PREPARATION

working with Ayahuasca at Pachamama Temple

Comprehensive preparation for working with ayahuasca and a resolute commitment to ongoing integration after your retreat are as important as the healing you will experience working with the medicine. It is critical that you commit at the deepest level possible to the guidelines contained in this document, before, during and after your retreat, in order to ensure your healing experience is positive, safe and sustained over the long term.  

 

Embarking on an Ayahuasca journey can bring both excitement and misconceptions, especially for those new to this ancient medicine from the Western world. It’s important to understand that Ayahuasca isn’t a quick fix for instant enlightenment or immediate healing of deep-seated pain. It addresses deeper healing and takes time. Letting go of high expectations is fundamental to not create pressure around your experience. You might even feel a bit down while dealing with inner struggles, a common part of healing processes. Release any expectations of experiencing mind-blowing visions, gaining incredible insights, or achieving what you’re looking for at your first ceremonies. Working with medicine is an art that may require time to reveal.

Contrary to Western views, indigenous traditions, with their longstanding connection to Ayahuasca, don’t see it as a shortcut or a form of entertainment. They recognize its potential to address emotional imbalances and certain health conditions. Ayahuasca acts as a powerful cleanser, purifying the body, clearing emotional blockages, and serving as a teacher for self-discovery and personal transformation.

Engaging with Ayahuasca is an opportunity for rebalancing and unearthing your true self. It requires courage, as it brings forth all aspects of oneself, including shadows and pain. Our commitment is to provide a safe environment for whatever may arise during this transformative process. 

Approaching Ayahuasca means building a relationship with the medicine rather than just using it. It involves reciprocity, receiving healing and teachings while taking responsibility for your life, committing to enduring change, facing fears courageously, and offering your gifts to the world. Genuine transformation requires sustained awareness and action. The key to a successful experience is your determination, commitment, and trust in the medicine.

Understanding the process

Your facilitators will offer integration support during the retreat in order to assist you to process your healing experience after every ceremony. We also offer instruction on how to sustain and cultivate any breakthroughs and insights received during your retreat and how to ground transformative healing experiences into day-to-day life.

Ayahuasca helps to dissolve the illusory self and significantly increases your awareness of self-constructed boundaries, as well as highlighting and helping release fear-filled and self-sabotaging beliefs. Ayahuasca initiates a long-term healing journey that supports overall liberation from the hypnosis of conditioning, shines a light into your shadow, and helps you to become aware of negative patterns. 

You then need to become intimate with your fears, embrace your shadow, and consciously parent yourself back to wholeness over the longer term. This is the slow path towards freedom from fear, resulting in increasingly feeling lighter, brighter, more vital, more compassionate, and more in touch with yourself and the world around you. Ayahuasca will support you throughout your process for many months, and even years after your retreat.

Pre-Retreat Preparation Tips

  1. Intention

Consider your motivation for seeking this medicine. Your intention serves as your direction, focus, and connection to your why. It’s your determination and your conscious process. Intention and discipline are fundamental to your preparation, at the same time, It is important to surrender to the process, and trust that you will get what you need, even if it doesn’t look like it is aligning with your intentions. Sometimes you understand after months or years what the medicine did for you.

  1. Meditation Practice

In preparation for the retreat, it is important to free the mind from stress and hectic routines at least two weeks in advance. Engage in daily practices such as meditation to achieve this. For those experienced in meditation, aim for your longest sustainable duration each day leading up to the occasion. If you are new to meditation or a beginner, consider starting with a daily sitting of 10 minutes.

  1. Handling practical matters

Ahead of your two-week final preparations, handle practical matters like finances, emails, bills, and organizing tasks such as car maintenance and arrangements for a cat-sitter. This proactive approach aims to minimize business and the last-minute rush before your departure.

Additionally, tidy up your living space, creating a clean and organized environment. Returning to a neat space will facilitate a smooth transition, enabling you to concentrate on integrating your experiences upon your return.

  1. Relationships

During your preparation take in consideration friends and family you spend time with. Prefer supportive and positive relationships. Keep it sacred and share your spiritual process with those who love and support you, ask them to help you to prepare for your venture and integration on your return. Prefer alone time instead of negative dynamics, they don’t serve you in this moment of preparation.

