Bridging Science and Spirituality: Healthcare Professionals Ayahuasca Retreat
In this retreat, Matthew Watherston, the founder of the Temple of the Way of Light, will be collaborating with Dr. Adele Lafrance, psychologist and research scientist, and a team of six highly experienced Shipibo healers with over 150 years of combined experience working with traditional plant-spirit medicine of the Amazon. The theme of this retreat involves a focus on bringing healing to healers, as well as bridging sciences and spirituality for personal and professional healing and growth.
This retreat is by application only
Who is This Retreat For?
This unique, by-application retreat has been designed for healthcare professionals working in medical and mental health settings to bring healing and growth to individuals and to the systems in which they work. We see the profound potential that a transformed and awakened individual can have to impact those they serve; their colleagues, their communities, and beyond.
The healing opportunities you will be provided with throughout this retreat have been created to support you to work through challenging emotional processes and to transform conscious and unconscious compensatory mechanisms, while also providing educational opportunities to integrate indigenous wisdom into the healthcare you deliver. Our focus will also be on healing occupational stress injuries, vicarious trauma, and burn-out.
The intention of this retreat is to provide the conditions for you to experience self-transformation as well as an expansive understanding of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health and healing to elevate your life and practice in an embodied and holistic manner.
Why does the Temple Exist?
The foundation of our work, and all retreats at the Temple, are the highly advanced and complex ethnomedical traditions of the Shipibo-Conibo people, an indigenous group from the Ucayali region of the Peruvian Amazon. We work with Shipibo Onanyabo, meaning those who have wisdom, healers who are known around the region and the world for their mastery in working with ayahuasca and plant medicines. The Onanyabo at the Temple have trained extensively for decades within a wisdom tradition that has been developed and passed down over countless generations. We hold a vision for the mastery of all indigenous healers to be honored, legitimized, and valued across the planet.
Traditional Amazonian plant-spirit healing offers an ancient perspective on the modern epidemic of depression, anxiety, and stress, encouraging a revolution in our healthcare systems, and in the way society addresses mental health and the source of disease. We recognize unresolved personal and trans-generational trauma in all of its different manifestations to be the energetic taproot of all disorder and turmoil, individually and collectively, across the planet. The resolution of trauma leads to completion, wholeness, and connection, and is the most significant mechanism for individual, social, and global transformation.
We stand for a new paradigm in health-care, soul-care, and planet-care
The Mastery of the Shipibo Healing System
Shipibo plant-spirit healing is a sophisticated, regenerative, and restorative spiritual healthcare system that reaches into the psychological, psychic, emotional, and energetic roots of trauma, clearing blockages and highlighting limiting views and self-defeating patterns. The healing work essentially catalyzes a long-term process that supports us to connect back to our true selves – the restoration of a natural state of being.
There will be six night-time ayahuasca ceremonies led by our healers, working as a plant-spirit guided medical team, each bringing their particular skills and specialities and providing individualized attention throughout the retreat that is specific to your needs. At the deepest levels, Shipibo healers understand that there is a symbiosis and synergy in nature that lies at the core of true healing.
For the Onanyabo, ayahuasca is far from simply a hallucinogenic experience. It is a nexus to a vast number of other plant (spirit) medicines that work together to provide a harmony of healing. This level of healing can create deep and lasting transformation that is not attainable by working with psychedelics or psychotherapy alone. It can sometimes take a full orchestra to create the symphony of healing and to restore our innate connection with the web of all life on the planet.
The Shipibo approach to healing is bio-centric, carrying the intention to reconnect us with the natural world. As much as our soil, forests, and oceans need diversity to thrive, healing systems that work with and honor the diversity of nature allow for full-spectrum healing. Working with a vast array of forces, elements, and spirits of nature, the Shipibo Onanyabo create the conditions for nature to heal itself (us)!
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” – Albert Einstein
Although this process lies far beyond our understanding of modern healthcare and sits firmly outside of the widespread materialistic understanding of reality, the Shipibo’s perspectives on optimal health are radically different. The key to the success of the healing they provide lies in their experience working in the inner, non-physical, non-local realms of being. This causal approach can challenge the underlying assumptions of the modern biomedical paradigm. As well as focusing on physical and psychological symptoms, they address the non-physical, energetic sources of disorder and disease, moving beyond the assertions of contemporary science and reaching into the quantum realms. Ultimately, this deep healing process results in a radical shift from operating predominantly from our intellect, into allowing our healing practices to also be guided, informed, and inspired by our hearts and souls.
“Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe – a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which, we with our modest powers must feel… humble” – Albert Einstein
The Day-time Sessions
In tandem with the healers, the daytime workshops build on and complement the deep experiences in ceremony, creating greater context for the healing work. Each day, participants will engage in group work led by Adele, Matthew, and the team. These sessions will include preparation for ceremonies, including the setting of intentions, and the processing of ceremonial experiences, using didactic and experiential tools and techniques from Emotion-Focused Therapy, Emotion-Focused Family Therapy, and Compassionate Inquiry, among other complimentary modalities. You will also be supported to build a personal integration plan that will smooth the transition to life at home.
This is high-level, rigorous work delivered by leaders in psychotherapy and change theory. The process encourages you to lean towards uncomfortable experiences, where the alchemy of transformation can deepen. This retreat is for those who are committed to participating in processes, conversations, and ceremonies that are challenging. Though the program will offer structure, we also invite you to be willing to explore with us as we tend to personal and interpersonal dynamics as they emerge.
Pre and Post Retreat Support
We also provide preparation and integration support as part of this program:
- An individual video call with each participant during the month before the retreat to establish a connection, set intentions, and prepare the groundwork
- Three individual video calls during the three months following the retreat to support you with whatever is surfacing following the work in the Amazon and provide therapeutic support where needed
- Three group video calls during the three months following the retreat to process and share progress together
“If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.” – Lao Tzu
Why Attend this Retreat?
We have worked with many healthcare professionals over the years and have recognized a common thread. The vast majority have struggled at varying degrees with vicarious trauma that has accumulated over years or decades of practice. Whether working with physical or psychological dis-ease, being present for years with the energies on the frontlines of healthcare can impact a practitioner’s life in seen and unseen ways.
In 2019, we ran a special program specifically for medical practitioners, led by renowned physician, addiction and trauma expert, speaker, and author, Dr. Gabor Maté. A wide range of healthcare professionals attended the retreat, all of whom were carrying varying levels of vicarious trauma, in addition to personal and ancestral traumas. One of the primary themes that arose in the group was burn-out, which we could identify as stemming from unresolved trauma and the accumulation of stress in their systems.
Despite the heartfelt calling that inspires most practitioners to practice and provide healthcare, it’s clear that for a variety of cultural, systemic, and personal reasons, we can be limited in our capacity to recognize the negative impacts that healthcare provision has on the providers themselves. Many healthcare providers also find it difficult to maintain effective levels of self-care.
Participants shared the following feedback, 18 months following their retreat in 2019:
I became a better psychoanalyst and found my own voice when working with patients.
It helped me to do my job better.
It’s helped me to let my guard down.
I have become a better doctor; more patient, more curious, and my practice has matured.
The retreat has helped me professionally and personally.
Has helped me to reclaim my hobbies and the full range of “who I am.”
I realized how bad I was at caring for myself.
I experienced a significant and very necessary detox from digital technology.
I felt embraced by nature.
I feel more aligned professionally.
I find it easier to work.
Everything has become simpler.
I am a better person.
I gave up smoking and alcohol.
I really understand “heal thyself” as being the key to being a good healthcare worker.
I now feel that personal healing and self-care is an ethical responsibility for all doctors.
I used to have a hard time being vulnerable.
My practice and the way I work has completely changed.
This work has totally changed my life.
I have much more self-awareness.
I have experienced new initiatives emerging since I went to the Amazon.
I am blossoming as a doctor.
It has broadened my depth of practice.
I realized I never “let go” before.
I reconnected with my emotions.
I realized I was trapped, stuck in a box, and on a hamster wheel in my work (both emotionally and financially).
Everything changed after the work in the Amazon.
I have experienced how this work brings the heart back into healthcare.
