Beautiful northern lights of the northern part of the planet. Magnificent views of the oce

AYAHUASCA PREPARATION

Preparation is an important aspect to consider as you approach an ayahuasca retreat. How well you prepare will have a significant impact on the benefit you are able to receive from the ayahuasca experience.

It’s normal to feel nervous and apprehensive about the whole process but there are a number of things you can do to increase your chances of success and set yourself up for an easier transition into and out of the retreat.

First and foremost, be sure you are comfortable with your facilitators and the retreat center. From there, you can start to look at yourself and begin to prepare the body and mind for the experience.

In regards to ayahuasca preparation, we consider two aspects: Physical and Mental.

Physical preparation includes following the diet for a week prior to the retreat and avoiding drugs and alcohol. It means following your facilitators' guidance in regards to medications and required abstinence times. It also includes being aware of and cultivating a connection with, the body.

Mental preparation can look a little different for everyone. For many, it can include anything from meditation, nature therapy, yoga, journaling, praying, reducing screen time, etc. Any activity that provides you with the opportunity to focus on your intention, allows you to connect to yourself on a deeper level, or delivers moments of peace will help you on your journey.

Lets explore some tools that can assist you as you prepare for you ayahuasca retreat.

PLAN FOR AFTER THE RETREAT

A crucial step is ayahuasca prepation is planning for your return home.

 

Take extra time, ideally a few days before and at least a few days after the retreat to settle in slowly. If possible, fly into Costa Rica a dew says before the retreat so that you are well rested, and low stress. Stay after the retreat to visit the beaches, the more time in nature the better! Avoid going straight back home and into work whenever possible

TOOLS FOR PREPARATION

Let’s break down a few elements for successful Ayahuasca preparation -

  • Set an Intention - Ask yourself - ‘What do I want to take away from this experience, why am I doing this?’ Your answer is your intention. Maybe it is a way that you want to grow, something you hope to learn or carry with you from the experience. Or maybe your intention is something that you are ready to leave behind, a behavior/relationship that is no longer serving you, or a burden to be released. Your intention can be something specific or it can be vague such as ‘I want to be a better version of myself' or 'I want to heal the wounds that prevent me from reaching my full potential.' Ayahuasca ceremonies can be difficult both emotionally and physically. There will be times that you are confronted with dark or painful feelings/emotions. An intention can help give you the strength to push through these moments, knowing there is a higher purpose at work.

  •  Let go of expectations - Ayahuasca is unpredictable and reveals itself differently to everybody. We can almost guarantee that the experience will not be what you expect it to be. No single experience is the same, and having expectations can hold you back and prevent you from fully surrendering. It is great to be well informed and read articles or watch videos/documentaries about other people's experiences but in reality, your experience will be specifically tailored to you. Let go of any ideas of what you think the ceremony should look or feel like. Don't expect visions or huge revelations. Ayahuasca can be subtle, with tiny shifts in perception that lead to big changes over time. Don't compare your experience against anyone else's. Open your heart and trust the intelligence of the plants. You will get the experience you are meant to have in the moment. Remember, the things we want are not always the things that we need. Ayahuasca will reveal the truth.

  • Take Care of your Body - Ayahuasca can be difficult physically, so it is important to respect our bodies and prepare them for ceremonies.

    • Eat wellThe ayahuasca diet - what can I eat? The diet is mostly for spiritual discipline, there are very few food interactions that will affect your experience. Red meat, dairy, and spicy food should always be avoided for at least one week before the ayahuasca retreat. Eat food for fuel and be mindful about what you consume. Load up on fresh vegetables, in-season fruits, and whole grains. Get used to checking ingredients and nutritional labels. Avoid anything with a lot of added sugar, or highly processed foods. 

    • Exercise – There is a significant connection between mental health and physical health. When you treat your body well and it feels good, the mind usually follows. If you aren’t used to excising you can start small with something like yin yoga or taking short 10 minute walks. If you exercise regularly just keep up with your regular regimen and try to bring mindfulness to your action, incorporating a meditative aspect to your routine.

    • Hydrate – Being well hydrated is necessary for the body to function properly so it's always a good idea to stay well hydrated.

    • Rest – Give yourself and your body a break. Avoid stress triggers. Make sure you are well-rested and getting a good night's sleep (7-8 hours). Avoid sleeping with the TV on and try to get into a regular sleep schedule.​​

  • Be present - Start giving yourself more time to be alone, time for reflection, and meditating on your intention. Initiate distance from things that are distracting like TV and the internet. Take walks, read books (The Power of Now – Eckhart Tole is a great one), and spend time in nature. Bring awareness into your daily life in each moment. Notice the movement of the clouds, the way the trees move in the wind, notices in the distance. The things your focus on and put in your brain prior to the ceremony are the things that are most likely to come up again during the experience.

  • Journal- Journal before you attend a retreat, journal during the retreat, and journal after the retreat. Journaling can help you process emotions, notice areas you are struggling, and stay goal-oriented. Keeping a journal through the ayahuasca experience can also help you remember more elements of the experience and give you a tool to look back and reflect on in the weeks after the ayahuasca retreat.

  • Prepare for difficult experiences - There are a number of techniques you can use to navigate challenging moments. Some of these include focusing on the breath, opening your eyes, gratitude, recalling your intention, and focusing on the music. We've written a whole blog to go into more depth on each of these tools here: Tips for Navigating Difficult Experiences

  • Integration - Have a plan and be patient. Don’t expect everything to change right away – processing the experience takes time and work. Set up some kind of integration or aftercare to help with the transition. Setting up with a therapist or coach, or someone that works specifically psychedelic integration support can be a valuable tool for adjusting to life back home. Find an aftercare facility – if you are in need of deep healing, it is probably best to find a new environment for a month or so after the experience so you can process without distraction from work or family. Keep up the healthy routines that you started in preparation for the experience. No matter which option you choose, have some kind of plan. The facility or center you choose can help you come up with options based on your individual situation.

  • Work with a therapist/coach - Usually, this is an aspect most people consider after the retreat, but it can be equally valuable before the retreat as well. Working with a therapist/coach can guide you to hone in on your intention, help you come up with a plan for afterward, and help you process any powerful emotional releases or revelations that you experience during the ceremony. 

Waves of water of the river and the sea meet each other during high tide and low tide. Whi

THERAPIST RESOURCES

The following sites can help you connect with an integration therapist near you: