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  • Writer's pictureTommy Cicero

Successful Retreat!

My retreat was a big success, to put it mildly. Wow! I can´t even begin to describe the pure joy I experienced this past week, but I will do my best. 😊 This trip exceeded what I hoped it wold do for me, and fulfilled some of my intentions, and gave me so much more. I´m not only referring to the ayahuasca. It was the overall experience as well.

One of the best parts of the retreat was there were only three of us participants for the entire week, when there can be up to thirteen. We had the entire place to ourselves! Even better than that was the other two people I was with, a mom and her son, Jenni and Sam. They are from Canada. They made everything about the trip better. Two of the most amazing souls. I felt blessed to share my ayahuasca experience with them.

For my lodging, I stayed in my own tambo (bungalo), complete with a bed, hammock, desk, and toilet (compost). I was essentially surrounded by the jungle, trees outside every window. It was amazing falling asleep to the sounds of the jungle every night and nobody within a football field of me. It served as a great home for the week. It was even big enough for me to exercise in, about 20´x20´.

View from my balcony

The weather was 85-90 degrees during the day and would get down to 75 at night. The rain helped it stay cool, and it would normally rain at night, but sometimes during the day. It never felt too hot for me, but by the end of the week, I was walking around a lot more without a shirt on. And we could always hop in the pond if it felt too hot.

The food lined up with an ayahuasca diet, but we did eat chicken a couple times of non-ceremony days and fresh fish, even on ceremony days. Otherwise, it was mainly fruits, vegetables and beans. The cooks there definitely prepared the food way better than I did as I was preparing the last few weeks before my trip. And the fruit was delish!

So let´s get to the reason on went on the retreat. I participated in three ayahuasca ceremonies and one San Pedro ceremony throughout the week. Each one provided me something to learn about myself in different ways.

The miloka

Monday - Ayahuasca Ceremony #1

We started off with a ceremony on day one. They always begin at 6pm with a guided meditation. No dinner on ceremony days. To gauge our tolerance to ayahuasca, we began with small doses, with the option to do more if we wanted to. I ended up doing three doses, about 80% of a full dose (6 oz.), spread out over two hours. It did the trick, as I felt a connection with Mother Ayahuasca, who offered me guidance and support. I could feel her loving embrace. This happened about 2 1/2 hours into the ceremony.

Main takeaways from Ceremony #1

  • Releasing mental, physical, and emotional baggage

  • Developing self-compassion

  • Validation that I was indeed in the right place

I would not say this was a profound experience. It did not really touch on my intentions, but from what I gathered, it was what I needed to know to start my journey of working with ayahuasca. I did not purge. I did not see any visuals or or feel disconnected from myself. I did, however, feel the strong energy and love from Mother Ayahuasca. It felt pure and unfiltered.

The ceremony lasted about 4 1/2 hours. Most of the time, the Ayahuasquero (shaman) Monee sang ikaros to help lure Mother Ayahuasca to our sacred space in the miloka, where we held our ceremonies. Overall, I felt it was a good first experience and introduction to ayahuasca for me.

The two plants used to make ayahuasca

Tuesday - Ceremony #2

I did not have to wait long for the second ceremony, as it happened the next day. I was excited, as I felt the first ceremony was a primer for the next two ceremonies. Jim felt I could start with a full dose based on how the first ceremony went. We always had an option to go up for more 1 1/2 hours after taking our first dose, when it was fully settled in. I did go up for a second dose, as I felt I did not feel the first dose was strong enough for me. The second dose was about another 2-3 oz. Jim told me to come back in 20 minutes if I felt I need more.

What I felt, was like I needed to pee, so I left the miloka with a guide and headed to the outhouses about 100 ft. away. I was using my flashlight to see, when Jim reminded me to cover my flashlight so as not to disturb the other participants. The reason I brought this up is it distracted me and took me out of my ayahuasca experience. After I got back to the miloka, I felt like I was too much inside my head. I did not feel the second dose kicking in. I thought about going up for me, but I felt like my window passed. I laid there for the rest of the ceremony without feeling any connection with Mother Ayahuasca. I did not purge either, since there was no need to.

Main takeaways from Ceremony #2

While the second ceremony felt like a dud, I did gain some clarity about myself and my approach to working with ayahuasca. I would not say I was disappointed, but a bit deflated. I was not discouraged, because I had felt the power of the ayahuasca the night before. I wanted to use the second ceremony as a learning experience so I could be more prepared for my final ceremony. I was not going to let the night ruin the rest of my week.

Wednesday - Day of Rest

The day of rest is exactly what it sounds like. The only structured activities were meals, a debrief from the night before, and a healing ceremony with the ayahuascero late in the afternoon. The rest of the day was spent wandering around the property, chilling in the hammocks, a taking a dip in the pond. I had fully formed a bond with Jenni and Sam by then. Did I tell you how amazing they are? 😊 I could not have asked for better people, who I did not know before the retreat, to spend my time working with ayahuasca.

Thursday - San Pedro

We started at 8am, when we would typically have breakfast. Jim recommended a double dose for me since he felt I could handle it. He said the dosing issue with San Pedro is people will typically take too little instead of taking too much, since its much more mild than ayahuasca. Its more like doing psilocybin "magic" mushrooms, but less likely to create a negative experience.

The San Pedro is a lot like sand, so it is mixed with water to help it go down. It does not dilute, or taste good, but it is the price of admission. It is supposed to last eight hours. It kicks in about 1-2 hours, and is supposed to peak between hours 4-6. You can still walk around and function the whole time.

