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How to Choose the Safest Ayahuasca Retreat

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How to choose the Safest Ayahuasca Retreat


Embracing wellness through plant medicine is one of the greatest learning experiences and most transformative moments of one's life. Ayahuasca has a lineage of healing for over 1,000 years and is the ultimate tool for reaching higher states of consciousness. 

If you are ready for a life shift, and know you want to do plant medicine, the next major decision is choosing a retreat center for this spiritual journey. It is normal to be nervous, and this article is made to help ease any worries. We will provide you with information to make an educated and informed decision. 

Safety should be your number one priority as there are many operations that have profit as their number one interest rather than your growth. Choosing a high quality retreat center that is safe and reputable, will help you surrender to the plant medicine when you are in ceremony, and feel secure. Here is how to choose the safest ayahuasca retreat center for you.


Medical screening

 A thorough medical screening is absolutely crucial to entering an ayahuasca retreat. It is essential for a professional doctor to have your full health background so you can make a safe decision. 

Inform yourself about the retreat’s centers medical screening process and their safety protocol. The doctor should do a mental and physical screening to make sure you are suited for plant medicine. Mother Ayahuasca is more intense than psilocybin, san pedro, and other psychedelics so there must be precautions.

The doctor will ask you about your medical history and it is very important to be as honest as possible. A good retreat center will take this medical screening seriously as they want to be sure it is 100% safe for you to attend. 

There are certain mental and physical illnesses that are not suitable to do ayahuasca. It can be dangerous to do ayahuasca with physical conditions such as heart disease and chronically high blood pressure. For people with previous serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, plant medicine can put them in a downward spiral.  

 Certain pharmaceutical drugs and medications are not compatible with ayahuasca such as SSRIs and MAOIs.

For those with depression and anxiety ayahuasca tea can help transform suffering into understanding and releasing trauma. It is crucial to be as transparent as possible so your retreat center knows best how to serve you. 

Being fully honest  and open about your health will help during preparation for the retreat so you know which medications are not suitable to take, what diet to follow, and so you are given tools for your specific emotional needs. 

Want to experience Ayahausca in a small group of thoroughly-vetted guests? We would love to speak with you.


Check out our upcoming ayahuasca retreats in Costa Rica, Mexico, Portugal, and the Netherlands.


Your specific needs


Be clear on your ‘why’ for entering a retreat. Are you doing ayahuasca to heal from childhood trauma,  or to bond with mother earth? Do you want to connect to divinity or do you wish to mend a broken relationship and  tap into forgiveness and compassion? Your 'why', will dictate what you need and the course of your path. 


If you are looking for deep healing work, and have the time to focus on healing, maybe you will choose a retreat that is two or three weeks long with a strong focus on integration, so you can carry the lessons from ayahuasca into your daily life. 


If you have limited time, maybe you will choose a week that lasts a week and is focused more on cleansing and preparing the body for the ceremony, if you need to detox. 


Do you have the need to go to Mexico and do a traditional ceremony with a shaman who has a long lineage of indigenous healing? Or do you feel more comfortable with a retreat that has western therapists who can meet you where you are in your consciousness?


It is important to consider what you really want not only out of ceremony, but from the retreat center itself. Do you like simplicity and are happy to live in a small wood cabin? Or do you like luxury and want to be tucked into a beautiful house in the forest? Do you want to be far away from home in the jungle of Costa Rica or the sacred valley of Peru or nearby?  How much are you willing to pay for a high quality retreat? Take all of these factors into consideration. 


Ask yourself what would make you feel most secure in terms of location, accommodation, and the support team. After you are clear on your needs, make sure the retreats you look into are aligned with what makes you feel best. 


Small group or private retreats


There are many retreat centers who want the most money they can engineer from a single ceremony. This means they are willing to hold ceremonies with over twenty people and only one guide. This is not only irresponsible, but dangerous. The ratio to staff is extremely important to know, so be sure to inquire. The smaller the better.


