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Ayahuasca 101

Are you considering trying ayahuasca for the first time? If so, ayahuasca is definitely something one would do well to research about first. If you are not informed about it, your experiences with it could likely be more negative than they need to be, and they may not be as beneficial or productive as they could be, either. Ayahuasca isn’t for everybody, though. Sometimes the experiences can be frightening and extremely challenging. If you are the type of person who likes to keep your boundaries fixed, stay within your comfort zone and the status quo, then it’s not for you. However, if you are open to dissolving your personal boundaries and your ego to explore more of who and what you are, expanding your consciousness, facing your fears and parts of you that you would rather avoid, achieve mental, physical, emotional healing and more, then ayahuasca journeys can provide a direct and powerful means to that end.

Here's a quick rundown on what it is: The term “ayahuasca” is a Quechua term that refers to the plant vine, Banisteriopsis caapi, a vine native to the Amazon rainforest, as well as to any of the various concoctions prepared from it that are used for shamanic, medicinal, religious and spiritual purposes. The term “ayahuasca” could also just as well apply to any concoction of any two or more plants that have DMT and an MAO inhibitor, with as commonly and broadly as the term is used. Natives and other indigenous folk in other parts of the world have/have had their various plant medicines that have been and still are used to treat people for different things. Ayahuasca has, and still is, used to treat problems in all of one's being, mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical. DMT occurs naturally in many different plants. It is also produced in small amounts in the human body by the pineal gland. The two basic traditional plants used in ayahuasca are the Amazonian vine Banisteriopsis caapi and the DMT-laden leaf of Psychotria viridis. The plant parts are boiled lightly or simmered for hours in water for two or three times. One or two other plants are often added to it, and different folk have their own particular brew of it and how to make it.

I have had 10 journeys on ayahuasca so far. I have had frightening experiences with it, but I’ve also had experiences of bliss, awe and amazement. Many people have visuals of things while on an aya journey. I, myself, have not. Nor have I physically vomited (or purged, in this manner), but some people do. There’s no need to compare your journeys to other people’s journeys with it though. It’s like your journeys are both designed for and an expression of you and your consciousness, and not a copy of what someone else experienced. And unlike other psychedelics, every journey on aya will be different; it’s never the same thing twice. There will always be something new to experience on the next journey. And this is a centuries old plant medicine that can get to the root and energetic causes of whatever it is you desire help and healing for.

There are a few medicine and diet guidelines one should follow prior to drinking ayahuasca, like not eating for four hours prior to drinking, and not taking over the counter or prescription medicines, caffeine or other stimulants. Please consult your doctor and/or the staff at Peaceful Mountain Way if you have questions about something (assuming that you are considering coming to Berea, KY for ceremonies).

Having said all this, I would like to add some suggestions for those who are about to drink ayahuasca for the first time:

  • Before you actually drink your ayahuasca, especially for the first time, you may want to spend about 5-10 minutes sincerely going over in your mind or meditating honestly about WHY you are drinking it. It’s also best to approach drinking ayahuasca in the right conditions and with respect. It is some powerful stuff, and having had ten journeys with it, I can see why the indigenous people in the Amazon jungle considered it sacred. Two things that may help you to drink the aya itself is to chase it down with a few swallows of water along the way. After you finish the aya, take one last mouthful of water, swish it around, then swallow it. Also, you can close your nostrils with your thumb and index finger while drinking it if you feel it helps.

  • It is good and fine to make an intention for what you want from your journey before you drink. Just keep it geared towards receiving emotional healing from issues or trauma(s), or wanting to be free of negative energies and such in your life, or overcoming fears, limiting and negative beliefs that do not empower or serve you, or perhaps you desire a physical healing from something, or maybe you just wish to explore and expand your consciousness and seek an answer to something. When I was at Peaceful Mountain Way for journeys nine and ten, my intentions were “to have a calm and quiet journey” (for a change :D) and “To see who and what I truly am, beyond all illusions”. And I achieved both of these intentions that weekend : )

  • After you’ve set your intention for what you desire for your journey, you can then let it go. It has been established. After you’ve drank your aya, it will take around 15 minutes +/- for its effects to start. Walk around, bend or stretch a bit to help work the aya into your system. One thing that may help you ease into the journey is to lie down, put your blindfold on, and take slow deep breaths in and out to relax your mind and body. And as much as you can, just go with the flow of the journey. It’ll make the journey go better, as opposed to fighting and resisting it. If you decide to have more journeys in the future, it will take around 3-4 journeys for you to get a feel of the medicine and how it works, and you’ll learn how to better navigate the journeys.

  • One thing ayahuasca does is that it temporarily diminishes to a large degree one’s ego, which is your mental construct and perception of who you are (or who you think you are :P). The ego is fear-driven, and it doesn’t take much to make it afraid, which is why during my first two journeys, I was frightened almost the whole time during them. Now this was my experience; I’m just speaking for myself here. But somehow, at some point though, you will face personal fears, which is needed in order to overcome them. I don’t understand the metaphysical dynamics of how all this works, but at both a conscious and subconscious level, I have noticeably less fear now than I did before I drank ayahuasca.

  • It’s best to start out lying down, preferably on your back if you can, at least during the most powerful part of your journey before it tapers off. So you may want to wait until the journey has tapered somewhat before getting up and walking around. And even then you will be somewhat disoriented and you will have to take things slow and easy, because you won’t be completely “back” in the 3D physical world yet. You can also call for one of the staff or someone else to help you get up if you need to. During several of my journeys, I would start out sitting upright on my mat. And during the powerful part of my journey, I would end up keeling over off my mat and end lying horizontal on the floor. Once or twice I’ve had one of the staff come over and place a pillow under my head so I wouldn’t accidentally hit my head on the floor. So you may want to consider starting out lying down, because during the powerful part of your journey, it is possible that you may not be adequately aware of your physical surroundings at times.

  • During my first two journeys, I learned that wearing a blindfold or closing your eyes will deepen the experience. However, I (or my ego rather) was so frightened that I didn’t want to put on the blindfold for fear of where the journey might take me. Speaking from my own experience, I had a LOT of fear, apparently, during my first two journeys. However, the amount of fear I had lessened with subsequent future journeys. And because I had less fear, I decided to wear the blindfold instead of keeping my eyes open, which deepened my experience. And you want a deep experience from the ayahuasca to get the most benefit out if it. So you may want to keep your eyes closed, or wear your blindfold or bandana during the powerful part of your journey, anyway, unless you feel compelled or whatever to take it off for some reason.

Regardless of what your journeys are like, especially your first one, they will most likely be worth journaling or documenting! And the staff at Peaceful Mountain Way will do all they can to accommodate you, help you, and be with you during your time there. Based on my experiences, it is my belief that if you approach ayahuasca with respect, have noble and good intentions geared towards healing, growing in consciousness and your spiritual evolution, you are bound to have journeys that will help you achieve these objectives.

Below is a link to an hour long video of an interview with an “ayahuasquero” in Peru, one who specializes in ayahuasca and presides over ceremonies, if you are interested in checking it out. I thought it had some very balanced, practical and basic information about ayahuasca for those new to it. Once you get to the page, just scroll down for the video. It was after my own research about it, followed by watching this video that I decided that if I ever have the chance to drink ayahuasca, I will. And shortly after that, I found out about Oklevueha Native American Church in Kentucky, and the rest is history ^^

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