How to: First Time Ayahuasca

My first time Ayahuasca took place one year ago in Costa Rica. I had been thinking about it for a long time, but haven’t been actively looking for a place to do it. I was waiting for the plant to come to me. And eventually, it did, when I met a friend on the road buying pipas for her pre-ayahuasca diet. I directly signed up! If not now then when?

Sunset colors

So here I am, reading whatever I find online about how to prepare for ayahuasca, what diet I have to respect, and listening to friends’ experiences, and podcasts on Spotify… Suddenly all was about Aya. I woke up thinking about it and calculated every meal based on what “I can or can’t” eat, I was controlling my consumption of media, social media, and Netflix… I started reducing my social interactions with people and even my partner. 

Now with hindsight, I can say that I haven’t approached the ceremony in the best way. I did “too much”. Instead of slowing down, preparing, and going inwards, I cut contact with the outer world. Results? Stress and expectations were awaiting me. I was constantly asking myself if I was ready, if I prepared myself enough or if my intention was good enough.

First time Ayahuasca – D-Day

And suddenly the day came. I spent some time on the beach alone, meditating, before going to the Finca. The place is beautiful, in the middle of the Caribbean jungle. The way until the space – in between papaya, coco, and bamboo – calmed me down. The guide greeted me and I directly felt welcome. Then eventually my friend came, followed by people also coming for the first time.

first time ayahuasca
The place where the magic happened

After choosing a bed for the night (we would be sleeping in the jungle yiha!) and doing some rapé, we all got one cup of Aya. I went to my bed, put myself comfortably, relaxed, and then… Nothing! I heard people starting to cry, vomiting, and moving a lot. And I wasn’t feeling anything at all! Two hours later the guide came to me and gave me a second cup, the effects were immediate. 

It is hard to describe the feeling… It is different from anything else I have been experiencing. I sensed big waves of energy, and warmth going through my body. I experienced heaviness and couldn’t stand up. I perceived my all being vibrating. I felt good, I was loved and protected. I knew that everything is gonna be alright. People close to me were coming to my mind, like my twin brother and some close friends. Also, I understood some repeating patterns that aren’t nourishing my personal growth and I have to let go. Like stopping waiting for people or for a moment/situation to do things I wanna do.

The pick

I was trying to observe without analyzing my visions. Time was super subjective all night. I couldn’t say at all what time it was. Hearing the others was hard for me. As soon as someone was screaming to death or vomiting his trips I was trying to be compassionate and sending them love. It can be hard to stay concentrated on your thoughts when the person next to you is almost passing out! But it is also the beautiful thing about it: you are not alone. We all have our trauma. We all are going through this wild yet beautiful experience that is life. People you meet at Aya are seeing you in your most “vulnerable” state which is a pretty bounding experience!

At some point, I saw a big black box coming to me and I knew that some badass things were inside, traumas from the past. I decided not to open it, “not today” I remembered saying to myself. I was feeling so good and didn’t want to change that feeling!

The purge

Eventually, the effect became less, and I suddenly felt nauseous. The purge came. It was intense, tears came out at the same time. I felt the hand of my friend holding mine, it felt so sweet. While it isn’t a pleasant experience, I felt damn god good afterwards!

Emptied, and tired, I fell asleep rocked by the sound of nature around me. We kind of all woke up at the same time in the morning, to the sound of the howler monkeys, toucans and parrots. We shared some fruits and nuts before all going our ways. I went home, tired, hungry and without knowing how to explain/share this experience with people around me. 

This is when I understood why integration is the most important part of the experience. I feel lucky because I didn’t have to go back to work or be in a big city. I could take time for myself, go to the beach or the jungle. It was sometimes hard to stay on my own. 

It is so easy after the experience to go back to your day-to-day life and old habits. It is facile to forget.

