How to benefit from integration after your Ayahuasca experience?

Therapist, shamanic practitioner, retreat & workshop leader, ceremonialist and speaker.

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You've completed your Ayahuasca retreat and you're feeling great. The experience was everything you hoped for, and then some. But what now? How do you make sure that you continue to benefit from the experience long after you've left the retreat center? The answer is integration.

Integration is the process of bringing the insights and lessons learned during the Ayahuasca or Ancestral Medicine experience into your everyday life, essentially, to ‘make it real’. It’s about taking what you’ve learned and using it to improve your life in a sustainable way. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

1. Explore the teachings and insights that arose during your experience

Many people who partake in Ancestral Medicines ceremonies report having profound insights and life-changing experiences. However, it can be difficult to understand and integrate these teachings when they arise in the context of an altered state of consciousness. One way to approach this challenge is to keep a journal before, during and after your experience. You can use your journal to document any insights or visions that you have, as well as any emotions or physical sensations that you feel. You can also use it to reflect on your experience afterwards, and to explore any patterns or themes that emerge. By taking the time to process and reflect on your experience, you can help to ensure that its teachings are not forgotten or lost.

If you join a gathering in an indigenous set-and-setting, there is little chance to gain insights from the curanderos you are working with; cultural, language and psycho-social structures biases are difficult to overcome, so you will have to make your own conclusions. Whereas in a Western context, where a trusted facilitator can help you bridge those gaps, she or he will help you articulate in your own terms the salient insights of your personal journey through the two crucial pillars of Preparation and Integration.
Write the outcome of the entire process for you and always refer to your journaling in your further integration:

2. Spend time journaling about your experience and what you learned.

With any entheogenic experience it is important to journal in order to process what you have seen and learned. You may want to set some intentions for your journaling before you begin, such as what you hope to accomplish or what topics you want to explore, the parts of you you are willing to bring to this experience. It can be helpful to divide your journal into sections, such as area for free-writing, lists of insights or powerful moments, and space to draw or collage. As you begin writing, try not to censor yourself; simply let the words flow onto the page. You may be surprised at what you remember and how much you have to say. Allow yourself ample time to journal, and be sure to write in a comfortable environment where you feel safe and supported. Most importantly, listen to your intuition and go with whatever feels right for you. Trust that the process will be healing and transformative, and allow yourself the space to grow.

3. Allow yourself time to rest and process after your experience.

When returning to a normal life after any Ancestral Medicine (Ayahuasca experience, Huachuma, Bufo Alvarius or others) it is important to allow yourself time to rest and process. Many people report feeling exhausted after a ceremony, and it is important to give your body time to recover. It is also common to feel a range of emotions, from elation to sadness. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions come up, and take time to journal or talk to a trusted friend or therapist about your experience. Ayahuasca or other medicines can be powerful tools for self-discovery, and it is important to take the time to reflect on what you have learned about yourself. With proper care and integration, an entheogen experience can be a life-changing event.

4. Talk about your experience with others, either in person or online.

After a ceremonial experience, it is common to feel the need for support from others. This can be in the form of talking to someone who has had a similar experience, or simply sharing your story with someone who is open-minded and supportive. There are many online forums and communities dedicated to Ayahuasca, where you can connect with others who understand what you are going through. You can also find support groups in person, which can be especially helpful if you are feeling isolated or confused. In any case, it is important to reach out for support after an intense spiritual experience like Ayahuasca, so that you can process what you have been through and integrate it into your life in a healthy way.

5. Take what you learned and put it into practice in your everyday life.

After a ceremony, people often report feeling a profound sense of connection to the natural world and a deep respect for all forms of life. They may also find themselves more attuned to their own emotions and more able to express them in a healthy way. Many people also report feeling a greater sense of calm and well-being, and an increased ability to connect with others on a deeper level. In addition, some people find that they are more aware of their surroundings and more able to appreciate the beauty of the natural world. Finally, an entheogen experience often leads to a renewed sense of purpose and direction in life. For many people, the changes that occur after an Ayahuasca experience are profound and lasting.