  1. Nature

Spend time in nature every day. If you live in a city where nature is hard to find, research parks, botanical gardens, greenhouses, and Zen gardens in your area. Take long walks in the woods, on the beach, whatever landscape calls you. This will help you to relax and establish a deeper connection to yourself, outside of the busyness of life.

  1. Social Media

A digital detox isn’t about disconnecting but reconnecting with yourself and your surroundings. Unplug from social media to create mental space for self-reflection and connection to yourself. Eliminate digital distraction to facilitate focus, presence and awareness and give more space for your preparation. 

  1. Post-Retreat Planning Ahead 

In planning your trip, realize that you will be extremely open and sensitive in the days immediately following your retreat. Joining a raucous group tour or immediately diving back into your hectic schedule are not ideal situations. Try to build in some quiet time in a beautiful location, a few days in Sacred Valley or a jungle retreat (without further ayahuasca ceremonies). If your home base supports serenity, head back there after a few days, and keep your schedule light for as long as possible. Remember to take care of all practicalities for your post retreat: travel, hotel reservations, etc. before you come to the retreat.

The Dieta

One of the most important aspects of working with ayahuasca is adhering to an honored tradition of following a special diet in order to prepare not just the body, but also the mind and soul to incorporate the healing energy of ayahuasca. This diet also shows the spirit of ayahuasca your intention and is a test of discipline and commitment. 

The central aspects of the diet are common to the teachings of many Shamanic Traditions across the Peruvian Amazon. In the case of some of the food restrictions there is also definitive scientific evidence that they are essential for safety. 

During your preparation for Ayahuasca you want to keep your energy as high as possible in service of your own healing. Sexual activities move and release a great amount of energy that is needed for your intense process, as well as sharing an absorbing energy from the other person may not be in line with your own healing and keep you away from being  in your own energy toward ceremony. So, to maintain the integrity and the momentum of your healing it is very important that you keep your energy to yourself and avoid sex and masturbation.

You should begin the diet at least two weeks before the retreat and continue the diet for at least two weeks after the last ceremony (including sexual activities). It is essential to continue the diet to ensure the ikaros you have received and any possible plant remedies you are prescribed, are given sufficient time to integrate.

 

Restrictions Before and During your retreat:

Two Weeks prior, abstain from:

  • Any plant medicines/psychedelics (including San Pedro, Ayahuasca, mushrooms, LSD, cannabis, kambo, rapé, etc.)
  • Any Psychoactive substance (cocaine, MDMA, amphetamines, etc.) 
  • Sexual activities (including masturbation)
  • Alcohol
  • Pork
  • Spicy foods (hot peppery spice that burns tongue/mouth)
  • Ice, ice cream, or ice cold drinks

One Week prior, abstain from:

  • Refined sugars
  • Red meat
  • Junk foods
  • Excess salt (keep it minimal)
  • Sweets or chocolate
  • Excess oils (use olive or coconut oil very sparingly)
  • Animal fats (lard, etc.)
  • Carbonated drinks (including diet sodas, energy drinks, non-alcoholic beer, seltzer water, etc.)
  • Dairy products
  • Fermented foods
  • Caffeine & other stimulants

Additional restrictions:

  • If you will be menstruating during the retreat, please inform your facilitators when you arrive.
  • Avoidance of synthetic soaps, perfumes, toiletries, etc.

 

By eliminating these items from your diet, you will prepare your body physically for the ayahuasca journey, and perhaps also reduce the amount of purging needed to clean your physical body. In addition to the physical aspects, by showing your commitment and determination to ayahuasca and the master plants, you are creating the foundations of your relationship with them and offering them the respect that is essential for this work.

