When the call is heard, it is answered. He showed up as if granted. Coincidence that is no coincidence. A young shaman with eyes like watery windows to the heavens. I felt the call as well as the fearful resistance to the call. My solar plexus gripped by the vine. It is the shadowy pull of Ayahuasca. I have something to show you it says. Die to yourself it says. Die to the next self and the next self and the next self until no selfhood exists.
"I want to spend the day with you, a full day of walking with you where we do nothing but enjoy life like little children" he said to me. "Then at night, we will do a private ceremony". He took me to a river. We sat above the water. For hours we talked about our lives. ‘Seers’ usually have no one to relate to in their awareness. Sitting beside him felt like genuine companionship. Occasionally we would slip into long periods of silence where we just sat beside each other with the giant blue butterflies flying through the vines overhanging the water. I explained to him that sometimes being present means being present with the fact that you are in pain. I feel my life through a filter of excruciating emotional pain that has become physical.
He led me into the water. The water was freezing cold. We swam back and forth in it. Then he led me to a waterfall. He told me to get into it and lie beneath the rough water. He showed me how to cup my mouth so my body didn't feel that it was drowning. It was terrifying. My mind told me that things would fall over the waterfall on top of me. But I did it anyway. It was so strong it was hard to draw breath. But I felt that doing it anyway was an act of demonstration to the universe about my willingness to go all in for transformation despite fear.
He then took me by car up a long winding road of peach colored clay to a point overlooking everything. The howler monkeys were bellowing below in the jungle that was too thick to see them through. We climbed to the point that overlooked the ocean. Like everything in Costa Rica, you are free to take risk into your own hands. No one prevents you from doing so. No guardrails, just a sheer drop off on all sides of a knoll. We sat in the wind facing one another with our hands holding one another and our eyes closed... Connected.
We watched the sun set and then we drove to the ceremonial site. We picked up his ceremonial assistant along the way. A small man with long hair, a hook nose and an endless smile. Together, in near silence, we drove through the streets. In truth I had been in the beginnings of the journey the whole day. Ayahuasca begins working with you the minute you commit to it, well before the official ceremony begins. We arrived at a small hut by a river in a neighboring town. It was so rustic that the roof was made of grass. Walking into a site that has been used again and again for rituals as deep as shamanic rituals was intimidating. I could see the left over thought forms from people who have been there in the past like energetic oil spill on the floor.
The two of them prepared the space. They made the tea. They set up my mat with warm blankets on the floor. They began to play music. With the most gentle and responsible care, the shaman explained what to expect and then called me up in front of him where he blessed and activated the drink in its wooden cup and stirred it with a piece of raw vine. When it was time, he had me drink the first cup as fast as I possibly could without tasting it. And then dip my finger in honey and put it in my mouth to suppress the rejection the body makes to the taste. Ayahuasca is one of the most painful tastes in the world. It rapes your mouth and throat and stomach with a bitterness that is so sharp it cuts your senses.
I asked the medicine once it was inside me to teach me how to trust the future and to teach me how to have connection that is not dependent on a man. No matter what you ask of Ayahuasca, it gives you what you need instead of what you want.
I sat in meditation pose with my sensation of total panic at knowing that there was no way back now. The medicine works in its own way on each person. No person reacts to it the same and no journey it takes a person on is ever the same. I sat for half an hour frozen in meditation, listening to the ritual music being played, letting it rock me. Suddenly, I felt the medicine hit my heart. With a single heart beat, I felt my heart spread it through my arteries in every direction. It did not go fast. Instead, it went in slow motion. The medicine itself felt like a vine within me pushing through and outwards as if trying to turn every pathway within my body into sacred wood. 'Surrender and open' I thought to myself. I felt it wind its way up the right side of my neck and up over my ear and knew that it was now going to my brain. Seconds later, my vision on the right side started to go black. My whole body started to tingle.
The shaman knelt beside me with a second cup of Ayahuasca. This time, I was afraid to drink it. Afraid to go deeper than I could already tell I was going. I swallowed it and felt like crying. I took the honey. I sat for a few more minutes watching fractal patterns in my mind’s eye until I couldn’t anymore. I felt weak, like my body was going into shock while trying to figure out what was happening to it. I reminded myself that the only way out, is in. I was committed to going through the entire journey now. It started out as confusion. I was sucked inside myself. I couldn’t keep my eyes open because the candlelight was painful. Anytime I opened my eyes, the dizziness was all consuming. Disorienting even. The most severe dizziness I’ve ever experienced. The peripheral of my eyes were full of lights. I realized that I was starting to lose my capacity to be present in the external. Instead, I was intensely present inside myself. The journey that felt like it took place ‘out there’ in the universe simultaneously felt like it took place entirely in the darkness within myself.
