Coming from an Ayahuasca Experience
So you’ve had a profound, life changing ayahuasca experience in an Ayahuasca Retreat. Where do you go from here? How do you integrate something so profound into your day to day life?
Integrating profound psychedelic or spiritual experiences like ayahuasca is a journey in and of itself.
It takes proper evaluation, planning, and hard work on our part. No matter how profound, we can’t expect one ayahuasca experience to magically change our lives without any effort on our end to make that change happen.
In addition to the guidance and support offered by our facilitators during the retreat to help share and process the ayahuasca experience, below you will find some helpful tips on what you can do once you return to your day to day life to ensure that your ayahuasca experience transforms into long term, positive changes in your life.
Keep in mind, however, that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. What ultimately helps you integrate the experience will largely depend on where you are in your life and what revelations you’ve received through your experience, so it is up to you to find the integrations methods that resonate with you and are most congruent with the life you want to live.
Evaluate and plan
The first thing that you need to do is evaluate your experience, take stock of where you are in your journey, and decide on where you want to go from there.
What lessons did the experience teach you? How can you begin to implement them in your day to day life?
Talking to people who have had similar experiences can be immensely helpful in making sense of your experience. For this reason, we encourage you to talk to our facilitators as well as participate in our group sharing sessions to help you understand why you had the experience you did, and what you can do about it.
Once you’ve made sense of the experience, it is important to put together a concrete plan with specific steps you can take in your everyday life to implement the lessons you’ve learned.
Having concrete goals helps by giving you something to concentrate on and serving as guiding lighthouses in the ocean of the spirit, so to speak. They are also helpful in evaluating your progress a month, a year, or several years after the experience.
Take baby steps
As a general rule, when implementing lifestyle changes, you want to move slowly, and the more profound the experience, the longer it will take for you to fully integrate.
This process is more comparable to an ultra marathon or a triathlon than a sprint. We need to take the time to test the new ideas we want to implement in our lives, to see what works, and what doesn’t, to reconsider the old, and adjust things as we go along. By moving too quickly, we set ourselves up to crash and burn, and we will also miss important lessons from our experience.
Lasting change almost never happens overnight.
Allow yourself to make mistakes
At the same time, it is important to not be too hard on ourselves when we make mistakes.
We’ve been conditioned to look at mistakes as something negative, but what we need to do is recognize them as an important part of the learning process. When viewed in their true light, mistakes and failures serve as guides to identify weaknesses in ourselves that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
Accepting our mistakes can also help keep our ego in check. Even spiritual growth can often go to our heads. Acknowledging and accepting our mistakes helps keep us honest with ourselves.
Simply put, if we were already perfect, we would not be here. You will make mistakes. The better you are at accepting that and extracting the lessons they have to teach you, the more pleasant and effortless your journey will be.
Take care of yourself
Growth and health go hand in hand. However, we are not just talking about physical health here, but health on all levels: physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual.
Learning to listen to your body, mind, heart, and soul are the most reliable guides that you can have on your journey, but first, you have to ensure that all these things within you are working properly and the information you receive is truly helpful to your overall well being, rather than based on bad habits or addictions.
You will likely find that you have to work against years and years of bad physical, mental, or emotional conditioning, and you have to recognize the difference between an impulse that comes from the divine within, and a craving that is based on an unhealthy addiction. Taking care of our basic needs is important.
Recall Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid:
The base of the pyramid is physiological needs, with self actualization being the top of the pyramid. This means that if our basic physical needs are not taken care of, no amount of mental, emotional, or spiritual satisfaction will motivate us.
We need to aim for harmony on all levels of existence, and ignoring the physical for the sake of the spiritual can be just as bad as ignoring the spiritual for the sake of the physical.
Taking care of your body is important. If it’s bogged down with toxins, it clouds your mind and your heart as well, as a result you’re not as sharp and it’s much easier to make decisions that do not align with your long term goals.
