The Heart of Integration

Working with sacred sacrament presents a significant challenge for many individuals. However, the actual process of experiencing the medicine is just the first part of this challenge. The second part involves returning home and integrating the profound experience into one's everyday life. This integration can be incredibly difficult for some people.

Despite the inherent difficulties, ayahuasca ceremonies often offer profoundly beautiful and transformative experiences that expand consciousness, open the heart, and bring about life-changing shifts. These experiences are so impactful that one may wish they could continue indefinitely. During these ceremonies, individuals often develop deep connections with like-minded individuals, creating a desire to keep these connections forever. This desire stems from the understanding that few people back home will be able to comprehend the depth of their experience.

How does one even begin to explain to friends back home that they have communed with a powerful and sacred plant consciousness? How can they convey that this experience has brought healing, nurturing, wisdom, and profound love to their lives? The thought of returning home after such an extraordinary journey can feel somewhat disheartening.

Not everyone will experience difficulties after their ayahuasca journey. If you have a strong connection to nature or if you have a supportive group of friends who share your conscious/spiritual path, reintegrating into everyday life outside the ceremony setting may not pose significant challenges. Your friends will likely be interested in hearing about your experiences and may be able to relate to them to some extent. Additionally, if you enjoyed your job prior to the retreat, it is likely that you will continue to do so upon returning home.

On the other hand, if you already feel disconnected from Western society, dislike your job, and lack supportive friends who share your spiritual interests, your sense of alienation and loneliness may intensify upon your return. So how can you navigate this and thrive after your ayahuasca experience?

While we don't have all the answers, as each person's journey is unique, we can offer some suggestions that many individuals have found helpful. Much of it is common sense.

Take the necessary time

By now, you should be aware that life can present significant challenges for individuals after ceremony, especially in the beginning. Sacrament has the potential to make you feel like a misfit in the "normal" world, even if you already felt that way before.

Returning to your previous state of being is not as simple as it sounds, and it's likely that you wouldn't want to go back anyway. Accept that you may experience disorientation and confusion when you return home, and understand that it may take some time to regain your sense of direction.

If you have the luxury of time, we strongly recommend that you don't rush back home and immediately dive back into work within 1-3 days, especially if your job is stressful and unfulfilling. Allow yourself at least a week to relax and integrate your ayahuasca experience. Then, gradually ease back into your daily routines at a pace that feels comfortable for you.

Establish a Daily Spiritual Practice

Following multiple ceremonies, individuals often report a heightened sense of connection with a higher power or universal consciousness. Many consider these experiences to be their initial encounter with divinity. With an expanded state of awareness, individuals often describe experiencing profound peace, indescribable bliss, and a deep love and empathy for all life. While ayahuasca can lead to a somewhat hippie-like mindset, this is generally seen as a positive transformation.

Unfortunately, these overwhelmingly positive emotions are not permanent and may fade rather quickly unless they are consistently nurtured. So, how can one sustain this connection?

The most effective approach is to establish a daily spiritual practice. It is important to note that this practice will vary for each individual, and it is essential to discover what works best for you. Essentially, it involves finding a routine that helps you feel more connected to a benevolent divine presence or the wonder and energy of life.

Here are a few suggestions that may assist you in developing your spiritual practice:

  • Meditation
  • Mantras
  • Yoga, Tai Chi, Martial Arts
  • Dance
  • Prayer
  • Drumming
  • Spending time in nature
  • Gardening
  • Watching a sunset
  • Listening to beautiful music
  • Reading, writing poetry, or journaling
  • Engaging with your children or spending quality time with loved ones

All of these activities, and more, can serve as gateways to the divine. However, it's important to remember that not all practices will resonate with everyone. Experiment with different methods and discover what resonates with you personally. It's important to note that these practices may not provide the same intense peak experiences that ayahuasca can offer, but they can certainly connect you to the gentle and benevolent energy of the divine.

Once you have identified what works best for you, our suggestion is to incorporate it into your daily routine, ideally in the morning when distractions are minimal. Set aside dedicated time every day to connect with the divine and make this time sacred. We recommend allocating at least 30 minutes each day to this practice.

Mind your dietary choices

Understanding the importance of a healthy diet for your overall well-being is crucial. However, it's worth noting that the food you consume can also significantly impact your mood, concentration, and mental and emotional health.

Consuming junk food introduces toxins into your body, leaving you feeling sluggish and generally unwell. While undergoing ayahuasca purges can help eliminate some of these toxins, it's essential to avoid reintroducing them into your system.

To maintain a positive state on all levels, it is vital to prioritize healthy eating. By this, we mean opting for unprocessed, locally sourced (when possible), fresh, natural, and preferably organic foods.

We understand that not every meal can be perfectly healthy. We all have our guilty pleasures that we don't want to give up, such as pizzas, burgers, beer, or ice cream. However, we recommend following the 80/20 principle. If 80% of your diet consists of nutritious and beneficial foods, you can allow yourself the remaining 20% for indulging in guilty pleasures without excessive concern.

We strongly advise evaluating your current dietary habits. If most of what you consume is unnatural and processed, it's time to take steps towards change. It's unfortunate that junk food often comes at a lower cost compared to healthier options. Therefore, be prepared for a potential increase in your grocery bill. Nevertheless, consider it an investment in your health rather than an expense.

