Ayahuasca is becoming more and more popular around the world, but one aspect of these sacred ceremonies remains a mystery to many: why do we have to change what we eat, do, and think before our ceremony? There's a lot of conflicting information on the internet regarding the dieta. We understand why so many people seem confused. Here at Aya Madre, we strive to teach and communicate the Shipibo philosophy of dieta throughout your retreat and make sure you come prepared.
First and foremost, the Shipibo dieta is its own healing modality in and of itself, and differs from much of the information elsewhere on the internet regarding dietas. The Shipibo dieta is a crucial aspect of the entire Shipibo spiritual system, providing spiritual guides and allies to those who enter into this sacred process in the form of master plant spirits. In many ways, the dieta is more valued for personal growth than even the ingestion of Ayahuasca. For these reasons, the Shipibo dieta--also referred to as simply, dieting-- is a required aspect of all guests' retreats and comprises a large amount of the healing Maestra Estela provides. It can at times be difficult, but the majority of guests after committing to its process find enormous spiritual and personal growth.
So what exactly is the dieta? It's important to note that the Shipibo dieta is about the ingestion of master plants such as Piñon Colorado, Renaco, Sanango, Mapacho, Shiringa, Nihue Rao, etc... and not directly related to Ayahuasca ceremonies, or even food. Rather, individuals in the Shipibo culture choosing to undertake a dieta, just like all guests who come to Aya Madre, voluntarily choose to enter into an ascetic time of their life, abstaining from indulgences of taste, pleasure, and entertainment in order to devote all their energy to connecting with the spirits of the plants. This process is similar to other spiritual traditions such as fasting or extended meditation. Dieters enter into a spiritual process to clear the mind and body of any harmful energies and make space for the highly beneficial qualities that the master plants provide, such as Piñon Colorado's access to lucid dreaming, Renaco’s physical strength, or Abuta’s ability to heal infections.
The plants are not easy to connect with in our modern life, however, and for this reason the Shipibo dieta is purposefully austere. It excludes salt, oil, sugar, spices, red meat, pork, dairy, processed foods, sex, recreational drugs, and media entertainment among other acts of restriction. Don't worry, though: Your retreat is a temporary time in your life and Maestra Estela knows that every guest has the strength and courage to carry out what sometimes feels like a daunting task. By refusing your body and mind these common distractions, you are voluntarily allowing yourself to weaken on a materialistic level to make space on a spiritual level. In addition, for long term guests, Maestra Estela provides weeks of rest from the diet if she sees that they need it. Finally, if you you have a medical concern which would prevent you from complying fully with the dieta during your time here, please let us know beforehand so we can best plan your retreat and keep you safe.
But what about foods and chemicals that interact with Ayahuasca, isn't that part of the dieta too? It is most likely that the Western concept of dieta being only a way to avoid adverse reactions with Ayahuasca came from a lack of understanding of the Shipibo tradition, as well as the reality that the Western diet has many dangerous components that the Shipibo diet never had. Things like soy, citrus, processed chocolate, etc. would already be excluded in the dieta for the austerity reasons listed above, or simply not present in the environment in which the Shipibo performed their dietas. For that reason, the Shipibo dieta does not concern itself with interactions with Ayahuasca, but rest assured, we only provide natural foods which function perfectly safe with your ceremonies.
It is very important to understand and accept that the Shipibo dieta is a highly sacred form of healing, one which Maestra Estela has worked with for years and values dearly. There may be foods you have read online that are allowed when taking Ayahuasca, but which in fact Maestra Estela has found are distracting in the Shipibo dieta. Conversely, there may be foods that you have read are not good to take with Ayahuasca but which Maestra Estela has found acceptable. Guests accept to eat only the food provided knowing that any deviation from this dieta could ruin the hard work of healing the plants are doing inside your body, as well as be seen as a sign of disrespect for Shipibo traditions and Maestra Estela’s years of training.
Please ask us any other questions you have about the Shipibo dieta as we greatly enjoy educating guests on this topic prior to their retreat.