Recently I had a conversation with a woman, let’s call her Amy, about her first medicinal plant retreat. She said it was a magical experience. For months she had been looking forward to the retreat because she felt trapped in her life and unable to make decisions that would help her move forward. At one point she said; “I was going to the jungle to forget about everything.” For this blog I want to use Amy’s story to illustrate the importance of integration.
Going on a retreat is not for the faint-hearted; it means delving into the deep, dark, often unconscious recesses of your Soul. There you heal the traumas that have been holding you back most of your life, preventing you from stepping into your highest potential. It takes courage to release yourself from the chains of fear, sorrow, unforgiveness, victimhood, addictions, lack of self love, unworthiness. However, the most difficult part is going back into the Matrix and integrating the shifts into your everyday life.
How do you do this? How do you create a soft landing for yourself after your retreat?
First you have to realise the following: integration doesn’t start when you leave the jungle but it starts when you book your retreat. A growth mindset and determination to take personal responsibility for your healing are pivotal; you must be committed to your mission to heal. This means that you are willing to take chances and step out of your comfort zone. You have done just that by booking a retreat, but there’s more to it. You do not expect Ayahuasca to touch you with her magic wand – and voila! – you’re healed. Instead, you start envisioning how you want to live your life and what steps you can take now to make this a reality. You understand that personal development is a process, which means that a medicinal plant retreat is just one of the tools you have to heal yourself but it doesn’t begin nor stop there.
A realistic attitude is an essential factor in successful integration. When you are realistic about what you may and may not be able to achieve within a particular time frame, you allow the shifts that have occurred in you to slowly manifest themselves.
Let’s go back to Amy… She had had a major marijuana addiction for years and had become a master of procrastination. Her enthusiastic personality had her start many projects, but she was often unable to complete them. This would induce a sense of failure in her, which had her smoke weed again, which made her procrastinate even more—unable to break the downward spiral. Now during her first retreat she felt so much lighter and made plans about all the projects she would finally finish. What she didn’t realise, however, is that this long list of projects would create an immense pressure on her. As soon as she arrived home, she felt overwhelmed and started smoking weed again. She felt that the retreat was but a magical dream and hadn’t changed anything…
Amy’s story doesn’t mean that transformation doesn’t occur—it does. However, the ones who managed to transform their lives had the courage to quit their jobs, leave their unhealthy relationships behind, move places, manifest their dreams… They were determined to take the lessons of compassion to heart, and apply them to their everyday interactions and situations. They didn’t panic when they had an off day or an off week because they understood that this is part of life. They implemented a steady spiritual practice, they meditated, they actively practised self-love and self-care. Most of all, they accepted that they had to take responsibility for their lives and happiness to create the transformation they desired. They left their comfort zones behind and were rewarded with self-esteem and a sense of purpose. They were ready.
Moreover, people who transformed their lives say that they had adhered to the Ayahuasca diet as long as possible after their retreat. They said they felt that the spirit of Ayahuasca was still with them and working on them, and they didn’t want to interrupt this process. They are right. To allow the plant spirits to continue their work on you, you have to stay away from toxicity. This includes toxic food and drinks, toxic environments, toxic information exposure, toxic people. You should also remain sexually abstinent during this time so the plant spirits can use your sexual energy, which is your life force, for your healing. The latter is definitely the trickiest!
Amy now realises that she shouldn’t have gone to the Amazon just to forget about everything. Instead, she understands she should have worked on her lack of self-confidence, on the debilitating inner critic inside her head, and on her tendencies to escape. She wishes there was someone at the retreat to help her set her intentions and process her ceremonies with her. Amy knows that if she goes back to the Amazon, she will have to do some deep introspective soul searching. She needs to understand her behavioural patterns and emotional responses to challenging situations if she wants to heal them. She knows that this deeply personal work is perhaps the toughest work she will ever do, but now she feels ready for it. Ready to face her fears and release them. Ready to be vulnerable. Ready to uncover ancient childhood trauma that is the root of her problems. Ready to dive deep, heal, and to resurface with a renewed sense of hope and purpose. Ready to embrace herself and love herself unconditionally. Amy is now ready to step into her highest potential.
Karin for Rainforest Healing Center