Thursday, April 5th, 2012 was the first night of my second round of ceremonies with the sacred plant medicine, the Colombian brew of ayahuasca known as yage. I was initially signed up for 4 nights and had been a little apprehensive going into this ceremony so soon before my trip to Peru. I knew that on the one hand, this would be physically demanding but also thought it would be a good preparation to settle into the proper state of mind that I would need for this trip as well as clear my body out of toxins in order to go into the jungle as clean as possible. These journeys are long and grueling and they really take a toll on the body, not to mention the emotional roller coaster. But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to sit with this shaman again and see what a second round of healing would bring me and what I could learn and take with me to the jungle. Whether or not I would make it to the fourth night was a question mark, but I was definitely willing to try.
I began my journey on the first night with no expectations and had invited a friend with me for his first experience with the medicine. We sat in the corner on the same side of the room I had sat for all 3 nights back in December. It was refreshing going into the experience this time with a sense of familiarity which eased my nervousness and allowed me to slip into a comfortable state of mind pretty quickly. It also helped me reach a place where I could hold space for my friend as a newcomer to the circle and the medicine. My friendship with this individual is a very unique one. We have not known each other for very long but we have bonded pretty quickly and have had a few intense spiritual experiences together. The friendship that we are forming is a very unique and special one and I’m thrilled to be on this ride with him. He was signed up for one night and I was happy to be seated next to him for his first time and honored to be able to hold space for him. I feel like I have known him for several lifetimes and excited to share this experience with him as co-pilots on Ayahuasca Airlines.
My intention for the first night was to ask the grandmother for assistance with a slow and quiet mind. The quiet mind has been a very difficult thing for me to achieve on a consistent basis. I’ve had success in quieting my mind with meditation but it has always been fleeting and temporary and it’s so easy to slip back into the noisy patterns of thought, what I like to call my chatterbox. My lesson around the ego on my last night of ceremony in December taught helped me in this area but for this night I wanted to be able to focus specifically on the aspect of learning how to be still, slow down and truly quiet that bird inside the cage that is my brain. I spent some time before the ceremony talking to my friend and some neighbors, meeting a few new people and writing in my journal. I chose two stones for the night, Labradorite and Carnelian and had 6 healing bracelets on my left wrist with my mala beads on my right wrist (giving). Looking back on it, I probably should have placed the bracelets on the right wrist and the mala beads on my left wrist (receiving). Perhaps this was just another in what seems like a million variables that contributed to the rocky night I was about to face. Lesson learned. I never really considered myself superstitious in the past but things change quickly. :)
I picked out a stone and a bracelet for my friend as well and also gave 2 stones to other individuals in the room who I thought could benefit from them. I gave my friend a Rhodonite stone, used for calming, casting off confusion, doubt and incoherency and ensuring a realistic and practical approach. Rhodonite promotes balance within when one is presented with turmoil. I was delighted to learn later that the stone helped him tremendously. I had charged all of the gemstones in the moonlight for 2 nights prior to ceremony and left them in some sea salt overnight. It was heart-warming for me to be able to reach out to other astral travelers and share a small token of appreciation, understanding and assistance. We’re all in this together, please take this spiritual weapon for your journey tonight. This was my little way of helping, acknowledging and giving a little bit of love to other people in the room and it made me feel good inside. A pyrite cube went to one and Nuumite found its way to another. Pyrite is a metallic gemstone which stabilizes and creates higher energy levels, and uplifts and calms at the same time. It eases anger, frustration and depression and enhances memory. Nuumite is one of my favorite good luck stones and is the oldest known mineral on the planet. It is over 3 billion years old and the woman I gave it to was very grateful for it, as it helped to keep her grounded throughout the tumultuous journey that this night would prove to be for everyone I spoke to the next morning. These were the only two individuals who I felt had a connection with some of the stones I was carrying. The rest of the stones went back into my pouch for use later in the weekend.
