Has ayahuasca been chasing you for a while and you hear the name every now and then? Does it arouse curiosity, fear or joy in you – or even all of them together?
Then it’s time for you to find a retreat center for your first ayahuasca ceremony. There are countless offers for ayahuasca ceremonies on the internet. It is hard to find the right retreat center where you feel good and safe.
So far I have got to know three ayahuasca retreat centers and could gain some experience. In this article I will describe the eight points that I pay attention to when planning my next stay in a retreat center.
Where is the location of Ayahuasca Retreat Center?
It seems to be a trivial question, but nevertheless it is important. Would you rather go to the sea, to the jungles of South America or to the mountains?
I was in Costa Rica by the sea, in Peru in the Andes. While it was very quiet in the Andes in the so-called Sacred Valley, it is loud in Costa Rica. You always hear insects or animals, sometimes there are violent thunderstorms.
It is simply a different atmosphere. Both is good, I enjoyed both. Since I love the sea, my next stay – if possible – will be again at the water.
I would not make my decision depending on it, but if I had the choice…
Choose the place where you feel comfortable. Where would you be drawn to if you had a free choice?
What is the maximum number of participants per ceremony?
My first Ayahuasca retreat was at Rythmia in Costa Rica with 80 other participants. In Peru at El Camino Sagrado we were only six participants.
A world of difference!
For me today individual care is more important than anything else. I think it is ideal if a maximum of 20 participants per ceremony are allowed. But I would always prefer smaller groups.
In Rythmia the energy of the 80 participants was too intense for me. I had no experience with psychedelic plants and was completely overwhelmed. This was much more pleasant in the small group in Peru.
Nevertheless I have to say that I learned important things for me in Rythmia as well as in El Camino Sagrado and was able to transform some things.
How many helpers are there in the Ayahuasca ceremonies?
Just as important as the size of the group is the number of helpers.
They are there to accompany you to the toilet during the ceremony or to support you when you need something.
The helpers play an important role and give you security. In the best case, even under the influence of ayahuasca, you know that there is always someone within reach who can help you.
One helper for every four participants is a good size to orient yourself by.
Are they experienced shamans?
In one of the ayahuasca ceremonies, ayahuasca showed me what incredible work a shaman does when he moves energies and thus changes the mood among the participants. It was magical for me to observe this.
Since then I have enormous respect for this work.
At the same time I have an idea what it can mean when a shaman leads the Ayahuasca ceremony who has hardly any experience.
So always read carefully what the providers write about their shamans.
- How long have they been working with the plant?
- What experience do they have?
- From whom did they learn?
Support during the retreat
Many ayahuasca retreats include three or more ceremonies and last at least a week. During this time there is a lot to process, often there is a need to talk.
In certain situations it may not be enough for you to communicate with the other participants. In these cases it is helpful if the retreat leaders or helpers are there to catch you.
What does the accommodation look like?
Here the opinions of the providers are completely different. Some providers deliberately use shared rooms so that nobody is alone and there is always someone to talk to. Others emphasize that they offer single rooms in order to have space for themselves and that the inner work can also take place outside of the ceremonies.
I am introverted and need a lot of time for myself. Sharing a room with a stranger for a week was unimaginable for me until now. In the Ayahuasca Retreat, however, it has always been just right for me!
So feel free to get involved in something new for once.
Testimonials on YouTube
Before I decided on the first ayahuasca retreat, I watched an endless number of videos on YouTube, in which participants tell about their experiences.
I recommend this to you too!
If you have found a retreat center that is interesting, search YouTube for example for “Ayahuasca + Names of the Center”.
This search has helped me enormously in making my decision for or against a retreat center.
Ayahuasca: The preparations / aftercare
The retreat center websites should give you detailed information about what takes place before and after the retreat.
- Are there any contraindications?
- How do you feed yourself before the ayahuasca ceremony?
- Can you do other things to get the most out of the retreat?
- Is there a questionnaire about your experiences and health condition?
- Do you even have an individual conversation via Skype or zoom to find out if ayahuasca is right for you?
- What happens after the ayahuasca retreat? Are there opportunities for exchange or conversation if you have questions?
Trust your feeling
If you have a strange feeling at a retreat center, trust it and find another one.
This does not have to mean that this ayahuasca center is generally bad, maybe it is just not suitable for you.