The biggest mistake that people make.
By people i mean Shamans, facilitators and people who promote and guide medicine retreats – there is a lack of experienced, effective integration.
What i mean by this is that, for example, in Colombia, there’s a lot of different medicine houses.
These are created by people who feel very connected to their work with plant medicine, they want to extend the opportunity for others to participate.
So, maybe they buy a cottage, a large land, then they invite a Shaman that they trust to come and give medicine in their place.
On top of this, there’s also the temples in the jungle, some temples in the mountains where the Shamans have created their own consecrated places to get medicine.
Something that i realized that was quite common was two things:
- There were people that have this as their lifestyle in the same way that someone goes to church every sunday.
There are people who drink medicine every 2-3 weeks, a few times per month, part of their spiritual journey is part of their process of growth.
I’d run into the same person, same groups of people in different medicine houses or in the place that i work in, near Medellin, and the first thing that will happen is:
I would see someone struggling with the exact same thing i saw them struggling with 2-3 years ago.
I would see someone still stuck in the same toxic cycle.
We see people that were sometimes very close to the Shaman still dealing with a lot of very simple stuff, i was shocked.
Because if they’re drinking so much medicine, how can they not experience a profound change and shift in their life?
So, good question, is this as good as i imagined it to be? Because for me it was a profound shift, unlike what i saw on other people.
Why are they the same, what did they drink?
I would realize that since i started this channel and the page on Instagram, i had a lot of requests from people that had drank plant medicine in a different retreat center.
They were now struggling with integrating what they lived, quite often, they messaged me after they had been ignored by the Shamans and facilitators from the place they attended.
- There were two types of people:
People who had such a beautiful, magical and mystical experiences that they came back and were lost: “Okay, where do i go from here? What do i make out of my life right now?“
Some people that had very beautiful and profound experiences, but were struggling to put words to them and more than that, to know how they can live now that they have seen and understood certain things.
- On the other hand, there were some people that had quite the opposite, they had very rough experiences, borderline traumatic.
Where they just vomited themselves, pooped their pants, screamed, lost their mind for a few hours, maybe went to a very dark place.
They were confronted with a lot of the evil, a lot of the darkness that is present in humanity, they came by feeling a little bit disencouraged.
“What’s the point of life if there’s so much chaos, so much pain.” Once again trying to find meaning within this.
I asked one of the Shamans about this, because at the beginning i offered an amazing house to support people with the preparation and integration process.
The guy that was in charge just dismissed my invitation, he said “No, no – it’s okay, we know how we do things.“
Ever since, i’ve had a lot of people message me, asking to support them integrating, from that very same, amazing house.
The biggest problem in most Ayahuasca retreat centers is that medicine is drawn within a context of community, which is the same context in which most people live.
Which in a way reduces the need for a guided integration process back in the jungle, the person that you were drinking medicine with on one side is your neighbor that you have an argument with.
On the other side maybe it was your son or your business partner, the mayor of the city.
You will go through profound experiences, blissful or challenging, then you would come back to nature, surrounded by a community that already understands what you went through.
In connection with the people with whom maybe you’ve had things to heal and conversations during those moments of ceremony.
There’s not a lot of work to be done in reintegrating yourself to the community because the medicine is part of the community.
It’s part of the day-to-day life.
An Integration process was almost unnecessary, why?
Because Integration happens in your day-to-day relationships, but it also happens during the retreat, because the people you’re in this retreat with are the people that you spend your life with.
However, now that the medicine has come closer to the cities and has also expanded internationally, i know there’s retreat centers almost everywhere.
It’s a bit more difficult because a lot of the participants are not part of a community, most of the time there’s a Shaman, his assistants and then everybody else who comes does not know anyone else that is attending.
Quite often because of the way that the retreats are set up, people that come do not have a chance to be in connection with the whole group, maybe just 1-2 people that they exchange contact information with.
So when they go back home they go back into, first, an environment that is rarely a natural one, two, a community that is rarely understanding and quite often disapproving of their experience with plant medicine.
Some people are luckier to be surrounded by people that are very supportive of their journey of growth, healing and reconnection to themselves.
But sometimes family and friends will judge, there’s a lot of judgements based on ignorance, which makes it harder.
Because you go back and have nobody to share your experience with, you’re going to a work setting where people are radically disconnected from themselves, from nature, from their hearts.
If you come back and you had a profound experience, your heart is fully open, then that’s gonna hurt, it’s gonna be more difficult to navigate your life with an open heart when everything around you is pulling you into closure.
This is the main mistake that is made in most retreat centers and medicine houses, even the ones in the jungle, led by reliable Shamans.
Integration is dismissed, ignored, there’s a blind assumption that you drank the medicine and that’s all that you need, it’s just an inner process, so you don’t need support of anybody else.
I’ve yet to see someone building a beautiful house without the help of at least one more person, is it possible? no doubt.
But way more challenging, because context trumps willpower 99% of the times.
If your community and the people that you’re surrounded yourself with are pulling you down, it’s going to take a lot of willpower for you to remain connected to the things that you live through with the plant medicine experience.
The opposite is also true, if you have very weak willpower but the community around you is holding you to a high standard, supporting you, calling you our on your nonsense.
If the people are inspiring and living lives of consciousness, even if you have weak willpower, by mere association you’re gonna end up raising.
You’re gonna end up having a higher standard for yourself. Integration is a way to create this context, a context in which there is guidance, support, community.
Sure, each of us is responsible for our own inner garden, but it’s a lot easier to tend to it when we have the help of others, especially experienced gardeners who have been where we have been.
Who have gone through beautiful, mystical experiences and also gone through hell and learned how to distill the goals from them.
More than a mental process, living lives where the lessons are embodied, impeccable lives of honesty, truth, health, inner peace, harmony in their relationships, wealth and abundance in their career, honesty in their connections, friendships and family.
I invite you to pay close attention if you’re thinking on drinking plant medicine or if you have drunk it before, to hopefully ensure that the place that you’re going into has some sort of guided integration process.
One that is not gonna just let you have an abrupt landing when you come home and deal with it by yourself.
If you feel the calling to sit with Ayahuasca, in a container held by Colombian shamans at a sacred temple in the middle of the mountain forests, please check: