Hello, from a chilly morning in Durham, where steam billows from my hot cup of tea and morning traffic rolls by on Club Blvd. I’m one week from my first dose of Ayahuasca and it is feeling like as I get closer, my life reflects back to me more and more that it is coming. Everything is coming into question. I don’t feel good about the things that I’m doing. I feel impatient and restless. I feel feelings that take me back to the heart of my eating disorder when I was in high school. My body is hurt and bruised up, and I feel vulnerable and weak. I don’t understand what’s happening to me. And at the same time, I don’t believe it’s an accident. I see it as a lead-in to this experience. Everything is being shaken up, and all the shit is coming to the surface to be examined. Do you ever get frustrated by the difficulty of pinpointing what your priorities really are? I feel that in all aspects of my life right now, except for Ayahuasca. In this moment, Ayahuasca is my priority. I don’t understand my life, but I understand that I am taking this trip to Peru and that it’s what I need to do right now.
Tiny introduction to Ayahuasca and what I am doing:
Ayahuasca is an indigenous Amazonian hallucinogenic brew made from plants in the jungle that has been used ceremonially for spiritual healing for (purportedly) a few thousand years. (Maybe less. Maybe more. Definitely longer than we’ve all been around.) People call it “the medicine”, a healer of the mind-body-spirit. It is administered by ayahuasqueros, native shamans who have trained with the medicine in their respective traditions for years. I will be working with a shaman who is from a small town 12 hours into the jungle from Iquitos by river. He comes from a family of healers (four generations deep) and began learning from his father when he was 16 years old, so he has spent 35 years working with Ayahuasca.
Over the course of a 9-day retreat, I and a small group of others will sit in ceremony and drink Ayahuasca 4 times, as well as San Pedro once. (San Pedro is a mescaline-containing cactus from the Andes that is similar to Peyote and is also used ceremonially for healing. It is said to be very compatible with Ayahuasca.) In between ceremonies, there will be a lot of down time for personal reflection, some structured group reflection time, and some plant baths and other supplemental healing things, including optional adjustments from a local bone healer, which I am eager to experience.
What I feel right now towards the experience is openness and respect. I don’t think the Western mindset has an accurate way to look at something like this, but it probably sees Ayahuasca just as a strange drug… whereas, people who take it tend to see it as a benevolent, motherly, powerful spirit. I see this trip as an opportunity to meet with the spirit of Ayahuasca, to open myself up to her energetically and allow her to speak to me how she will. I think the way you look at something like this changes if you believe that there can exist communication between plants and humans. If you believe that, and if you believe that where there is life there is a bigger kind of spiritual presence and intelligence… I just mean, I think the plants have it figured out more than we do. We have so many pains and problems, and we cause so many pains and problems… I think the plants live in peace and joy. And if some of them have found ways to communicate with us, to help us see the sources of our suffering and invite us into a better way of being, then that’s beautiful and I am open to receiving the teaching.
Of course, I’m just speculating. I haven’t sat in ceremony yet. Maybe my perspective will be vastly different at the end of it. You’ll just have to stick around and read on to find out.
I’ll check out for now and go meditate. It’s a day off for me. I’m going to do some jiu jitsu, although not at 100% intensity because my body feels strange. I’m going to officially log out of Facebook for a few weeks to give myself some additional energetic cleansing. For anyone following along, thank you from my heart and I am sending love to you ❤