In July this year I started to feel pressure building in my chest. I felt like I was going to cry at any moment, but nothing would come out. I was journaling, doing breathwork, meditating, and exercising, but no matter what I did, I couldn’t shake it. I had felt this feeling before and knew exactly what I needed to do. It was time to go back to Rythmia Life Advancement Center.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me go back to my first trip to Rythmia.
Before going to Rythmia for the first time, I felt something inside of me that I couldn’t explain. It literally felt like I had a blockage in my chest. I knew I was holding onto a lot of pain and trauma from my childhood, and I wanted to let it go, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it.
I came from a family with a history of mental illness on my mother’s side, including bipolar and schizophrenia. I grew up feeling very alone. At ten years old, I felt like my mother prioritized going out drinking with her friends over taking care of my brother and me By the time I was 14, she started to lose control with drugs and alcohol, and by the time I was 16, she was committed to a hospital for the first time because she was suicidal.
This behavior went on for years and caused a lot of pain that I suppressed because I didn’t know how to deal with it. I felt abandoned. I felt ashamed. I felt scared. I felt angry and bitter.
Through my 20’s and 30’s, I tried all kinds of different things to process the trauma. I tried talk therapy, but I had a lot of trust issues, and so I wouldn’t open up to the therapist. I tried hypnotherapy, journaling, self-help books, and courses, but nothing seemed to work for me.
Of course, I also tried lots of self-medication with alcohol. When I didn’t feel dead inside I used alcohol to numb the pain and anger I was feeling. I essentially shut down my feelings and buried them all deep inside.
Even when my mom died of cancer just a few months before I went to Rythmia for the first time, I didn’t feel much. I didn’t cry. I didn’t even feel upset. If anything I felt a little relief but that didn’t last long either. I didn’t know how to process it all.
I knew this numb feeling wasn’t good for me or my relationships but I couldn’t seem to shake it. I’m not the type to want to go to a therapist for 10 years to talk about my problems and hope that someday I’ll feel better. I’m more of a “let’s just rip the bandaid off and get this done” type of person. So I started to look for alternative healing methods.
That’s when I learned about the use of psychedelics for healing trauma. I started watching everything I could find online about how different psychedelics were being used to heal all sorts of trauma from PTSD to childhood trauma to addiction and everything in between.
It was a scary idea to me because I had never taken any type of psychedelic drugs. My only experience with psychedelics was watching my boyfriend (now husband) have a bad trip on mushrooms when we were younger, and after seeing that, I knew I didn’t want anything to do with psychedelics.
But I set aside my fear and started looking for treatment centers in my area. At the time we were living in Florida and there were a few places that offered different types of treatments. One place offered ayahuasca. I had never heard of ayahuasca before and started doing some research.
The more I learned about ayahuasca the more it seemed like the perfect fit for me. Ayahuasca specifically works on memory recall and helps you process suppressed trauma through the process of recalling these suppressed memories. Not only can you recall the memory but you can also recall how you felt and even what you thought in those moments which can really help you understand how it shaped your life after the trauma.
While reliving the trauma sounded scary and uncomfortable I knew it would force me to face my past trauma and deal with it head-on which felt like a good fit for me.
After doing a bit of research on different facilities I knew I wanted more than just a one-night ceremony where I would be left on my own. Being my first time taking any psychedelic I wanted to know I could get help if I needed it. I wanted to know if there was a medical staff on site. I wanted someone to talk to about my experience if I had questions. And I wanted a comfortable setting for this healing to take place.
One day I was watching one of my favorite podcasts, Two Bears One Cave, and comedian Ron White was on the podcast talking about how he got sober after taking a trip to Costa Rica to a place called Rythmia. He said it was a week-long wellness style all inclusive resort that offered yoga, breathwork, plant medicine ceremonies, and classes to help with integration. When the host asked what kind of plant medicine he took he said “ayahuasca.”
I couldn’t believe it. A week before I had just heard about ayahuasca for the first time and now this… I jumped on my computer and looked up Rythmia Life Advancement Center and immediately knew this was the place for me.
