Ayahuasca is a powerful medicine and teacher plant that brings deep multi-level level healing physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. This is serious work that should not be entered into lightly - It certainly is not for recreation or amusement. Ayahuasca healing is not a cure all or magic bullet. While a very large number of issues may be addressed with ayahuasca and other medicine plants, some problems will not be helped at all, and as with all treatments there will be varying results among individuals. The most important factor we have seen for getting positive results with this medicine is the individual's level of commitment to their own healing. Those that show up willing to do what ever it takes to heal get the best results. This means a willingness to take an honest look at their beliefs and behavior, their negative and unproductive thought patterns, and a sincere desire to change to more productive patterns where that is indicated.
Ayahuasca heals in a variety of ways. It works on root causes, not addressing symmptoms. Whatever we are carrying inside of us, what ever is at the root of our problems, we tend to experience in a magnified way during ceremony. Simple examples are common emotional issues. If we struggle with anger, we may experience something close to rage, it its anxiety, we may experience near panic, if depression, we may experience despair. This is all very normal with ayahuasca and it is important to keep in mind during ceremony that our most unpleasant experiences are where the deepest healing is happening. Those are the times the trust the medicine and the process and allow the experience to unfold, just let it happen and observe it. Let the medicine do its work trusting that what is happening is a necessary part of the ayahuasca healing process.
An example may help illustrate this concept. In one ceremony a woman was clearly distressed and having a difficult time. In quiet conversation with her she said there were bad spirits bothering her. The shaman did not sense anything around her, but did some energy clearing and she felt much better. In a short period of time she was again distressed and we asked her for more detail about what her experience was. She said there were many spirits around her wanting to have sex with her. We told her there was nothing there, that nothing external was affecting her, that this was all coming from inside her. She calmed a bit, but still did not really belive that spirits were not bothering her. With a flash of insight I asked her if I could ask a very personal question and she agreed. I asked "Are you promiscuous?". Very meekly and with a bit of shame she said yes, and that she had known for a while that needed to change. I reminded her about how we experience our issues in magnified ways under ayahuasca, and then asked if her experience makes sense to her in light of her past behavior and knowledge that she needed to change it. She said yes, and was able to calm down and face it directly, realizing the experience was 100% internal, and ultimately resulting in a deep conviction to change that unhealthy behavior. This is one illustration of how this medicine can work with us. When challenged in ceremony, when having a particularly unpleasant experience of something, a good question to ask yourself is if this shows up regularly in your regular life, but in a milder way. Be willing to look at it and the beliefs and thought patterns that allow this to be a part of your life.
It is very important one feels a strong call to work with this medicine. This may be the most challenging and difficult experiences of your life and it definitely should be chosen from the heart. It may also be one of the most beautiful and life changing experiences, but most people will go through a bit of unpleasantness before they get that. The process requires courage, commitment, trust and surrender to receive the deepest healings. Trusting the medicine and surrendering to whatever it brings during ceremony, is how we get the most benefit from ayahuasca. Allow it to do whatever it wants during ceremony, regardless of how unpleasant it may be.
For the most part healing with ayahuasca is a very safe process. There are risks, and there are some people that should be working with ayahuasca nor any kind of consciousness altering substance. These risks are described on our Medical Safety web page and all should read it. If you are drinking ayahuasca with a skilled ayahuasquero and healer, then anything you experience with ayahuasca will be for your good. It may be difficult to understand how that can be as the journey can be very confusing, but it is. This is powerful medicine that can bring about tremendous change in a very short period of time, if we allow it to. You are okay, regardless of the content of the experience. You may not feel okay, but you are. You might not be having a very good time at the moment, but you are fine. Its not that are going to be okay, you actually are okay, just going through a difficult period that will pass. This is the time to trust and surrender and allow the medicine to do its work, trusting it is healing you. Resisting the experience will make it worse. Though we naturally resist and try to escape unpleasant experiences, surrender IS the easy path with ayahuasca healing.
Working with ayahuasca also involves adherence to a special diet which prepares your body, mind and spirit to incorporate the healing energy of the brew. The diet we follow at The Hummingbird is in keeping with the teachings of ayahuasqueros from across the Peruvian Amazon. Diet and healthy eating are important components of your preparation for working with ayahuasca. Eating pleanty of leafy green vegetables, fresh fruit, eating a minimal amount of meat, reducing sugar, salt and greasy foods all the typical guidelines for healthy eating and lifestyle will have a positive impact on the experience and results one gets from ayahuasca. At the Hummingbird we have seen very clearly that those who have been eating well and taking good care of their body for a few years tend to go directly into the beautiful things ayahuasca has to show us. The cleaner one's body is when they arrive the nice and more productive thier time with the medicine can be.
To get the most from your time with ayahuasca please abstain from the following foods both before and after your retreats: