Bringing it back to basics is often the way people find peace within themselves and their decisions.
However, in Wendy Garvin’s case, she took things to the next level by exploring the depths of her soul in one of the planet’s most diverse areas - the Peruvian jungle.
The Tauranga-born woman spoke to The Weekend Sun last week about her experiences in the jungle, but there’s much more to tell about her spiritual adventures.
“If you really want to know yourself to the depth of your soul and heal yourself, I would really recommend going to the jungle,” says Wendy.
She practiced natural medicine in the jungle, met many people from all over the world at the retreat, and says they would come to learn about their spirituality, their trauma and how they could treat themselves.
“I was working with Shaman [people who practice in spiritual healing] and they would help people through childhood trauma, recent trauma and addictions.
“I was caring for people going through really tough times and that was quite hard, but I always knew how amazing it was on the other side of coming to terms with it and how rewarding it is for your life.”
While people were coming to terms with their demons, she says she would also learn more about herself.
“When you work with natural medicine, it is not one-sided. You almost always attract the people who you need to learn from the most,” says Wendy.
“People come to you who might be going through the same thing as you, or they might been through the same things you went through. You get to see it from a different perspective.”
She says the retreat used a range of different natural medicines found in the jungle to help people overcome their obstacles in life, one of which is the highly controversial medicine Ayahuasca.
“While Ayahuasca is not legal in New Zealand, it’s legal in Peru and is important to the indigenous people there. It is part of their spirituality,” says Wendy.
Ayahuasca is a type of brew made out of Banisteriopsis caapi vine and diplopterys cabrerana, also known as the chacruna leaf, which when taken mimics an out of body experience.
Shipibo people describe it as the purgative, because on a spiritual level it purges everything out of the body that is not good for it, such as depression, trauma and addiction.
Despite the controversy surrounding the medicine, there are several cases where people have said to be have been transformed after the experience.
“It basically gives you the life after death experience that you hear about people having, when they physically die, leave their body and look over themselves.
“They can see the truth of everything in their lives, past and present, except (with Ayahuasca) you don’t actually physically go through the process of dying to achieve the same awareness.
“I met an American woman who had been repetitively in and out of jail for very severe addictions. She had been sentenced to rehabilitation in a centre with a social worker, and there are so many lives being transformed by this medicine that even court officials are starting to see the benefit.”
She says two other medicines that are also prominently used are Kambo and Hape.
Kambo is a poison that a frog excretes from its skin. It is applied by burning a small layer of the superficial skin, rolling up the frog poison and then applying the Kambo to the burn.
“What happens is the medicine goes into your lymphatics and goes through your entire blood system. It finds the disease in your body and pushes it out through your stomach and bowels, so basically within two minutes you’re vomiting and you’re on the toilet.
“You will remove some really old toxins out of your liver.
“Some people who have been around very heavy chemicals in their life will be bringing up fluro green or black. The whole process only lasts about 20 minutes but you do feel like you’re dying a little bit.”
Hape is a tobacco medicine that is a mix of Mapacho tobacco and other medicinal herbs. When it’s burnt down to ash it is applied through the nostrils, goes up your nostril cavity, and clears your sinuses and toxins all the way down to your heart.
“I’m not pro-drugs, this is natural medicine and it helps people and that is why I support it,” she says.
“With drug addictions there’s no healthy connection to what it is that you’re consuming and it ruins people’s lives. But with medicine in this form, consumed correctly, there is no way you can get addicted to it.”