How do I prepare for my first Ayahuasca retreat?
You feel the call of plant medicine. Madre Ayahuasca, for one reason or another, is to enter your life soon. You set the date. You bought your plane tickets. You know you should prepare… but with so many varying opinions and prescriptions, it can be a confusing proposition. Truly? Preparation need not be as complex as some make it out to be. We’ll share the simple and accessible steps to prepare for your first Ayahuasca ceremony. Fortunately, you can start right now, today.
Release Your Expectations and Trust the Medicine
Chances are you’ve heard someone’s story, read a blog or book or otherwise heard an account of an Ayahuasca experience. There are even TED Talks these days espousing the power of this plant medicine, leading many to seek out an ‘authentic experience’. But here’s the thing: no matter how many varying accounts you’ve heard, no two people experience this ancient medicine the same way. That’s the thing: it is a medicine, and Amazonian tribes have been working with her sacred energy for a long, long time. The chacruna is used for energetic, physical and spiritual healing. It has catalyzed deeply transformative healing experiences. But how that unfolds is between you and the Medicine.
Your intentions and expectations going into the ceremony will undoubtedly shape your experience. Whether you expect to be vomiting all night or to be flying in ecstatic bliss, the medicine will give you what you need. Open your mind to the understanding that you don’t know, and lean into trust. Madre Aya will take care of you.
Gently Cleanse Your Body
Though there is no tried-and-true rule saying that a cleaner physical body will have a “better” experience, removing toxins and eating a clean diet in the month leading up to your ceremony is a commonly suggested way to prepare. Some retreat centers will provide a specific diet with herbal supplements once you arrive, but you can start before you go.
Wean yourself off caffeine, alcohol and sugar. Simplify your diet by reducing red meat and add in more vegetables. Be sure to drink lots and lots of water. Try to get sufficient sleep too, as this is the time that the body heals — and the dream space can allow for subtle work in the subconscious. Avoid cannabis, and prescription drugs for 24-48 hours before your ceremony if possible. The more vital and alive your physical body is when you begin your work, the greater capacity you will have for the ceremony and to connect deeply with the spirit of the medicine.
Meditate and/or Practice Yoga
Recognize: you are most likely coming from a Western mindframe and paradigm. What does that mean, and isn’t that why we seek out ceremony?
It means that most likely, you have a mind/ego that identifies you with what you do. For work, your hobbies, whatever it might be, you are embedded in a society that asks you to define yourself by external factors.
Ayahuasca turns your compass upside down, and asks you to look inward at the true definition of who you are: Divine Consciousness. If this feels big, intimidating or foreign, then it’s time to start practicing yoga or meditating and making that shift yourself, now. Start with five minutes of closing your eyes and spending time watching your thoughts and breath. These practices, done daily, will provide you with immensely helpful tools during your time working with the Medicine: returning to your breath and finding your center.
Get Clear on Your Intentions
Do you have a clear sense of what is drawing you to this work? If not, spend some time meditating, journaling and reflecting on what you’re carrying to the medicine in your heart. What is your prayer, your need, your deep desire? Are you seeking clarity, wisdom, connection? Do you need physical or energetic healing? Finding clarity around your intention will help you enter into relationship with this sacred medicine from the place of a humble seeker. Ask her for what you need if you have a clear desire, or perhaps request that Aya shows you what you need. Either way, find your inner wisdom and ensure that your intentions are good and pure.
Spend Time in Nature
It may sound strange right now, but working with Ayahuasca creates a deep and mystical sense of connection with the natural world. For many, this sense of deep and complete oneness is one of the greatest gifts of this work. Walking through the world with an expansive knowing that each is a part of the whole, we can rest into a sense of divinity and connection. Priming that relationship by spending time in nature before ceremonial work can create a wider channel for Ayahuasca to communicate with clarity and depth. Messages from Mother Earth will come to you.
The best way to prepare for your journey is to really, really take care of yourself – mind, body and spirit. If you have other tools and rituals that help you to do so, use them! Go into your ceremony with an open mind and heart, and the medicine will take care of you.