I’d like to take this space to talk a bit about what you can do to start preparing physically, mentally, and spiritually for your Ayahuasca retreat. First, let me speak more generally about the prep work and then I’ll get into the details about the dieta, packing list, travel information, safety protocols, etc.
Okay, as you all know, Ayahuasca is an extremely powerful hallucinogen that needs to be taken seriously. It is not a recreational drug. This trip will take courage, determination, and humility. Ayahuasca will tear straight through the lies and defenses you’ve built. It will force you out of denial, force you to face whatever you’ve been avoiding, including your deeply rooted fears.
Over the next month, if you haven’t already, you will probably start to feel the medicine working before you’ve even taken it. You may encounter some difficult feelings and emotions, like fear, depression, or anxiety bubbling up to the surface of awareness. This is completely normal. It’s a natural and even crucial part of the healing process.
If it does, I want you to know you’re not alone. A part of my job is to make sure you have the tools and support to handle these emotions if they come up, and to help you feel prepared to hold these emotions during the ceremonies.
So, the first thing I want to mention here is our natural tendency to avoid these emotions by covering them up with movies, drugs, alcohol, medication, unhealthy foods, material possessions, fame, money, work, or whatever it may be. This approach, however, doesn’t give us the opportunity to transform these emotions. It treats only the symptoms and drives us further away from the root cause of our pain. We can’t heal our suffering by going around it. We must go through it. We must witness it, hold it, give it voice, feel it, love and understand it. And then, we can let it go.
I invite you, then, to start becoming mindful of these emotions, and also to start becoming mindful of those things you reach for to keep you distracted from these emotions. And, as you do, I ask that you please have compassion for yourself. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself the space to feel and observe these emotions, without judging or condemning them.
One tool I think you will find extremely beneficial here, as you deal with these emotions in the next month and also as you sit with these emotions during the ceremonies, is a meditation practice called vipassana – or insight meditation – which is an ancient Buddhist practice that seeks to cultivate the state of mind commonly known as mindfulness.
It’s an entirely secular practice. And it will help you to cultivate a composed and compassionate mind for our retreat. It will help you to open more easily to whatever difficulties arise. It will help prevent you from collapsing in on them. It will give you more space in the mind to observe them.
If you’re interested, I’ve built a thirty-day course for you, which asks for only ten minutes of your time a day. But again, it’s entirely up to you whether you want to practice. Just keep in mind that the more you put into this trip, the more you will take out of it.
Whether you do the meditation course or not, I still encourage you, however, to do something that will help you prepare mentally and spiritually. You can start a yoga practice. You can take an art or dancing class. You can keep a gratitude journal or say a prayer on your knees at the end of each day expressing the gratitude your heart holds. You can take walks or spend time in nature. You can start a generosity or forgiveness practice – work on forgiving yourself or others. Do anything that connects you with yourself and with a greater force or power – with God, Nature, the World, the Dharma, Awareness, or whatever else you wanna call that which encompasses all things.
I also highly encourage you, especially as we get closer to the retreat, to avoid violent shows and movies, porn and masturbation, people or situations that make you uncomfortable, gossip, backbiting, slander, complaining, or anything else that leaves a negative imprint on your heart, mind, and nervous system.
Okay, with that said, let me move into the dieta. Dietas play a central role when working with plant medicines for several reasons. To be blunt, the first reason I encourage you to stick with the dieta as long and as diligently as you can is because the medicine will make you purge. If you eat a bunch of shitty food, you’ll be doing a lot of extra purging. Aya will first clean out your body before you can receive some of the deeper insights it offers. So, please don’t waste this opportunity by puking the whole time. You’ve committed, so commit fully.
The second reason to take the dieta seriously is because Ayahuasca is made of two vines: one that contains the psychoactive compound DMT, and another that contains an MAOI (the first type of antidepressant developed), which doesn’t pair well with certain foods, beverages, and many other drugs. See the list below for more information.
Finally, by committing to the dieta, you will also bring more dedication, respect, and reverence to the ceremony, mind-states that will help you pull more out of the experience.
- 4 Weeks Prior to Ceremony:
- Psychoactive medications
- 3 Weeks Prior to Ceremony:
- Any kind of anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication SSRI’s, SNRI’s, DRI’s etc..
- 2 Weeks Prior to Ceremony:
- Sexual activities of any kind, including masturbation
- ALL street drugs (cocaine, MDMA, amphetamines, etc.) – obligatory for your safety and for the possible energetic impact on other guests
- Spicy foods (hot spicy)
- Ice, ice cream, or ice cold drinks
- 1 Week Prior to Ceremony:
- Any foods that contain Tyramine’s
- Red meat
- Animal fats (lard, etc.)
