Post-Ayahuasca Integration: How to Avoid Slipping into Old Patterns

Here's some good practices to incorporate into daily life after working with the sacred medicine of ayahuasca

So you’ve traveled to the other side of the world to experience an Ayahuasca ceremony. You had such eye-opening encounters with the medicine, and you were filled with inspiration and insight.

Suddenly you’re back home and everything once again seems a little regular. You try to implement your newfound insights and ideas, but the grind of reality kicks back in.

Your old lifestyle no longer provides fulfillment as you feel you have outgrown the pot you live in. All you want to do is jump back on the plane, but you can’t. You have responsibilities, bills to pay, and perhaps a job or dependents.

So how can you find that balance, integrate the medicine, and apply it to your new reality, but juggle the reality of your life situation?

This is where the real work begins.

You’ve learned the theory, now it’s time to put it into practice. This is why post-Ayahuasca integration is important: To learn how to apply what you’ve learned to the real world, and to incorporate those insights into your daily life.

As someone who has helped hundreds of people work through their processes with ancestral medicines, I’m going to give you some advice to make sure you gain the full benefits from your Ayahuasca experience.

Following these guidelines will help you to integrate the teachings of your Ayahuasca journey, incorporate what you’ve learned, and prevent you from slipping back into old patterns.

The impact of Ayahuasca

Cooking ayahuasca

Ayahuasca is a consciousness-enhancing spirit that plays a big role in healing, personal growth, and self-realization.

As with many plant medicines, the experience of Ayahuasca can be very intense as it opens you up to different dimensions of consciousness that we typically can’t perceive.

Ayahuasca is renowned for rewiring people’s emotional ecosystems, belief systems, mindsets, and perceptions. In the days or weeks following an ayahuasca ceremony, people often feel ungrounded as deep levels of transformation are underway.

There appears to be a transition period which can be disillusioning.

Having sat with Ayahuasca twenty times and supporting hundreds of people throughout their medicine journeys, I now recognize the importance of ayahuasca integration, especially for people who are returning to less-than-ideal situations.

Even though the transformations that occur are overwhelmingly positive; given the person takes this experience seriously and is ready to do some serious healing, it can be a disorienting journey following a medicine journey.

This is why integration work is necessary. Following a ceremony, ayahuasca integration is the process of:

  • Grounding and regulating oneself
  • Incorporating insights and information into daily life
  • Working through the process of personal transformation and change

Learning how to integrate the experience of Ayahuasca is a big part of the process as your ability to integrate the information received impacts how this experience unfolds into your future.

The experience of Ayahuasca is completely different for every person and every ceremony, it’s not a one-size-fits-all medicine, not at all.

The medicine shows you certain things about your life that you need to work on. Often, you receive insights and inspiration for what changes need to be made, and how to implement them.

However, sometimes it’s not so clear. Some experiences appear to have no inherent meaning. They can leave you confused, or perhaps frustrated. Then there are the destroyer experiences that can turn people on their heads, causing long-lasting confusion and disorientation following the ceremony.

Whatever you’re shown, there are usually commonalities after the experience that people who take ancestral medicine connect over. Below are some of the common themes and challenges that people face post-Ayahuasca.

  • The feeling of not belonging to the life you had before taking Ayahuasca
  • The desire to make big changes in your life, whether it’s related to your work, relationships, environment, or lifestyle
  • The draw to organize your life, clean yourself up, and get your shit together
  • General disorientation and disillusionment due to changes in perspective and belief systems
  • Living more authentically with oneself
  • An urge to develop yourself spiritually and pursue spiritual growth
  • You feel like there have been major internal transformations, but you’re uncertain about what to do now
  • Fear about enacting upon what you have learned, questioning its validity, or feeling uneasy about taking a leap of faith
  • The need to connect with like-minded people who understand the process and are supportive

Is Ayahuasca integration work necessary?

Ayahuasca integration

The Ayahuasca ceremony is just one part of the experience.

If your mind is a garden bed, Ayahuasca pulls out the weeds and sows seeds. In the early stages, this garden bed is fragile as it takes time for those seeds to grow (and stabilize the ecosystem). As the garden bed is most vulnerable after it has been renovated, it’s important to protect it so that everything grows, and it is well maintained.