I started to hear a voice in conjunction with each drum beat saying “thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking" It went on relentlessly. I asked the medicine again to show me how to feel connection with the world. I asked in desperation. I could feel myself wanting to pull upwards against the medicine. I could hear a medium pitched hum take over my whole auditory awareness. It didn’t stop for the entire night. It sounded like it was behind me, but it was coming from within me. My own brain’s response to the medicine. A bit like electric current but unearthly.
I wanted the medicine to take me up into the transcendent, feel good realms in this universe where I could feel all the things I was starved of. Things like love, oneness, peace, unconditional connection and trust. But it was not taking me there. My heart sank when I felt it pull me in the opposite direction. The dark side of Ayahuasca. It wanted to pull me downwards instead. Into the pain I was so desperate to get out of. I felt sorry for myself, like the universe wanted me to suffer. But I knew better than to fight the medicine. I told myself to follow it instead. I let go and decided to let it show me what it wanted to show me. I knew at that moment that this was a self-awareness trip. One of the most painful kinds of Ayahuasca trips you can take. In this kind of trip, you are shown the painful actualities about yourself. You are asked by the vine to swallow the truth about yourself. Once I had that realization, I immediately felt the need to purge. I drug myself up to make it into the bowl beside me. I violently threw up.
I could feel mosquitos landing on me. They usually never bite me because my lifestyle makes it so my body is not toxic. But this night, they swarmed to me. I felt their benevolence. I had the perception that when they bit me (which they did and I just let it happen), they were sucking the poison and toxicity out of me. I wondered if this is the actual truth about mosquitoes.
I started shaking. I did not stop shaking from that point forward for the entire night. I laid back down and proceeded to experience my own mind as the tormentor. A vindictive narrator of a voice was chastising me through the next hour or so as I watched scene after scene of only negative and terrifying verbal thoughts and images. It felt like a bad acid trip. It began with experiencing myself as lying on the mat next to my arms and legs, that had been severed so I could not reach out for help. I could only let out noise in response to the pain. The voice said, "look at you, you’re so pathetic". Occasionally throughout the journey, another voice, a voice I call 'insight' would come in and explain the symbolism of what was occurring.
I threw up again. This time, I felt the vine come from my solar plexus and then sacral to push the toxin out of me. With one dry heave, it turned into a snake, winding its way up through my belly and throat to spit out sadness. I could see sadness and grief in the bowl through squinted eyes. Occasionally the sound of a loud voice or tone would emerge from the music being played. The shaman and his assistant played specific songs and sounds, all of which caused the medicine to react in certain ways. He continued this up until the medicine began to neutralize, at which point he let the medicine react to silence.
Back to the confused flood of subconscious images. An image of a gluttonous man dressed in clown clothes with his mouth open. I went into his mouth where there was a fat woman opening her legs and sliding up and down on a stream of her own vaginal fluid. Out of her vaginal opening came a penis that slithered like a snake up to me and into my third eye. As it approached me, I willed myself to open to the penetration. When it penetrated me, I felt like I was falling backwards into an abyss.
I fell into a scene where my son had come to lay by me on a bed. But simultaneously I could feel him there with me on the mat. He hugged my face to his chest and said, “Mommy, Mommy, smell my angel soft hair and it will make you feel better”. I smelled his hair. It was wonderful. I experienced all the love I feel for him. Love that terrifies me because I cannot handle the idea of losing it. The voice told me that he was actually there with me. He kept stopping in like that from time to time as support throughout the trip. But before he disappeared into the darkness this time, he said “Mommy, are you going to leave again?”. It was at that point that a guilt and the torment of his feeling of being left when I go on work trip after work trip, ripped me open. I resisted the awareness. I could not accept that this is how I have made him feel and live with myself. I told myself to open up and absorb the truth. It hurt so bad I could hardly breathe. The voice came in and said “you’re so fucking self absorbed.” I had a thought of him at 30 years old in pain and explaining to someone that it was because his mother was always either leaving on a trip somewhere for her career or more absorbed in her 'sickness' of suffering.
I was seeing myself through the eyes of the other people in my life. Not the good parts. And it did not stop there. I suddenly switched and saw myself in a state of anger. I was yelling “don’t you ever fucking say that to me ever again”. I flipped back and forth between experiencing the pain of being on the other side of my negativity and criticism and anger in first person perspective and seeing the other people suffer, like beaten children. The narrator voice came in and shamed me in first person and then in third person perspective. “I’m so HARSH”. I saw the word HARSH spelled out across the image of me yelling. “You’re so fucking abusive” it said. “You torture other people. You have got to fucking improve your language.” I felt shame through every cell in my being.
The insight voice came in and handed me a spiritual truth…
Anything you say about another person, you say about yourself. Anything you say to another person, you say to yourself. This is on top of the abusive things you say to yourself already.
I saw the dichotomy in me. I have committed myself to reducing suffering in every way I can. I am a vegan, I rescue every tiny bug because I can’t stand to see it hurt. But I can SAY things to people that cause them to suffer immensely.
I saw a stream of people in my life. One crying because I reject and judge her so much. Hurting another with my unnecessary honesty. I saw another shut down as a result of it. I saw that I am surrounded by people who come to me so I can tell them what is wrong about them. I saw myself telling people what they need to fix about themselves. I saw that I weave reality with my voice. I decided with complete conviction that I do not want to say anything to someone that I do not want to have be true for myself. If I say, “She’s totally beyond help”, I’m saying that about myself. I’m condemning myself and the world to non-healing.
I saw myself talk to people with cruel honesty as well. I saw the mistakes I have made in my career with my voice. I saw that my haters have a reason to feel put off by me as a teacher. I am often not as loving in terms of my speech. What's scary is that I didn't even realize that I wasn't.
I had to go to the bathroom twice during this process. It was acutely painful. The shaman brought me each time, falling into him as I tried to walk. I brought my bowl. Everything was spinning and I could not stay conscious fully. It was like trying to do things with the worst stomach flu in existence and in an earthquake. The violence of my coughing caused acid bile to come up and it closed off my airway. I was gasping for air. It wouldn’t allow me to stop. I became aware that my cough had lasted this long because of the negativity of my words. The Ayahuasca coughed up that tendency within me and coughed it out of me so deeply at one point that I started to worry if I’d ever be able to breathe back in.
Back to my mat. I was struggling so the shaman dipped his hands in a tincture to soothe resistance. He held my head in his hands. Comforting and nurturing me. He hushed me softly with a soothing sh sh sh sh sh as if to quiet my spirit when I tensed against the pain.
The room was even darker. I saw that I was sucked into my own worries. Images of my son being terrified at a new school and developing ‘imprints’. Images of a horrible car crash happening here in Costa Rica and the ambulance not coming for an hour, which is the reality of accidents in this country. These are the thoughts my mind thinks all day every day. MY NEGATIVITY. Insight said I need to realize that the thoughts that are arising, I am owning. Insight said I need to dis-identify, let them play out against the canvass of my essence and then practice positive thoughts instead.
I rolled over and sank into the darkness once more. When I felt someone’s presence behind me, I opened my eyes and realized that I was completely by myself. I was lying in total darkness in an unfamiliar place in agony and there was no one there. I started moaning/whining. I knew I wanted my voice to bring someone to me. But they sank into the sound of the wind outside and into silence inside. No one would be there for me. I was consumed by that same life ending despair that has been plaguing my life. I realized no one would ever be coming to be with me. I felt like I was in a freezing cold desert at night where no one would ever find me. I started crying uncontrollably but each sob made the despair drive deeper into my heart because it didn’t matter if I cried, no one was there to hear it. I wanted to die. But I knew the universe wouldn’t be kind enough to let me die. This is torture. When I heard the word torture, I asked what is so torturous about being here alone? The answer was "I’m alone with my pain". It was then that I had the biggest awareness yet. I AM DESPERATE FOR SOMEONE TO RESCUE ME OUT OF MY PAIN. For that to happen, people have to see my pain. Now I realize why I feel such suicidal despair when people don’t see my pain. I felt my entire pain body at that moment. I am in a tug-o-war with it. I am in physical, emotional and mental pain all the time. It is a collection of what happened to me, wounds left over from the past and my own additives through the identification with painful thoughts. I am terrified of my pain. I have spent my entire life, every minute trying to get out of my pain, get rid of it. I even saw that while I preach to people to be unconditionally with their pain, the truth is, often even I am ‘unconditionally with it’ so it will go away. Which is not only conditional, it adds to the pain and is the opposite of loving in every way.
I had a revelation about integration the other day. It was about needing to pull these painful parts closer with love instead of trying to disidentify with them so as to cut them off. I was confused then. How do I be positive without suppressing and denying the inner parts that are part of the pain body? Insight told me that I need to focus positively to help the pain body feel better. That only I can know if I am positively focusing to escape the pain body or to help the pain body to feel better.
I saw that I cannot stand to be alone and that it is torture because the truth is that I am in so much pain that I am alone in my pain when I’m alone. This is how it has always been. I saw the image of me alone in my childhood upstairs room in torment with my parents asleep below and the image of myself alone in the basement in despair contemplating suicide with my family oblivious upstairs. I saw that my pain has always made people isolate me. I HATE my pain because when people don’t know how to deal with it, they isolate me. Friends end friendships, men break up the relationship because they are not able to make me happy. I AM FORSAKEN. I am condemned to suffer alone when I am screaming in every way to be saved by them.
