Although I had some amazing experiences traveling the world, drinking Ayahuasca was better than everything else I did put together.
Ayahuasca was not only the highlight of my bucket list and round the world trip, it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever done. In fact, the BEST and WORST experiences of my life have been with Ayahuasca. I’ve been to heaven. I’ve been to hell. I’ve had out of body experiences. I’ve met spiritual beings. I’ve traveled into other dimensions. I’ve dissolved into a million pieces and merged with the absolute. I’ve experienced the deepest bliss and greatest ecstasy (infinitely better than sex – imagine millions of orgasms in every atom and molecule of your body simultaneously for hours), and I’ve also experienced the worst kind of terror imaginable. Shit so scary I would have killed someone or committed suicide to get out of it.
Since my first Ayahuasca ceremony in late 2014, I’ve drunk Ayahuasca over 60 times with over 20 different shamans in both group and private ceremonies, and in this article I’m going to share with you everything I’ve learnt in that time.
In this article:
- Ayahuasca life lessons
- The benefits/dangers of Ayahuasca
- How Ayahuasca has changed my life
- What to expect from an Ayahuasca ceremony
- My best Ayahuasca recommendations
I hope this information helps you if you ever decide to drink Ayahuasca…
In a single ceremony with Ayahuasca you could easily get a masterclass of 100+ lessons, however for the purpose of space in this massive article, I’ll simply share with you some of my favorite lessons…
I am not the mind
I’ve had multiple out of body experiences and thousands of visions with Ayahuasca, but by far the most incredible and profound experiences I’ve had were out of mind experiences.
I’ve heard spiritual teachers say “you are not your body”, and “you are not your mind”, but it’s one thing to hear or read it, and another thing to experience it.
The experience of being separate from your mind isn’t something that can be described or imagined. It can only be experienced. And it is incredible.
The mind cannot conceive of no mind. It cannot conceive of what is beyond it or before it or what it depends upon.
The truth is that you are not the mind, nor are you in charge of the thinking process. Thoughts just appear to you from out of nowhere, from out of the void.
You don’t think your thoughts, you just perceive them.
I understand why most people believe they are their minds however. The reason it’s so difficult to see the mind as separate is because it’s with you 24/7, it presents everything to you from a 1st person perspective, it calls itself “I” or “me”, it seems to speak in your voice (it doesn’t really), and it talks to you all day long even when you’re sleeping. It’s also invisible and intangible (it’s not like you can identify it or point it out). For more on this point read: this article
I don’t know anything
Ayahuasca showed me very clearly that I don’t know what ANYTHING “IS”.
Yes I might know the name of it, and I might be able to point it out and describe certain attributes of it, but I don’t know what anything “IS”.
I don’t know what the universe “is”.
I don’t know what the mind “is”.
I don’t know what energy “is”.
I don’t know what ANYTHING “IS”.
“Is,” “is,” “is”—the idiocy of the word haunts me. If it were abolished, human thought might begin to make sense. I don’t know what anything “is”, I only know how it seems to me at this moment.” – Robert Anton Wilson
This is a humbling realization, but it’s a fact.
The only thing I know is that I DON’T know. And of that I’m absolutely 100% certain.
In fact, not only do I not know what anything “is”, I don’t even know what it means to “know” something. That’s not humility either. That’s the truth.
I can’t change anyone
“I’ve discovered you can’t change people, they change themselves.” – Jim Rohn
I spent a lot of my teenage years and twenties criticizing other people, judging their behavior, and thinking that they should be different.
I would often get angry and frustrated with people, and I would try to reason with them as to why they should behave differently.
It didn’t work though. No matter how good my logic and reasoning, no one listened and no one changed. And even when they did listen, they still didn’t change. They just continued with their addictions and bad habits even when they agreed with me, even when it was hurting them, even when they knew they were going to live to regret it.
Ayahuasca spent some time with me on this lesson. It showed me very clearly that I was wasting my time trying to change people, because people are who they are, and they always will be. People can’t change who they are, anymore than you can change who you are. You might even want to change, to be different than you are, to be someone else, but you can’t be. You are who you are and you always will be.
If you’re extroverted, you’re extroverted.
If you’re introverted, you’re introverted.
“Can an Ethiopian change his skin or a leopard its spots?” – Jeremiah 13:23, The Bible
Imagine asking a dog to stop acting like a dog. You could beg it, bribe it, threaten it, try to reason with it etc. but it just wouldn’t work because it simply cannot go against it’s nature. People are the same way: They cannot go against their nature.
The truth is: MOST PEOPLE DON’T CHANGE. They stay almost exactly the same year after year continuing with their habits even if they’re miserable and they hate their life and it kills them. It’s almost as if they’re actors following a script that they can’t deviate from.
And if they do change:
- It’s only because they wanted to change, not because you wanted them to change
- They won’t change until they’re ready. Just like you won’t change before you’re ready
- They just become a better, funnier, smarter etc. version of the same person, they don’t become a different person
PS: If you do find yourself wanting to change your friends, you either need to learn to accept people as they are (my recommendation), or if you can’t, find friends you don’t want to change.
I don’t know what is best for others
Although there is some advice I’d still give to everyone:
- Learn critical thinking, cognitive biases, and logical fallacies
- Make a lifelong commitment to constant and never ending improvement
- Eat healthy, exercise, and meditate
Ayahuasca showed me very clearly that I did NOT know what was best for anyone else, because everyone is on a different path in life, and has different lessons to learn, so what maybe good advice for me, maybe bad advice for you.
I don’t know what is best for me
Ayahuasca told me repeatedly:
“You are not asking the right questions, nor do you know the right questions to ask”
“You do not know what you need to learn, experience, or do”
“You do not know what is best for you”
“You just think you do”
This surprised me at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was true.
I’ve never known what was best for me.
I didn’t know what was best for me when I was a child.
I didn’t know what was best for me when I was a teenager.
I didn’t know what was best for me in my twenties.
Yet at each stage of my life I was absolutely certain that I did. And this has led to me passionately pursuing one path, only to neglect even better paths that would have yielded infinitely greater results. e.g. if I knew what was best for me I would have started learning critical thinking and programming as a teenager, and invested in Apple, Google, and Amazon in my early twenties (early 2000s).
The solution: Ayahuasca told me that I needed to find a mentor, someone I admired that had achieved what I wanted to achieve, and I needed to ask their advice for the best next steps. I was also told to come in without too many of my own preconceived ideas, because the answers I would be given probably wouldn’t be what I was expecting.
Prior to Ayahuasca my personality was quite aggressive and intense.
When something didn’t go my way, instead of accepting it and letting it go, I would argue and fight 10X harder to get what I wanted.
But Ayahuasca showed me very clearly that non-resistance is the way.
Resisting “what is” is a complete waste of time and energy. It doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t improve anything. It doesn’t make anything better. It doesn’t get you what you want either, it just makes you angry, frustrated, and tired.
“What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.” – Carl Jung
If there is something you don’t like, instead of getting angry and complaining and resisting it, just take action and do whatever you can to change it.
“Accept – then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.” – Eckhart Tolle
Pay attention to how things affect you energetically
Before Ayahuasca, I was completely ignorant of energy.
Yes I’d heard of Reiki, Tai Chi, Qigong etc. but I didn’t know anything about them, nor did I really care.
But Ayahuasca allowed me to experience energetic healing. Again, this is something which cannot be explained or imagined. You need to experience it for yourself. I’ll simply say that it’s incredible and it feels awesome.
Ayahuasca also got me to start thinking about how different colors, foods, music etc. affected me energetically, and this is an important lesson because whether you’re conscious of it or not, everything has an energetic effect on you.
If you’re ignorant of energy like I was, I suggest you start paying attention to how different things make you feel emotionally.
How do you feel when you eat healthy vs when you eat unhealthy?
How do you feel when you listen to love songs vs when you listen to hip hop or rock?
