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10 Tips for Medicine Ceremony Reintegration

Jul 1, 2016

Medicine ceremony reintegration can be challenging. Whether it’s ayahuasca, a sacred gathering, or any type of deeply spiritual/shamanic work, re-integrating back into daily “normal” life is rarely smooth. The first few days can feel particularly rough, leaving you feeling so out of sorts that you may second guess everything that you just KNEW was true while in the ceremony space.

If this has happened or is happening for you, you are not alone! Reintegration is often a bit sticky, and many retreat centers, events, and many ceremonialists often forget to leave you with practical tools for exactly HOW to step back into your “real” life.

Here’s what’s going on and what to do about it.

Re-entry can be tough for a few reasons:

  • After mystical experiences, your sensitivities are heightened far beyond your normal thresholds. So, lights, sounds, voices, and other sensory inputs that were previously completely tolerable to you (perhaps even enjoyable) can suddenly feel jarring, disconcerting, and downright unpleasant.

    The noise of traffic, airplanes, air conditioning, your refrigerator, your neighbors talking, dogs barking, and all the “white” noise in your life can become amplified – making it difficult to focus or relax.

  • If the work was particularly strong, there is a good chance that you experienced firsthand the unity and connectedness of our universe. But this unity is not immediately obvious to everyone in your life, nor is it easy to stay connected to as distractions and obligations pile up and time passes.
  • You want to shout about it from the rooftops, but not everyone in your life “gets” it. Your existing group of friends and/or family members may not be the most supportive people when it comes to talking authentically about spiritual experiences.

    Prejudice, judgement, lack or personal experience, cultural or religious dogma may prevent them from hearing you with an open mind. Because they care about you, they may express concern stemming from their own fears about what you’ve been through.

    KEY TIP: Remember that anything you hear along those lines is an expression of love, no matter how misguided it is or how it’s stated.Even with supportive or curious people around you, ceremonial work is so deeply personal that there may be no one that can fully understand or relate to your experience. This can create feelings of isolation, depression, and a strong desire to escape back into the medicine realms.

    But, escape is never the answer.

    Medicine work is most powerful when you are open to receive teachings and healing, rather than being in a state of desperation or lusting to escape reality. There ARE many people who understand ceremony and would love to hear about your experiences, regardless if they are similar to their own.

  • You may feel disconnected from your body. Quite often, glimpses of spiritual enlightenment can leave you feeling physically shaky, ungrounded, and a bit ethereal. The heaviness of our everyday world can feel totally dissonant with the peaceful, beautiful, artistic, synchronistic, spirit-drenched version of reality that you left behind when the ceremony ended.
  • Reality is not as it seems. Especially with shamanic medicine work, it becomes abundantly clear that everything in our world/universe is not what it appears to be. Time, energy, light, and matter all take on new properties that are illuminating, expansive, exciting, and beautiful. Spirit and Soul are more immediately accessible. It can be sad, frustrating, and even scary to “lose” the vision that medicine exposes you to and have it be replaced with the oh-so-mundane world of cars, billboards, computers, and violence.
  • You may be tempted to relapse into old patterns and habits. You might find yourself going back into ways of being that you thought you “cured” in the medicine work. For example, relapsing with drugs, alcohol, or other addictive behaviors. This can happen because these things are available to you, they are familiar, and even though you don’t intend to go down that path, you aren’t sure what else to do with yourself. This can create further havoc if you judge yourself harshly for these “slip-ups”.
  • You suddenly want to quit your job, leave your marriage, leave society, or make other drastic life changes. The information and insight from your spiritual work may indeed leave you feeling pretty clear about who and what do/don’t belong in your life.

    *And* it is unwise to act on that information immediately following ceremony because all of the above may also be happening for you.

How do you know if you’re having trouble integrating?

If any or all of the below resonate for you, then you would benefit from the reentry tips that follow. Please also feel free to share this article with friends who are returning from trips abroad where they’ve done medicine work such as Ayahuasca, Huachuma (San Pedro), Mushrooms, Kambo, Iboga, Sapo, MDMA, or Ibogaine.