- Carbonated drinks (including diet sodas, energy drinks, non-alcoholic beer)
- Dairy products
- Fermented foods (soy, misu, tofu, sauerkraut, kimchi, caviar, pickles)
- Caffeine & other stimulants (ween off slowly to avoid headaches)
- Junk foods
- Salt or spices, (mostly stimulating spices, especially nutmeg)
- Sweets or chocolate
- Oils (olive or coconut oil very sparingly, if you must)
- General Remarks
- * Please let us know if you taking any medication or vitamin supplements on your intake form.
* Try to continue to stay on the Dieta 1-2 weeks after if you can, it will very much help your integration process with the medicine.
- Try to enjoy the processand be mindful for what comes up for you during this; which foods you may be gravitating towards in times of stress, or for needing comfort in.. enjoy it and have some fun with it!
- Be kind to yourself. If you slip and eat something which you said you wouldn’t – forgive yourself, but try to accomplish your goal, nevertheless. Often times, it’s not about what you eat or don’t eat, but the intention you have and the sacrifice you are making to Mother Ayahuasca and your healing process by keeping your body as clean as you can.
- A clean body invites a clean spirit, and sets the stage for deeply healing work. The basic guidelines here are to exclude harmful and unhealthy things from your diet and start eating plenty of raw fruits and vegetables, drinking lots of water. Avoid highly processed foods & try to cleanse your body as much as possible with epsom salt baths, skin brushing, massage & juice or colon cleanses weeks prior to rid as many toxins out of your body as possible.
- * Please let us know if you taking any medication or vitamin supplements on your intake form.
- General Remarks
- List of Medications to Avoid When Drinking Ayahuasca
- MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors)
- SSRIs (any selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor)
- Antihypertensives (high blood pressure medicine)
- Appetite suppressants (diet pills)
- Medicine for asthma, bronchitis, or other breathing problems
- Antihistamines, medicines for colds, sinus problems, hay fever, or allergies (Actifed DM, Benadryl, Benylin, Chlor-Trimeton, Compoz, Bromarest-DM or -DX, Dimetane-DX cough syrup, Dristan Cold & Flu, Phenergan with extromethorphan, Robitussin-DM, Vicks Formula 44-D, several Tylenol cold, cough, and flu preparations, and many others;
- Any drug containing dextromethorphan/ DXM or with DM, DX or Tuss in its name.)
- CNS (central nervous system) depressants (xanax, ativan, etc)
- Illegal or recreational drugs that are VERY dangerous to combine with MAOIs:
- Amphetamines (meth-, dex-, amphetamine), ephedrine, MDMA (Ecstasy), MDA, MDEA, PMA
- Opiates (heroin, morphine, codeine, and especially opium)
- Dextromethorphan (DXM)
- Illegal or recreational drugs that can be dangerous to combine with MAOIs:
- Mescaline (any phenethylamine)
- Note About Weed
- Finally, we HIGHLY recommend stopping consumption of cannabis for AT LEAST 2 weeks prior to your retreat with us. The longer the better! Weed can make it difficult for you to connect with the medicine right away, and we want to make sure you get the most out of your experience
Airport & Dates
The airport you need to fly into is in Iquitos, Peru (airport code IQT).
Okay, that brings us to our final topic – what to bring. Now, of course, you are all adults and will likely do your own research. But there are a few things I want to make sure you bring.
First, we will be going on jungle excursions, so bring a day pack, water-resistant hiking shoes or sandals, a hat, sunglasses, a rain jacket, and plenty of bug spray.
Next, because we will do the ayahuasca ceremonies at night, please bring a small flashlight or headlamp, so you can get back to your room.
Another thing to note for the ceremonies is that participants often are encouraged to wear white or light, positive, relaxed-fitting clothing.
Next, the Shipibo will have a small market where they will sell some of their own handcrafted art, quilts, etc., so please bring some cash to support them. There will also be the option to have a 50-minute massage for $100.
Finally, there is a pool and a gym, so bring a swimsuit and whatever gear you’d like to use in the gym. Also, the humidity is 100 percent, so you might want to bring a dry-bag or ziplock bags to put your electronics in, though I highly encourage you to put away all electronics while there, except for photos on the jungle excursions.
- Day pack
- Long pants (lightweight, and quick-dry material)
- Long sleeve shirts (loose-fitting, quick-dry or cotton; for night/bug protection)
- Rain jacket
- Light sweater or fleece
- Sun hat
- Hiking shoes
- Insurance documents
- Insect repellent
- After bite cream
- First aid kit
- Aspirin, Band Aids, anti-histamine, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, re-hydration powder
- Refillable water bottle
- Dry bag (expensive electronics)
- Wool socks
- Bug spray
- Zip lock bags
- Journal/writing material
- White (or light, positive clothing for ceremonies)
- Water purification tablets or filter
Okay, well, I think that’s it. I’m getting really nervous and really excited. Remember to try to enjoy the whole preparation process and to be kind to yourself. If you slip and eat something unhealthy or reach for the lotion, don’t beat yourself up. Forgive yourself, and then try again to accomplish your aspiration. Thank you all again for joining me on this trip.
Take care! Good luck with the prep work. I’ll see you all in Peru.