The world is changing. Are you?
After nearly 6 decades of prohibition, psychedelics are coming back in a big way, with institutions such as the Imperial College in London, Johns Hopkins University, and Harvard studying, for example, the anti-depressant effects of psychedelics and entheogenic plants such as psilocybin (magic mushrooms) and Ayahuasca. The results of these studies for treating mental health concerns such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, addiction, depression, trauma, and recurrent negative behaviors has been overwhelmingly positive - when administered in the right set and setting.
Ayahuasca is an ancestral medicine from the Amazon, and has been used for thousands of years for its incredible healing benefits. The healing that Ayahuasca offers can be positively life-changing, and as the psychedelic movement grows in popularity, the options for choosing a retreat can get a bit overwhelming. The abundance of options can lead us to what we call"analysis paralysis", causing us to either give up, or choose a retreat impulsively. Choosing a place to have your experience may be one the most important decisions you'll ever make, and it's important to choose your retreat with diligence and care. Published research based upon 2,267 ceremonies has shown that ayahuasca:
- Helps us understand and heal the roots of our depression, addition, anxiety, trauma, and PTSD
- Eases the fear of death.
- Deepens our connection to spirituality
- Helps us discover our life's purpose
- Enjoy deeper, more intimate relationships.
- Accelerate your growth and reach a higher level of consciousness.
- Develop intuition for better decision making.
- Quiet your mind and discover inner peace.
- Live each day with more peace, love, joy, clarity.
Choose an Ayahuasca retreat that's right for you.
The boom in ayahuasca tourism has opened the door to people around the world who are looking for healing, which can be a double edged sword. On one hand, many new people are finding access to life-changing healing experiences while on the other hand, there has developed a huge black market full of corruption and psuedo-shamans who are nothing more than feather-adorned conmen. Of course there are many high-integrity facilitators out there, but it can be really tricky sifting through all the options. We're here to help!
Choosing an Ayahuasca retreat (or any psychedelic experience for that matter) is isn't like planning mindful meditation or yoga retreat. You are entering a space of equal potentials for ecstatic empowerment and tender vulnerability. The competency and integrity of your ayahuasca retreat facilitators - all the way down to the person who cooks your meals - are not to be underestimated.
Furthermore, working with Ayahuasca (and it's naturally occurring DMT) means opening the door to a world of infinite possibilities. One must be weary of seductive claims or facilitators who look the part, but lack the heart. The world of plant medicine is not without corruption. By taking the time to choose the right experience, we honour the sacredness and intensity of this work, and thus take accountability for our own well-being. Take you're time. Find a place with a solid reputation and listen to guest testimonials. Some other considerations you should make are:
- Would you prefer to be with friends, or solo?
- As part of a large group of 15+, something more intimate, or a private experience?
- As part of a religious ceremony, something shamanic, clinical, or neo-shamanic?
Ready for a big shift? We'd love to speak with you.
The Legalities of Ayahuasca in Los Angeles.
Now, it's important to keep in mind that DMT (the active component in Ayahuasca) is a Schedule 1 drug, and illegal in the USA. That being said, you don't need to travel all the way to Latin America to experience a sacred ceremony. A handful of Ayahuasca retreat centers in the USA operate under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a legal safeguard giving protection to ceremonies performed for religious purposes within the context and beliefs of that tradition. While the RFRAdoes give some protection to facilitators and guests, the majority of expert practitioners prefer to work outside of these limitations, choosing instead to travel to destinations like Costa Rica, Mexico, or Iquitos or the Sacred Valley in Peru.
There's no right or wrong here, but in our experience, people benefit greatly from working with sacred plant medicine in a context aligned to (or at very least not in contradiction with) the world in which they live. Indigenous healers are naturally more equipped to work with the needs of indigenous people, which may not always be relevant or useful for people from the West who are more inclined towards issues of depression, anxiety, PTSD, relationship issues, stress, disconnection from nature, etc. On the other hand, working with someone who comes from a long lineage of healers can be a once in a lifetime experience. It's all about your intention - what is aligned with your heart's true calling?
Regardless of what you choose, we highly recommend speaking to the ayahuasca centers themselves to ensure that you feel confident and comfortable, beyond just reading many ayahuasca retreat reviews online. Follow your intuition. There are many great centers out there, but maybe only one that's great for you.
If you're willing to take a short flight for a high quality retreat in nearby CostaRica, Mexico, Portugal, or the Netherlands, we'd love to talk to you.
The 10 Best Ayahuasca retreats in or close to Los Angeles.
Because of the legal grey areas, Behold Retreats doesn't facilitate Ayahuasca in the USA, but we do offer some very close-by options. As we mentioned, there are very few places in the USAserving Ayahuaca legally, so if you're willing to take a short flight, Behold Retreats offers a holistic and modern approach to plant medicine refined over serving 1,500+ clients. Our organization curates and facilitates life-changing plant medicine journeys with an emphasis on client goals, preparation, and integration.
Guests of Behold Retreats can also choose between a variety of other entheogens, locations, and options, for example a small group retreat overlooking the jungle in Costa Rica, on the dutch country side with Psilocybin in the Netherlands or perhaps a culturally immersive encounter in the golden mountains of Mexico with 5-MeO-DMT (Bufo).
For those who do choose to attend a retreats in theUSA, Behold Retreats offers high quality coaching before and after your retreat, and we can point you in the direction of a trusted retreat within the country. Apply for a free consultation with a plant medicine expert to share your individual needs and preferences, and to understand whether (or not) there is a mutual fit.
Group retreat sizes are smaller than most retreat centers - typically no more than 10-12.
Client safety and confidentiality are given the highest importance, and healers, facilitators, therapists, and coaches have decades of experience under their belt.
Find out more information, or apply for a free consultation.
Most ayahuasca ceremonies tend to be done in groups of five to thirty people. In some extreme cases, that number may even go up to one hundred participants and more. This can potentially be overwhelming, to say the least. Ayahuasca is already an intense experience in itself, add to that the uncertainties that group ceremonies entail, and it’s easy to see why a private session might be a good idea.
During an individual session, you are completely free to focus on your inner world, allowing you to delve even deeper than you usually would. Furthermore, without any external disturbances from other participants, letting the plant medicine gently guide you through your journey also becomes easier.
Finding a trustworthy shaman can be an arduous task. Even more so than finding the right retreat. However, arduous is not synonymous with impossible. And an organization like Behold Retreats can help you with finding the right shaman and/or practitioner that best fits your needs. This way, you can focus more on the other parts of your ayahuasca journey, such as the preparation and subsequent integration of the experience.
3. The Holistic Sanctuary
Located in Baja California, just below Southern California, this holistic healing sanctuary is the closest, most intensive and luxurious center near California that resembles more of a rehab center with individual healing treatments. Their programs are incredibly exclusive and are focused on treating PTSD, depression, addiction, and alcoholism.
With 5-star accommodations and services such as daily colonics liver detoxes, herbal medicine, HBOT pure oxygen infusions, IV drips, stem cell therapy, and more, you can be assured that this 4-12 week program will be life changing and lead to deep healing.
Their trademark secret is their proprietary method, called the Pouyan Method, is combined with sacred plant medicine, which ensures over 30 hours of 1-1 time per week, complete detoxification, and access to neural healing and spiritual awakening. It is quite a different experience than the typical shamanic healing techniques.
4. Inner Circle Ayahuasca Retreat
Just about a 3 hour flight from California, in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, you will find this traditional ayahuasca retreat center with gorgeous beachfront accommodation.
Their authentic ayahuasca ceremonies are paired with modern luxury, so you can really relax and enjoy the ocean-front luxurious accommodations and infinity pool, while also exploring the rich, natural beauty of the surrounding nature. Guests can watch orca or humpback whales swim by the ocean from their beautiful retreat house, baby sea turtles venturing into the ocean, and the famous sunset from their terrace.
Accommodation is for a maximum of 6 guests, so you may request a private small group retreat, private individual retreat, or to join another group of journeyers from around the world. The apartments include high-end furnishings and comforts as well as bicycles for getting around town.
A traditional indigenous shaman will guide your ayahuasca journey, and the ayahuasca brew will be prepared and ready for your arrival. The retreat is 6 days long, with at least 2 ayahuasca ceremonies, and provides ample opportunity for reflection time in nature.
5. Sacred Valley Spiritual Retreats
At the Sacred Valley Spiritual Retreat at Mount Shasta you will find a holistic personalized journey from their team with over 30 years of experience combining healing and retreat facilitation experience. Their expertise lies in indigenous wisdom and sacred healing shamanic arts.
Their holistic center offers wellness retreats with an array of healing methods based on ancient indigenous wisdoms, somatic and trauma release therapy, breathwork, yoga, Reiki, alchemical hypnotherapy and empowerment coaching. Each retreat and program is made to fit your needs, offering private and couple options.
Their sacred master plant medicine retreats where you will have your ayahuasca ceremony are in Peru, but they will provide you with the assessment, treatment, knowledge and resources to help you prepare and integrate your retreat experience at their retreat center in California.
