How to Prepare for an Ayahuasca Retreat

A practical guide on what to do before, during, and after the retreat.

by Paul Jozsef

How to plan for an ayahuasca retreat - Paul Jozsef Counselling & Coaching | Montreal

There are numerous guides on how to prepare for an ayahuasca ceremony or retreat. This guide, however, is less about the ‘spiritual’ aspects of the ayahuasca experience and more about the practical things that one may find helpful when attending an ayahuasca retreat, specifically in a rainforest-type environment. This guide will offer suggestions on what to bring to the retreat and what to do before, during, and after the retreat.

Please note that I do not provide psychoactive substances nor recommend their use. However, if you intend to journey into altered states of consciousness, I offer psychedelic integration counselling to those seeking assistance to plan for and integrate their experiences upon returning home.

Things to Bring to the Retreat

  • Extra-large plastic bags – given that it rains almost every day, large plastic bags are great to keep the moisture out of your backpack/luggage.
  • Wet wipes – these will come in handy for all sorts of things.
  • Flashlight/torch – handy for walking back to your tambo/hut at night. Try to get a flashlight with a red bulb/filter if you’re able. During the ceremony, this may come in handy to signal staff without disturbing the other participants.
  • Lighter – this may come in handy for lighting mapacho cigarettes or a kerosene lantern. You may not be allowed to bring a light on the plane; however, it should be relatively easy to purchase one at your destination.
  • Citronella patches/bracelets – to keep mosquitoes at bay.
  • Long sleeve, loose-fitting shirts/t-shirts and pants. Again, to keep mosquitoes away.
  • Journal – it will come in handy when trying to process your experiences. If possible, start writing your thoughts and feelings as soon after the ceremony as possible.
  • Extra pens.
  • Phone – to record your thougths and feelings before and after ceremonies. It is a great way to process and remember your experience.
  • Phone battery pack – just in case there isn’t electricity to charge your phone.
  • Electrolytes powder – to help maintain your electrolyte levels on the restricted retreat diet.

Before the Retreat

  • Intentions – why are you going to drink ayahuasca? What is it that you are seeking?
  • Meditation – this will help you immensely during your ayahuasca experiences. One of the primary ‘goals’ of a mindfulness meditation practice is to witness the experience rather than be caught up in it. If possible, start a mindfulness meditation practice several months before embarking on your retreat.
  • As hard as it is, try not to watch too many videos about ayahuasca or read too many trip reports. Your experience will probably be very different from anything that you can imagine.
  • Cut down on caffeine – the last thing you want is to be going through caffeine withdrawals on retreat.
  • Slowly reduce the amount of food you eat. You will probably be on a slightly restricted diet while at the retreat. Reducing your food intake may be a good idea to avoid feeling uncomfortable during the retreat.
  • Cut down on social media. Social media is a distraction from your process. The of ‘idea’ of a retreat to turn inward – to ‘retreat’ from all distractions.

During the Retreat

  • Stay off social media. It will be there when you get home.
  • Journal your experiences. Write down your thoughts and experiences. Record videos of yourself before and after each ceremony. Aside from integration purposes, it will be very interesting for you to look back on in 10 years.
  • Share your experience with your fellow retreatants. Talking can shed light on ideas/feelings that may not make sense or feel ‘stuck.’
  • Meditation.
  • Read emotionally nourishing books.

After the Retreat

  • Integration – the medicine can show you the path, but it is you that must walk it.
  • Meditation.
  • Exercise/yoga.
  • Spending time with like-minded people. Join your local psychedelic society or an integration circle.

Areas of Specialty