What Ayahuasca Can Teach You About Mindfulness

We live in an age where we forego our present, allowing our past and future to hinder us from living in the moment.

Most of us run on autopilot, unaware of what’s happening around us. Life passes us by, but we should be grateful and find joy in every step we take.

Studies show that ayahuasca improves mindfulness and cognitive function. So, today, we delve into the aftermath of drinking ayahuasca and how it can slow you down to notice what you’re doing.

What Is Mindfulness?

Just as a lens brings clear, immersed images into view, mindfulness brings clarity and focus to the mind.

A camera lens captures the beauty and detail of a scene. In the same way, mindfulness helps us appreciate the beauty and richness of each moment.

Cultivating mindfulness means being fully present and engaged in our experiences. We learn to let go of distractions and be more aware of our thoughts, emotions, and sensations.

It’s a mind shift that reduces stress, improves mental and emotional health, and enhances overall well-being. Everyone is naturally endowed with this great gift, but few people use it.

Hinduists and Buddhists have been employing the concept for centuries—to inquire about the mind while developing self-knowledge and universal wisdom. In the contemporary world, studies have shown that mindfulness is therapeutic‌.

It is “an awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” That’s a quote from Jon Kabat-Zinn(1)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Kabat-Zinn, the creator of the research-backed program Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).

Mindlessness has affected our thought processes and relationships, clouding our minds with negativity and causing stress, depression, and anxiety.

A beautiful poem goes, “… We have no time to stand and stare.” That means we should refrain from self-absorption and channel our minds into being aware of the aura surrounding us.

On the other hand, meditation uses different techniques for psychotherapeutic purposes.

It can train your attention, make you more self-aware, and foster mental clarity and emotional calmness. Those benefits result in a more stable state of being.

Meditation, yoga, weightlifting, and similar practices cultivate mindfulness, but they’re not the only pathway. Recent analyses indicate drinking ayahuasca can produce identical results.

Ayahuasca is a South American hallucinogen with two active ingredients: N, N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), and β-carboline alkaloids.

This combination induces a lengthy dreamlike and visionary effect, triggering emotional memories and making you more in-the-moment.

Ayahuasca also improves other aspects of cognitive functioning that aid a more attuned mind.


Practicing Mindfulness Before an Ayahuasca Session

If you don’t water a plant regularly, it becomes withered and unhealthy. Our minds work similarly.

We become overwhelmed and stressed when we don’t take the time to be mindful. We only grow and flourish by regularly watering our minds with mindfulness.

It introduces us to a better way of life, and ayahuasca can get us there. But before we explore how this brew induces inner and outer awareness, let’s look at how practicing mindfulness can enrich your ayahuasca experience.

A mindfulness ritual before your session opens you to a higher level of consciousness: the ability to bring your thoughts and emotions to the present.

It helps you maintain an open-minded outlook while not being reactive or overwhelmed by actions and inactions around you.

Just observe; no rights or wrongs. It’s not about the observer or the observed—it just is.

Now, one mantra and preparation step of ayahuasca drinking is to calm and ready your mind before your trip. The best way to do that is through mindful practices.


The Best Mindfulness Exercises Before an Ayahuasca Trip

How do you embrace the art of mindfulness? By learning some basic techniques and creating a ritual. You can use this ritual before and after your trip, when going to a meeting or date, when making a big decision, etc.

Mindful exercises help you reconnect and nurture your mind in responding to yourself and the world. That means they can come in handy anytime.

These activities are like dosages—the more consistent you are, the more your benefits and the more significant they are. And the best part is, you can’t overdose.

For first-timers, you can start with the simplest exercises and work your way up. They include

Breathing

Take slow, deep breaths. In and out, again and again. Now, channel your mind toward the thoughts and sensations you feel as you breathe air and push it out. Pay attention to each breath’s quantity, quality, and feel, and notice when they change. If your mind wanders, admit the distraction, call yourself back, and continue breathing slowly and deeply. You can also try alternate nostril breathing or other breathing exercises(2)https://mindfulnessexercises.com/6-mindful-breathing-exercises/.

Body Awareness

Attune your mind to the changes in your body. Sense every movement of your body parts—joints, muscles, etc. Notice your position in space, and study it. Body awareness offers stability, better balance, and so much more(3)https://www.healthline.com/health/mind-body/body-awareness#benefits.

Tension Release

Expel any tense feeling, stress, or pain you feel. Suppose you’re worried about not meeting up for your interview; take deep, relaxing breaths wherever you are, and slowly release the tension(4)https://conflictcenter.org/10-ways-you-can-release-tension-in-5-minutes-or-less/ as you exhale. Let go of everything and feel a sense of relief.

Concentration

Taking your time to notice things in this age of distraction might be difficult, but you can do it! Employ your senses to notice how something feels, looks, smells, sounds, or tastes; this is how you become mindful, improve focus(5)https://www.fearlessculture.design/blog-posts/21-simple-mindfulness-exercises-to-improve-your-focus, and fully experience your environment.

Mindful Walking, Cooking, Eating, Bathing/Showering, etc

Pay attention to every little thing you do. Feel the warm sun on your skin. How humid is the air? Enjoy how you walk and how the ground feels under your feet. Savor the taste of each meal. Relish how the water feels against your skin and the smell of your soap/cleanser as you bathe or shower. Your mind will run amok, but always call it back to your actions or even inaction.


How Mindfulness Help You Prepare For Ayahuasca 

As you immerse yourself in every activity, you feel alive and have wholesome experiences during mundane tasks. You enjoy every breath and step you take, and happiness comes naturally.

When you develop a mindfulness ritual, you prepare better for the memories, lessons, and predictions that ayahuasca unearths.

Evidently, mindful people embrace their ayahuasca experience with observation, acceptance, and non-judgment.

You’ll be ready for learning and healing and, during the ayahuasca ceremony, will reflect and assimilate what you learn. Afterward, you can integrate the experience into your life, embracing positivity and letting go of negativity.

People freak out on an ayahuasca trip because they hold on to their ego and won’t submit to this sacred vine of spirits.

The psychoactive brew isn’t out to hurt anyone; Mother Ayahuasca wants you to grow.

And by having a mindfulness ritual before drinking her, you will be less attached to your ego and pay attention to everything she shows you. You’ll be calmer and freer to enjoy the experience.


Enhancing Your Ayahuasca Experience With Mindfulness

Some may think mindfulness meditation is unrelated to ayahuasca tripping, but it’s proven to be the foundation of a great experience. They propel you to an altered state of consciousness in different ways.

Effective meditation requires years of practice, and the experience is far and in between, while ayahuasca is a one-way ticket that requires no training.

Some may ask, why bother with mindfulness meditation when ayahuasca is a shortcut?

The truth is, you might find it challenging to define what it’s like to enter a supernatural realm or set expectations.

Unearthly states of consciousness differ vastly from our everyday lives. Mindfulness can be the watering ground that prepares and introduces you to aspects of the psychedelic experience.

Meditators and mindfulness practitioners, on their first psychedelic experience, agree that they had an idea of what will probably happen, and they prepared their minds for the intense manifestation of ayahuasca.

Mindfulness also helps you accept the realities of your mind and concentrate on your trip rather than judging, resisting, or trying to control it.


Connecting to the Spirit of Ayahuasca Helps You Pay Attention

Mindfulness breaks the shackles of guilt, fear, pain, and depression that plague our minds. Studies suggest that mindfulness reduces depression, relieves stress, and improves memory(6)https://www.mindful.org/the-science-of-mindfulness/.

It improves cognition by increasing your focus, suppressing thoughts that affect concentration, and allowing fluidity and clarity in thoughts.

Mindful meditation helps you understand life, find joy in each day’s little moments, and reshape your relationship with those around you. Not only will you connect with them better, but you’ll also give them your unwavering attention.

This practice does not cure illness but can relieve many physical health conditions. In all, it strengthens your physical, mental, and emotional processes by acknowledging the value of your present.

When it comes to psychological issues like anxiety, depression, paranoia, and addiction, the common culprit is holding ourselves to past moments and overwhelming ourselves with future events.

By connecting to the spirit of ayahuasca, you’ll pay more attention to your past and future without letting them run your present. An ayahuasca trip digs deep into your timeline, showing you what you could’ve done better and should do better.

So, the drink eradicates mental health issues by making you more present, only with a renewed knowledge of how to use each moment better.

Now, according to Kabat-Zinn, seven factors make up mindfulness. Together, they’re the core that can help you build a solid routine.

And mindfulness is not just a ritual. Yes, it’s advisable to have a designated series of exercises before, during, and after an event. But more importantly, the practice should shine through in every facet of your life, at every moment.

These mindfulness attitudes or principles are

Non-Judging

People are quick to judge, and this mindset shapes our actions and choices. Mindfulness wants you to be aware of your automatic judgments or reactions and work around them. That pertains to both inner and outer experiences.

Patience

Accept that things will happen in their own time. Live in each moment as they come and go; don’t speed things up because you want to get somewhere else.

Beginner’s Mind

Be curious and open yourself to new possibilities. Your mind should always be uncluttered and humble so that you can see things more clearly. Beginners are hungry for knowledge because they’re excited to become experts. Remain a beginner at everything you do.

Trust

Be intuitive and trust in yourself. Be receptive to learning from others, but your actions, choices, and decisions should reference your thoughts, beliefs, and values. Understand that it’s okay to make mistakes, but trust your own conclusions and follow your own path.

Non-Striving

Don’t rush to take action; instead, blend with the moment. Allow things to unfold and be aware of what’s happening in the present. That’s all that matters.

Acceptance

Accept certain things as they are and do not try to change them. You should be intentional in your way of life and take charge of your destiny, but internalize that some things are outside your control—much like an ayahuasca trip.

Letting Go

When you’re conscious of your inner experience, you’ll notice that your mind wants to hold on to specific thoughts and situations. Let them go and allow your experience to be in the present.


Mindfulness And Ayahuasca Experience

An ayahuasca experience can help you achieve these attitudes. When you drink the brew, it triggers your mind and improves your mental qualities.

You become less judgmental (toward yourself and others) and more aware of your limitations, letting go of the pain and traumas that have shaped your choices.

The afterglow effect of ayahuasca changes your perception of life as you dwell in the present and forego the past. Moreover, the effects are lifelong.

A study(7)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5869920/ verified that 4 ayahuasca sessions lead to better mindfulness capacities than an 8-week MBSR program. And by combining the two practices, you significantly speed up your healing.

The participants became less judgy and reactive. Ayahuasca also boosted their ability to observe and describe both inner and outer experiences, plus they started acting with more awareness.

Out of all measurements, the study found that self-judgment had the most impact while non-reactivity had the least. People became less self-negative even after months of drinking ayahuasca, but the rate of non-reactivity wasn’t as impressive.

Another exciting finding was that both ayahuasca and MBSR partakers reported increasing acceptance of internal and external experiences.


Final Thoughts

Mindfulness isn’t just another health and wellness buzzword. It is living life to the fullest by paying attention to the present instead of the past or future.

Mindfulness encourages you to appreciate every moment in your life—to be intentional about what you do and never be hard on yourself.

This practice is about accepting yourself and observing your internal and external realities without being overly reactive.

Ayahuasca drinking improves mindfulness, plus a mindfulness ritual before a trip can improve the experience. It’s a win-win.

References

References
1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Kabat-Zinn
2 https://mindfulnessexercises.com/6-mindful-breathing-exercises/
3 https://www.healthline.com/health/mind-body/body-awareness#benefits
4 https://conflictcenter.org/10-ways-you-can-release-tension-in-5-minutes-or-less/
5 https://www.fearlessculture.design/blog-posts/21-simple-mindfulness-exercises-to-improve-your-focus
6 https://www.mindful.org/the-science-of-mindfulness/
7 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5869920/

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