Our Alchemy

We believe that true happiness comes from the balanced union of mind, body, and spirit. Our programs, activities, and initiatives provide each guest with the foundation to support and integrate each of these three pillars of happiness. By reconnecting to each part, facing its shadow and healing the relationship with it, one can use the experience of self-love as the gateway to universal love, transcending the deeply rooted societal programming which separates us from each other, and ourselves. Ultimately, the path forward is one which incorporates all aspects of healing, paving the way for the work to continue and the medicine each person has to offer to spread even further. Click through each part of our alchemical formula to learn more about how we strive to find balance and peace in today’s chaotic world.

“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

Plant Medicines

Plant medicines have been at the core of human healthcare as far back as human history dates. From the earliest shamanistic practices over 70,000 years ago, the use of Earth’s pharmacy has, until recently, been our main provider in the pursuit of healing.

The symbiotic relationship we as a species maintained with the plants was evidenced by the integral part they played in our medicine cabinets for millenia. They were revered in both an early scientific and a spiritual respect for their potency, abundance, and knowledge. In particular, the belief systems and lifestyle of Shipibo, Conibo, and other indigenous Amazonian tribes, considered the plants to have spirits, and those spirits to be the source of great healing and power when communed with.

As more modern forms of medicine began to take shape alongside patriarchal systems of government and society, many of the traditional forms of medicine were lost, dismissed, or became sequestered in smaller pockets around the globe. The indigenous tribes of the Upper and Lower Amazon – over 75 in total – were one such pocket. They retained the spiritual and medicinal use of Ayahuasca and other Amazonian plant medicines, passing down the complex rituals surrounding their preparation through generations of healers. Ayahuasca in particular became an important method for diagnosing and healing the root causes of illnesses, through healing ceremonies held by trained shamans. This tradition has been maintained for thousands of years, and is currently being brought to light once again across much of the globe.

As a result, we are experiencing a re-emergence of spirit-assisted healthcare in the modern world, as scientific and anecdotal evidence is beginning to reveal just how interconnected consciousness and health seem to be. Despite this knowledge being an intrinsic part of many traditional and Eastern philosophies, Western medicine is only just beginning to understand the concept. This realization is especially crucial as rates of depression, anxiety, and even suicide (particularly in at-risk populations such as war veterans) are at an all-time high in many societies. Slowly but surely, Western medicine is turning towards these traditional and psycho-spiritual therapies as effective adjuncts to the treatment of illnesses.

This spiritual and shamanic use of plant medicines is different than other forms of therapy because it addresses all aspects of a person’s physical, mental, emotional, and energetic bodies. It calls on the participant to work with themselves, the plant medicine, the spirit realm, and the shaman, in order to uncover the roots of their imbalance, often hidden deeply in the subconscious mind, and take personal responsibility for their own healing journey. We strive to provide a safe and authentic space for participants to begin or continue that journey with us, and experience the ancient wisdom and healing potential of the shamanic world of plant medicines.

Discover the medicines we work with

Still Mind

One of the main reasons that Ayahuasca and meditation both seem to profoundly impact mental health and well-being is because they appear to have similar effects on the brain. Both are correlated with increased levels of openness, optimism, and a particularly powerful capability known in the scientific community as “decentering” (which we at Arkana simply call “centering”). This is commonly known in mindful meditation practices as “taking the observer role” or having “the ability to objectively observe one’s thoughts and feelings without associating them with identity.” This ability is heavily correlated with higher levels of happiness and well-being, and lower levels of anxiety and depression.

Breaking out of the chaotic mind can be difficult in one’s day-to-day life. Similarly, liberating oneself from emotional suffering can seem impossible when there is deep pain there. However, cultivating the ability to observe one’s thoughts and emotions from an objective standpoint, in order to be less judgemental and more self-accepting, allows for the accomplishment of freedom from both the overactive mind and, eventually, emotional suffering. This is not an easy process, but takes discipline, commitment, and trust in the process of facing one’s shadow. The good news is, success in one arena reverberates in the other, and we incorporate the tools to achieve both into our programs, including pranayama breathwork, guided meditations, sound baths with Tibetan singing bowls, and Om circles, in addition to plant medicine ceremonies.

The path to happiness is largely a mental one, particularly for many Westerners. Oftentimes, people who suffer from depression, anxiety, or addiction, get locked into patterns of thinking driven by the brain’s control center. The practice of meditation and the ritual use of Ayahuasca (and other psychoactive medicines) disrupts this process, offering the person the perspective needed to find a way out.

Cultivating a mind free from judgement, a “still mind” that fully accepts the present moment, is a powerful tool for shining a light on our darkness, liberating ourselves from old habits and patterns, and ultimately, choosing love – beginning with self-love. This facet of mental health is one of the pillars of happiness that plant medicines and the integrative practices of meditation can show us, and we are honored to help guide you through this most sacred process of self-awakening.

Learn more about our therapies

Love & Gratitude

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”  — Rumi

There is a counterintuitive approach that Ayahuasca takes in order to prepare us to receive love and have gratitude for ourselves and the events and people that have shaped us. This type of work can be quite difficult, and takes courage, because it first involves facing our darkness, or shadow.

When we are young, we often inherit the patterns, habits, and ways of life of our parents, relatives, or those who raised us. We are also heavily shaped by the events in our lives that happen to us at a younger age. While oftentimes this results in good preparation for the future, not all family generational traits or events that occur are good ones. These negative family cycles and events can energetically imprint on us from a very young age, resulting in manifestations of these cycles in the form of addiction, depression, anxiety, and other dis-ease later in life.

Often, it can be difficult to see or understand the true root cause of a particular issue on the surface, and that can not only exacerbate the issue itself, but also cause internal resentment or lack of self-love as a result. In this way, as often happens in our childhood and as we grow older, we turn away from that pain, avoid it and push it down into our subconscious. Ayahuasca and other plant medicines can bring this pain to the surface, revealing that a particular habit or trait is the result of a family cycle, or event from childhood that has stuck with us as an unintegrated blockage in our energetic bodies.

Working with our shadow self is counterintuitive because it asks us to turn towards the pain, face the root causes that have been forgotten, and reclaim our shadow as an integral part of the whole. By asking us to step towards and cleanse the blocked emotions, painful memories, energetic imprints, and self-limiting patterns, we can uncover our true selves, find our inner strength and awareness that lead to and facilitate our healing journey, and rediscover self-respect, self-worth, and self-love.

It may be that the worst moments in our lives are what shape us and make us who we are, but Ayahuasca shows us that we have the power to decide who that is. When we fully integrate our shadow self, transforming the energy from it and using it instead for life-affirming purposes, we can enter into a state of love and gratitude that can only come from walking through the fire and coming out on the other side. By bringing the subconscious blockages to the surface, amplifying the patterns and processes that no longer serve us, and helping us face it, Ayahuasca allows us to choose to transform that darkness into an opportunity to practice love, towards oneself and all things. It is for this reason that we are able to let go of the pain and resentment associated with negative events or habits in our lives, choosing compassion, understanding, and ultimately, love.

“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” — Carl Jung

Prepare for your experience

Knowledge Base

The ancient wisdom of the indigenous Amazonian tribes dates even farther back than human history – it is the history of the plants themselves. Where humans have developed energetic blockages and built internal walls based on events or people in their lives, plants have a direct, free-flowing connection to source energy. As a result, they possess an inherent knowledge beyond most current human ability, that is capable of healing and awakening us to our true nature. They can help guide us towards the understanding that we are vessels that can contain and direct this enormously powerful source energy, but that we must be energetically free of internal “clutter” in order to realize this capacity. Simultaneously, plant knowledge reconnects us to the humility, intention, and integrity that underlies our true selves – the understanding that ultimately, we are in service to the sacredness of all life.

All those on the path of healing are capable of obtaining this knowledge, because it is inherent in our very nature. One of the ways in which many of those on the shamanic learning path gain this knowledge is through plant dietas under a Master Shaman. By “dieting” with a particular plant (also known as a plant teacher), in conjunction with Ayahuasca, one can gain the knowledge and teachings of that plant, and possibly, the ability to channel its healing song in the form of an icaro.

The path to shamanism (and ultimately, we are each our own shamans) is that of becoming a student of the plants, learning and gaining the ability to use that knowledge. It takes dedication and commitment to the cleansing of your internal world to be able to receive the source energy and learn to channel the knowledge and power in order to heal others. As a result, the icaros sung by the shamans are the power directly channeled from the plants themselves, the acoustic code that reform and reshape the energetic “knots” in a patient’s energy body. With the active participation of the patient, the shaman can assist us in reconnecting with the plants and relearning the heritage of knowledge and wisdom of the plant kingdom.

Learn more about plant dietas

Energy Work

When working with plant-spirit medicines and attempting to address the root causes of issues, a strong focus is placed on the energetic body. From the shamanistic point of view, all illnesses and disease are manifestations of blockages or “knots” in the energy of a person, which must be addressed and cleaned when engaging in healing ceremonies.  This is contrary to Western medicine, which places an emphasis on the physical body and outward symptoms of an illness. It is common knowledge in the modern world that one must take care of their physical body and vessel, but little importance is placed on the energetic body, which encompasses the mental and emotional well-being of a person. However, to understand what it truly means to heal the energetic body, one must take a broader look at the icaros (healing songs received from the plants and sung by the shamans) and the Shipibo patterns themselves.

If one looks at the intricate Shipibo patterns which decorate many of the clothing and tapestries worn by the shamans and hung around the center, it is easy to see the sophisticated combination of complexity and symmetry inherent in these designs. What many do not realize, however, is that these patterns and the icaros sung during ceremony are one and the same. Underlying these designs is the concept of an all – pervading mystic reality of oneness which can challenge the typical Western mind. These patterns represent not only the oneness of creation, the inter-changeability of light and sound, the union or fusion of perceived opposites – they are also an ongoing dialogue or communion with the spiritual, energetic world and powers of the Rainforest. The visionary art of the Shipibo brings this paradigm into a physical form. Quite literally, the designs are the “visual sheet music” for the icaros, which in turn are not bound by canvas or acoustics, but instead represent all possible energetic patterns and designs past, present, and future, which extend far beyond these borders and permeate the entire world.

Thus, during ceremony, the Shaman is accessing the geometric patterns of energy, which transform through the vessel of the Maestro to a chant or icaro. The icaro is therefore a conduit for the patterns of creation, which then permeate the body of the Shaman’s patient, bringing harmony in the form of the geometric patterns in order to re-balance the patient’s body. The Shipibo believe that our health is a direct result of the balanced union between mind, body, and spirit. If an imbalance in this occurs (such as through emotions of fear, hate, or anger) this will generate a negative effect on the health of that person. The Shaman will re-establish the balance by chanting the icaros into the energy body of the person. In effect, they are transforming the visual code into an acoustic code. The Shaman knows when the healing is complete, as the design is clearly distinct in the patient’s body. Oftentimes it takes multiple ceremonies to complete this, and when the completed healing designs are embedded in the patient’s body, this is called an Arkana, our Center’s namesake. This internal patterning is deemed to be permanent and to protect a person’s spirit going forward.

We at Pulse strive to honor the knowledge and traditions of the Shipibo people and the plants they work with, and emphasize the energetic harmony and protection you will receive when you experience the medicine with us. Ultimately, we hope to connect everyone who comes through Arkana Spiritual Center to the underlying truth inherent in the Shipibo belief system and knowledge of the plants – the connection of the collective human consciousness to the energetic fabric of the universe, and the ancient primal rhythm which permeates it, made physical through the healing power of the plants and their icaros – a true communion with the infinite.

Learn more about Shipibo shamanism

Exercise & Nutrition

Arkana Spiritual Center supports a holistic approach to the healing path, and that includes the body just as much as the mind and spirit. We are firm believers that a strong foundation in physical health and nourishment sets the stage for healthier habits and patterns that will help you carry this work into life back home. For this reason, we offer highly nutritious, ayahuasca-friendly food that is both delicious and prepared with love, as well as activities and facilities that promote physical health and well-being.

Our staff provides healthy, balanced meals throughout the entirety of your stay, with fresh jungle-fruit smoothies and juice every morning, protein of some sort, (eggs, fish, chicken), lots of vegetables, and rice. We also cook with a little bit of oil and use high-mineral pink sea salt as well as other spices to ensure guests maintain their strength in the heat. Finally, there is always fruit, fresh water, and tea available. We take pride in our ability to honor your body with delicious and healthy food as an integral part of your healing experience.

Our programming also includes yoga classes, pranayama breath work, easy to moderate jungle hiking, and other outdoor activities, in addition to a fully-stocked gym. Our goal is to provide the tools and environment for anyone to instill the healthy habits that are right for them, and that will help maintain the connection to themselves that they find on their healing path. Participate at whatever level of fitness resonates with you, if any at all. Our spacious gym contains yoga mats, Onnit kettle bells, battle ropes, steel maces, moving Zen suspension straps, a punching bag, an elliptical, jump ropes, a spinning bike and free weights, among other equipment. Often an aspect of healing that is typically ignored in this type of spiritual work, we understand and promote the idea that the body is as much a sacred aspect of one’s healing journey as any other.

Nutrition as Part of the HealingSee our Jungle Gym