One of the key ingredients to successful treatment is a high level of patient engagement, which is why we often use the term ‘participant.’ Participation is fundamental in the healing process, especially when dealing with emotional traumas, which are nearly always involved with any affliction. So, in our practice, we encourage participants to fully engage in their own processes, to assist the healers and the healing with their own energy, attitude, and faith. The ayahuasca ceremonies are certainly a prime time for this engagement to take place, so we direct a portion of each ceremony specifically towards active participation.
About two thirds of the way through each ceremony,the healers will have performed the majority of their work, calling in spirits, raising and leveling off the intensity of the experience, and communicating with the spirits of the plants, animals, and ancestors to help alleviate the suffering and heal the afflictions of the ceremony participants. At this point, each participant will be asked if he/she would like to contribute to the ceremony by singing. This is a chance for each person to fully engage in the process. It doesn’t have to be an icaro, or song sung specifically for healing, but can really be anything, for it is the intention and energy behind it that are what’s most important. It is certainly not mandatory, but it is recommended because of the clear benefits we have observed in countless participants.
In this way, the ceremony has a true affiliation with each participant. It becomes the group’s ceremony, rather than just the curandero’s ayahuasca ceremony. Some people have a fear of singing in front of others, or don’t feel they should sing because they’re not good enough, but what better place to face those fears or dissolve notions of inferiority than a healing ceremony about as far away from the ‘real world’ as you can possibly get? There is nothing to lose yet so much to gain, which is why we provide the opportunity for participation.
After the ceremony participants sing, the curanderos usually close the ceremony shortly after with more icaros, and then after the ceremony, there is light discussion about people’s experiences, which is also not mandatory, but encouraged. It can be very helpful to share experiences. It builds stronger bonds with the group, who ultimately become a support group for one another, caring for each other as friends and even as brothers and sisters. It can also be a way to find clarity because the assistant healers can respond with input and insights that can further one’s understanding and enhance the healing process. It can also help with remembering the experience, which, much like a dream, can sometimes be hard to remember if not talked about soon after it happens.
After the discussion, or any time after the ceremony ends. Participants are free to go to their rooms, or hang out as long as they like. Sometimes, post-ceremony discussions and sharing take place the following morning.