Congratulations on taking one of the first steps to becoming more informed about ayahuasca.
The full version of this course is coming out soon but until then, here is a summarized version. It’s meant to give you a solid foundation.
How to Prepare and Diet The RIGHT Way
Olympic athletes undergo rigorous training consisting of mental exercises like visualization, mantras, along with a strict diet. Like them, you will learn some tools and best practices to prepare for an optimal experience. They include Intention Setting, Dieting (called the “Dieta”, and choosing the right shaman.
The consequences of not preparing properly may include wasting your money, wasting limited vacation time, staying stuck in your current mind state or life situations, and having a bad experience.
Determining and coming with an intention is one of the main elements. We all want to feel better and have a better life but this isn’t specific enough to be an intention. You can go a step further, and split intentions into personal growth and healing buckets. Maybe you have a great life and simply want to be better and explore your consciousness or maybe you urgently need deep healing from past traumas.
It’s important to choose, clarify, and ‘work’ on your intentions before the ceremony. This helps bring stuff to the surface (your conscious mind) and awaken your subconscious mind.
You might have an idea of what your intentions are but there are a few tools you can leverage to help determine and work on them prior to the ceremony. These include thinking sessions (most basic), journaling, and seeing a therapist.
- Self-love and acceptance
- Depression and anxiety.
- Interpersonal relationship issues.
- Work/Life imbalances.
- Purpose, become more aligned with your true self.
- Childhood traumas.
Alcohol & Drugs
No psychotropics (including caffeine)
Foods Containing Tyramine
Ayahuasca is an MAO-inhibitor, which means it temporarily inhibits the activation of the monoamine oxidase which is essential to process the amino acid tyramine, so it’s important to refrain from eating foods high in this amino acid, otherwise, your body won’t be able to process it. Side effects may include headaches, hypertension, and nausea.
Foods that contain tyramine include:
- Red meat
- Aged cheeses
- Fermented foods like soy sauce, fermented tofu, and sauerkraut
- Nutritional supplements like protein powders
- Chocolate (in large amounts)
- Peanuts (in large amounts)
More food recommendations:
- Eat fresh, natural foods.
- No unhealthy fats.
- No spicy foods.
- No garlic.
- No onions.
- No citrus or acids.
Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of liquids, especially water, or natural non-citrus juices.
Limit Noise: Enjoy relative solitude with minimal talking, especially idle chit chat, television, radio, mass media, advertising, technology, phone time, etc.
No Sex: he act of sex and even just thinking about sex awakens powerful energy within you which may impact your experience. It’s common for people to use sex as a distraction from something they don’t want to deal with (this may also be in their subconscious and they’re unaware of it). Refrain from sex also lets energy build in other areas. You mix energies with person you have sex with and it’s
How to Choose the Right Shaman
Choosing the right shaman and retreat center is one of the most important elements. However it can also be confusing. Most people decide largely on two factors: personal referrals and online reviews. After those factors, aside from personal referrals and reviews, factors like availability prices and more come into play.
Here are common decision criteria to use when choosing a shaman and retreat:
- Personal Referrals
- Most people decide largely on a personal referral. However, they may only know one person who has done it once and this alone should not make your decision.
- Online Reviews + Presence
- Only a small percent of shamans and retreats have an online presence. Most don’t even have a website and are more likely to have a Facebook page.
- There are many fake shamans and people who think they have enough experience/training and knowledge to offer medicine.
- Does the perceived value of retreat match what you’re willing to pay? How does it compare with other retreats in terms of their value offering and price?
- Payment Terms
- Deposit fees, terms (e.g. do they get it back if they cancel)
- Are you available to attend their open dates.
- Specific Experience
- Do the shamans, therapists, or other facilitators have experience treating people with specific conditions or intents?
- Number of ceremonies
- How many ceremonies and people have they held?
- How do they maximize safety of participants and hold a safe space?
- Education & Experience
- What kind of education or training do the shamans, facilitators, and other staff have?
- How many people have they treated?
- Is Ayahuasca legal in their country? If not, is it in a safe grey area where people are allowed to use it under ceremonial or traditional practices.
- Intimacy and personal attention
- Some retreats are packed with people. What is the max number of people allowed? What is the helper-to-participant ratio?
- Screening Process
- Keep out the newbies, crazies
- From getting visas to traveling by taxi and boats, transportation is another element of your experience you need to be aware of. Transportation issues can lead to a bad mood, damage relations with others, and add delays. The retreat should be proactive in providing you detailed easy-to-follow instructions.
- What do the facilities look like? The bedrooms and temple? Are you deep in nature or indoors in the city?
