Preparation and Integration
Real preparation, integration and a sincere setting, loyal to and understanding of, the sacredness of the medicine, are important and vital elements of the healing work with Ayahuasca.
Psychological and Spiritual Preparation
A retreat or process with Ayahuasca can be deeply transformative and become a turning point in one’s life and existence. It is natural for fear, nervousness and anxiousness to surface in the time leading up to the experience. This tends to be a sign that things are moving within you and that you are on the way to unfolding new understandings, healing and awakening.
If you have made the decision to join the retreat, you can be confident that you are ready for the experience. The only thing that is needed from you is to show up as you are, with respect, openness and dedication to the medicine and to your own healing journey. Ayahuasca will meet you where you are and guide you where you need to go. This is a process of communication and communion with Spirit, where true and lasting healing and understanding is being uncovered from the depth of your own being and primordial wisdom.
Below are a few points that can help you prepare mentally in the time leading up to the experience.
Leave all expectations and pre concieved knowledge behind
Leave your expectations and knowledge behind and come like a blank book, seeking to live the experience without preconceptions or over analysis. Ayahuasca is not going to ask you how much you read on the subject of psychotropics or the experiences of others, but will work more deeply and harmoniously in an open mind that can live the wonder and experience in all its magnitude. The most efficient way to arrive at this, or any other spiritual process, is to unlearn what you have read or been taught, and instead open to learn from the heart – your own direct experience.
We live in a time of information but also of lies and confusion. Although technology allows us an interconnected humanity, opening knowledge and possibilities in the field of previously hermeneutic paths and spiritual knowledge, now the ability to capture all forms of information through networks is very easy. Also, this information is easily falsified and cheapened. The abundance of “shamans” and centers of Ayahuasca is unparalleled in human history. It has no relation to the traditions or the reality of the so-called shamanism, if we really understand what it means. So, much of the resulting information is unfortunately false and confusing.
Having said this, it is very important to look for serious authors, books or articles that can give you truthful information if you are in need of intellectual support.
The greatest preparation is through seeking silence, meditation, connection with nature, and to rest in the real and essential.
Purity of Intention
The decision to take Ayahuasca must come from a genuine search for healing and / or understanding. It is a sacred opportunity that involves surrendering to forms of knowledge that are not intellectual or easily transmitted.
Remember and internalize that Ayahuasca is a medicine of the soul and the process is one of sincere and, at many times, challenging interior work.
An intention of healing and understanding that resonates with sincerity in your heart is a pure intention. Feel the intention as something applicable, if you find yourself with many intentions, look for the root of them. It could be for example forgiveness, love, compassion, self-love, the healing of self-destruction etc.
For about ten minutes a day, sit quietly, watch your breath and place one hand on your heart and the other on your stomach. Relax your body from the top of the head and down. Feel your body, your breath, and surrender to what is. Let everything be. Then, feel your intention and simply breathe with it and allow yourself to find courage and confidence in this intention and in the universe that is calling you to give yourself to this process of transformation, healing and awakening. Ten minutes later, finish with gratitude towards yourself, for responding to this call.
Commitment to the Healing Process
When deciding to take Ayahuasca or another master plant, you establish a commitment or pact with the plant entity and the process. The shaman or guide also maintains a pact or commitment that allows him or her to transmit the “plant frequencies” through sound (mantras or icaros).
The most important rule is to understand that you are before an entity or divine intelligence incarnated in the plant. You need to assume this with respect, openness and humility. It is important to establish a sincere commitment of respect and understanding towards the process that you are going to live.
Deeply examine your being and take some time to reflect on this significant step, which may involve leaving your comfort zone behind. Your decision must be based on the understanding of Ayahuasca as a medicine of the soul, an experience in our lives that can change all our life concepts, enrich them and transform them.
We must be aware that we are going to go through a purging process that can be physically and mentally challenging, in confrontation with our problematic self, and that fundamentally differs from the process of traditional western medicine. Symptoms such as nausea, pain, diarrhea, can be part of the healing in the work with plant medicine.
This commitment implies rules that have traditionally been followed for communication with Ayahuasca and the healing process, as well as other rules with a backing of biochemical contraindication. As mentioned earlier, following these rules is an important contribution to the process, your healing work, and your direction in seeking to establish a relationship of communication with a form of cosmic or divine intelligence. In this way you open yourself up in respect, to receive what you are seeking, be it the need of healing and / or the search of a truth and a way.
Trust and Surrender
We cannot rehearse for the unknown, but we can prepare for it by cultivating humility and the ability to surrender in trust. Surrender is not to be understood as leaving your will behind and giving your power away to someone or something else. It is the open availability to what is. To surrender is to let your guard down, to open up, to listen, and to stop resisting what is.