Choose Your Friends Wisely

They say that while you cannot choose your family, you can choose your friends. And we believe that this is an important thing to keep in mind. Unfortunately, there are many negative and toxic individuals in the world, and some of them may currently be your friends. It is important to approach these people with compassion, understanding that their negativity likely stems from past traumas or unhappiness that they have yet to heal from.

While it may be tempting to try and help or rescue these individuals, it is often a futile endeavor. People can only be helped when they are genuinely committed to helping themselves. This can be a difficult lesson for many of us to learn. Regularly socializing with negative people can leave you feeling unhappy, stressed, and drained. Therefore, we recommend minimizing these types of social interactions as much as possible.

One useful exercise is to make a list of the people you regularly or semi-regularly socialize with. Next to each name, write down how you typically feel after interacting with that person. Do you feel happy, inspired, and uplifted? Or do you generally feel unhappy, stressed, or completely drained? Based on this assessment, my advice is to spend more time with the people who uplift and inspire you, and less time with those who drain you.

After doing this exercise, you may realize that you need to find new friends. Unless you live in a remote area, this should not be as difficult as it may seem. However, it may require stepping out of your comfort zone a bit and actively seeking out new connections. Look for local events that attract like-minded individuals such as lectures, workshops, conferences, meditation or yoga groups, or even local retreats. Bookstores, yoga studios or conscious cafes often have notice boards advertising events, classes, and workshops. Simply spending time in these places can lead to meeting interesting like-minded people.

Additionally, websites like Eventful.com and Meetup.com can help you find events or groups of like-minded individuals. There are often more opportunities available than you might initially think, but sometimes you have to put in some effort to discover them.

Lastly, it is important to maintain regular contact with the people you meet during ceremonies or similar experiences. Many groups set up private discussion groups on platforms like Facebook to continue sharing and supporting each other even after the retreat ends.

Keep Learning & Stay Inspired

Ayahuasca is often referred to as a ‘plant teacher’ for a valid reason. This powerful sacrament holds boundless wisdom and can consistently offer us valuable insights and motivation. My perspective on ayahuasca is that it acts more as a gentle reminder of what we already know rather than introducing entirely new teachings. Ultimately, the key insights lie within ourselves, emphasizing the importance of not relying solely on ayahuasca as a source of wisdom. Since access to ayahuasca may not be feasible for everyone, it is crucial to cultivate self-reliance and tap into our innate wisdom. Look within yourself for guidance.

If you find it challenging to access your inner wisdom initially, consider making a habit of reading the teachings of others daily until you internalize and personalize them. Engage with books that challenge your beliefs, provoke critical thinking, or simply offer gentle nudges to your spirit. Timeless spiritual works like the Bhagavad Gita or the Tao Te Ching serve as excellent starting points. Additionally, the poetry of Rumi serves as a conduit to connect with divinity and inner wisdom.

Spend Time in Nature Regularly

Most people who have experienced ayahuasca report feeling a deeper connection with nature. This can be attributed to the effects of the sacrament. In today's world, it is rare for individuals to have such an intense and uninterrupted experience with yourself, free from distractions like phones, TV, and the internet.

Being surrounded by nature can have immensely positive effects on your well-being, which you may realize for the first time. Scientific studies have shown that nature has healing properties, including improved attention spans and increased levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of happiness. Additionally, spending time in nature stimulates activity in the parts of the brain associated with empathy, emotional stability, and love.

Therefore, we recommend staying connected with nature by surrounding yourself with it at least once a week, if possible. This can be achieved regardless of where you live. Even in the midst of a big city, there are usually parks or green spaces you can visit. Any place with trees, flowers, and plants will suffice, but if you have the opportunity to venture into the wilderness, even better! Just go for it!

Live With Love and Gratitude In Your Heart

When it comes to the lessons learned from experiences like ayahuasca journeys, the core message often simplifies to a few key points. If we were to distill all the wisdom gained from such experiences into a brief statement, it would be something like this - "Love is essential. Life is a precious gift. Embrace peace, love, and gratitude."

The concept is straightforward, yet our minds tend to complicate matters. Our minds have a knack for pointing out numerous flaws in everything and offering countless reasons for feeling unhappy and ungrateful.

Recognizing the tendency of our minds towards negativity and learning to counteract it requires effort. It may be among the most crucial work one can undertake to lead a content and fulfilling life.

At times, it's necessary to quiet the mental chatter and dedicate moments each day to reflect on gratitude and the positives in life. If you have the privilege of reading this text, chances are you are not facing extreme hardships like severe hunger or war. Undoubtedly, there are numerous blessings, comforts, and reasons for genuine gratitude in your life. By focusing on gratitude, you can cultivate a sense of well-being.

Moreover, scientific studies have explored the impacts of practicing gratitude. Research indicates that individuals who regularly engage in gratitude exercises, such as recognizing and contemplating things they are thankful for, tend to experience heightened positive emotions. They feel more vibrant, enjoy improved sleep, exhibit greater compassion and kindness, and even possess stronger immune systems.