Old habits. No matter how terrible you feel for keeping them alive, sometimes you just can’t help it…
Like a junkie who only thinks about shooting up when he’s sober. But once he’s doped up, his mind fixates on quitting.
You know it’s terrible for you, yet you keep doing it.
Drinking ayahuasca can come with this vicious package, leading to a cycle of learning from the plant, only to get right back where you started.
A deadly habit breeding deadlier habits.
But there’s an elegant solution. A checklist you should remember. Always…
- and internalize your experiences.
That’s the short answer to most ayahuasca-related questions. It’s how you get all the—sometimes overhyped—effects of the plant medicine without returning to your old self.
What do I mean by this? I’ll show you:
Why Internalization Is So Important on Your Ayahuasca Journey
First, a quick detour before we go into why internalizing your aya-induced insights is vital.
The Premise and Promise of this In-Depth Guide
How to NOT backslide after a positive ayahuasca experience.
I presume you’ve already had one or more trips with emotional growth, habit-altering ideas, a general transformative tweak to your attitude toward life, or some other relevant insight.
You won’t just be able to resist the urge to backslide after integrating those experiences, but also to replace bad habits with good ones—for life!
That way, your ayahuasca journey can facilitate practical action to improve your life.
You won’t become your ideal self in 30 days. But focus on being 1% better daily, and you’ll be there in no time.
Consistency isn’t much of a hidden secret. It’s how you change your thinking, acting, doing, living – everything.
Practicing daily is an excellent exercise because repetition creates problem-solving patterns in your brain.
It’s what separates smart readers from the average.
Like a book, the purpose of an ayahuasca experience is to teach you something—challenging your thoughts and beliefs until you change your habits and behaviors.
You can’t do that without integrating and internalizing what you read. That’s why these two steps are so crucial on your therapeutic journey.
To avoid confusion, integration differs from internalization in a rather subtle way:
The Difference Between Integration and Internalization
Integration comes first. It’s what you do after interpreting your visions.
Integrating your ayahuasca experience means making those insights a part of your daily life. It’s about making them a habit.
Now, internalization is a much deeper dive. It’s when you go from habit-forming to second nature.
You’re not just making a conscious effort to remember those insights in your everyday life; they’re now a part of you.
If you’re not yet convinced, here are some other reasons to create a system for integrating and internalizing what you learned after an ayahuasca experience:
- Faster processing and understanding of your ayahuasca trips. Since you have a solid system, you’ll feel less anxious and confused when making heads or tails of your voyages. A structured approach to internalization helps with that. It encourages you to break down the visions and sensations into manageable pieces. This makes working through insights and emotions easier, knowing which steps to take and which habits to change.
- Maximizing the therapeutic benefits. Without the two I’s, many users miss out on the central plank of the ayahuasca experience: therapy. That’s it. DMT can be a great party drug, but ayahuasca isn’t a go-to in that scenario. The psychoactive brew is more about learning, healing, and growing.
- Improved mental health due to personal revelation and emotional release.
- Undeniable personal growth and healing, including spiritual evolution (i.e., not only non-believers turning into believers but users generally becoming more spiritually rounded). Integrating and internalizing helps you form deeper connections with the spirit world.
- Better relationships, thanks to increased self-acceptance and -love, plus advanced self-awareness and -exploration.
- Responsible psychedelic use, making sure you don’t stumble into any potholes.
- A sense of community, since most integration/internalization processes involve interacting with a crew of fellow psychonauts or wise guides who’ve been there, done that.
The list of therapeutic benefits is endless. And this is where the system I’m about to unveil comes in. Integrating and internalizing your insights helps you maximize the therapeutic effects of the brew, leading to faster results.
- Prolonging the effects (sometimes indefinitely). This follows the previous point. The results won’t only get faster but also be more prolonged. That means you’ll get better faster. Internalization furthers this prolonged effect, making it even longer.
- Avoiding overwhelm. These trips can be so engrossing that you feel like a needle in a haystack, especially during the ceremony. But fear not, brethren. Knowing you have a system to process and understand your insights makes the trip less daunting. It’s a mental thing, and it works. (Yes, since I created a system for intentionalizing, interpreting, integrating, and internalizing my ayahuasca trips, I enter each session with more confidence and clarity.)
But remember: You have to ‘intentionalize,’ interpret, and integrate the insights before you can internalize them.
