This text is a direction or guidance for people who are interested in taking part in an Ayahuasca ceremony or retreat, especially for someone who is going to drink at first time this beverage from the amazon jungle. Currently, there is a huge interest from many people around the world to have a shamanic or mystical experience using sacred plants like Ayahuasca. Since Peru is a place where for five years has been declared Cultural Patrimony of the Nation the knowledge and traditional uses of Ayahuasca practiced by Amazonian native communities, and therefore the use of this medicine plant in this context is not illegal, and it is protected by the government, we can observe in different parts of the country, a gradual and progressive increasing of places where it is offered an experience with the use of this brew, sometimes as a shamanic experience, through mystical tourism agencies or in retreat centers. Some of these places take the responsibility for managing a serious medical ethic involved, but many place giving Ayahuasca medicine, they just do it with a commercial purpose without a proper knowledge to support the use of this sacred plant.
Therefore, we believe it is very important to show different issues that must be taken into consideration before making the decision to participate in a ceremony or a retreat with Ayahuasca. Here are the following issues:
Preparation before drinking Ayahuasca.- It is necessary a diet for preparation from a few days before drinking the beverage, because there are some foods containing tyramine endangering health if consumed the day before or at the same day drinking ayahuasca. A diet for preparation also allows the body a more dynamic work with the plant and it helps in a subtle energy level.
It is very important to consider the interaction of the components of the Ayahuasca plant (MAOI's) with some drugs, such as antidepressants which might cause serious consequences like a brain damage or a serotonin syndrome or even death. There are also other pharmaceutical products having interactions, such as the antihistamines as Nastizol which may cause severe hypotension. Therefore, it is a duty of persons who are giving Ayahuasca to know, from at least three weeks before drinking ayahuasca, what kind of pharmaceuticals are using the potential participants of the ceremony.
It is also necessary for the one who is giving the beverage to have knowledge about the mental health status of the person interested in participating in a ceremony, since Ayahuasca medicine can be a trigger for a latent psychosis. In certain cases, depending on the psycho-spiritual state of the person can be a door to an inflation of personality or existential confusion.
"Set & Setting".- Set refers to the psychological mindset of the person engaging in the experience. It includes mood, expectations about the experience itself, thoughts and concerns. Setting refers merely to the physical matter, the surrounding environment, the weather, the music, people with whom we share the experience. "Set & Setting" is a concept created for "channeling" an experience out of potentially dangerous practices. But the work to devote to setting the ceremony not only results in success. It is not a generator system for a transcendental experience, but rather a way to prevent physical or social interference that may cause discomfort, what is known as "bad trips".
As regards to the Set, a person who is interested in taking part in an Ayahuasca ceremony should be honest enough with her or himself, and to take into account their mood before drinking the brew, since a state of deep sadness, anger or much fear, can trigger a quite unpleasant experience in the state of consciousness of the plant. It is very important to go to the ceremony with minimal expectations and as humble as possible, respecting the ceremony, the plant and to the one guiding the ceremony. We believe it is necessary to be completely sure that you want to participate in the ceremony, if there are doubts, the recommendation is better to abstain yourself and to wait for another opportunity.
Maybe the Ayahuasca medicine is one of the entheogens or a teacher plants that requires further attention regarding to the Setting or to the ritual, since inappropriate environment can generate unpleasant experiences, future psychological damage and physical, emotional and spiritual disorders. It is true that there is a direct relationship between the results of the experience and the motivations leading to the participants of a ceremony. It is important the purpose and the intention for the ceremony, it can be for fun, therapeutic, for self-knowledge and inner development or for evolution. The ceremony must be guided by a person having knowledge of the reality of the states of consciousness generated by the use of the teacher plant. And if the purpose is for spiritual growth or for psychological development, who is guiding the ceremony should have knowledge about the structure of the world of the soul.
It is recommended a ceremony where the number of participants is limited to few people. Group sessions for 10, 20, 50 or 100 participants are usually an indicator of a business, where the health and integrity of the participants are not the main issue or the aim for therapeutic work. Sometimes there is luck in this sort of experiences, in ceremonies with a large number of participants, and that one living this experience acquires knowledge and healing from the plant; but sometimes the lack of personalized attention during the process can generates emotional, psychological or spiritual disorders. That is why the work of the facilitator or the guide of the experience is very important when there is a purpose for self-knowledge or psychological development while working with teacher plants.
Psychointegration sessions.- Many people interested in taking part in an ayahuasca ceremony are asking themselves: What do you have to expect after taking part in an Ayahuasca ceremony? How is it possible to integrate the experience into the daily life? How does this sort of experience help you?
Thus, one of the most important roles of the person who guides or facilitates an Ayahuasca ceremony should be to support to the participants providing light and understanding about the process experienced, and the necessary knowledge for the integration into the daily life on the contents found and lived in the experience.
Many people who participate in a ceremony and who live a deep experience with the plant, they are often in the position of not being able to use these experiences in their own life and repeating again and again the experience without a proper assimilation, there is a danger of confusion or existential disorder.
Currently, there are in the Peruvian Amazon jungle many retreat centers organizing Ayahuasca ceremonies guided by native people from the jungle. In these ceremonies a lot of persons are involved at the same time, and in the course of few days, they participate in many ceremonies. The ceremonies are guided in the traditional Amazonian indigenous way, which is not a bad thing, but many of these centers do not provide to participants a dynamic for integration of the contents found during the process with Ayahuasca, and it is a concern, since in an experience where the purpose for the participant is self-knowledge or inner development, one of the most important issues to consider is to know how it has been understood the experienced process, from which perspective we can see it, how is it translated into the daily life. And here is where the facilitator has the opportunity to support doing a convenient psycointegrator work.
Also there are in Cusco many people organizing ayahuasca ceremonies working with travel agencies or individually by websites, here the participants of the ceremonies are not supported receiving information and knowledge to be able to create new perspectives for their life in order to develop a personal growth work. For some people who are organizing Ayahuasca ceremonies it is just a business.
Post diet.- Finally, it is a very important issue to consider the directions to be followed after living a process with Ayahuasca medicine. It is a duty and an obligation for the one who is guiding the bioenergetic cleaning process with ayahuasca to give information about the details for a proper diet after drinking ayahuasca, to help to the body in the detoxification and unblocking process. After a ceremony, as regards to the level energy, it is important to keep body, mind and soul free from contamination. And to do this, it is necessary some instructions to be provided by the guide of the process, as appropriate for each person. A failure to do so may generate disturbances at different levels. It is necessary discipline, patience and perseverance.