By John Flynn
Dieta is a Spanish word that means simply diet.
The dietas originated as a plant-based practice for developing connection to the Spirit that underlies all of life. In traditional indigenous Amazonian cultures, dietas had broad purposes, such as hunting, healing, communication with ancestry, community development, etc.
For the purpose of this article I would like to keep it narrowly focused on dietas for healing of self, or others. Dietas can be done in the Peruvian Amazon jungle and are found in Shipbo tribal tradition. Please note that what this article is not about is a traditional Dieta followed by a tribal member. For Westerners such as myself, it is modified to account for taking time away from work, family, and other responsibilities, which is difficult. That said, the benefits are still powerful and beneficial. What that means is the dieta is shorter in days, specifically seven days. It is typically done in a round hut called a maloca, where strict silence is required. Laying in a hammock from sunrise to sunset is very relaxing as the plant teacher builds a matrix within the body and mind.
Why a dieta in the first place, after all it can be a very uncomfortable and challenging experience?
- A dieta can provide a deep connection to the plant world.
- Purify and heal the body, mind and spirit.
- Pass on wisdom and knowledge from a plant teacher that can aid in everyday life.
- Provide psychic and energetic protection to initiates who provide shamanic healing services, and those who work in the health care industry, etc.
- Build personal power and strengthen the body.
A dieta is about developing a relationship with the plant world. The specific plant you are dieting with may have certain gifts and teachings, that you need to learn about and requires that you meditate, contemplate, and listen so that you are open to the wisdom of the plant. Let me emphasis here, medicinal plants such as tobacco are very powerful, and must be approached with respect to gain knowledge.
In my experience over the last eight years, I have learned that prior to doing the actual dieta, it is important to begin communicating with the specific plant I am about to work with. Usually two month before the actual dieta, I begin a dialogue with the plant, letting it know of my intention in coming to this powerful ally, and what I hope to gain from this relationship. Acknowledging that this is a powerful teacher plant and deepening that dialogue, as I get closer to the actual dieta is important. The purpose of this is multi-fold, but the main benefit is that when I ingest the plant, we are not strangers to each other. Introductions have been made.
During the preparation period prior to dieta, it is very important that I pay attention to my thoughts, dreams, actions and events happening around me, I must be present because all of these affect the quality of the dieta.
As with any ceremony, a period of strict abstinence before and after is required from certain foods, sexual activity and mental stimulation. From my experience, this is a very small price to pay for the extraordinary benefits of dieta. This discipline is also a teaching.
The dieta itself can be cathartic physically, emotionally and mentally, depending on my state of well-being. The medicinal plant can also bring up old patterns that need to be released. The jungle setting adds to the intensity of this experience. Here is a wonderful opportunity to be in communion with one’s self surrounded by the jungle and its orchestra of sounds and energies.
Plants have different characteristics, for example, tobacco, which is a masculine plant energy, cleans and protects, its smoke opens the endocrine glands, and releases toxins from the body, and also takes our prayers to Spirit. Another example is rennequia, a feminine plant, which works on the body, especially the heart, and is beneficial in releasing physical pain. It is also important to be aware that dietas are not just for those who are shamanic practitioners, but also anyone wishing to gain a deeper connection to Spirit and the natural world.
Leaving the comforts of home behind and opening to the incredible beauty and power of the jungle is so valuable.
I have found dieta work to be incredibly beneficial and meaningful in my life, and after completing my first dieta in 2009, I was hooked, and since then have completed seven dietas..
Blessings, John Flynn