Ayahuasca preparation: How to prepare for your ayahuasca ceremony 

Ayahuasca Preparation

Ayahuasca has the potential to guide you on an incredibly profound journey, but this can only happen if you're willing to meet the experience with openness and commitment. Also it is important to prepare for this experience

By engaging in thorough preparation, you demonstrate your readiness to explore your innermost depths and face the challenges that may arise along the way.

Preparing for an Ayahuasca ceremony means not only following the dietary and lifestyle guidelines but also nurturing your emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being

It involves creating the space for introspection, setting clear intentions, and cultivating a sense of trust in the process. This preparation helps you to dissolve the barriers that may otherwise hinder your progress and allows for deeper self-discovery and transformation.

Ultimately, the level of preparation you undertake can mean the difference between a life-changing experience and one that barely scratches the surface of your potential for growth and healing. By taking the time to prepare, you honor the power of Ayahuasca, embrace the opportunity for transformation, and maximize the benefits that the ceremony can offer you.

Key takeaways: 

  • Ayahuasca is a strong medicine, therefore it is important to prepare your body, mind and spirit for the experience. 

 

  • Different traditions have different ways of preparing for Ayahuasca. In Colombia the recommendation for the body are simple. 
    1. One week before stop eating red meat and garlic 
    2. 3 days before stop with lactose and coffee
    3. Don’t eat citrus fruits on the day of the ceremony. 
    4. Of course abstain from drugs and medications that contradict Ayahuasca 
  • Stop your coping mechanism one week before your ceremony. Whatever you are doing when you are bored, angry, frustrated, lonely – in many cases scrolling on social media, eating sugar (you know for you what it is) – stop doing it. That forces you to start to be with yourself. 

Table of Contents

 

Let’s start with who cannot drink Ayahuasca and what to avoid. 

Who should not drink Ayahuasca 

Ayahuasca is not suitable for everyone, as certain individuals may face increased risks or negative interactions when participating in Ayahuasca ceremonies. It's crucial to be aware of these contraindications to ensure the safety and well-being of all involved.

Antidepressants (especially SSRIs)

Individuals currently taking antidepressants should abstain from Ayahuasca due to the potential for dangerous interactions between the plant medicine and their prescribed medication. Both Ayahuasca and many antidepressants affect the levels of serotonin in the brain, which could lead to a life-threatening condition called serotonin syndrome. 

This risk is particularly high for those taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).

Heart / respiratory disease

Individuals with pre-existing heart conditions and respiratory diseases (in many cases,,, asthma is ok, make sure you consult with a professional) should also exercise caution and consult with their healthcare provider before considering Ayahuasca.

 Ayahuasca is known to increase heart rate and blood pressure, which could exacerbate existing heart problems or create new ones in susceptible individuals.

People with psychiatric conditions 

Individuals with psychiatric conditions, particularly bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder and schizophrenia should refrain from participating in an Ayahuasca

Epilepsy

Epilepsy is another medical condition that that is a contraindication to participating in an Ayahuasca ceremony. 

 

What should I avoid before drinking Ayahuasca: 

Hard drugs

Individuals who are currently using hard drugs should avoid Ayahuasca ceremonies. The presence of these substances in the body can create unpredictable and potentially harmful reactions when combined with Ayahuasca, jeopardizing the safety of the experience.

Cannabis, alcohol and cigarettes 

One important recommendation is to abstain from alcohol, cannabis and cigarettes for a week before the ceremony. This pause allows your body and mind to clear any lingering effects and prepares you to fully engage with the Ayahuasca journey in a more focused and present state.

Psychedelic substances

Mixing various psychoactive compounds can result in unpredictable reactions, potentially overwhelming the individual or even leading to dangerous physical and mental consequences. By refraining from the use of additional psychedelics, you can create a clean slate for the Ayahuasca experience, allowing the plant medicine to work its magic in the most optimal way.

Consult with a doctor about your situation

For any other medical concerns, it's essential to consult with a knowledgeable healthcare professional before joining an Ayahuasca ceremony. In countries like Colombia, where Ayahuasca is a more established practice, there may even be doctors who have personal experience with the plant medicine and can provide informed guidance. However, regardless of your location, it's vital to seek advice from a qualified medical professional to ensure that Ayahuasca is a safe and appropriate choice for your specific situation.

What are the recommendations for Ayahuasca

There are many different traditions and different approaches to the Ayahuasca diet. The preparation in Peru is generally quite strict, while in Colombia there are not a lot of limitations. 