How do you feel when you wear white vs when you wear blue? Or red? Or black?
It’s not just colors, foods, and music either. Different cities, environments, and people affect you energetically too. Some places and people just “feel” good. Sadhguru’s ashram for example. Others “feel” bad, or dirty, or dangerous.
Watch what you wear
I want to go into this in a little more detail…
Before Ayahuasca I was completely ignorant of the power of colors and how they affected me, except that I was more attracted to women who wore red or pink. Beyond that however, I had no clue, and didn’t care.
My favorite color however has always been black. I loved black ever since I was a kid, and I wore it almost exclusively throughout my teenage years and early twenties. Black T-Shirts, black jeans, black shoes, black suits, I even had a black yoga mat. It’s no surprise that I loved black either: Black is the most popular color in my home country of New Zealand as it’s the color worn by our national rugby team the “All Blacks”. Kiwis wear black with pride.
When I started drinking Ayahuasca in Peru however, one of the first instructions I got from the Shamans was NOT to wear black during ceremonies because it attracts negative energy. I didn’t believe it at first, but after wearing a black T-shirt when I had nothing else to wear, and seeing a couple few other people wearing black in a couple of ceremonies and every one of us having a bad trip and experiencing negative/demonic entities, I can confirm it and want no part of it. Black is now my LEAST favorite colour. I hate it. It represents evil to me and I believe that wearing black attracts bad things. I no longer wear black and I’m surprised that Catholics Priests wear black, and most Christians have black Bibles.
I’m now very conscious of the colors I wear and I try to wear as many lighter and brighter colors (white, blue, green, light gray especially) as possible, whilst avoiding darker and heavier colors (black, brown, red). I suggest you become conscious of the colors you wear too, because they play a major role in how you feel emotionally and how others feel about you when they’re around you.
Summary of lessons
- I am NOT the mind
- I don’t know anything
- I can’t change anyone
- I don’t know what is best for others
- I don’t know what is best for me
- Pay attention to how things affect you energetically
- Watch what you wear
Benefits of Ayahuasca
Why do people drink Ayahuasca? What are the benefits?
Ayahuasca isn’t for everyone, but if you do decide to try it, here are some of the benefits you’re likely to experience:
- Ayahuasca can give you real spiritual experiences. If you’ve never had a real mystical/spiritual/supernatural/near-death experience, Ayahuasca can provide it. And the best part is: You don’t need to be believe, nor do you need faith, or even an open mind. You can doubt and distrust and be as skeptical as you like, and you’ll still see it and experience it for yourself
“I think of going to the grave without having a Psychedelic Experience is like going to the grave without ever having sex. It means that you never figured out what it is all about.” – Terrence Mckenna
- Ayahuasca will open your heart, open your mind, and open your eyes. Ayahuasca is the fastest way I know of to open your mind (followed by traveling the world, meditation, and seeking out the best arguments and evidence against your beliefs). You will never see life, other people – anything – the same way again
- Ayahuasca allows you to escape the prison of your perspective (and it is a prison). Ayahuasca allows you to see and perceive things you can’t ordinarily, in ways you wouldn’t ordinarily, and it also allows you to see things from other perspectives, through the eyes of other people. It will also often show you what it’s like speaking and interacting with you from the other side
- Ayahuasca gives you space and separation from your mind. Ayahuasca gives you the experience of being separate from your mind, and it allows you to see without a doubt that you are not your mind, nor are you producing your thoughts, they just appear from out of nowhere, from out of the void, and because of this you’re more likely to watch your mind, instead of believing it, or being controlled by it
- Ayahuasca reveals your blind spots, and it makes the unconscious, conscious. Ayahuasca reveals things you can’t see, or don’t want to see. e.g. addictions, attachments, approval seeking behavior, bad habits, depression, defense mechanisms, mental/psychological problems etc. It also shows you what mistakes you’re making, what you’re doing wrong, and what you should do differently
- Ayahuasca accelerates your awakening and fast forwards your evolution. There are certain things that probably would have taken you a lifetime to learn. Things that just never would have occurred to you in a million years. Questions you never would have thought to ask. Places you never would have thought to have looked. Ayahuasca can reveal them to you instantly. It can shortcut your learning curve and literally save you decades of time
- Ayahuasca can help to overcome addictions, anxiety, depression, phobias, PTSD etc. Ayahuasca can help to break addictions such as alcohol, coffee, drugs, fast food, porn, sugar, weed etc. and it can also help to overcome anxiety, depression, phobias, PTSD, and even the fear of death
- Ayahuasca is like spiritual surgery. Ayahuasca is a master healer and a master teacher. It heals you while it teaches you. It heals you physically, mentally, and energetically, it can help you to overcome childhood and past traumas, and for many people, it’s like a decade of therapy overnight. The day after an Ayahuasca ceremony I feel so happy and healthy. It’s the exact opposite of a night of alcohol or weed where you feel hungover, tired, and/or depressed. Food tastes amazing afterwards. Music sounds incredible. Life is good.
