How Long Does Ayahuasca Last? A Comprehensive Guide for Journeyers

If you’re considering an ayahuasca retreat, ayahuasca ceremony, or are curious about the ayahuasca experience, you’re likely wondering how long does ayahuasca last? While the effects of ayahuasca vary depending on many factors, some being the dose, potency, age, & wisdom of the medicine & an individual’s metabolism.

Those who have worked with other psychedelic drugs, like psilocybin or LSD, can relate to the timeline of an ayahuasca experience.

Typically, a journey lasts 4-6 hours, where effects can begin to be felt in 20-60 minutes and peak after 1-2 hours. Occasionally, some people may journey for 8-10 hours while others may feel the effects of ayahuasca for 2-4 hours. It’s impossible to nail down the exact time ayahuasca comes on, peaks, and lasts, so take all this with a grain of salt. Once you’ve sat with Mother Ayahuasca, you’ll know how your body responds to the sacred psychoactive tea. 

In this post, we’ll explore the duration of ayahuasca experiences, including how long the effects typically last, what to expect during the different stages of the journey, and how to support yourself mentally and emotionally as you prepare for ayahuasca

What is Ayahuasca?

Ayahuasca is a sacred plant medicine brew that has been used by indigenous people in the Amazon Basin for millennia. It’s also gaining popularity as a teacher and tool for personal development, therapeutic benefits, and an alternative healing experience in the modern world.

In a Western lens, the psychedelic substance of ayahuasca is the chacruna leaves. These contain DMT, which leads to the intense visionary states that can accompany an ayahuasca trip. And the ayahuasca vine

The effects of ayahuasca can be deeply transformative and give people clarity into their lives and situations, but they can also bring up difficult or painful memories.

While some are looking to find their purpose, passion, or meaning, ayahuasca supports others looking to heal post-traumatic stress disorder, a mental health disorder, unhealthy generational conditioning, or those looking to feel what it means to love themselves.

This means it’s important to choose an ayahuasca retreat that offers quality care and will support you through any potentially challenging effects of your experience with the ayahuasca tea.

What Actually Influences How Long Ayahuasca Lasts?

Just like we can’t give you a definite here’s how long ayahuasca will last, we also won’t promise you that these things are the only things that influence the duration of your ayahuasca experience after consuming ayahuasca

That said, this list can give you a healthy understanding of factors you can & can’t control that may influence how long your ayahuasca experience can last.

Controllables:

  • Your own metabolism
  • Your experience with ayahuasca
  • The environment you drink the medicine in
  • Your dedication to following the ayahuasca diet
  • Your relationship to physical movement or exercise
  • The state of your mental, emotional, and spiritual health

Uncontrollables:

  • The potency of the ayahuasca brews
  • The sensitivity you have to other plant medicines or recreational drugs
  • If other plants or additives are mixed into the tea 
    • At 1heart, our ayahuasca consists of three ingredients: the ayahuasca vine, chacruna leaves, and water

Every Ayahuasca Ceremony is Different

It’s important to remember that every ayahuasca ceremony is different; everyone will have their own personal experience during a collective ceremony. In some instances, the effects of the medicine may be lighter, and participants can more easily navigate the profundity of the experience throughout its duration and be in a dance, dialogue, or commune with the Spirit of the Medicine. 

Other times, the effects of ayahuasca are intense and overwhelming from start to finish. In these cases, people are often floored, literally & physically, as the medicine does its thing. For four to six to eight hours, a person is deep in the Medicine or feeling the Force of the Medicine. And it’s in these challenging ceremonies we get to learn about ourselves, release old patterns, and remember our most powerful, aligned gifts. 

So if you’re blood pressure rises, you go through temperature fluctuations, or find your head in a bucket or butt on a toilet, don’t worry! It’s all a part of your process and you’re being given an opportunity to connect with and release anxiety, doubt, fear, unworthiness and a host of other traits that have us playing small so you can learn how to be in a relationship with the beautiful bigness that lives inside of you.

Plus, when you participate in a good ayahuasca retreat, they (we) will guide you in navigating the ayahuasca experience to create powerful transformation both in the moment and well after the ceremony closes.

Other Ayahuasca Advice

You’re likely to experience sounds, colors, and sensations differently, from a heightened or, at times, foreign perspective. You will probably purge, also known as getting well. You can also become tearful or experience other purging effects, and sometimes you feel frightened, overwhelmed, or elated. 

You may find yourself reliving old experiences and seeing them in a new way, or gaining insights about yourself and the life you’ve been living. This part has the potential to stay with you for a long time.

