**2023 update – As of this year, Ayahuasca is illegal in Mexico. Please be aware that I did my ceremony before it became illegal. Although there are still ceremonies happening in Mexico, by participating in one, you are participating in an illegal activity. Because of this, I am no longer willing to pass on any contact details of Ayahuasca ceremonies in Mexico**
I recently did Ayahuasca in Mexico and I wanted to share my experience. I think this is probably one of the most difficult blog posts I’ve written (and one of the longest!). Firstly because it’s personal, and I don’t really write so many personal stories (I’m saving them for my next book haha). And secondly, doing ayahuasca in Mexico was probably one of the most intense experiences I’ve ever had, it’s layered, complicated, and fragmented, and I’m still processing what happened.
I’m not sure I’ll ever stop processing it if I’m honest.
I’m also very conscious of what I’m writing. I’m not sure it’s particularly helpful to share with you too many details of what I experienced. Because when doing Ayahuasca for the first time it’s better to leave your expectations behind, they will not serve you. Got with a purpose, yes. Expectation, no.
So here I am writing about my Ayahuasca Mexico experience, partly because I want to share it with you (that’s kinda my thing if you hadn’t already noticed) but also because in putting what I experienced down in words I hope it will help me process what happened, and give me something to re-read one day maybe when I’m feeling sentimental.
**Disclaimer I am no expert in Ayahuasca, I’m just a person who did it once, had a good experience, and is now writing about it. If you are thinking of doing Ayahuasca do your research, reading this blog is a good starting point.
If you are thinking of doing Ayahuasca in Mexico I have added the contact details of a Shaman I trust below. I have also listed some TV shows I’ve watched that I enjoyed and some books that I have read. All of these things I watched and read before I did the ceremony. I actually researched and waited for 3 years before doing the Ayahuasca ceremony.
More on that later…
Feel free to use the links below to skip sections if you don’t want to read the whole post!
What is Ayahuasca
I’m not going to go too much into this because you can easily find out the science of it in other places. But Ayahuasca is basically a tea made by boiling the leaves of the Psychotria Viridis shrub and the stalks of the Banisteriopsis Caapi vine together. It tastes nasty but could change your life.
I’m going super basic here:
Psychotria Viridis contains DMT (a powerful hallucinogenic chemical). Normally when you take DMT the enzymes in your stomach quickly break it down. So you can’t take DMT alone or your body will (very cleverly) break it down quickly and eliminate the poison (which is basically what it is). However, when you mix the DMT with Banisteriopsis Caapi it contains MAO inhibitors that stop the enzymes from breaking it down. Plus the Banisteriopsis Caapi also contains its own psychoactive effects it brings to the mix.
I would also strongly recommend reading this book if you are interested in learning more about the history of Ayahuasca.
Anyway, I’ll push on. The tea is/was used by ancient Amazonian tribes for religious and spiritual purposes. This is a subject too wide and deep to go into here, so I’ll leave it at that. Read some books on my reading list if you are interested (see below).
One thing I will say though is that they used Ayahuasca to communicate with La Abuela (the Grandmother)/ Mother Earth/ the plants/ nature whatever you choose to call her. Many, myself included, think of Ayahuasca as a feminine being/ spirit. It is then through the drinking of the plant medicine ayahuasca that you are able to communicate directly with her.
Why do people do Ayahuasca?
I can’t possibly even begin to answer this question fully. Every person that drinks the medicine does so for their own individual reasons. But I am going to make some personal observations and give my thoughts on why I think people are seeking out Ayahuasca ceremonies.
Modern life is amazing, technology is awesome. But we have developed so fast over such a short amount of time that although we may have gained a lot, we have lost a lot too. There are so many people who seem so lost. People’s mental health is suffering, which in turn affects their physical health.
We live in high-rise apartments far off the ground, we drive cars, wear shoes, sit on chairs off the ground and if you live in a country that isn’t warm all year round, you are probably spending a lot of time indoors. In general, we are disconnected from the earth, we are hurting, and she is hurting. Global warming is not a hoax. We have a problem. We have a disconnect.
I could talk about this stuff ALL DAY LONG my Degree and Masters research was in dance and it was all about this energetic connection to others and the earth, or lack thereof. Anyway, I digress.
There is an awakening in The West. I first noticed it in Guatemala, and I’ve been feeling and experiencing it ever since. We can see we have a problem. We know we want to do something about it, but maybe don’t quite know what. And then one day someone mentions doing plant medicine in Peru that helped them deal with their addictions. Or that they went to an Ayahuasca ceremony in Playa del Carmen that changed their life. It piques their interest, and they start thinking about how it might be able to help them with whatever issue they have.
Why I did Ayahuasca
As I already mentioned, attending this ceremony of Ayahuasca in Playa del Carmen was 3 years in the planning.
3 years ago I was living in Guatemala and had answered a Facebook post from a couple who lived in a cute bamboo house in a Mayan village by Lake Atitlan looking for a dog sitter for 3 weeks. ERM HELL YES! Before we committed to the exchange I went for dinner with them. Turned out they were heading to Peru for 3 weeks to do Plant medicine in the Amazon with a Shaman. I had no clue what they were talking about. I honestly thought they were going to Peru to learn about making compresses out of leaves haha. It wasn’t until a later conversation with them just as they were leaving did they tell me about Ayahuasca. Then as a parting gift, they left me a book to read that would explain more.
So I devoured the book and my brain exploded.
I knew I needed to experience this for myself. But I was also terrified and had no idea how I could go about this safely as a solo female traveler. So I parked the idea knowing that one day the opportunity would present itself. And it did a few times.
I was invited to Brazil to stay with a tribe, but I couldn’t make the dates work.
I almost did Ayahuasca in Colombia. But I couldn’t book the flight.
I wanted to do it in Cozumel, but I didn’t want to go alone.
Every time I saw an opportunity, there was something holding me back.
I also saw many opportunities to do Ayahuasca in Tulum and Playa del Carmen. But living here I became a lot more suspicious of ‘shamans’, especially those living here in the Riviera Maya. It’s hard not to when you hear from female friends about getting a massage by one who was trying to touch her inappropriately because she needed ‘healing’ and others who were coerced into having sex with shamans to heal their sexual issues and open their kundalini. Seriously, it’s a BIG issue here so go carefully, girls. Plus a lot of stuff here tends to be put on for tourists. It’s over prices and led by what I like to call charlatan shamans.
Anyway, I saw that a friend was going to do Ayahuasca in the jungle just outside Playa del Carmen and that she has been a few times. I also know this friend and she has high standards, she is not easy to please. Because of this, I trust her judgment implicitly. So when another friend contacted me about visiting Playa and wanting to do Ayahuasca in Mexico I asked her if she recommended this place and shaman and she did. So we decided now was the right time.
Going back to the original question though, why did I want to do Ayahuasca?
What was my intention? Curiosity? Yes.
To feel a deeper connection with the earth? Yes.
To meet and experience, La Abuela? 100% yes.
All of those things.
I also feel like I’ve been on such a healing and spiritual journey over the past 4 years of traveling. I have purged so much from my life. I have transformed over and over again.
But right now, at this moment in time, I finally feel like I’m grounded, and connected, I’ve purged all I can on my own and I feel like I am living the life I was meant to be living.
I am happy.
I am content.
Life isn’t perfect, or easy. But I know there is nothing I can’t handle. Travel taught me that!
But even in this place of contentment and groundedness, I felt like there were some things I just couldn’t purge on my own, things got stuck. My mental health is good. But my physical health isn’t as it should be. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune a few years ago and it’s been very hard for me to adjust.
With an autoimmune, your body is quite literally fighting itself. I once had a shaman in Guatemala refer to the internal conflict within me as the witch and the muggle fighting for dominance. Which felt like a pretty accurate description to me. It’s not something that can be healed or cured by modern medicine. But what if La Abuela could help the witch and the muggle within me call a truce?
My personal Ayahuasca in Mexico experience
I’m not going to write too much here (well I’m going to try not to anyway) because everyone’s experience with Ayahuasca is so unique to them I don’t want to be too prescriptive. Also, it’s impossible to write about it in a linear way. Writing in this form doesn’t work for Ayahuasca. I could probably choreograph a solo dance piece about it, or write some poetry. But writing like this just feels like the wrong medium.
But I’m going to try anyway:
I’d been pretty chill all day, trying to keep my mind clear and positive because I recognized my state of mind going into this was important.
