Integration & Afterthoughts 2: Repression, Remembering, Rebalancing

February 24, 2018

It’s been a little over two weeks now since I finished my last Ayahuasca ceremony at Hummingbird Retreat. As time goes by, I am still choosing to consciously connect with the experience, trying to digest it and use it to make sense of and move forward correctly with my life… and at the same time, I fear that the memories and motivation will leave me before I am able to make the most of it. There is a balance to keep. I have to make space for the process in my life, but the process itself is an interaction with my life. And all in all, the process is something I have to allow to happen, rather than something I can force to happen. Like Mathew said to me earlier this morning, sometimes when you try to control things they slip more and more out of your grasp. I think my integration process is like that. 

I was talking to a couple friends the other night and made a connection about the more uncomfortable emotions and sensations I felt on Ayahuasca. I spent many moments in ceremony in some of the most intense discomfort and pain I’ve felt in my entire life. At the time, it felt worse than any feelings I was capable of coming up with even in my imagination. The broad feeling of ‘discomfort’ is something we can all understand, but the feeling I was feeling was not something that connected with my regular life at all. In a way, it seemed to transport me back into my childhood – not in a specific logical way, but more in a feeling intuitive way – as in, when I was feeling those terrible otherwordly things, I felt inside myself as if I was a child.

So I was telling my friends about those moments, and something just clicked for me. It seemed so obvious in my head when I realized it that it’s probably going to sound empty when I put words to it, but I’ll try nonetheless. My inspired thought was that those feelings were foreign and unimaginable to me not because they were alien and outside of my experience, but because they were things that I repressed really early on – things I experienced, or refused to experience, when I was a child. My understanding of emotions is that we often make the choice as young children to push away uncomfortable emotions instead of feeling them. It might be something we learned from our parents, or our way of coping with intense discomfort or trauma, or who knows. But for whatever reason, there is a sensation experience that we do not know how to cope with and do not accept, and we push it outside of our conscious experience and refuse to feel it. I believe that the way emotions work is that they are a moving energetic process that simply need to be given the space to express themselves and will naturally run their course. When we do not allow the emotional process to happen, the energy of it essentially stays lodged inside of our body somewhere and expresses itself dysfunctionally in covert ways. So we spend our lives walking around with our various small and large dysfunctions that have at their root some kind of stuck energy, the energy of a part of our experience that we repressed and are carrying with us.

As I remember those uncomfortable moments on Ayahuasca now, with this insight, it makes sense to me. At the time I didn’t understand – why is the Ayahuasca making me feel these terrible things? What is the point? Why should anyone ever have to feel this way? I knew and felt on some level that it was good for me but I couldn’t make sense of it rationally. Now I think I have the missing piece. The Ayahuasca wasn’t making me feel something outside myself – it was helping me feel something inside myself. Something I had feared so much that I repressed. Something I needed to come to accept and make peace with. Something that simply needed to express itself, to be seen by me, and to move on. That’s the thing about life, the difference between weakness and bravery in the face of fear – knowing that there is no avoiding experience. We can dance around it but when we try to avoid things we only end up creating problems for ourselves. And the good news… everything passes. No matter how terrible something is, it will come to pass. This reminds me of a lesson I received very clearly when I was hiking the PCT: the only true way out is through. We have to walk bravely with our heads up towards those things that scare us. And that includes the way we look at ourselves and our own experiences: don’t hide from your feelings. Look it in the face, see it, trust that it is on its way out when you do. Or else bear the burden of carrying it with you, and I believe that can be infinitely worse.

Spiritually, I believe that we are somewhat splintered souls and that healing is the process of becoming whole. Repressed emotions might be connected to repressed aspects of our selves. I believe we are here, at least in part, to make peace with and accept those parts of ourselves we have pushed away. We are here to become more conscious and allow love to flow through us more freely… and it starts with our relationship with ourselves. We have to love ourselves to truly love others. If we don’t accept ourselves as we are, we can’t accept others as they are. If we make war inside ourselves, we also create conflict in the world around us. The path of peaceful evolution starts with making peace in ourselves. And that means making peace with uncomfortable experiences, allowing life to flow through us unobstructed. It sure isn’t easy, and we do a lot of hurtful things along the way in our unconsciousness… but it’s okay. We are doing our best. We are evolving. I am evolving, bit by bit, and I feel lucky to be here.

So, life is moving forward for me now. Sometimes it feels too fast for me to make sense of. Some days I am wrestling a lot with myself, but I believe things are changing for the better. I am taking what I believe are positive steps towards things that I fear. And some of it has been done already – I do believe I came back from Peru with a new kind of lightness, that the Ayahuasca helped me release some things for good.

I have been very sensitive to the balance of my life since being back, which has been extremely unpleasant when things don’t feel right but I believe is a blessing overall – I want to stay in tune with myself. Writing helps. Talking to people helps. People being kind to me helps. Smiling at strangers helps. Meditation helps. Trying to do more of what’s helpful and less of what’s hurtful, you know? Trying my best.

Wishing you all a beautiful day! Let’s bring all of ourselves forward and be present… you only live this moment once… maybe. Haha.

Thanks for reading, and much love from me to your beautiful soul! ❤

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