Things like processed foods, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and other substances can become quite harmful if we don’t moderate their intake. What’s more is that, after a profound ayahuasca experience, you can actually become more sensitive to these substances, so it’s especially important to pay attention to what you put into your body and the effect it has on you, choosing more of what has a positive effect on and less of what has a negative one.
The key is to find a diet and exercise regimen that you can stick to. If you have to force yourself to do it too much, it will not be sustainable. You need something you find enjoyable, so that you’re willing to do it day in and day out.
Finding a life affirming diet and exercise regimen and taking care of any physical ailments you may have will help create a solid foundation for everything else in your life, including spiritual growth.
When you feel good physically, you’re better equipped to handle anything life throws at you. When your body is clear, you will be able to listen to it to let you know what it needs, and you will also be more open and sensitive to guidance from the divine within.
In addition to the physical, you need to start building your mental and emotional resilience to be able to protect yourself from the negativity present in our day to day lives. Similar to consuming what is toxic for our bodies, there is also a lot of toxic mental and emotional “food” that we are exposed to every day.
Advertising, fear based propaganda, and just plan old negativity from the people around us can bog us down mentally and emotionally just like toxic substances bog down our bodies. Especially in a state of heightened sensitivity, we have to start engaging in a sort of “diet” of the mind and heart, choosing to engage in only life affirming thoughts, emotions, and actions.
To be better equipped to resist the negative energies around us, you may want to try meditation, or another grounding practice. There are many different kinds of meditation. You may try traditional meditation, or yoga, or another type of exercise, perhaps martial arts, or Qi gong, or maybe just taking mindful walks in nature.
Actually, when done mindfully, any activity can become meditation – so choose what resonates with you. The point is to have a grounding activity that helps you attune to your own natural rhythms, and return to your center, any time you start to feel unsure, scattered, or drained.
Another thing that can be a big help on our spiritual journey is study. There is a wealth of spiritual knowledge out there, and it’s prudent to learn from the ones who came before us.
You could study spiritual disciplines like buddhism or esotericism, or energy healing such as Reiki. Once again, try to find something that resonates with you.
Spiritual healing or study can reinforce the lessons we’re learning and help us build a framework for the information we’ve received as well as help us attune to the more subtle energies around us so we’re better able to evaluate our everyday experiences.
As a result we’ll be able to better see what effect certain thoughts or actions have on us, energetically, which will help us make more informed decisions on what sort of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual behaviors to engage in.
Generally, we are most blind to our own tendencies and habits, however, other people can notice them relatively easily.
For this reason, expert, third party assistance can be a big help in shedding light on our own tendencies that we haven’t noticed before and developing effective strategies for our long term health. This could be psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, or any other healing or therapeutic activity.
We seem to have a stigma around the concept of “going to a therapist”, but this is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, in some cases it can be the quickest and most effective way to make sense of what we’re experiencing and putting us on the path to our long term goals.
Having the right people around provides support and reinforces our ideas, which is very important in helping us to stay on track, especially in moments of weakness or uncertainty.
By taking the plunge and having a profound Ayahuasca experience you’ve already taken a huge step forward in your transformative journey.
Now you must put in the work to ensure that this experience is not lost, and actually becomes the transformative force in your life that it can be. As it has been said before: “The Shaman is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without the work”. Simply put: to produce meaningful change in your life, you cannot repeat the thought, action, and emotional patterns that you’ve been stuck in your whole life. We have to change the old to get to the new.
Another, very important point is to surround yourself with like minded people, and getting rid of ones who have a toxic or draining influence on you. This can be quite difficult, especially if you realize that you have to end a long term friendship or relationship, as sometimes the most toxic influences in our lives can come from the people closest to us. At the end of the day, you have to decide what kind of a life you want to live, and choose to have the people who help you get there. You have to decide on what’s more important to you – preserving a toxic friendship or relationship, or your own growth and well being.
We really hope that these tips will help you towards integrating your ayahuasca experience.