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Self-care guidelines for before and after your retreat
PREPARATION FOR AYAHUASCA RETREAT
Preparation and integration go hand-in-hand for your upcoming ayahuasca retreat. The more preparation you do, the easier the integration can be. Preparation is an important part of the awakening process. We have provided you with preparations for the healing diets for both one-night ayahuasca ceremonies and our ayahuasca retreats, however the preparation process is a much deeper and profound process that goes beyond what you put in your body. Below you will find our suggestions for getting the most out of your ayahuasca experience.
In addition to this guide you will also need to read the
(depending on the experience you are joining us for)
If you want to know more about integration after finishing an ayahuasca retreat or ayahuasca ceremony, then you may skip directly to the Integration section.
We provide you with a Pre-retreat Meditation audio recording that helps you prepare for your upcoming ayahuasca retreat. You may already have your own meditation practice. You may also find many guided meditations online. Beginning to invest in a regular meditation practice will do wonders for you in preparing for any plant medicine journey. Meditation can give you insight, improve self-clarity, help you to be comfortable within discomfort, and connect you with higher realms of consciousness. Ayahuasca helps you with all of these things too. So when you practice meditation before you come to an ayahuasca retreat or ayahuasca ceremony with us, you will ingrain for yourself a translatable meditation skill set that can be effortlessly applied to plant medicine work. We will be providing many opportunities for meditation within your ayahuasca retreat and ayahuasca ceremony. We will lead a guided meditation before each ayahuasca ceremony to set the energetic intention, to ground you into the earth, and to prepare you for the experience ahead. Meditation can be a very useful tool when used within ceremony to stay concentrated and to stay present through some of the more challenging experiences that can arise. You don’t have to be a highly-trained meditator to glean the benefits of meditation in ayahuasca ceremony. It just starts with one simple breath…
2. Practice QiGong
Qi Gong is a highly beneficial way for you to prepare for your ayahuasca retreat. It is a moving meditation so includes many of the benefits that are listed above and many more. You also become more aware of energy and how to work with it in ceremony as you are already adept at feeling and moving energy through your body. Qi Gong assists you in grounding, opening the energy channels in your body, cultivates energy within your being for healing of yourself and eventually others. It is also great for overall physical strength, health and immunity. These are just some of the reasons why we include Qi Gong as part of our ayahuasca retreats and recommend it as a preparation practice. You can find courses online to help you begin a simple Qi Gong practice before joining us on retreat. We will be teaching you practices too that you will be able to take away with you and use as part of your integration!
3. Practice Yoga
Yoga is also a great way to prepare your mind body spirit for deep healing ayahuasca retreats. In a combination of some of the things listed above, yoga is also a moving meditation, improves concentration and overall health. What is great about yoga is that it can teach you how to stay in one pose or position that is uncomfortable for an extended period of time. This is great for ceremony as should you be faced with a tough insight or inquiry you have trained yourself to be able to face this without turning away from it. This does not mean all ceremonies will be difficult but it does help you to prepare for any challenging moments that may occur. Generally, the body strength and posture improvement can help you feel more comfortable sitting in an ayahuasca ceremony for an extended period of time. Our ceremonies usually last anywhere between 5-6 hours on average.
4. Set your intentions
Tuning into why you are coming to do this work is an important part of the process. Perhaps you already know your intention and have been pondering working with plant medicine for several years, perhaps there is something more obvious such as addiction, physical illness, depression, anxiety etc...Perhaps there are more subtle reasons of why you want to work with plant medicine. Spend some time in quiet contemplation and journal your thoughts to process the true motivations for your healing journey. This can be a powerful process in itself.
5. Prepare for change
Plant medicines can show you things about yourself that require you to make changes to implement this wisdom and happiness into your life. We say this to you now because if you are not ready to make changes in your life then the plant medicine path may not be for you. Be prepared to make changes and choices in your life to let go of things in your life that no longer serve you to make space for the truth of who you are to shine through. The path of plant medicine helps you to see yourself more clearly to align with your own highest path. As with any path there are choices and turns to be made, be prepared to see them and act upon them for your highest good. This may not always be easy, yet in our experience always leads to greater levels of joy, love and understanding within our lives.
We help you with a one on one personal preparation session to give you ideas of things that can personally assist you with your own preparation for the healing journey you are about to embark upon. This includes a consultation to discuss your medical conditions that you are wanting to heal. When you book with us there is a pre-retreat questionnaire to fill out in which we require a full disclosure of all health conditions and any medications you may have been taking in the last 6 months. We will be advising on the safety / contraindications of any medications you may have been taking and you may require to stop taking some medication under the the supervision of a medical doctor.
Good preparation makes for smoother integration. Integration is about making changes within your life that are based upon new found wisdom, insights and healings. When you can begin to make changes before the retreat as part of your preparation, this also begins to assist your integration process!
6. Create time for yourself
Begin to prepare yourself, mentally, spiritually and emotionally to spend quiet time on your own. This may just be an hour or more a day. This helps shift your mental capacity to be able to do inner work through sitting and being present with your own feelings and emotions. You give yourself the opportunity to learn through your own experiences, experientially gaining understand and wisdom from the universe. The plants will be teaching you much more about this on retreat. When you are quiet and still they are able to communicate with you more easily, therefore by practicing being OK on your own, you give yourself a greater opportunity to enjoy communication with the plants and be present with your own emotions on retreat as they arise. Emotional processes can arise in many different ways and we are here to support you and process through every step of the way. We also empower you with tools and techniques to assist in your own process of connecting to your own inner wisdom to hold yourself in unconditional love throughout any processes that come up
7. Connect with loved ones
Spend time with loved ones before your journey and let them know that you will be out of contact for two weeks in the jungle. This helps them prepare for your absence too and so that they can prepare themselves to not be in contact with you for a couple of weeks. This time apart can be tough in itself but know that this time that you set aside for yourself and your own healing work will infinitely improve all of your relationships (including the one with yourself!) This period of absence between your other relationships creates space for more love to grow inside you so that this love may overflow to others following the retreat. Self-love is a large part of the work which we embark upon in our healing retreats. This space creates fertile ground for the improvement of all aspects of your life.
8. Have fun!
This all sounds so serious so far, and yes this is a serious commitment that you are making for yourself to heal and improve all areas within your life, yet that doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun along the way. One of the best ways to prepare is to find activities that your truly enjoy and are in your highest alignment. Maybe this is painting, drawing, writing, playing an instrument, hiking, spending time with loved ones, hiking in nature or something else more extreme like sky diving! Sports and hobbies that improve your physical fitness are also great as this helps prepare your body, mind and spirit for the journey it is about to embark upon. (If you are not in a physical condition to be active this will not negatively impact your experience.) By beginning to make these interests of yours a reality this creates more space for yourself, impacts your life positively and helps you to integrate your retreat experiences more easily.. This is as you have already begun to create a support structure of things you enjoy to slide into when you return and will have already made positive impacts upon your life. This can be highly beneficial for the work with the plants as they can see you are serious about healing and making changes in your life, which can lead to deep experiences, insights and healing with the plants on retreat. If you are unable to
This might sound strange as you are coming to a retreat, however it can be highly beneficial to enter the retreat well rested. Although it is retreat you will be doing a lot of work on yourself with the help of the plants. This can be pretty tiring. If you can afford the time. allow yourself a few days before the retreat to acclimatize to the jungle weather and hydrate. It can be quite taxing to experience extreme shifts in climate. Post-retreat we also advise a couple of days in Iquitos to integrate before flying straight back life’s busy demands! This will help your transition be smother and easier. These are recommendations and if you simply are unable to take any additional time off work, then this will not negatively impact your experience.
10. Trust the Process
This process can begin even before you have booked your retreat, when you start to have the ideas or feeling the calling to come and do this deep work for yourself. This can be in the form of various forms of resistance or challenges that you may face before making your decision to come and do this work with us. This can be as the mental patterns emotional blockages and fears that you are wanting to heal do not want to lose their comfortable place within your being. They have been safe there for so long so the very idea of coming to do this work can bring emotional processes to the surface to talk you out of doing this healing work for yourself. Trust the process of why you have felt called to do this work. Our suggestion is to meditate and ask your heart what is the best for you, dropping out of your headspace and the thought patterns to find the truth inside. If you don’t feel sure on how to do this then you can always have a ….
11. Connect with us
We are available to answer any questions or concerns on a free skype consultation. We understand that working together is a deep, trusting commitment and we want to make sure that you are satisfied and happy with your choice before making any commitment to us.
