Acsauhaya Retreat Agreement

This agreement is between Acsauhaya (the Organizer) and You (the Participant). It is also available as a downloadable PDF.

The years of experience working with this sacred plant medicine have taught us that there is a need to set clear guidelines for our participants. Ayahuasca is often perceived as an intense and vulnerable process and it is important to understand exactly what you are committing to when booking a retreat with us. This Retreat Agreement and our Terms & Conditions aim to prepare each participant for a safe and positive experience at Acsauhaya.

The ayahuasca brew

The ayahuasca that Acsauhaya serves, is brewed locally, using only chopped banisteriopsis caapi (the ayahuasca vine) and dried psychotria viridis (chacruna leaves). No other plants or additives are used in the ayahuasca brew that we serve. The shamans and facilitators of Acsauhaya will adjust the dose for each participant using their discretion and experience.

The ayahuasca experience

As an effect of drinking the ayahuasca brew, participants may experience changes in their perception of reality and way of thinking, visions (of abstract shapes and/or patterns or clearly identifiable images), increased negative and/or positive emotions, surfacing of fears or difficult emotions, (muscle) tensions, access to detailed memories that had been forgotten (including, but not limited to, perinatal, transpersonal or other dimensional experiences).

On a physical level, participants may experience nausea, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, tremors, tingling, sweating, or other physical inconveniences or ways of purging. Sometimes, especially if you are new to ayahuasca, you may not experience any visionary effects. This does not mean that the ayahuasca is not having an effect on you.

The ayahuasca experience passes through different phases (or “comes in waves” as some may describe it). These phases can be pleasant, even euphoric, but difficult as well. Ayahuasca works on a subconscious and physical level to reconcile unresolved events, emotions or (physical) blockages that have locked themselves in an individual’s system through trauma, neglect, loss, abuse, or other emotional and psychological difficulties from the past. Therefore, both during and after ceremonies participants frequently experience emotional, psychological and physical discomforts, which can be seen as signs of a healing process.

Your participation in the ceremonies is entirely voluntary. You can ask questions about the ceremonies at any time and you are always free to opt out, if you wish, before the start of the ceremony. Before your first ceremony, you will be asked to sign a statement of voluntary participation.

Acsauhaya’s support & guidance

The shamans and facilitators of Acsauhaya are committed to protecting and supporting you on this journey physically as well as emotionally with whatever you may need, during ceremonies, but also during the preparation phase and the integration phase after your retreat. All our staff members have personal experience with ayahuasca healing and are deeply committed to self-awakening. They have been through the challenges and difficulties of many years of deep healing. From this experience they can hold space for you and offer you authentic compassion, loving kindness, empathy and a genuine willingness to help you.

Once you commit to take part in the ceremony, you must follow the instructions of the facilitators and shamans at all times, so your safety is not jeopardized. To allow us to ensure your safety you will, for example, be asked not to leave the property before consulting one of the staff members. The shamans and facilitators may, at any time, decide to exclude you from participation in a ceremony for any perceived impairment in your physical or psychological health that risks leading to problems for you during the ceremony, or if you do not meet the requirements for participation for any other reason.

Ayahuasca risks & exclusion criteria

During the booking process you will be asked to fill out a medical questionnaire. You must answer all questions honestly and thoroughly disclose any relevant personal information about your current health situation.

Even though Acsauhaya screens the health situation of each participant using a medical questionnaire and sometimes consults with a physician for advice, it remains your own responsibility to consult with your medical professional about your intention to take ayahuasca in case of any particularities in your medical situation/medicine usage. In case of a chronic illness, it can be dangerous to stop taking the medication with the intent to take ayahuasca; you should always consult your medical professional before abruptly discontinuing the usage of prescribed medications.

Working with ayahuasca is not a substitute for medical, psychiatric or psychotherapeutic treatment or spiritual practices, but may complement these and contribute to personal and spiritual development. If you are currently receiving treatment of any kind or taking any medication, you must provide the full details of your medical situation to us in the medical questionnaire.

For the safety and well-being of all participants, no alcohol or drugs is consumed at our center. Through our dietary guidelines as well as in the (medical) screening process, you will be given exact guidelines with regards to the required abstinence of certain substances or medication before attending our retreat. Committing to booking one of our retreats, means committing to these guidelines. If one decides not to adhere to these, we reserve the right to refuse further admission to our retreat, in which case the fees will not be refunded.

Even though at Acsauhaya we do whatever we can to create a secure space for you to safely surrender to the vulnerable process of an ayahuasca ceremony, it is important to note that there are risks involved with the intake of ayahuasca. We need anyone with the intention of attending one of our retreats to familiarize him/herself with these risks before booking a retreat with us.

Physical risks

The physical risks mainly arise from a few (strong) contraindications. This can be the case with serious cardiovascular disorders (ayahuasca slightly increases blood pressure), but also when you are taking antidepressants/other psychotropic drugs or any drug capable of interacting with MAO (as MAOIs: Monoamine oxidase inhibitors). Therefore, each participant needs to disclose precise information on medication usage and the current health situation.

Although not very common, there are cases of people who faint during the ayahuasca experience, which can cause someone to get hurt falling on a hard surface or hard objects around.

Tyramine is a monoamine that is naturally present in some foods, mainly fermented products such as aged cheeses, certain meats, soy sauce and wine or beer. One should avoid combining foods with high concentrations of tyramine with ayahuasca, because it can cause hypertensive crisis with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, sweating, increased heart rate, dilated pupils and, very infrequently, brain hemorrhage and death.

Psychological risks

For people with a history of psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, psychosis, personality disorders or bipolar disorder, taking ayahuasca involves a high risk, especially if the disorder is active. Ayahuasca carries the risk of symptoms re-emerging. In order for us to understand your psychological situation well, for your own safety and that of others, it is of the utmost importance to be sincere, thorough and honest about your medical history in the questionnaire.

Regardless of thorough screening, in very rare cases, drinking ayahuasca may induce symptoms such as paranoia, ideas of self-reference (“everyone talks about me”), delusions (ideas that are incoherent and absurd, even in that particular state of consciousness), severe confusion or something referred to as drug induced psychoses. These symptoms are very different from episodes of fear or confusion that can occur under the effects of ayahuasca, which are transient, and often part of the experience. They may occur because of a prior psychiatric condition, however, there are some (very rare) cases of seemingly psychologically healthy people that have gone through these experiences after ayahuasca and required medication and/or continued psychological treatment.