Article published on the Sapan Inka website
Cusco, July 15, 2021
By Erik Hendrick Carpio
Many people who are interested in participating in an ayahuasca session or ayahuasca retreat want to know what they have to do to be properly prepared to live this type of experience. And when they start their searches through books or online, they find information provided by different ayahuasca retreat centers, healers, therapists and facilitators; being surprised that there are various preparation diets, that the diet is not the same everywhere. There is no standard information in this regard. Ultimately, this leads people to wonder what the Ayahuasca diet is.
Actually, the diet is an ancient technique used by healers in the Amazon jungle, which essentially was a process for the shaman who retreated or isolated in the jungle. The healer isolated himself or went into the jungle for days or weeks to train and test his body, mind and spirit. During this period, he used medicinal plants and specific foods such as bananas and fish, without salt or seasonings. In fact, his diet was made selectively with what the jungle provided. Thus, formerly, the diet was a period of testing and training. At that time, the healer was also a warrior and leader, and during the diet period he trained in hunting, fishing, swimming and survival skills. In his internment in the jungle, through the use of sacred plants, he connected with his environment and with the world of spirits in order to learn and develop, and thus, upon returning to the world of the community, he could dedicate himself to guide and heal his people. Nowadays, that is no longer the case. However, the concept and practice of the diet has endured among current healers, and the essential purpose remains almost the same, that is, to detoxify the body and connect with the spiritual dimension. The diet is a physical, emotional and psychological preparation to be able to receive a treatment with sacred plants.
This knowledge and wisdom of the Amazonian tradition has been integrated into the practice of Ayahuasca Therapy, although with certain adaptations necessary for the world of the current civilization. Therefore, the diet is not the same in all cases. The preparation suggested by a guide for an ayahuasca session is generally adapted to the beliefs, knowledge and objectives of each guide. The main idea is to prepare people to go through an experience with ayahuasca medicine that does not involve complications or risks. In this sense, the recommendation is to prepare those who have decided to participate in a process with Ayahuasca medicine, and therefore the diet is essentially oriented towards physical and psychological preparation. Likewise, it is part of the diet to avoid the use of drugs that could interact with the use of Ayahuasca medicine, especially certain drugs for psychiatric use, but also other drugs that produce intense changes in metabolism, or drugs with toxic side effects. The truth is that the more drug-free the body is, the more profound and positive the healing effects of ayahuasca medicine.
In an Ayahuasca retreat, it is normally suggested that the minimum diet be started 4 or 5 days before an Ayahuasca ceremony. But, the more prepared a person is, the possibilities of exploration with Ayahuasca medicine are greater. That is, if a person decides to start a preparation diet several months before their experience with Ayahuasca, it is very likely that the results will be much more valuable. It is important to indicate that the preparation diet accompanied by a preparation on a mental, emotional and spiritual level will greatly help to have an experience rich in content and learning. Although many will wonder how one can prepare emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
Thanks to the internet, today there is free access to sources of wisdom that, not long ago, were very difficult to access, for example: ancient sacred books from various cultures, mystical teachings from various eras, alchemical treatises and knowledge of the hermetic art. In addition, it is possible to obtain or buy books that were almost impossible to obtain before, especially if you live in countries where education is not a priority, for example in Peru. I am referring to books on philosophy and from various scientific branches such as psychology. In addition, the Internet offers various ways and possibilities of establishing contact with people from different regions of the planet, and in addition to books, the Internet allows obtaining very wide information in almost all areas of knowledge. Therefore, today, access to spiritual methods and practices is much easier than 20 or 30 years ago. Nowadays, if someone has an interest in learning a spiritual practice or discipline, it is no longer necessary to find a school in the area or place where one lives, or to travel great distances to find a teacher, guide or guru. Today, one can find a spiritual practice, commit and dedicate himself to it from his own home. Although it is always important to know how to find what is most convenient for each one and for this, some preparation, certain experiences and some guidance are necessary. Well, although it is true that today knowledge is open to everyone, the internet is also full of extremely toxic content for the mind and spirit or irrelevant or confusing information.
Among the recommended practices as a mental and spiritual preparation, prior to an experience with ayahuasca medicine, the training of the mind and spirit through meditation is recommended, and if the practice of meditation is accompanied by a philosophical and spiritual background, better. Nowadays meditation is something that could be said to be in fashion, and the methods, styles and instructors of meditation available are very varied, although many of them not very serious. We must be very careful with the practice of meditation, especially which is offered by people associated with the New Age movement, or practices lacking of a real background philosophical and spiritual, as a tradition of wisdom. A proper meditation practice can facilitate greater self-knowledge, mental clarity, emotional balance and access to higher states of consciousness. If meditation is accompanied by energy work, the training becomes intense and more beneficial, for example energy work through Chi Kung (Qigong) or Yoga. But it is necessary to be careful with energetic practices and it is advisable to practice them with a widely experienced and trained instructor, as a badly conducted energetic practice could initiate psychic disturbances that could profoundly alter the nervous system and psychospiritual health. The same happens with the incorrect use of psychedelic substances or entheogens, a misuse could become a trigger for a mental or emotional disorder.
If a person does not have the possibility of practicing meditation as part of the preparation before living a process with ayahuasca medicine, at least it is suggested to maintain as much as possible, from a few days before the experience, a state of emotional balance and stress-free, concerns or conflict situations. Let’s remember the concepts of set and setting that were initially introduced to the field of psychotherapy, specifically the psychedelic psychotherapy of the 60s by Timothy Leary, where the set refers to the internal attitude towards experience, how a person copes to the psychedelic experience, that is, the thoughts, moods and intentions that someone carries when living the experience; because according to the inner attitude, the quality, depth and nature of the experience will depend. The individual capacity to interpret one's own experience is also important. Not all individuals have the same abilities to understand symbolic content or to understand or assimilate spiritual experiences. For this reason, the timely assistance of the experience guide often plays a very important role when assimilating and interpreting the contents that emerged during the experience and the states of consciousness experienced during a process with ayahuasca medicine.
The diet or preparation should not only be considered before living a process with ayahuasca medicine, it is suggested that the diet continue for days or weeks after experiencing this type of process, since the effects of the medicine continue to manifest themselves at a subtle level for days , weeks or months after living an experience with ayahuasca, especially if you have had an intense and deep experience. In another article we will explore the possible side effects from taking ayahuasca, we will also address possible disorders that could originate from a badly channeled experience.