I promised I’d show you how, so here…
How to Avoid Falling Into Old Habits, Behaviors, Beliefs, and Thinking Patterns
‘Intentionalize,’ interpret, integrate, and internalize the insights.
Let’s examine this framework of mine chronologically, to prevent an almost inevitable vicious cycle.
Call it the “4 I’s,” if you will…
INTENTIONALIZATION: How to guide your ayahuasca experiences.
Enter each session with a set list of goals; i.e., your intentions should be clear.
To do this, ask yourself open-ended and thought-provoking questions about yourself and your ayahuasca expectations.
Think through these questions, jotting down your thoughts and answers:
- Who are you, and why did you choose to drink ayahuasca?
- What do you aim to achieve in your social, professional, or personal life?
- How do you expect to be happier, healthier, and wealthier?
- Are you trying to adjust a habit or behavior?
- Do you want to strengthen and add more meaning to your relationships?
- Want to heal a past trauma or grow from your stagnation or retardation?
- Or you’re aching to explore the cosmos, find out hidden truths about yourself, talk with the spirits, hang out with strange creatures, see awesome visuals, or a combo?
You’re probably using ayahuasca as a therapy aid (a way to grow from emotional, mental, social, behavioral, and spiritual BS).
In that case, my advice is to only list a handful of intents. Anywhere from one to five.
I advise this because unlocking emotional blockages, spiritual obstruction, and mental cages often demands tons of effort.
You’ll have to spend time on each one, maybe even reliving what caused or contributed to their birth.
That means you can also write specific questions to ask the spirits (before the ceremony and keep it handy during)…
Like who are you, what do you truly want, and what are some realistic ways to get them?
Why are you lonely, depressed, paranoid, lethargic, lazy, angry, ashamed – (insert any negative adjective)?
So, to recap, you set your intentions by having clear goals to pursue (after answering some questions), and by having straightforward questions to answer (writing them before the session).
Other factors that affect your intention include set, setting, and diet. You should read more about setting ayahuasca intentions for the best trips and transformations.
Pro Tip: Intentionalization isn’t an excuse to resist surrendering to Mother Ayahuasca.
The best way to have the best experiences is to let go of your ego and control – trust yourself to enjoy and learn from the trip.
Without that, your mind will conflict with the habit-altering brew. And trust me, Mama Aya always wins.
That’s when users have bad trips. Seeing things, feeling strange – some even fear they’re going insane.
INTERPRETATION: How to make sense of your ayahuasca trips.
Let me first ask you: What do you expect after an ayahuasca experience?
If you can’t answer that confidently, you need to scroll up.
A precise expectation makes your trip more meaningful because you can gauge it. It’s easier to analyze, and you can break it down into manageable moments.
Regardless of how uncomfortable a trip might be, you’ll always leave with some visions, sensations, and emotions.
Translating those into actionable pointers can be daunting (because some takeaways are subtle), but you can’t skip this step.
Once the trip is done, you should reflect on everything you saw, heard, thought, and felt. Call this ‘post-trip processing.’
Immediately after the journey, write down everything you remember. Come back a few minutes/hours later and see if you can write more. Repeat the process after a few days until you’ve written down everything you remember.
Now, getting them down is one thing; interpreting them is another. Since ayahuasca trips are as diverse as the human mind can conceive, it’s hard to give concrete advice on analyzing everything you wrote.
Here’s an AI-powered dream interpreter(1)https://www.aidreaminterpreter.net/that may help.
INTEGRATION: How to learn from your ayahuasca ceremonies.
As stated earlier, integration and internalization are related but distinct concepts.
To integrate your interpreted visions, sensations, and emotions, you need to turn those interpretations into practical actions.
It’s as simple as thinking of how each insight (and its interpretation) can manifest in your daily life.
For instance, if your vision was about a negative personality trait ruining your life, it’s pretty obvious what you must do. Pin down the attribute and work backward to alter it.
This can be challenging because you’re tracking and adjusting yourself by yourself. But you can.
And integration doesn’t have to be a solo thing. Some shamans can help you integrate your ayahuasca visions almost immediately after you’re done.
You can also have conversations with trusted ayahuasca drinkers – their experiences will likely help you integrate yours better.
INTERNALIZATION: How to materialize what you learned.
Here’s the real meat of this guide—how to internalize everything you learned on your ayahuasca trips.
It’s time to incorporate the changes your ayahuasca experiences shed light on. Not just making them a daily habit, but having them shine through in your core beliefs, values, and identity.
Internalization is about making those insights a fundamental part of who you are. It’s more long-term than integration.
With integration, you’re making a conscious effort to remember those insights every day. But with internalization, you’ve already made them a daily habit. Now, it’s time for an identity change.
Some folks change their identity before their habits, but you can do it the other way around.
For instance, you entered an ayahuasca session with a clear intention: to discover your calling.
You had a vision that you should be a singer, but how do you integrate and internalize it?
You can think of integration as habit forming and internalization as identity change.
In this case, habits and identity are proportional – they shape each other. So, whatever you do, ensure these two are in sync.
I prefer an identity change before forming habits because sticking with those practices is more effortless.
- First, which habit are you forming or changing? (Following the example, you’re establishing the routine and mastery of singing.)
- Second, which identity change will be most effective? (For instance, change your identity from “I’m learning to sing” to “I’m a singer” or “I’ll be the greatest singer.”)
- Third, what practical steps will you take to actualize that identity change? (For instance, studying and practicing your singing skills daily. Get a resource and stick with it.)
Internalization shifts your behavior and priorities by altering your perspective based on the insights ayahuasca showed you.
For example, to eat healthier, exercise more, or quit smoking, identify as someone who eats healthy, exercises, or doesn’t smoke, and then do the daily work.
This takes your habits from outcome-based to identity-based.
Why It’s So Easy to Backslide After a Positive Ayahuasca Experience
By nature, the crazy-high human tendency to recede into old habits—good or bad—is baffling.
That’s scientifically true. It’s how human memory works(2)https://source.wustl.edu/2004/11/old-habits-both-good-and-bad-are-hard-to-break-suggests-study-of-human-memory/
So, psychedelics (including high doses of cannabis) or not, going back to old ways of thinking and doing is the norm.
Backsliding is why we return to toxic exes until we wise up—finally learned our lesson.
Backsliding is why we love comfort zones (but real growth is constantly pushing yourself till you move mountains).
It’s why falling back into old ways is more likely even after ayahuasca (or another classical psychedelic) shows us a vision or teaches us a lesson.
Sometimes, quickly… Like the following week.
Other times, the hiatus is more pronounced. The relapse can even be subtle.
Maybe after six months of not smoking, you come back slowly over two weeks and then double down. A double pack. Every. Single. Day.
You’re right back where you started – maybe even worse! A smoker with lungs so inflamed, they look like punching bags.
That’s one reason you should follow a process/plan/checklist to constantly learn from your trips—no matter how you felt (and still feel) about them, even if you had a terrifying experience filled with confrontational monsters and mind-bending horrors.
Users often find interpreting, integrating, and internalizing positive trips easy. That’s just my hypothesis, anyway.
How I Overcame Fears and Flaws Thanks to Ayahuasca and the 4 I’s Framework
I wanted to write a short anecdote about my transformative ayahuasca trip, which taught me about my mortality and attitudes toward life. But this article already gave you most of what I can tell you.
Here’s the takeaway from my personal experience with ayahuasca and the 4 I’s framework:
I became hyper-aware of my BS after a handful of trips. The last one was exceptionally terrifying. And after a few hours going through hell, I decided to change my lifestyle.
The first few days were remarkable – I was excited to change my ways, starting each day with a recitation of positive mantras.
But guess what? I soon became the old me.
In fact, the change only lasted a few days.
But the worst part is that I didn’t even notice I had downgraded my software to the previous version.
Once I caught wind of this, I had to revisit those insights by reviewing my journals and notes.
The former is about dumping whatever ayahuasca showed you into some journal entries. The latter is more about those actionable nuggets that you can turn into daily/weekly habits.
That’s why my go-to technique for making ayahuasca epiphanies a part of daily life (i.e., lifelong integration) is to write what you learned three times: once during the trip (if possible), once immediately after the trip, and another one a few days after the trip.
Now, you have to habitually read and practice them every day. Nonstop.
Final Thoughts: Integration and Beyond
We all know how iowaska is hitting the headlines for its life-changing effects. From spiritual cleansing and emotional restoration to mental freedom/upgrading and lifestyle change.
But most enthusiasts forget that ayahuasca experiences, regardless of how positive or life-altering they are, don’t mean a thing until you integrate and internalize the insights.
That’s why we spent today learning how to ‘intentionalize,’ interpret, integrate, and internalize your insights to avoid backsliding after a positive ayahuasca experience.