Of course, you have to be medically cleared to be able to drink Ayahuasca, and it is important that you prepare your body and mind / spirit before going on an Ayahuasca ceremony. 

Recommendations to prepare for Ayahuasca are to engage in a mindfulness practice, slow down, find an intention before your ceremony. However, the preparation is a big part also what you cannot do and should avoid. . 

 

When should you start your Ayahuasca diet: 

In Colombia the recommended time to start your Ayahuasca diet is one week before the ceremony. If you want to you can go longer, but it is just going to make a minor difference. 

Many times it is also more of a belief set from somebody (I have been dieting for x weeks, I am ready to connect with Ayahuasca). And maybe that belief set can serve them but it is more of a belief than factual reality. 

 

Ayahuasca diet: 

one week: 

  • red meat, garlic, nuts, 

3 days: 

  • Coffee, dairy

Day of the ceremony: 

  • Citrus fruits 

Meat is ok

So it is pretty basic. There are many places (especially in Europe)  that recommended to not eat meat. Which is part of “modern spirituality” but has nothing to do with the tradition of Ayahuasca here in Colombia. 

Salt and sugar

Many places also mention sugar and salt and of course it is better to eat sugar, but it is not related to your Ayahuasca diet. 

Apart from the things to not eat, also consider eating as healthy as possible and leaving out processed foods

In general, the Ayahuasca diet (from the place that we learned it) is a lot more simple than most people make it out to be. 

Cleaning the body: 

Engaging in physical cleansing rituals prior to an Ayahuasca ceremony can prove tremendously beneficial, enhancing the receptivity and effectiveness of the plant medicine. This purification process can take different forms, including the use of other traditional Amazonian remedies such as Kambo and Azuwactoto.

Kambo, a potent secretion derived from the Giant Monkey Frog, is known for its cleansing effects as well as strengthening the immune system. It works by rapidly eliminating toxins and ‘panema' (bad luck, depression, laziness) from the body, priming it for the deeper spiritual work with Ayahuasca. The process can be intense, but the payoff is a more balanced physical and emotional state, often described as a reset or reboot.

There is a more powerful purgative called Azuvactoto which is a plant which grows only in a very specific region of the Amazon, and it profoundly cleanse your body. It will be easier to connect with Ayahuasca if you take a purgative. It can be seen as the extra credit in doing the preparation.

We offer both purgatives, for that visit our page Kambo Medellin.

Must read BlogAyahuasca and Purgatives – the Colombian alternative to the dieta

Find out if Ayahuasca is right for you

  • Will you be safe physically and emotionally?
  • How will you be supported in the ceremony?
  • How do the facilitators handle difficult situations?
  • How will you be able to process the experience?
  • You want change, but will your life be unrecognizable after Ayahuasca?

+ 13 things to consider before drinking Ayahuasca?

Mental Preparation

As you go on your Ayahuasca journey, dedicating time and energy to mental preparation is essential. By connecting with yourself on a deeper level, you'll be better equipped to face the insights, emotions, and transformations that Ayahuasca can catalyze

By engaging in practices that nourish your mind, body, and soul, you'll create an optimal foundation for a meaningful and impactful Ayahuasca experience.

So many times our lives are always in go mode; we never stop, and there is always something to do or a place to go. Slowing down can help us quiet the mind and start to access what is really important for us in this upcoming Ayahuasca ceremony. 

Must read Blog: Hearing the Call for Ayahuasca 

Ayahuasca Preparation: Make sure you spend time in nature 

To begin connecting with yourself, make a conscious effort to spend time in nature. Whether you choose to walk through a forest, hike along a beautiful trail, or simply sit by a babbling brook, immersing yourself in the natural world helps to quiet the mind, ground your energy, and facilitate a deeper sense of inner harmony.

Engaging with the elements, such as taking a dip in a refreshing lake or river, can also help you cleanse and rejuvenate your body and spirit.

Spiritual practice: Yoga, meditation or whatever works for you 

Meditation, breathwork, and yoga are other valuable practices to incorporate into your Ayahuasca preparation. 

These ancient disciplines can help you cultivate inner stillness, heighten your self-awareness, and create a greater sense of balance and wellbeing. As you explore various meditation techniques or yoga styles, focus on finding practices that resonate with you and genuinely support your journey of self-discovery.

We offer holotropic breathwork classes in person in Medellin or online classes as well, in case you want to connect with yourself through this practice before your Ayahuasca ceremony.

Journaling, pain, creatively expressing yourself…

In addition to these activities, consider other forms of self-care and self-expression that resonate with your unique needs and preferences.

This may include journaling, painting, dancing, or even simply sitting in quiet contemplation. By engaging in activities that nurture your mind, body, and soul, you'll strengthen your connection to yourself and create a fertile ground for the powerful healing and transformation that Ayahuasca can offer.

Most likely, the price point is also an important factor in choosing your Ayahuasca retreat and preparing for your experience.

You can find out more about Ayahuasca Retreat prices in this blog

Discovering Your Intention: An essential Step in Preparing for Ayahuasca

One of the essential aspects of preparing for an Ayahuasca ceremony is discovering your intention—the reason why you want to go on this profound spiritual journey. 

There are various ways to approach setting an intention for your Ayahuasca ceremony. Generally, it is best when the intention comes from the heart and not your head.

For example, ask yourself, “What is the wish of my soul?” and less, “How can I ask for a raise at my job?”

The intention can be specific, such as seeking to improve your relationship with a family member or addressing a particular emotional or psychological issue.

On the other hand, your intention could be broader, like pursuing overall healing, personal growth, or learning whatever lessons plant medicine has to offer.

If you find yourself grappling with many thoughts or concerns, opt for a more expansive intention, like “healing.”

Throughout your week of preparation, your intention may evolve or shift as you become more attuned to your inner landscape.

It's essential to remain open and receptive to these changes, as they can provide valuable insights into the areas of your life that require attention and healing.

It's also crucial to avoid superficial reasons for participating in an Ayahuasca ceremony, such as peer pressure, a desire to prove something to yourself, or a mere curiosity to experience the visual and hallucinatory aspects of the plant medicine.

Approaching Ayahuasca with shallow intentions can lead to a less meaningful and potentially challenging experience, as plant medicine's true purpose is to facilitate deep healing and transformation.

I also created a separate blog post focusing solely on finding your intention: Ayahuasca Intention: How to find your heart-centered intention for your profound Ayahuasca ceremony

Many people are also suffering from depression and are asking themselves if Ayahuasca is the solution for their depression.

Be conscious what you consume

In the days and weeks leading up to your Ayahuasca ceremony, it's essential to be conscious of what you consume, both physically and mentally. 

This heightened awareness can help create a more conducive environment for the healing and transformation that Ayahuasca facilitates, as it minimizes the clutter and distractions in your subconscious.

One critical aspect of mindful consumption is refraining from watching intense or emotionally charged movies

These films can leave a lasting imprint on your subconscious, which Ayahuasca may tap into during the ceremony. By avoiding such stimuli, you give yourself the opportunity to focus on more pertinent issues and concerns that require attention and healing.

Apart from movies, it's also important to be mindful of the other forms of media you consume, such as books, television shows, news, and social media content.

Exposing yourself to violent, negative, or overly stimulating material can have a similar effect on your subconscious, potentially leading to a more challenging or less fruitful Ayahuasca experience. 

This also includes leaving out adrenaline-charged physical activities before Ayahuasca. 

Instead, try to surround yourself with positive and uplifting content, such as inspirational books, documentaries, or podcasts that promote personal growth, self-reflection, and healing. 

Engaging in mindfulness practices like meditation, journaling, or spending time in nature can also help you cultivate a more balanced and harmonious state of mind leading up to your Ayahuasca ceremony.

Eliminating Artificial Stimulation and Coping Mechanisms: Preparing for Ayahuasca Ceremony

Of course, physical preparation is very important, and connecting with yourself before Ayahuasca through meditation, going into nature, etc. is great too. However, I have noticed that eliminating our artificial stimulation and coping mechanisms is actually one of the most powerful ways you can prepare for your Ayahuasca ceremony. 

In the lead-up to an Ayahuasca ceremony, it's crucial to minimize exposure to artificial stimulation and let go of habitual coping mechanisms.

Artificial stimulation, such as excessive social media use or consumption of porn*graphy, can distract the mind and prevent it from fully engaging with the introspective process that Ayahuasca is about. 

Additionally, recognizing and stepping away from your coping mechanisms (you know which one it is for you), such as compulsively visiting sports websites or relying on sugar for comfort, can help you uncover the deeper issues that may be masked by these habits. 

Coping mechanisms often serve as a temporary refuge from uncomfortable emotions, thoughts, or experiences. Interestingly, they hold the key to the personal growth and healing of what’s really going on inside of you.

By letting go of these coping mechanisms, you create an opportunity for suppressed emotions and experiences to rise to the surface. This process allows you to address these hidden aspects of yourself more effectively during the Ayahuasca ceremony, ultimately leading to a more profound and transformative experience.

Eliminating artificial stimulation and coping mechanisms is a vital step in preparing for an Ayahuasca ceremony. By creating a space free from distraction and external influence, you allow yourself to fully engage with the introspective journey before your Ayahuasca ceremony even begins, ultimately maximizing the potential for personal growth, healing, and transformation.

Do not do too much research on Ayahuasca

I get it. You are really excited for your journey with Ayahuasca, and you want to prepare the best way possible, getting as educated as possible. 

At the same time, there is nothing that can fully prepare you for your Ayahuasca experience. Every person has an individual connection with Ayahuasca, and what others describe about their experience is true to them but not necessarily true for you. Especially people who have less than 20 ceremonies can only provide a personal perspective. 

The more Ayahuasca you drink (and the ceremonies you facilitate), the more you will understand that Ayahuasca has so many different facets. I speak with a lot of people who, after the Ayahuasca ceremonies, tell me, Wow, this is not what I expected at all. Or they had some revelations but then they asked themselves; I am not sure if that was the Ayahuasca (in most cases, it was.) 

Also read the Blog: Ayahuasca Ceremony: What to expect

Of course, do your due diligence and follow the preparation guidelines, but do not stay stuck reading every story on the internet about Ayahuasca.

Must read Blog: Is Ayahuasca right for me? 

Confronting the Ego: Navigating Self-Sabotage in Ayahuasca Preparation

There is a common saying: “Your Ayahuasca ceremony does not start when you drink Ayahuasca; it starts once you make the decision to drink Ayahuasca.” 

From the moment you commit to drinking Ayahuasca, you may encounter an internal struggle as your ego attempts to self-sabotage and dissuade you from participating.

This resistance often stems from the ego's fear of change and its innate desire to maintain the status quo.

This inner conflict may manifest in various ways, such as doubts about the necessity of the experience (“I don't need it”) or concerns about its potential consequences (“What if I go crazy?”). These self-sabotaging thoughts may intensify as the ceremony approaches, potentially causing you to question your decision to participate altogether.

It's crucial to recognize that these thoughts are a natural part of the process, originating from a place of fear within the ego that seeks to protect you from the unknown.

To overcome this internal resistance, it's important to acknowledge and categorize these self-sabotaging thoughts as the ego's attempts to preserve the familiar and avoid change. By understanding the source of these doubts, you can more effectively challenge them and maintain your commitment to the Ayahuasca experience.

Embrace the opportunity for transformation, growth, and healing that Ayahuasca offers, and trust that stepping outside of your comfort zone can lead to profound personal insights and lasting change.

In this regard I recommend the Blog: Facing your fear of drinking Ayahuasca

Must read Blog:Drinking Ayahuasca in difficult times – good or bad idea? 

Manage your expectation for your Ayahuasca ceremony: 

Also avoid putting too much expectation on the experience. I understand it is not really possible to let go of all expectation, especially because we all have certain hopes and wishes when going on this journey. 

However, the more you have a certain expectation of the experience, the more you put your experience in a box that this is how it has to be, the more you restrict it. You are not really open to the experience that Ayahuasca is trying to show you. 

In the end, what is most important is how your life changes after you drink Ayahuasca. For that reason, make sure you are prepared for what to do and especially what not to do after you drink Ayahuasca.

You might be asking yourself, How many Ayahuasca ceremonies do I really need to overcome the challenge that I am facing.

We dive deeper into that in this blogHow many Ayahuasca ceremonies do you need

Sex and Ayahuasca:

The topic of sex and Ayahuasca can be a complex and intriguing one. To ensure a focused and fruitful ceremony, it's recommended that participants abstain from sexual activity for a week, or a minimum of two days, before the experience.

The reasoning behind this guideline lies in the exchange of energy that occurs during sexual encounters. When you participate in an Ayahuasca ceremony, you want to bring your own unique energy rather than someone else's.

This allows for a more personal and transformative experience as you journey into the depths of your own consciousness, unencumbered by external influences.

Furthermore, if you find it challenging to go without sex for a brief period before the ceremony, it may indicate that you are using sex as a coping mechanism or a way to mask underlying issues.

In this case, it's even more critical to abstain from sexual activity before the ceremony to confront and address these issues within the sacred space of the Ayahuasca experience.

Another aspect to consider is the loss of energy through ejaculation, which can deplete your physical and mental reserves. To fully immerse yourself in the Ayahuasca journey and benefit from its healing potential, it's essential to maintain a focused and balanced state of mind and body.

 By abstaining from sex in the lead-up to the ceremony, you can conserve your energy, ensuring that you are prepared to navigate the often-intense spiritual voyage that Ayahuasca offers.

Taking a break from sexual activity before an Ayahuasca ceremony serves to protect and preserve your energy, allowing you to engage fully with the experience. By embracing this period of abstinence, you demonstrate respect for the sacred plant medicine and create the ideal conditions for profound self-discovery and healing.

Fasting and Ayahuasca

When considering fasting in combination with an Ayahuasca ceremony, it's essential to strike a balance between your energy levels and the integration of various spiritual practices. While fasting can be a powerful tool for self-discipline and spiritual growth, it's important to approach Ayahuasca with sufficient energy to fully engage with the experience. 

For those who are well-versed in fasting and practice it regularly, incorporating fasting into their Ayahuasca preparation may be feasible. However, for individuals in the early stages of their Ayahuasca journey or those with limited experience with fasting, it's advisable to prioritize maintaining energy levels over incorporating this additional spiritual practice.

The desire to combine multiple spiritual practices is common, but it's crucial to recognize that not every practice is complementary to the Ayahuasca experience. 

Additionally, fasting can lead to a more acidic stomach environment, which may prolong the time it takes for some individuals to connect with the plant medicine during the ceremony. This delay can detract from the overall experience and potentially limit the depth of the insights and healing that can be achieved.

It's also worth noting that participants are already skipping dinner on the night of the ceremony, providing an element of fasting within the Ayahuasca preparation process. This way, your stomach is empty, and it will be easier for your body to absorb the ayahuasca. (Bonus point: It will also make the vomiting easier.)

Must read BlogAyahuasca vomit explained – Why you vomit on Ayahuasca

What happens if you do not follow the Ayahuasca diet?

The Ayahuasca diet serves a vital purpose in preparing your body, mind, and spirit for the journey ahead. If you choose to disregard the diet, your experience may unfold in several different ways. 

One possible outcome is that your ceremony will focus primarily on physical cleansing, resulting in more vomiting and diarrhea, which is not really a pleasant experience. On top of that, you will most likely miss out on deeper revelations.

When the body is healthy, the mind and spirit can more easily access profound insights and healing. 

Another possibility is that your spirit is ready for the experience, regardless of your adherence to the diet. There have been instances where participants, unable to break certain habits like smoking marijuana, still had profound experiences because something in them just wanted to come out, wanted to express itself, and wanted to develop itself. But please do not count on this experience as a possible excuse for you to not follow the diet. 

Interestingly, in the subsequent ceremony, the same individual faced a really challenging ceremony focused on physical cleansing, highlighting the unpredictable nature of Ayahuasca. And that Ayahuasca can also be a forgiving medicine, but it is important to respect the traditions and prepare accordingly. 

By following the preparation for Ayahuasca, you demonstrate your commitment to the process, respecting the sacred plant medicine, and your journey toward healing and self-discovery. You yourself will take something a lot more seriously if you prepare accordingly. When you go inward, meditate on your intention, leave out your coping mechanisms, and really feel from the inside that you are ready for a deep shift in your experience in life, than if you just go and do not care about preparing and say, Oh, everything will go great.

Approaching the ceremony with a sense of entitlement or expectation without putting in the necessary work is unlikely to yield the profound results that many seek. I strongly recommend that you dedicate yourself to the preparation process and, in a sense, pay the price of discipline and be ready for what you will receive. 

Also, make sure you read this Blog and are aware of the possible negative consequences of Ayahuasca

Conclusion

In conclusion, the journey towards an Ayahuasca ceremony is as important as the ceremony itself. Preparing your body, mind, and spirit with care and intention can significantly enhance your experience, leading to profound healing and personal growth. By following the recommended dieta, abstaining from substances and activities that might interfere with the process, setting clear intentions, and nurturing your emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being, you create an environment that allows for deeper exploration and transformation.

It is not easy to follow all of those steps, you will already be confronted with parts of yourself that you have been suppressing. So now the question is, can you stay with that feeling? Are you ready to give up on a certain behaviour for a potentially life changing experience

One week is sufficient time to prepare your body, mind and spirit for your Ayahuasca experience. Some traditions recommend a longer time period, however one week is sufficient to have a meaningful experience. 

Yes, you can eat bread in your Ayahuasca diet, there is not problem with it. 

If you have a hard time following the Ayahuasca Preparation and Diet it is important to remember why you want to drink Ayahuasca in the first place? What do you want to change in your life? How is the way you are currently living hurting your life? And when you are clear on that why it is easier to stop whatever you need to do for your Ayahuasca preparation

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