What is ‘La Purga’ or purging during ayahuasca?

Purging, by definition, is ‘to rid something of an unwanted quality, condition or feeling’. In life, we can choose to purge many things, and during an ayahuasca ceremony, similar principles apply. But what exactly does purging entail during a ceremony, why is it important, and what should you do if you are struggling to purge? What is ‘La Purga’ or purging during ayahuasca? ‘La Purga’, also known as ‘purging’, is a way of cleaning yourself during an ayahuasca ceremony to help you let go of anything that doesn’t serve you. The act of purging manifests in many ways and can be quite a strenuous experience to work through. Many people find themselves, at some point in the night experiencing:

  • Vomiting
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Crying
  • Laughing
  • Diarrhoea

It’s very common to have the need to purge when in an ayahuasca ceremony, and the act of purging is widely recognised for its potential therapeutic benefits. Whether it’s your first ceremony or your hundredth, purging is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, it’s something you can begin to look forward to. Practiced and tolerated for thousands of years in the heart of the Amazonian jungle, the process that many go through is believed to release large amounts of built-up emotions and negative energy. Some refer to it as the release of unwanted energetic garbage. 

Why is purging important during an ayahuasca ceremony?

Purging is an act of humility and reconciliation with our essential being. If you experience the need to purge during a ceremony, it’s important to recognise it and not suppress it. Consider it a welcoming invitation to free yourself from your ego and the usual constraints that keep you bound to daily life. Although the physical sensations may feel uncomfortable in the moment and may even feel like they last for a really long time, it is important to remember that they are only physical and that they will pass. What’s more, once they do come to pass, they will always give way to something better. A nice reminder to keep close to you is the knowledge that purging is simply a transition to a heightened state of being. In a night that can take you so far into the depths of your soul, purging is a mere hurdle that must be overcome on your potentially transformative journey. It is a humble act of letting go and surrendering to the experience – the essential ingredients for an ayahuasca journey. The work you do with ayahuasca isn’t always easy. Purging can often seem like a difficult thing to do, but you’ll rarely meet anyone who says they haven’t felt better after they have purged.

What happens if I can’t purge during a ceremony?

It sometimes happens that you can feel the urge to purge – and you want to surrender to it – but you’re just struggling to do so. Sometimes it’s due to fear. Sometimes it’s due to being physically incapable. Sometimes you just don’t know what’s holding you back. Being stuck in this limbo-like state can be discomforting, but if you find yourself in this position, remember there’s nothing to fear. In this situation particularly, it’s always best to listen to your body and lean into the discomfort. Your first port of call should be to focus on your breath and to breathe deeply with your intention. Try your best to centre yourself and engage in a conversation with your body. Scan yourself from head to toe to find out exactly where the discomfort is and how you can tune in to its immediate needs to release what needs to be released. If you have been in a particular position for a while, try moving slightly and engage with other parts of your body too. If a shaman or ceremony guardian hasn’t realised your need already, it’s also recommended to ask for some rapé to help nudge you towards purging. The ancient Amazonian tobacco snuff that is used to ground you before drinking ayahuasca can usually make a difference within minutes, and help you to work through the physical hurdle of purging. 

Purging: pleasure or pain?

On the surface, purging doesn’t sound like a very pleasant experience at all. However, as you will know if you have been part of an ayahuasca retreat or ayahuasca ceremony before, purging is a very liberating experience and helps you to truly release the things that no longer serve you.

Therefore – when in ceremony and faced with an uncomfortable physical sensation we may instinctively shy away from in our daily life – we shouldn’t resist it, but rather welcome it. Beyond the short-term discomfort lies a long-term path that brings you into closer alignment with your true essence.

Embrace the bumps, and your bravery will be rewarded in abundance.

 

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