How to prepare for Ayahuasca

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself! I went so hard on myself while preparing for my first time Ayahuasca. It is super important to well prepare for the ceremony, however, the preparation should also be “fun”, and be part of it. You shouldn’t live it like a punishment. I remember not cooking with salt anymore and someone at the ceremony told me “wow you were strict”. Later a friend told me that he is still eating fresh red meat before a ceremony because he knows that his body needs it/ can handle it. Of course, you shouldn’t be drinking alcohol and taking some medicine before/after the ceremony (especially antidepressants), for your own security. However, the diet is different for everyone. By being so hard on myself I was angry, nervous and didn’t enjoy the preparation. Also, I had high expectations.

Here are some important points to take into consideration:
  • safety: be sure to be in good mental and physical health, beware of the set and setting approach and respect the diet (Ayahuasca can be fatal if mixed with alcohol or antidepressant).
  • risk: drinking ayahuasca can be intense both physically (it can raise blood pressure and heart rate, plus all the purging) and emotionally (you are going to move a lot of emotions!).
  • legality: Ayahuasca isn’t legal in every country. Be aware of where you do it and what are the consequences if you decide to drink in a country where it isn’t allowed.
  • choice of the retreat or shaman: super important point! I had the chance to get the place recommended by a friend. If you have heard of a place and you trust your source, great! Otherwise, be sure to check reviews of clients, if possible go check the place or talk to the person before the ceremony.
  • ethic: acknowledge and respect that ayahuasca is part of indigenous cultures with centuries-old traditions. Choosing a retreat or shaman that honours these traditions is important.
  • sustainability: ask where the plant comes from! It is important to use Ayahuasca sustainably, to prevent exploitation of the natural resources and indigenous communities. Prefer a retreat which supports local communities.

Diet before your first time ayahuasca

Here is a list of the substances/food that you should not take before drinking the medicine. You will find a lot of different lists online, some shamans or institutes will ask you to start a diet 2 months in advance, and some are more strict than others.. In the end, it really depends on you and what you want to achieve/how intense you want your experience to be.

But some substances have to be banned for your own security, like alcohol and some medications (antidepressants).

2 weeks before

  • alcohol
  • other substances
  • other psychedelics
  • medication

3 days before

  • red meat
  • sexual activities
  • too much sugar, salt, oil
  • processed food
  • fermented food
  • dairy products

24 hours before

  • caffeine
  • if you are experienced with fasting, do it
It was quite easy to follow the diet before Ayahuasca with all those yummy fruits in Costa Rica!

How to enjoy the Ceremony

Relaxing is key, which can be achieved through breathwork for example. Could also mean standing up, looking at the stars or the moon or seat next to the bonfire. Trying not to focus on “when is it gonna start?” Also, I am scared of vomiting, and I felt like an interior battle to let go of it and finally vomit. I would say don’t try to fight against it and just let out anything that needs to get out! Purging is good, you are letting go of bad energies and other feelings.

How to integrate Ayahuasca

Here again, I read so much about how important it is to take time for yourself after the ceremony and take time to integrate. Integration is different for everyone. As an extravert person, being alone after the ceremony didn’t do good for me. I felt a bit anxious at home alone. And while taking time for yourself alone to integrate is important, you shouldn’t cut yourself from the outside world. What helped me integrate: 

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Journaling
  • Talk with a psychedelic integration coach
  • cooking/baking, it as a super meditative effect on me
  • Talking, especially with people who have been through this experience as well. Staying in contact with the person who shared the night with you can be a good way to share and integrate 🙂
  • Go to ecstatic dances & cacao ceremonies: I love to go party and dance, but after such an experience, I couldn’t share my energy with drunk people
  • Long walks at the beach
  • Just being in the nature
  • Experiencing new things like using my voice or contact improvisation
  • Gardening
Integrating in the breathtaking nature.

To conclude, this first-time ayahuasca has been a hell of an experience! If you are considering doing it, take time to prepare, talk about it around you, and don’t hesitate to contact professionals. I think we never can be ready for this experience, but if you hear the call, then you are ready 🙂

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