Other retreat centers have many helpers for larger ceremonies, but all the helpers are volunteers. This means they work for free and are not professionals. So, if a retreat center is volunteer run and contains large groups, this may be a red flag for you. 


It is important to note that the people next to you in the ceremony will affect your experience, so it is important to be in a retreat center that is discerning with who they accept. The energy of the room is made up of those who are in the room. The more people the more energy.


A good retreat center will have smaller group sizes to give participants the attention they deserve. Good retreat centers will also pay their workers, and they will be professionals with years of first hand expertise and experience. 


For those who are discerning, and want to do deep work, small retreats or private retreats are best. For guests who enjoy being around others, using them as a sacred mirror, may then enjoy small retreats. Often they have a group closing circle for integration and learning from one another. In this sharing of ceremony and space is the potential to make lifelong friendships.

 For other people who want to go very deep into their own beings, private retreats are best because the healer and the support team put all their focus onto you and your emotional landscape. Also, the retreat is tailor fit to your healing needs.

At Behold Retreats, you can schedule what time of day you want your ceremony, you can choose what activities you want to do and in what order. The healer is happy to spend hours of discussion with you about emotional blockages and how to best serve you during ceremony. The attention and devotion  is all on you.



Chat with the team


The best way to understand a retreat center and their values is to talk directly to the support team. A good support team will have no problem answering your questions, as they want to provide you with enough information for you to feel comfortable.


At Behold Retreats our support team is composed of expert doctors, professional healers, coaches, therapists, body workers, and psychologists all here to help you. A good retreat center will have a well rounded support team and helpers during the ceremony that are professionals, not volunteers.

Do ask the support team about their professional experience and background in the medicine. Be sure to do your proper research on them. 

 Also important, is to talk with the healer and make sure you feel energetically aligned with them as they will be the main person guiding you during the ceremony. Make sure your healer has a good history with the medicine and that you intuitively feel their connection to it. Afterward, ask the support team for their client testimonials, and read through them. Feel into your intuition and bodily reaction when reading this feedback.

Also read through the retreat's reviews online, and if there are any negative ones, take them seriously. Ask the support team about them and see what their response is. The feeling you get when talking to the team and the healer is what matters most. Tune in to see if it makes you feel at ease or tense.

Guided preparation 

 Be sure to ask about the preparation process of the retreat center. Many retreats make participants fly in overnight and leave the next day. This does not take the proper time or energy to do preparation work, it throws you into ceremony too fast without making sure your mind and body are receptive.

 During preparation, a good retreat center will help you to further develop your intentions. Your intention will be your anchor in the ceremony when hard times arise, and you will know why you are here. A coach will be there to identify your emotional blind spots and help you work through them mentally to solidify your intention.

A therapist will give you the proper tools for calming the mind that you can use during the ceremony for when any suppressed memory or feeling arises. Preparation also includes relaxing the body. There should be yoga classes, mediations, and massage. A proper vegetarian diet should be followed. At Behold Retreats we offer all of these healing modalities for preparing the body and the mind for a spiritual awakening. 

 Pre ayahuasca retreat we also provide proper tools like breath work and emotional release guidance. The coaches and therapists are there to give you all you need to feel safe, so that when the ceremony comes, you can surrender to the medicine. Fear is natural, and preparation helps you to work with the fear in a healthy constructive way. 

Integration process

 After the ceremony is over, there must be integration. Many retreat centers will have a short circle where everyone talks about what they will do moving forward to integrate. This one hour discussion with other participants is not enough. Ask the retreat centers what their process for integration is, as this is what will ground you in a new reality.

 At Behold Retreats we have integration coaches that work to transform the experiences during the ceremony into life-long change. Because ayahuasca is so illuminating, we may think that we have all the answers now. But change happens with consistency, not one peak moment.

We must engrain the lessons from the ceremony into daily life. Make sure your retreat center is committed to assisting you during and after the retreat process. The healer should also be involved in the process.


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