Integrating ayahuasca healing is as important as the process that happens on an ayahuasca retreat. It’s what you do with the teachings and insights that you get from the medicine, as well as how you take care of yourself and make changes in your life that ensure your ongoing process of healing and self-transformation.
Ayahuasca Integration starts with good preparation. The earlier in your healing process you can start to work with clear intentions, start to follow the dietary guidelines, and engage in your healing process, the better. Ayahuasca Integration also happens during your retreat, in between ceremonies, as the medicine continues to work and as insights continue to arise.
The jungle is a magical place full of deep connection, meaning, and healing. You spend all your time in the open air and sleep to the sounds of the insects at night. You spend time being vulnerable with other people, make life-long friends, share delicious meals, and face the deepest darkest parts of yourselves together.
And then you go home.
The medicine does not stop working when the ceremony ends or when the retreat is over. Ayahuasca initiates a healing process deep within all levels of our system that unfolds over time, often taking months or years. The goal of ayahuasca integration is to maximize that healing process.
It is common to experience tests and challenges when you return home. They may be big or small, difficult or easy to navigate, but they will for sure come up. In the Amazon, traditional healers working with plant spirit medicine talk about the plants ‘testing’ us. This is one of the ways the plant spirits find out who you truly are, how strong is your commitment and dedication, and how sincere is your search for healing and learning.
Life challenges or upsets can be perfect opportunities to practice what you’ve learned and to relate to old situations in new ways. Navigating the ayahuasca integration process while also trying to live life, with work, kids, family, relationships, and everything else to manage can be extremely challenging.
Ayahuasca Integration is really what grounds your healing: where YOU take the reins in implementing the lessons from the medicine, taking steps forward in your life as an empowered being, consciously guiding and practising the positive changes you want to make in your life. There are a few things you can do to help yourself through this process of continued healing.
Here are some ayahuasca integration basics to consider:
Follow the Post-Ayahuasca Dietary Suggestions
The dietary guidelines after the retreat are there for your benefit and safety and are based on what is traditionally known to maximize the effects of ayahuasca healing.
Receiving healing from the Shipibo Onanyabo is in essence an energetic surgery. Similar to physical surgery in the Western medical system, it is in your best interest to rest and recuperate, and respect and follow the instructions of your surgeon.
Honoring your post dieta restrictions is a critical part of the healing process., that supports the healing that is occurring on all levels – physical, mental, emotional and energetic. The first week or two following a retreat can be compared with being in post-op.
We provide comprehensive ayahuasca integration support following retreats, through a guidebook on ayahuasca integration, an online integration community, a group integration video call on Zoom, and the opportunity to book one-on-one ayahuasca integration sessions with a Temple facilitator/integration specialist.
Have a Practice
It’s important to carve out space in your day to still your mind. This can be a seated meditation practice, or it can be watching your thoughts as you do the dishes.
However, especially in the early weeks after your retreat, you may find it helpful or necessary to do more than just watch your thoughts. Carving out some time in your day to dedicate simply to embracing your feelings can be very helpful. This may flow naturally with meditation or may require more active participation to be present to whatever is coming up.
A practice can also be anything that you do with regularity, especially one that encourages reflection and introspection. A yoga practice, an art practice, a journaling practice, a cooking practice – any activity can be done with intention. It’s important to carve out space in your day to still your mind and devote a little time to caring for yourself.
Find a Community
One of the biggest challenges that people face with integrating ayahuasca healing is a lack of community. People come to the jungle and experience authentic connections, develop deep friendships, and are surrounded by a community of people who are as committed to their healing as you are.
Then back at home, it’s not as easy to talk about what you experienced, especially with people who have not had similar experiences. It can be difficult for people to relate to your experience, and the lack of understanding and connection can have a negative impact on your continued healing process.
Finding ways to communicate authentically, and to have friends who are doing similar work, is extremely helpful. More and more people are open to talking about ayahuasca, so you may be surprised who you find.
