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Many guests ask how they can best prepare for a retreat including Ayahuasca. There is a plethora of information out there on this question, and much of it is conflicting. Traditionally, in the Shipibo community, when a member was to begin their shamanic training, they would enter into a very strict diet (no pork, no sex, no sugar, little salt, little social contact, at times only eating plantains and fish).

Many retreat centers encourage their participants to follow this diet from anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks before coming. This is an excellent preparation. In addition, Maestra Estela emphasizes that the most important thing is to be mentally and emotionally prepared and to have full faith in oneself, and the ability of both the plant medicines and Maestra to heal us and teach us to heal ourselves.
We leave it up to each guest to determine how they want to prepare, but these are Aya Madre's recommendations, based on Shipibo tradition, Maestra Estela's preferences, and basic safety requirements:


  • Refrain from eating pork for 2 weeks before arrival

  • For a few days or even a week leading up to the ceremony, begin to focus deeply on your internal energy and your bodies' needs. Listen to your body and eat and behave as feels appropriate and necessary for you to arrive in a calm, prepared state of mind. For many people this means cutting down on or cutting out processed and fried foods, sugar, red meat, excess salt, sexual activity, etc. This can also mean reducing TV, Netflix and smart phone use, and increasing time spent in contemplation, outdoors, etc. Do the best you can.

  • Maestra Estela recommends that in preparation guests begin to change their relationship with food, and see each act of eating as a connection with the food, a way of relating to your food with gratitude and connection. And above all, to see one’s food as medicine.

  • Lastly, it is a good idea to refrain from any master plant or intensive herbal treatments in the week or two leading up to your stay. Ayahuasca has a reputation as being a jealous plant, and having too many herbs in your system competing for treatment can be counterproductive.

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