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Navigating Ayahuasca Retreat Preparation: The Art of Research

Updated: Apr 5

Note: If you would like to watch the corresponding YouTube video, you can click here.

Hey everyone and today we're diving into preparing for your Ayahuasca retreat. In this post we will talk about research, an essential but sometimes tricky part of preparing for your Ayahuasca experience.

Minimize Research on Trip Reports or Other People’s Experience

Research is a powerful tool, but there's a fine line between being informed and setting unrealistic expectations. One area where you should minimize research is in reading other people's Ayahuasca experiences. Yes, there are countless trip reports and stories online, but here's a cautionary tale to illustrate the point:

I once hosted a group at my first retreat center in Peru, La Familia Medicina, and among them was Igor, a gentleman with a strong desire to "see God." Igor had conducted extensive research and somehow formed an expectation that Ayahuasca would grant his exact desires. Throughout several ceremonies, he expressed disappointment, despite describing beautiful visions and experiences.

In the end, he achieved his goal as he discovered through his experience that God was in his own heart. However, this fixation on what he thought “should happen” hindered his initial experiences. The moral of the story: while understanding what to expect is important, avoid falling down the rabbit hole of others' experiences. Ayahuasca's journey is deeply personal, and your path may be different.

Shamanic Restrictions: Who to Trust

Another area to tread carefully with research is shamanic restrictions and rules, like dietary requirements and abstinence from certain substances or activities before and after your retreat. The key here is to trust the people directly involved in your retreat, such as the retreat center, guest coordinator, or shaman.

Each shaman and lineage has unique rules based on their relationship with Ayahuasca and other plants. Don't generalize from one source to another. I've seen people arrive with preconceived ideas about restrictions they've found online leading to confusion and mistrust. Trust your facilitators, as they understand the specific requirements for your experience while working with that specific shaman and lineage.

Understanding Your Unique Path

Lastly, while some research is essential, don't get lost in comparing different perspectives between different lineages. Ayahuasca cosmology can vary significantly from one tradition to another. It's crucial to focus on understanding the specific lineage and shaman you're working with.

Each shaman's relationship with the plant spirits informs their practices and ceremonies. Just as people have unique relationships, so do shamans and the plant spirits they work with. So, while learning about other lineages can be fascinating, prioritize understanding the one you're embarking on.

Areas for In-Depth Research

Now that we've talked about what to minimize, let's look at where you should dive deep:

1. Medications and Medical Conditions: If you're on medication or have medical conditions, it's crucial to research how these may interact with Ayahuasca. Common contraindications include anti-depressants and certain substances like Adderall. It's essential to know how long you need to taper off these medications before your retreat. While online resources like may help, consult your doctor or therapist, especially for less common medications or conditions.

2. Medical Conditions: Conditions like heart issues, high or low blood pressure, epilepsy, and diabetes are definite contraindicated. Seek guidance from medical professionals, and ensure they understand the context of Ayahuasca use.

Doctor- Patient Confidentiality

Remember, your doctor or therapist is bound by confidentiality. You can be open about your intentions without fear of legal consequences.

In conclusion, the art of Ayahuasca research involves finding a balance between knowledge and trusting your unique journey. Minimize research on others' experiences and shamanic restrictions outside your lineage, but maximize understanding of medications and medical conditions. Lean heavily your retreat center, coordinator, and shaman to guide you in your Ayahuasca retreat preparation. Your journey is a personal one, and by following these guidelines, you can embark on it with confidence and wisdom. Stay tuned for more in this series, and until next time, safe travels on your Ayahuasca journey.

Note: If you would like to watch the corresponding YouTube video, you can click here.

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