Review from Dr. Gabor Maté
Dr. Gabor Maté came to the Temple in April, 2019 to facilitate this retreat and experience the healing work of the Shipibo Onanyabo. In this video, Gabor candidly shares his personal healing experience and how the Temple’s approach to inquiry and facilitation significantly supported his own process:
Dr. Adele Lafrance
Dr. Adele Lafrance is a clinical psychologist, research scientist, author, and co-developer of emotion-focused treatment modalities, including Emotion-Focused Family Therapy. A frequent keynote speaker at professional conferences, Adele has published extensively in the field of emotion and health, including a clinical manual to heal intergenerational family pain published by the American Psychological Association. She’s also written a popular parenting book titled: What to Say to Kids When Nothing Seems to Work.
Adele is a leader in the research and practice of psychedelic medicine, with prior and current involvement in studies examining the healing potential of ayahuasca, MDMA, psilocybin, and ketamine. She has a particular interest in mechanisms and models of healing, including emotion processing, spirituality, and family-based psychedelic medicine. She is a founding member of the “Love Project”.
Adele has been supporting individuals in the context of plant medicine retreats for the past 7 years. She is committed to her own personal work – both with conventional psychotherapy and plant medicine, having participated in several plant diets to bring greater alignment to her life, and those she serves. Adele’s approach is enriched by her deep compassion, therapeutic skills, kindness, and sense of humor.
Following his first visit to the Amazon and a life-changing shift in his perspectives after experiencing ayahuasca for the first time, Matthew founded the Temple in January, 2007. Since then, he has worked passionately to manifest his vision to build a pioneering Amazonian healing center focused on responsibly facilitating indigenous healing and working in reciprocity with the people of the Amazon and their environment. Over the last 14 years, he has developed the Temple to become a flagship model of a plant-medicine based, conscious healthcare business with a strong commitment to social and environmental responsibility in the Amazon and beyond.
Matthew is deeply passionate about Traditional Amazonian Medicine and recognizes its significant potential as a spiritual healthcare system, moving beyond an anthropocentric perspective of medicine to a bio/eco-centric approach that successfully addresses the energetic taproots of the issues we all face during this evolutional turning point, both individually and collectively. He has undergone a profound personal healing journey since arriving in the Amazon, is a long-term apprentice in Shipibo medicine, and is dedicated to ensuring that the ancient medical traditions of the Amazon are honored and respected.
Recognizing the critical importance of reciprocity, he has founded two Peruvian non-profit organizations; Alianza Arkana (2011) and Chaikuni Institute (2013), implementing programs in permaculture, regenerative agroforestry, sustainable ayahuasca production, and intercultural education. His lifetime goal is for the Temple to become a university hospital, taking part in the creation of a new paradigm in health-care, soul-care, and planet-care.
Shipibo Plant-Spirit Curanderismo
The incredible mastery of Shipibo healers brings practices that form a sophisticated system of spiritual healing – a regenerative, energetically focused, soul-based, and spirit-assisted healthcare system.
We deeply honor and respect the indigenous healing traditions of the Amazon that have evolved over hundreds, maybe even thousands of years and offer the most effective ayahuasca healing experiences possible. We work with some of the most respected, kind-hearted and powerful healers from the Shipibo tribe, who are highly skilled in ayahuasca healing and plant-spirit curanderismo (shamanism) of the Amazon.
Our team of Onanyabo (healers, in Shipibo) have been carefully selected over many years to work at the Temple. They bring a rich healing legacy, time-honored rituals, intricate practices, an expansive cosmology, and a far-reaching ancestral lineage to the healing process. Coming to an ayahuasca retreat in the Amazon, the birthplace and source of the medicine, being supported by the energies, elements, forces, and spirits of the jungle, and guided by the indigenous wisdom keepers of powerful ethnomedical traditions, is the most effective and deepest way to work with ayahuasca.
The Onanyabo’s encyclopedic knowledge of medicinal plants (rao, in Shipibo) of the Amazon Rainforest allows them to heal a huge range of psycho-spiritual, emotional, and physical conditions. Their healing process is focused on cleansing and purifying the energetic field that surrounds us. They identify the source of turmoil, disorder, and disease as stemming from heavy energies (mahua niwe) that are trapped due to personal and ancestral traumas (rate) or toxic energies picked up in our environments.
