Ariana Ayales approaches the body like a garden.
The Costa Rican herbalist, medicine-maker and educator began to realize she had special intuitive abilities as a child. That led her to explore healing philosophies from Ayurveda to Daoist Medicine to European-style alchemy. She was enthralled by the power of indigenous botanicals and felt a calling to bring these ancient traditions to the modern world (while helping to preserve local economies through organic agriculture and wildcrafted goods). So, after working as an herbalist in private practice in Berkeley and New York City, she launched Anima Mundi, a Brooklyn-based “farm-to-pharmacy” line of unadulterated medicinal herbs.
Here, the true-believer discusses the notion of finding balance in the body by considering each element, as opposed to quick fixes for problems as they arise:
Live The Process: Can you tell us about how your intuitive nature manifested when you were growing up?
Adriana Ayales: When I was around 7 years old, I remember seeing energy and spirits for the first time. I would also have profound lucid dreaming experiences that have honestly dictated many aspects of my practice today—on how to enter deep into the unconscious mind. As a child, I just thought of this as fantastic worlds and otherworldly-looking friends teaching me all sorts of things. And it got very scary at times, as I would hardly be able to sleep. Little did I know I was meeting my ancestors and learning to harness psychic energy. When I explained this to my grandmother and great aunt, who greatly helped my psychic development, she taught me that I was connecting with the spirit world. We did meditations to invoke and access, and that’s where I learned to journey and move into these deep places with my conscious mind.
LTP: How did your training with shamans and spiritual healers change you?
AA: I’ve learned a lot from two respected and incredible shamanic teachers from Peru and Brazil whom I adore. I’ve also learned deeply with herbal teachers from my homeland of Costa Rica. I’ve spent time with them on and off throughout the years. Sometimes, it would be through plant medicine ceremonies and, other times, it was just strictly meditation and hands-on healing practices to go deep within. It’s something we all need to carve out the time to do, as we all have latent powers that—through this type of psychic access—can blossom into their own authentic expression.
LTP: What ultimately inspired you to launch Anima Mundi?
AA: Working one-on-one with patients who had more advanced illnesses gave me serious inspiration to make this ancient form of healthcare accessible to all. I wanted to create a deep connection to those who truly believe in the ability to heal oneself through the power of plants, hands-on energy healing and more. I created these base “mother formulas” for those seeking everyday assistance in the journey of healing and wellness.
LTP: Healing, for you, seems like a very holistic notion—you’re looking at a person from many angles. Is that what ancient healing was always like? Can you talk about the notion of bringing ancient wisdom forward?
AA: Ancient cultures took holistic approaches to healing. The idea of separating the mind, body and spirit was not even a possibility. All cultures viewed healing like a garden, a confluence of elements and influences needed to be taken into account in order to achieve balance. The modern-day view of healing, like allopathic medicine, applies healing measures like a mechanic. Essentially, we fix and replace defective parts in order to bring balance back to the system. I believe healing should be like a garden because that’s more in accordance with the origin of our nature—the mysticism behind healing overall.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
AA: Making a healing tonic in the early am. Foraging magic in the jungle. Medicine making. Painting after profound healing journeys.
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we all do that more each day?
AA: To me, it means enjoying the journey. Not being fixated on a destination, simply enjoying the process of being throughout the unfoldment of life.
Photo by Marina Denisova and Natalia Criado