Ayahuasca integration and aftercare lessons: 2 year update

Ayahuasca integration and aftercare lessons: 2 year update

Integration of Ayahuasca is the act/process of making these changes in habits and patterns in a way which is sustainable for a long period of time – let’s say months and years but perhaps not necessarily your entire life.

In this article I’ll talk about integration in general and also give you some insights into my own integration practices.

What is psychedelic integration?

Psychedelics, when done in ceremonial and healing type fashion, can lead you to new epiphanies and healings for the various things which you may suffer from.

Often times these insights and healings require changes in your life patterns whether those patterns be physical habits you have or mental habits. Change is the key word here. To change a habit or pattern we often need to practice the new behaviour very comprehensively before we can effortlessly wake up in the morning without falling back into the old habits.

Integration of Ayahuasca is the act/process of making these changes in habits and patterns in a way which is sustainable for a long period of time – let’s say months and years but perhaps not necessarily your entire life.

There are a couple of concepts which I think are useful to have in mind when we talk about patterns which I’ll note below,

  • From a neurological point of view I think the laymen’s term (of which I am when it comes to neurology) of ‘pathways’ is useful to think about. I think you could say that integration is the ‘act of creating new pathways in our brains such that they are the dominant over other similar patterns’. Given that we are trying to create a pathway that is stronger than the original one you can see how this takes time and effort to do.
  • It is also useful to think about the idea of ‘water takes the least resistant path’ also. I like to imagine that the new pathway is, at first, not the easiest path but with psychedelics (which I think create new pathways) and reinforcement of the new path with physical and mental habits we can build the new pathway into the easiest pathway for the brain to take.

I realise I am simplifying the concepts involved and that a neuroscientist will probably shake his head at my understanding of the topic but I am trying to get across that your brain is malleable and with psychedelics and our behaviour we can alter it for our own betterment and decrease of suffering.

Why is it necessary?

Above I described that,

  • psychedelics may lead us to try to change our behaviour or indeed pick up new behaviours in order to implement the insights learned during our trips.
  • These changes are not necessarily easy to do and may require effort on your part, changes in lifestyle and perhaps people in your life.

If we were not to tackle these problems then we will more or less fall back into our old patterns and the insights we learned will not be effective for very long. This descent back to our old patterns will likely take a few weeks or months (as the after glow of the DMT in your system fades) but it will happen.

What are the pitfalls on integration?

Magic Pill:

I often find that, in the Reddit Ayahuasca forum, people post some kind of ‘I’ve fallen off the bandwagon’ type post where they have not made large enough efforts to lifestyle in order to see the benefits of Ayahuasca and in my opinion this is because they have failed to integrate deeply.

I’m reminded of a phrase which get’s said quite often in Ayahuasca circles – ‘Ayahuasca is not a magic pill’. While the increased DMT in your system will stay in there for a time eventually it will ware off and that nice feeling you have will slowly fade. From there, people become lost and fall back into their reality pre psychedelics and wonder what happened.

Do you need to go back to drink more Ayahuasca?

You may feel you need to go back and drink more Ayahuasca and perhaps you do. I certainly felt as if I needed to after my first 3 ceremonies (in 5 days).

There is a danger here that you just go back and drink too much or use it as a crutch. I think for these reasons you should not drink more than 3-5 times in close proximity and that you probably need 6 – 12 months at least in between groups of ceremonies.

I think there may be some caveats to this advice around frequency – for example the severity of your ailments (mental or physical) may be in need of more ceremonies than I did but I suppose take my advice, as always, with a grain of salt.

What are the benefits?

A good integration practice can really set you on the right path to keeping your habits for a long time but can also be very insightful as well. I find that I get just as much insight from a good meditation practice, if not more, than the original Ayahuasca ceremonies themselves.

I’m not saying meditation is a complete replacement for Ayahuasca but rather an amazing combination. While Ayahuasca opened up the door to spiritual practices for me it was meditation that kept it going in between ceremonies.

I should say that my ability to meditate is massively advanced by the Ayahuasca I drank. I think that it allowed me to advance along the meditation path much more speedily and deeply than without them. I also think that meditation and psychedelics do a very similar thing (in effect) although to largely different intensities.

How do you do it?

So, how does one integrate the lessons learned during Ayahuasca? This is both simple in description and complicated in practice so be aware that what I say below is harder to do than it may appear at first reading.