After speaking to Joe he said everything looked good but he wasn’t interested in going. (I don’t blame him after his “bad trip” years previously) He suggested I ask his sister, my best friend, if she would want to go with me. I was excited to go but still very nervous to do this alone and I knew Becky would be a perfect travel companion. She loves experiences like this and no matter what I say/do there is zero judgment. Within days I booked our flights and we would be off in 1 month!
Preparing For The Journey With Mother Ayahuasca
Once you book your trip you will begin to receive emails from the team at Rythmia providing you with instructions to prepare for your journey. There are some basic instructions as well as a medical intake form to make sure you are healthy enough to take the medicine. Read these instructions carefully. This is not the time to skim.
It is highly recommended that you go on a pre-ayahuasca diet. After three trips to Rythmia I can’t stress this enough. I start my cleanse a week before I arrive at Rythmia. I cut all red meat out of my diet and eat mostly salad and fruit with just a small amount of protein. I also do intermittent fasting since you will be fasting for your ceremonies.
No alcohol or other drugs for 30 days prior to your trip. I know that can be a tough one for people but it is important. I even reduce my caffeine intake from two cups of coffee per day to just one and I drink it black.
All of this will really help you reduce the toxins in your body and will greatly help with taking the medicine. The more toxins you have in your body the more toxins you will need to purge when taking the medicine.
30 Days Out
I also recommend you journal every day for thirty days before your trip. Start setting your intentions for this journey. If you can throw in 10-15 minutes once or twice a day of meditation and or breathwork even better. Yoga is also a great tool to help reduce stress or fears before your journey. Don’t overwhelm yourself but find one or two things you can be consistent with and it will greatly help you in your journey before and after.
What to Pack
When packing, keep it simple. This isn’t a fashion show. You’re going to want to be comfortable especially during ceremonies. All of the rooms have AC including the Maloka (the building where you do the medicine ceremonies, yoga, breathwork, and meditation), however, when you do the plant ceremonies they open the windows and do not run the AC, so it can get hot in there. They do have ceiling fans but it is best to dress lightly and in something that is easily removed for going to the bathroom.
The pool is beautiful and feels amazing after a long night of medicine so bring a couple bathing suits. The morning yoga is amazing as well so be sure to pack a few outfits for yoga. Comfortable shoes that are easy on/off are also a must. Also, it’s Costa Rica, so it will likely be hot, a hat and sunglasses are also recommended.
What To Expect When You Arrive At Rythmia Life Advancement Center
Rythmia makes traveling to their facility extremely simple. You will fly into LIR Airport in Costa Rica. The airport is small and easy to navigate. Once you get through customs simply walk outside with your luggage and look for a gentleman holding a Rythmia sign. He will show you to the shuttle to Rythmia. Most likely there will be several other people traveling with you so this is a great time to get to know some of the people you will be with during your stay.
Note: It is a good idea to use the bathroom before you leave the airport as the shuttle to Rythmia does not make stops and it takes about 1 ½ hours to get there.
The rooms are clean and comfortable with plenty of hot water for showers and cold AC that you can set to your preference. The bedding is extremely comfortable with soft sheets and lots of pillows (the sheets were upgraded since my first visit and were a very nice surprise… it shows how much they care and listen to their guests). You will get wifi to connect your phones and computers if you must but I urge you to take this week to disconnect as much as possible.
The saltwater pool is perfect for relaxing during your free time. The Rythmia program is packed with plant medicine classes, workshops, yoga, breathwork, meditation, and integration classes and of course your plant ceremonies in the evenings. But even with all of this there is plenty of time to relax in the pool. Joe’s a morning person and spends almost every morning in the pool to watch the sunrise and listen to the Costa Rican roosters… aka Howler Monkeys.
The food is phenomenal! I’ve bought all of Rythmia’s cookbooks and make something almost daily from them. Rythmia is set up to heal the body from the inside and food plays a huge part in that. So all of the food they serve is locally sourced, fresh, and organic.
When you eat the fruit it will taste like you’ve never had fruit before. All the meals are gluten-free and most items are dairy free. They serve all meals buffet style so you can select from tons of options.
For breakfast if you like bananas you must try the banana muffins! They are my absolute favorite! In the video you will see which plates are mine vs Joe’s. I always have the muffin lol!