The thought “How can you be saved from yourself?” Came into my awareness and echoed around me in the painful stillness.
I saw myself in a hospital bed. Demolished and emaciated and starved. If I am alone, that is the reality I am alone with. I saw the relief of a person coming into the hospital room with me. That is my life I thought. I am counting down the hours in despair until someone comes to be with me because in their absence, I am left alone with my tormentor… my abuser… my pain. I cannot forgive the pain they cause me and how they add to my pain by leaving me alone in my pain (which is what they do when they leave me alone). I see my own pain as my abuser. And the people who leave me alone in my pain as those who betray me by handing me over to my abuser. I experience it all hurting me. I saw that I need to HELP it, LOVE it and stop adding to it.
I could not sleep. The whole journey through the night, I stayed locked inside self awareness. The pain of truth about myself but my mind not being able to find out a solution to what I had been made aware of about myself. Simply being forced to swallow the pain I am causing to others and to myself.
I was shaking and shaking and my gut was wrenched and I was eaten alive by dizziness trying to digest what I had seen. Eventually, I opened my eyes and saw the dim purple light of morning before the sun arises. I was still in pain. I was going back and forth between writhing and staying motionless. I felt desperate for someone to come comfort me and welcome me back to the place. But I told myself, that is just you wanting to be rescued from your pain.
Eventually, the shaman came over like a willowy saint. He sat down, took my hand and held it tightly while he smiled down at me with complete understanding and compassion. I heard a voice inside me cry at him “please see my pain, please see my pain”. He stared into my eyes as if cradling me with them and tears welled up and ran down my cheek. I cling to his hand for dear life. I felt like a traumatized newborn baby completely vulnerable in his hands.
He brought me water and honey. He led me outside into the fresh air and dewy green earth on barefoot. Every cell in my body was tingling. I saw red spirals overlaid over the top of everything. He fed me some orange slices to suck on. We sat in silence there. And then he led me to the river, where he gave me his sweater and had me put my feet in the water. He talked about his experiences of not being able to pull himself back out of the perspective that he was everything in existence. It is an experience I have had spontaneously without medicine. I understood exactly what he meant. He stayed present with me for hours while I came back. He smiled at me and said that coming back was his least favorite part of the journey.
We started to pack up our things after a time so that he could drive me back home. I will never forget that ride back home. The bumpy, fast paced roads and glaring sunlight was not a match to the sensitivity I was feeling. It was like driving home post surgery.
When I got back home, I went upstairs to my room. Winter (my son) came in and as if he was there last night for the whole thing, became obsessed with not wanting to leave me alone. He started piling toys on my chest to not leave me alone. He laid down and kissed my forehead.
I can feel the medicine in me. It is still working in a quiet way within me. Ayahuasca is with you for days after ceremony. I wonder what it will reveal to me in the coming days.
Ayahuasca has taught me that sometimes you cannot see yourself clearly until you see yourself through the eyes of other people.
Sitting here in the aftermath, I can see even clearer now that thought comes from EVERYWHERE. The quantum field is energy. A thought is concentrated energy and when it is focused on for long enough it becomes thought form and when thought form is concentrated on enough, it becomes manifestation. So, thought can be projected forth from literally anywhere. A thought gives rise to its byproduct, a feeling. That is you translating a thought. Based on that, you know what thoughts you are a match to. That thought begins attracting other thoughts out of the quantum field (not even necessarily yours). But because you feel the emotion as a result of perceiving the thoughts, you think they are YOURS. It is the ownership of the thoughts that we call attachment and it is that process that is causing us pain.
We need to make more of a daily practice out of non attachment. We need to not engage with or become involved with (don’t touch them) any thought or feeling that arises out of the quantum field that we are perceiving. When you don’t give energy to creating thoughts, you experience energy as just energy. The clay that makes thought and creates emotion. This being-ness where there is no involvement with positive or negative thought is more important than positive focus even. From there, positive focus is simply a tool of deliberate creation.
Perhaps with enough awareness, one can know exactly where a thought is being projected from. But until that day, assume all thought simply arises from the quantum field. And they arise because they are a match to eachother. So if you deliberately think a thought, that will draw out thoughts like it from the quantum field and you will not perceive thoughts that vibrate at a different frequency from it, regardless of whether or not they ‘exist’. The most dangerous word in the universe is… I. I think, I believe, I am. The ultimate identification. It guarantees you are attached with adhesive to whatever that thing is. I choose freedom instead. I practice freedom instead.