Integration

The process of Ayahuasca healing doesn’t end with the close of ceremony. What you do with the lessons you learned and the healing you received is what really determines authentic growth, and as a result, integration is as much – if not more – important than the ceremonies themselves. The earlier you can start to take action on the lessons learned, the better. This includes maintaining a healthy diet, practicing a still mind, connecting to those who will promote your process, taking time for yourself, and engaging fully with the intentions you set for your healing journey. At Arkana, we provide the tools and environment necessary to begin your integration work while you are with us, offering group discussions in between ceremonies to help you understand your experience and learn from others’; following a healthy and delicious Ayahuasca-friendly diet; holding yoga and meditation practices; providing opportunities to connect with your tribe and nature during our guided jungle excursions; and always being available to discuss your experience with you and help you elucidate the lessons and insights from your time with us (both in and out of ceremony).

We also let you know that the really hard work starts when you get home.

There is no doubt that upon your return to your normal life, you will face challenges that test your experience with the medicine. In the Shipibo culture, our shamans often refer to this as the plants “testing” us, and seeing if we truly did learn the lessons we were taught, to earn the growth that we’ve gained. We will face opportunities where we are at a crossroads between choosing to act as our old self, or implementing those lessons and maintaining the awareness that allows us to choose differently this time.

This is why we have implemented our Post-Retreat Integration Program (PRIP), guidelines and suggestions which help you maintain your connection to the medicine, and in-person discussions during your time with us to help you maintain your connection to the medicine. Prior to heading home from your retreat, we host discussions where facilitators share stories, best practices, and answer any questions you have about potential challenges and guidelines for integration. Through PRIP, we offer free consultations with our transition coordinator, who can help you address and navigate the sometimes murky waters of how to approach your healing process back home, enact healthy habits that you can maintain, share your experience with others, and learn more about plant medicines and shamanism if you’d like to continue on that path. You can continue to check in with us in the weeks and months following your retreat, as you gain further insights and overcome hurdles with the wisdom gained during your time at Arkana. We are honored to provide support for your whole process, before, during, and after your retreat with us.

Recommendations for Integration

1. For your diet

We advise avoiding the following foods for the recommended time following your retreat:

One month:

  • Pork
  • Marijuana
  • Ecstacy/MDMA, other street drugs (cocaine, amphetamines, etc.)

Two weeks:

  • Alcohol
  • Blue cheese and other strong cheeses

One week:

  • Red meat
  • Ice/ice cold drinks
  • Psilocybin mushrooms
  • Spicy foods

2. For your thoughts and feelings

Our number one recommendation in this arena is to develop and maintain a meditation practice. This can be a more formal sitting practice, or it can be one that involves simply observing your thoughts without judgement while you are performing a repetitive or mentally calming task – yoga, art, dance, writing, even doing the dishes. Anything which allows you to free your mind from the task at hand and allow the space for your thoughts to come and go without attaching to them. It is important to take time for yourself on a regular basis and reconnect with the still mind, the peace within. If feelings come up during this practice, simply allow yourself to feel them, again without judgement from the mind. Remember, these plant medicines are heart medicines, so quieting the mind and opening the heart go hand-in-hand on the road to healing. Continue to nurture the connection to self in whatever way works best for you – the goal is to find what feels good!

3. For your speech

We know that it can be difficult at times to speak with people in one’s life about your pilgrimage. After the vulnerability and openness you experienced during your time at the Center, it can seem isolating or intimidating to return home to those who haven’t experienced the medicine and who may not be able to understand what you’ve been through. One approach we recommend in skillfully navigating conversations around the medicine is to ask oneself if the person you are about to share with is ready to hear what you are about to share. Then, as our master shaman Wiler shares, it is important to share in love, connection, and compassion with those loved ones in your life. Reach out, make a call you have been intending to make for some time, or just remind your mother how much you love her.

It may also be helpful to find a community that resonates with you. It can be challenging to come to the jungle and be with a group of like-minded individuals, develop authentic and life-long connections, and be in an environment that is as committed to the healing process as you are, and then return to life back home without this level of support. We highly recommend seeking a community of people that you can connect with in whatever way serves your process the best – although Ayahuasca is becoming more and more well-known, if you can’t find a community in this arena, try a similarly mindful group such as yoga or meditation communities, or simply maintaining contact with your jungle tribe. Many of our previous guests have developed email chains, Facebook groups, and planned reunions in order to stay connected and help encourage integration back home.

4. For your actions

You’ve learned invaluable lessons from the medicine – now it’s your chance to act on them. The extra awareness provided by your work with the medicine is something to be taken seriously and honored upon your return back home. Taking small steps to change your old habits and negative patterns will continue to propel you along your healing path. Take care of your body with exercise, healthy food, and adequate sleep. Spending time outside, and in nature, is an excellent way to maintain your connection – whether it’s going for a hike or simply catching the sunset, taking time to feel the air, look at the sky, and dig your toes into the earth will help honor the connections you made to the plants, who are continuing to work on you even as you return home.

Other actions that you can take to help ground, center, and reconnect to yourself are:
  • Salt and lavender oil bath
    • Use 1 lb of Epson salts and 23 drops of lavender oil. Soak for 15-20 minutes and then rinse off with a shower or a second bath.
  • Legs up the wall
    • Get into 90 degree position with your rear as close to the wall as possible, so your legs extend up and straight. Stay comfortably in this position for 4-8 minutes, and then lay down flat on the ground.
    • Please be mindful to not stand up too quickly after practicing this posture. Folks with chronic hypotension should avoid this exercise.
  • Reviewing your journal
  • Adding new notes (updates) to those earlier writings in your journal
  • Yin Yoga and meditation (Find a good studio that teaches this)
  • Connecting on the Friends of Pulse Tours facebook page 

Much more information is provided to you during and after your retreat with us, whether or not you choose to participate in our Post-Retreat Integration Program. And as always, feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments!