My Ayahuasca Experience — A Heavenly Hell

Troy Erstling
43 min readAug 11, 2017

The first dose has been taken.

Before I jump into the story I want to provide some context of my life and previous experiences — Throughout the last three years I have been seriously practicing meditation. I have completed three Vipassana Meditation courses, twice as a student and once as a volunteer, helping the other meditators.

To prepare for Ayahuasca I decided to meditate 2x a day for an hour at a time for the entire week leading up to the trip. I had also been on a vegetarian diet, no weed or cigarettes, and no caffeine (all things recommended before/during Vipassana as well). I wanted to treat this Ayahuasca experience as an extension of Vipassana. I wanted to treat the experience as a 10 hour meditation session.

In the tradition of Vipassana by S.N. Goenka, you spend the first 1/3 of your time paying attention to your respiration. This means you focus on the breath>mind wanders>realize your mind has wandered>bring attention back to the breath.

The next 2/3 of your time is spent in concentration on the sensations of the body. Scanning the body for feelings, both pleasant and unpleasant. This can be tingling, itching, vibrating, pain, coolness, heat, whatever your body is feeling.

We were scheduled to take up to three doses throughout the course of the next 7 hours. In line with Vipassana, I decided I would spend the first dose with focus on my respiration, and then after the 2nd dose focus my attention on bodily sensation.

After taking my dose I sat down on a pair of stairs in the far back of the forest and began to meditate.

At first I didn’t feel anything too much. Maybe just a little bit stoned. I continued to focus all of my energy on my breath, calming my nerves as I waited for the unknown and mysterious effects of Ayahuasca to kick in.

After around 30 minutes or so I began to lightly feel the effects. It became hard to sit crossed legged. My body felt heavy and it was difficult to maintain my focus. I decided to go lay down.

As I laid down I continued to focus on my respiration. I could start to see the beginnings of some visuals. Wisps of rainbows coming through my vision. Faint, like a strand of hair. Just barely noticeable.