I’m not a shaman or curandera, but rather a dedicated student and advocate for the healing properties of ayahuasca. For those unfamiliar, ayahuasca (also referred to as ‘Grandmother’) is a tea made from the Amazonian vine known as Banisteriopsis caapi. This sacred drink has been administered by shamans in ceremonies for centuries, and has become increasingly prevalent in the US as more people have become aware of its capacity to initiate profound healing.

I was first called to sit with Grandmother in October of 2015, and had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had been on a healing journey since 2009, when I lost my brother tragically and unexpectedly, and was hoping the experience might help me get to the deeper layers of that grief… and it did.

The medicine moved memories through me and healed me in a way that I’ve never experienced through traditional therapy modalities.

I wept. I shook with grief. I threw up. I cried some more. And I never once wished to leave.

I knew that the spectrum of emotions I was experiencing were clearing through deep, unseen parts of my soul. Ancient layers, released.

The past three years studying and working with this medicine have woken me up to my divine wholeness, and I hope that these suggestions on how to prepare for your first ceremony might eventually lead you to this place as well…

Intention —

Set and cultivate a specific intention. Let the reason you feel led to a ceremony guide you to your intention. Perhaps you need to get over your ex, or you want clarity on where to go next with your career. Whatever your reason, be clear and cultivate it leading up to your experience.

Diet —

Follow the dietary guidelines. For the week leading up to your ceremony it’s super important to cut out alcohol, red meat, coffee, and salt. Your experience will be much more meaningful the more you adhere to these guidelines. It’s all about connecting to your body in a new way.

Mindful breath —

If you don’t already have a meditation practice, consider downloading some of Tara Brach’s guided meditations where she’ll teach you all about what it means to connect your mind to your breath. The more connected you are to your breath leading up to a ceremony, the more anchored you’ll be during it.

Something sacred —

Bring along at least one sacred grounding object. Whatever you choose, bring something that is meaningful for you and that can keep you grounded during those more intense moments.

No expectations —

I’ve brought many friends, former coworkers, boyfriends of coworkers, ex boyfriends, and even mentors into the medicine. They have all thanked me for imploring them to tune out the inevitable noise of other people’s journeys as you settle onto your mat. The most important journey is your own, and if you read too much or listen too intently to other people’s stories it will get in the way of your experience. Stay connected to your intention, release your expectations, and you’ll have a beautiful ceremony.

Sitting with ayahuasca is a serious commitment. The moment you say ‘yes’ to working with ayahuasca, you are entering into a relationship with Grandmother, and this necessitates honesty about where you are with your health and in your personhood. With this, you must disclose any and all medical conditions, including medications to your shaman. This is for your safety and for the sacred cohesion of the group. Additionally, you should always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding ayahuasca. This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Jasmin Jenkins is a plant medicine advocate and intuitive connector based in Los Angeles. She was most recently the Head of Partnerships at THINX, and is currently consulting with mission driven startups.

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