Restrictions Following your retreat:

For 3 Days after:

  • Protect the crown (your head) from sunlight and rain
  • Abstain from Ice, ice cream, or ice cold drinks

 

For 1 week after, abstain from :

  • Spicy foods
  • Dairy products
  • Red meat
  • Light massage (gentle, therapeutic massage)
  • Intense exercise [Gym and weights work, marathons etc]
  • Doing energy work as a practitioner (and in some cases, best to wait 2 weeks, please consult with the healers during your stay at the Temple)

 

For 2 weeks after, abstain from:

  • Sexual activities (including masturbation)
  • Alcohol
  • Refined sugars
  • Red meat
  • Junk foods
  • Salt or pepper
  • Sweets or chocolate
  • Oils 
  • Animal fats (lard, etc.)
  • Carbonated drinks (including diet sodas, energy drinks, non-alcoholic beer)
  • Dairy products
  • Fermented foods
  • Caffeine & other stimulants

For 4 weeks after, abstain from:

  •  Any plant medicines/psychedelics (including San Pedro, Ayahuasca, mushrooms, LSD, cannabis, kambo, rapé, etc.)
  •  Any Psychoactive substance (cocaine, MDMA, amphetamines, etc.) 
  •  Pork
  •  Deep/energetic massage 
  •  Other types of energetic work such as Reiki, shamanic energy work, etc.
  •  Intense breathwork (such as holotropic, any deep process-inducing breathwork)

Critical Note: we want to re-emphasize that maintaining the diet is an absolutely essential factor in the healing process. The three most fundamental restrictions after a workshop are street drugs (cocaine, ecstasy, LSD, etc.), sexual activity, and pork. If a guest decides to not adhere to this critical advice, we cannot be held liable for the consequences (which can be severe psychological and energetic damage).

Medications

 

medications are pharmacologically and/or energetically contraindicated with ayahuasca both before and after your retreat. In general, when taking Ayahuasca or other medicinal plants, do not take any other substances or medicines, including herbal medicines, both for your safety and so as not to interfere with the efficacy of the plants or their energies. Certain medications should be avoided with Ayahuasca as they can be potentially dangerous. For safety, stop taking those kinds of medication 8 weeks before the retreat

 

Remember to consult your doctor before stopping taking any prescribed medication.

 

DRUGS TO BE AVOIDED WITH AYAHUASCA:

  • MAOIs
  • SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)
  • Antihypertensive drugs/medication for high blood pressure
  • Appetite suppressants or diet pills
  • Medicines for asthma, bronchitis or other respiratory problems
  • Antihistamines
  • Medicines for colds, sinus problems, hay fever or allergies (all medicines containing dextromethorphan/DXM, or having DM, DX or Tuss in their name).
  • CNS (central nervous system) depressants (e.g. Xanax, Ativan)
  • Vasodilators
  • Antipsychotics
  • Barbiturates

 

Read our Medical guidelines for a more in-depth explanation about medications

please email bookings@pachamamatemple.org regarding any medications you have not already communicated during your application process.

WHILE ON RETREAT TIPS

Establish and Maintain Your Personal Space: Take some time alone—it’s an important aspect for healing and reflecting. While the Ayahuasca retreat is a collective experience, find a good balance between moments of solitude and engaging with others. Be mindful and sensitive of respecting others’ space, as some may prefer moments of quiet introspection.

Reflect and Write: After the Ayahuasca ceremony, take a moment to ponder the insights you gained. Use a journal to process your thoughts, emotions, and visions. Record the lessons, messages, and emotions that came up during the ceremony. This practice not only reinforces your experience but also serves as a guide for ongoing self-reflection.

Embrace Self-Expression: Ayahuasca ceremonies provide an opportunity for prayer and self-expression, often through singing, playing music, or sharing a poem or prayer. Towards the end of the ceremony there is space to liberate yourself and share your heartfelt expression. This is a significant aspect of the healing process, promoting liberation and contributing a unique gift to the group.

Prioritize Open Communication: If you’re dealing with tough emotions like fear, isolation, disconnection, disappointment, anger or feeling overwhelmed, for something or someone, talk to the facilitators. Don’t keep it to yourself, as unspoken emotions can hinder your progress during the retreat. The facilitators are there to support you, so don’t hesitate to share your feelings.

No phones policy: remember, phones are not allowed during the retreat as per our policy, supported by the Shipibo healers. There’s no electricity or WiFi for an immersive experience. Bring a power bank for device charging. External communications may disrupt your inner process.

GETTING AT THE PACHAMAMA TEMPLE

Fly to Lima’s International Airport as your first destination. Then take a connecting flight to Pucallpa Airport, serving as the entry point to your destination.