Travelling the world is awesome, but for me: Ayahuasca >>> Travelling the world.
What Ayahuasca can’t and won’t do
- Force you to change if you don’t want to
- Prevent you from going back to your bad habits if you really want to
- Do the changing for you
Dangers of Ayahuasca
- Ayahuasca is a portal into the spirit world which means you’re likely to encounter demonic entities. If you don’t have a good shaman with you to guide you during the ceremony, you could get into a lot of trouble
- Ayahuasca opens you up energetically which will make you more sensitive and vulnerable to the energies of other people, not just during the ceremony, but for days and often weeks after
- There are more Brujo’s than Curandero’s (more bad shamans than good ones), and if you drink Ayahuasca with a Brujo, you’re likely to be attacked during the ceremony (in the spirit realm)
How Ayahuasca has changed my life
Ayahuasca has had a profound effect upon my life.
Ayahuasca has opened my heart, opened my eyes, and opened my mind. It has changed my beliefs, desires, and values, the way I think, talk, and act, and even my personality.
Ayahuasca has humbled me by showing me how little I really know (nothing) and this has led to me being more likely to listen than talk, to seek to understand before being understood, and to question my beliefs instead of asserting them.
“Earlier I was sure of so many things, now I am sure of nothing. But I feel that I have lost nothing by not knowing, because all my knowledge was false. “I do not know” is the only true statement the mind can make.” – Nisargadatta Maharaj
Ayahuasca has also made me more accepting, compassionate, and understanding towards others. I’m now more likely to accept someone as they are, warts and all, rather than criticizing or judging them or trying to change them. (e.g. I now perceive “angry” or “rude” people not as “assholes” or “bitches” but as people in pain and suffering)
I also no longer practice martial arts (I started martial arts in 2001 and did Boxing, Muay-Thai, BJJ, and Wrestling 5 days a week), and in fact, I now detest all forms of violence. I don’t think it’s “cool” to hurt someone, to see them in pain, or even to call them names and “burn” them. In fact, if I were to hurt you in any way – physically, mentally, or emotionally – it would hurt me. It would make me feel sick. Even if you were being an asshole and I was only retaliating because you “deserved it”.
…And this is coming from a guy who grew up loving Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, and was obsessed with martial arts and violence of all kinds, and was very close to starting his own MMA gym here in Melbourne.