- What other activities are offered? What’s the quality of those activities?
- Where does it come from? What are the ingredients?
- Preparation and Integration Support
- What levels of Preparation and Integration support is included, if any?
- How well do the shamans and staff speak English?
3 Common Mistakes That Can RUIN Your Trip
By ‘trip’ we mean experience with the medicine. Historically speaking, psychedelic ‘trips’ have a recreational connotation but we speak about this from a therapeutic perspective.
These mistakes may lead to a worse than expected outcome or a complete disaster.
Mistake #1 – Failure to Prepare
Do Olympians stretch before a competition? Yes. Do UFC fights pump themselves up mentally before stepping into the ring. Yes. Ayahuasca can be mentally, physically, spiritually challenging, and should be given the same respect and preparation.
As such, a metal, physical, and spiritual diet (aka. ‘dieta’) is required to properly prepare for an ayahuasca experience. Cutting out potentially dangerous substances will secure you a trip safe and properly preparing yourself mentally and spiritually will increase your odds of having a transformative experience.
Mistake #2 – Bad Set or Setting
When referring to a psychedelic experience Set and Setting, means one’s mindset (shortened to “set”) and the physical and social environment (the setting) in which the user has the experience.
The main factors of a quality set and setting are:
- Experienced and quality shaman
- Well-organized and conducted.
- Quality ayahuasca medicine
- Private and secluded setting.
- Limit of participants.
- Careful screening of participants.
- High helpers-to-participant
Mistake #3 – Failure to Integrate
Ayahuasca is a teacher but it’s not a magical pill that will magically fix all your problems. The more problems someone has, the more trauma they’ve experienced in their life, the severity, and the more they’re off-balance with the natural flow of life, the more integration they will need.
A few examples of integration:
- Putting up a sticky note on your fridge to remind you of something.
- Starting a meditation practice or nature walks.
- Making changes in a career or relationship.
- Seeing a licensed therapist.
Top 10 Myths You Might Still Believe
- You might become a Yogi after – Ayahuasca doesn’t magically change your profession. Even if you feel like you’re in a shitty job and have a passion for yoga, you will still have the brains to continue at your current job until you get a better job. On the other hand, if your job is causing extreme stress and anxiety, and quitting it will save you mentally and physically, then this is a greater possibility.
- Ayahuasca can kill you – Ayahuasca itself does not directly cause death. Please see below for more details.
- It costs too much – Many retreats advertised online go from $1000-3000 per week but also include more value (various workshops, activities, nice accommodations). However, there are single-night ceremonies you can take for $200 bucks that don’t include anything else.
- It can make you crazy – Many of us grew up with stories about people taking too much LSD and going crazy but don’t actually don’t know any other details. It’s true improper use such as mixing incompatible medications, family history of severe mental illness and lack of integration/support among other factors can contribute to negative consequences. However, those who qualify for ayahuasca (meet physical, mental, and dietary requirements) do not become crazy.
- You shit your pants – We have all shit our pants at least one point in our lives..but we learn to know the feeling and go to the washroom before it happens! Ayahuasca often does cause physical purging (including vomit) but people tend to have enough ability to walk to the washroom, either alone or with a helper.
- You will see scary hallucinations – You may see hallucinations but they most likely won’t scare you. Think of how many times you see fucked up things in your dreams and don’t get scared – a part of you knows they’re not real. Ayahuasca may make you more lucid during these dream-like states but you’ll be okay.
- You will feel like you’re dying – This seems to be commonly reported online as a potential experience but the majority of people do not experience this. Also, the ‘white light near-death’ experience, if it happens, is reported to be pleasant for those who don’t resist it.
- It’s for hippies – Not true. People from all walks of life from all over the world do ayahuasca. Historically, ‘hippies’ might have been the most visible group of people who were associated to psychedelics but that’s quickly being diluted as mainstream adoption of psychedelics increase.
- Choosing the shaman is everything – Choosing the right shaman is only one element to have a good experience but not the only one.
- It’s too scary – Similar to the fear people have around dying, there can be an element of fear during the experience but this is often overrated by online publishers trying to get more attention and clicks. When fear does happen during a ceremony, shamans provide comforting attention.
Can Ayahuasca KILL You?
The quick answer is no; ayahuasca does not directly cause death. Most of the deaths which are documented online have been related to unqualified or bad practitioners (e.g. fake shamans, shamans who do not follow proper protocols or ethics) and compilations with mixing other pharmaceuticals that can cause potentially fatal serotonin syndrome.
Cases of death which has been reported also stemmed from use of Toe, Ibogaine / Iboga, drinking Tobacco tea, and bad trips with weapons.