The night started off quietly as the first cup had virtually no effect on me other than a bit of a rumbling stomach. This was not surprising, as the first cup didn’t do much last time either. Shortly after the first cup, I had a creative idea pop into my mind, inspired by something my friend had told me prior to the beginning of ceremony. I followed a few people up for cup number 2 after about an hour or so and from that point forward the rest of the night would prove to be long, chaotic and loud. For the next several hours, I built on this creative idea, attaching more details to it and coming up with more ideas to compliment the original idea. It grew from a simple idea into a very complex one and it became unbelievably distracting. At first, it was playful and harmless and I enjoyed the creative process. I didn’t think too much of it but as the night grew longer, it became overwhelming and disconcerting. Well into my second cup, I could not shut my mind off. I tried many times to stop thinking about this silly idea and to focus on the all important process of connecting with myself, the shaman, the earth and the grandmother. But I failed miserably, every time, bombarded with thoughts. My mind kept returning back to this idea and attaching more accessories to it. It became extremely annoying. I wanted it to stop and began silently cursing myself for being so distracted.
For awhile, I averted my attention by moving into the familiar place of gratitude that I had learned during the December ceremonies. I thought of my loved ones, my family and closest friends and moved into a deep emotional space where I shed tears for each of them and spent time focusing on each individual and what they have meant to my life and my progress as an individual. One by one, I was overcome with waves of gratitude, crashing down on top of me with a force that is difficult to describe in words. Each individual and his or her essence flooded my consciousness and my heart and I learned more about each of them, their true divine spirits and the powerful force of their love. I cried for all of them individually and then moved onto the next, saving a full set of tears and sobs for each one of them. It was all very familiar and similar to what I went through in December, only this time it became a little deeper as my relationships with some have grown. Gratitude is definitely one of the most profound things that I have learned on the medicine. I found myself distracted again, by my own thoughts of each of them and feeling stuck thinking about external things. Thinking about these angels in my life and what they have meant to my spiritual and emotional development was much more comfortable than the distraction of the previous theme but I still was not where I wanted to be. My mind went back and forth from the people in my life to the creative idea I had and became stuck in a loop. I tried to remind myself that I came into this night with no expectations and to just go along for the ride but this noisy chatterbox was becoming really frustrating.
Back and forth I went and began thinking that there has to be more to this night but I can’t shut my mind off. I wanted to reach a place of focus and center on myself but I couldn’t figure out how to get there. I cried some more as the realizations of the true nature of these family members and dearest friends became more clear. What they’ve added to my life, how they’ve influenced me and how much love I have for every one of them. My mom, my dad, my sister, my cousin, my ex and my 4 or 5 closest friends. The love I felt for each of them has never been stronger than in these moments. The last 8 months have brought major changes and some of these people have played a huge role in my life during this time. The love for each of them grew with each teardrop that fell from my face. As the weekend unfolded, this love would grow to even newer levels as I will explain as best as I can later. I finally moved on from the tears until the water ceremony. By the time the water reached my friend and me, I felt my body aching for a sip. I slipped back into a concentrated focus on the essence of water. The molecules, the consistency, the coolness, the sound of the drops pouring into the crystal bowl. By the time the water reached me, I was in tears again. Crying for it and feeling a core sense of love for the sacred water. I drank it slowly and breathed deeply with each sip, exhaling as I swallowed. It felt like bright colored rainbows trickling down my throat and into my stomach.
The night continued with a 3rd cup of medicine, which the shaman handed to me in a shot glass. As soon as I took it down, I realized that this was the “honey” … a thicker, more concentrated blend which was mixed by the shaman’s taita’s nephew. It did not go down smoothly at all and was frankly wretched and completely disgusting. My face cringed and my body contorted as I walked back to my seat. Within a few steps, I felt my stomach groan. “What the hell did you just feed me!?”
The rest of the night consisted of mass confusion, my chatterbox in overdrive while the shaman and his helpers battled feverishly. They were marching up and down the room, lots of chanting, singing and harmonica. They were very active, working hard and chasing away evil spirits throughout the night. I found myself occasionally distracted by concern for my friend sitting next to me who spent the entire time underneath his blanket after his 3rd cup. I was surprised that the shaman had given him the honey on his first experience. I’m not sure I would have been able to handle that for my first time. The energy in the room was unbelievably turbulent. People were constantly shuffling about, the front door opening and closing with its annoying squeaky hinges. There were lots of people taking turns on the couches in the side room as well, and using the restroom. The energy was roily and obscure and I would realize later that all of this commotion and messy energy negatively affected my experience. Not only was it difficult to quiet my mind, it was completely impossible. It seemed like every few minutes someone was purging up a lifetime of demons. There were a lot of first-timers in the room as well, more than I had seen on any of the nights of my first round of ceremonies. In addition to the many first-timers, there were only 7 women in a group of approximately 40. As soon as the night began, I felt an imbalance of masculine and feminine energy in the room and it became more evident as the night went on. The room was missing that all important female energy that keeps a special vibration in that sacred container. I attribute my experience to this and many other variables which I will speak about in more detail later, in the context of the full experience as well as individual nights.
It was mayhem. I went outside once or twice for some tobacco and eventually ended up purging once after the honey shot. Things didn’t improve after the purge, I continued to sit in mud for the rest of the night, only now it just became a messy blob of commotion. The bird in the cage had been joined by another dozen birds, all of them chirping at the same time, competing with each other for space and volume. After some time, there was so much going on, the cage couldn’t even contain it all.
I was stuck, completely engaged in meaningless garbage that had nothing to do with anything. So much for a quiet mind. At one point I even found myself distracted by the lyrics of some random song which I can’t think of now but definitely remember marveling at the level of pathetic clutter I was in at that moment. This was ridiculous and very frustrating. What the hell is wrong with me? Other than the time spent thinking about my loved ones, I wasn’t learning anything and wasn’t going anywhere meaningful. I wanted the quiet mind and the meditative experience and if I couldn’t have that, I at least wanted to dive deeper into myself or release some emotional baggage or anything! Even if it meant I had to face some difficult things, I wanted something! Instead, all I got was turbid noise that made no sense and stuck in these stupid thought patterns that seemed useless. I tried to remind myself again … no expectations.
By morning, I found myself tired, queasy and completely discouraged. My friend had an awful and uncomfortable night as well, one that I will not go into in detail here as I want to keep this blog entry focused on my experience. I did feel really bad for him though, and wished he could have had a better experience for his first time. My lessons from the first night didn’t come until after the entire experience and a week’s worth of integration. By Friday afternoon, I wrote the first night off as a conundrum, nothing gained and nothing learned. I was left feeling confused. What was that all about?
I spent most of the day on Friday writing in my journal, sleeping in the sun on my foam mattress, and preparing my intentions for the next round. I had settled on the following intention … I wanted to ask the grandmother for help with consistently being genuine in my words and actions, and always speaking and acting from a place of truth, integrity and love. I had 3 friends joining, one for her first time. I was grateful to be sitting with friends again, as I seem to gain a lot from sharing this experience with people in my life. However, I would eventually learn that the idea of having friends sitting so close to me is not really the best thing for my process and personal journey, a challenge that I would like to overcome in the future so that I can continue to share this experiences without the clashing of energy. I definitely value their presence but I now understand how important it is to be completely focused on one’s own process and not distracted by the energy or concern for friends sitting nearby. I am still grateful for the experience of being able to share this journey with my friends but I also now understand that it is much more challenging to get into oneself when sitting so close to people that I care for. I also have now come to a better understanding of just how sensitive I am to external energy. I had always been aware of this, but Friday night taught me even more about my levels of sensitivity and how much subtle, external energy can pull me away from center. Perhaps this is a challenge for me to overcome in the future. Regardless, this would prove to be one of the most difficult and demanding nights of my life. If I were to label Thursday as loud and confusing, Friday would take those adjectives to another level and pour a hot cup of negative ones on top of them.
The night started off quietly enough with the first cup of medicine but there was a long period of time before the shaman invited us up for a second cup. The shaman and his helpers were very active from the very beginning of the night, clearing the room of bad energy. Lots of chanting and icaros and even more movement and chaos than the previous night. I found myself pulled away from my process by the energy of people shuffling about, the shaman and his helpers all over the place and the subtle energy between myself and my friends. I was easily distracted by concern for them, thoughts about them and an all around general sense of being influenced by this subtle energy. The constant squeaking of the front door and sounds of people purging every few minutes did not help either. In addition to these variables, there was also still an imbalance of male to female energy in the room. Not as lopsided as the previous night but it was still evident. The full moon and the howling Boulder wind definitely added to the strange vibration of the night and cast a dark energy over the farm.