  • You’re having trouble sleeping
  • Significant changes to your appetite (increase or decrease)
  • Feeling jittery and highly sensitized to noise, lights, smells, etc.
  • Higher-than-usual anxiety and/or feelings of isolation
  • Feeling strong desire to work with medicine again immediately
  • Falling into old (sometimes VERY old) patterns and habits
  • Feeling deeply misunderstood by, and potentially turned off by people in your life that you were previously close to

With all this possible aftermath, it can make you seriously doubt that deep spiritual work is worth it.
But, it is SO worth it! There are COUNTLESS eventual (and sometimes immediate) rewards for coming home to yourself, unwinding your patterns, and learning how to walk forward in your life with power and grace.

These rewards aren’t something you “earn” by doing the work… They are not necessarily material in nature, and you have no guarantees (ever) of an easier time while you’re here. These rewards are a deep sense of personal power, an open heart, an ability to create authentic connections with others, and a strong sense of self-trust.

Changing your life completely isn’t easy, or everyone would be doing it every two seconds.

But those who are brave enough to face their inner darkness, ask hard questions of themselves, and take responsibility for their actions and reactions have INCREDIBLE potential for their lives.

So…. hang on with your reintegration. It really is all worthwhile…

Here are some tips to help you land back on planet earth and live what you came here to do.

10 tips for a smooth reentry:

1. Cultivate a supportive community.

If you desire to share your experience, ask questions, and explore further, there are a number of open-minded online communities to start with, which may lead to local connections. Try reaching out to, Spirit Science, and of course, my Facebook page. But, give it some time before you dive into storytelling…

2. Don’t share your experiences too soon or too widely.

The visions and insights in your ceremony or gathering were meant specifically for you. They are deeply personal to you and your journey, even if some of the messages and symbols seem to be similar to others’. Sharing with your fellow participants within the ceremonial space or circle may be part of the ritual design and this is usually a facilitated process. That’s not what I’m talking about here.

Once your circle is opened or the gathering ends, it can be a huge temptation to share your journey with the guy next to you on the plane, strangers on the bus, friends, clients, etc.

But if you immediately start sharing with others the details of what you saw, it is an energy leak and can even dissipate spiritual power/insight. And, if someone expresses shock, disbelief, or anger at what you say, it can make you defensive and irritated; energies not at all in resonance with connection, trust, and love. Thus further removes you from the state you’ve worked so hard to access.

I suggest that you think of your journey a private inner fire to cultivate and nurture. Once it’s nice and strong, with plenty of internal fuel, then you can share a bit of your experience (with discernment). After a few weeks, you’ll run less of a risk of being deflated or feeling defensive if you’re met with any opposition.If you feel like you need skilled support with a Shaman or therapist, reach out to me and I will be happy to connect you with someone if I am not the best fit.

3. Take time for personal reflection/meditation.

Journaling, shamanic journeying, or meditation can be excellent tools to help you understand and put words to what is initially a wordless state of knowing/seeing/feeling/being. Putting language/imagery/metaphor to it can help you make sense of what you saw/felt/knew and help you retain that understanding going forward. Meditation can also help you continue to practice being a Witness to your thoughts and yourself… which leads to Tip #4:

4. Practice being The Witness.

Learning to Witness (and not label or judge) your thoughts, behaviors, and yourself is a lifelong practice that will serve you in every situation (and deserves a full post of it’s own). Being a “witness” means that you notice your thoughts without attaching to or identifying with them.

You simply observe yourself (and others). This observation practice keeps you from getting tangled up in your emotions, stories, and patterns and allows you to watch them, as if you’re watching the sky change with the weather. With practice, you can then notice and release judgements, and return to a state of compassionate open-heartedness toward yourself and all beings. Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now has some excellent suggestions for cultivating your inner Witness.

5. Eat grounding foods.

To help you reconnect to your body and root yourself firmly on Terra Firma, eat foods like root vegetables, sustainably sourced meats, and bone broth.Being grounded helps you feel safe, secure, provided for, and creates an overall sense of well-being… Feeling rooted and stable creates a sense of self-trust that you can handle whatever comes your way.

6. Rest and hydrate.

Naps and extra water or coconut water will work wonders for your nervous system and energy levels. You’ve likely just hit a major RESET button on many aspects of your physical, psychological, and emotional self. Even if you aren’t sure why, you are probably fatigued, outside of the physical stamina required for the gathering, ceremony, or other work. Rest is always recommended when we are in a growth spurt.

Just like when we are babies, sleep can help replenish the extra energy it takes to evolve. Go to bed earlier than usual and avoid electronics at bedtime to allow your body to shut down properly. The additional water will help modulate your emotions and assist any cycles of purging or flushing of toxins that need to complete.

7. Create art.

Spirituality, ceremony, and medicine go hand in hand with art. Your Heart and Soul yearn to express themselves. This doesn’t mean you need to become an “Artist” – perhaps some simple lines and spirals are all that want to come through. Or coloring in a beautiful coloring book… Allowing yourself freedom to express beauty, color, and form is liberating and affirming. If it feels like too much pressure, then go for creating something purposefully unskilled! Let yourself have fun with it.

8. Be kind and gentle toward yourself and others.

You aren’t always going to be perfect at this. No doubt you’ll make mistakes, slip back into old habits, speak or act unskillfully… And you’ll certainly observe others in their imperfection (that part is easy, ha!). This is ohhhhhhhh-kay! It’s all part of being human. There is a beauty in forgetting, because it makes the remembering all that much sweeter.

Mistakes are gifts. Everything we do provides us with information and feedback; opportunities to re-center, re-prioritize, re-claim, re-turn. Life is like a shoreline… We never arrive at a perfect center point. We constantly dance back and forth like the tides… Forgetting, remembering… it’s all part of the dance. For everyone. Allow them and yourself to be imperfect. Entrust everyone to their own strength and courage, including you.You can handle this.

9. Track signs, synchronicities, and symbols.

Deep spiritual experiences of all kinds leave a lasting impression, often in the form of patterns, symbols, signs, and synchronicities. Whether it’s a repeating number (like 11:11, 22, 33, 11:44, etc.), a certain phrase, a song, a color, a shape… these things take on personal meaning and become talismans of your connection with the Sacred, both in waking reality and in dreams. Pay attention and make it a game to notice and acknowledge these winks from the Universe/ Source/God/The Divine/Goddess… They are meant to help you remember who you are and let you know you are supported in your journey.

10. Refrain from making major decisions for a few weeks.

Once you’ve had time to fully ground, download the wisdom and insights, and allow it to slowly percolate through you until it feels bone deep, then it’s time to begin making shifts in your life circumstances… doing so from a place of proaction rather than reaction makes all the difference in how those decisions will ultimately feel. You don’t need to rush.

Even without reentry challenges of this nature, it is natural to want to extend and hold onto the bliss and peace for as long as possible. Trust that they are always with you and you truly have nothing to lose. When the feelings begin to absorb back in, you may feel frustration or grief… allow yourself that, and focus on the signs of support and magic that are truly everywhere you look, if you desire to see them. Putting the time and effort into post medicine ceremony integration is just as important as the ceremony itself.

Create a regular spiritual or shamanic practice for yourself to tap into guidance, connect with your Soul, listen to your body, and give yourself space for stillness. Life will no doubt get busy again, and that’s okay… All the spiritual work in the world doesn’t help a thing if it can’t assist you with your everyday life. So bring it down to the ground and trust yourself, the universe, and the Sacred design of your path.

Does this article resonate? Help?

If so, please share it with your network and send to others who will benefit from it.

And, if you are looking for ethical shamanic work virtually and/or local to San Diego, CA – please reach out to me. I host a variety of playshops, circles, rituals, retreats, and classes in addition to immersive one-on-one work with people around the world. See my Coaching + Retreats page for a current list of happenings!

May your reintegration be as smooth, beautiful, powerful and lasting as possible.
May your evolution be for the best and highest good of all beings.
May it be so.


Lola L’Amour is a designer of sensual spaces, lover of life + eros, and relationship/intimacy muse. Follow her latest shares, stories, and finds @lo.lamour on IG.


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LOLA L’AMOUR is a relationship & intimacy coach, offering sessions, sacred space design, retreats, and ceremonial healing to singles and couples who yearn to create divine union. She and her husband have been married for more than 10 years and share two beautiful children. When Lola is not supporting her clients, you’ll find her on her mat, out for a hike, or adventuring with her family. To inquire about relationship/intimacy coaching, please reach out to Lola on the contact page.

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