INTEGRATION AFTER AYAHUASCA RETREAT
Integration begins before the retreat starts which is why in our preparation tips we also talk about integration and how to make changes in your life before you come to our ayahuasca retreat in Peru. This enables the post retreat integration to be much easier as you have begun the work before you step on a plane. So firstly, we recommend reading the preparation guide and thinking about how you can implement these steps before you come to our retreat.
Included as part of our Ayahuasca Healing Retreat you will receive:
Optional Skype Call (Ask us questions before booking on a free skype call or via e-mail)
One on One Preparation + Consultation Session Online
6 Group Integration + Sharing Circles
Diagnostic Consultation with Curanderos and Assistant Healers
Dedicated Integration Talks + Workshop
One on One Processing time with curanderos and assistant healers
Online Group Integration Session
One on One Integration Session with Jamie or Michael
You can see we are very serious about integration and providing you with all the tools you need for a full and impactful healing experience.Here we will now talk more in-depth about integration, how it works, why it is important and practical steps you can take post-retreat to integrate the healing, wisdom and guidance from the plants and our skilled curanderos, to make long lasting improvements in your every day life…
Mechanisms of change
We classify 3 non-distinct levels / mechanisms of change that can occur as part of any deep spiritual work with plant medicines and entheogens. (They are non-distinct as some processes can involve all 3 levels at different stages of the process)
This means that something has automatically shifted as part of your healing experience. For instance, the curandero/plants may have worked with you in ceremony to clear an energetic blockage or energy that had been holding you back from your full potential. Immediately within ceremony you may feel the relief, energetic change, lightness within your body. This continues the next day and forever more. This is an example of automatic change / healing. Congratulations!
The energetic change/healing is the same as above, however the next day you begin to feel an energetic restriction begin to return to the place in your body where the healing occurred. You received insights within the ceremony from the plants that you would need to meditate 5 minutes each day bringing loving light into the area of the previous constriction, to keep this area open and to remain free from tightening. You then do this meditation and then you feel the area feeling open, soft warm and relaxed. You understand that this semi-automatic process is necessary for you to continue to heal and to integrate your experience. You complete this process each day for as long as necessary. Eventually you will no longer need to work consciously on this area as the healing is complete. Congratulations!
A manual experience is when you receive insight/guidance and need to manually act upon this to affect any change. For example, you receive insight that you will need to start a yoga practice to open the energy channels in your body and naturally over time, your body will heal itself. Healing will not take place without your manual input. After 3 months this energy imbalance is healed and now you have a lovely new yoga practice that benefits you in a multitude of ways! Congratulations!
This is a brief overview of these topics which we discuss in greater depth in our integration talks however we want to introduce you to this terminology before you join our retreats so that you can understand what we are talking about when we speak in this language with you. We also want you to know that there is a level of understanding that you are responsible for your own healing journey. There will be things you will need to change in your life in order to receive the full healing. If you refuse to make these changes you may not receive the healing you desire. It is a co-collaboration between you and the plant spirit medicines. They are here to help you and guide you, although you will be making that journey with your own consciousness. It is important to understand that you will need to make changes in your life, as if you are not ready to do so then maybe plant medicine is not the best healing modality for you.
The easiest and most effective way to make changes in your life is to immediately act upon them. Maybe you have experienced before thinking about going to the gym or stopping smoking for 1 or 2 months before actually doing it. Then other times, you have just thought about doing it and then immediately acted upon it you are already in a new habit / mind set / state of being. It is the same with integration, making and action plan (which we will assist you with) and then implementing it straight away has the best results. The best form of intention is intention with action! Intention alone doesn’t amount to change.
How do making these changes affect your mental state of being?
Your brain is made up of thousands of neural pathways that determine how you respond to different circumstances and situations within physical reality. The plants can work with you to reprogram your neural pathways to respond differently in a way that you prefer. Neural pathways lead to emotional responses in situations based upon your belief systems. Automatically belief systems may be changed in an ayahuasca ceremony though your own experience of truth and new perspectives. This means that you may automatically respond differently to a physical situation in reality following an ayahuasca retreat. This is another example of automatic change/healing that can occur.
