An Ayahuasca retreat is a deeply transformative and spiritual experience that people undergo in search of self-awareness, healing, and insight. Originating among the communities living in the Amazon Rainforest, the Ayahuasca brew, a concoction made from the local plants, has been consumed for centuries by indigenous tribes for ceremonial and medicinal purposes. However, nowadays, you can attend an Ayahuasca retreat in Europe and many other places around the world. If you’re contemplating this experience, here’s a detailed guide on what to expect during your first retreat.

Setting And Surroundings

Ayahuasca retreats are typically set away from the hustle and bustle of urban life - this typically means natural, secluded settings, often surrounded by forests and greenery. The nature provides a tranquil and peaceful atmosphere with no distractions, which makes it the perfect setting for a self-discovery journey.

Dietary And Physical Preparations

Before partaking in the Ayahuasca ceremony, participants are often encouraged to have a special diet for a couple of weeks. This typically means avoiding processed foods, spicy meals, too much caffeine and dairy. Some retreats also advise against consuming alcohol or certain drugs and medications before the ceremony. This is essentially done to prevent unwanted reactions when the Ayahuasca is consumed.

The Ceremony

The ceremony itself usually takes place after nightfall, guided by experienced shamans. Participants sit in a circle, each receiving a dose of the Ayahuasca brew. It's crucial to set the ambience right before partaking, as it can shape your whole experience. After consumption, it might take up to an hour or so to start experiencing the effects. During this period, various rituals could take place, such as traditional singing.

The Experience

Each person experiences Ayahuasca individually, but the journey will overall last anywhere between 4 and 8 hours. Some people experience visions and patterns, while others report vivid memories or spiritual encounters. The emotions can range between excavating bliss to intense fear, depending on what kind of spiritual experience the person is going through. Most participants come out of it with profound spiritual understanding or even healed trauma.

It's also worth noting that Ayahuasca often induces physical purging, which could manifest as vomiting or diarrhea. While this might sound distressing, it's traditionally viewed as a necessary detoxification process in order to cleanse not just mentally, but physically too. This is an experience that pushes you out of your comfort zone, encouraging you to be open-minded to the process and see what it brings you.

Other Activities

During your retreat, you will be participating in the Ayahuasca ceremony a couple of times, while the rest of your time there will be filled with other spiritual activities. Typically, the participants get involved in various traditional ceremonies, meditation, yoga, healing massages, breath work sessions, integration workshops, and more. All of these activities are there to help you further reflect on your experience and teach you to take care of your mind and body. It is a safe space, where the participants support each other in their self-discovery journeys, while the experienced hosts guide them through the various practices.

What Else Should You Know About Ayahuasca Retreats?

An Ayahuasca retreat is not just a unique experience; it’s a profound spiritual journey, which helps many participants heal past traumas or even find a new sense of purpose. So, if you are looking to embark on a personal discovery journey with Ayahuasca, make sure to do so with an open mind and heart.


Featured image: (C) Darius Bashar @dariusbashar