Upon your landing in Pucallpa, we pick you up and transit to the meeting point at the Manish Ecological Hotel.

Situated near the Curimana District in the Region of Ucayali, the Pachamama Temple lies within reach. Your journey to the temple will involve a transfer by van and boat.

Items to Bring

  • Water bottle, to avoid single use plastics (we will have clean drinking water stations for you to fill up your bottle before you begin the walking portion of your journey to the Temple and we supply clean drinking water throughout the retreat)
  • Flashlight with a red-light setting (important) for walking from your mat to the toilet during ceremony
  • Journal/art supplies
  • Light spiritual books (as opposed to novels or books that have no relation to what you are coming to the retreat for that might distract you)
  • Rain jacket 
  • Rain boots (strongly recommended for the hike through the jungle to the Temple)
  • Loose, lightweight clothing (quick-dry material is ideal)
  • Swimsuit
  • Flip flops or athletic wet/dry sandals (such as Chacos, Crocs)
  • Sunglasses, sun hat
  • Compostable feminine products
  • Soap and cosmetics: please do your best to bring only biodegradable products with minimal added chemicals and without strong scents/perfumes
  • Mosquito repellant
  • Sunblock
  • Lighter
  • Any extra batteries you need for your flashlight, devices, etc. (and please take used batteries back home with you)

We will provide bed linens, a blanket, and a towel.

Items  to bring to ceremonies:

  • Your flashlight with a red-light setting for going to the toilet
  • Sweater/sweatshirt (nights can be cool)
  • Your blanket and pillow from your tambo (which we provide)
  • Long-sleeved shirts and long pants (to protect you from the occasional mosquito that finds its way into the maloca and for warmth)


Additional notes: 

  • Please bring your belongings in a backpack that we can carry from the river. A suitcase is much more difficult for the porters to carry through the jungle from the port to the Temple. 
  • We advise you to bring long-sleeved shirts and pants to wear after 4 or 5pm, as this is the time when mosquitoes are more prevalent. If you are coming in the wet season (November through April), the number of mosquitoes will be higher. All of our buildings (including all tambos) are protected by mosquito netting to help ensure your comfort. 
  • We offer a laundry service that typically takes two to three days, depending on weather conditions.

Post-Retreat Integration

Embarking on an Ayahuasca journey can be a profound and transformative experience, unearthing deep-seated traumas and emotions. However, the real potential benefits lies in the delicate art of integration. This process serves as a bridge between the sacred ceremonial space and the complexities of everyday life, offering tools to navigate the transformative journey effectively. Integration, as we envision it, transcends a mere set of post-retreat guidelines. It is a dynamic process aimed at furnishing individuals with tools for a profound shift in lifestyle. While transforming one’s lifestyle overnight may be unlikely, the post-retreat period serves as a sacred space to initiate this transformative journey.

Reflection and Journaling: Commence your integration by reflecting on the insights gleaned during the Ayahuasca ceremony. Journaling becomes a potent tool for processing thoughts, emotions, and visions. Document the lessons learned, messages received, and the emotions that surfaced during the ceremony. This practice not only solidifies the experience but also provides a compass for ongoing self-reflection.

Meditation Practices: We advocate the incorporation of meditation into your daily routine. These practices foster self-awareness, enhance emotional regulation, and cultivate a profound inner calm. Regular meditation sessions serve as a tether to the lessons learned during the Ayahuasca experience, seamlessly integrating them into the fabric of daily life.

Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Pay attention to your diet, engage in regular exercise, prioritize ample sleep, and immerse yourself in nature. A nurtured body serves as a fertile ground for a healthy mind, facilitating the seamless integration of Ayahuasca insights into your daily existence.

Community Support: Establishing connections with others who have undergone similar journeys offers validation and support. Engaging in group discussions and sharing circles becomes pivotal in processing and integrating Ayahuasca experiences.

Professional Guidance: seek the expertise of experienced integration therapists or counselors specializing in psychedelic-assisted therapy. These professionals play a crucial role in helping individuals navigate the challenges that may arise post-ceremony, offering personalized support for the integration process.