We have some very exciting news to share...
It’s official. We have found the perfect new center here in Chiang Mai, and will begin fully operating in September!
Now that the search is over, Root Healing founder Ryan has written this post, to share a little bit about why we made the decision to expand to Thailand, both personally and professionally.
We see this as a perfect opportunity to focus more easily/freely on aspects of the work that are close to our hearts, build out much-needed additional programs, and explore new ways to cut through the systems we all must operate in to provide care for more people.
✔ Enhanced detox facilities
In Ryan’s words…
Even before I started doing this work, it had always been my intention to set up in Chiang Mia, Thailand, the place I call my spiritual home. So why did it take so long?
However unscientific this may sound at first, I understood from the start of doing this work that I needed to try to be infinitely flexible and always “trust the flow” of the medicine. For me, trust is a marriage of readiness and patience; action and openness; luminosity and emptiness. I like to work towards my goals with a sense that anything can happen, rather than, “this is how it needs to happen.”
I know that upon reflection all the perceived diversions end up seeming perfect anyway. If I had started doing this work before I was ready (and I almost did!) and without the right partners, it would have been a disaster…
Having the right team to work with has been crucial.
When Steven and I met in Mexico, it was one of those synchronistic moments.Steven has been moving with the flow of this work and medicine for over a decade, and a few months after each of us had left Mexico, we decided to start working together. This took us to Colorado for a magical run of retreats, where I began to learn much from Steven as a mentor.
Right around this time, we (Maddie, Steven, and I) started to discuss our own personal perspectives and next steps. That birthed our shared vision, which was to show that a traditionally run retreat could also be professional, that the traditional/animist perspectives and scientific understanding could be married, and that the resultant healing would be even better.
This is why we chose to start Root Healing iboga retreats in Portugal.
Iboga is unscheduled in Portugal, which has meant that we could root this work in an above-ground presence. We started in a few temporary centers, and then a modest first center that was home to a lot of beautiful healing memories.
Just when things were flowing well there, the rug was pulled out from under us when the landlord said that he needed to cut the lease short because his partner wanted to sell. I wondered if this meant that maybe we should move, and I got excited about Thailand. But, no matter how much I wanted to jump to it, I just knew it wasn’t the time…
So we began looking for our new center, on the same magical mountain in Sintra.
We searched and viewed properties until we found our perfect home, our current center at the top of that mountain.
We were in awe as we toured the property, and at the end of the tour, I said we would take it, as the rest of the team looked at me quizzically. The funny thing is that this was not a cheap property, as I’m sure you can imagine, and we had NO money. But, again, I have made a commitment not to think that way about this work. The place was too perfect, and the medicine put it there. Now it was our job to make it happen.
Ethical funds for an above-ground iboga center
Pulling from my business past (another one of those negative/positive diversion things), I formally drew out the business plan and pitch deck and took advantage of the time without retreats to pitch. We were able to raise the money we needed from some really good people (non-corporates, who just want to support this work), and with many midnight-hour scrambles with contracts, wires, etc., we were in the new center just in time for the start of 2021.
Ready to replicate the cohesion and passion of Root Healing, Portugal
Just six months later, I am writing this from Thailand to share that the time is right to launch our new center. In an amalgamation of several factors that happened on the Mountain of the Moon (Sintra Center) – for instance, the magic of the land we were working on, the sheer number of retreats we needed to do to launch it, the lessons learned from all the inspiring guests, our time spent weeding through the Portugueses bureaucracies, the challenges we’ve surmounted in the actual management of a big center, and the bond that we all developed as a team, it is clear why I put Thailand off, (even when we were homeless!).
I completely trust Steven, Rupi, Mariana, Vitor, Andreia, and the rest of the original Root Healing, Portugal team, who will remain in Sintra when Maddie and I are in Chiang Mai.
Recently, Maddie and I also had an impactful trip to Gabon, where we drove from our home village 8+ hours south and back, visiting temples and meeting more Missoko Bwiti practitioners, Nimas, and Mabundi along the way.
We were incredibly grateful to spend quality time with our Shaman/Teacher, his Daughter, and Grandson. On one of those special nights, they held a ceremony for Maddie so that she could process the intense work thus far and prepare for the work ahead.
Madeleine and I are now ready for this next chapter. While she lay in the temple with the spirits, I sat around the fire with our teachers, having a deep medicine-fuelled discussion about the state of things in Gabon, the village, Bwiti, and iboga that focused our shared mission and birthed an idea for a way to better share the Missoko Bwiti tradition with the world (more on this in that future post). This trip was foundational for us as a couple, as a team, and as practitioners of this beautiful tradition.
Four intentions for our new center in Thailand
I’m excited about opening this new center because it will bring us opportunities to expand and enhance our work with iboga, in four particular ways that we are really passionate about.
1. EQUITABLE ACCESS
Both equitable access programs will grow at both our centers in 2023-24, and equity will be an especially big focus at our Thailand Center. Many different operational costs factor into delivering professional-standard iboga experiences. (This is why legitimate, safe, iboga experiences are often so expensive.)
A truly professional iboga center is underpinned by complex, ongoing operations, which cannot be cut without cutting corners. Together, these form the context for retreats of the calibre we offer. Our centers require the sustained efforts of many different highly skilled individuals to run effectively. Beyond having the right location and facilitator team for the ceremonies, other necessary elements include property management, medical and integration expertise, catering, housekeeping, litigation, accountancy and administration.
Our main objective is providing equitable access to iboga, notwithstanding our running costs. In Thailand, the running costs of our iboga retreat and detox center will be lower than for our center in Portugal. We can make these savings without compromising on Root Healing’s established standards of care, and while paying our local team well. These savings will create much more flexibility and opportunity in our scholarship programs.
2. SPECIALISED TREATMENT PROGRAMMES
It is with great excitement that Maddie and I will be offering full-service specialized treatment programs at our Thailand center for particular conditions. Due to her experience healing from MS, she is passionate about developing the best program for those suffering from autoimmune diseases and similar physical ailments.
Moreover, we continue to explore ways to investigate the potential and and improve our delivery of this amazing medicine as a treatment for particular chronic conditions, including offering specialized programs for those with Parkinson’s disease, depression and addiction.
3. EXPANDED DETOX FACILITIES
We will begin doing more regular detoxes here with even more full-on medical support and facilities.
This will also allow us to more easily/safely help people addicted to alcohol, which is very important to both of us. For detox, we are creating an extended program that will offer the detox, followed by traditional healing ceremonies, and extensive aftercare.
4. AFTERCARE CENTER
Lastly, we are excited to launch an Aftercare Center here, which will be a place for anyone coming off of an Iboga/Ibogaine treatment/retreat/ceremony to come safely and properly integrate the experience.
We will have a full program offered onsite to help them set a solid foundation in themselves before heading back into the outside world.
Our Thailand center officially opens in September 2023
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