If you’ve never been to an Ayahuasca ceremony before, this is what you can expect:
- AYAHUASCA CEREMONIES TYPICALLY GO FROM 8PM – MIDNIGHT. Whilst the ceremony officially finishes around that time, your experience with Ayahuasca can go a lot longer than that
- AYAHUASCA SMELLS AND TASTES DISGUSTING. And the more you drink it, the worse it gets. It tastes worse for me than it does for a newbie, and it tastes worse for a shaman than it does for me. Even though the average dose is only 1/2 a shot glass, the smell is often so foul that it makes me want to vomit when the cup is still a foot away from my mouth. However if it’s your first time, it probably won’t smell too bad
Here is Benjamin and Lucio some Shaman friends of mine drinking Ayahuasca. Hopefully you can tell from the expressions on their faces how disgusting the taste is
- AYAHUASCA GENERALLY TAKES AROUND 30-45 MINUTES TO WORK THROUGH YOUR BODY AND TO TAKE EFFECT and that’s when you’ll start to feel nauseous and want to purge (vomit and/or shit). Don’t resist the purge because vomiting and shitting on Ayahuasca feels amazing – and until you purge, generally nothing happens. When you purge: Thoughts are removed from your head. Words are removed from your mouth. Tension is removed from your body. A deep feeling of peace and relaxation comes over you and the journey begins…
- YOU CANNOT CONTROL AYAHUASCA, OR THE EXPERIENCE. As the Ayahuasca takes effect, you’ll start to feel dizzy, as if you’ve been drugged. You’ll then feel an overwhelming desire to close your eyes, and you’ll feel something alien and extremely powerful start to take over your body, and this can be absolutely terrifying, especially if your ego won’t let go and let it happen. You may start thinking: “What the hell have I done?”, “I’ve made a mistake...”, “I shouldn’t have done this…” . You may even feel as if you’re going to die. But it’s too late: Ayahuasca is now in control and it’s way more powerful and stronger than you are, so if you try to fight it, resist it, stop it, regain control etc. things aren’t likely to go well for you. You just have to let go and surrender and let it happen
- “MOTHER AYAHUASCA” IS A MISLEADING TITLE. Ayahuasca is commonly often referred to as “Mother Ayahuasca”, however I think that’s a very misleading title, because it implies that Ayahuasca is gentle and loving, whereas Ayahuasca is just as likely to terrify you as delight you, and it doesn’t care about your ego in the slightest. It will tell you the truth and show you how much your shit stinks whether you like it or not, and it will not soften it or sugar coat at all. Ayahuasca is also not a woman, it is a VERY powerful spirit that can take any form – just like the mind. It can appear as a man, woman, angel, demon, spider, snake, the Devil, or even God
- AYAHUASCA GIVES YOU WHAT YOU NEED, NOT WHAT YOU WANT. You can have an intention for the ceremony, but in my experience it’s a waste of time because Ayahuasca doesn’t do what you want it to do, it does what it wants to do. You literally have no say in the matter. You might have a burning question about your mother or sister, which is ignored in favor of information about your brother or father. Or you might have a question about your career which is ignored in favor of information about your diet or your health. Long story short: Ayahuasca doesn’t give you want you want, it gives you what you need, which is good because Ayahuasca is way smarter than you are, and it has a much better idea of what you need than you do
- COMMUNICATION TAKES PLACE TELEPATHICALLY. Visions begin in the form of geometric patterns for approx. 20 minutes, and then communication starts taking place telepathically, through images and visions, not in words. Sometimes the meaning of what Ayahuasca is communicating is obvious, sometimes it isn’t so clear
- IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO DESCRIBE. During a ceremony you’ll experience things that cannot be put into words. Things that cannot be explained. Things that can only be experienced. Someone could ask you to describe what you were seeing in real-time as the experience was happening, and you still wouldn’t be able to describe it or explain it
- NOT EVERY MESSAGE COMES FROM AYAHUASCA. Not every message or vision you experience during in an Ayahuasca ceremony comes from Ayahuasca. Actually a lot of nonsense can come out of Ayahuasca ceremonies, because sometimes you’re simply seeing projections of your own mind. I’d say 1/3 of what you experience during an Ayahuasca ceremony is Ayahuasca, 1/3 is projections from your mind, and 1/3 is a combination of both. How do you tell the difference between messages from Ayahuasca and projections of the mind? Experience. Whilst communication from both Ayahuasca and the mind takes place telepathically, they both have two different voices which you’ll learn to recognize
- TIME IS DIFFERENT IN THAT REALM. Seconds feel like minutes. Minutes can feel like hours. A ceremony can feel like forever. (Which is awesome if you’re having a good trip but horrible if you’re having a bad trip)