In other words, the medicine may show you a path to walk, but it’s your responsibility to walk it. We all have free will, and sometimes, people fall back into old patterns because they don’t stay on the path that was illuminated for them.

The medicine facilitates mental, emotional, and spiritual processes that need to be tended to for months to come. Therefore, it’s important to integrate all the work you have done during the ceremony to make sure you don’t slip back into old patterns, and steer the transformation process in a positive direction.

Post-Ayahausca integration work encourages the transformative process and allows you to receive the full benefits of the medicine in the years to come. If you have a lot of fresh insights to assimilate, you’re unlikely to gain the full benefits of the medicine if you don’t integrate them.

The amount of integration work required depends on the individual, the intensity of their experiences, and how well they understand the medicine.

If you had a particularly challenging experience with Ayahuasca, integration is especially important to make sense of your experience and to create space for deep levels of healing. If you’re feeling ungrounded after an Ayahuasca ceremony, integration work provides stability and helps you rediscover a new sense of belonging.

Regardless, everyone should do some sort of integration as integration is an essential part of the transformation process that Ayahuasca facilitates, but that process looks different for everyone.

For some people, integration could be spending a lot of time in nature and reflecting on what they learned during the ceremony. For others, it’s more of an act where they will have specific practices and a strict routine to implement following a ceremony.

The ceremony may have finished, but the ceremony of life has just begun. If you perceive your transformation as a gradual unfurling following a ceremony, integration is the act of encouraging this process of transformation for years to come.

Integrating insights and new understandings

Ayahuasca ceremony

Ayahuasca shows you what you need to do, but it’s your responsibility to do it. If you have been shown some big changes that you need to make in your life but refuse to act upon this insight, your life situation probably isn’t going to change a whole lot. You may gain insights into new habits that will help you, and things that you need to do to improve your life. But you need to do it because the medicine can’t do it for you.

For example, if you were shown that you need to take a leap of faith and end a toxic relationship, or a job that you’re comfortable in, but stagnant, you need to do these things. It doesn’t need to be a drastic decision that puts you in a bad situation. You can be calculated and sensible about it, but make sure it happens.

Likewise, perhaps you were shown that you need to stop drinking, that you need to get your shit together, or perhaps you need to stop trying to have so much control as it is causing you pain. Even though it can be difficult or scary, it’s important to trust those messages and do what you know you need to do. Those insights won’t lead you astray.

The importance of the self-reflection process

Self-reflection is a core part of the Ayahuasca journey, as the insights often take time to settle in.

Reflecting on your experiences regularly helps you incorporate those insights into your daily life. Likewise, reflecting on who you are, and what you can do to heal/better yourself encourages the growth process that Ayahuasca leverages.

Introspection after an Ayahuasca ceremony allows you to deepen your sense of self, and continue doing the inner work. Clarity tends to surface when you’re sitting with an experience and processing it. Not when you’re watching TV, catching up with friends, or stimulating yourself. Practices such as regular meditation and going for walks in nature are highly beneficial here.

The intention of self-reflection is to reduce stimulus and sit with the thoughts and emotions that you’re experiencing. It’s good to give yourself space and not rush the experience. 

Your life can be a confusing haze for a while following work with the ancestral medicine, but the more you dig into those thoughts, concepts, and beliefs that have been illuminated during the ceremony, the more you will consolidate realizations and understand what you need to do moving forward.

Nurture your growth by practicing self-care

Show yourself care after working with Ayahuasca.

The medicine can take a toll on your mind and body, so it’s important to give yourself proper consideration, give yourself plenty of rest, and do things that nourish you. Nurture your mental and emotional health during this time, and it’s going to get you far.

Self-care is a staple for Ayahuasca integration, as when you stop looking after yourself, everything else tends to go out the window too. If you’re forcing yourself back into work too quickly, to be too productive, or to do things that don’t feed your soul, this can undo some of the work you’ve done.

Therefore, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and treat yourself with kindness and self-respect. Show yourself compassion during this transformation process, and be easy on yourself. Acknowledge the needs and desires of your body to make sure it’s receiving the love and care it needs to be in optimal health.

The importance of grounding yourself

Some people become extremely ungrounded after working with Ayahuasca.

