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What You May Experience in an Ayahuasca Ceremony

“Yes, your transformation will be hard. Yes, you will feel frightened, messed up and knocked down. Yes, you’ll want to stop. Yes, it’s the best work you’ll ever do.” Robin Sharma

A General Overview of Ayahuasca Experience

The experience of ayahuasca is highly variable and can be different for each person in a ceremony. There is usually some anxiety or nervousness before drinking, as we never know how the experience will unfold and what it will bring. This also keeps it fresh, new and exciting, as each time is a unique experience.

Our ayahuasca has a slightly sweet taste and people are usually surprised how easy it is to drink. It is cooked with Chalipanga, aka Huambisa (Diplopterys cabrerana) instead of Chacruna (Psychotria viridis), so it does not have the horribly bitter flavor ayahuasca is well known for. Chacruna leaves are very bitter, where Chalipanga has a sweetness to it. Chalipanga contains both N, N-DMT and small amounts of 5-MEO-DMT. A small percentage of experienced drinkers notice a difference in effect due to the 5-MEO-DMT, but due to the high variance of the ayahuasca experience, most will not. The noticeable difference is it tends to last longer and have an extended “afterglow”, which can last 24 hours.

With Chalipanga some people will get a second wave. Feeling they are well on their way down, it suddenly builds again, and the second wave can be stronger than the first. This only happens with around 15% of the people.

After drinking we may experience an unusual sensation in the stomach, and some mild nausea. The nausea usually passes quickly, but the odd stomach sensation will likely linger. After some minutes energy will begin spreading through the body, and we begin noticing a change in our perceptions and thought patterns. Our experience of sound and light begin to shift, and our thoughts may speed up and seem somewhat random and scattered, like the background noise in a crowd of people. As we shift into a different state of consciousness, we may hear buzzing, humming or electric thrumming sound.

As we drop deeper into the trance we may experience strong visions of brightly colored patterns and geometric shapes. This is more of a DMT experience and lasts around 15 minutes, then we pass into a dreamlike state where anything is possible. We may encounter spirits who interact with us directly, hear voices giving us information, visit other realities and dimensions, simply reflect on our natural life seeing events from new perspectives.

Ayahuasca visions paintingOur first ceremony will be a moderate experience as we begin with small doses to get accustomed to working with ayahuasca with faith and confidence. Moving forward we quickly adjust the dose based on ones capacity, desires, metabolism and goals. We quickly find a good working dose that allows deep healing without being overwhelmed or frightened.

On average, the full effect of ayahuasca comes on in about one hour, but it may be 30 minutes, or take 1.5 to 2 hours before it reaches maximum intensity. It depends on our metabolism. This intense trance state of altered consciousness typically lasts about 2 hours, but for some may be as long as 4-6. As the energy of the medicine begins moving through our body, cleansing, purifying and healing, we often experience nausea and a variety of unpleasant sensations in the body. This ultimately leads to the purge where we rid our body of that which does not belong. During this cleansing process our thoughts may seem chaotic and confusing. Simply trust the medicine is healing us and allow it to do it work, know you are safe and well cared for. It is best that we put our attention on the energy of the singing, the icaros, for that is where the healing comes from.

After the purge the nausea usually passes, but may linger. The mind becomes very clear with a heightened awareness of the energy of our body and surroundings. This is the time the deep teachings and insights of ayahuasca tend to manifest.

While this is a general description of what people experience with ayahuasca, in truth anything can happen and there is no way to predict what kind of journey one will have. It is different for each individual, and each time one drinks. It is possible to feel like nothing is happening. Not feeling much of anything in the body and no sense of altered consciousness. While possible, more likely it is our own unconscious defenses blocking the work of ayahuasca. Our fears can have a powerful impact on what we perceive. We may think we want to step into this journey of growth and change, yet our unconscious beliefs can be in conflict with that. It is also possible, even with a small initial dose, for the visions and patterns to be overwhelming, too much, a firehose of psychedelic and uncontrollable emotion. Anything is possible.

