Spoilers, read after watching the entire series.
After going to an Ayahuasca retreat in Costa Rica twice in 2018 as a part of my spiritual search, and later realizing it probably does more harm than good… I wrote about my personal thoughts and my experience on this blog. And the psycho millionaire from LA that owns it sued me (as well as many others that say it’s not THE BEST PLACE EVER). That’s right, he sues, bullies and threatens podcasters, bloggers, or simply people who don’t write a 5-star review on trip advisor, just so YOU, the unsuspecting future guest, will have no idea of other’s cautionary tales & book your ticket. And he does this all will regurgitating LOVE AND LIGHT on his Instagram and facebook page. Its disgusting and if you think most large retreat centers aren’t doing this- it’s just him and this particular place- think again.
Honestly, I was excited for 9 Perfect Strangers (9PS) on Hulu (based on the book with the same title by Liane Moriarty). I felt this had the potential to describe the mishaps and even horrors one could experience seeking a spiritual experience at a boujie Spiritual center run by someone who used to have a “normal” life, had 1 Ah-Ha spiritual moment and decided they can now be an authority on how to guide others.
Because that is EVERYTHING right now. A trap I almost wanted to fall into. All I needed was one amazing experience, or a rag to riches story and then I too can teach and lead others, sell it. If you want examples of what I mean, just hop on Instagram. It’s filled with mostly 20 something white women who can all CHANNEL spirits (only good ones of course) and can teach you how to get rich, and do it in a sexy way -insert thong booty shot… (and they are all somehow experts on Crypto currency?)
Anyhow, 9PS was setting up to be a story just like the Aya Retreat I went to. The similarities: A former highly paid businessperson had a spiritual experience and decided to leave their life and start a retreat, based around psychedelic therapy. The retreat is tightly ran, you are basically locked in the center, can be pressured not leave “early”, the owner hired “regular Joe’s” from their former life & somehow trained them to be more & dress more “namaste”-ish as a façade. The owner is also having sexual relations with staff. The retreat tries to hide bad experiences, lawsuits or past cases of physical harm from new guests; and lastly, they allowed in clients with serious mental issues.
In the beginning there are a lot of WTF moments in 9PS. The guests were instructed to dig themselves their own grave, they didn’t know they were being drugged at first, and they were pushed in emotionally difficult situations. It was seemingly more f-ed up than my experience at the Costa Rican resort.
But it turned less into a story about a suspicious retreat, and more into a story of how heartbreaking a loss is.
In 9PS, everyone’s lives were changed for the better after they left the retreat. And I can tell you that in real life, that may be the case for a very small few, or even many only RIGHT after returning home from this type of place, but in more instances that I would like to count… it is harmful.
What upsets me, is that... although its fiction, I wonder if it will turn more people to psychedelics and thinking of going to these types of places to find answers, in desperate vulnerable states after a loss. Will people leave this series with a feeling of – maybe that will work?
What is harmful, you ask? Going to psychedelic or other retreats ran by desperate or just plain BAD people and thinking you can get a miracle. Like actually connecting to deceased loved one. Or finding love there. Or reconnecting your love through drugs. IT IS FICTION.