The consensus for all three of us was that was that the San Pedro did not produce the effect we were hoping for. I did not feel any type of positive or negative physical effects. The only noticeable thing for me was that everything looked more vivid or in HD. We still had a great day and made the most f it. We said that Sand Pedro day felt like another day of rest. 😄

Friday - Day of Rest

The second day of rest was similar to the first. Although, Jim told us we could do San Pedro again, perhaps at a higher dose, to see if it produced a better effect. We chose not to do it. I instead mentally prepared for my final ceremony the next day, my final opportunity to connect again with Mother Ayahuasca. Jenni and Sam were doing a nine day retreat, so they would still have one more ceremony on Monday.

Saturday - Ceremony #3 - Final Ceremony

Saturday started with a nature walk in the jungle after breakfast. It lasted about 45 minutes, and was fascinating, as we learned about several plants and species native to the Amazon. It is amazing how many plants are used to heal various types of physical and mental health issues.

In the afternoon it rained four a couple hours, with a couple downpours during that time. All three of us were on our own during that time, which I felt helped me mentally prepare for my final ceremony. I actually went for a walk in the Amazon rain, which felt amazing. I was also setting my intentions for that evening. I was actually prepared to purge if needed, as I felt maybe that´s what I may need to get to the healing. Weird that in strange way I was hoping to do that.

Jim suggested I start with a double dose. To put it in context, Jenni and Sam had not even done a full dose during the first two ceremonies, but they did not need it. They both had profound healing experiences their second ceremony. I did not learn this until afterwords, but Jim said that only one other person had done a double dose since COVID. I am glad I did not learn that before the ceremony. Apparently I have a high tolerance for ayahuasca.

The double dose worked! After about 45 minutes, I started seeing geometric patterns, that would morph into different ones, like a kaleidoscope. That lasted for about 15-20 minutes until the next phase of the experience started.

I felt the presence of Mother Ayahuasca, as I did during the first ceremony on Monday. Love. So much love! I could not help but smile from ear to ear as I breathed in the loving energy. It was not overpowering. It was soothing.

I received some guidance on how to proceed down my career path. It felt validating that I am in the right career, and that I am heading in the right direction. While not all of my intentions for my career were addressed, it was enough to satisfy my curiosity about how to proceed with my career. I also received guidance that more could/would eventually be revealed, as ayahuasca continues to work on us for weeks, and even months, during the integration process afterwards. That was encouraging. This is why the integration process is an important part of working with Ayahuasca.

I also received guidance with an issue in my personal life. It was surprising at first, but made complete sense to me, as I processed what was revealed. I loved how Mother Ayahuasca helped me look at things from different perspectives.

Jim asked if anyone wanted to come up for another dose around this time. It was not necessary for me. I was good to go!

I also received guidance on a couple other things I did not plan on, or set intentions for, but they came up. I felt prompted to ask follow-up questions, so I did. I got answers that surprised me and pleased me. It felt like a bonus!

The tail end of the ceremony was beautiful. As I continued to bathe in this swirling energy of love, I felt love and expressed gratitude for all of the important people in my life, including family and friends, and probably a lot of you reading this. Tears of joy and laughter consumed me. I felt complete bliss! 🥰

As the ceremony ended, and the ayahuascero finished his final ikaro, I felt compelled by this joy I was feeling, and this newfound confidence I was feeling in the moment, to say really loud in the silence of the miloka,"Muchas gracias!" Everyone got a chuckle out of that, including the ayahuascero. 😄

I did not mention that I was thinking about Jenni and Sam while going down the list of people I was so grateful to have in my life. As I stated, they helped make the week an amazing one, so I was so happy when Jenni walked over to me while I was still lying on my mattress and asked me for a hug afterwards. She said, "And you know I´m not a hugger." I said, "I was going to ask you anyway," since that´s the love I was feeling in the moment as well. She feels like a sister to me, and we shared a lot with each other over the week. It was the perfect ending to the ceremony.

I was the last one to leave the miloka, and I wobbled out. I was physically drained, but I needed to get to the bathroom, since I did not purge from either end during the ceremony. Wow! I don´t want to get too graphic, but I felt 50 lbs. lighter afterwords. I think the Ayahuasca cleaned me out physically. After about 10-15 minutes, I felt so much better.

Since I felt physically drained, I figured I was going to conk out when I got back to my tambo. Not the case. My mind was processing everything that happened during the ceremony, so I didn´t get any sleep. I did not journal, like I did my previous nights. I just laid there. Oddly enough, I felt energized when I headed to my final breakfast at 8am.

Sunday - Final few hours

After a final debrief about our ceremonies from the night before, I only had a couple hours left with Jenni, Sam, and Hummingbird Healing Center. We laughed so much about events from the week. So many great memories. It was really hard for me to leave them. When I hugged both of them to leave, I didn´t want to let go.

Sam, Me, and Jenni

As Jim started driving me to the airport, we were not even a mile down the road and I was already missing both of them. Jim could see how much it was affecting me. He stated that people form strong bonds sometimes on the retreats, and he could tell how close the three of us were by the end of the week. I don´t think that would have happened if there were more people there. It´s like it was meant to be.

So that´s my week of working with ayahuasca at Hummingbird Healing Center just outside Iquitos, Peru. It was an amazing and unforgettable experience. I don´t want to say it was life-changing, since I believe the life-changing part will happen during the integration process, as I act on putting into practice everything I gained from the retreat.

I feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to learn and heal from the sacred power of ayahuasca. I´ve stated in an earlier post that I believe psychedelics will become a bigger part of healing the Western world. Less pills. More plants. I don´t think we are ready for ayahuasca to go mainstream, but I can see psilocybin "magic" mushrooms, MDMA, DMT, and ketamine, as preferential option to what is available to us currently. Time will tell, and I will be an advocate for psychedelics, to help heal the planet. I think Mother Nature and Mother Ayahuasca would agree.


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