In the Ayahuasca and plant medicine world, "integration" is a buzzword used to describe many different topics. In short, we use the term to refer to the process of taking in and making an essential part of oneself the experiences and insights of the work with the plants. More often than not it refers to the insights during Plant Medicine ceremonies, which can be so deeply beyond words and hard to relate to every day life. But what does integration actually look like?
Maestra Estela's approach to integration is unique in that integration begins every day during your retreat. Because of her dedication to guests' dietas and her persistent focus on medicinal plants other than Ayahuasca, the transformational process takes place even when guests are not in ceremony. Estela encourages all guests to work deeply with their dieta plants, before, during and after taking Ayahuasca. In this way "integration" happens automatically: the guest makes deep connections with a number of different master plants which will maintain, secure, and protect the insights of ceremonies and during periods of plant dietas.
But many patients feel so deeply impacted by the ceremonies, and don't want the insights and healing to drift away. So what's the best way to stay connected, alive, and engaged? Here are some recommendations, based on Estela's wisdom and those of the Aya Madre staff:
• For one week following the end of your retreat, be very careful with foods such as chocolate, coffee, red meat, spices, dairy and oil. Tread lightly and take small amounts to test how your body reacts. Little salt and sugar is permitted. Ice cream, alcohol, sex (including masturbation), chili peppers, street drugs, pharmaceuticals, and other psychoactive plants should be completely avoided for a minimum of one week.
• For 6 months, avoid all pork products.
• Consciously nurture the seeds of the medicine that have been planted within you. Like a plant, allow this sapling to speak to you through dreams, intuition, visualization. Let it guide you, it is the force of pure life.
• Make space in your life to connect with the energy of life: through creating sacred spaces, ceremonies, prayer, spiritual practice, etc.
• Use practices to calm and quiet your mind, like meditation, yoga, conscious exercise, etc.
• Connect with plants and nature.
• Allow the medicine to change your life.
• Seek spaces, people, jobs and other things that feed your soul and resonate with your energy.
• Lastly, be very careful about when, where and how you engage with master plants (especially Ayahuasca) after you leave Aya Madre. These plants open us and our energetic bodies in powerful ways, and if we are not in a safe and protected space we can be especially vulnerable to "losing" our dieta that we've done at Aya Madre. Maestra Estela is always happy to explain this unique phenomenon, and guests find their last days are perfect to sit with Estela and go over these questions.