Almost every time I mention to someone that I recently visited the Peruvian Amazon, I’m asked the same question:
“Did you take Ayahuasca?”
It’s actually quite a personal question. Mostly because the question is almost always followed by: “What was it like?” One might not know that this is as intimate as asking for details of a psycho-therapy session. It’s so personal. And so individual.
When I arrived in the jungle, I honestly knew little about Ayahuasca. I thought it was just a strong hallucinogen, and given that I’m somewhat of a control freak, the thought of sitting with a group of people and seeing a lot of colorful light flashes really did NOT interest me.
However on the first night of our trip, our Shaman, Jon gave our group a little talk about Ayahuasca: the process, the timeline, and the different possible experiences we’d each have. He explained that it is a medicine- not a drug. That the purpose of Ayahuasca is to open our brain to the dimension beyond our dream state and experience our lives void of all time: reach back to the past; move forward to the present; work on pain buried deep within; open our hearts to pure joy. That this medicine is smart: it knows where to go, what parts of our body need to be healed, and what areas of our soul need inspiration and healing. That it continues its work within our bodies for months, even up to a year afterward. How incredible.
Jon then explained that in order to reach this state, we’d have to allow our bodies to purge and vomit– on and off for 3 to 4 hours. Honestly, that’s all I heard from thereon.
I couldn’t get over this hurdle- not that first night, anyway. Sitting with a group of people for four hours, throwing up and tripping just did not sound like my idea of a fun night out.
But I did it. Reluctantly, I tried it. I boarded a boat with our intimate group, along with about 8 other strangers, our Shaman Jon, and Ponduro, our Ayahuascero. We rowed out to Monkey Island and created a large circle on the beach, beneath the incredible stars of the Amazon Rainforest.
Placed between my 2 close friends, I sat on the beach for 4 hours, trying NOT to throw up. I resisted it in every way. Ponduro walked around the circle, singing in Spanish and apparently guiding the medicine through our bodies. I felt sick, but I wouldn’t let it out. I witnessed the friend to my left find extreme inspiration and awe in the stars, and then crash to her knees as she released the pure grief for the loss of a loved one. The friend to my right mostly sang quietly, and then rested while gazing up at the night sky.
And I just sat there, fighting it. I was angry and disgusted by the stranger who was violently ill to my right: Really? Do I really have to hear this guy vomit so loudly for 3 hours?! I was worried about a girl in our group who had wandered off into the darkness to purge by herself. I ignored that Jon had said we must concentrate only on ourselves… and pay no attention to the journey of those around us.
I just couldn’t let go.
But I did see the glowing net in the sky. It was truly mesmerizing: the most beautiful net woven in between all of the stars and all around the Milky Way. Jon told me later that this was the boundary that he an Ponduro had created to keep us all safe during our journey. I believe it. I saw it.
I learned a lot about myself that night: I need to take baby steps before I leap. I wasn’t scared of digging deep- I was scared of being uncomfortable, and I wasn’t ready to let that go.
I pondered this for the rest of our journey through Peru: The concept that growth is painful- uncomfortable- frightening. But it’s awe-inspiring, empowering and beautiful all at the same time- just like birth.
How perfectly beautiful is that?
The next day, it took me 12 hours to think it through, all the while resisting… but I decided to try Ayahuasca again. This time we stayed within an enclosed space with just our intimate group. And this time, I let go… just a little. But it was enough for me, and enough to open up and let the medicine do its work.
To be uncomfortable. Inspired. Healed. Scared.
Thank you Jon for quietly, gently and respectfully showing me the way.
To learn more about Jon Rasmussen and his Shamanic Healing, visit his website at www.dreamingintobeing.com Or contact Jon directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Ayahuasca can have serious side effects and should only be taken under the guidance of an experienced Shamanic Healer and with an authentic Ayahuascero. This blog is not intended to promote the use of Ayahuasca, but is solely an account of one person’s experiences.
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