Things to know before your first Ayahuasca retreat
Your mere search of what Ayahuasca is, already shows that you consider doing it. You are a brave person my friend, and that is how we all should be.
Knowing certain details before doing Ayahuasca for the first time, will help you to be more prepared for the pitfalls that you can encounter.
Instead of spending your mental energy on dealing with unnecessary obstacles, you can use it to go deeper into the experience and harvest many more benefits.
So let us dive into some of the things that you better know in advance before your Ayahuasca retreat.
Table of contents:
Not knowing why you want to do Ayahuasca is alright
Many people feel that something is not right in their life but they can't put it into words to define what exactly is wrong.
If that can be said about you, you simply know that there is something uncomfortable within you and it needs to be addressed.
A depressed state can have its roots deep in our unconscious mind and they can be hidden below many layers of pain. In order not to expose ourselves to emotional labor while relieving trauma, we ignore and run from knowing the truth about ourselves.
Hiding the issues that need to be fixed has its consequences. Sooner or later we start to feel stressed, exhausted, depressed, and in pain. Those are the messengers of the problems lying somewhere deep.
And it is alright. If you cannot put into words your problem, doesn't mean that it doesn't exist or there is no solution for it.
Most likely Ayahuasca will help you first figure out what is the problem and only after that you can be given insights on how to fix your problems. If so, consider taking a longer retreat to have enough time to find and heal your wounds.
If you cannot put into words you problem, it doesn't mean it has no solution. The feeling of being lost and not knowing what you want are a good starting point. Ayahuasca can clarify your mind and you will figure out what was holding you back.
Preparation of the body and mind is needed
Doing Ayahuasca in a reputable retreat will cost you money, time, and quite a bit of emotional labor. It is like an important competition you take part in as an athlete. Therefore, to have good results, decent preparation is needed.
There are many things you can do to prepare your mind and body for the Ayahuasca ceremony. Each of the methods you will use is very powerful. But using all of them will open for you an incredible depth of transformation.
You can benefit from Ayahuasca without preparation, but the results can be mediocre. If you want something really remarkable, consider spending time before the Ayahuasca retreat on routines that will sharpen your mind and body.
Ayahuasca can be intense
If the psychedelic drugs are mountains, then Ayahuasca is the Everest.
A skillful Shaman trained in a traditional lineage is cooking a pretty stiff brew and his craft can propel you to the center of the Universe. No wonder that this travel can be perceived as something intense. Especially if you are new to any kind of psychedelics it can overwhelm and catch you by surprise.
I think you will agree that climbing Everest without knowing you are climbing it, will make your ascent impossible. Therefore knowing in advance that the Ayahuasca retreat can bring intense moments can help you prepare better and not be overwhelmed by it.
Being shown a memory that you were hiding from yourself or seeing a vision of heavenly beauty can shatter many of your beliefs. But being ready for that and not holding on to the safe zone will allow you to benefit even more from the Ayahuasca ceremony.
The trauma release or the general effects of Ayahuasca medicine sometimes can be intense. The colors, the sensations, the mind trying to make sense of it, all of it can seem intense and hard to swallow. Knowing that you can perceive it in that way, will allow you to handle the Ayahuasca easier.
Doing it in a safe environment will make a difference
Ayahuasca can be seen as high-octane fuel for your mind. It boosts and energizes whatever state of your mind you are in.
If you feel calm relaxed and at peace, these states will multiply granting you an amazing experience. The visions will in many parts reflect your blissful state of mind and you can see the most beautiful and intricate visions you can imagine.
However if your mind is worried, and in constant anxiety, the Ayahuasca can increase that as well and you will most likely make a full circle through all the issues you have till you will end up in bliss and love. So it will require more emotional labour to overcome all the mental obstacles that lay between you and your wholeness.
To economize your emotional energy and avoid unnecessary efforts, make sure that the environment you will do Ayahuasca in, is well-researched and safe. In that way, you will exclude extra nervousness that can be linked to the safety of the place you are in.
Consider spending some extra time contacting the retreat center you are considering and asking them all the questions you need regardless of how uncomfortable the questions might appear.
If you resolve all your doubts in regards to the safety of the retreat beforehand, you will be in a more calm and tranquil state that will surely influence your Ayahuasca experience.
Do your best to resolve all the worries in regards to the safety and the trustworthiness of the treat center before the start of your retreat. It will allow you to create good basis for a less emotionally taxing experience.
The quality of the experience is not about the money you pay
People become more aware and open to using Ayahuasca in their healing and self-discovery journey. This increase in demand drove a pretty active growth of the number of retreat centers in the world, Latin America, and specifically Peru.
Nowadays it is possible to find Ayahuasca retreat centers for almost any taste. You can find it in luxurious mansions of the coast with pools and silk linen or you can do it in a wooden hut outside of a village in the middle of the Jugle.
Regardless of the comfort provided, Ayahuasca will deliver its healing and insights.
So be aware that the results of the Ayahuasca ceremony have nothing to do with the price you pay. It has to do with your intentions and the intentions of the people running the retreat center.
Ayahuasca is generous with Her gifts to anyone in need. So although the price for different retreats can vary, this will not influence the experience of the ceremony by itself.
Too many feathers on the shaman are suspicious
Tourists usually have specific expectations that oftentimes are pretty stereotypical. And in order not to disappoint their paying customers, the market is trying to accommodate them.
In Ayahuasca culture, the shaman has a central role. He is the face of the ceremony and in big part, the overall outcome of the Ayahuasca ceremony lies on his shoulders.
And when Western people hear about a shaman living in the jungle, they imagine someone naked, with an exotic headdress made of feathers, multiple beads and amulets on his neck, and a long pipe.
The reality though is that the modern shamans are imbedded into modern civilization. They wear Chicago Bulls t-shirts, don't miss important soccer matches and they regularly make posts on social media.
For sure there are traditional dresses worn by the shamans during the ceremonies. But they look more like embroidered and carefully designed dresses rather than what a Western mind would imagine.
However, some Ayahuasca retreat centers, try to win extra customers by making their shamans wear unspecific clothes and accessories. Usually, that includes a ridiculous amount of colorful feathers. Do not buy into this.
Dont be misguided by the appearance of the Shamans. Seeing one of them with an excessive amount of feathers is a red flag. The skill and the craft of an experienced shaman cannot be expressed externally.
The duration of retreats differ
Ayahuasca is a process. It will take time for it to loosen and to extract the mental garbage that accumulated over many years.
The deeper the issues you want to address, the more time you will need to fix them. And since each person has their own amount of trauma, Ayahuasca retreats have different duration.
You can encounter Ayahuasca retreats from several days long to several months. And to pick the right duration of your first retreat is a difficult task.
It is said that the right length of the Ayahuasca retreat is any length. Your first Ayahuasca retreat will give you a clear understanding of your reaction to Medicine and how you need to approach it further. After the first retreat, you will know what to do next.
The standart duration of an Ayahuasca retreat is a week with ~3 ceremonies included. This is a great option for someone without experience. Besides helping with issues at question, the retreat will give an understanding on if and how to continue the Ayahuasca journey.
Ayahuasca is not a magic pill
Although the impact of Ayahuasca is truly magical, it is by no means a magic pill.
You can receive multiple priceless insights and lessons, but making use of them is up to you.
While in depression, people are feeling out of control and unmotivated to do anything. While elevating the state of depression, Ayahuasca can unlock extra energy and thus help move forward in life. But even in this case, the walking should be made by you.
A healthy attitude regarding this will be making constant, consecutive actions to implement the insights received on Ayahuasca.
If the insight is about improving your relationship, then take small actions every day that will express your appreciation to your loved ones.
If Ayahuasca taught you about the importance of your health, then stick to a plan of gradually changing your diet and physical activity.
Ayahuasca is a magic Medicine but not a magic pill that by itself will change your whole life overnight. You would need to make actions in order to grow. A wise approach will be constantly doing small steps toward the "better you" and keeping it constant.
