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Ayahuasca painting mermaids

Ayahuasca Healing

"If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

What is an Ayahuasca Retreat?

An ayahuasca retreat at the Hummingbird Center is a journey of exploration of other dimensions and spiritual realities under the careful guidance of a skilled ayahuasquero (shaman). It is an opportunity for deep spiritual and energetic growth, healing and insight.

It is a journey into the hidden aspects of ourselves, and an opportunity to release the painful emotional energies of sorrow, sadness, guilt and shame that we may have been unknowingly carrying for many years. The retreat process results in a thorough cleansing of our physical and energetic bodies. It is a chance to examine and free ourselves from false and limiting beliefs.

With a skilled ayahuasquero, it is possible for some to have profound mystical experiences of unconditional love, bliss and joy, a feeling of direct connection with God, the Divine or universal consciousness, or a variety of other manifestations of the mystical.

Structure of an Ayahuasca Ceremony

Before the ceremony begins there is usually some form of energetic cleansing of the space. In the Amazon this is often done using tobacco or “smudging” the space with the aromatic wood Palo Santo. White Sage may also be used for smudging.

The ayahuasquero will sing to the ayahuasca medicine, asking the spirit of ayahuasca to come and heal and protect all participants. The medicine is then served and the lights turned off. Ceremonies are held in darkness to enhance the visionary aspect of the experience.

Most ayahuasqueros will wait in silence a period of time for the effect of the medicine to clearly begin. This quite period may range from 30-60 minutes. They then begin to sing icaros, the protection and healing songs of this tradition. These healing songs are calling to the medicine spirits, asking them to come and heal our brothers and sisters in ceremony. These icaros are given by the spirits themselves during the many years of training it takes to learn to be an effective healer.

The ayahuasquero leading the ceremony first calls in spirits of protection so participants are not troubled by outside negative energies. Singing their icaros, they then call in doctor spirits to begin the cleansing and healing process. For most people, the first two ceremonies of a retreat are mostly about purifying the body, preparing it to receive higher vibrational energies.

Towards the end of our ceremonies, the ayahuasquero will do individual healing work on each person in ceremony, addressing their specific needs. Ceremony is then closed with a song of thanks to God, ayahuasca and the medicine spirits for work they have done on our behalf.

Not Just Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca retreats have much more than just ayahuasca ceremonies. There are a variety of cleansing processes including plant baths, medicinal vapor bath and a mud bath. Additional plant medicines may be prescribed as needed. Those at the center for 2 week to 4 week stays will also do a strict dieta process working with medicine plants prescribed by the ayahuasquero.

Also included are guided meditations, a guided walk through the jungle to learn about the various medicine plants growing naturally on our property. There are two talks about how our belief systems influence our experience of life and how to change the negative beliefs to positive ones. On 12 day retreats there is also a short introduction to shamanic journeying using a drum, without the influence of consciousness altering substances.

Ayahuasca Moloca at Night
Preparing For Ayahuasca Healing

Ayahuasca is a powerful medicine and teacher plant that brings deep multi level level healing physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. The powers of this potent healing plant are realized during an ayahuasca ceremony led by a skilled ayahuasquero, the ayahuasca healer or shaman.

During an ayahuasca ceremony the best attitude is to trust the medicine spirits and the process, and know that what ever you are experiencing is simply the medicine healing and teaching you. Before arriving to the center, there are some simple, yet important things one can do to prepare for their time with ayahuasca.

Ayahuasca Moloca at Night
Holding Responsible Ayahuasca Ceremonies

Ayahuasca ceremonies at the Hummingbird Center are led by Don Manain Amacifen, a Master Ayahuasquero with over 45 years of experience with the medicine.

The owner of the Hummingbird Center is the lead facilitator, and he has been guiding people through the medicine plant process on a daily basis for over 10 years. Our priority is to provide a safe and sacred space for healing where you can relax into the experience knowing you’ll be well cared for.

Your wellbeing matters to us and at no stage while under the influence of ayahuasca will you be left out on your own.

Ayahuasca Moloca at Night
Working Safely With Ayahuasca

You well being and safety is our priority, both in and out of ceremony. Ayahuasca is generally a very safe substance, but there are a few medical and psychological conditions where its use is contraindicated. Ayahuasca contains strong Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs), and there are many medications and herbal supplements that should not be taken with any MAOI, whether ayahuasca or some other substance. Safety at the Hummingbird Center begins with a thorough screening process, and it is very important people are completely honest about their current medical and psychological condition, history, and about any medications they are currently taking.

With few exceptions, we recommend people stop taking all medications at least two weeks before arriving. It is very important to consult with your doctor before stopping your medication, and to inform them of your plans to work with a substance containing a strong MAOI.

Ayahuasca Moloca at Night
What to expect from Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca, The magical visionary medicine of the Amazon. People have said it is life changing, that it helps you to see your true Self, your spiritual nature. That is can heal you of depression, remove blocks that have kept you stuck in ruts in your life. That it is the most beautiful and profound experience of their life. That it was the most horrible experience of their life.

So what can one really expect to experience when they participate in an ayahuasca ceremony? Just about anything. Whatever you may have read about other people’s experience with ayahuasca, your experience is unlikely to be very much like them. There will be some common aspects, but the experience as a whole will be your own, unique. For that reason it is important to try and set aside any expectations one may have about what the experience will be like, and trust and accept what comes.

Ayahuasca Helps Clear Limiting Patterns

Most of us wish for lives of peace, love happiness and joy. Yet even when the external circumstances of our lives are good, some find themselves beset by fears, anxiety, worry, anger or resentment. These negative or “darker” emotions can arise unexpectedly and often far out of proportion to the events that initiate or trigger these reactive modes of being. This can leave us feeling confused, out of control of ourselves, that something is wrong with us. These reactive states may cause problems in our relationships with others which would not have occurred if we had been able to respond in a kinder way appropriate to the circumstances. Sometimes we feel justified in our feelings of anger and resentment, even while the actions that spring from them obviously distress those we care for. This "triggered" behavior may cause us problems at work, limiting our options. We may feel stuck, at a loss of what to do, and our best intentions to change often result in little progress. After trying many other processes looking for relief, without success, many choose to give ayahuasca healing a try. But what is the underlying cause of these troubles so many struggle with?

What is seldom understood is that the majority of the emotional troubles that cause us problems as adults are directly related to events that happened before we were seven years old. As children we do not have the ability to reason well, to analyze a situation and understand what part we play in it. Very young children tend to believe that the bad things that happen around them are their fault, and that is often the source of an abiding shame and guilt we feel as adults. Children develop coping mechanisms to feel safe. They often learn to suppress emotions of sadness or fear or even joy and excitement, not feeling free to express themselves in the environment they live in. These emotions and the energies that accompany them get pushed way down inside, and slowly build up over time. The result can be a variety of emotional and physical disorders such as anxiety, depression, asthma, headaches, emotional deadness, and in extreme cases serious illnesses such as cancer.

Many of us grew up with unskilled or troubled care-givers. In our early formative years we learn many ways of coping with the world, that for a child can be a frightening, confusing and unfair place. Our minds learn a variety of mechanisms to defend and protect itself so we can feel safe. From the child’s perspective, these mechanisms work, or they would not continue. Various ways of controlling, escaping, hiding, suppressing, projecting, blaming, how to mask and suppresses painful events are learned. We carry the energy and emotion of painful and confusing events that builds over time. Many people develop beliefs that they are somehow less than others, not as important, flawed or damaged, not worthy and unlovable. This is the source of the negative self-talk people experience in daily life. Yet you are not your mind. You are not your thoughts.

Our Subconscious Mind

Our subconscious mind is essentially a store house of stimulus-response programs. Something happens in our environment and our subconscious automatically plays the “tape” associated with that stimulus. This happens without any effort or thought on our part. Have you ever found yourself going ballistic over a trivial thing like the cap being left off the toothpaste? Does your mind automatically tell you “I can’t” when presented with a chance to do something new? These are simple examples of subconscious programs running automatically. The subconscious is also where our beliefs are held. Most of the contents of the subconscious mind were acquired in our early formative years when we did not have the ability to reason and select or choose what was put there. A lot of our beliefs are related to events that had a strong emotional impact. It is no surprise we have a lot of garbage stored there, beliefs and habits that are counter-productive or limiting in our adult lives. Much of our reactivity to life springs from the conditioning we received as a child.

Neuroscience has established that the programs acquired by the subconscious mind shape 95 percent or more of our life experience. Think about that. We believe we are in control of our lives, but 95% or more of the time we are running on auto-pilot, guided by behavioral programming that was likely formed when we were children.

Mindfulness is the key. To be free of this conditioning requires the willingness to look inward, to examine our inner landscapes and acknowledge, experience, integrate and ultimately release the energy of the negative emotions and memories we have been carrying. It is normal to struggle during this process of healing and deep transformation. Most of this will have its roots in childhood when we did not much capacity to reason and understand. The coping mechanisms we developed will activate to “protect us” from the pain and fear of this necessary exploration. We can become confused, frightened, anxious and look for ways to escape. Yet the process of healing requires we face what lies inside us, stepping willingly into the darkness and pain, choosing to feel it, so we may learn from it, integrate those lessons, release and be free.

The good news is that we can change this "faulty programming". In most cases, there is actually nothing wrong with us. We are just misinformed, and need to develop healthy patterns of thought and behavior. The unproductive or limiting beliefs and habits can be overwritten with positive, productive and true ones. We can recondition our minds.

Ayahuasca facilitates this process by opening us to our inner selves. It brings the subconscious to the surface so it can worked with. A truism with ayahuasca is that whatever we carry inside us tends to be experienced in a magnified way. While this can be very uncomfortable, it allows us to see clearly its effect on us and understand it in ways we never did before. Often we get insight into root causes, how it came to be in our lives, how we may have chosen it ourselves and keep choosing it. During this process our minds can get very tricky. It automatically tends to analyze and interpret our experience and a common pattern is to put the blame on something outside of ourselves. We can feel very uncomfortable, angry, sad, fearful, resentful. It is important to realize that this is just an effect of the blockages within being brought to the surface. Simply allow the feelings to be present without running or hiding from them, without acting on them. Trust this is a natural part of the healing process we all go through. Accept and surrender, knowing it will pass on its own as the blockages are released.

Our cerebral cortex, the seat of logical reasoning and deduction, does not begin developing until we are 3 years old, and does not finish developing until age 20. The causal events of the emotional challenges we face as adults occurred mostly in our formative years when we did not have the capacity to understand the behavior of others. As these arise in our work, we are taken back to the emotional and mental state of our inner child. The mind will try to make sense of our experience, but in this childlike state our capacity is limited. In an effort to form meaning out of the experience the mind may project it onto some external cause. With ayahuasca those “causes” may appear to be negative spirits or dark energies coming to trouble us, and they can seem very real. When working with a skilled ayahuasquero this is highly unlikely to be the case. It is almost certainly the manifestation of something within ourselves. It requires courage, strength and commitment to our healing to remain calm and centered in the presence of this phenomenon in the altered states of any psychedelic.

Early in one’s journey of healing it is common to want to blame something outside of us for our distressed emotional states. This is drama, a reactionary projection that may be emotional and internal, or perhaps inappropriate behavior directed towards those around us. Drama is frequently characterized by a strong sense of “need” for some external change. If you find yourself feeling or saying “I need” this is good sign to look within and not blame external circumstances. No person nor event can make us feel anything. All of our emotional responses come from inside, from the sum total of the conditioning of our lives. Looking outside of ourselves for relief will never bring lasting results. The change must come from within. We must learn to manage and take responsibility for our own emotions.

The secret to getting the most from your time with ayahuasca is to trust the medicine spirits and allow them to do what they need to, trusting your experience is a necessary part of the process of you getting the healing and transformation you desire. It may not be easy, but the results are worth it.

Each person's process will be unique. Nobody can predict what your experience will be in any given ceremony. If you are drinking ayahuasca with a skilled curandero, a true healer, you may trust that what ever your experience may be, it WILL be for your good!

Iowaska and Ayahuasca

Iowaska is one of the terms used to refer to what is more commonly known as Ayahuasca. Iowaska is used by over 90 tribes in the Amazon, and goes by different names depending on the tribal language. An anthropologist studying Amazon culture in the mid 1980s found over 80 different terms used for ayahuasca. Other common terms for this beverage are yagè and caapi. Terms in other Amazon languages include nishi cobin, bakko, napa, and Daime. For those interested, the Ayahausca Wiki has additional information on the entymology of the term ayahuasca, its use and history.