Getting Ready for Ayahuasca

What to do beforehand

Preparation begins with the body. The body is your vehicle on the journey, the local carrier of your consciousness and very directly your connection with La Medicina. When you arrive at the retreat center, you will be given food according to The Diet, which is very plain, without salt, sugar or spices, without oil, red meat or dairy. It’s a good idea to begin decreasing these foods in your diet in the days leading up to your retreat.

Your body is going to be your anchor, your base, during your journeys. It’s your ground, your support, your sacred container. Building awareness of your self as being-in-the-body will help you to stay grounded in ceremony. Try that - very simple - just turning your attention to your body, staying with it, just that. Feeling it, feeling yourself breathing. Yoga is good. A meditation of conscious breathing is good. Bringing your attention to your physical presence, sensing your body’s connection to the ground, the Earth, and to just-what-you’re-seated-on, is all good.

The preparation stage involves

  1. Making room in your mind-space, for big changes. Let go of limiting beliefs and expectations.
  2. Intention. Where you need change, What you’d like to change in your life: Health? Life-path? Relationship? Self-image?
  3. Trust. Saying yes to not knowing, not being in charge or in control. Recognizing, or at least opening to the possibility of a positive Guiding Intelligence.
You are using your time and resources to go to the jungle and work with these plants; obviously you are deeply committed to bringing transformation to your life. Therefore, spend some time sensing, deeply asking, “What is my intention?” Ayahuasca is often characterized as a plant-doctor. When we visit the doctor, it is good to be able to be specific; we don’t just say, “I want to be healthier.” We know that the doctor’s wisdom and experience can be best applied if we can give specific information. It may be that what’s bringing you forward is a broad desire, such as healing, awakening, clarification of your path, or finding the right relationship. Yes, and… what you’ve specifically been up against, or struggling with, is almost certainly relevant to that larger picture. All this is on the table now, so bring it forth. (Perhaps more meditation is in order.) The plants, in conjunction with your Inner Healer, will soon find just where to begin.

During ceremony you’ll bring your awareness back to that intention. This is again like a conversation with the doctor. You are a party to this project! You can ask, How is this serving me? Why am I seeing this? How is this connected? This is a dialog; what we’re saying may sound odd: we’re learning about inner dialog. Here, as in the outer world, multiple voices join in a collective endeavor. You aren’t the audience - you’re on the stage! You, your striving, egoic self, are a key player.

Preparation can help your project to get on the map, on the ground, in the room. Set aside an hour, for several days before your retreat, just to go within and notice. Let your awareness scan through your physical body, and notice your connection to the Earth. Inwardly scan the events of the day, noticing again what caught your attention; stay with that, however insignificant it may seem. Ask, what is it about that, that draws my attention? At some point you may ask for an image; or ask a question. Jeff Raff’s book “Ally Work” may be helpful here. He offers a format for inner dialog.

And call on your capacity to trust. “Trust the Medicine” is a phrase you will hear often. But realize that this does not imply your being uninvolved, lying back and waiting. Rather, to trust means to enter into a sacred exchange, one in which you give your intention, your discipline and attention, and la Doctore brings her power and intelligence to the table as well. So that, while you are pouring your heart and your attention in, you don’t have to figure things out, and you don’t have to second-guess what you experience.

You can practice trust: Even for 15 minutes, pay attention to the elements you depend on. Notice your breath, how reliable breath - and air - are. Feel gravity, the Earth holding you. Consider the food and water we are gifted from Nature. Just notice how utterly dependent we already are, the degree of reliability which characterizes our surroundings. With Ayahuasca we encounter another element of Nature, a plant which has been recognized for thousands of years as possessing some wise connection with humans. The reason Ayahuasca is called El doctore is that it incorporates a comprehensive intelligence, giving us the clearing, healing, revelatory steps we need at each stage in our journey. We’ll say more around trust when we look at navigating and integrating ceremony.