It can be dangerous
At times Ayahuasca can manifest intense ways of resolving mental issues. Although the resolution of those problems is an incredible relief, the road to it can be bumpy. And that is one of the main causes why many people consider it dangerous.
The danger of the Ayahuasca is rooted mainly in the lack of preparation and a lightminded irresponsible use.
Propper preparation and asking the right questions before enrolling in a retreat are crucial for harm and risk reduction.
Check out our guide on how to prepare for the retreat and what questions should be asked.
There are people with contraindications
Ayahuasca is a very powerful tool to set your mind in order. And because of its power, it is not suitable for certain people.
The majority of contradictions are linked to the family history of mental health issues.
So if it is known that some of your relatives have schizophrenia or bipolar disorders, you better avoid doing Ayahyasca.
If Ayahuasca is contraindicated to you, don't give up or get upset. Continue your journey no matter what. Sooner or later your efforts will pay off and you will find the method that will suit you most.
There are plenty of powerful tools for healing and self-discovery that you can find. They can be different or slower than Ayahuasca but in the long run, have the same efficiency.
There are a small fraction of people predisposed to mental health issues. For them, it is strongly advised to avoid Ayahuasca because it can cause complications. If that is you, never give up on your journey! Ayahuasca is one of many methods and you will surely find the suitable one for your condition.
Ayahuasca is an important life event
Life is constantly and inevitably changing in different ways. And since the changes will happen anyway, the key is to consciously influence the direction of your changes.
When done responsibly, Ayahuasca can boost the speed and the vector of your life’s evolution. So take it seriously.
To take it seriously means that you are conscious of the potential Ayahuasca is having.
It can cure you of your fears and anxiety. It can liberate you from your past mistakes and sufferings. It can open you up to the present and help with arranging the future.
If you consider that being serious enough, do everything required to turn her effects in your favor.
Prepare beforehand. Implement small routines and keep them till the retreat begins. Do your homework and when the retreat starts, just give up to whatever comes.
Ayahuasca can be a very serious life event if treated accordingly. Make a decision to do all it takes to get the most from your Ayahyasca retreat. This mindset will reward you in incredible ways.
You won't get what you want, and you will be happy about it
We all think that we know our problems. And we also think that we need what we want and we want what we need.
Honestly, this is the root of all our bad decisions in life.
While being very biased, we almost unconsciously want to keep ourselves in a steady state of comfort even though it can damage us.
Some spoiled part of ourselves is constantly telling us that what we need is more pleasant stuff, more sugar, more sex, and distractions. And why not, there is so much instant fun and gratification in that. Our mind is being trained to be a radar for searching that around us.
Ayahuasca is about many things. One of them is giving us a 3rd person view of our life and allowing us to judge objectively what is what.
If you think that you need to change your job, Ayahuasca can show you that some of your work ethics and attitude need to be changed and you will feel fulfilled without changing your career.
Do you think you need a divorce? Ayahuasca can show pretty vividly that it is time to acknowledge the parts of yourself that are ruining your own family life. And you can be perfectly happy in the current marriage.
It is always unpleasant to accept these lessons. But when we finally manage to do that, it is like opening a treasure box.
Be ready to have your eyes opened about what you need. Ayahuasca is always giving first the things you need most.
There will be unexpected things
It doesn't matter whether you are an Ayahuasca newbie or a veteran. In Her pocket, there is always something surprising.
With time you learn not to react or to dramatize such surprises, but they always have an impact on your life.
If you are doing Ayahuasca for the first time, you can be amazed by myriads of things: the visions, the shaman’s singing, or even your reaction to the brew.
There is no way you can know which unexpected things you can encounter, so just give up. Everything that needs to happen, will happen and it will be a part of the ceremony.
Your experience will be unique
The online space is filled with reports of a wide variety of Ayahuasca experiences. People describe Hell, Heaven, and everything in between.
When doing your research don't think that your Ayahuasca experience will be anyhow similar. Each of us has a different background, life, struggles, and goals. Ayahuasca is giving each of us a different and unique journey.