After all, Ayahuasca is a very powerful medicine. It can shake your life up like a snow globe, and the aftermath can be disorienting. As Ayahuasca often facilitates a lot of changes on an emotional and mental level, it’s important to find your footing and bring yourself back to reality.

This is why you need to make a habit of grounding yourself so you can still recreate yourself, but you’re not unhinged from reality. In extreme cases, people can become increasingly disconnected from reality, and forget to look after themselves. Grounding is really about cultivating a connection to Mother Earth.

To ground yourself, it’s important to make sure you’re down to Earth and not too caught in the ethereal.

Ayahuasca often amplifies the connection to spirit, but remember to root yourself into the here and now, so you get the best of both worlds. Below is a guide on learning how to be more grounded. I suggest you give it a read if you are experiencing this issue.

Encourage your identity to shift to better ideals

How you identify with life sets the tone for your life experience.

Ayahuasca has a powerful ability to unroot your sense of identity, where you can see yourself, your life, and your reality in a different light. After making this perceptual pivot, you might not resonate with the same things anymore. You might have different beliefs and perspectives, or you might be curious about different things.

So embrace those changes and don’t resist them. Allow yourself to shift without feeling the need to revert to who you were, just because it’s familiar. Feeling a little lost is part of the process of finding your authentic self, and you’re not going to find your authentic self if you fall back into the superficial identity that you were trying to get away from in the first place, just because it’s the easier option.

Therefore, allow your identity to morph as you find your footing with a different view of your life.

Don’t chase the same pastimes or activities that didn’t provide much joy in the first place. Now is the time to really activate the changes that you see in yourself, and walk a new path that you’re not familiar with.

Keeping the momentum

Woman thinking

Part of the post-Ayahuasca integration process is to make sure you don’t go back to your old ways. This is why you need to maintain the changes that have been made via the medicine until they become an incorporated part of who you are.

To make sure you do maintain the changes that have been induced, you need to develop your new habits and perceptions, and encourage them to be a part of your life.

Maintaining the new features of your consciousness might come in the form of continuous learning, personal growth practices, and nourishing yourself spiritually via connections, modalities, and other ceremonies. Below are some suggestions to help you maintain the changes that you have made with Ayahuasca.

Don't slip back into old patterns

Just say you’re a heavy drinker, and during your Ayahuasca ceremony, it killed the buzz. You purged a lot, you were shown the error of your ways, and that you’re using alcohol as a form of escapism from the deeper unfulfillment you have from your present lifestyle.

After the Ayahuasca ceremony, you feel clean. You don’t really feel like drinking again, you were shown that you need to stop, and drinking is just going to sabotage the process, but in the back of your head you’re thinking ‘I could probably have a few drinks again for old times sake‘.

This thought can be a slippery slope. I know many people who have fallen back into drug addiction and drinking because they fell into this little urge. Especially if there is some form of pressure, like going out with your friends and they’re encouraging you, or being in a social situation where you usually use alcohol as a crutch, you need to fight the urge to go back.

Intuitively, you know what is good for you. You will know whether it’s a bad idea to fall back into an old habit. That’s because it takes discipline. This applies to going back to toxic relationships, self-sabotage, and making certain decisions or behaviors. You need to discipline yourself and know what you really should avoid, as it’s going to send you spiraling back down into the life you took Ayahuasca to get out of.

Reinforce your intentions

Likely, you took Ayahuasca looking to get something out of it, otherwise, you wouldn’t have taken it in the first place. In that sense, you probably had intentions when you took the medicine, so make sure you don’t lose sight of those intentions just because the ceremony has ended.

Intentions are powerful as they’re like a compass. If you had a deep experience with Ayahuasca, chances are you probably gained some good insight, and you know what you need to do. But sometimes we get caught up with life. We forget that we need to hold those intentions close, look at them daily, and remember what we’re aiming for.

Every time you begin to stray off track, remind yourself what you’re doing it all for. If you start feeling discouraged, or like you’re going back to who you were, think about your intentions. This is going to keep you motivated and remind you of the bigger picture.

Be consistent with your efforts

Make sure that you are consistent in your efforts to change yourself. If you only keep up the habits for a few weeks after your session with Ayahuasca, sooner or later, you’re going to revert to old patterns. That’s why you need to make sure you’re consistently working on them.

It takes around 60 days to form a new habit. That habit will only be consolidated if you’re constantly reinforcing that certain behavior, thought, mentality, and so forth. So don’t lose interest after a matter of days or weeks. Keep at it and remind yourself why you’re doing it. Exercise discipline, and leverage your intention to make your new habits stick.

Readapting to society

Spiritual awakening

For many people, one of the hardest parts of the Ayahuasca journey is re-adapting to society. You may have had some mystical experiences and profound realizations that change the way you see everything, but before you know it, you’re back home and everything is exactly how it was.

This transition is often described as the most difficult part of the process. It’s easy to be zen in the wilderness with like-minded people and plenty of medicine to drink, but a little harder when all those comforts are stripped away.

This is where the real work starts as you’re once again on your own, and need to start putting what you’ve learned to practice. Here we’re going to discuss the social aspect of returning home, and why you need to make sure you’re around the right people.

Leaving toxic relationships

If there’s one thing I’ve seen a lot, it’s that returning to toxic relationships can really mess up the entire process of integration, and undo all the work that you did with Ayahuasca. Whether this relationship comes in the form of friends, family, or a partner, you need to do your best to get out of that situation and to find people who are good for you.

This can be tricky at times. Maybe you’re moving back in with your parents, and they’re deeply stuck in their ways. Perhaps your friends are unconscious, and there’s nobody else to spend time with. They have no interest in bettering themselves or mutually supporting one another on their growth journeys. You’re just with them because you have nobody else.

Maybe you have outgrown your partner, and they have no intention of catching up. Whatever it is, bad influences can do a lot of damage. It’s easy to fall back into old patterns and become self-destructive if you’re around people who are no good for you. So start planning your way out of that situation, and follow through with it. This can be difficult, especially if you have been in that situation for a long time, but again… you know what you need to do.

Surround yourself with positive influences

As we’ve already looked at the damage that negative influences can have on your integration process (and life in general), you need to have people in your life who are there to support you and help you. They don’t necessarily need to understand what you are going through, but they should have your well-being at heart, and support you during this transitory time of your life.

Being around good people makes such a big difference. Look for people who live with their hearts, who are compassionate, and caring, and who share the same values that you do. Mutual beneficial relationships are the way to go, as once everyone is there for one another, the growth process is accelerated, and it makes it easier not to fall back into old patterns or temptations.

Finding like-minded community

As with surrounding yourself with the right influences, it’s good to find community and to seek out your tribe. The post-Ayahuasca integration process can be an alienating experience because often we don’t feel like we belong anymore. That’s why it’s important to find a new sense of community that can understand you, support your growth, and help you through difficult times.

This sense of community will look different for every person. I would suggest utilizing social media and different event groups to see what’s around and what you can check out. Go to medicine circles and see if you can find any like-minded people in spiritual communities. Try joining sharing circles and self-help events. Check out small self-sustainable communities and see if there’s a place for you. Go to places that you think like-minded people will be at, and start networking.

Modalities for integration

After working with ancestral medicines, it’s a good idea to start practices that help you connect with yourself.

As the process of transformation can be disorienting at times, consistent practices can be a great way to ground yourself, process the experience, and contribute to your continued growth. Below are some practices I would recommend.

  • Creative expression: Finding some sort of creative outlet is a great way to process the experience. This could take the form of writing, making music, dancing, or art.
  • Meditative disciplines: As a big part of the integration process involves both reflection and grounding, kicking off the habit of regularly doing meditative practices can be beneficial. A meditative discipline is any act that cultivates mindfulness and brings you into the present moment. This could be a habit of meditating every day, doing yoga, practicing a martial art, playing a sport, or going for walks in nature.
  • Spiritual practice: A spiritual practice is just a way for you to connect more deeply with your soul nature, therefore it looks different for everyone. Whether it’s learning about different modalities, or connecting with different spiritually-centered communities, look for a spiritual pathway that feels good for you.
  • Journaling: As with any integration process, journaling is no exception when it comes to post-Ayahuasca integration. Journaling allows you to organize your internal processes via writing about your experiences. The act of journaling is a good way to make sense of your emotions.

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