- Ceremony #1; Let down your guard
I, like so many, went into my first ceremony with much fear and trepidation not knowing what might happen. I had heard numerous horror stories of other’s experiences and I had my guard up. I had two daunting decisions to make, 1) should I take the rapé (a tobacco/herb mixture)? and 2) should I go back for a second cup of the medicine? I chose to do both, giving myself every opportunity to enter the experience. There was little discomfort, tingling arms, nausea with about five minutes of vomiting. Because of so little reaction I mustered up all my courage to take a second cup. Again throughout the night there was minimal reaction. This then was the confirmation I needed that Ayahuasca was being kind with me and would take me at a pace I could handle. So grandmother Ayahuasca’s first lesson to me was that of gentleness. She was very patient with me, asking me to also be gentle and patient with myself. This enabled me to let down my guard and trust her best of intentions for me – a perfect beginning.
- Ceremony #2; Wow! What a show!
This is a journey from mind to heart, to learn to be open to everything and attached to nothing – fearless freedom. The medicine is bringing us back from separation to the nature of oneness.
This evening for me was the psychedelic visions and ecstasy that so many seek. The first half of the night was nothing. Half way through the night everything came alive and in perfect oneness. Everyone of us was contributing to this show – colors, patterns, lights, sounds and music, all with a common life and consciousness. It was like an exaggerated animation cartoon that I was in and fully a part of. But I had an erroneous sense that everyone in the room was having the same experience that I was, only to find out at the end of the night it was not the case. We were not all watching the same monitor screen like I thought.
My daughter went to this time with the desire to have fun, but her whole evening was one of torment, confusion and helplessness. In the middle of the night I went to see her and asked if she was having fun. I did not understand at the time she was not. It wasn’t until the end of the night that I understood her sorrows. Many in the room were in ecstasy, but only because many others were supporting and lifting them in light and love. It was by their experience of deep darkness that the rest of us could so enjoy it, thus bringing healing to us all. Afterward I was fatigued and my muscles ached. It hurt just to lay there, especially my arms and shoulders.
- Ceremony #3; The work is painful
Yagé is a stronger strain of Ayahuasca. One cup of medicine sent me to where my body could not take any more. The first half of the meeting I saw everyone in their harmony and divinity, that is to say, without their human costumes. We were all harmoniously expressing love, God having fun with itself. In the second half it was work and pain. For lack of strength I slept most of the night. Gratitude for all discomfort – it is a healing.
In our dualistic world there are two views on insanity. An awakened, conscious person views the violence and the desire to harm others or themselves as insanity. But then the unconscious person sees someone who takes medicine that for a period makes them appear as zombies and are willing to take in pain for the healing of all as insanity.
- Ceremony #4; Going deeper
I was in the company of the most courageous and compassionate people I have ever seen. They were unnaturally so. I don’t know how I got here, but I feel privileged to be in such company. During the night we had three healing sessions where a circle of people were up front being healed by the shamans. The rest of us were all around them in the room feeling the energy flowing through us to them for their healing. It was very exhausting and painful. It was the spirit of Ayahuasca that had brought us here to do this. We were creating light for the earth and the whole planet’s frequency and consciousness is rising. I did my second cup of medicine not in fear but love. I am thankful for the pain and a sensitivity to it. I want to deepen my own sacred partnership with myself, take time to nurture myself.
Which do I prefer? The prolonged pain of resistance or the much shorter pain of surrender? Am I viewing life as the opportunity of the soul or the inconvenience of the ego? The cow runs from the storm and depletes its energy. The Buffalo goes into the storm and is preserved. This shift in perception from fear to love is a miracle. Tonglen, as Pema Chodron tells us, is breathing in the pain and breathing out that which is healing and happy. It helps us overcome our fear of suffering and tap into the compassion that’s inherent in us all. Practicing tonglen awakens our natural empathy. If we can stay with those unwanted feelings, we can use them as stepping-stones to understanding the pain and fear of others. Then we send relief to us all. Tonglen reverses the usual logic of avoiding suffering and seeking pleasure. We come to see pain as something that can transform us, not as something to escape at any cost. As we practice tonglen, our compassion is bound to grow.
- Preparation and maintenance
Rythmia life advancement center is a perfect place for the westerner to have his/her first experience with the medicine. It has all the supporting elements you could want (yoga, colon cleanses, breathworks, classes on the plant medicine, massages, medical assistance, etc.), it removes all physical risks and provides all the luxury amenities you could want. Also they teach you what you can expect and how to get the most out of your experience. They are there for you. It is not cheap, but worth every bit what you pay. They will do everything possible to see you get your miracle(s).
I was very sceptical and even now much scepticism remains in me. My arm had to be twisted many times to get me there. As Byron Katie says, it’s not because I am a spiritual person, but because it hurts so much to resist reality. I now see my new marriage relationship as perfect. When I am in my right mind I don’t want any part of it to be any different than it is. If the disfunction of my marriage relationship can bring healing to others I no longer want to hide or cover it up. I want to go deeper into the pain and always be open and forgiving. Grandma Ayahuasca, I am so grateful for your continuing presence and influence in my life.