Setting an Intention for an Ayahuasca Ceremony

When we take part in a plant medicine ceremony and we ingest a plant teacher such as Ayahuasca we really don’t know what to expect. The experience can be breathtaking and overwhelming. Most likely we will be confronted with parts of our own subconscious and we could end up in some unknown and dark places. In order not to get lost in the experience it is really helpful if we set an intention for the ceremony that works as an anchor during the experience. You could also call it a prayer. Tanya describes Ayahuasca as a doctor and a teacher and like with any real doctor or teacher it does not make sense to approach them without knowing what it is that you want to heal or to learn. To give your experience a direction and also to make sense of it afterwards it is essential to come prepared and have an intention that fits in a short sentence so you can remember it during the ceremony. Tanya gives us a wonderful and simple formula that helps with the intention setting. It consists of one verb; choose one of the following:                                    

  • Help me
  • Show me
  • Teach me

in combination with

  • a difficult emotion (fear, anger, guilt, sadness, shame, joy)   or
  • an essential quality (peace, love, compassion, connection –  essential human qualities the we might have become disconnected from, through traumatizing experiences)

For example:

  • Show me  – my fear
  • Teach me  – about love
  • Help me    – experience joy


Interview with Dr. Tanya Maté, N.D.

Tanya is the Integration Director at the Temple of the Way of Light, an ayahuasca healing center that works with Shipibo healers in Peru. She is a naturopathic doctor and is in an ongoing apprenticeship with her father-in-law, Dr. Gabor Maté, and his unique style of compassionate inquiry and ayahuasca processing.

About the Author:

Six years ago I, I had just turned 27, I received my master’s degree in Anthropology. At that moment I was supposed to transition into a working life mode. My passion was with documentary film making, which had been a substantial part of my education. I imagined how a job in that field would be like: I saw myself taking the metro everyday to work, sitting in an office and realising other peoples’ ideas. My heart cramped up at this outlook on life. It just seemed wrong, I didn’t want to be stuck in a treadmill, executing other people’s ideas, I wanted to realise my own. So instead of looking for a job, I separated from my boyfriend, moved back in with my parents and began looking for myself. I spent 9 months exploring shamanism, meditation, systemic therapies, past-life therapies and meditation. I participated in a vision-quest and spend 4 days alone without food in a forest and encountered my deepest fear - the fear of death. I participated in camps that practiced community life and taught the way of the circle, the ancestral way of sharing oneself in a talking circle. I felt the power and the beauty of the shamanic approach and by the end of that year I finally encountered with the amazonian plant teacher ayahuasca. She showed me the perfect harmony of the universe and then she brought me all the way from Germany into the savanna of central Brazil, where I am based now. For the last 5 years I have been drinking a lot of Ayahuasca in various lineages, intensely exploring my Self. I passed through various crises and got stronger along the way. Since the plant medicines and healing modalities that I have encountered have helped me greatly on my path of deconditioning myself of everything alien to me and of becoming more and more who I am meant to be, I feel the call to share this information and my experiences with healing and medicine with more people. I wish for all of us to be conscious and openhearted human beings so we can co-create a new reality on this beautiful earth. Mapping Medicine is a project straight from my heart to yours. I hope it inspires you on your healing journey!