While both curanderos and facilitators are united in their commitment to bringing about profound spiritual, physical and emotional healing in participants, their role whilst on retreat is very different. It is important to distinguish between our healers or curanderos and our facilitators so as you are aware of how we can best support throughout your time with us.
The role of our curanderos or healers is to bring to the retreat setting their indigenous wisdom and expert knowledge of the sacred plant medicines of the Amazon. Their role is to guide participants in directing the energy flow of the sacred plant medicine ceremonies. Their primary role is to ensure that the medicines are used appropriately and to channel the energy of the medicines to pave the way for the profound healing to occur.
Sacred plant medicine healing can be a confronting experience. You will likely feel a variety of distressing emotions and be faced with shadow aspects of your personality and upsetting memories. The confrontation with these uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, and visions can cause us to panic, feel fear, to cry, scream and to vomit. Whilst uncomfortable, for the body to purge past trauma it must first have a chance to detoxify and rid itself of all that is preventing deep and enduring healing to occur.
The role of our facilitators, who all have extensive experience in sacred plant medicines and various psychological and creative therapies is to support you to locate the courage you need to move through the difficulty. Their primary role is to ensure your wellbeing. Our facilitators will create a loving, compassionate space in which all participants feel safe, respected and free to express themselves authentically.
Elio Geusa – Founder, Lead Facilitator
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.
Atira Tan – post-retreat integration support
Hailing from her native Singapore Atira Tan, now based in Melbourne Australia, has over 15 years experience healing trauma through yoga, mindfulness, art, and counseling. Atira has a Master’s Degree in Art Therapy from Latrobe University, Melbourne, she has featured on TED X, is the founder of Art to Healing and the annual international Yogathon event, Yoga for Freedom. Atira works extensively throughout Asia and Australia in various projects that are centered around healing and empowering women and girls who have been sexually abused and violated through the sex trafficking industry.
From 2004 onwards, Atira established numerous clinical art therapy and trauma recovery programs and has partnered with international organisations to bring art therapy, somatic therapies, yoga, mindfulness to the refugee camps of Burma, the war zones of Cambodia, the brothels of Kathmandu, regions devastated by earthquakes in Nepal and to remote Aboriginal communities in Australia. In addition to her not for profit work, Art to Healing, Atira works as a clinician and clinical supervisor in Australia and the Asia Pacific region and as an educator in Transpersonal Art Therapy. Like Elio, Atira is dedicated to creating the space for transformative experiences to occur for each participant. She is the head of our integration team and as well as teaching yoga on selected retreats, she will facilitate your post-retreat integration sessions via Skype.
Jessica Begin – Facilitator, Voice Coach
Jessica is a multidisciplinary artist, dancer, singer/songwriter, yoga/dance/voice teacher and healing practitioner. Born and raised in Canada, she now lives in Peru. As a passionate lover of plants, dances, and songs, Jessica holds the firm belief that the re-awakening of humans to our authentic power lies in the practice opening of our voices and in developing the channel that each of uniquely is as vessels for Spirit.
Born and raised by a yoga teacher mother, Jessica has been teaching yoga and dance related movement and voice workshops for 10 years, she has studied and certified as a teacher in Hatha and Vinyasa flow yoga. Her passion for exploring the body as a vessel for spirit has led her to study dance modalities such as Capoeira, dances of the African diaspora, Butoh, 5 Rhythms and la Danza de la Luna, as well as studying Yoga of the Voice with Alba Lirio and Silvia Nakkach. She has also apprenticed for 3 years with Ayurvedic practitioner Komala Lyra of Ayurveda Mandala.
Jessica holds a deep respect for the healing ways and ancient ceremonial practices of indigenous peoples across the Americas and the world. She feels that the universally practiced indigenous traditions of songs, dances, storytelling, and ceremonies hold the keys to helping us to remember our origins and place in the great design of life.
She has been working with Ayahuasca for 9 years in various traditions from Brazil, Colombia, and Peru. For the past 3 years, she has been dieting in the Shipibo tradition as well as working as a retreat and Dieta facilitator and teacher at Temple of the Way of Light and Niwe Roa Xobo centers. She has had the privilege spending time with indigenous leaders and medicine people from across the continent, assisting in the organization/production of multi-national indigenous-led cultural, spiritual and climate change focused gatherings and ceremonies in the USA, Brazil, Panama, and Mexico, as well as acting as a translator and interpreter between representatives of various nations from North, Central, and South America.
She considers the medicine and the plants to have guided her “home” to her true nature, allowing her to face and release deeply held old traumas, fears, and pain as well as awakening her to joy, creativity, connection, a sense of life purpose and above all, opening her voice to sing her “true song of the soul”.
Jessica’s greatest joy lies in assisting others to connect to their free and uninhibited capacity to express their deepest heart’s longing through voice and movement.
Ready to journey with us?
Ask us questions about what to expect on retreat, book a free Skype session, start you medical screening questionnaire and get set to be profoundly changed.