How to Prepare for a Retreat
6 Ways to Prepare for an Ayahuasca or Iboga Retreat
So you’ve booked an retreat and now you’re wondering how to prepare. It’s normal to feel nervous and apprehensive about the whole process. Iboga and Ayahuasca are powerful medicines and should be taken seriously. The first thing you can do is get to know your providers and the center you will be attending to be sure you feel safe and comfortable in their hands. From there, you can start to look at yourself and start to prepare the mind and body with a few simple steps.
1. Set an Intention
Having a clear and defined intention is paramount to the experience. Your intention should answer the questions ‘What do I want to take away from this experience?’ Maybe it is a way that you want to grow – something to move toward or maybe it is something that you are ready to leave behind. Having an intention helps keep the focus on what you want to get out of the iboga ceremony and guide the experience in that direction. Your intention can be something specific or it can be something in general like ‘I want to be a better version of myself’. Journaling can be a therapeutic way to focus your intentions. While it is important to have an intention, it is also important to keep and open mind and an open heart. Which brings us to our next step…
2. Let go of expectations
If you have never done plant medicines before (and even if you have), it is impossible to really know what to expect. It is great to be well informed and read articles about other peoples experiences but it is not likely that your experience will be the same as anyone else. The experience is different in every ceremony. Try not to expect anything from the medicine. Let go of what you think the experience should be and open your heart to allow the experience to be what it is and take you where you need to go. Trust the intelligence of the plants, they will give us the experience we need to have. Sometimes the things we want and the things we need are not always the same. These plants will reveal the truth.
2. Take Care of your Body
Psychedelics can be difficult physically, so it is important to respect our bodies and prepare them for ceremonies.
Eat well – While there is no specific diet that you need to follow for iboga like there is for ayahuasca, it is still important to be mindful of the things your are putting into your body. Avoid processed or fried foods, try to eat smart and healthy.
Exercise – There is a huge 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 restorative yoga or go for walks. If you exercise fairly regularly just keep up with your routine and try to bring a mindfulness to your action.
Hydrate – Being well hydrated is important for the body to function properly so its a good idea to always try and be hydrated well.
Rest – Give yourself and your body a break. Avoid stress triggers. Make sure you are well rested and getting a good nights sleep. Avoid sleeping with the TV on and try to get into a regular sleep schedule.
3. Be present / Remove Distractions
Start giving yourself more time to be alone, time for reflection and focusing on your intention. Try to start distancing yourself from things that are distracting like TV and the internet. Take walks, read books (The Power of Now – Ekhart Tole is a great one) and spend time in nature. Try to bring an awareness into your daily life in each moment. The things your focus on and put in your brain prior to ceremony are the things that are most likely to come up again during the experience.
5. Integration/ Aftercare
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. There are therapists like Brian Murphy that work specifically with guests post-psychedelic experience that can be a valuable tool for adjusting to life back home. Find and aftercare facility – if you are 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 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.