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.
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 tribes 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 counselling. 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 centred 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 two post retreat integration sessions via Skype.
Michael was born in Israel and for the past 8 years he has lived and worked in Melbourne, Australia. Michael recalls feeling deeply connected to and inspired by the natural world as a child; finding plants, animals and natural phenomena utterly fascinating.
Like most young Israeli’s, Michael undertook compulsory military service and was a member of the Israeli army for some years. This experience was deeply traumatising for him and for the past 10 years, Michael has been on a rich healing journey to recover from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. His journey of recovery led him to experiment with a variety of healing modalities including reiki, energy healing, sacred plant medicines and transpersonal counselling. He is now a qualified transpersonal counsellor, Shiatsu massage therapist and has studied sound healing and other energetic and oriental therapies. Michael is also committed to facilitating safe spaces for men to connect with their innate vulnerability and to heal alongside other men. He runs regular men’s gatherings in Melbourne, Australia.
Michael’s work with sacred plant medicines, namely Ayahuasca and Huachuma in Brazil and Peru, confronted him with his deepest wounds and enabled profound transformation to occur. He is passionate about bringing his first-hand knowledge and experience of these sacred shamanic practices to support participates on retreat to realise their full potential and courageously face their fears.
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.