The journey of personal growth is fundamentally about knowing and accepting ourselves as we are, then making choices about who we want to be. Ayahuasca accelerates this process by help us see the hidden parts of our mind, the unconscious, the shadow. It allows us to see, experience and integrate, and release hidden fears, sorrow and traumas that shape many of the difficult and painful experiences of our lives. It can also show us the beauty and strength of what we are, the truly positive aspects of ourselves that we may not believe are there. Shadow Work is how we integrate the aspects of our unconscious psyche into our conscious experience and allow the positive aspects of the shadow to express themselves.
This process of change and healing with ayahuasca will be different for everyone and it is best to set aside expectations formed from reading the experience of others. Having a clear intention of what you want from ayahuasca is important, as is not having expectations set to high. As is commonly said, “Ayahuasca will bring you what you need, not necessarily what you want”.
Begin Preparation Early
The earlier you begin preparing for ayahuasca the more pleasant and productive your time with the medicine will be. The concept is simple: The cleaner your body and mind are when you arrive, the less work ayahuasca has to do before it can show you the good stuff! We recommend you begin preparation at least two or three months ahead of time if possible. While that may seem onerous, these steps are just a part healthy living and good self-care.
Mindfulness is an essential part of personal growth and healing from trauma. In his book on Trauma “The Body Keeps the Score”, Besel van der Kolk says that “mindfulness practice is the cornerstone of recovery from trauma” and “At the core of recovery is self-awareness”. Ayahuasca shines a mirror on our inner world, and that can often be painful or frightening. Having some practice with gently and honestly looking at ourselves will make this part of the process much easier and beneficial.
Get out In Nature
Being in nature reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Not only will a walk in the woods make you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.
Nature Rx is short and humorous video that explains the benefits of nature and worth the 1.5 minute viewing time.
Get Some Regular Exercise
Regular exercise is essential for good physical and emotional health. It does not have to be strenuous to be of benefit. Something is better than nothing, and just taking a 30 minute walk 3-4 times a week can make a huge difference in how we feel about ourselves.
- Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Dark leafy green vegetables are especially good for us.
- Whole grains such as oats, barley, quinoa.
- Avoid sugar.
- Minimize beef and pork.
- Avoid all processed foods as they are loaded with artificial additives and sugar.
Harvard Health has a guide to nutrition that is an excellent resource for eating well.
The Ayahuasca Diet
Working with ayahuasca also involves adherence to a special diet which prepares your body, mind and spirit to incorporate the healing energy of the medicinal brew.
The diet we follow at the Hummingbird ayahuasca center is in keeping with the teachings of ayahuasqueros from across the Peruvian Amazon. Diet and healthy eating are essential components of your preparation for working with ayahuasca.
The cleaner your body and system are when you arrive on an ayahuasca retreat, the more beautiful and more productive your time with the medicine can be.
To get the most from your time with ayahuasca, please abstain from the following foods both before and after your retreats:
Two Weeks Before and After:
- All street/recreational drugs
- Marijuana (the longer without it the better)
- All forms of medication
- Any form of sexual activity, including solo.
- Chilies, or other hot and spicy foods
- Begin reducing refined sugars, salt and caffeine and other stimulants.
One Week Before and After:
- Refined sugars
- Oily greasy foods. Healthy oils such as olive, fish or coconut oils are fine.
- Red meat
- Junk food and unhealthy snacks
- Soft drinks and chocolate
- All artificial sweeteners
- Caffeine and stimulants
- Dairy products