During my Ayahuasca retreat a few months back, I bunked with a lovely young woman named Eliza. She described herself as a Medicine Woman who ran a retreat in Colorado. The entire weekend I stayed relatively close to her because I felt comforted by her presence, but I didn’t think much about her beyond that.
In the weeks that followed, as I integrated the Aya experience into my life, Eliza continued to visit me in my dreams. I knew I needed to reach out. Once we had the opportunity to chat about what she does “for a living”, I signed up for a week of one-on-one healing/training at her retreat in Nederland, Colorado. As I understand it, she is a healer of healers, a plant medicine woman, a shaman, a psychic, and everything that falls in between.
Last week I spent a full week at her retreat, Rise & Shine, Love. I am however, going to state that before I even left for Colorado, the energy around me was in chaos. The day before leaving, someone swiped my favorite Ray Ban sunglasses while I was shopping and later that day, I was the object of some pretty bad road rage. In my experience, this means that I had quite the resistance to whatever work was about to occur between myself and Eliza.
After spending my first night at a hostel downtown and roaming around the streets of Denver, I arrived on her property the following day. I felt a little panic on the drive up, not being a huge fan of cliff-side driving as well as always being the driver of my family outings, but I shrugged this reaction off. However, when I began to unpack my belongings and settle in, something came over me that I have never experienced in my life. My head and shoulders grew hot, my heart raced and my breathing increased. I knew that something very very bad was about to happen, I was with someone who was trying to swindle money out of me and I needed to leave IMMEDIATELY. This was the first genuine bout of delusional paranoid thinking, coupled with a panic attack, I have ever experienced. I started texting my friends and my husband, seeking someone to rescue me and talk me off the ledge I was standing on. I felt I needed to leave the property immediately or that I might die. The whole event maybe happened in a window of 20 minutes.
Once I connected with my breath, spoke to my husband and slipped into a light meditation (and let’s face it, had a damn good cry), I realized that these thoughts were not real. I was creating them to avoid the Work that I had come here to do.
This was only the first episode throughout the week – I had two more, but each one became less intense and easier to identify. I have a new found curiosity and empathy for people who have these attacks regularly and hope that in the future it can be something I help people work through.
Throughout the week, the theme was self-love. This act of loving myself properly has forever changed my life. Here are some things we worked with:
- Rituals that I would practice before bed and upon waking. This included things like breathing exercises, self massage, tongue scraping and herbal tea.
- Eliza taught me how to move my body and encouraged dancing and play activities – a great way to connect to with my playful side or inner child, which I had long since repressed.
- I spent several hours naked in the sun, hammock, pool and performing self massage. I had shed a layer of shame that most of us harbor about our body and ourselves. This work has since enhanced my sex life with the hubby – it’s unreal.
- Eating only fresh organic foods and herbs.
- Guided Meditation.
- Energy Healing.
- Watsu with Eliza and massage performed by Integrative Bodywork by Galadrial.
Later in the week I experience my first mushroom ceremony. I was so grateful to find that it was similar to a mild Ayahuasca journey, with a lot of emotional release and overwhelming sense of love and connected-ness. I hope to work more professionally with this plant medicine in the future.
To wrap up the trip, I was given the opportunity to see Nahko and Medicine for the People for the first time in Vail, Colorado. This show was absolutely amazing and exactly what I needed to conclude my trip. I highly recommend going to see them if you haven’t already!
The biggest takeaway from this retreat for me was that, without doing the Work on myself, I will never be able to effectively help others or be the healer that I know I am to be. I will have trouble moving forward on my life path. Without clearing out the stuff you have inside you, it is hard to be open to what is right here and available to you. It is hard to see situations and others clearly or at least to see them without looking through the shit-colored glasses of your own struggles.
I will continue to take this beautiful experience and apply it to my every day life. I do also want to encourage others to let go of some of their fear and think about their own self-love state and practice. Life is so much more full and joyous when you clear out the cobwebs for a better view.