I wasn’t sure whether or not I wanted to write about my Ayahuasca experience because it is so personal and I don’t want to build expectations. But since many of you have landed here in search of recommendations, I figured it could be helpful — or at the very least, mildly therapeutic — for me to share.
The Ayahuasca ceremony I chose was heard along the grapevine and honestly, I would rather keep it as such because I discovered a beautiful community that I’m hoping will be more or less the same when I return.
So to the most important part: did I enjoy the Ayahuasca experience?
Yes and No.
Mostly no? I don’t know.
But do I want to return and experience it again? Absolutely. I know. It’s confusing.
Let me try to explain.
Letting the Plant Decide
For years, I’ve known about Ayahuasca and what a transformative effect it’s had on people. My Vipassana retreat allowed me to tap into a side of my brain that was previously unbeknownst to me and has since awoken a curiosity to explore the depth of my psyche and human potential. And, along the way, heal a few deep-set wounds from the past.
But when I heard of the purgatory property of Ayahuasca, my answer was a resounding hells no. Anything that has to do with self-inflicted vomiting for me is, has been, and will always be a hard no.
But then life did its thing, depression caught up to me, followed by years of therapy and eventually I found a wonderful woman who became my mentor and coach. She gently guided me through my own human experience for a few years and, in the midst of a particularly bad episode of (unmedicated) anxiety, suggested alternative remedies such as psychedelic microdosing and Ayahuasca brew. I did have some experience with recreational drugs, and for me, it has been mostly positive, so I was all ears. Slowly, I let her walk me through her own experience and what positive impact these alternative medicines could have on me too.
First came the microdosing (I can write about this too if you are interested). I decided on mushrooms and had a very positive experience that resulted in more mental stability, focus, increased stamina, and overall feeling like I was regaining control over my life. Through talking with my coach and listening to her own experience, the idea of drinking Ayahuasca, despite my total aversion to its possible side effects, slowly crept up on me. They say the plant calls you when you are ready, and that’s exactly what I felt.
And so when I stumbled upon the opportunity, I felt it was no coincidence and that my time had come. The plant was calling me. My coach did an amazing job at helping me set my intention for the ceremony and that was, in insight, the most essential exercise for me. Always go into Ayahuasca with an intention.
My intention was to be more open to insight to help me find what is best for me, now and in the future. Might sound very vague, but I really struggle knowing what’s best for me in life.
The Ayahuasca Experience
It’s hard to nail down exactly what happened during my Ayahuasca experience. Did I trip balls and hallucinate my deceased father? No, it was really gentle and nothing like that. But a lot of people did have intense hallucinations. Did I vomit? Actually, no, but a lot of other people did. So what did I actually experience? I’m not quite sure, and I think the full transformative effects of it came to me long after it was over.
What I did experience before going into the ceremony was a lot of fear — it’s hard to say what I was afraid of. I guess it was fear of being with strangers who would likely vomit, but also — what dawned on me after the fact — fear of losing control. And because of that, I subconsciously fought off the effect of the plant and even told the Shaman I wasn’t feeling anything (which wasn’t true at all), at which point he doubled my dose. When he checked on me again later, I told him again I wasn’t feeling it, and he simply laughed and told me to just stay there and chill.
And that’s precisely what I did. After the wave of purging was over (which was honestly the worst part for me — having to listen to people retch into little plastic buckets around me), I let myself be nursed by the Ayahuasca Icaros (traditional indigenous Amazonian songs) and felt like I was in complete harmony with the music. I was not prepared for this part, and it was really magical and profound.
I woke up the next day feeling bruised to the bones, wanting to run away and not have to face everything that was coming up — but then came the best/worst part.
The Ayahuasca Integration
Another thing I did not expect nor prepare for was the Ayahuasca Integration. It is an integral part of a traditional ceremony — a customary round of debriefing the morning after, with the guidance of the Shaman.
After listening to stories, individuals exposing their experience from the night before (and trust me when I say the Ayahuasca experience is hugely different from person to person), it was my turn. Improvised words came out of my mouth, and soon came the tears, and the realization that I was not focussed enough on myself and my own experience, and the knowledge that, in order to gain clarity and insights, I need to look more within. In the moment, this realization was mind-blowing, and was by and large thanks to the Ayahuasca.
This integration was actually more transformative for me than the ceremony itself. I did not expect any of what happened and what came after, in the days and weeks following. It was like 10 years of psychotherapy in a way, and it left me drained and swimming in deep thoughts for weeks afterwards, as insight continued to unfurl.
The Ayahuasca Diet
Something worth mentioning that I found somewhat difficult is the Ayahuasca dieta. In order to fully allow the effects of the medicine and prevent too much purging, it’s suggested to follow a light and bland diet prior to and during the Ayahuasca — known as dieta. This includes no alcohol (no problem here) and no caffeine (mild problem here).
In short, I was starving and caffeine-deprived and it made me slightly anxious. At some point during the ceremony, all I could think about was a banana. If you are ready for your Ayahuasca experience, you also have to be ready to be hungry, and learn to be OK with that. My inner cavewoman was in a slight state of alert because of this and it was something I was not prepared for. Not the main point here, but definitely something to consider.
All in all, my Ayahuasca experience was difficult yet gentle. I felt like I barely scratched the surface of something potentially huge. I am already looking forward to my next journey. In the meantime, I’m happy to share more if you have any questions and I would love to hear your experiences too.
I feel like adding, both Shamans who administered and led the ceremony were from the Amazonia and knew exactly what they were doing. They were also both from a psychotherapy background and offered great support and guidance. Please do your research before jumping on the Ayahuasca bandwagon and make sure you’re in good hands.
If you haven’t already done so, check out my Ayahuasca retreat article for legal and vetted retreat options around the world and more on what specifically Ayahuasca is, and isn’t.
- Self-Care; How To Create A Healthy Routine For Yourself? - November 30, 2021
- Yoga Teacher Training Retreats 2022: my Recommendations - November 30, 2021
- How Surfing Improves Your Mental Health - November 29, 2021