Ayahuasca Retreat Integration

Me (Paulette) saying farewell to a retreat participant at the end of a retreat.  Photo credit:  Spirit Plant Journeys

Me (Paulette) saying farewell to a retreat participant at the end of a retreat.
Photo credit: Spirit Plant Journeys

As I had the pleasure of facilitating a 9-day retreat which included 5 Ayahuasca ceremonies with Spirit Plant Journeys, it occurred to me after one ceremony that I should share integration information for people post-retreat including practices that could be useful to weave into daily life. A lot of people come from different places in the world and spend time drinking Ayahuasca in Peru or other places, and then subsequently return to their regular lives or the “real world”. Everyone has a different experience with integrating the insights gained from their ceremonies and the retreat itself, and it is important to find ways to incorporate the feelings and lessons into daily life experiences.

Some post-retreat notes:

  • You MAY find going back to regular life disorienting or confusing. This is not uncommon.

  • You don’t have to lose or sacrifice anything from your life to integrate all the insights you have gained.

  • Ayahuasca may have realigned you to a new path in life; don’t be surprised if you find yourself connecting with new people or experiences.

  • Trust the process; the medicine continues to work with you even months after you drank ayahuasca.

Here are some useful tools and practices to add into your life:

  1. Journaling. Writing down your feelings pre-, during, and post-retreat can be useful in seeing the transformation that is going on in your experience, your mind, and your heart.

    a.    The Morning Pages - from the book “The Artist’s Way” (buy here on Amazon). This is a technique where first thing in the morning, you write three full pages. (I personally prefer to set a time of about ten minutes since a page can vary depending on the journal/paper). For this practice, it doesn’t matter what your writing looks like, whether it makes sense or not, nor whether it’s positive or negative. The important part is to put pen to paper to allow the mind to release the thoughts, conscious and subconscious, that it may be holding to release that mental baggage. Here Julia Cameron talks about the practice: https://juliacameronlive.com/basic-tools/morning-pages/

    b.   Keep a dream journal. Writing down your dreams more and more as you awake will allow you to remember them more easily. It also trains your brain to get in touch with the liminal state, which is the state that your brain often is in when in ayahuasca. There are techniques that you can use to dream more vividly and lucidly. https://lucidexplorers.org/how-to-lucid-dream

  2. Meditation. Find a practice that suits you. Transcendental meditation, contemplative prayer, Vipassana, etc. There are many techniques and guided meditations that you can find online as well as in person.

    a.    Dhamma.org is a website for Vipassana centers worldwide that hold 10-day silent meditation retreats and are donation-based.

    b. Transcendental meditation

    c. Contemplative or centering prayer. This is a meditation where you choose a word or phrase to help you let go of thoughts. Read more about it here. You can join our friend Geoff every day at 3pm Eastern Time for a 20-minute group meditation https://zoom.us/j/298607350.

    d. There are many kinds and ways to meditate. Find what works for you.

  3. Yoga. Yoga is so much more beyond the asanas or poses, but going to yoga classes or following them online can be a useful way to integrate the physical body with the mind, to bring a sense of calm to your everyday life.

    a.    Yin yoga is a form of yoga that focuses on long, extended poses that allow deep relaxation. Many yoga studios offer this kind of practice; videos can also be found online on youtube.

    b.   Yoga nidra, also known as the yogic sleep, is a useful practice which can get you in the liminal state. There are a number of different videos you can find on youtube or Gaia.com at different lengths.

  4. Do things that inspire you. Often, ayahuasca may show you or remind you of things that you love or that your heart calls for. Listen to those prompts and look to see what catches your eye. It may be a new or old creative outlet that calls you, such as music, dance, art, writing, etc. Follow those callings. You may discover a passion or talent you didn’t know you had or have neglected. Take action- sign up for those classes, carve out time in your schedule, connect with people who do those things you’re interested in.

  5. Be in nature. Go on walks and hikes that allow you to take time by yourself to connect with plants and/or animals.

    a.    Exercise: bring a journal with you. Sit and observe your surroundings through all of your senses.

  6. Connect with friends and family that feel heart-centered. You know those people who support your spiritual path. Spend more time with them.

  7. Read. There are a lot of books which could be useful to open you up on your spiritual path. I will be doing a whole post on different books and reading material that we have found useful on our path.

  8. Watch Movies! The Movie-Watchers Guide to Enlightenment is a fantastic resource and offers people lists of movies by topic for a purpose of watching your mind. Instead of watching movies purely for entertainment, we watch movies to watch our minds, our reactions, and feelings while we are watching it. It is kind of like an Ayahuasca ceremony or meditation when you observe the thoughts and visions that you are seeing and then deal with those emotions or simply let them go.

  9. Talk with people who have also experienced Ayahuasca and/or other plant medicines.

    a.   Find and create groups online or in-person where you can connect with others who have experienced Ayahuasca. Share about your experiences. Be discerning!

    b. There are people who specifically work one-on-one with people. Some therapists who have not worked with plant medicines may not understand the depth that the medicines can take you, so find someone who you feel comfortable with and who you feel would understand what you are going through.

    c. We offer pre- and post- Ayahuasca sessions. If you are interested, please write to pwaltz@gmail.com (English) or cristhian.felipe.mr@gmail.com (Spanish).

Do you have any other practices that you have found beneficial? Share them in the comments!