The Hummingbird Center always puts the safety of our clients first and takes a highly responsible approach to managing our ayahuasca ceremonies and the retreat as a whole. Our priority is to provide a safe and sacred space for healing, growth and transformation where you can relax into the experience knowing you will be well cared for. Your wellbeing matters to us and at no stage while under the influence of ayahuasca will you be left on your own.
Highly Skilled Ayahuasquero
The person leading ceremonies, the ayahuasquero, has enormous responsibility. They hold the space, prevent dark energies from entering the ceremony, clear such energies from the maloca as people are purging, guide the overall feel of the ceremony, and perform general and individual healing. They must be able to open the mysteries of the healing spiritual realm, and calm a person if they get overwhelmed.
Ayahuasca ceremonies at the Hummingbird are led by Don Fernando Laiche, a traditionally trained ayahuasquero with over 38 years of experience with the medicine. Fernando is one of the few remaining ayahuasqueros who spent years in the jungle, seeing only his maestro, dieting and learning the medicine plants of the Amazon. He is a highly skilled curandero (healer) who takes exceptional care of each person in the ceremony.
The lead facilitator at the Hummingbird is also the owner, Jim Davis. Jim has done 11 dietas, drank ayahuasca over 800 times, and has been facilitating ceremonies more than 10 years guiding over 1400 people through this healing process. Regardless of what comes up in ceremony, he has the skill and experience to compassionately and effectively address it.
Small Group Sizes
The Hummingbird limits its retreats to 12 people. This ensures each individual gets the attention and care they need, during ceremony, and the retreat as a whole. It also helps keep the energy of ceremony calm and clear.
An In-depth Ayahuasca Orientation
All our retreats begin with a thorough discussion about ayahuasca, clearly explaining how this medicine works, what you can expect to experience, helpful attitudes to bring to the ceremony and techniques for managing difficult experiences. Specific examples are also given, so you’ll know what falls into the “normal” range of ayahuasca experience and be calmer and more accepting of what arises. We cover all the safety guidelines and rules of ayahuasca ceremony as well, and clearly explain the importance of following these rules. These rules are in place for everyone’s safety and well-being.
Being Apprehensive or Nervous is Normal
Many people drinking ayahuasca the first time are unsure of how they’ll handle the experience. They may feel anxiety, fear or apprehension. This is understandable, but in truth, there’s nothing to be afraid of. When drinking ayahuasca with a skilled healer and facilitators present no harm will come to you, physically, emotionally, spiritually or energetically.
These fears can easily be managed by beginning with smaller doses to gain confidence in your own ability to work with the medicine and in the benevolent and caring nature of ayahuasca itself. Ayahuasca and the doctor spirits want to heal and teach us. Our job is to allow them to do their work. We do this by trusting them and surrendering to the process.
Ayahuasca Dose Depends on the Individual
Getting the most from your time with ayahuasca requires building a relationship with it and coming to a place of trust and surrender, allowing the medicine to do its work without resistance. No one will just surrender to something they’re afraid of, and we understand that. That’s why we take a conservative approach with initial doses so that our guests aren’t taken into an overwhelming or frightening experience on their very first journey.
We do offer our guests the opportunity of taking more medicine if the effect is not as strong as they would like. The process of healing yields much better results when we quickly come to trust ayahuasca, but that can be a difficult place to reach if our first journey frightens us. Surrender is the key, and we will only surrender to something we trust. After the initial ayahuasca ceremony, you may begin ensuing ceremonies with a larger dose if you choose.
The dosage for each individual will vary based on their sensitivity and metabolism, and we will quickly get the appropriate dose for each person dialed in. As you demonstrate your ability to manage the experience and remain in control of your behavior, we’ll gladly give a dose sufficient to take you as deep as you would like.
Ayahuasca Ceremony Safety Guidelines
In order to facilitate the safest and most productive healing experience all participants must agree to abide by the following protocols during the ayahuasca ceremony:
- Remain in the protected space of the maloca until the end of the ayahuasca ceremony is announced.
- Allow our caretakers to guide you to the toilet and help you back to your spot. This is the only time to leave the maloca.
- Try to remain quiet and respect the journeys of other participants.
- No talking, singing or humming to the music during ceremony.
- No physical contact with other guests during ceremony.
Each ceremony will have the shaman, an English speaking facilitator and two caretakers that will not drink. The caretaker will guide each person to the toilets, bring them back to their mat in the maloca and assist as directed by the shaman and facilitators.
During the ceremony the shaman may come and blow tobacco smoke to clear energy, and will also be doing specific healing for each person singing directly in front of them. If someone appears distressed the facilitator will come and chat with them quietly and guide them through their challenge.
Feel Your Emotions During the Ayahausca Retreat
Ayahuasca brings deep healing and release of suppressed energy and emotion. Many people will have a lot of emotion come up both in and outside of ceremony. Our facilitators are available during and after ceremony to assist understanding and integrating the experience.
We foster a supportive and nurturing environment and encourage people to be open and honest with the shaman and facilitators about their challenges. As emotions arise, it is important to allow yourself to feel them. They will pass on their own, and often there is little that needs to be done except allow them to pass through you and be released.