- MOVING AND WALKING CAN BE VERY DIFFICULT ON AYAHUASCA which can make communicating and/or getting to the bathroom difficult if you need to go
- I STILL GET NERVOUS EVERY SINGLE TIME. Although I’ve drunk Ayahuasca 60+ times, I still feel nervous before every single ceremony, because it’s fucking intense, and I don’t know what is going to happen. You may feel as though you’re going to die every single time
An Ayahuasca ceremony about to start with a family of Shamans I love to drink with in Pucallpa, Peru
Assuming that you’ve gone to South America to drink Ayahuasca (I don’t recommend drinking anywhere else), here is what I recommend:
- DON’T GO TO AN AYAHUASCA RETREAT. Ayahuasca retreats are expensive (often between $1500 – $2500 USD for a 5-day retreat), and for that money you only get to drink 3 times – every second night. You’re also only one of 10-20 other people in the ceremony, and the others can (and often do) affect your experience by making a lot of noise which can be annoying if you’re trying to be introspective. A lot of time at retreats is wasted too. It’s boring. There is nothing to do. You might as well not even be there on the days you’re not drinking
- DO PRIVATE CEREMONIES INSTEAD. Private ceremonies are not only 80% cheaper (prices vary depending on the shaman, but you can easily get private ceremonies in Peru for $100 USD per night), but they’re 1000X better, because it’s just you and the shaman, and you’re getting personalized, individual attention. I’ve had ceremonies where it was 3-7 shamans (all family or friends), and just me and my best mate. Incredible. Private ceremonies annihilate Ayahuasca retreats. You’re drinking with the exact same shamans that work in the retreat centers too, it’s just that you’re drinking in their home, instead of having to pay 80% more to go to a boring overpriced retreat center with 10-20 strangers
- DON’T DRINK AYAHUASCA WITHOUT A SHAMAN. Ayahuasca is a portal into the spirit realm. And just as people often see both good and evil spirits during astral projection, you will see both good and evil spirits in the spirit realm with Ayahuasca too. For that reason: You need a shaman to guide and protect you during the ceremony. Ayahuasca is not the kind of thing that you want to buy off the internet and drink at home by yourself or with a group of friends. You NEED a shaman – and not just any shaman either
- PICK YOUR SHAMAN CAREFULLY. I’m extremely careful about who I will and won’t drink Ayahuasca with, and I personally wouldn’t drink with 95% of shamans. Most shamans are either Brujos (Witch doctors who practice black magic) or just plain incompetent and useless. But of course they’re not going to tell you that so you need to DO YOUR HOMEWORK and LISTEN TO YOUR GUT. You should choose a Shaman like you choose a brain surgeon: You ONLY want the best. PS: In my experience, Shipibo Shamans are the BEST. (Shipibo are a native people of Peru who mostly live in Pucallpa). I’ve never met a Brujo Shipibo Shaman, and the top 4 Shamans I’ve ever drunk with (both male and female) were all Shipibo
- HOW TO FIND A SHAMAN. I recommend asking people you know that have drunk Ayahuasca which Shamans they recommend, and I also recommend asking each Shaman you drink with, who they recommend. That’s how I found my shaman. If you don’t have any recommendations for a shaman, bite the bullet and go to a retreat, and if there is a shaman there you like, ask them in private if you can drink with them privately at their home. Most shamans will agree to this because it’s less work for them, and it gives them some extra money too. If you’re a female and this makes you uncomfortable, bring a friend with you as a minder. Most shamans work at retreats 1 day on, 1 day off, so you can drink with the shaman on their off days
- DON’T TRUST ONLINE REVIEWS. Most Ayahuasca retreats are overpriced and average at best, yet somehow they seem to all have 5 star ratings on websites such as Ayaadvisors and TripAdvisor. The problem is that generally the only people who leave reviews are people that had a great experience (only about 5-10% of participants), whereas the vast majority who had an OK, bad, or non-existent experience, just want to forget it and don’t take the time to leave a review. That’s why that despite the fact that dozens of people go through an Ayahuasca retreat each week, reviews are often weeks – if not months apart
- DON’T DRINK AYAHUASCA ANYWHERE YOU DON’T FEEL COMFORTABLE OR SAFE. Does the place have a good vibe to it? If not, don’t drink there. Your environment plays a big part in the kind of thoughts you think, emotions you feel, and the kind of journey you experience
- OBEY THE AYAHUASCA DIET. Vegetarian food only. No chocolate. No sugar. No salt. No meat. No alcohol. No coffee. No drugs. No masturbation. No sex. I remember thinking that I could cheat on the Ayahuasca diet one day, and I decided to eat a little cheesecake for desert after lunch. I thought to myself “I’m not drinking for 8 hours, I should be fine”. Believe me it wasn’t. I started to having a TERRIFYING trip which lasted for over an hour. I thought I was going insane and losing my mind. Never again. BAD FOOD = BAD TRIP.
