Take this short quiz to assess your mental and spiritual readiness for a psychedelic retreat.
By Luke DeStefano
At some point in our lives, if we are willing to look, we might be graced with the clarity to see that a better quality of life is available to us.
Leaning in a bit closer, we might discover that the roots of our perceived limitations in reaching these higher levels are connected to our emotional pain. Sometimes the roots run deeper than we realize. Once we start looking, it can be quite a shock to see the extent of how much personal work we have to do if we really want to elevate our lives.
We’re like a bird with a broken wing,
a Ferrari with a flat.
Many of us, despite being experts in the art of avoiding discomfort, begin to warm up to the idea that an experience like ayahuasca, whose less-glamorous attributes include projectile vomiting and metaphysical death, is far more attractive an option than the dissonance of knowing life could be better and not doing anything about it.
So, it’s not Ayahuasca you’re actually looking for. It’s change. Not moving to another country, getting a new lover, changing jobs or external circumstances, but real inner transformation.
You’re digging for the alchemical gold, the sweetness that doesn’t fade. You’re not interested in another story about the beauty that came and left.
What you’re looking for, in a word, is healing.
The paradigm of healing we’re accustomed to in the West gives us a very distorted perception of what the healing process actually looks like. In the western context, a patient consults a medical authority with a profile of symptoms (physical, mental, or emotional). The symptoms are matched to a diagnosis, and the patient is prescribed the corresponding (usually surgical or pharmaceutical) solution. The solution, however, is often only a means of symptom management. The patient isn’t required to make any real changes to their diet or lifestyle, and so the underlying root cause of the illness remains unaddressed. These underlying root causes, if suppressed, eventually change their avenues of manifestation, creating a new constellation of symptoms, thus warranting a new medical diagnosis, new drugs, and so on.
Western medicine has it's merits to be sure, especially when it comes to acute illness or injury. But when it comes to the deeper issues, the issues of heart and soul, western medicine is missing out on a key principal:
Healing isn’t found in a pill, a Band-Aid, or an ancient botanical brew. It’s not a spiritual practice or an occult science. Healing is not the suppression of symptoms. Healing is a path of self-discovery that requires patience, trust, and commitment. There are many paths of healing out there but, as destiny would have it, your compass has brought you here, poised and curious at the threshold of ayahuasca's door.
Naturally, the first steps on a path as mysterious and undefinable as the path of spirit medicine is sure to give rise to questions. Once you’ve moved through the initial questions around physical safety, medical contraindications, etc, the most valuable questions we can ask in regards to our healing are the ones we ask ourselves.
As Nietzsche once said “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” One of, if not, the most common things I hear being uttered when someone is in the throes of a challenging plant medicine experience is, “Why on Earth did I do this?”
“Why?” is truly one of the greatest questions one could ask when imbibing a potent dose of a psychedelic substance. Truly, why are you doing this? And why now?
Because someone else said you should?
Because you read a blog about it and it sounded like fun?
To have more intimate relationships?
Maybe someone else brought ayahuasca to your attention, but when you show up to receive that first cup of plant medicine, you should have a clear intention. This is a word you will hear a lot in the medicine space.
Your intention is the answer to questions like, “Why did I do this?”
The importance of having an intention is understood in every indigenous medicine tradition around the world for very good reason. Intention gives us purpose, direction, understanding, and confidence when entering rites of passage and initiations such as this.
Intention also gives us context and substance for the integration process, in which a skilled coach can help alchemize your experience in ceremony into lasting personal change.
For some people, their intention is crystal clear from the beginning. For others, it may be felt as a distant calling. For others, their intention changes as the time of their ceremony draws near. The important thing to know is that an intention felt in your heart can never be wrong.
Spend some time really thinking about is. Write about your intention in a journal.
Why are you seeking ayahuasca?
And why now?
Before you can accurately assess your readiness for Ayahuasca, you must first polish the tools for clear, healthy, decision-making. The answer you’re looking for isn’t found in your mind, after all.
You need your intuition.
Intuition is like a muscle in that it can be developed with practice. A strong intuition will guide you towards choices that serve your greatest good and personal evolution. When intuition is weak, we make decisions from fear, scarcity or insecurity. Conversely, a weak intuition might also lead us to make decisions from overconfidence or a need for approval.
With a keen intuitive awareness, we move like a magnet towards that which ultimately nourishes us. This is nature’s way.
Practices for improving intuition:
Maybe you’re already 100% in. Maybe this is your first time with any psychoactive substance and you need a little more time to feel into it. Together, with some honest introspection, we are going to get clear on where you’re truly at.
The first thing to understand is that being prepared is different from being ready. Being prepared is easy. Proper safety and medical precautions, a reputable retreat and facilitator, plans for long-term integration, maybe a clean pair of pants - that’s being prepared.
Being ready is a feeling. It is the feeling of the soul’s recognition that it’s aligning with its destiny. If you don’t believe you have a soul or a destiny, that’s ok too. The feeling will be the same - an unmistakable sense of affirmation deep in your belly that says, “This feels right.”
Once you’ve honestly assessed your readiness to sit with Ayahuasca and everything is feeling aligned, it’s time to take the next step. If you haven’t chosen a specific retreat yet, you might want to check out our blog on How to Choose an Ayahuasca Retreat.
You can also check out our upcoming Ayahuasca retreats in Costa Rica, Portugal, and the Netherlands. (link to retreats)
Learn more about consciousness, plant medicine, and spiritual transformation