Lunch has soup options, salads, lots of veggies, proteins (generally chicken and fish), and grains. There is something for everyone! I’m always amazed how by the end of the week I don’t have any cravings and I’m not missing anything because all of the food is that good! For lunch/dinner they always have a little treat out. Cookies, mousse, tiramisu, there’s always a little dessert that is so so good!
The spa is one of my favorite parts about Rythmia. Sure, you can go do ayahuasca in the jungle and if that’s what you’re being called to do by all means go for it. But I enjoy the creature comforts of Rythmia and I absolutely love the spa.
All of the massage therapists are phenomenal! They offer several different types of massage from deep tissue to their signature massage and a more traditional Swedish massage. I’ve tried them all and they are all amazing.
I highly recommend bringing some extra cash to add some more massages to your week (you can only buy the extras with cash and while they have an ATM on sight it is best to bring it with you to avoid ATM fees).
You get one free 50-minute massage with your booking but personally I try to book a massage daily between classes. Not only is the massage amazing, it really is healing. After one hard night on our last trip Joe ended up having a major breakthrough and release of childhood trauma during his massage. He said it was the most profound healing experience he had felt in his healing journey up to that point.
The spa also has a hot/cold plunge, mud bath, and a steam sauna which are all great ways to let go of tension in your body. They also have a small gym with some basic gym equipment but I like to take this week off from the gym and focus on healing.
Everyone who works at Rythmia is just incredible! They greet you with a smile, anything you need they are there to make you as comfortable as possible. From the grounds crew to the restaurant staff to the people working the front desk. They are all such beautiful people.
The class facilitators are also amazing. They present the classes in a very straightforward and fun way using humor and energy to deliver their information. They’re open to discussion and will stay as long as necessary to answer all questions. If you need extra time or want to talk one-on-one they will make time for you. These people are 100% invested in helping you along your healing journey.
I don’t even know where to start when it comes to all the shamans and the assistants who run the evening ceremonies. They truly are angels. It seems like every time you need them, they’re right there. From my very first ceremony, I felt safe and well taken care of. I don’t know how they do it week in and week out.
What Gerry has created is such a safe incredible environment and you feel that immediately when you pull up to the grounds. It is a beautiful place full of beautiful people. The perfect setting for deep healing.
The group attending Rythmia with you is also a key part of your healing journey. It’s crazy how each time I’ve gone to Rythmia the group and the energy have been so different but also perfect for where I was in my journey. It feels like these specific people have been called together to heal together. I can’t explain it but each time I go, the people I meet feel like the exact people I need to be there for me to heal.
There’s something about doing hard things that brings people together. By the end of the week, you will be hugging each other, crying with each other, and sharing more intimate shit about yourself than your closest friends and family members. During the week you will be more vulnerable than you probably ever have been and so will they. When you need a hug or someone to cry with during this time these people will be your brothers and sisters. I have made some lifelong friends that I keep in contact with today from these groups.
I look forward to yoga every day. It seems crazy to think that 7 am yoga would sound good after a long night in the maloka but I find it is a great way to prepare my body for the day. If you’re lucky enough to have Victor as your instructor you’re in for a real treat. He is seriously the person you NEED to see first thing in the morning after a long ceremony. His energy and love will help you process whatever you’re feeling from the night before.
The Rythmia program is designed to help you heal. Besides the beautiful amenities, the amazing food, and all the amazing people, the program Rythmia has developed helps you process your medicine journey and integrate it into your life through the plant medicine and plant integration classes.
The whole place is focused on healing so take advantage of all of the services and trust the program. It’s easy to get tired and want to skip something. Don’t do it. The staff will tell you that even if you show up and sleep in the class that’s okay… and they mean it. They won’t bother you. Just show up. Sometimes just being in the room and hearing one person share or hearing one piece of information will provide you with a miracle breakthrough.
Back To My First Trip To Rythmia – October 2022
My intention for going to Rythmia on this first trip was to find forgiveness for my mom and to process her unexpected death from cancer a few months earlier.
The first night we arrived was Saturday, the changeover day. Some people from the previous group were still there, and some had left. We went to the first class, which was breathwork, and people from the previous week were walking in, hugging each other, crying with each other. It was all a bit wild! You could feel the energy in the room. Becky and I looked at each other like what’s happening right now.
By the end of the first breathwork session, I experienced the biggest emotional release I had ever had in my entire life. Laying on our backs, when it was all finished, Becky and I looked at each other, it felt like we cried a million tears and released so much negative energy. When we made it back to our room we both were like “omg if this is day one and just breathwork, this week is going to be insane”.
Standing in line for our first ayahuasca ceremony you could feel the nervous energy between all of us first-timers. Our group had about 55 people, and most of us were first-timers. I asked several repeat guests what to expect and everyone said pretty much the same thing. Surrender to the medicine and let her take you where she needs to take you.
I can still remember drinking the first cup of ayahuasca. I was expecting it to taste really bad based on what others said, but to me, it tasted like thick, dirty chai tea. I immediately returned to my mattress on the floor of the maloka and got comfortable.
On that first night, I had a consult with mother ayahuasca (a consult is one of the four forms of experiences you can have on the medicine). Mother ayahuasca told me that my mother never wanted me. More specifically, she never wanted children. She felt pressure to have a family and live up to all the expectations that people put on her.
Understanding this put a different perspective on things for me. I was able to see things from her view and it allowed me to have compassion for her in a way I had never felt before. Mother ayahuasca showed me that I needed to forgive her to let go of the pain and anger I had towards her. For the first time I was able to forgive my mother and be grateful for my childhood as it made me who I am today.
Within two days at Rythmia and just one ceremony I had released all the pressure in my chest and was able to forgive my mother for the first time in my life. This was just the beginning of my healing journey.
My Second Trip To Rythmia – January 2023
After returning home to my husband, Joe, I shared my experience with him. He was blown away and immediately felt like he had “missed out”. The FOMO was hitting him hard and he started opening up about the idea of going.
By the first of the year he decided he wanted to go and they happened to have an opening with a breathwork facilitator, Giovanni “Gio” Bartolomeo, as the guest speaker. Joe had recently started doing breath work and so he was really interested in going while Gio was there.
I contacted Rythmia and was able to book our trip. Honestly, I wasn’t exactly ready to go back so soon but I knew I had a lot more healing to do so I decided to go with him. I also had some insecurities about Joe going alone. What if he realizes he doesn’t want to be with me. What if… What if… What if…
Not surprisingly this trip turned out to be completely different from my first trip. This week was all about forgiving Joe and letting go of all the trauma we experienced together through our 20+ year relationship. It was about letting go of my insecurities and fears surrounding our relationship. It was a really hard week but it opened doors to our relationship that I never thought were possible.
Joe’s journey was equally transformational. After the Tuesday night ceremony I looked over and saw Joe sitting on his mattress. The look on his face is something I’ll never forget. He honestly looked like a different person. Before he could even tell me about his journey I knew he would never be the same.
Healing together as a couple was so powerful. We were both so open and vulnerable. It was like we both let down our shields for the first time and were seeing each other’s true self for the first time ever. It was beautiful and a little scary all at the same time.
My Third Trip to Rythmia – November 2023
A lot of people asked me why I’m going back to Rythmia for a third time in 12 months. Several people said “if it worked so well to heal you why do you need to go back?” Others said “don’t get addicted to ayahuasca!” (clearly these people have never taken ayahuasca because anyone who thinks you can get addicted has never been through it)
The truth is, my first trip to Rythmia was all about forgiving my mother and letting go of all the trauma I experienced in my childhood. My second trip was all about forgiving Joe after our 20+ years together as a couple and finding peace and security in our relationship. But I still didn’t feel whole and complete. I knew something was missing, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
With the big 4-0 bearing down on me, I was finally ready to focus on myself! I was ready to forgive myself, to love myself, to love my body, to learn what unconditional love was, and how to give love to others. I was finally ready to merge my soul and heal my heart.
Joe wanted to head back, too. He felt that he had a lot more healing to do. So once again, I booked our trip during Gio’s week as guest speaker because we both love his breathwork and found incredible breakthroughs using his breathwork after we got home.
What I didn’t realize was that Taita Juanito was also going to be there. Taita trains all of the other shamans at Rythmia. His ceremonies are known for being intense and extremely transformative. This would be my first time drinking medicine with him.
We arrived at Rythmia, and honestly, being the third time in a year, it just felt like home. Everyone is so incredible and so friendly welcoming us back. We unpacked and headed right out to start to meet the group of 75 people we would be spending the week with.
Right off the bat Joe and I could tell how well our group meshed together. There was a strong vibration coming from this group and almost half of the group were returning guests. We started off the week with breathwork with Gio and that helped prep us for the following day when we would start our plant medicine ceremonies.
Being back in the maloka felt so comforting. The beginning of each ceremony is so moving, watching the shaman bless the medicine and the whole preparation is just beautiful. There was a feeling of peace in the air and I just knew it was going to be an incredible week.
To say this week at Rythmia changed Joe and I is an understatement. We both experienced such intense healing from this trip that I can’t even believe it. I don’t know if it was the group we were with, or the shaman, or just that we were both so open and ready to heal, but this week was by far the most transformational week yet.
There’s no question in either of our minds that we will be back.
Integration – Coming Home
Coming home can be challenging. Most people experience an “afterglow” effect from ayahuasca that can last days or even weeks. But eventually, you will likely feel a “come down” from your trip. Navigating this downslide can be challenging, and I recommend you set yourself up for success by having an “aftercare” plan.
The first time I went to Rythmia, I came home and went right back to work. For me, that was a big mistake. I never really felt like I got to process things. I felt overwhelmed at times. Life felt a bit like a rollercoaster for a couple of weeks.
On my second trip, I planned much better. I scheduled myself to take the entire week off after getting home. I also worked on some daily practices to help keep me grounded. These practices included journaling first thing in the morning and setting my intention for the day, morning yoga, daily exercise, and breathwork.
Joe also took the week off, but he did completely different practices. He took a morning walk to our community dock to say what he was grateful for. Then he took a cold plunge and did some breathwork.
Find one or two things you can be consistent with for at least 30 days and stick to it. These daily practices will help you integrate into your daily life without slipping too far.
You might also find yourself needing to talk to someone, and most likely, you will find that talking to your family or even your friends can be difficult. If you really connected with someone in your Rythmia group it can be great to reach out to them to talk about how you’re feeling as they’re likely going through similar things as you. Also, if you sign up for the R-Life Aftercare program, you’ll have access to all kinds of videos as well as weekly Q&A with the staff at Rythmia, which can be a great help. Of course, traditional talk therapy is also a great option, and there are even plant integration coaches you can talk to these days.
The most important thing is not to close down. Stay open. Keep processing so you can continue working through your experience and integrating back into your life.
Tips For Going To Rythmia As A Couple
I’m so grateful that Joe is willing to go on this healing journey with me. Healing as a couple is by far the most powerful thing we have ever done for our relationship. As I said before, when you go through challenging things with someone, it brings you closer. To be honest, I don’t know if there is anything harder than going behind the veil of your own psyche and facing your true self.
What I have learned from my own healing journey is that you can’t truly love someone if you don’t first love yourself. Joe and I have gotten to a place where we love ourselves unconditionally, which is allowing us to love each other unconditionally. It is such a beautiful space to be in.
This journey has completely changed us. I mean we might as well be completely different people than we were a year ago. I feel like we have bonded on such a deeper level I can’t even really explain it.
In the past, we would sit down and talk about our day, usually complaining about people we had to deal with or problems we had to solve or things that went wrong. Now, we sit down and talk about how we are feeling. We are there to support each other in a healthy and authentic way.
We are having more fun and letting out our inner child. We are connecting on such a deeper level. We share more. We are more open and honest about how we are feeling because we know the other can handle it. We realize that… “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours” so we don’t get caught up in the other person’s “junk” anymore. We are able to just be there for each other and hold space in a healthy way when one of us is going through something challenging.
The love and connection feels so much more authentic and real. It truly is a miracle.
That said, I’d like to share a few tips if you are considering going to Rythmia as a couple. First and foremost, my advice would be for each of you to go solo for your first trip. I say this because I now realize how important it is to focus on healing yourself first.