Fears may arise before and during the retreat and ceremonies, some of the more common ones are: I could die, I am dying, I could go mad, I am going mad, will I stay like this forever? etc. None of these fears are real. They are attached to leaving the confines of our mental comfort zone that gives us an idea of being in “control” of our world and perceptions. Ayahuasca can drastically open our perceptions and we will be able to perceive much more than in our habitual state of consciousness and see the illusion of our own creation, receive healing and awaken to our inner wisdom.
By deeply trusting the universe and yourself, which have brought you to this opportunity, and by giving yourself fully to the process, leaving resistances behind, you will be able to take this sacred opportunity and avoid unnecessary thoughts that might otherwise disrupt and interfere with the process. The only true control we have is in how we face each situation. By maintaining equanimity in an attitude of surrender and humble listening we will be able to enter into the sacred world of Ayahuasca.
Preparation and Post Diet
Ayahuasca is a medicine, an intelligence, and a Maestra, who’s compassion allows us to comprehend and heal. The pre and post diet serves as a way of showing our respect towards the spirit of the plants, the Cosmos, and our own soul and body. It also serves as a way of attuning ourselves with the plant medicine so that the healing process can unfold with least interference possible.
These are the dietary and general restrictions to adhere to for at least ten days leading up to the retreat and for one week after the retreat:
- Abstain from dairy in all its forms, especially cured cheeses.
- Abstain from processed foods and canned food.
- Abstain from pork and red meats (you can eat fish and eggs.)
- Avoid eating citrus fruits (you can use some lemon if have a flu process)
- Refrain from saturated fats, fried foods and spicy foods as well as ferments or vinegars.
- No sweets, ice creams or very sweet foods (small amounts of honey or other natural sugars is fine). Lower the salt intake. No carbonated sodas.
- Cigarettes (in the case that you are smoking cigarettes, you can continue smoking natural tobacco instead, but not common cigarettes with additives.)
- Sexual abstinence is very important, including masturbation, at least one week before and after the process. This is not a moral rule but based on the understanding that the work with the master plants is a continuous reorchestration of energies. These energies often leave you open, vulnerable, susceptible, and with heightened sensitivity. This sensitivity is vital for the healing process, so that you can open up and listen to the plants and the universe. It allows the flow of higher understanding and healing to move without disturbance. This requires a safe and protected space of introspection and silence. Lessening both verbal, physical, and especially sexual contact, allows you to summon and utilize your energy in a way that is conducive to the healing work. After the process, all social and sexual relationships can go on as normal.
- It is essential not to take medication, or to suspend for at least one month before the retreat (under the guidance of your medical practitioner) in the case of anticonvulsant, psychotropic, antidepressant medicines. As well as “recreational” drugs, especially narcotics such as cocaine. Please inform us of any medications you are using.
There is a lot of varied information to be found regarding the Ayahuasca dietary restrictions online. What to avoid can vary from source to source, and some of the lists are more extensive than others. We assure you that you will be well prepared as long as you follow the dietary restrictions we have mentioned above.
Let’s remember that the healing process with Ayahuasca does not belong to this western context and is adapting to it. Amazonian food, for example, is monothematic, based primarily on bananas, rice, coconut, fish, and only a few tropical vegetables and fruits. A diet of food without preservatives, no alcohol and recreational drugs, only small amounts of meat from small jungle animals, and no chemical or synthetic medicine. The traditions vary with the context of the people coming to the process. The state of “nakedness” and silence of the indigenous mind is very different to that of the overburdened western mind.
Ayahuasca is safe when experienced in a ceremonial setting with a genuine shaman and facilitators with real experience and knowledge of how to work with the medicine. At Sinchi Runa we have not experienced any serious complications during our 10 years as a healing center. To assure you a safe retreat, there are few contraindications you must let us know about before or as soon as you’ve made the booking:
- Heart Conditions – Ayahuasca and the Purge may cause strong emotions to surface and this will lead to increased heart beats. This may in some circumstances mean a risk to people suffering from heart conditions. However, in many circumstances even people with heart conditions can participate safely, but please let us know before so that we can evaluate the situation.
- Psychiatric Medication (antidepressants, anti-anxiety, antipsychotics and other)
- Other Medication – If you are currently taking any medication you must let us know. In the case there are contraindications, you would have to leave enough time to be able to wean off the medication and be completely free from it for at least 3 weeks before the retreat. All psychiatric- and antidepressant medication are contraindicated with Ayahuasca.
If you come to a retreat whilst taking medication, without letting us know, you are placing yourself at risk of physical and psychological harm. So it is very important to consult with us before. Then we will be able to provide assistance in the process of leaving the medication and aid you in safely participating in a retreat.
If you are in the need of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us. We look very much forward to share this exceptional journey together.