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  • Writer's pictureSusie Bower

Preparing to work with ayahuasca

Updated: Sep 19, 2022

This is part two of my ayahuasca experience. Part one is HERE.

I definitely believe you must be ready to work with plant medicine. I know when it was available to me 3 years ago I wasn't ready. I had no idea what to expect and at this time I had a lot of unresolved issues, stored trauma and emotions I hadn't dealt with, and was too scared to see what might come up - that alone was enough to prevent me from even trying it. In the 3 years that have passed, I have been able to get to a deeper understanding of myself, my pain, my fears, and how to work through the process of self-awareness and releasing these blockages. My spiritual practice, meditation, and breathwork also all became more of a focus for me during this time.

I finally decided I was ready to work with plant medicine, I was ready to see what might be revealed to me and ready to integrate what I would learn. A friend and I were going to stay a week after the women's retreat we were hosting in Peru. Unfortunately, we had to postpone the retreat because Peru wasn't allowing anyone coming from Europe to enter the country. This was devastating for me. In the weeks to follow, I noticed I was becoming very short-tempered and irritable. Getting upset over minor things and lost control of my anger. It was consuming me and I did not like the person I was becoming. No matter how much or how deep I went in my meditation and breathwork sessions, I couldn't get it to stop. I believe things happen for a reason, they might not make sense at the time, but eventually, it is revealed. I was made aware of a plant medicine retreat from a company that hosts events all over Europe (many in Italy where I live). They have many shamans and healers they work with, many using different types of plant medicine. I ended up signing up for their next retreat.

Preparing for the ceremonies

Just as I believe you need to be mentally ready to work with plant medicine, I also think it's wise to physically prepare for the ceremony. Working with plant medicine is like a relationship, you are both bringing something to the table and both of you have work to do. In order for ayahuasca to provide an experience that is healing and beneficial, your body needs to do its part to give it the energy and space to create the healing environment. Some of the food you will abstain from prior to your ceremony can be seen as an irritant or toxin to the body. By not eating these things, you are clearing out a potential build-up or toxic load of mental and spiritual energy blockers and allowing the healing energy to get to work once it is metabolized.

I have worked with women for over 20 years and can absolutely speak to the power of the food we consume and its impact on our health and body. If you are looking at the list of foods you should abstain from and are resistant to, I would encourage you to get deeper into why it is an issue for you to temporarily let go of a substance - this is an opportunity to embrace that there is more work to be done when you have vices. This is one of the things I help women do - understand their current relationship with food, stop jumping from diet to diet, and discover what foods work best for their body - releasing their vices and attachments.

There is another thing on the list to abstain from that isn't food - it's sex, including masturbation. At its core level, sex is a powerful exchange of energy. The release of energy during an orgasm can be very depleting. Plant medicine is working on an energetic level, as great as an orgasm can be, it also resets your energy to zero. Allowing your energy to build up can allow for the plant medicine to deeper work in bringing attention to deeply hidden emotions, feelings, and even forgotten traumas.

In the dieta (your pre-ayahuasca diet), it is exercising your self-control and allowing you to see where you might have resistance, indicating a possible addiction you might not be aware of. As I mention in the video, it is also about having respect for plant medicine to allow it to do its side of the work.

Setting your intentions for the ceremony

With over a decade of intention-setting practices with my meditations, I'd like to share my perspective on this. I absolutely agree that you should carve out some time to be intentional with your internal conversation about why you are being called to work with ayahuasca. It will give you something to remember and focus on when you are working with it.

Creating a short and easy-to-remember phrase will make this a less daunting task. You may want to write out a paragraph going into detail about what your intention(s) are, however, I'd recommend going into the ceremony with a shorter phrase. Some I use during my meditations to set clear intentions for my practice:

  • Help me understand ______

  • Show me ______

  • Share with me how to ______

  • Teach me ______

  • Guide me to discover ______

I went into my ceremony with several intentions. I wrote several paragraphs about each one, why I wanted guidance or help with resolving these topics, how to release and process them, and guidance with integration once the ceremony was over. Here are my brief statement phrases.

  1. Help me understand my anger (and how to release and process it)

  2. Teach me to overcome my depression (and drop the victim mentality)

  3. Show me why I am terrified of water

  4. Share with me if I am living in my purpose (living my dharma)

  5. Help me deepen my relationships (with my husband and children)

Funny thing is, when I was receiving my cup of ayahuasca, all of my intentions disappeared. When I looked down into my cup, all that came into my thoughts were "I am coming to you with an open heart and open mind".

They say ayahuasca will give you what you need, not what you want. At first, I didn't really know what to think of that. Now that I have finished three ceremonies, I can see that is EXACTLY what happens. Later, I will go more into what happened during my ceremonies. I just want to leave you with that because of what I experienced. After my first ceremony and I did not get answers to my questions and intentions, the inner dialogue began. I was questioning myself, thinking something was wrong with me, and later realized - my experience was exactly what I NEEDED.

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