No matter what you experience, all of these things will pass in a matter of moments or hours. Working with ayahuasca is a beautiful reminder of the Buddhist principles of impermanence. If you can remember and trust that whatever you’re seeing, feeling, or experiencing will pass, you can begin to surrender more deeply to whatever you’re going through because you trust that it can only last so long. 

And once this has passed, there’s nothing more refreshing than a conscious breath and the mantra of “I’m okay.”

The Duration of an Ayahuasca Experience

If you were hoping for a clear-cut answer, we can’t provide you with one. On average, these experiences last 4-6 hours. That’s a safe bet. HOWEVER, the Medicine has its own timing that does not always parallel our relationship to time, averages, and guestimates. 

What to Expect During the Different Stages of the Journey

Ayahuasca experiences are typically divided into three stages: the onset, the peak, and the afterglow. Here’s a breakdown to support a typical ayahuasca experience: 

  • Onset: This stage typically begins 20 to 60 minutes after your ayahuasca consumption. You may start to feel mild effects, such as nausea, dizziness, laziness, a sense of disorientation, a mild state of bliss, presence, and/or temperature changes. 
  • Peak: This is the most intense stage of the journey, which typically lasts for one to three hours. During this time, you may experience powerful visions, intense emotions, and a deep connection to yourself, Nature, humanity, and the universe.
  • Afterglow: As the effects of the medicine start to wear off, you may feel a sense of relief, relaxation, and contentment. This stage can last for several hours after the peak.

Someone that works with a different medicine once told me that every ceremony has a beginning, a middle, and an end. And that helped me trust that no matter how smoothly or bumpy the ride on ayahuasca airlines can be, there’s an end in sight, whether I can see it or not. 

Preparing Yourself for Ayahuasca Retreats

Preparing yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for an ayahuasca journey is crucial for a lasting, positive experience. Here are some tips to help you prepare:

  1. Set an intention: Before your ceremony, take some time to reflect on why you’re seeking this experience and what you hope to gain from it.
  2. Follow the dieta: To prepare your body for the medicine, it’s important to follow the ayahuasca dieta, which typically involves abstaining from certain foods, substances, recreational drugs, and behaviors like sex for a period of time before the ceremony.
  3. Practice mindfulness: Leading up to your journey, try to cultivate a sense of mindfulness and presence in your everyday life. This can help you stay grounded during the experience and may look like meditation, breathwork, yoga, walks in nature, or writing. 
  4. Seek guidance from experienced friends you trust: At 1heart, 80% of our alumni are referrals. So having people in your support system that have experienced ayahuasca can be huge allies for you at any stage of your journey. Ask them questions with an open mind if you feel called. 
  5. Set aside time for integration: The people who set aside a few days after their ayahuasca ceremonies can more easily integrate their experiences into their daily lives. We’ve heard this time and time again… Those who set aside just 2-3 days can meet whatever they left or paused with a heightened sense of ease, awareness, and grace compared to those who rush back into their typical habits, routines, and work styles. 

Ayahuasca Can Last For The Rest Of Your Life

Whether ayahuasca lasts two hours or 10, knowing how long you’ve been working with the medicine can be hard. It can feel like lifetimes or minutes before the medicine keepers, the people sitting behind the altar leading the ceremony, begin closing the space. 

Some will be relieved to know the ceremony is coming to a close, others will still be so deep in their journey that they might not know the ceremony is closing, and others may feel sad this ending.

But that’s the thing, the ceremony never truly ends. If anything, the work has just begun, but we’ll save those stories and best practices for a different educational piece. 

In short, once you’ve sat or worked with ayahuasca, we might say ayahuasca lasts for the rest of your life. Because your relationship with La Madre, Mother Ayahuasca, or Oni, the genderless force of wisdom as the Shipibo people call ayahuasca, is just beginning. 

Ayahuasca users, pasajeros, Journeyers, passengers, Guests, or those taking ayahuasca, rather working with the medicine, truly have an ally for life, whether or not you’re in a maloca in Central or South America.

On your end, all it takes is a presence to work with the medicine outside of ceremony. Whether you’re present in a prayer, a song, a dance, a work of art, work for work’s sake, a walk in the park, a quiet moment with your eyes closed, or a million other things that can bring you into the moment, the Spirit of Ayahuasca dwells in presence. 

And then, there’s ayahuasca’s invitation to remember your relationship with the medicine. A shift you’ve been asking for in an important personal or professional relationship, an opportunity to start anew where you’ve been craving change, a snake swimming upstream, a beautiful chorus of birdsong, the way light shines on a particular surface in a unique moment, a chance to take on something BIG and aligned that seemingly came out of nowhere, ayahuasca is paying attention to you. 

 

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