Ayahuasca: 5 things you must know before trying it out
In 2008, the Peruvian government declared Cultural Heritage to the traditional knowledge and the use of the ayahuasca. This enigmatic plant represents a fundamental pillar of the native Amazonian communities’ identity. Peru By Bus brings you some tips before you venture into trying it out.
Ayahuasca, also known as yagé, is a mixture of two plants: the ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) and a shrub called chacruna (Psychotria viridis), which contains the hallucinogen dimethyltryptamine (DMT). The curative and visionary properties of this traditional infusion has conferred the title of “master” plant because it teaches, shows and clarifies; and “powerful”, because it also cleans, heals and frees.
Native Amazonians have always used it to maintain a state of full health and to prevent diseases. They take it every week or every 14 days to maintain a state of physical strength. It is also used for providing an expansion of consciousness in order to know things about life, nature, existence, and even for everyday decisions.
The person himself must always make the decision to participate in a ayahuasca session, not a family member or friend. This decision must be based on a clear idea of the potential risks and benefits in relation to medical history, mental health, and general mood.
For that reason, it is important to consider these fundamental points:
1. Adequate preparation is necessary.
This prior preparation consists of carrying a basic diet: no red meat or processed foods; no alcohol, recreational or pharmaceuticals drugs, and avoid during the last three days the intake of any animal. After the ceremony, the diet will continue for the next three days.
2. Sessions can extend for several hours.
A session with ayahuasca takes between 6 to 8 hours, depending on the place and the program. In general, there are 3 types of sessions: traditional/shamanic, therapeutic and religious, although the three types are very interconnected: a shamanic or religious session can have therapeutic effects, as in a therapeutic session mystical-religious experiences can occur. A therapeutic session can last more than 12 hours.
Ayahuasca can be taken once or twice within a session, depending on the state of each person. The optimal experience is obtained when 2 or 3 sessions are done with increasing doses during 2 or 3 days and nights. For this it is convenient to attend organized retreats where there is a team of people prepared to accompany you in the process.
3. You should be guided by a shaman.
It is not advisable to indulge in ayahuasca without the guidance of someone with experience. A facilitator or shaman that guides and accompanies you are the best support for this experience, because they have extensive knowledge of the practice and intake of ayahuasca, and will guide you through each step of the procedure.
4. The process is a struggle.
The sessions of ayahuasca are by no means easy or completely enjoyable experiences. You must endure moments that are extremely hard, physically and mentally; and, in some cases, the ingestion may cause vomiting or diarrhea.
For those reasons, the session should be done in a careful environment, quiet and with certain amenities adequate for a process lasting several hours. Music is the best accompaniment for this experience, because it will help you to relax and immerse yourself in a state of tranquility.
The effects vary greatly according to each participant: more than 90% have physical and psycho-emotional effects, but sometimes there is no physical, visionary or emotional effect during the workshop. However, in the hours or successive days there are very favorable effects that each participant experience it in their own way.
5. The ritual of ayahuasca is a discipline.
You should understand that what you are getting into is actually a complex and profound discipline. There are no teachers, texts or instructions; however, there is certainly a structure and an order that must be followed. These are sessions in which an intense personal work is demanded and from which you will emerge renewed, with a new conception of the world and of yourself.
Taking ayahuasca is an incredible experience, which has as a secret: the fact that it is never the same. Predictions of how the experience is going to be cannot be made. Every time you take it, it’s a surprise. For this reason, you should completely leave all expectations or previous ideas and open yourself to the unknown.
When you drink ayahuasca, do not do it as if it you were in a party among friends, or a social gathering. This is an act of individual and interior reflection, of self-centeredness, of connection with everything that allows you to live fully happy.