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.