Start your integration before you drink Ayahuasca:

They key to integration is to start ASAP and continually improve. Ayahuasca is not a magic pill and neither is your integration period a finite period of time where you will be done.

That isn’t meant to be scary or demoralising but, instead give you fair warning to get prepared for integration early rather than later because the art of integrating is not a ‘one and done’.

On top of starting early I would also say that I bet you have a fairly good idea of at least one thing you should start to do more or or less of in order to reduce suffering in your life. Start there now and continue to improve on it even after your Ayahuasca ceremonies.

Learn to meditate (or chanting) before you drink Ayahuasca:

Meditation (or Vedic style chanting and mantras) is a key skill that will aid in your integration and is also something which you can’t become effective in overnight (usually). Start to develop a practice now and in preparation for Ayahuasca. So, how can it help?

Meditation aids your psychedelic experiences in 3 ways:

  1. Meditating before drinking Ayahuasca can help you to clarify your intentions for the ceremony by allowing us to start to develop awareness of our thoughts and patterns.
  2. Meditation by its nature helps us to lower our minds ‘grip’ it has on us. Developing this ability will allow you to go further into an Ayahuasca trip. Ayahuasca is trying to decrease your minds activity and so is meditation. Note: Dosage also matters but it’s easy to mis judge the amount of Ayahuasca to take to get you where you want to be (ie a sweet spot) vs a ‘hard to control experience’.
  3. Meditation when practiced after your psychedelic experiences will continue to act as a method to receive insight into your self and your life. So why not start now? It takes at least a few months to get good at it so there is no time to lose. I found this course on meditation to be an effective, free and structured approach to meditation. I soon completed it and continued to develop my own meditation practice revolving around Yin Yoga and Hindu style chanting.

Get ready and start to make the changes you think you need before you drink Ayahuasca:

Remember those changes that you thought you may need to make in order to improve the suffering you’re feeling or the enlightenment you are after?

Start to implement them now or plan to implement them. For example,

  • do you secretly know that your partner isn’t for you. Start to think about how you can separate from them?
  • Do you already know but have not been able to come to terms with the fact that you need to change your drinking habits?
  • Are you lost in life and don’t know where to head next?

All of these things and more can be started now and don’t require Ayahuasca. I’m not saying you don’t need to drink Ayahuasca – I’m saying Ayahuasca will only help fuel you in these tasks and that by starting now you have already made the battle less difficult. You will also find that in the afterglow of Ayahuasca your ability to complete tasks you used to struggle with is usually better.

Then drink Ayahuasca:

Use all your preparation and insights to create some intentions for yourself while in ceremony. Intentions are the ‘aims’ or ‘goals’ of your ceremonies which you want Ayahuasca to help you with.

By know you’ve meditated and started to think about practically implementing some of your lifestyle changes and so now Ayahuasca doesn’t need to tell you ‘quit drinking’ (as an example I used above) she can reinforce and help you further develop the patterns you need to continue on that path.

Then continue to make the changes you think you need to make, adjusting for you experiences, as you need to:

After Ayahuasca you will find that your ability to change is much improved as you take advantage of the ‘honeymoon phase’. This will act like a turbo charge to your efforts.

Keep meditating, keep making alterations based on your insights. If you fall off the wagon for a time, it’s ok. Be nice to yourself, and when you start to feel some passion again for the continuous improvement cycles then get back on the horse. Plateaus are normal – you can’t always be on an upward trajectory.

Here is some good advice on integration nuances and practices from 5th Dimension which are in a similar vein to what I’m saying also.

Then carry on with integration until you move onto the next thing in your life:

You may find that within a few years you may need to re-align your goals as you tick off the old ones. As you quite drinking, got fit and built a business you may be wondering – I’ve fixed all the issues which were holding me back – where to next?

This is where you meditation practice and all the other habits you built will guide you. At this point, you are no longer searching but rather you know how to navigate the world and make your own insightful and happy decisions. Life won’t be perfect and you will still suffer in some way most likely but, you will be more than well equipped to handle it. Something that used to be a complete meltdown moment and derail you for a few weeks, months or years will be something you handle in 30 minutes and still keep on track.

I hope you enjoyed that and I’m sorry if it took a ‘me’ turn as I wrote it. A lot of my own issues come through when I am writing and perhaps it skews things towards me and my particular situation. If that is the case then just remember to keep meditating – it will keep you in tune with you particular intuition and not mine:)

Another tip is that obviously for me writing is a significant way to understand one’s self. You could always add this to your integration also. Good Luck!

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