Susan Menahem, LCSW ~ Retreat Assistant, Integration & Ritual Support
Susan Menahem was born into orthodox Judaism and while she hungered to deepen her spiritual knowledge, as a woman, the doors to its most sacred teachings were closed. Dissatisfied with such limited access, she began her spiritual quest at 18 years old. Through Buddhism, she learned the importance of mindfulness and meditation. During that time, she studied with a Master of the I Ching where she learned to apply its ancient Chinese philosophies to everyday modern life. Through Native American spirituality she deepened her relationship with the land and its many energies. She has studied a variety of cultural shamanic practices and traditions, and practices many indigenous healing modalities and prayer ceremonies. Her love of Peruvian shamanism led her to Peru, where she began her relationship with the plant medicines Ayahuasca and San Pedro.
Having a deeply embodied spiritual presence, Susan possess an innate ability to really listen to people, while at the same time making them feel safe and at ease, and she knew at a very young age that one of her soul’s purposes was to counsel. She earned her MSW at Rutgers University in New Jersey and opened up a counseling practice. By combining psychology with spiritual teachings, she is able to take therapy to a whole new level, from teaching mindfulness for anxiety, to incorporating sacred pipe ceremonies into couples therapy.
Through working with the sacred plant medicines Ayahuasca and San Pedro, she was able to truly begin healing the deep childhood wounds of not belonging and not feeling good enough. She realized that although psychotherapy was extremely beneficial, the sacred plant medicines were able to bring healing to wounds that traditional therapy had a hard time reaching. Desiring to bring the benefits of Ayahuasca and San Pedro to people in the States, she began to organize plant medicine retreats to Peru. Seeing the importance of being able to integrate knowledge from plant ceremonies into everyday life, she began assisting people with ceremony integration as part of her therapeutic practice.
Susan brings an eclectic spiritual base together with a comforting, safe, and grounding presence, as well as an extensive knowledge of psychotherapy and integration. She lives in Asbury Park, New Jersey and has counseling practices in Freehold and Highland Park New Jersey.
Eric Schwarz, E-RYT 500 ~ Retreat Assistant, Yoga & Meditation
Eric is an American Yoga Teacher and a life coach living in Western Australia. His teaching style is engaging, empowering and creative, embracing the full potential of body, mind and spirit. His personal journey and transcendent life teachings light up his classes, shining hope, unwavering faith and transformation. Eric’s teachings inspire students from all walks of life to offer their best to themselves and the world. He incorporates embodied wisdom from his work as a life coach and his teachings serve as a backdrop for the real transformation that happens when a student learns to quiet the mind and open the heart. In 2016, he was voted best yoga instructor in Washington, DC.
Over several years, Eric’s yoga practice arrived upon the same theme: step into the discomfort. This mantra became his mission, ultimately leading him to the profound teachings of plant medicine. Through a single Ayahuasca journey, he was able to shift energy and perspective, healing 10 years of suicidal thoughts and depression. Rather than supplant his practice of yoga and Buddhist traditions, plant medicine has proved to be an ideal compliment, each tradition experienced more meaningfully because of the other, unlocking deeper levels of introspection, healing, and awareness. Through further work with plant medicine, his confidence has increased, his quality of relationships has improved, and he now has more energy and clarity around his life’s purpose. Much of this has resulted in the release of physical tension in corresponding energy centers of his body, thus experientially confirming for him the truth behind the aphorism your issues are in your tissues. Now, more than ever, he sees the physical release of tension through yoga asana and myofascial release as an ideal compliment to work with plant medicine, and he is humbled at the opportunity to be a part of the healing journey for others.
James Wood, MA ~ Ceremony Support
In 1985, James completed his Masters Degree in Transpersonal Psychology. He completed a counseling program that brought him in contact with a wide variety of traditions, and some of the leading psychological/spiritual thinkers of that time. James was fortunate to study Holotropic Breathwork with Stan and Cristina Grof, cross-cultural symbolism and mythology with Angeles Arrien, Process Acupressure with Aminah Raheem, Sufi stories with Jim Fadiman, and Gurdjieff’s Fourth Way and Enneagram with Kathleen Speeth. He has been particularly interested in attention and has practiced Vipasana meditation for many years. As a child, James was interested in art, design and the creative process. He worked with the San Francisco Unified School District, creating a program to build self-esteem through artistic expression. For fifteen years, James worked for an architectural firm, creating a position that supported the architects in their creative process, and as a consultant to clients to help them determine exactly what they wanted. In 2006, James made his first trip to the Amazon and experienced the powerful healing qualities of the medicinal plants. After that, he returned to Peru many times to work with ayahuasca and San Pedro, and in 2013, he moved to Peru. Today, James continues working with medicinal plants, assisting in ceremonies, and seeing clients for psychotherapy and post ceremony integration. He currently lives in the Sacred Valley in Pisac.