We certainly go through many incidents and events that shape and change our perception. And yet, life-changing experiences don’t happen on a daily basis.
Growing up in Israel, with all its contrasts and complications (the Israel-Palestine conflict, IDF service, and the constant emergency situation) had made me believe that these life-changing circumstances affect my life on a daily basis. Nonetheless, this reality is not necessarily life-changing in the context I mean.
The deepest and most powerful experience in my life occurred in Colombia in a gorgeous retreat named Origen Eco Resort, where I first participated in an Ayahuasca ceremony. It’s difficult to describe the feelings and the experience, but I’ll share it here with you as I genuinely believe you should include it in your bucket list.
When I first arrived in South America (the origin continent of Ayahuasca), I decided to investigate more about this unusual ritual. Many speak about the experience of rebirth, the ability to heal from past wounds and harmful behavior patterns, and the ability to understand life and one’s purpose more clearly. In fact, the indigenous perceive Ayahuasca as a remedy and not as a dangerous drug as most people around the world perceive it. Following my research, I realized that Ayahuasca is more than a “trip”.
What is Ayahuasca?
The Ayahuasca brew contains DMT which is an organic compound that our body actually produces regularly in small amounts. When DMT is produced or consumed in high amounts, its effect is reflected by, some may say, hallucination. Drinking Ayahuasca gives you access to a higher level of consciousness in a way that you allegedly detached from your body, something that allows you a mental objectification and critical examination of your life, behavior, patterns, feelings, thoughts, traumatic events, and more. The ceremony is usually held at night as the darkness helps the visions be clearer. Personally, it was also a metaphor to the fact that in the darkness we find the light.
It is true that the experience is often reminiscent of the use of psychedelic drugs since you experience hallucinations during the effect of the Ayahuasca brew, but these hallucinations actually come from deep layers of our consciousness. Unlike psychedelic drugs, Ayahuasca is not synthesized, made from natural plants that grow in the Amazon, and has healing abilities.
From what exactly Ayahuasca brew is made of?
The Ayahuasca brew is made from two plants that grow in the Amazon, the Banisteriopsis caapi vine (which contains the chemical substance DMT) and Psychotria Viridis leaf (contains MAO inhibitors which allow DMT to effect). Only the combination of these two plants, at the right amount, allows the effect of the medicine on the person. The brew is being made by a “Shaman”, a healer with great knowledge and wisdom, who is also in charge of the ceremony. Preparing the Ayahuasca brew takes hours and even days and must be done carefully, so it is important to find a reliable retreat to practice this medicine.
Why does Ayahuasca attribute as a remedy/medicine?
The Ayahuasca helps us accessing a higher state of consciousness, and basically shows us the truth that is hidden in ourselves. We often find it difficult to reach our real selves due to criticism, stressful expectations, materialism, and other distractions.
Imagine a house that you have been living in for 30 years without organizing it once. This house must be a mess and it will be impossible to find anything in it. This is exactly what happens to our soul when we forget to give it attention, and instead, build walls around it. Without access to our conscious, the “path” is being diluted and even blocked.
Ayahuasca cleans up the blocking and negative energies and enables us accessing our consciousness again. Many people come to treat past wounds, want to discover their mission in life, try quitting destructive habits, and more.
A step-by-step guide to Ayahuasca Ceremony
Preparation for the ceremony
The preparation is important and recommended from two main aspects – the physical cleanliness and the spiritual aspect of waiving our lusts. It is generally advisable to avoid weed, alcohol, sex and heavy drugs for two weeks. Regarding food, it is recommended to avoid red meat, pork, fried or spicy food, dairy products, soy sauce, synthetic food and specific medications for a week or a minimum of 72 hours.
What happens during the Ayahuasca ceremony?
