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Beginners are advised to keep their intention simple the first time.An example might be, “I want healing” or “I seek purification” or “I want guidance with the path forward in my life.” If you set your intention as something like, “I wish to clear up the relationship with my mother who makes me so angry sometimes because she keeps comparing me to my brother, and just because he excels academically I know he has a lot of issues she doesn’t know about…” or something like that, you just won’t be able to remember it when you’re in ayahuasca’s thrall. At different ceremonies you may encounter people who surround themselves with stuff: crystals, little vials of different healing potions, favorite objects, shoe options, etc. At a shamanic centre, a mattress will normally be provided and some pillows.
If you can’t find the red tape, always turn your flashlight on under your shirt. At a minimum all these things should be strictly avoided 48 hours before ceremony, but really two weeks is my rule. If there was ever a time in your life to get turned on to good vegetarian or vegan cuisine (ideally raw), this is the time. The first time I drank aya sexual abstinence was easy because I was between relationships; there was no one to disappoint by skipping the wild thing for a couple of weeks. The lists usually discourage or forbid red meat and pork, salt, hot spices, alcohol (that’s a big one), avocados and a few other items. If you research the “aya diet” you’ll encounter lists of what to eat and some of these differ.(Now you see why not a lot of young people in South America are apprentice shamans…) Anyway, I practiced abstinence and had powerful visions my first time. I imagine one of the most neglected areas of preparation among people traveling from busy industrial society to ayahuasca retreat centres is the simple act of paying attention, by which I mean noticing () your mood, what’s around you, nature, and so on. You don’t have to think of it in those terms, if you don’t care to.