Don Miguel was born into a Shipibo community called Roaboya on the River Ucayali. When Don Miguel was a child, Angel Sanchez Vargas, his grandfather was the community’s curandero. Vargas was an expert in sacred plant medicines and was frequently called upon to heal and share his spiritual wisdom with members of Roaboya. The school built some years later was named after Vargas and Roaboya went on to be recognised as the first indigenous community 114 years ago. Don Miguel grew up surrounded by the Shipibo wisdom and possess intimate knowledge of the sacred plant medicines. At a very young age he began his apprenticeship as a curandero through plant dietas under the supportive guidance of his grandfather. Miguel is also a trained literature professor and thoroughly enjoys teaching the Shipibo language and culture. Since 2012, Don Miguel has spent the bulk of his time at the Ayahuasca Foundation where he supports his brother, Don Enrique in leading lectures, workshops, initiation courses and retreats. Don Miguel will lead our Ayahuasca ceremonies, circle discussions and be available for personal consultations whilst on retreat.
Kara has spent her life expanding her healing gifts, offering counsel to many, and building her career around the pillars of healing while offering services in many areas such as art and art therapy, music and sound healing, hands-on healing through Reiki and deep integrative trauma release bodywork and studying what draws her into deeper realms of healing through plant medicine, healing the body with food, and daily practices to keep the body and mind centered. Growing up with parents in the US that loved to travel, Kara realized at an early age that she loved traveling. Now spending the majority of her time in South and Central America, Peru and Guatemala have become her new homes.
In 2005 Kara met Ayahuasca and the introduction was life-changing for her. After moving into the work slowly – about 4 years only sitting once every two years – it wasn’t until she met her first teacher that she heard the calling to the medicine in a deeper way. After that calling, she began a serious 7-year study of this sacred plant medicine and found herself in Peru. Studying and learning from some of the most revered Shipibo’s curanderos in South America. Today she focuses most of her learning time with the Mahua family and the Gomez family in the Peruvian Amazon.
Her work with the Amazonian plants has deepened her own journey into facilitating retreats with her teacher(s), hosting her own retreats, and offering ceremonies. One of her main focuses in these spaces is integration. Kara believes the most important work comes during the time after the retreat – how we integrate the plants and their knowledge into our own daily lives is the key to successful plant medicine healing.
Kara offers facilitation and ceremonies that are built with the participants and their own intention. Holding a light to their goals and journey, Kara brings seven (+) years of study and practice to the circle, holding you with love, healing and humor, and with creative solutions and paradigms to help allow new information to integrate into your soul. Kara believes this is the best work we can offer to our own development. You can find more information about Kara’s offerings at www.karacura.com.
Originally from Italy, and now living in Melbourne Australia, Elio Geusa is the founder of AYA Healing Retreats. Elio is a qualified Social Worker and has over thirteen years experience working both on national and international humanitarian projects. He has worked with people living with intellectual disabilities and mental health conditions. He has also had the privilege of supporting refugee populations to overcome the trauma of displacement throughout Asia, Europe, and Australia. Elio believes that compassionate and inspired action can create meaningful change in the world.
Elio’s grandfather was a highly-respected healer in a small village in southern Italy. From a young age, Elio was drawn to healing as a profession after witnessing the profound differences his grandfather made in the lives of members of their community.
In 2009, Elio encountered the plant medicine, Ayahuasca for the first time. Convinced of its power to cure the incurable, Elio began an apprenticeship under the guidance of Maestro, Vegetalista Manaco Manain. Since 2009 he has continued to deepen his knowledge, experience, and understanding of the workings of the sacred plant medicines, studying the Shipibo traditions under the revered Mahua family and has undertaken numerous Master Plant Dietas with well-respected curanderos in the Peruvian Amazon.
This immersion in the sacred plant medicines of the indigenous peoples of Peru enabled Elio to experience deep and profound healing. He has overcome crippling anxiety and anger as a result of traumatic childhood experiences, healing that was not possible through the Western medical paradigm. His renewed sense of self-worth, love, compassion, and empathy for himself enables him to extend those same qualities to others.
Elio founded AYA Healing Retreats because he is convinced of the healing potentialities of sacred plant medicines. Not only does he hope to share the indigenous wisdom of the ancient traditions of the tribe’s peoples of the Amazon, but he also intends to invest part of AYA Healing Retreats profits into humanitarian projects that are creating a more compassionate world.
Elio is committed to creating a safe, enjoyable, transformative experience for every participant, whilst on retreat please don’t hesitate to approach Elio for help and support as you navigate the complexities of your healing journey.
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Our comprehensive screening questionnaire has been developed in partnership with the International Centre for Ethnobotanical Education, Research and Service (ICEERS). Please take your time to answer it as honestly and with as much detail as possible. This information will remain strictly confidential and will only be used to assess your suitability for a place on retreat with AYA Healing Retreats and keep you safe
Please remember that the purpose of this screening questionnaire is to determine whether plant medicine healing is suitable for you…not whether you are suitable for plant medicine healing. Plant medicines are tools, like any other healing modality and like other tools for healing experiencing them entails certain risks. We need to make sure that our plant medicines will not compromise your wellbeing or harm you in any way before we allow you to begin your healing journey with us. In short, we care about your safety and we need to do what we can to ensure that during your time with us you are not at risk of harm. Plant medicines can be dangerous if the plants are not the right fit for the individual. Your answers to this questionnaire will help us to determine whether the plants we intend to use are going to help, rather than harm you