Ceremony #3

February 5, 2018

Hi friends. It’s Day 5 of my 9-day stay at Hummingbird Ayahuasca Retreat. Time is sliding by in a dreamy, peaceful fashion. There is a calm, warm, and healing energy here that I’ve been absolutely soaking up. I love eating fresh jungle fruit every morning, being surrounded by jungle sounds, making friends with people from all over the world, and having an abundance of space in which to stretch out and be with myself. The Amazon feels like the womb of the Earth to me, vibrant and bursting with life and abundance. I am grateful to be here.

I had a really hard night last night with Ayahuasca. I took a significantly larger dose, and was pretty ready to dive in deep. I guess I thought I would find more clarity and have more grandiose and elaborate visions…. Ah, well. It doesn’t always go the way we want it to, does it?

I started out with the intention to find healing in my relationship with myself, specifically to be more able to hear and trust my inner guidance and intuition. I meditated into the beginning of the experience on a couple of mantras. “I am strong, beautiful, and safe.” “I am willing to heal.” Every ceremony I’ve started like this, sitting in meditation, and mantras have just come to me clearly and with ease. Repeating the right mantra seems to help me stay grounded, empowered and in good feelings, rather than slipping into being fearful and nervous and weak. Focusing on the breath is also helpful.

When it hit me I went pretty quickly into a deep(ly disorienting) experience. I entered into an oddly timeless space where I was suspended amidst all of the events of my life. Time stretched out. I was juggling different elements of my conscious experience, and part of my consciousness was somewhere other than the present reality, taking little nosedives into memories and sensations and emotions. It was so many things that it was impossible to make sense of… but there were themes that I’m stringing together now, in hindsight. In a way Ayahuasca was reminding me of what life actually is, or rather, what I’ve learned it to be. I remembered being a kid and forming opinions about life. I watched my life through the lens of seeing myself grow up. I felt… probably everything I’ve ever felt about life. I laughed, I cried, I wimpered helplessly, I purged. I felt early memories of being upset with myself, of believing I’m not good enough. That was a moment  of insight, just feeling how far back that pattern goes… and knowing I can choose to believe something better and be in a better relationship with myself.

Some of the pain I felt last night was a deep despair about one of the fundamental facts of this existence, which is the passage of time… the fact that we never get to go back, and that every moment really, really matters. I became acutely, painfully aware of what a gift every moment is, what a gift every person in my life has been, and what a serious responsibility it is to be present – to express love, to be appreciative of what is given to me, to care for the people around me. Because it will all be taken away. Everybody I love is just a temporary part of my existence. Everything of quality that comes into my life I owe to the good deeds of others, and I can never truly repay them except for by showing up in my life. That hurts.

And through this, I was in deep physical discomfort and nausea, barely aware of what was going on around me, emotional energy twitching through my body. The purge came without a struggle this time. I felt so utterly helpless, gripping my puke bucket and letting it come out of me. I suppose I had things inside of me that needed to be released in this way. I had to believe that this was something I needed, but it was pure suffering and I absolutely despaired over it.

There were some small moments of joy and humor sprinkled throughout the night. In reliving parts of my life and seeing my life from farther back, I was reassured by the feeling that I really do like who I am growing to be, and that through all of life at least I’ll be with myself. And in those moments of pain, I was somehow able to laugh at it all.. the absurdity of life and the dramas we create… human life is a big cosmic joke! Sometimes humor is the only thing that keeps it all together, it seems. It’s the creative antidote to pain and suffering. It doesn’t make it go away, but it at least makes it entertaining. Somehow, through the nausea and weakness and disorientation and pain, somehow, I could also laugh.

So it’s over now… Dang, though! Last night really rattled me. There was no inspiration or clarity at the end of ceremony, I just felt tired and spent. It was another late night with barely any sleep. I was glad for a rest day today. And actually, as I’ve been writing and trying to make sense of last night, I feel like I’ve come to a better place about it. I’ve already decided to trust what happens here, even if I don’t understand it. I trust the medicine. I trust I’m where I need to be. It’s still a crazy adventure to be experiencing this, even if parts of it have been extraordinarily difficult.

Tomorrow we do Huachuma, AKA San Pedro cactus. It grows in the Andes and has been used ceremonially by indigenous groups in the mountains. Its active ingredient is Mescaline, which is also the active ingredient in Peyote, a Native American ceremonial hallucinogen. I think I am going to ask the Huachuma spirit to teach me about living from the heart. And maybe also about the eczema I’ve been struggling with for the past two months. We’ll see.

That’s all for now, friends. Sending jungle love out to you through the cosmos, I hope you feel it.

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