Finding community at Rythmia Life Advancement Center
“Community: This ‘life structure’ is about conscious recognition of our interconnectedness with all beings. When stabilized, the constricting boundary of living life on the “me plan” expands into the larger Self, into a sense of being a global citizen. We also realize the value of coming together with other like-minded individuals who support us in our walk towards spiritual awakening. As this structure is stabilized we find our right place in our communities sharing our gifts.” ~ The Answer is You, Michael Bernard Beckwith
Who is your tribe? Think about this for a few minutes. Close your eyes and, without overthinking it, who is the first person standing beside you?
Now add 4 more people.
Then think of 5 more.
Chances are, not all of these people are from the same friend group. You probably met them in a few different places. And you’re so happy that, for each person, you were at that place, at that same exact moment they were. Maybe you still remember how you had to work up the courage to go speak to them. In an instant, there was a connect. Soul sisters, soul mates, best friends. How crazy it is that that was so many years ago…
Maybe there’s that person who has been there for you through thick and thin. Maybe the other one was a total stranger until you got sick at that party and they held your hair back. Maybe you were next door neighbors. Maybe they stood beside you at the altar, or beside you while you married your best friend. Maybe you’ve felt their arms around you when you thought that the world was empty and there was nothing more to live for.
Who is your community?
In today’s society, technology creates this container to stay connected. Sometimes, that connection lasts a lifetime, and sometimes, it can be easy to lose contact with friends. And even though you may not speak to them every day, you still think of them…
It’s pretty beautiful, though. That we can grow so closely with people in such a short amount of time. I think that humans are such interesting creatures. We all have this yearning for connection. Deep down, all we really want is to feel loved and be supported.
I guess I didn’t realize the power relationships held when I was younger. As I mentioned previously, the small community I grew up in could be confusing at times. I believed in things just because my family believed in them. It was a bit unsettling at first, to find out that there were two sides to every story. I traveled some more. Then, wait. I realized that in the real world, there are actually several – if not thousands – of sides, perspectives, or opinions, to every story. The black and white world that I had puzzled together as a teenager began to become more vibrant – pigmented with unique colors. And there were a lot more pieces added.
I read a lot of books. I traveled more. I talked to older people and asked them questions about their past. I spent more time outside. I found my passion. I realized that experiences would make me happier than any material possessions out there. I started to open up about past hurt. And I began making friends with people who shared the same passions. So this is what it’s like to feel deeply connected.
But out of all of the beautiful tribes I was a part of, the most powerful thing which brought people together wasn’t just our common interests.
It was vulnerability. And while I spent seven-nights at Rythmia, I experienced vulnerbility on a whole other level.
If you have ever sat with the sacred feminine plant medicine, Ayahuasca, you will be able to relate to this. And if you haven’t — I’d like to try to paint a picture — but I know my words may not do it justice. This feeling of ceremonial connection is something to experience, at least once in your life.
At the center, I was on a self-healing journey — along with 40-some other people.
On Day One, the ice was broken when we experienced our first breathwork ceremony together. I connected with a girl who sat down next to me, still in her jeans as she had just arrived. Her name was Tara. We listened to everyone’s reason about why they had come to Rythmia, and I immediately felt comfortable. This was a safe space.
The next day I connected with another woman at yoga, Megan. Soon enough, Tara, Megan and I were lounging by the pool, telling each other our deepest fears and laughing that none of us could convert Fahrenheit into Celsius.
When the time rolled around to sit in our first Ayahuasca ceremony, we entered the room to sit together. The three of us chose three comfy mattresses by the windows. We were ready.
Tears, laughter, cries, groans, and sounds of purging filled the room. Beautiful melodic notes swirled through the air. Prayers of the shamans filled my soul. There were moments of pure joy and moments of complete darkness. As the week progressed, and with each ceremony, I was able to go deeper with Mother Ayahuasca and let go of trapped emotions from my childhood.
Every tear I shed was a release of past pain. I hadn’t sobbed like I did in ceremony since I was a child. Maybe those tears were the ones I held back when I was trying to be strong through my parents’ messy divorce. Or when I had to pack up, move to a new town and make new friends, time after time. Every moment I leaned over my bucket or cried into my pillow, I knew it was past hurt and anger coming up, then being let go.
In order to heal, we have to face some dark stuff that we may have been avoiding. We have to feel it. Sit with it. And then let that shit go. It’s important to remember that Ayahuasca isn’t the one healing us, and she’s not showing us anything new.
We are healing ourselves. She’s just giving us the tools to do the work.
Ayahuasca acts as a mirror. The feelings and emotions that arise during ceremony can be a reflection of past feelings, which is why it’s not always easy to comprehend.
Rythmia was a space to listen to ourselves and others. Through the daily plant integration sessions, we had the opportunity to share the experiences we learned from the night before. Every day, astounding realizations were happening. People were becoming more aware of their true potential. People were being vulnerable and open about their past traumas. People were even healing themselves of physical issues.
This was a reminder that everyone is going through something. There really is no such thing as perfection. Looking back, some of the most powerful moments of healing didn’t happen in ceremony itself, it happened through listening to people’s fears, traumas, hopes and stories in between.
On the Last Day, my two new besties knocked on my door to say goodbye. Megan looked at us and handed us each a bracelet. She had bought them prior to coming to Costa Rica. She said she promised herself she would give them to whoever she felt the most connected to on this trip.
In one week, I had made lifelong friends who I know I will see again. And the best part? Every time we sit in ceremony, we form a community which stays in our hearts forever.
So here’s to my group. We all may have had to hold our own hair back, but we were never on that journey all alone. To the Rythmia Light Workers, Group 31.
Jenny currently resides in a magical ski town in the Kootenays, British Columbia. She's always up for a hike, paddle, yoga class or climb. Jenny is passionate about plant medicine for mental health, sustainable travel and has created mindful travel journals through her business, Wakeful Travel.