Preparing for an Ayahuasca Experience
There are a few things that anyone who is planning to drink ayahuasca can do to be better prepared for the experience. Obviously, it is impossible to predict what will happen, but by following particular ayahuasca preparation practices and reading certain material, at least you can try to be more ready for whatever does occur. Here are some guidelines that may be of benefit to anyone who is coming to Peru to participate in one of our programs, or will be taking part in the experience elsewhere. Even if you do not plan to actually drink ayahuasca, but would like to better understand the process or simply make improvements to your lifestyle, these recommendations may help.
Meditation is one of the most valuable tools we have to settle the mind, increase focus, develop discipline, and control emotions. Ayahuasca ceremonies can get pretty intense sometimes, and mental states are often accelerated. Meditation can allow you to keep your focus on the desired intention without getting distracted by what can sometimes be a multitude of other stimuli during the process. It can help you to face your fears, traumas, and other negative emotions or thought patterns without getting lost, which can be incredibly beneficial when trying to pull the roots of suffering or release destructive energy, thoughts, or actions from your life. It is also one of the most valuable practices to assist the important process of integration afterwards, as well a general practice in life.
While the majority of attention is typically focused on the mental and emotional effects of ayahuasca, there are definitely physical effects as well, and having a fine tuned physical body can certainly reduce discomfort, which can allow more work to be done in the spiritual realms. Yoga also develops discipline, which is one of the most beneficial qualities to strive for in life, for it is what will keep you on the right path, free from temptation, and achieving the greatest state of productivity in whatever you choose to do. If you are looking to be healed or explore your own identity, it is clear that having practices that promote discipline in your lifestyle will be of real value. Te benefits of yoga are almost immediate and continue to grow and deepen as your practice develops and becomes a part of your lifestyle.
3. SPEND TIME IN NATURE
Ayahuasca is considered the trunk of the science of plant medicine, or the mother of the rainforest. Through its use, curanderos as well as participants can communicate with the spirits of plants and animals in order to better understand the true nature of afflictions and practices and paths that will restore balance and health. However, you can communicate with these conscious elements of nature at any time, only usually on a much more subtle level. Nonetheless, the communication can still have benefit, but most especially if you plan to drink ayahuasca, as the subtle relationships you form by spending time communing with nature will result in a foundation for a far deeper relationship to be developed during your ayahuasca experiences. It can be as simple as going to a park, walking among the trees or plants or sitting on the grass and opening yourself up to the energy of the plants. Touch the plants, talk to them, get to know them, and allow them to know you. It may sound strange, but when you drink ayahuasca, you will understand it much better and be glad you did.
4. BE CONSCIOUS ABOUT WHAT YOU CONSUME
This goes far beyond just preparing for an ayahuasca experience, for you literally are what you eat, so eat what you want to be made of. It doesn’t take reading books or taking classes to know how to eat healthily. You don’t have to be a genius to know that a chocolate glazed donut is not going to do as much for you as a fruit salad. You don’t have to go crazy with it, as you are more than just your physical body, and pleasing your emotional, mental, and spiritual bodies is important too, but there is a balance. If your body is not doing well, it will affect your emotions, and if you’re not eating properly, that will definitely affect your mental state, so just be conscious about what you consume. If you end up being on a diet during a retreat or for treatment, you’ll have no trouble dealing with the limitations if you are already eating a natural and healthy diet. You can go deeper into what it means to consume and include what you watch, read, listen to, etc. but I think you get the idea.
5. TRUST THE PROCESS
How I would love to be able to just sit in a jacuzzi and be fed chocolate covered cherries and be healed of my afflictions and achieve my goals. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Most things must be earned. I have never encountered someone proud of an accomplishment that was easy. So, be prepared for it to get hard, but understand that you will never be presented with a challenge you cannot overcome, you will never be given a test you cannot pass, or ace, even. Knowing that the process may be complicated, may involve a certain level of suffering, and may cause you to doubt your own abilities, is proof that it will be worthwhile. I doubt anyone who climbed Mt. Everest was surprised by a few frozen toes. If they were, they probably didn’t make it to the top. Trusting the process means putting your faith into it, embracing it, and smiling at it, whatever it may be.
We definitely don’t give enough credit to the power of this simple act. If everyone becomes masters of the art of smiling, the world would have very few problems, so don’t worry about everyone else mastering it, just focus on you mastering the art of smiling. Practice it. Look at yourself in the mirror and smile. Make yourself smile, but in a way that doesn’t look or feel forced, with the goal of getting to the point where you can turn on a smile at any time of day, regardless of the situation you may find yourself in. This is a great lesson for life, but when you’re in ceremony and things are getting difficult, having a smile handy can really change things around. The act of smiling sends positive messages to the mind and body and literally make you feel better, happier. Smiles make such a big difference and we have the ability to smile whenever we choose. I don’t know why smiling isn’t taught in school…
7. BE THANKFUL
Appreciation should definitely be taught in schools. It is often the end result of an ayahuasca experience, but if cultivated in preparation, it can be a guiding hand that brings you through darkness without fear, and allows you to remember the miracles rather than dwell on the obstacles. Right now, no matter who you are or what you’re going through, there are thousands of things you can be thankful for. Whether its the ability to see or to walk or breathe without trouble, you are a living example of a multitude of successful operations and systems functioning without issue for your benefit, even if a few of them are having trouble. You can also be thankful for the thousands of troubles you don’t have to deal with, the long list of diseases, conditions, and problems that do not afflict you. The list of things going right for you will always be much much longer than the list of what’s wrong. Gratitude is the best way to compensate the spirits who are devoting time and energy to helping you in an ayahuasca ceremony, and it’s also a great way to give back to the friends and family who are doing the same. ’Thank You’ is a powerful mantra, especially in an ayahuasca ceremony.
8. DO SOME RESEARCH
This is definitely the last suggestion on the list, as it is not as important as the others, but can be helpful. However, it can also be harmful, as expectations can be a hindrance to your unique and individual process. No matter what, it will not be like what you read, or what you saw or heard. It will be what it is, and if you’re not trying to make it something else, you’ll have a much easier time getting the most out of the experience, instead of being let down that it wasn’t what you expected. Often times, it is way more than what you expect, but one thing for sure is that it won’t be what you expected, so just leave your expectations at the door before you sit down for the ceremony. Allow it to happen however it happens. That being said, there are still some good resources to understand what you’re getting yourself into, and that will provide benefit regardless of whether you plan to drink ayahuasca or not.
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written by Carlos Tanner