They see these energies as the principal blockages to good health and well-being and are identified as dark, muddy colors within the energetic matrix of the patient. Ayahuasca enables them to expand their consciousness and open up into non-physical dimensions where they carry out their work. They have definitions for these inner realms of existence that they refer to as nete (worlds).
- Panshin Nete – the world of darkness (negative thoughts and emotions, violent energies, death, conflict, etc)
- Yora Nete – the energetic (etheric) counterpart to the physical body, blood, bones, flesh, mucus, organs, etc)
- Shinan Nete – the world of mind: beliefs, mental concepts, thoughts, lower and higher
- Winti Nete – the world of heart: desires, emotions, and relationships
- Rao Nete – the world of the medicinal plants
- Jakon Nete – the world of joy, peace and harmony
- Ani Nete – the world of the great mind / Rios Nete – the world of the gods
In order to become an Onanya, the apprentice must carry out a long and arduous training, a process called sama (master plant dieta). The sama is fundamentally the process of establishing a connection with the spirit of the plant that is being dieted. Over many years the plant spirits teach the apprentice how to navigate the inner worlds, how to heal, and how to become a conduit for the energetic medicines of the plants to be channelled to the patient. The most powerful energetic healing transmission is in the form of sound – the ikaro – the healing songs of the plants. To become a high-level healer typically takes at least ten years, although the learning process never stops.
The dietas enable the Onanyabo to open up portals whilst in the expanded states of ayahuasca, calling in plant-spirit doctors to carry out energetic operations on the patients. It is the plant-spirit allies/doctors who disconnect, extract, clear, cleanse, and purify the heavy energies from the systems of the patients. And then work to realign the energetic architecture (body, mind, and soul), reconnecting you to your essence and the natural order/world, and finally, specific ikaros to protect the healing work and illuminate your pathway forwards.
The Process of Becoming Whole and Complete
Since 2007, we’ve worked with nearly 10,000 people who have come to the Temple seeking ayahuasca for healing, direction, personal growth, and spiritual development, and we’ve seen incredibly positive results. We also recognize that, for there to be a long-term and tangible impact in our everyday life, we need to fully understand how to integrate our experiences with ayahuasca. Thus, life ultimately becomes the ceremony.
No matter how much energetic healing work we do, if we don’t commit to transforming our views of ourselves and the world around us (or in other words, if we continue to live with views and behaviors that are not aligned with our true selves) turmoil will return in our lives. This program offers the groundwork for that profound transformation.
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” – Max Planck
For the most part, our lives are unconsciously driven by views we hold about ourselves, trapped emotions, and blocked energies that are a consequence of difficult and traumatic experiences, predominantly from our childhoods. Our current environment, including our relationships, jobs, living situations (everything!) consistently reflect those views.
Ayahuasca helps dissolve the illusory self and significantly increases awareness of self-constructed boundaries, highlighting and helping release fear-filled and self-limiting beliefs. Ayahuasca initiates a long-term healing journey that supports overall liberation from the hypnosis of conditioning – shining a light onto your shadow and helping you to become aware of your patterns, intimate with your fears, embrace your shadow, and consciously parent yourself back to wholeness.
The healing you will receive will cleanse a significant amount of dense energies that have accumulated in your system as well as bring up many aspects of your past that have been buried in your subconscious. As traumas are addressed, integration of the experience is necessary to return to wholeness.
Ayahuasca and the plant spirits will continue to work with you after you leave the Temple and the more self-reflection, courage, responsibility, and awareness you bring to the process during this crucial phase, the more benefits you will gain. It is important to understand that this process not only takes place during the ceremonies but also normally for days, weeks, and months after a retreat. This is the slow path towards freedom from fear, resulting in increasingly feeling lighter, brighter, more vital, more compassionate, and more in touch with yourself and the world around you.
We will share the most powerful tools we know to support you with your integration process. Through regular group sharing and guidance throughout the workshop, we will support you significantly with your overall integration process, which is as important as the treatment you receive during the retreat. These tools include both past-based and future-oriented inquiry to prepare you to safely re-experience trapped emotions as they surface, bring awareness to unconscious patterns, and freely create a fully expressed, profoundly meaningful, and deeply fulfilling life that is unlimited and unrestricted by the past.
Staying connected to the breakthroughs, insights, and revelations received while working with ayahuasca in the Amazon once we go home is often challenging. Integration, the process of bringing our experiences with the medicine into our lives, is critical after working with ayahuasca. If we consider ayahuasca ceremonies as the classroom, then integration is the homework – the work to get home. Bringing profound integrity, self-responsibility, and self-compassion into our lives is essential throughout the process of integration, becoming whole and complete.
“A human being is a part of a whole, called by us “universe,” a part of limited time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts, and his feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” – Albert Einstein
- Individual preparation call with each participant that includes intention setting, guidance, and laying the groundwork
- A high ratio of healers to guests – 6 healers per retreat
- Group size limited to 23 healthcare professionals
- 6 ayahuasca ceremonies over the 12 days
- Intensive focus on processing and integration by an experienced team of facilitators
- A cleansing steam bath on the first day of the retreat
- Jain Póiti (flower baths) for cleansing, purifying, and strengthening
- Vomitivos (stomach cleansing) to rid the stomach of some toxins
- All food and drink – a deliciously simple diet suitable for working with medicinal plants & ayahuasca
- Jungle walk and see medicinal plants in their natural environment
- Group meetings to share and process your experiences
- Accommodation in comfortable tambos spread out throughout the Temple grounds (fully protected with mosquito netting, eco-friendly flush toilets and waste systems, running water, and hammocks)
- Laundry service
- Translation from Shipibo and Spanish into English
- All workshops facilitated in English
- Porters to carry your luggage in and out of the Temple from the pickup location
- All transportation to and from the Temple
- 3 individual video calls during the three months following the retreat
- 3 group video calls during the three months following the retreat
What’s not Included:
- Airfares (International and National)
- Airport transportation
- Travel insurance
- Accommodation in Iquitos
- Peruvian Visa costs for non EEC or USA nationals
- Personal expenses (meals and drinks in Iquitos, etc.)
USD $5,000 Due upon approval into the retreat to confirm a space
A portion of the income from our ayahuasca retreats funds projects on environmental justice, sustainable development, and intercultural education run by our Peruvian NGO, The Chaikuni Institute, partnering with indigenous people in the Amazon.
Important Terms and Advice
- Once registration is approved, retreat payments are non-refundable.
- If we are forced to cancel any retreats as a result of the pandemic situation or international travel restrictions, all payments will be either transferred to personal credit to be used for a future program at a later date (with no expiration date), or you may move to a different program at that time.
- We will send you an invoice with a link to pay via credit card after your registration has been approved. Your balance must be paid in full upon approval to guarantee your space.
- For cancellations more than 8 weeks prior to the start of a retreat, you may transfer to a different program or transfer your payment to personal credit to be used for a future program in the next 2 years.
- For cancellations within 8 weeks of the start of a retreat, you may only transfer to a different program or transfer your payment to personal credit to be used for a future program in the next 2 years if we can fill your place in the retreat. We will try our best to do so.
- We strongly recommend all guests purchase flight and travel insurance to cover all contingencies and nonrefundable deposits and expenses.
IMPORTANT APPLICATION INFO:
This retreat is limited to medical and and mental health professionals, and is by-application only.
- Please click “Register Now” below and fill in the necessary information on the following pages in order to submit your application. NOTE: All applications must be completed from a computer as we do not have mobile phone capability for our medical forms at this time.
- Once you have completed your application and your medical information has been reviewed by our team, we will email regarding your acceptance into the retreat. We will be approving applications on a case by case basis. Please check your email regularly as we may be in touch with you if we have any questions.
If you have any questions for us, please contact us at [email protected].
NOTE: Please do not book flights or make any travel arrangements until your application and medical information has been reviewed and you have been approved to attend. In consideration of the changing global situation and international travel restrictions, we strongly recommend not making any travel arrangements until close to the start of the retreat and purchasing travel insurance.
If we are forced to cancel any programs as a result of the changing global situation or international travel restrictions, all registration payments will be either transferred to personal credit to be used for a future program at a later date (with no expiration date), or you may move to a different program at that time.