The ceremonies differ between states, villages, retreats, Shamans and more. The differences are expressed in the area in which the ceremony is performed (indoors, or outdoors), the number of participants, the Ayahuasca brew (taste, strength, etc), and the music that accompanies the ceremony. But no matter where you choose to experience the medicine, all rituals have a common goal of connecting the attendants to their inner self and finding answers and solutions that will improve their life’s quality.
Around 8:00 pm: Everyone gathers at the ceremony area known as “Maloca” and the shamans explain the ceremony process and meaning. They also present the participants other natural medicines such as “Ambil”, “Rape”, and more.
10.00 pm: The first cup of Ayahuasca brew (also known as Yagé in Colombia) is served around 10:00 p.m. when the shaman declares “Yagé”. Then, the participants get in a line when men drink first and women after. The Shaman pours the brew to a cup and serves it to each one of the participants in his/her turn. I’m not gonna lie, the taste of the brew isn’t sympathetic and the desire to vomit comes very quickly, but this is where our inner strength is being discovered. You have to keep the medicine inside for at least half an hour so it gets into the blood and affects you. There are several natural products that help relieve nausea offered by the staff.
After everyone had sipped the brew, the lights are turned off and each participant takes the time to absorb the medicine. The darkness of the night, the light of the stars, the forest, nature, and all the “settings” provide a charming atmosphere to the experience. The effect of the brew starts about half an hour after drinking it and lasts about 5 hours.
The most important thing to remember, especially in difficult moments, is to rely on the medicine. You should not be afraid as the medicine essence is pure love.
On the first night, “virgins” who had never practiced the medicine will experience the cleansing of the body from toxins and therefore, most people experience vomiting, chills, diarrhea, and a general sickness feeling. As we neglect our body and soul in our daily life we store a lot of toxins, so the cleaning is not a simple process for the body. However, that can be certainly tolerated and constitutes a necessary part of the experience. Every person is different and therefore some people may not necessarily experience purging.
12:00 am: At around midnight, the Shaman calls for the second cup, however, you don’t have to drink it. Some people need more from the medicine to “give in” and let go.
During the five hours, each person will experience an individual adventure into a higher state of consciousness that, in a unique way, enlightens you.
Around 02:00-03:00 am: Music usually starts and it’s just magical. As the effect of the medicine starts to fade away, you can hear the sounds of music in the back of your mind which prologs the effect of the medicine.
Around 6:00-7:00 am: The ceremony ends.
Origen Eco Resort retreat
As mentioned above, my first Ayahuasca ceremony was in Colombia in a retreat named Origen Eco Resort. Retreats duration varies, where mine was four days which included three ceremonies and one healing treatment for each participant. The resort offers accommodation, hot showers, and two generous meals every day.
Around the farm, there is a nice waterfall and a fish pond that is fun to visit and the closest town Barbossa is within walking distance. On the farm, you can enjoy the pool, the lovely river and the wonderful hammocks that are scattered around, so everyone can find their own space and choose how to spend the day.
Why do I recommend Origen Eco Resort?
It’s important to choose a reliable retreat. If you choose to have your ceremony in Colombia, the Origen Eco Resort has a professional and dedicated staff who knows how to handle and operate in any situation. Beyond that, it has an amazing group of artists that made me feel lucky to be around and go through this experience.
Where can I drink Ayahuasca?
Mainly in Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and countries that surround the Amazon. You can also find retreats in Central America (mostly in Costa Rica and Mexico), North America, Europe, and Asia.
My personal note, Ayahuasca is not for everyone and requires the right timing in life as you need to have the courage to look into yourself. You need to be prepared and believe that you have the power to handle your demons as well as other amazing parts of yourself. During my experience, I have met junkies, alcoholics, post-traumatic, and others which have proven to me that the treatment with Ayahuasca helped them overcome their problems, and find the strength for a better present and future.
Ayahuasca is still considered to be taboo in many places around the world, mostly because of ignorance. It was important for me to write this article, as a person that was totally ignorant, but opened my mind and grant the most intense experience in my life.