Entering ceremony in a higher state of vibration will help us have positive more pleasant experience. Intentionally cultivate love and gratitude before and during ceremony. Love and gratitude dispel all fear. Come willing, willing to step into what ever it takes to get the desired healing. When we are trusting willing and accepting, fear cannot take hold. While it may get unpleasant, we will not suffer.

The next section breaks down in a more detailed way things people commonly experience with ayahuasca.

Things Commonly Experienced With Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca is a very powerful substance, and a very kind, loving and often playful medicine spirit. One of the fascinating things about working with this medicine is its incredible variability. One cannot predict what we will experience when we drink ayahuasca.

The same quantity of the same medicine can bring a completely different type of experience from one ceremony to the next. In your time at our ayahuasca retreat, you will clearly see that ayahuasca works with each person in a very individualized way. Every person will have a unique experience. Ayahuasca seems to know what each person needs, and takes each person through a different process such that they get what they have come for in the time they have available.

The key to getting the most out of your time with this medicine is to trust it and surrender to the experience, allowing ayahuasca to do what IT wants. The release of negative energies that we have accumulated in our lives can be unpleasant. The body may feel distressed in a variety of ways, and we may see strange, bizarre and sometimes frightening visions.

This is when trust is important. Know that you are safe, that no harm will come to you, and that ayahuasca is simply healing you. Its just an experience, the unpleasantness will pass and you will feel much better afterwards. One thing that can be guaranteed about drinking ayahuasca with a skilled ayahuasquero is that the results are worth whatever we need to go through to get what we have come for.

This section lists a wide variety of things commonly experienced when drinking ayahuasca. Know that these are just possibilities, and you may or may not experience them. Over the course of an ayahuasca retreat, people will typically experience some subset of the things listed, and that subset will be different for each individual. Everyone has their own unique experience.

Knowing ahead of time what might happen can help us relax into the experience, trusting that all is well and the unpleasant parts are simply ayahuasca doing its healing work and releasing accumulated energies that do not serve us well.

What Are the Physical Effects of Ayahuasca?

Ayahuasca can have some unpleasant or simply odd and unusual physical effects. Most people will purge or vomit during the ceremony. It is known as La Purga after all. Usually, people will purge only once during a ceremony, but it is not uncommon for a person to purge three or four times.

On occasion, there are people that do not purge during the course of an ayahuasca retreat. This does not mean anything is wrong or the medicine is not working, its just they way it is going for them. A person does not need to purge with ayahuasca. We will or we won’t as the medicine cleanses and purifies our bodies, but it is the norm to purge.

As our bodies get cleaner, the purging diminishes or comes to an end. Diarrhea is another common physical effect of ayahuasca, but probably only half the people that drink in any given ceremony will get that.

  1. Trembling and shaking of arms and legs. You may find your arms or legs moving in patterns without your conscious control.
  2. Very long yawns where your mouth feels a foot wide.
  3. Tears falling without feeling sad. You may start sobbing uncontrollably as deep pain and sorrow is release, though you may not know what you are crying about.
  4. Feeling very cold.
  5. Feeling very hot and dripping in sweat.
  6. Feeling completely drained of energy and that you do not have the strength to move.
  7. Feeling very heavy, pressed into the floor as if the force of gravity had doubled or tripled.
  8. Feeling highly energized, wanting to get up and dance to the singing or music.
  9. Very strong surges of energy moving through the body.
  10. Feeling dissociated from your body. Many people say they reached out to touch their legs to make sure they were there. Some people feel they have left their body, and a few say they rose above it and could see their body below them.
  11. Extreme nausea that may last an hour or more. It is best to not make yourself throw up seeking relief from the nausea and just let the medicine do its work. You will vomit or not in the medicine’s time.
  12. Feelings of bliss and euphoria.
  13. Feeling physically strong, powerful and completely healthy and whole.
  14. Feeling something touching your body, but nothing is there.
  15. Feeling like insects are crawling on your body. This is an effect of the healing process and is a positive sign.
  16. Hearing humming vibrating sounds

As you can see, this is a very diverse and lengthy list. All of the above are common physical experiences with ayahuasca and you may have physical effects that are not on this list. You may not feel any of these in a given ceremony, and it is possible to experience all of them in a single ceremony. What is more common is to experience just a few in a given ceremony, and that can vary from night to night.