendations for integration with you! 

WATCH THE WITMA RECAP HERE

Create a practice:

Wake up in the morning and create your own unique practice. Meditate even if its only for 5 minutes to connect back with your center and set intentions for the day. Workout, walk, do yoga or something physical for at least 30 minutes. Visualize how you would like your day to look and feel. Think about what you are grateful for. Drink a glass of warm salt water or lemon water. Customize your practice for your preferences. 

Get into nature:

It is so important to be in nature, for the most part we are so disconnected from it since we’re constantly blasted by EMFs, pollutants, noise and business. Walk on the ground without you shoes, walk into water, soak in the sun rays, whatever you have access to, as often as you can, the longer and the wilder the better. Plant spirits continue to work with us and heal us long after the ceremony.

Find your tribe:

Find community and stick together. Life can change drastically after Ayahuasca. It can be difficult to explain your experience and gain support from someone who has not done it. In ceremony you most likely connected deeply and authentically with others going through the healing. You are surrounded by a sense of community and people who are on the path to healing and awakening like you are. Then you get back home and it might not be as easy to relate. I suggest to start with the people you met in ceremony and stay connected. Then check out Ayahuasca groups online and the Agape community or other spiritual communities can be great places to meet like minded people. 

 Be in service:

Being in service keeps us connected to our souls greatest desire. First be in service to yourself: take care of your body, look in the mirror and tell yourself all of the ways you love yourself, listen to your body, eat nutritious food and do things that make your soul sing. Be creative! Play play play. All day long we have opportunities to be in service to our family, people who need help in our community, a charity or cause you are passionate about.  Practice being in service moment to moment, being present, looking for opportunities to love on yourself and others throughout the day.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Before jumping into another ceremony ask yourself if you have integrated from the prior ceremony or if you need more time. The more medicine you drink does not mean you will receive more healing and awakening. I have seen many people get stuck on getting in high numbers of ceremonies even into the hundreds and still suffer from the same problems. The medicine is a catalyst but it’s up to us to build the muscle in life to sustain our healings and awakenings. Integration is so important as we go through the difficulties that come up often after a ceremony. Life brings up opportunities for us to flex our new  muscles and create new behaviors but they are usually challenging life situations. It’s important we stay connected to our center and implement the insights and teachings. Each day is a new opportunity to own our day and turn our life into a ceremony. 

DISCLAIMER: WHILE THE WITMA TEAM WAS GRANTED FREE TRIPS TO RYTHMIA IN EXCHANGE FOR PARTNERSHIP AT WITMA, ALL OPINIONS THEREIN ARE OUR OWN, AND WE WERE NOT FINANCIALLY COMPENSATED FOR THIS TESTIMONIAL

A stay at Rythmia includes more than just plant medicine ceremonies. Rythmia also offers daily yoga, farm to table food, colonic cleanses, a spa and wellness center, and so much more to help you heal and nurture yourself physically and emotionally. To book your stay visit the Rythmia website here to learn more.