Once we arrived in the jungle at the temple it was a little while before the ceremony started. At this point, my rational brain started questioning my sanity and decision-making.
What was I thinking?
Is this really a good idea?
What if something goes wrong?
Each time I just had to remind myself that I was here for a reason and nothing bad was going to happen to me. Quite literally these words became a kind of mantra and centering thought throughout the whole experience:
“You are safe. You are alive. You are Love. You are surrounded by light. Nothing bad is going to happen. You are exactly where you need to be. You always have a choice and you choose to be here”
I came back to these words over and over again during the 4-5 hours I was there and they kept me calm and grounded. There were so many times when I had to just let go and let the experience wash over me.
I had to stop holding on so tight.
I felt like I had to remember to breathe.
But at no point during the whole experience did I feel frightened, or like something bad was happening to me.
This was funny because speaking to my friends on the way home they were both really worried about me because they said it sounded like I was really going through it, which I was. But I actually felt a lot of love, even when I was purging and releasing all of the things that needed to be released.
Probably the most intense part for me was after I’d drank the Ayahuasca and I was waiting for it to kick in. Everyone is in meditation so it’s quiet and you’re just waiting for something to happen.
For me it was fast. One minute I was fine, then I started to feel a little fuzz, next thing I felt like my head and my entire body was being pulled apart/ squeezed together/ melting. It was intense and I was still very conscious. After that, it’s all fragmented and my memories of things are like minutes of visions and feelings and memories. But there are a few things I remember clearly.
I was sick first and it was LOUD! Because it wasn’t even really sick, more just retching.
Throughout my experience, I was lightly arguing a lot with La Abuela. It went something like this…
I don’t want to be the first person to be sick, it’s too quiet. – You are going to be first.
That’s enough now, there is no more. – There is always more Claire. You always have more.
Ok, I get it now. I’ve learned my lesson. I understand. Why am I here again? I don’t need to be here again? Stop now that’s enough. – We can’t stop until you really remember, we will continue until you really understand. There is always more. You can always keep going. You always have more to give. You always have more to learn.
It did eventually stop.
At one point I remember lying on my side and thinking to myself, what are you doing? Sit up, wipe your mouth, and stop being pathetic. How can you help anyone when you are lying down praying for sleep to come. I mean I’m not sure how I was going to be able to actually help anyone. But I did sit up and I did become aware of where I was and visually checked in with all of the others in the room.
I drank the Ayahuasca twice that night. The first time it hit me hard and fast and wore off quickly. I didn’t think for a second I would be asking for more (I don’t like to be the first) but there I was first in line for a second drink.
The second time was longer, more intense, more purging, and I was much more connected to La Abuelita. I was more relaxed as I knew what to expect and I really let go the second time. I purged a lot more and went even more into this idea of me not learning the lessons I needed to learn and that the purging would continue until I remembered.
Just a note on the purging (vomiting), I had a very strong vision of a spirit who was encouraging me to give whatever I was purging to them. It felt like a vine hand reaching out to me telling me I needed to give it to them. This happened both times.
At one point, every place I’d injured my bones (mostly fractures, breaks, and dislocations thanks to my years as a dancer) tingled and hurt. My body spasmed. I exhaled deeply (and loudly) to release the things that needed releasing.
Once everything had left my physical body came the gratitude.
There was a lot of gratitude.
There was a lot of love.
There was a lot of light.
It was beautiful.
You know how in movies when people die and their life flashes before their eyes?
Well, it felt a little like that. But it was every single woman who has ever come into my life and taught me something. They came. I thanked them for their contribution to making me a better person and then they floated off again. I felt so loved and I cried so much. There were a few men in there. But it was predominantly women. It was like watching a movie of my life, I wasn’t in it, I was watching, remembering, and telling them how grateful I am to them. And letting them know what they did to make me a better human being.
The last person, of course, was my own Abuela, probably the most important person in my life who I still miss every single day. She wasn’t there with me, I was watching her with me and remembering all the love there was between us.
This was towards the end and very quickly as a song ended I was back in the room. It was (almost) over. I say almost because after that I was back feeling in control of my body. I could lay back and enjoy the music and feel it deep in my soul, I could close my eyes and see visions or look to the ceiling and see movement and patterns. I was back in this world again.
There are lots of other things I remember. Things I’m not sure really happened or if it was a vision.
Was there a person next to me? Or was it a vision?
Did that happen in the real world? Or in my head?
Am I really being bitten by this mosquito?
Is it really raining?
You get the idea…
Oh, and I almost forgot. How could I forget?!? THE MUSIC. Holy shit. I wanted to get up and leave the temple so many times, but I couldn’t because I didn’t want to miss a note. No way I was going to the bathroom until it had finished. I have never heard such beautiful majestic music. It spoke to my soul. I felt it in every fiber of my being and I was so deeply connected with it I can’t even explain it. All wanted to do was dance.
I’m pretty sure at one point it was the music that was helping me to purge. I was purging on cue. Every time a song ended a part of my experience closed and with the next song a new stage began.
My friend had the total opposite experience though and had to leave the temple and go outside as it was too loud for her. Proving everyone really is on their own journey.
So what did I learn, am I enlightened now? Did it heal me?
I can’t answer any of those questions, what I can say is that when it was over I felt a lot of love. I felt totally at peace and all I wanted was to get home to my kittens and my bed and snuggle up.
I felt grateful.
Now, a few days after I feel the same. I’m more grateful, I feel more self-assured, I feel more at home in my own skin. I noticed I let go a lot more in my dance class the other day. I feel assured that I’m a good person and I’m living a good life. I felt those things before, but I feel them much deeper now.
Health-wise it’s too soon to say, but I’ve been off my meds now for 6 days and so far so good. I may need to take them again, but I will be reducing the dose and I’ll wait another week or so and go and get my levels tested to see how my THC is doing.
You are supposed to do Ayahuasca 3 times, so my journey isn’t finished yet, it’s only just started.
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Things to think about before doing Ayahuasca
There are a lot of things to think about before doing Ayahuasca. But here are just a few things that I found helpful:
Find your intention
Firstly it’s important to go with an intention. But you should also remember that Ayahuasca is going to give you what you need, not what you want. So as important as your intention is, try not to go with expectations. Keep a clear open mind.
Read up about Ayahuasca
Read all the books, watch all the documentaries before you make your decision. Then stop. The night before the ceremony I watched a great documentary, one of the women in it had a seizure during the ceremony. I did not need to be watching that and freaking myself out THE NIGHT BEFORE.
Talk to people about their ayahuasca experience
This will help you to understand a bit more. Everyone’s experience is so different so talk to as many people as you can to help you decide if it’s the right thing for you.
Do your research when deciding where to go
This was one of the most important things for me. Especially if you are a woman going alone. Please do your research and go off personal recommendations from other women. Don’t just click on a Facebook ad or turn up after seeing a poster in the supermarket. During the first part of the journey, you are so vulnerable. You’re literally off your head on DMT you don’t know what’s real or not, if you can’t trust the people there to help guide you through that is a very serious and potentially dangerous position to be in.
I don’t say this to cause fear, but please take this seriously. I felt total and utter trust for the shaman and his team during my experience. Make sure you can say the same.
Don’t go just because your mates are going
This isn’t like tagging along to a cacao ceremony for fun. This is a 4-5 hour intense hallucinogenic experience. You are going to feel like you’re physically being pulled apart. You might even feel like you are dying. You are probably going to puke your guts up. Hell, you might even shit your pants! Please take this seriously and make sure you are 100% sure before taking part.
You will know when you are ready
Like I’ve already said. I’ve wanted to do this for 3 years now and the only thing stopping me was it just didn’t feel right for whatever reason. This time, everything just aligned and I knew now was the perfect time for me to go. And it was. Trust your instinct on this and wait until it feels right.
Try and find a more intimate experience
Most of the good ceremonies are by donation. Normally with a suggested donation. Mine there was a suggested contribution of $2000 pesos (about $90 USD). This is a fair price for Ayahuasca in Playa del Carmen. When it’s by donation you pay the full price if you can afford it. If you can pay more, pay more. That way someone who is struggling financially who might really need this experience can still access it. The places that have this ethic are the places to go to.
Others are just in it for the tourists $$. Avoid these places. Also check how many people are taking part, and how many people will be part of the ceremony team. There were 10 of us taking part with a team of 3 leading and 2 supporting. That balance felt very good to me. I wouldn’t want to be with 30 people personally.
Again, if you are traveling to the Riviera Maya and want more of a retreat experience then I can’t recommend visiting One Breath Of Yoga for this retreat enough. I did Kambo there recently and had a wonderful experience.
Do some other drugs first
I can’t believe I’m actually advocating drug use right now. But here we are.
Now I don’t mean go out and score a bag of crack (please don’t do that). I’m talking about other plant medicine that is maybe less intense. Start eating some happy brownies, work up to Magic Mushrooms. If you are feeling really crazy maybe dabble in a bit of LSD.
You don’t have to of course, and please do it responsibly with people you trust, but it helped me.
The month before this ceremony I was in the mushroom capital of Mexico so I did some Hongos with my friends. It’s the first time I’ve had any psychedelics, and I feel having that experience helped keep me calm during the first stage of Ayahuasca. Also, the shaman actually asked me if I’d taken anything before and how I felt about it when he was deciding how much medicine to give me.
Ps, if it’s your first time the shaman normally gives you half a dose just to make sure you are ok and then if you are you can take more a little later on. Like I did.
that for a single ceremony!). Anyway, you can book your stay with them by clicking this link. Please tell Coco I sent you.
Things to take with you to an Ayahuasca ceremony
The organizers of the ceremony will send you information about what to bring. But this is what I took:
- A bucket (to be sick in)
- Toilet paper
- A sleeping bag
- A cushion
- My yoga mat
- A scarf
- Bug spray
- Clean clothes (just in case)
- A face cloth (so glad I took this! When I was starting to come up I got very hot and my face was sweating a lot so I used this to wipe it off)
Wear cotton pants and a comfy top, take something long-sleeved just in case you are cold/ need to cover up from bugs. I also did my hair in french braids so it was out of the way. I’m really glad I did!
How to prepare for an Ayahuasca ceremony in Mexico
It depends on how seriously you want to take it really.
As a minimum no sex, alcohol, caffeine, meat, or other stimulants/ drugs for 3 days before. If you take medication and can stop taking it a few days before, do. But your shaman will go through this with you, so don’t be afraid to ask!
If you can, and you want to take it seriously then eat a super clean diet 2 weeks before. Clear out all of those toxins! The more prep you do, the better. I only decided to do it a few days before the ceremony, but I eat a pretty clean diet anyway, I rarely drink, and I don’t take drugs. I just avoided any stimulants for a few days before.
FYI onions, garlic, spicy food, and some other things you might not think of are stimulants and need to be avoided before and after. If you aren’t sure, eat a yoga Sattvic diet for at least 3-5 days before the ceremony. Ideally 2 weeks before.
On the day, just remember that everything you eat is likely to be coming back up! I ate fruit and some bread. I avoided anything acidic. And drank a lot of water. Hydration starts the day before. You probably won’t want to drink much during the ceremony, so many sure you are well hydrated before.
The only other thing I’d say is if it’s helpful for you, then have some kind of a calming and affirming mantra. This anchored me through the ceremony and kept me in the light when my thoughts tried to take a turn! Mine was super long, but I didn’t say it all together. I just took what I needed at the moment.
What to expect after an Ayahuasca ceremony
Again everyone will be different. I went with 2 friends. I and one friend were totally back in the room and grounded by the time we were leaving. My other friend was not. She was still feeling out of it.
The next day I pretty much slept and watched Netflix all day. My head ached, and I struggled to eat. I drank a gallon of water. My friend was the same, but she also had the worst headache she has ever had.
The following day I didn’t want to go out of the house. My head hurt. I felt sleepy. I still wasn’t fully integrated back in life. But the following day I started feeling better.
It can take 5 days to fully integrate back into life. Watch what you are eating. And take it slow.
Ayahuasca Reading and Watching List
Here are some books to read if you want to know more about Ayahuasca.
I’m currently about 1/3 of the way through this book and really enjoying it. It goes into detail about why people in the West are feeling the pull towards Ayahuasca and puts it into the context of current times.
This book is still on my to-read list. But it comes highly recommended and has a lot of great reviews. I’ll add a personal review once I’ve read it!
Documentaries to watch:
These are all on Netflix. There are I’m sure way more than this, but these are a good starting point.
Also, I had to include this video hahaha.
Lastly, a friend sent me this Spotify Playlist of Ayahuasca songs you can listen to.