Empathy is the Sacred Gateway to Consciousness

This article is a submission for the Ayahuasca Awareness Program, an initiative by the Spirit Vine Center in Brazil. The program aims to help increase awareness of the potential of ayahuasca by sponsoring free ayahuasca retreats every month for people who feel the call for spiritual development with ayahuasca and other methods.

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Empathy is the Sacred Gateway to Consciousness

“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” ~ C.G. Jung

The question I regularly confront myself with is how do I raise consciousness when the paradigm of western culture feeds the antithesis of consciousness valuing comparison over compassion, judgment over inclusivity, achievement over process, fitness over feeling alive, looks over inner beauty, youth over wisdom, wealth over passion and individuality over collective unity? I come up against myself time and time again with these internalized values and find that going through the motions is as painful as starting to recognize the pain itself. Becoming vulnerable and allowing myself to experience the falseness of comparing my worth to another, allows me to experience my own pain and vulnerability. When I choose to live with my vulnerability, with a willingness to experience my experience rather than shutting down, I become present to what is always there, the higher vibrations of consciousness.

We often think we protect ourselves by not allowing the pain inside by placing ourselves in our predicted environment, walling up with our cell phones, to do lists, errands, friends, spouses, lovers, careers, kids, pets, homes and other preoccupations. The harsh world outside is also a beautiful world and if I shut down the harshness, I simultaneously shut down the beauty. When I let in the pain of another, I am made to feel my own pain. Do I just see the homeless person on the street or do I choose to witness him and feel his vulnerability as my own? By choosing to observe with my heart with empathy and compassion, both our bodies open to the possibility of consciousness with a felt awareness of the other. I am not separate from his pain nor is he separate from mine. Our connection is now unified instead of stratified. If I’m living in an unconscious state, the illusion of separation will feel real and be fed, and I will only perpetuate masked living, where all love including self-love is based on condition.

The vibrations of higher consciousness are not available in a vacuum or exclusively, but rather, in our ability to open up to the relationships we have with all beings and all aspects of nature. When I wake and don’t really notice the light, the beauty of my son’s face, the pain in my right foot, the popcorn smell of my dog, I am living without sensation and without awareness. I am basically cut off from the possibility of the transformation of higher consciousness that occurs in the process of connection.

Author: Sandra Sneiderman
I am looking to strengthen my connection to myself through Spirit Vine’s Ayahuasca Retreat so I can be more deeply available for others.

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Spirit Vine COVID-19 Update

Last Updated: 5th May 2021

As travel has opened up in different parts of the world, we have resumed our retreats since October 2020. In light of the global situation, we are establishing new guidelines to ensure that we provide the maximum amount of safety to all participants who attend the retreats.

We will be following the guidelines provided by the Brazilian government which you can find below, and adding any necessary precautions suitable for the retreats.

In the Itacare area, where we are located, there are very low number of COVID cases.

We will update this section when new information is available.
Content listed here is subject to change.

If you have any questions, please contact us.

Brazilian Government Recommendations for COVID-19

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water;
  • if water and soap are not available or when hands are not visibly dirty, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer may be used;
  • Maintain at least a 1-metre distance between yourself and others;
  • Wear a mask, that covers your nose, mouth and chin;
  • Practice respiratory hygiene;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth;
  • Be aware of the situation of your destination and follow the guidelines of local public health authorities;
  • Avoid spaces that are closed, crowded or involve close contact;
  • Monitor your health for COVID-19 symptoms and, if you feel unwell:
    – seek medical attention;
    – stay self-isolated as recommended by local health authorities.

Anyone who wants to enter in Brazil must present a negative Covid RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to boarding the flight and travelers must fill out an affidavit (printed or digitally), with the written acknowledgement to the health measures that must be complied with during the period that they will remain in the country. You can find more information about the affidavit here.

Prior to leaving Brazil, depending on the requirements of your destination country, you may be required to present an RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours of your departure. In this case, we recommend you to budget the required time of 4 hours to take the test and get the results in Sao Paulo airport.

Please note that Itacare and Ilheus do not have RT-PCR testing centers.

Spirit Vine Guidelines for COVID-19

If you will arrive in Brazil more than 3 days before the start of the retreat, then you need to do another Covid test (quick Covid test) before entering our center and send the results to me by email.

Spirit Vine Cancellation Policy for COVID-19

If you have paid for a retreat and you are not able to participate for major reasons like travel restrictions due to Covid-19, then you may apply your credit to another retreat of the same value for a period of 2 years.