With the first ayahuasca tour I did over four years ago, I did the dieta. This meant limited options for food during the week-long stay, as well as not using hygiene products and touching people.
And of course the 30-day and 6-month post retreat restrictions.
The second time was nearly two years ago with my first Sanango tour.
And in both of these instances, I did have slip-ups.
Coming out of the first dieta, which was during my seven-plus months of world travel, I didn't even make it 30 days without a drink of alcohol. Not because I am an alcoholic. It's because I was so busy traveling that the integration of the restrictions got pushed out of my mind. And I had a drink when visiting a friend in San Diego. And only halfway through the drink was it that I remembered that I am not supposed to be drinking it.
And if I had stopped right then, it would have been fine.
But I did not.
"Oh well," I thought to myself. "Already broke the rules. Might as well just finish this drink."
"I'll do a good job with the pork restriction though," I said.
Till I got to Spain in June.
And Italy in July.
Then it was pretty much, "Oh fucking well."
Because jamon and prosciutto are necessities when traveling in those countries - provided that you are not a vegetarian.
The second dieta I did, I went into it with the full intention of not breaking it. Even though I knew five months after it I would be going back to Rome - just like the first time. But I made peace with the idea of not having prosciutto while there.
And I did good. Until I was accidentally served a tortellini soup with the little pasta pieces stuffed with pork.
In my defense, the menu hadn't stated that it included pork inside the pasta. I thought I was ordering a vegetarian pasta.
But two bites into the soup, after observing a salty taste, I peered inside of of the bitten pasta pieces.
It was bright pink.
"Does this look like chicken? Or do you think it's pork?" I asked my two friends that I was traveling with at the time.
We all agreed, it was likely pork.
I stopped eating it.
"It wasn't intentional," I said to myself. "And I stopped eating it as soon as I realized what it was."
Integrity in tact.
With this current dieta, it ends tomorrow morning. The alcohol/sexual thoughts/recreational drugs portion does, anyway. I still have five more month of the pork (and other skittish animal) restrictions. But this time I've been more focused on what integration means than I have been on making it through the restriction periods.
Integration is something that is talked about with every plant medicine retreat. You're coached on the idea of bringing the medicine and the spirit of the plants - their integrity - into you.
From respecting the restrictions, to remembering what the medicine was telling you in ceremony and at the retreat, to continuing to talk to the medicine long after the retreat... This is how I've interpreted "integration."
But it's taken a few years for me to really understand it. Mostly because I can look back on the past few years and see where integration efforts and the medicine have been working - long outside of ceremony.
"Oh... That was Sanango," I realized when I couldn't explain a personality change I was having towards a relationship. (Romantic and non-romantic ones.)
And also when I decided I needed to move back to Boston - even though I knew it would only be for a year in my gut. And even though I was fighting in my mind to pull together a vision of moving back full-time.
Until I woke up one day and said (literally), "I'm done with Boston."
Boston hadn't done anything bad to me. I just realized I was not fitting there anymore. At least for now.
"I had some energy to retire there," I can look back on it and say.
Or with the push to travel beyond medicine spaces... With Jordan, Myanmar, and (now in September) Ethiopia.
The medicine spirits were pushing beyond my comfort zone. Further, anyway.
"Go to the Middle East and learn about the God spirit there."
"Go to Myanmar and play in the structural ornamentation of a controversial country. Let the God spirits there show you a different sense of devotion."
And now Ethiopia... For which I have no idea what to expect, other than instead of Islam or Theravada Buddhism, I'll be learning about an early form of Christianity.
Sacred sites in all... And each different energies about them.
And the plants are pushing me to go.
Or rather, it doesn't overtly feel as though they are pushing me. Things just seem to unfold that way.
Integration is about flow.
Flowing with the medicine I drank (and puked up) having laid a foundation to guide me.