If you are reading this, it means you are considering an Ayahuasca retreat in Peru. And for that I wish to congratulate you, as herein lies one of the most powerful, life-changing events we, as humans, could ever hope to experience. Whether our struggle be with substance abuse or addiction, varying degrees of depression no amount of therapy could fix, loss or grief we cannot move past, or simply the calling to expand our consciousness. Without a measure of doubt, you will never be the same after drinking Ayahuasca.

The reasons a person chooses to drink Ayahuasca are vast, as we are all unique individuals with our own backstory. Thus, one doesn’t have to be “messed up” and in need of great healing to partake in Ayahuasca, though that is sometimes the case. We could be a happy, content human being who’s never had any trauma, afflictions or heartache. Or we might be at our wit’s end, with no or little hope at ever finding or regaining a happy life. What unifies each seeker, however, is a yearning for change and self-discovery. A desire to grow on an emotional and spiritual level so we can better understand our place in this crazy world, in the hopes we can finally see ourselves in a much higher light. That’s what I wanted, anyway. And Ayahuasca will give us whatever it is we are intending to find, be it healing, letting go of whatever needs letting go of, or just to experience it for the sake of experience. It is a journey that has no end, and knows no bounds.

When I told my family I was going to spend a month in the rainforest drinking Ayahuasca, the first response I got was fear. Their fear. The dangers and the horrors of what could, and has gone terribly wrong! I could die!  Didn’t I care? Ayahuasca is a drug, for god’s sake, and drugs are bad unless approved by the FDA! Etc. and so forth came the woes of their utter dismay, and paranoid assumptions. Do yourself a favor, fellow seekers, and ignore the naysayers. Better yet, if up against such cynics, keep your personal journey to yourself. Because first and foremost, this adventure is all about you! Follow your heart and educate yourself by taking the time to do some research. The rest will fall naturally into place.

For those who are unclear, Ayahuasca is a medicine, not a drug, and has been used by the indigenous people of the Amazon region for thousands of years. It is a brew made by boiling the leaves of the plant Psychotria viridis, together with a vine called Banisteriopsis caapi. The end result is an extremely potent tea containing a psychedelic chemical compound known as DMT, which is structurally similar to serotonin, and also occurs endogenously in the human brain before birth, while we dream, and upon death. But what does that even mean? If DMT is released during dream states, that’s an enormous complexity of any and everything is possible, right? Right. Therefore one cannot adequately explain the infinite types of experiences one can, and will have, under the influence of Ayahuasca. You must discover it for yourself.

Having made the decision to ingest the Vine of the Soul, as Ayahuasca is often referred, I began my research. This came in the form of YouTube, where I spent five hours watching one testimonial after another, which led me to various articles online, which led me to find the right retreat center for me.

Ayahuasca is a consciousness unto itself, the most sacred of plants, and deserving the utmost respect. So if you’re going down this road, I highly advise you to find a retreat center that is long-standing, whose reputation is outstanding, and who only employ shamans of the same caliber. Don’t just pull a retreat out of a hat.  If you required surgery, wouldn’t you want the most qualified surgeons? Indeed you would. After all, your very life is in their hands.

This is no different.