Now we will talk about semi-automatic experiences and how this effects your mental state and can improve your life infinitely for the better.
When you make a semi-automatic change i.e. you have some input in implementing change in your life, you have made a choice and a neural pathway begins to form within your being. This means that when you make this choice again the neural pathway becomes stronger. The more choices that you make that favor this new way of being, help to create stronger neural pathways that support the new way of being/behaving. This naturally means that overtime that this new choice/neural pathway becomes default. You have changed your way of being. This is true integration. The same goes for manual processes, in which you must create new pathways/processes/choices in life for healing to occur in its fullest form.
It gets better, the less you use these old pathways, less you make the same old choices, the weaker those old pathways become and eventually, obsolete. These means the new pathways are easier to use as the old pathways are not in service like they used to be. And so on, the more you do this the more resonant vibrational pathways are created and old patterns/ belief systems that no longer serve you disintegrate. This is why integration is so important.
A semi-automatic example of this is healing trauma underneath addictive behaviors in retreat and then being faced with the choice post retreat to say no to using drugs if they are offered to you. The more you choose the path of sobriety, the easier it becomes and eventually you no longer need to worry about being tempted by drugs.
We will be talking with you all individually about how you can make practical steps within your own life throughout the ayahuasca healing retreat, post re-retreat individualized one on one integration session and our group interactive integration session. We will now talk more about practical steps in general that can assist you integrating long lasting change into your life.
Reconnecting to Nature, Spirit, Yourself and Others
We will talk in more detail about each other these shortly, first we want to talk about lack of connection and how it affects us. This can cause a multitude of issues including addiction, depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, lack of motivation, sadness, grief, feeling of loneliness and can lead to much deeper spiritual, mental, emotional and physical conditions. Lack of connection is one of the main reasons why people choose to come and do this work us with us The healing process always includes on some level a reconnection to nature, spirit, yourself (self-love) and others during our ayahuasca plant spirit healing retreats.
This is equally important throughout the integration process, so here are some more tips.
Spend Time in Nature
The easiest and most enjoyable way to reconnect with nature is go outside and spend some time there! This also helps you to reconnect to the jungle and your experience in many profound ways. Just sitting within the energy of nature can be healing in itself and is one of the most effective ways to help yourself when things get tough. Believe it or not the plants can help you just by being in their energetic field. We also teach plant spirit communication and ways to connect with nature as part of our healing retreats. This could just be spending time in a park or a deeper excursion into the wild!
Listen back to the audio recordings
All of the talks, meditations, workshops and ceremonies are audio recorded and given to you on a USB stick at the end of the retreat. This is a great way to reconnect with your healing experience, the feeling of being in the jungle with your new friends and to keep to connected to the energy of the plants by listening to ceremony recordings! (You may wish to record your own jungle noises at night to )That’s right, the energy of the plants from the ceremony recordings can still benefit you post retreat so we advise listening back to these from time to time, especially if you are having a difficult moment or two. The talks, meditations workshops also contain great wisdom and techniques to be able to process emotions and continue to evolve on your path. They are perfectly programmed to assist you with the challenges you may face through integration and your own evolution post-retreat.
Spend time with people you love!
People that love you will accept you for who you are and all of the changes that you are making to improve your life. There may be some people who aren’t quite ready to accept these changes and it can be difficult to be around them for a while. Some relationships you may simply out grow and may no longer serve you. It could be time to let them go and make room for more aligned relationships to grow in your life. Letting go is not always easy and can take some time to recognize that you are ready or that the relationship no longer serves you. Some people may change with you through their own evolution, they may be inspired by you, others may not be ready to hear about your experiences. We help guide you through this as part of our in-depth integration program at Casa Galactica. We are here to help you make choices that reflect your new vibration!
One great place to start is www.meetup.com This is a place where you can find people who live near you who are interested in similar things as you, perhaps its plant medicine, meditation, hiking, music, food or whatever you fancy! There are many different categories where you can find people who meet up to talk about or do activities that they love. There is something for everyone. You can even make your own meet ups if there is something that you want to share with the world. This is a great way to make new friends who are in alignment with your new path.