If you don’t want to go alone for your first trip, then at least try to separate as much as possible while you are there. Sit separately for meals. Sit on opposite sides of the maloka for ceremonies. Even consider staying in separate rooms. The more space you can give each other to heal the better it will be. That first trip really needs to be focused on your personal healing. You will find that even if your entire trip is focused on yourself your relationships will improve as a result of you healing yourself.
Who Would I Recommend Rythmia Life Advancement Center To?
The truth is… I would love it if everyone on the planet would spend at least one week at Rythmia. I honestly think it would change the world overnight.
That said, I would especially recommend Rythmia to anyone living with trauma, PTSD, anxiety, or addiction.
If you’re ready to let it go and heal. If you’re ready to find your true self. If you’re ready to find unconditional love for yourself and others. If you’re ready to clear out any blockages you have in your heart or body that are holding you back. I suggest you go to Rythmia.
Before and After Rythmia
While many people want to hear the stories from the maloka, to hear what visions I had, or to hear what I experienced while in the ceremony, the truth is, that’s the least interesting part of this journey.
What really matters is the healing that takes place every day and night at Rythmia. I can honestly say that the three weeks I have spent at Rythmia over the last year have changed my life in dramatic ways.
Before Rythmia, I suffered from debilitating anxiety. I was fine when I was at home, and nobody was knocking on my door. But when I would go out for something as simple as getting groceries, going to the gym, going out to dinner, driving to an appointment, going to the doctor. Basically, any time I left the house, I would have a panic attack and sometimes I would actually pass out from the intense feelings I was experiencing.
After my first trip to Rythmia, that all went away. To be honest, I didn’t even realize I wasn’t having panic attacks until about a week after being home. I went to the grocery store. I had a dermatologist appointment that week. And I went to the gym. Then, one evening, I was sitting on the couch as it hit me… I haven’t had a panic attack since I got home! I simply wasn’t having those feelings anymore. It was crazy.
Before Rythmia, I rarely slept more than 2 hours without waking up. Often from having a nightmare. I would wake up in the morning feeling exhausted, needing two cups of coffee and a 40-minute spin just to get myself going.
After Rythmia, I sleep 6-8 hours and wake up feeling amazing. I still have my two cups of coffee because, well, I love my morning coffee. Then I journal, and I generally still do a spin or do yoga or some sort of exercise. But I go into it feeling great vs. dragging myself through it.
Before Rythmia, I was a master at suppressing my actual feelings and running to my mind to deal with my feelings intellectually. My mind felt like it was always racing, trying to rationalize everything or make meaning of everything. I was always trying to think my way to feeling better, and trust me… it never worked!
After Rythmia I actually run from my mind and try to stay in my heart. I feel my feelings fully and am grateful for them. My heart is open for the first time in my life and I never want to close it again. Instead of thinking “I’m grateful” I actually feel grateful. Instead of thinking “Joe loves me” I actually feel his love. I didn’t even know the difference until mother ayahuasca showed me what it was like to have an open heart.
Before Rythmia Joe and I had an “okay” marriage. We were comfortable. We loved each other intellectually but there wasn’t much feeling or emotion there. We were both so closed off and shielded that even after 20 years we never really let the other in (or anyone else for that matter). We held each other and everyone else at an arm’s length to protect ourselves from being hurt. Joe even said he did this with our dogs because he was afraid of feeling the pain when they died.
After Rythmia, we’re fully in love. We have opened our hearts to each other and let each other all the way in (and Joe even let the dogs in). To be honest, it’s still a little scary at times. I feel vulnerable. I know that I’m taking a risk being this open. But I also feel so amazing.
One of the other guests made a comment on our last plant integration class last time that really summed it up. He said Rythmia should change their slogan to… “Come to Rythmia… lose your mind and find your heart!”
I couldn’t have said it better.
If you have any questions about going to Rythmia, please feel free to reach out to me. I’m more than happy to discuss it with you.
For me, I love the idea of continuing to go deeper with my healing journey. Every time I peel back a new layer and find something new and exciting. The feeling of learning more and more about myself is incredible. I find clarity with every ceremony. Joe and I will definitely be going back. Will you join us?