This brief, but comprehensive guide may serve as a basic introduction for those who have received the call to practice with the mother of the teacher plants—Aya. The content of this guide is the result of observations made throughout a decade of drinking and sharing the Aya medicine. Undoubtedly, the contribution given by the larger Aya community has been of a significant help in the creation of this article. The number of factors that can affect one’s experience with Aya is enormous.
Still, for practical reasons, we can summarize them into two main elements:
–The physical condition, or the body, is what determines the reception of the Aya as a medicine of cleansing and healing potential. The state of one’s physical condition, then, must be ideal for participating in the ceremony.
–The psychological or spiritual condition, or the mind, helps to set the potential of the Aya medicine in motion. Even though we talk of body and mind as two parts, all parts make up the whole. Thus, they are mutually dependent and correlate in many ways. The below guidelines may help to empower and deepen the practice with this sacred Aya medicine. It is important, and equally effective, to read and consider them closely them both before and after the ceremonies.
**Reading these guidelines is also required before attending a Soul Quest retreat.**
Physical and Mental Preparation
The body is a vessel. All that is put in the body—all energy and thoughts that are consumed, all that is eaten, all physical activities we engage in—leave a trace in us. The body absorbs the elements from its surroundings, which affects us physically as well as energetically—mentally, psychologically, and spiritually, body and mind. If the body, the physical vessel in which you navigate reality, is also a part of the energetic system that receives and transmits energy. It’s part of the whole—of all of life. It absorbs, it filters. It can be clogged, blocked, and even saturated by what it consumes. Over time, the negative energy from these things builds up, and has an often great impact on our well-being. This is why it’s important for the body to be as clean as possible to facilitate the best energetic exchange with the environment.
That said, by doing better homework to prepare our minds and bodies before the Aya experience, we leave a more direct, less obstructed path for the Aya medicine to connect with us and do its work. Not everyone can do it perfectly, but you should make the best effort within your capacity to prepare. For the week before the ceremony, you should also refrain from sexual activity. Each of us has a reservoir of energy within ourselves, and it is this energy that protects, nurtures, and guides the plant medicines as they work. Sex, including any exchange of bodily fluids, is a powerful exchange that can deplete your reservoir of energy and thereby inhibit the effectiveness of the plant medicines in teaching you.
Aya Nutritional Diet
The recommended dieta, or diet, for Aya is one that is light and healthy, with minimum or zero products of animal origin. These are healthy dietary principles that follow guidelines from the native Peruvian Aya tradition, and they are especially important to cleanse the body before and after the Aya ceremony. Are there foods contraindicated with Aya? What is better to avoid? What is the best to eat before and after the Ayahuasca ceremony? The most important things to avoid in an Aya dieta are pork and alcohol. The basic guidelines and recommended lengths to alter your diet are as follows:
–NO red or heavy meats (pork, beef, sheep, tuna, eel) – One (1) week before and after
–NO strong alcohol, beer, wine – One (1) week before and after
–NO hot food such as chilies or red pepper – Two (2) days before
–NO fermented food (pickles, herring, anchovies, old cheese) – One (1) day before and after
–Moderate consumption of salt and sugar/honey – Three (3) days before and after
You CAN and SHOULD eat lots of:
–Fresh or cooked vegetables
–Legumes, beans, and peas
–Rice, buckwheat, oats, barley, or other cereals
–Fresh fruits and juices
–Olive oil or ghee instead of other cooking oils, and avoid fried food altogether
–Some fresh organic eggs, but not on the day of ceremony
The simplest diet is to eat light vegetarian food for three days before and after the Aya ceremony, with moderate to low levels of salt, sugar, and fat. Eating only raw food on the day of ceremony is most recommended.
What do I eat on the day of the Aya ceremony?
The best dieta for the day of the ceremony begins with a simple vegetarian breakfast, followed by a light vegetarian lunch. For some individual cases, a vegan diet or even fasting may be recommended. Avoid spicy foods like chili, as well as anything with caffeine (coffee, tea, soda). You should also avoid eggs, dairy, and heavy sweets. Drink water or herbal tea. We recommend that you do not eat after 3:00pm, or at least five hours prior to the session. You can drink, but only water or herbal tea. Some fruits are okay to have at the end of ceremony, if there is no nausea or dizziness. For persons having an unstable, problematic digestion, it is recommended that you exclude a few foods from your diet at least a week before the Aya ceremony. This includes avoiding all dairy, such as cheeses and products made from cream; you can, however, have yogurt and kefir). You should not eat white bread, products that are high in gluten or butter, and sugary carbohydrates like cakes and cookies. If you are not sure what to eat or about your digestion, the universal recommendation for diet prior to the Aya ceremony is to eat raw fruits and/or vegetables, and drink juices and water. This gives the body a very light feeling, and can help to decrease the heaviness of purging during the ceremony.
What should I do to prepare my mind and spirit for the ceremony?
While the body is a physical vessel of our experience, our mind is what largely determines the possibilities of what we can tap into during a ceremony. Whatever we call it—the mind, consciousness, or psyche—it defines our possibilities throughout life, and it will do the same during an Aya ceremony. Any concept or belief that we hold on to leads to the creation of thought patterns and behaviors that result in actions (or inactions). The mind is the ultimate filter of our reality, and its well-being nurtures a healthy spirit. Aya represents a guiding force that stands apart from any particular tradition or system of belief. It works to help us expand our boundaries and open our mind and senses to the unknown and unseen.
Through an Aya experience, we can break the limitations imposed on us by society, and narrow in on the center of what is truth. At the same time, however, the potential of an Aya experience is constrained by the mindset one brings into the ceremony. Aya is a “guide” showing us the possibilities, but ultimately we are the ones that help those possibilities manifest. This is why an Aya ceremony is most beneficial when approached with a humble heart, clear intentions, and an open mind. Having a clear intention for experiencing Aya is important if you wish to gain the depth and transformational power it can have. Prior to the ceremony, it is helpful to consider your intentions closely. Take some time to sit quietly and ask yourself some questions:
–What would you like to change in your life?
–Are there things burdening your mind or spirit that you would like to resolve?
–What do you want to clarify about yourself, your relationships, or your life’s path?
To take your experience even deeper, you should also know your motivation: What is really behind the changes you want to see? What are the patterns or underlying conditions that may be getting in the way of what you are trying to achieve? Our mind is a powerful tool for exploring reality, with its full potential sometimes hidden behind the layers and layers of decades-long conditioning, life struggle, and emotional buildup. But if you are armed with a strong intention and clear motivations, Aya can gradually help to reassemble your being as one of full integrity, personal empowerment, and spiritual freedom.