Let go of what no longer serves you…
Its not only people that may no longer serve you, there are other relationships that may need to be evaluated with your highest path. This could be friends, family but also food, work, activities, location media etc. We do not advise immediately making big decisions following a retreat, yet if there is something to reevaluate within your path, give yourself ample time and space to be able to do so, to see how you feel throughout integration and make informed choices about your own future. It is not about making rash decisions, but more of evaluating all aspects of your life to realign with what you truly love.
Sometimes professional assistance is the best way to help you process through experiences and emotions that arise post-retreat. Support networks can be an invaluable tool to support integration with plant medicine work. We have many support groups that we recommend people to which have plenty of resources and programs that help people through addiction, sexual, ritual and violent abuse recovery. Casa Galactica have great experience at working with people with deep levels of trauma and are happy to point you in the right direction. Here are some of the resources that we can recommend.
https://www.rainn.org/ Sexual Abuse and Violence Resource + Help Line
https://siawso.org/ Survivors of Incest Anonymous, for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
https://siacominghomephoneline.org Survivors of Incest Anonymous Help Line
https://www.aa.org/ Alcoholics Anonymous – Worldwide Resources + Find a 12 step program near you
https://www.na.org/ Narcotics Anonymous –+ Worldwide Resources Find a 12 step program near you
Integration + Therapy Sessions
We provide our own integration sessions, channeling + intuitive readings as part of Casa Galactica's retreat programs. When you sign up for one of our retreats this includes a 60 minute one on one post-retreat integration session to assist you in integration your experiences back at home. Deep healing integration sessions can also include working through / processing deeper levels of trauma that surface post retreat, energy healing, grounding, practical integration planning/action steps and generally helping you through every step of the way of your integration process. We are available for more one on one sessions that can be purchased individually or for discounted rates as part of a package should you wish to continue your work with us beyond this initial integration session. (Click Private Sessions in the menu)
This gives you the opportunity for continuity through your healing process, understanding your unique situation from retreat. We have experience of working deeply with people integrating plant medicine experiences, deep trauma including sexual, violent and ritual abuse, PTSD, addiction and other afflictions that come up on this path. We offer these sessions around the world to many clients with and without plant medicine experience. We also have our own first hand experiences from from processing our own experiences within these trauma categories. We also have an established connection with an experienced psychotherapist who can provide additional assistance should we feel this is required in extreme cases. You can rest assured that we have a full program of support that can assist you through what ever arises on your healing journey.
Allow yourself to express your creativity, this is a fantastic way to integrate your experience and channel your own emotions and experiences into art, music, creative writing, dance, theater or anything else that you feel called to. Perhaps you have been wanting to pick up and old instrument again, or learn a new one. Perhaps it is just journaling your own thoughts and processes This can all be really beneficial. It is not about impressing anyone else, it is about you experiencing creative energy flow through you. It is available to all of us, all you have to do is participate. Everyone has creative energy within them.
As mentioned above this is a highly beneficial process to allow emotions and energies to flow through you rather than becoming stagnant or blocked. If you feel there is no-one available to talk to then there is always a pen and paper! This can be very cathartic and is highly encouraged throughout our ayahuasca healing retreats to provide an outlet for emotions and experiences throughout your healing process.
(i.e Yoga, Meditation, Gratitude, Reiki, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Breathwork, Channeling, Prayer etc.)
Daily practice is paramount to a good integration program. Finding time each day to connect with higher guidance, to creator, to the Universe, to God, to spirit, to yourself, to the plants (whatever you wish to call it) can revolutionize your integration program. This silent meditation or prayer time, asking for help from above helps turn difficult situations into learning experiences. Daily practices such as these are what can ultimately connect you with the wisdom and guidance that you experience in ceremony. Ayahuasca and the plants can connect you quickly and easily to this wisdom however it is not necessary to drink a medicine to be able to access this wisdom and spiritual knowledge that resides within. Ultimately everything exists within our own consciousness and we have access to the infinite wisdom within by connecting with our own breath! We will be teaching many of these practices upon retreat and leaving you with a full toolset of practices to be able to implement into your daily life
The saying of healthy body, healthy mind really does ring true and assists through a deep integration program. Many spiritual practices such as Yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi etc. have a physical activity component to them. Having physical activity each day rally can help lift your spirits, raise your mood and move stagnant energy through your system. It doesn’t have to be a typical “spiritual” practice through it could be running, hiking, cycling, swimming etc. The important thing is that you move!