What a profound experience! This was my first experience with Ayahuasca and plant medicines in general. I was in a difficult transition phase in my life where my career, relationships, and mindset all felt like they were flying off the rails. I needed a catalyst to break out of this negative feedback loop and to start enjoying life again. I had done enough research on Ayahuasca to know that it was worth a try, but I did much more research on finding a practitioner that I could trust, and an environment where I would feel safe. I came across New Life by doing a google search and read all of their reviews, and was immediately convinced that this was the place.
SET - Jeanae and Matt have designed a program around having the most meaningful experience with the medicine. While this experience may not always be comfortable, they ensure that whatever experience you have, you will be safe and will be adequately assisted by experienced staff if needed. Their program also helps you develop an optimal mindset going into each ceremony. This is achieved by the healthy and delicious daily meals prepared by Jeanae. The meals were Aya-friendly, Tico-oriented, veggie friendly, and absolutely delicious! Their program also prepares you by offering a comprehensive yoga session each ceremony day, which consists of light flow, some balancing, some ab-work for the puke muscles, followed by savasana and a light shoulder massage. Finally, they provide you ample downtime each day, for meditation, intention setting, and reflection, which is very important ahead of ceremony.
SETTING - The property is absolutely astounding! It is several acres and includes hiking trails, quiet lookouts with amazing views, a lap pool, a hot-tub, and plenty of nature to explore. On my hike I saw some white face monkeys, toucans, and what I am still convinced are flying turkeys (no one believed me). There were also several common areas for guests to congregate, sip tea, and have post-ceremony crazy-talk. The most important factor with this property is the fact that each guest had their own private room and private bathroom. Each room was surprisingly large and the bed was very comfortable. I found that private rooms are not always offered with other retreats, which is unbelievable to me. While puking together in ceremony is quite the bonding experience, it is very important to have your own space to relax in peace and quiet, and to celebrate your own private toilet-time. I cannot stress this enough.
SINCERITY - Matt, Jeanae, and Drew are extremely experienced with the medicine and have the upmost respect and integrity when working with it. Matt does not call himself a shaman, which is a loosely used term these days. I will say that I was blown away by his knowledge, authenticity, sincerity, and respect for the medicine. Matt has an unbelievable gift with music and conducting the ceremony. I have watched several ceremonies on YouTube after this retreat, and nothing comes close. It is hard to describe, but to use a gringo word, it is LEGIT. Jeanae is also extremely talented and plays the flute towards the end of the ceremony. This is a very peaceful transition in the ceremony, and I am grateful for that peace (you will be too!). Drew was also very experienced and helpful in ceremony. I cannot thank you both enough for caring for us in ceremony!
Overall, I can't say enough positive things about this experience and the amazing people behind it. I hope to make this trip again sometime. It was truly an unforgettable experience.
Gracias para todo! Pura Vida!
This is the most beautiful and amazing facility in Costa Rica I could have ever dreamed of. I had a large room and private bathroom to myself. The property itself was gorgeous with beautiful views of the ocean, breathtaking sunsets, blankets of stars at night and hiking trails too. The retreats are small, no more than 9 people which makes for a very clam, comfortable and more relaxing environment. The house has many places to enjoy the breeze while you read, nap or journal but also has several common areas to share insights and experiences with others. We had the best healthy nutritious meals, great yoga classes and even a day at an amazing waterfall since I was at one of their seven day retreats. Also included in our retreat was a 1 hour massage to help relieve tension. Matt and Jeanae are both amazing! The are supportive, informative and there for your every need. Being that this was my first experience with Ayahuasca and Kambo I am so glad it was at New Life. I know I was at the best place. I felt so safe and cared for.
I have nothing but good things to say about my experience at New Life Ayahuasca. Actually, words are hard to come by to really describe it, so I’ll focus on the basics for this review.
My reasons for choosing New Life Ayahusca:
Like many, I was drawn to ayahuasca for personal, psychological, and spiritual reasons, and I knew that I would likely be diving pretty deep into my conscious in a way that I’d never experienced. Given these facts, I wanted to have this experience in a safe and nurturing environment, so I set out to research via the Google. I came up with lots of “hits” that upon further reading, turned out to be “misses”, until I came across a positive reference to New Life in the comments section about another Ayahuasca retreat in Costa Rica. I ventured over to the New Life site, and was impressed and reassured by the extensive honest information about ayahuasca, including guidance and advice for selecting a retreat. I also was impressed that ceremony size was limited to fewer than 10 people, which I did not see in any of the retreats I researched (some were as large as 90+ people!!). This was important to me, because I viewed this experience as potentially life-changing, and wanted to be around people who viewed the experience as something far more meaningful than checking off a bucket list item. After speaking with Matt and Jeanae on the phone, where they answered my list of questions, and also asked me questions, in particular, why I wanted to experience ayahuasca, I knew I had found the right place.
Located in a remote, mountainous area, where on a clear day you can see the ocean beyond the rolling mountains and valleys, the retreat center is laid out in a way, where, if you want privacy you can easily get it (private rooms and bath, lots of walking paths, and areas to sit outside to reflect), and if you want community and companionship, you can get that as well (the fire pit at night, the back patio overlooking the mountains, and the dining room). This was perfect for me, because I do like my alone time, and was able to get than when I needed it, but I also was so blessed to be part of a wonderful group of soul searchers, and spending time with these individuals in the communal settings was an integral part of my experience.
Care and Nourishment
The food was great - all fresh and clean, prepared with love by Jeanae. When meal times were called, we all ran to the dining table! The massage therapist was amazing - he did not speak English (and my Spanish is beyond rusty), but he was incredibly intuitive. He knew exactly where my problem areas were, where I had a chronic tendon inflammation in my ankle, and his touch was perfect for these areas. The kambo was a pleasant surprise. I was undecided about trying it until the morning of, and then opted to do so in order to help me with the next Ayahuasca ceremony. I felt really energized and “light” afterward, and into the next day, leading up tot he second ceremony. Yoga sessions led by Jeanae were grounding and relaxing, and were an ideal prelude to the Ceremony, where going in grounded, relaxed and with intention helps to make the most of the experience.
I won’t go into details here, because I believe the Ceremony is meant to be experienced by the individual, and that’s part of what makes it, in my mind, a sacred event. Having said that, I will say that Matt conducts the ceremony with his whole being, with the utmost heartfelt sincerity. I felt safe to let go and travel where I needed to go, whether that be within or outward. Had I not felt that, I could not have had the transformative experience that I did. I also would not want to go back. Jeannae and Drew provided support (for walking, bathroom, any other worries) for our group as Matt guided us in the Ceremony, which was comforting.
The Final Word
Matt and Jeannae are healers in every sense of the word. Western society needs leaders like them now more than ever. The experience I had at New Life Ayahuasca was indeed in the top five for my life (I’m at the midway point now), and I believe that this experience (the healers, the plant medicine, the ceremony, my fellow soul searchers, the place) will continue to teach me about love, compassion, forgiveness, and openness, and remind me of the work that must continue to keep the fire burning bright.
For all of you wayfaring itinerants who are looking for an adventure, but more importantly, are interested in doing some heavy introspection, I can’t imagine a better site for your first time than with Jeanae and Matt at New Life Ayahuasca.
About an hour west of San Jose, NLA is located in the mountains of San Ramon. J&M do an excellent job of handling the logistics of getting you from the international airport to their site, so if you have any questions about how you’ll arrive to San Ramon, don’t even worry. Just follow the detailed email instructions Jeanae sends you prior to your trip.
My wife and I opted for the 5-day retreat (our first time with this excursion), but in retrospect, we wish we had signed up for the 7-day retreat (to take advantage of the third ceremony) because we were blown away by our experiences with the two that were offered with the 5-day. While you’re going to have an experience irrespective of where you pursue your journey, my wife and I attribute our life-altering experiences to Matt, Jeanae, and Drew.
Matt participates and leads the ceremony and possesses commanding presence to the extent that you cannot help but admire the strength it takes for him to be able to lead such an intense journey all these years. I just don’t understand how someone can simultaneously go deep within himself while also performing the icaros. And no doubt Jeanae and Drew also play an equally important role in ensuring that everyone is safe and supported during this process.
Meals were prepared by Jeanae, all of which were delicious. The location is private and allows for hiking (there’s 20 acres of land for you to wander around) and swimming (there’s an Olympic sized pool and spa steps away from the retreat center). I can certainly vouch for all of the reviews on this site sharing the details of how the retreat is run (yoga, massages, waterfall, etc). The four other guests who arrived at the retreat were all wonderful people. We’re glad that everyone was able to develop a rapport and trust each other especially given how vulnerable you expose yourself to the experience and the days after going deep with introspection.
What I really appreciate about NLA is their laid-back approach to the experience. J&M are two of the most unassuming, down to earth people you will meet and I could not have imagined a better couple (along with Drew) to have been our guides. They don’t force you to participate in the activities offered at the retreat nor do they expect you to share your thoughts and feelings about your experience, but they are certainly open and receptive should you need someone to talk to.
I remember after the first ceremony, my wife and I spent some time outside by the firepit with Drew. Let me just say that I was happy and relieved that an individual like Drew was at NLA. Gregarious, knowledgeable, and a willingness to be vulnerable around complete strangers, I could not have imagined a better individual to decompress to. His presence put me at ease and gave me the space to be able to synthesize what could only be described as ineffable. It meant a lot.
I’m digressing. I’ll just conclude with if you’re looking for a safe, clean, relaxing atmosphere, look no further than NLA. The retreat center is beautiful, private, and spacious. Jeanae, Matt, and Drew are absolutely wonderful hosts.
One last note: they've got 3 cats on the property, but one of them, Chopper, will help you on your journey. He's a protector of sorts. ;-)