Don't let some scary stories stop you from seeking help from Ayahuasca. That fear can do you no good but darken your Ayahuasca ceremony.
Get inspired by the blissful and bright experiences that helped so many people. Hold on to that light and that will be your destination point.
Regardless how many anecdotal reports you will read before you Ayahuasca retreat, your experience will be unique. Knowing that, try to get inspired by the good, blissful Ayahuasca stories. It will help your mind to get on the right vibe.
Your first retreat can be not enough
The knots can be of a different difficulty. The more complex the entanglement is, the more time you would need to unravel it.
As with the knots, you don't know how badly your mind is entangled and disordered until you try to set it in order.
To translate it to Ayahuasca terms, depending on how troubled your mind is your first retreat can be not enough to fix it.
It is pretty hard to guess from the first time the exact duration of the retreat you would need. So it is a good hint to take a longer retreat if you feel that your mental baggage is big.
Or simply take a default retreat of a week and then sometime after it is finished, you can come and do it once again to deal with the unraveling of the rest of your mental knots.
It is hard to guess right the duration of your first Ayahuasca retreat. It depends on many factors and it can be that finishing to deal with all your issues will require a longer retreat or several shorter ones. Be patient and don't get discouraged by this. It is a natural process and it should be as long as it should be.
You can handle whatever comes
Feeling fear and anxiety before your first Ayahuasca retreat is normal.
So many people are reporting deep changes occurring in their lives after Ayahuasca and all these reports are piling up in a ball of expectations, thoughts, doubts, and hopes. It is OK to spin it in your head.
Regardless of how you feel before trying Ayahuasca for the first time, remember that whatever comes to you, you can handle it.
You have all the mental strength, emotional dexterity, and willpower to accept and digest all the lessons Ayahuasca is having for you. You are in doubt because you don't know yourself enough. Ayahuasca does.
It is the way Ayahuasca works. Even if your experience will be intense, you have enough firepower for it. So remember this and dive in.
No matter what will happen during the Ayahuasca ceremony, keep in mind that it can't overpower you unless you permit it. If yout hink that you are experienceing too much, you are wrong. Ayahuasca is giving just enouth for you to be able to handle. Remember this and you wind extra power to succeed.
Everyone in your retreat is part of your journey
The Ayahuasca ceremony is a group journey. You will most likely share the spacecraft with people you don't know and they will inevitably be a part of your ride.
Strangers from different countries and continents will gather in one place to change their lives. Some of them will cry, laugh, or make strange noises. And all of that will be a part of your Ayahuasca ceremony. So you can use all of that to understand yourself better.
Try to analyze how you react to someone’s crying and you can be propelled in your pain and heal it. If someone’s laughter is annoying you, ask yourself “Why?” and you can uncover hidden truths that were hidden from you.
Anything can be a good entrance for a good digging in yourself. So use other people’s experience during the Ayahuasca ceremony as a trampoline to go deeper into yourself.
You will most likely be surrounded by strangers in your Ayahuasca ceremony. their presence will probably influence your ride. A wise thing to do will be making a conscious decision of what that influence will be. Use your Ayahuasca comrades as a mirror. Inspect your attitudes towards others people’s reactions and it will allow you to find personal issues that you can afterwards improve.
Slow down the propaganda after the retreat
Here you are. Glowing, smiling, or maybe slightly baffled after your Ayahuasca retreat is finally over. The pressure of joy and happiness is too strong and you surely can't help but start sharing your excitement with everyone around you.
This is the exact moment when slowing down will be a good idea.
You see, it is really hard to explain what Ayahuasca is to someone that never tried it. When attempting this, we are so much higher emotionally that we simply overwhelm and scare away people. And after not being able to infect people with our enthusiasm, we feel down and unsupported.
So be strategic about sharing your excitement. If the temptation to recruit people into doing Ayahuasca is too big, journal about it, and the urge will weaken its grip.
Ideally, people will get interested in Ayahuasca if your changes towards good will become obvious. You will win their curiosity simply by implementing the lessons from Ayahyasca in your daily life.