If you can’t find local ayahuasca communities in your area, you might try communities that are focused on other kinds of spirituality or personal work. Yoga studios and meditation groups are good places to start. Reaching out to people who were on your retreat with you is another good place to start.
You will also have a new community of friends from your retreat and an invitation to join the Temple Ayahuasca Integration Community (available to all previous guests).
Spend Time in Nature
Find time in your day to spend in nature, even if it’s just the little park down the street. Of course, the bigger and wilder, the better.
Get out into fresh air and include all your senses: lie down and earth yourself on the ground, touch the grass, hug a tree, breathe deeply, dip your toes in the stream, and look out at the horizon and up at the birds in the sky. There is an overwhelming body of scientific evidence that shows the calming effect that nature has on your nervous system.
And after working in a shamanic healthcare tradition, where the wisdom of nature is fundamentally guiding your healing process, and where plant spirits continue to work with you well after you leave the jungle, paying your respects to the natural environment of your home is an important way to honor the healing you’ve received. You can express gratitude to the land by offering some tobacco to a tree or a plant, or simply by saying or thinking thank you.
Take Care of Your Body
It sounds simple, and it seems obvious, but it’s often the first thing we forget in times of stress or difficulty. You have to take care of your body if you want your healing to continue.
This includes eating well even after the diet restrictions and finding ways to make healthier choices daily. Be kind to yourself. As energetic beings, we are what we eat. Try to eat as much organic food as possible, cut down on junk food, cut down on red and processed meat, increase your vegetables, and go easy on refined and processed flour and sugars. Be conscious about your caffeine and alcohol intake, and pay attention to how quickly you eat.
Exercise is an important part of taking care of your body. It doesn’t need to be vigorous, but you do need to move around. Yoga, especially yin yoga, is a great way to stay connected to ceremony experiences and to continue to learn to sit with uncomfortable feelings and sensations.
Walking, swimming, biking, running, hiking, team sports – whatever gets you moving at a slightly uncomfortable but not acutely painful level. It helps move energy through and out of your body, which in turn helps your mind calm down. It’s best to sweat a bit, and if moving around is too much to manage, try a sauna or steam room to stimulate sweating and promote physical relaxation.
Booking Follow-Up Ayahuasca Integration Sessions
All of the suggestions here are relatively simple and important pieces of integrating well, but just because they’re simple and important does not mean that they are easy to implement into your daily life.
It can be really hard to meditate, eat well, exercise, or spend 5 minutes a day outside. It shouldn’t be – it really shouldn’t be – but it is. A little accountability can go a long way, as can some guidance around specific practices that may be better suited to your lifestyle.
Sometimes, things get really hard after an ayahuasca retreat. For some, there is a continued purging process that happens well after the ceremony is closed, where emotions like fear or anger that had been suppressed for a long time are still coming out. This can be confusing, overwhelming, and difficult to manage on your own. It’s also totally normal, and getting reconnected to the insights and teachings from your own ceremony experiences can make a world of difference.
It’s also common to find that you just don’t relate to things in the same way as before working with ayahuasca. This can be wonderful and freeing, but can also be confusing and challenging. Relationships, friendships, jobs – all can lose their appeal, and it is common to want to change in many areas of our lives.
Self-transformation is most often a process of dismantling – who you used to be and how you used to identify with yourself and others. We recommend that you approach ayahuasca integration with deep curiosity, patience, and trust; we will support you to gracefully approach all of these challenges and to help you maximize your healing.
We have a team of experienced ayahuasca integration facilitators that we work with who are qualified to offer the kind of support you may want or need after your retreat. Each of them has been through their deep process with ayahuasca, and can draw on their personal experiences to help you with your journey.
In ayahuasca integration sessions, you can expect to be listened to compassionately by someone who has been there themselves, and who can understand what you are going through. You can also expect to be expertly guided to reconnect with your inner guidance. Ayahuasca integration sessions may include elements of processing and inquiry, so you can understand your ceremony experiences more clearly, or discover what teachings are hidden in challenging life experiences.
For more information and to book either pre-retreat or post-retreat sessions with an ayahuasca integration facilitator, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.