25 Mistakes First Time Ayahuasca Users Make
Some of these, I learned the hard way. The rest I learned from observing others or hearing their stories.
I do pretend to be the authority on Ayahuasca.
I am writing this with the hope that they can save you from having to make unneeded mistakes. Hopefully, you can avoid these and have a much more expansive and positive experience of Mother Ayahuasca.
- No Due Diligence– I have talked to people that just decided to experience Ayahuasca on a whim, asking around in Peru. While, they got lucky with a reputable Shaman. This is not always the case. There are some Shaman’s that are not in integrity. You are in a very vulnerable state while taking Ayahausca and the Shaman has the power to direct the energies for deep healing. They also could do great harm. There have been Shamans that have sexually assaulted women while they were in a helpless state. There are also stories of Brujos that abuse their power in other ways. I would do research and read reviews before going to a retreat. Go here for a list of the best Ayahuasca Retreats. I would recommend Ayaadvisor.org.
- Treating it Like a Drug– There was a story of a group of tourists from Australia that partied all night right before arriving at the retreat. They spent the entire 6 hours fighting over the bathrooms and purging violently. It is meant for healing and will purge any toxins in the body, mind, and energetic field. It is not to be taken for fun. It is healing and that is not always comfortable especially if there are more toxins stored in the body. The spirit of Ayahuasca also has a way of demanding respect. I would highly recommend opening to the healing with a humble attitude.
- Drinking Coffee Before– Caffeine does not mix well with the brew. For me, my heart was racing enough during ceremony. At times, I thought I was having a heart attack. I didn’t need any more stimulants to add to the mix. My heart may have exploded! They do not recommend it for people that have high blood pressure because of this. It is not something to experiment with, in my opinion. The cleaner the body, the better the experience.
- Eating Junk Food– Some individuals do not follow a diet before Ayahuasca and I’ve known a few that refused to give up meat. They seemed to purge a lot more than other participants.
- Not Breathing– Breathing is important during ceremony. It keeps you connected with your body, energy flowing, and you centered in heart instead of mind.
- Choice of Clothing– You will want to wear loose fitting clothing that you can layer. Body temperature can change drastically during a ceremony. One minute you will be cold and next burning up. It is good to be prepared. I would recommend a wrap or blanket as well. It is also suggested to wear light colors or white. The theory is that light colors attract lighter energies. I did notice this to be the case with those individuals that wore darker colors. It is just a suggestion.
- Waiting To Connect With Ayahuasca– Once you make the commitment to experience plant medicine, it can start working in your life. I recommend connecting with the spirit of Ayahuasca as soon as you can. It can be a great teacher if you take the time to listen deep inside.
- Leaving the Maloka For Too Long– It is fine to go to the bathroom, and take a look at the stars. I would not take a walk too far from the Maloka though. The Shamans create a sacred space which is protected and the energy is able to be guided. There have been known instances where an individual got too far into higher realms and the Shamans brought them back. You do not want to wander off and have this happen. You could end up deep in the jungle while your spirit is in some higher realm, unable to get back. In addition,you are open to other spirits and portals are open for them to come through. Staying in the sacred space allows the Shamans to disperse any dark entities so healing can occur without distractions.
- Not Being Grounded– I noticed a distinct difference in my experience when I consciously stayed grounded in my body. It put a sense of ease over the whole of what I was going through. It made it gentler.
- Vague or No Intentions– Clear intentions were key to some of my most positive and transformative experiences on Ayahuasca. You may get exactly what you ask for so be specific and clear.
- Drinking Too Much Water– Too much water during the ceremony can dilute the brew and also cause more severe purging. I found just rinsing was sufficient.
- Eating Salt– Salt can cause the digestion of the plant medicine to slow down which dilutes the experiences.In addition, eating bland foods causes our senses to go inward which can enhance the healing. I did eat salt one day before the ceremony and I did not experience visions that night. I also had a harder time physically during that particular ceremony.It felt like my blood pressure tanked and I broke out into cold chills. I also had more severe nausea. There was nothing expansive about that night. It may have had nothing to do with the salt but I did not want to risk it after that.
- Not Following the Diet– Avoid pork, red meat, fermented foods, spices, ripe bananas, apples, and avocados. I have heard nightmare stories of people being shown graphic scenes of animal slaughter during Ayahuasca. No thanks!
- Too Much Sun– The medicine causes more sensitivity so it is recommended to not spend too much time in direct sunlight. It can be enjoyable to sit in the sun especially after flower baths but just don’t over do it. You will know.
- Resistance to Purging– The medicine causes purging for a reason. It is healing on many levels and the purging is part of how it works. You may hear stories of individuals purging a lot and then noticing there is hardly anything in the bucket. This is more energy purging. The people that resist the most have a harder time. I also noticed when I purged freely, there were more visuals and expansive qualities after the purge.
- Body Position– It is recommended to sit with an erect spine to align the chakras so the medicine can flow through the body. I also found it kept me more present in the moment. I did lay down, but the experience was more gentle when I was sitting.
- Not Using Mapacho or Palo Santos– The Shamans say Mapacho, sacred tobacco is good to use to clear negative or dark energy. I found it extremely helpful to burn a little tobacco during the ceremony. I also had palo santos bark beside me to burn before and during. It clears the energy around you.
- Freaking Out– Deep issues in the psyche can be brought up during Ayahuasca which can trigger strong emotions all at once. It can seem confusing, overwhelming, frightening, and you may think you are going mad. It is easy to freak out entirely. I recommend coming back to the breath and the body when possible. This really helped me.
- Taking Medications– There are certain medications that should not be mixed with Ayahuasca. Ayaadvisor has a full list here.
- No Mindfulness Practice– Being mindful of your thoughts during ceremony seems to be essential. It can be the difference of an expansive enjoyable experience or absolute terror. I have noticed that the individuals with a solid meditation practice have more positive experiences.
- Negative Thoughts– Ayahuasca purges all levels including the psyche or the subconscious mind. There is also a direct connection with the thoughts and the direction of the experience. I noticed a much more enjoyable experience following light or positive thoughts. It is just what I noticed.
- Drinking Alcohol– Alcohol does not blend well with Ayahuasca. Putting toxins in the body will only result in more purging later.
- Taking Certain Supplements– It is recommended to stop all supplements at least 2 weeks before the ceremony since some can be very dangerous in conjunction with the plant medicine. For a list of supplements and medications to avoid go here.
- Brewing Home Brew– Ayahuasca is best when it is cooked in open air by a Shaman that has been deeply connecting with the plant spirits for a long time. It is important to know who is making the brew and what is going in it. You do not want negative energy going into the medicine. You want blessings and prayers. You also do not want a diluted brew that could be mixed with possible harmful substances. There have been fatal cases where the participant was allergic to tobacco and the brew contained too much.
- No Icaros– The Icaros are songs the Shamans sing during Ayahuasca ceremony. They are songs of the plant medicine and they seem to direct the medicine healing. When the Icaros stop, the energy changes drastically. When they start up again, so does the plant medicine healing energy. It is amazing to experience.
It is always wise to follow your own intuition. These are just suggestions from what I learned. It may not all resonate with you and your experience.
Thanks for reading!
Misha Almira is a shamanic healer. meditation teacher, and full time blogger.