In the first weeks after your Ayahuasca retreat, you will feel energetic and excited. Your level of enthusiasm can be too much for people to digest. So wait several weeks after finishing your retreat for the emotions to wear off. After that, you will be able more efficient in making people consider doing Ayahuasca.
Commit to finishing the retreat no matter what
The way Ayahuasca presents her lessons sometimes can be challenging.
Some of the traumas should be relieved to be resolved. Some memories should reoccur to be dealt with. So facing unpleasant stuff for the greater good sometimes is a part of the game.
Unpleasant emotions and thoughts are making us consider interrupting the retreat. You can feel how you are more and more tempted to leave the Ayahuasca retreat before its end. This is understandable but highly unadvisable.
Just remember that whatever you feel now is not going to last long. During the retreat, from the depth of your mind, you raise painful stuff to the surface to get rid of it. And the retreat should be finished for the cleaning to occur.
Don’t give up to the temptation. Wether through. It will be over soon.
The discomfort won't last that long. So all you need is an extra day or two for the dust to settle down. After that, you will feel a wave of decisiveness and confidence to continue.
Digging into your mind sometimes can be unpleasant. And to avoid it, we could start pursuing ourselves that leaving the retreat halfway is a good idea. Don't give up to these thoughts. Finish the retreat to finish the healing and get all the benefits of Ayahuasca.
It will be just the beginning
The act of washing your car is just the beginning of a journey in a clean and shiny car.
In the same way, finishing your first Ayahuasca retreat is the first step into a more mindfull and fulfilled life.
After the retreat will come many choices and decisions that you will need to make based on the lessons you received. It takes time to figure things out, experiment, fail, and then again try.
Ayahuasca is not a destination point in your life, it is rather a step. After that, there will be many other steps. Remembering this will allow you to have the right mindset before and after your first Ayahuasca retreat.
Ayahuasca can take you to another level in your life. But however high that level will be, remember that after it there are many more. So keep moving towards a cleaner, deeper, and more loving version of yourself. There is no end to the improvement you bring to your life.
Your friends can oppose your transformation
After coming back home after your Ayahuasca retreat, you might realize that some of your friends are helping you to maintain bad habits and thought patterns.
Simply stopping doing certain things ( alcohol, gaming, etc) will very likely create a gap between you and some of your friends. Ultimately, this gap can end your relationship with them.
The social circles you belong to can oppose the changes Ayahuasca brought to your life. Do not blame anyone and don't defend yourself. Life is too short for that.
Focus rather on continuing to implement the lessons that you know will benefit your life. As a result of that, new people will appear in your life and the ones who are on a lower frequency will give up on dragging you down.
When trying to raise up, you inevitably outgrow some of your friends. This is a normal life process that Ayahuasca can accelerate. Current social circle will be gradually replaced with a more suitable one. Be patient and dont force this update.
It will become a new normal
A couple of weeks in the Jungle of an unknown country can alone bring a lot of freshness into your life. Imagine adding to it getting rid of some lifelong stress and pain. That feels like being reborn.
I do not mean to rain on your parade, but that “reborn” state is how we all should feel by default. We are excited by simply becoming normal as we should be.
So the emotional charge that we get at the end of the Ayahuasca retreat, in several weeks will fade away, and won't feel as excited as it was. That is a good thing!
Now when you have a new level of “being normal”, you can build on that your whole life. And everything will have a new height.
The Ayahuasca retreat can leave you with an emotional glow. That is a wonderful feeling but dont get too attached to it. It is going to fade away. That is a good thing because from that moment on, all your life will be built on a advanced but familiar level of your consciusness.
The very first ayahuasca retreat is like hopping into a door to the unknown world. It will bring you a lot of unexpected things, discoveries, challenges, victories, and losses. Regardless of the gifts received, in the long run, you will advance and will be glad that you did it.
Be patient and trust yourself that you can manage it.
Doing this is a brave decision and the hero is always rewarded with a treasure of immeasurable wealth.
If you still have questions before starting your first Ayahuasca retreat, feel free to leave a comment or contact us.