- MEDITATE AND KEEP YOUR MIND PEACEFUL AND RELAXED DURING THE DAY. Do everything you can to relax your mind and to think happy thoughts during the day of the ceremony. Listen to love songs. Watch comedies. Meditate. Keep your mind away from all forms of negativity and news
- WEAR WHITE. Wear white, or at least lighter colors during the ceremony. DON’T WEAR BLACK. Don’t wear red or any other dark colors either. Wearing black during a ceremony is likely to give you a bad trip and to attract negative entities and energy. (I’m speaking from experience)
- DON’T DRINK AYAHUASCA WITH TOE. Sometimes shamans will add Toé into the Ayahuasca because it intensifies the experience and makes the visions stronger. Ayahuasca + Toé definitely spices things up (Ayahuasca + Toé is like Ayahuasca on steroids), but in my experience you’re more likely to have a bad trip than a good one, a negative experience than a positive one. Toé is even more powerful than Ayahuasca and can easily throw you into a horrifying nightmare that even the most experienced Shamans can’t guide you out of
- DON’T DRINK A 2ND CUP OF AYAHUASCA AFTER YOU’VE PURGED. Sometimes your Ayahuasca experience isn’t very strong, it may even be non-existent, and you maybe tempted to have a 2nd cup to intensify the experience. My advice: Don’t do it. Even if the shaman encourages you to. In my experience a 2nd cup of Ayahuasca is almost always a bad idea. It can turn a good trip into a bad trip, a non-existent experience into a nightmare. I know it sucks, but if it isn’t happening, it isn’t happening, you just have to let it go and accept it and wait again until another night. Don’t try and force the issue or you’ll be sorry. I’ve never had a good experience after a 2nd cup of Ayahuasca (only bad trips) and this seems to be very common with other people too
- WRITE DOWN YOUR MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS BEFORE GOING TO SLEEP. One thing I’ve learnt with Ayahuasca is that it doesn’t matter how amazing or incredible your journey is, even if you go to heaven and talk to God himself, in the morning you won’t be able to remember over 80% of it, and within 2 days you’ll have forgotten 95% of it. I can’t remember how many times I’ve thought to myself “I’m never going to forget this, I’ve got this forever now”, only to have it almost entirely wiped from my memory just a few days later. So take my advice: Grab a pad and a pen, and force yourself to write down your experiences in detail for at least an hour after the ceremony has finished (or you can record your lessons on video using your phone or your laptop if you prefer). I can almost guarantee that this will be the last thing you’ll want to do, your eyes will be too heavy, you’ll be too blissed out (or traumatized), and you’ll just want to lay down in your bed and chill, but do it anyway. Don’t let those lessons escape you. You can have a sleep in in the morning to catch up on those extra hours if you need to
- TURN YOUR LESSONS INTO HABITS ASAP. Listen to me: It doesn’t matter how inspired or motivated you feel after a ceremony, or how much you feel like a new person, you must turn your lessons into habits and implement what you’ve learnt ASAP, because the enthusiasm won’t last forever. As a shaman said to me: “Think about your habits, you’ve done the same thing hundreds, if not thousands of times, and each time you’ve done the same thing, you’ve burnt a neural pathway into your brain. Ayahuasca has now burnt a new neural pathway into your brain, but it’s not as deep or as strong as your previous ones, so if you don’t reinforce it immediately, if you don’t use it, you’re going to lose it”. That’s right. Ayahuasca gives you a window of opportunity within which to change a habit, but you must strike while the iron is hot and the inspiration is still there. If you don’t take action while you’re still feeling inspired and turn your lessons into habits within 2-5 days – one week tops, you’ll almost certainly go back to your old ways
- DON’T JUST DRINK AYAHUASCA ONCE OR TWICE, HAVE AT LEAST 4-5 CEREMONIES. One of the biggest mistakes I see people making with Ayahuasca is giving up after just 1-2 ceremonies thinking that they’ve learnt everything they’re going to learn from Ayahuasca, or because the ceremonies have been too intense or scary. This is a mistake. Think of the first two ceremonies as cleansing ceremonies in which Ayahuascsa is doing the hard work of cleaning away a lifetime worth of physical, mental, emotional, and energetic crap. It might be hard. It might be difficult. It might be scary. But believe me – it will get better. I recommend drinking Ayahuasca at least 4-5 times within a 1-2 week period if possible, even if your first two sessions are terrifying, because by the time you get to your 3rd Ayahuasca ceremony, from the very first moments you’ll start to experience something incredible that can’t be put into words. So persevere. Be brave. Keep going. Believe me it’s worth it. PS: When I hear people describing what Ayahuasca is like after only 1 or 2 ceremonies it’s ridiculous. It’s like someone telling you what the internet is like after visiting only one or two websites. You need to have at least 4-5 ceremonies, ideally with different shamans, in different environments
What to do if your trip starts going bad
If you’re seeing demons and your trip is going from bad to worse fast:
- SIT UP (assuming you’re lying down) and try not to panic
- OPEN YOUR EYES or at least blink for 10-20 seconds (which will be incredibly difficult because you’ll feel a tremendous pressure to close your eyes and drift off)
- BREATH – and drink some water if you can
- ASK THE SHAMAN FOR HELP. That’s what they’re there for. There is no need to suffer in silence when the shaman is there to guide and help you
This isn’t as simple as it sounds either. There is something about bad trips on Ayahuasca that make you feel completely alone and separate from everyone else, to the point where you feel that it would be unsafe or even dangerous to ask for help and assistance. You might even become afraid and distrusting of the shaman – especially if their face starts morphing into a demon or a monster 😉 but you have to fight this urge and ask for help anyway.
TUNE INTO THE ICAROS
I asked my shaman friend Lucio if I could record him singing Icaros whilst we were doing a private ceremony one night so you could hear what they sounded like
If the shaman can sit with you and sing icaros to you this will generally clear away any negative visions fast. I find that the Icaros have a very powerful and calming effect. Note: Sometimes the icaros may intensify the visions making them even scarier at first, but they soon have the desired effect and any scary stuff quickly dissipates.
Whether or not the shaman can immediately assist you, focus 100% of your attention on the icaros, because these magical songs are very effective at guiding you through the ceremony. Note: Not all icaros are equally powerful. The more experienced the shaman is, and the more closely they adhere to the Ayahuasca diet, the more powerful their Icaros will be.
PS: If the shaman refuses to help you during a ceremony, won’t move from where they’re sitting, won’t lift a finger etc. don’t ever drink with them again. You’ve got the wrong shaman.
If you’ve never tried Ayahuasca, DMT, LSD, Magic Mushrooms or any other kind of psychedelic before, a lot of things I’ve said in this article probably sound highly exaggerated or unbelievable, and that’s OK. I simply suggest keeping an open mind and withholding judgment until after you’ve tried Ayahuasca.
And if you decide not to try Ayahuasca, that’s OK too.
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