Working with experienced facilitators who have undergone extensive training with world-renowned spiritual teachers, they offer a high level of integrity. In their 10 day psychedelic retreat you will have 7 nights in a luxurious retreat center near Calca, 2 nights in a beautiful monastery hotel near Cusco, and an opportunity to understand the shamanic wisdom of the Inca tradition.
Looking for a great retreat, and willing to travel?
6. Origen Sagrada
During this 2 night retreat you will experience two ayahuasca ceremonies in a remote, private, and peaceful camp near Castle Rock in Northern California. The ceremonies themselves will take place in a private lodge with shared accommodation.
Each ayahuasca ceremony will be facilitated by the spiritual leaders and healers Claudio and Bernadita from the Muruy tribe, found in the Amazonas of Colombia. The work with these elders will be intensive, and they will play beautiful live music to help activate the plant medicine and help you dive deeper into your journey within.
The retreat begins with a herbal plant blessing and a logistical orientation to answer any burning questions before the ceremony begins. In between the ceremonies with mother ayahuasca, there will be the option to join traditional therapies, personal spiritual cleansings, healing sessions, and time for reflection.
7. Retreat removed due to client feedback
(Retreat Removed) offers their healing ayahuasca retreats nearby California, in Texas, and are facilitated by (name removed) , who has experience working with multiple shamans from different Indigenous cultures in the Americas. He currently teaches at The School of Shamanic Teachings, has apprenticed alongside a Peruvian shaman, and continued this initiation with the Q’eros priests in the High Andes mountains of Peru.
Your ceremonies will also include other medicinal plants such as a cacao, rapé and sananga, with the opportunity to attend a San Pedro ceremony. Their eco-environment accommodation has been made to enhance your connection with Mother Nature and to provide a safe container for your spiritual awakening.
8. Sacred Therapy
Sacred Therapy hosts retreats in California and Washington for two nights, with private, comfortable accommodation and vegan meals. In order to attend a retreat you must apply on their website to be a member of the Cosmic Valley Native Americas Church.
Rather than following the traditional South American or Native American route, their ayahuasca ceremonies are hosted in a modern way. Their North American medicine team are trained with ayahuasca churches in the USA and offer a holistic approach with yogic traditions.
The founder has been facilitating ayahuasca ceremonies for five years and has trained with shamans and yogis from all over the world. He also has trained for two years with the Lakota tribe. Full preparation and integration is offered before and after the ceremony, with individualized attention for each retreat participant.
9. The União do Vegetal (UDV)
The União do Vegetal (UDV) is one of the only legal ayahuasca retreat centers in the USA along with Santo Daime, who have received exemption from the government for religious sacrament as an ayahuasca church. Differing from a Native American Church, they originate from Brazil and are a Christian Spiritist religion that is recognized for their service to communities and the environment.
Their sacred sacrament Hoasca, which serves to bring spiritual awareness, contains the same ingredients as Ayahuasca; the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and the Chacruna plant leaves. They do not have a traditional ayahuasca shaman.
Their ayahuasca healing retreat is in New Mexico, but you might be able to find churches or events across the country, including California. The ayahuasca (Hoasca) ceremonies are religious in nature, with influence from their guide Mestre Gabriel and Jesus. Ceremonies are typically 4 hours and include periods of silent concentration.
10. APL Journeys Ayahuasca Retreat
Located not too far from California in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, you will find this international ayahuasca retreat center, facilitating traditional ayahuasca ceremonies with Peruvian shamans from Peru and Ecuador, such as a Shipibo healer. In addition, their facilitators are all certified by the Red Cross to ensure the safest and most fulfilling experiences.
As they work under traditional shamanism, they give you the opportunity to attend Amazonian Curanderismo seminars where you will be educated on ayahuasca healing traditions and shamanic rituals.
They also offer more than your typical retreat center during the 6 days, with a Temazcal herbal sauna (similar to a sweat lodge), 3 ayahuasca ceremonies, 1 purga ayahuasca, 1 kambo session, flower baths, breathwork, sananga sessions, daily shamanic rituals, and liquid mapacho . You will also have preparation and integration support.
Feel comfortable in their luxurious suites, outdoor jungle pool and stunning outdoor showers. Take a yoga class, go for a relaxing swim, or sit in nature in between ceremonies. With 15% of profits going to Peru to support the local communities, you can also feel good that you are contributing to the populations that are sharing ayahuasca with the world.
Still need some help choosing an Ayahuasca retreat?
We would be honored to guide you in choosing the best retreat for your needs. Behold Retreats coordinates expertly guided retreats with Ayahuasca, Psilocybin, and 5-MeO-DMT(Bufo Alvarius) with highly experienced facilitators. Reach out to us to set up a complimentary discovery call and we can point you in the right direction.