At a certain point following your return from an ayahuasca retreat, you may begin wondering how to maintain your relationship with the plant. In the peace of the jungle, everything may have seemed crystal-clear. Back at home, inertia and doubt can creep in. Old patterns may be pulling you back to behaviors not in your best interests, leaving you to wonder: Can I really change? Was it just a hallucination? What is ayahuasca, anyway?
It’s sometimes said that the connection you make with ayahuasca lasts a lifetime; that your life will never be the same after the first ceremony. And it’s true that the very act of drinking ayahuasca is a profound initiation. Yet your connection with the plant spirit needs to be maintained and strengthened in the integration phase to serve as a steady source of support in everyday life.
To do this, it’s important first to recognize that this is a relationship between you and the medicine—which means it’s a two-way street. Giving and receiving need to flow in both directions, otherwise, just like a neglected human relationship, it can founder on the lack of reciprocity. It might have seemed strange at first to consider the possibility of having a relationship with a plant spirit, but possibly your ceremonies have gotten you over that obstacle. It might now seem strange to think of giving back to ayahuasca, but such mutuality is not only possible, but necessary.
Ways you might consider giving back can include:
- Lifestyle changes
- Upgrades in attitude or behavior
- Conscious gratitude—for ayahuasca, for your life, for the world—perhaps expressed in some ritual or symbolic way
- Contributing service or support to an external cause that benefits others or the planet
Tune in to see what’s appropriate in your life. If you feel your connection with ayahuasca slipping, lean towards the relationship (not away, into fear and complaining) and find a constructive action to strengthen it. The real question here is how to stay connected to your self, your soul, your spirit. That’s what the path of integration is all about.
22 Ways to Stay Connected
*Talk to the spirit of ayahuasca. Sit, breathe, light a candle and invoke it, inviting her to a conversation. Tell ayahuasca what’s on your mind and how things have been. Tell her what you need. Ask her what she needs from you.
*If you’re struggling—surrender. Invoke, pray, supplicate. Make a prayer, turn it into an icaro or chant, use it daily.
*Give it creative form: draw/paint/dance/sing/play the spirit of ayahuasca, or your relationship with her.
*Reread (or add to) your retreat journal or trip log.
*Reconnect with your original intentions in working with ayahuasca. Read them aloud to yourself, feeling them in the present moment, and connecting with where you are right now with regard to them. Re-invoke the spirit of ayahuasca, and ask what the next step is for you.
*Make three commitments to yourself that will support your integration process in your current life—and keep them.
*Space-clear your home or living space, with the intention of creating a clean and beautiful container for your growth.
*Make an altar or mesa in your home, perhaps using objects from ceremony as symbolic anchors.
*Appreciate beauty, natural and created, wherever it appears. The eyes of a cat, the branches of a tree, the smile of a child, the colors of your favorite scarf, a compelling song, a delicious scent … tune your senses to receive and appreciate these moments.
*Surround yourself with sacred music, medicine music, and mantras—this is a powerful way to upgrade the energetics of your environment.
*Use your personal pusanga.
*Make a floral bath: soak aromatic flowers and leaves in water, and pour over your head and body. Don’t rinse off, and let it air dry. This is a very powerful mood-shifter!
*Burn some palo santo, juniper, or sage, and smudge your home and body.
*Cook something healthy and special and feed yourself consciously, dedicating the energy to reconnection and integration.
*Track your dreams for signals and answers, messages from the deep.
*Talk with a medicine friend.
*Book a session with an integration facilitator.
*Delve deeper into the world of plant medicine, through websites, books, films.
*Take a walk, hike, or overnight in Nature, re-attuning to the natural world.
*Practice gratitude morning and evening by acknowledging five things in your life to be grateful for.
*Practice giving back: find some positive supportive way to connect with the larger world. The energy you contribute can be financial, energetic, aspirational, or hands-on practical. This kind of reciprocity can be a huge accelerator of growth and magic in your life.
Finally—have compassion for yourself if you get off-track. You don’t need to be perfect in this process; neither does ayahuasca.