In October 2018 I had my first experience with ayahuasca at Rythmia Life Advancement Center in Costa Rica. Four ayahuasca ceremonies in one week that changed my life.
In this article I share my experiences with you. What did I like most about Rythmia? What could be better?
With almost two years distance and further ceremonies with ayahuasca, my experience today is different than shortly after.
Since you will find detailed descriptions of my experiences in ayahuasca ceremonies in other reports, I will concentrate on these points in this article today:
- What do I particularly like about Rythmia Life Advancement Center?
- What could be better?
What do I particularly like about Rythmia Life Advancement Center?
The accommodations at Rythmia
When I compare my stay at Rythmia in Costa Rica with the retreat in Peru at El Camino Sagrado (experience report follows shortly), the first thing that strikes me is the differences in the accommodations.
Rythmia is a former luxury bungalow resort and you notice it with every step!
- There is a nice pool with sunbeds and daybeds
- a sun protected dining area, the Restaurant Roots
- small bungalows for the participants with one, two or three beds (different price categories)
- a huge site with lots of green spaces, Buddha statues, hammocks
- Transport of participants and suitcases across the course with golf carts
- A separate building where you can book massages (one is included in the price)
- a whirlpool and a mud bath
For your healing through ayahuasca, such a luxury is of course not necessary. But it is simply fun to stay there and enjoy the accommodations. Because that is what it really is – a pleasure!
I had booked a double room. Normally I am a person who needs extremely much time for himself. When I booked a double room, I had doubts about whether it would be suitable for me, but then I decided to take it for cost reasons.
I do not regret it for one second!
My room mate and I found each other horrible at first sight (I thought: “Oh, a chick!” / She: “Shit! She’s totally arrogant!”), but after a few hours it was clear that we have a lot in common. We shared great days and moments and really grew together. Sometimes it was almost scary how well we get along.
Rythmia Life Advancement Center made a lasting impression on me because of the great location.
The retreat center is about 1.5 hours drive from Liberia airport, from where you will be picked up by the in-house shuttle.
The closeness to the beach impressed me the most. By bike you need about 15 minutes, but because of the heat I used the shuttle with some other participants and got a ride.
On the beach there was nothing else except a closed beach club and a 5-star hotel a few hundred meters away. Apart from us, only some lonely hotel guests strolled along the fine sandy beach from time to time.
Because of the packed schedule in Rythmia I was only twice on this beach. The first time we went swimming in the wonderfully refreshing water, on the second day the current was unfortunately so strong that swimming was not possible.
In your free time you could also go to Tamarindo for a stroll. This small town is only 30 minutes by cab. There are a few nice stores there with wonderful clothes, tunics and jewelry as well as good restaurants. Tamarindo also has great flat beaches.
After the retreat was over, I spent three days in Tamarindo to relax.
The welcome at Rythmia
You will be picked up from the airport in Liberia together with some other participants and will receive your first small present already during the trip: A small cute bag with dried banana, nuts and other dried fruits.
This was a real blessing for me, as I had over 20 hours of travel from Germany behind me and could hardly sleep. Pure jetlag!
So first of all, nibble on the treats, get to know the participants in a little bit and watch a short introductory film with Gerry, the founder of Rythmia, which can be seen on a screen for everyone.
When you arrive at the retreat center after about 1.5 hours, it starts right away!
For registration you will receive a goodie bag filled with great stuff:
- A drinking bottle with Rythmia print
- a small bag of thick cotton
- more sweets
- a block with pen
All this simply contributes to the Rythmia experience. (I still have the drinking bottle and I like to use it in summer).
The large reception is usually staffed by three or four locals who speak super English and miraculously remember your name very quickly. After all, the groups of participants are very large – amazing!
After you have been registered and received your goodie bag, a golf cart will come and drive you to your bungalow. Even if, as in my case, it was just around the corner and I could have easily walked the 50 meters.
The extensive accompanying program
At Rythmia Life Advancement Center you will not only receive four Ayahuasca ceremonies, but also an extensive accompanying program. At the reception you will find a full schedule in oversize, where you can orientate yourself by at any time.
In 2018 there was a session of transformational breathwork at the beginning of the retreat and at the end of each group.
Currently Rythmia advertises on its website that there are three breathwork sessions per stay.
The first session was a great experience for me. In the second one I breathed wrongly and got cardiac arrhythmia because of the hyperventilation. At the infirmary (yes, Rythmia has a medical license with its own infirmary and staff) I was taken care of and after about an hour I was well again.
Yoga in the morning
There is also an hour of yoga every morning at 7 am. Unfortunately I only made it to the yoga class on the first day. The other days I was just too tired.
The ayahuasca ceremonies end around 1am, at 1.30am I was in bed. To be back on the yoga mat at 7 o’clock was just too early. Even for me, where I am amazingly fit after the ayahuasca ceremonies and only need a maximum of five hours sleep. But then to spend my time on the mat is still too much.
I prefered to write down my memories of the past ceremony in the morning.
Colon irrigations at Rythmia
Colon irrigations were a completely new experience for me. The purer your body is, the better ayahuasca can work in you. Therefore it makes sense to offer colon irrigations. With slight skepticism I got the first colonic irrigation behind me, but then I was pleasantly surprised.
Three colon irrigations were on the program for us participants.
Massage and dance
Each participant could also register for a massage and book others at his own expense. My Swedish massage took place on the last day of the retreat and was a crowning finale.
Speaking of the last day: The Dance of Liberation, a mix of movement therapy and shamanic ceremony, was missed by most of the participants because we were simply too tired after the last long Ayahuasca ceremony. To be honest, I don’t know if anyone showed up at all and the leader left without having done anything.
Rythmia: A massive plus for the food
The food at Rythmia was first class!
On the days when there was an ayahuasca ceremony in the evening, we were free to help ourselves to the sumptuous buffet in the morning and at noon. There were many delicious vegan and vegetarian things, as well as chicken. Soups, vegetables, smoothies, dessert, bread – I didn’t miss anything.
After lunch you should not eat anything to go into the ayahuasca ceremony with an empty stomach if possible.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner were served on days when there was no ayahuasca ceremony.
Drinks were available at any time: still water, water mixed with fruit and – which I mercilessly took advantage of – coconut water. You could drink as much coconut water every day as you wanted. Because of the colon irrigations and the exhausting ayahuasca ceremonies, the healthy coconut water was a great supplement to get through the day well.
Meg, the cook, has published a cookbook with delicious recipes, which I bought as a souvenir in the in-house store. You can also get it here on Amazon.*
The guest speakers at Rythmia Life Advancement Center
A retreat at Rythmia is expensive, no question. But in return you will get a great guest speaker in your retreat in addition to the points already mentioned. In my week Penache Desai was there – bestselling author, spiritual teacher and one of Oprah Winfrey’s guests at SuperSoul Sunday.
The great thing about Penache Desai was that he spent the week with us. Not only did we have two workshops with him, but he attended the ayahuasca ceremonies and sat with us at meals.
Enough time to talk with him (theoretically – I didn’t dare).
Graham Hancock, Lisa Nicols, Marisa Peer or Michael Bernard Beckwith are just some of the names of the guest speakers that might look familiar to you. Michael Beckwith is the founder and spiritual director of Rythmia.
The energy of Rythmia
I especially liked the energy of Rythmia. There is such a great energy in this place that I really like to think back to it. Each of the staff members will do their best to make sure you have a great stay!
Here you can get an impression of the center in Costa Rica. At minute 1.30 you can see me on the right side of the picture in close-up wearing a denim shirt ?
Now that I have listed a lot of positive aspects of Rythmia Life Advancement Center in Costa Rica, there are still 2.5 negative points that I do not want to withhold from you.
What could I like better at Rythmia?
Ratio of participants and helpers in Ayahuasca ceremonies
The ayahuasca ceremonies take place in large groups. In my retreat we were 80 people and the maloka was totally filled. In other retreats the number of participants was even larger, so that there were more mattresses in the yoga area before the Maloka.
To this extent, a lot is happening energetically! Old memories come up, fears and sadness are lived through.
That is why it is important that there are enough helpers in the Ayahuasca ceremonies to support the participants in their process, if they wish.
“My” helper at Rythmia was responsible for eight other participants. That is a lot if you compare how the ratio of helpers to participants is in other retreat centers.
Especially in the first two ceremonies I wished for more support, I didn’t feel seen.
However, I guess today that this was my topic to work on. Instead of torturing myself with nausea and vomiting for three hours, I could have just opened my mouth and yelled “Help! Then someone would have come.
But I didn’t do that. I hoped that a helper would notice how bad I was feeling and that I would long for help. But that is not their job.
Advertising for additional offers
Financing this huge area, the accommodations and the employees is a huge effort. That is why prices have risen since 2018 and there are additional offers you can buy.
What I found annoying was that these offers were hidden in “workshops” and were on the timetable. But after a few minutes in it was obvious that they were just promotional events. Luckily nobody was looked at derogatory if they left these events early (like me).
If I would go to Rythmia again, I would skip these hours and spend the time relaxing on the beach.
The costs for the Ayahuasca Retreat
Rythmia Life Advancement Center is expensive, there is nothing to be said against it.
My 7-day stay in a two-bed room with a previously unknown participant cost $4,200 in 2018. For the four ayahuasca ceremonies you had to pay another 400 dollars in cash on site, a total of 4600 dollars. No small amount!
Optional is the fee for the shuttle from the airport to the retreat center. It is almost 390 dollars. If you use the one-time payment for the retreat fee, you get a discount of 200 dollars.
In the meantime the prices have increased. A two-bed room now costs $4530, the ceremonies $460. So in total 4990 dollars for seven days.
All current price information is available on request from Rythmia.
Of course there are many other retreat centers that also offer four ayahuasca ceremonies for less than 2000 dollars.
At Rythmia, you clearly pay for the luxury in all areas and the high energy. Here a certain clientele is addressed. So it is not surprising if participants like Bobby Brown, social media influencer or world-class athletes are among the guests and maybe sit next to you at the lunch table.
My conclusion about Rythmia
In the course of the last years my opinion about Rythmia in Costa Rica has changed again and again. Depending on what I was able to work on in the meantime and what new insights I had. Because Ayahuasca does not only work intensively in the ceremonies, but the work continues at home.
For almost 1.5 years I have almost excluded going back. First I had to overcome a fear that appeared in Rythmia in a ceremony and which I have connected negatively with this place ever since.
Update: Juni 2021. Today, almost three years later, I wouldn`t go back. I still love the place, the retreat center, but I have heard from several trustworthy people who worked at Rhythma that some nasty things are going one behind the scenes.
For my own sake, it is definitly a “no”.