If You are Ready for Spiritual Change, Rythmia is Ready for You
“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” There’s truth in that ancient saying, but it doesn’t mean that a white-robed guru will come knocking on your door. Readiness for spiritual change is an internal experience. It can happen to anyone at any time, regardless of external factors. Age, race, gender, or financial status don’t matter. People just know it when they feel it.
One such person who felt ready for that change is a major figure in the entertainment industry. After years of awards and public recognition, he had developed an edgy, ready-for-anything reputation. But one day, he knew that he was ready – really ready — for something more. That’s when he made his way to Rythmia Life Advancement Center in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Along with all the amenities of a five-star resort, Rythmia provides a carefully thought-out combination of plant medicine ceremonies and other personal development resources and opportunities. Visitors include lawyers, doctors, entrepreneurs, university professors, and a diverse selection of people from around the world who are ready for personal transformation. Overall, 93.26% of Rythmia guests report a life-changing miracle during their stay.
Transformation at Rythmia
A stay at Rythmia begins with a comprehensive medical exam, followed by a series of discussions on what to expect from the plant medicine known as ayahuasca, and from the Rythmia experience as a whole. The discussions are led by Gerard Armond Powell, Rythmia’s founder.
Gerry has a clear vision of what Rythmia can be. He says, “In the right setting, with the right preparation and supervision, ayahuasca — plant medicine — can literally revolutionize people’s lives. I’ve seen it happen hundreds of times at Rythmia, so I want to make that experience available to as many people as possible. All kinds of people, because diversity is extremely important to me. We’re reaching out to communities that wouldn’t ordinarily come to a place like Rythmia. That means black and brown communities in America and around the world. Making Rythmia available is a great opportunity, and even a responsibility. Because Rythmia really can transform people’s lives.”
Gerry adds, “The support we’ve gotten for this outreach from the media has been great to see, especially in the wake of Black Lives Matter. There seems to be much less white privilege from newsrooms in terms of how stories like ours are covered and portrayed.”
All told, guests take part in four ayahuasca ceremonies at Rythmia, under the guidance and supervision of an experienced plant medicine shaman. And what is the outcome?
One visitor puts it this way. “Well,” he says, after a moment’s hesitation, “it definitely changed my point of view about things.” Then, realizing that this didn’t go far enough, he adds, “It was definitely one of the greatest experiences of my life.”
The History of the Center
The Rythmia Center came into being after Gerry Powell’s own ceremonies with plant medicine in 2014. As it has been for so many others, the experience was life-changing, to the extent that Gerry invested serious money in purchasing and staffing the resort in Costa Rica and addressing all legal and medical issues.
So-called psychedelic drugs and plant medicine ceremonies have existed for centuries around the world. But in America since the early 1960s, most of the interest originated with highly educated white writers and artists like William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Ken Kesey, and Tom Wolfe. Timothy Leary was the grandmaster of them all with his unrestrained celebration of LSD.
Beginning around 1960, Leary, a Harvard researcher with a PhD in clinical psychology, initially approached LSD and psilocybin mushrooms from a scientific perspective, although he did develop a spiritual side later on. Unlike plant medicines such as iboga and ayahuasca, LSD originated not in a rainforest but in the laboratory of a Swiss chemist named Albert Hoffman. With a few exceptions — Jimi Hendrix was one — white college students, hippies, artists, and intellectuals were taking most of the acid trips until quite recently, when people like Gerry Powell brought a new perspective to plant medicine.
A high school dropout and self-made multi-millionaire, Gerry is neither a hippie nor a chemistry professor. He’s a revolutionary in the sense that he wants to bring about a radical change in consciousness on both an individual and a societal scale, without demographic limits of any kind.
The Answer is You…
Reverend Michael Bernard Beckwith, founder of the 9,000-member Agape International Spiritual Center, has been a key ally in this effort. For over thirty years Agape’s humanitarian programs have had a worldwide reach, and association with Rev. Beckwith is a tangible statement of Rythmia’s work toward a diverse range of both visitors and staff. Out of 171 current employees, 134 are members of ethnic minorities and/or self-identify as members of the LGBTQ community. Two times a year, Rev. Beckwith personally leads “The Answer Is You,” a week-long onsite workshop. He is also a member of Rythmia’s board of directors.
Alan Floyd is another Rythmia visitor with an impressive career in the entertainment industry, including a very demanding role as Beyoncé’s tour manager. With that background, Alan knows how to stay calm and composed. He says, “I’ve had a lot of adventures. In my class of visitors at Rythmia, there I was as one of two African-American guys in the middle of Costa Rica, and the whole experience was completely professional and perfectly done. It really is what most everyone says about it. Life changing.”
With regard to changing your life, perhaps no visitors to Rythmia have gone deeper than Henry and Patti Castro, both of whom are Latinx. Henry had visited Rythmia and had done the ceremony. When he returned home he told Patty that they definitely had to go back together as soon as possible. Although they had already begun to do some spiritual work, Patty was somewhat apprehensive about ayahuasca. But after attending the classes at Rythmia with her husband, she felt well-prepared for the medicine.
Miracles of the Heart
As it turned out, Henry came away from their ceremony feeling that his life was totally transformed. “I felt like my life had just opened up where before there were things that seemed closed. My life was open so that now I could have a whole new beginning. It was like starting all over again.” Patty describes the experience in similar terms. “It was like a door had opened.”
Patty and Henry have not only continued their spiritual work with ayahuasca; they have even purchased land in Costa Rica to provide an optimal setting. More than 95 percent of Rythmia visitors describe the experience as “miraculous.” But it’s a different kind of miracle than winning the lottery. It’s a miracle of the heart, which of course is very difficult to put into words. Maybe you just have to be there.
Mitch Sisskind has written and edited many books on ancient spirituality, modern science, and the intersection between the two. He lives in Los Angeles.