I sat patiently, waiting for the invitation for cup number two. By the time it came, I was excited and ready for it. So much so, that I flung my blanket off of myself and jumped to my feet and headed to the front of the room with a quick step. As I reached the shaman, he gave me a curious look and I was suddenly overcome with a wave of shame and guilt. What had I just done? I disrespected the medicine! By springing to my feet so quickly and rushing to the front for my second cup, I hadn’t thought about the energy I was carrying in my movements and was not acting from the place of true self. It was my ego in full control yet again. This was the kind of stuff I wanted to work on, wanted to avoid and now here I was, stuck in this space again, feeling very ashamed and aware of this one act that did not come from the true me. I was reminded of other moments in my life where I acted or spoke from a place of non-awareness that left me feeling embarrassed, incompetent or ashamed. This was not the real me, the real me would not behave this way. The real me is calm, peaceful, deliberate and respectful. But this one act came from a place of non-awareness.
I realized instantly that the grandmother was about to unfold the lesson of my intention to me in a very uncomfortable way. I knew that I was about to get my ass handed to me but there was no turning back now and I was ready for the lesson. Or at least I thought I was. The shaman handed me my cup and I swallowed it down and felt judgement from the room. Only there was no judgement, it was just in my head. I was judging myself. I returned to my seat and disappeared underneath my blankets.
I sat quietly for awhile and the shame and guilt began to build. Voices in my head started up and as each minute passed, I felt more and more ashamed of myself. I realized quickly that I was in for a long night. Shame and guilt eventually morphed into self-doubt which evolved into self-loathing and questioning my true nature. It became extremely uncomfortable. The voices grew louder and were soon accompanied by dark, abstract visions. I tried to shake it off and think about something else but it wasn’t going anywhere. Grandmother had me locked in her grasp and I was going to learn this hard lesson over the next few hours. It became evident that I would not be needing a 3rd cup because this was going to be a long and painful ride with shame as one of the main themes.
Who am I? Where is the real me? Why do I struggle so much with this in my life? Why can’t the real me come to the surface and shine my light to the world? I know that the love I hold inside of me is powerful and I have a lot of love to offer but I have constantly been stuck in a place of speech and action that is not my true, genuine nature. Where is my integrity? I am worthless and pathetic. Shame on me. I began to feel a lot of hate for myself and wanted to go home.
I suddenly started to feel alone, covered by dark clouds with my insecurities rising to the surface. My own self-hatred manifesting in the strangest ways possible, including a continuing sense of feeling judged by others in the room, including my friends. Which, of course, was insane. My friends love me and do not judge me and I know this. But it didn’t even matter what anyone else thought. The only thing that mattered at this moment was my hatred for myself. I saw no redeeming qualities and every single one of my insecurities became larger and all-consuming as the voices in my head continued hammering home the message of self-loathing. I’m just not good enough, smart enough, creative enough … I have no charisma, nothing to offer anyone and can’t take care of myself. I’m ugly, boring, unsuccessful, and my life is miserable. I hate myself, my job, my life and my circumstances. I am wretched and pitiful, and I just want to disappear forever.
Everything became dark and gloomy. I felt like a lost child alone in a field with no sense of direction and no idea how to get home to safety.
Thoughts of loved ones from the previous night and how much love I had for individuals were replaced with doubts about my relationships with them. It was downright awful and I was stuck in it for hours. The visions became dark and twisted. I spent a long time alone in the side room and outside near the fire. Several times I noticed my face had unconsciously contorted itself into a frown as I continued drowning in my own shadows. No matter what I did or what I tried to think of, all I found was darkness and confusion tearing me up from the inside.
I started to feel smaller and weaker. The little boy inside of me rose to the surface and my manhood disappeared entirely. I curled up into the fetal position and felt completely powerless. The grandmother continued to twist in my stomach and contort in my mind. My wicked ego was in full control, delivering every ounce of shame, guilt and self hatred it could in all sorts of ways.
The evil intensified and I began to see really dark images of horrific looking creatures. But these creatures I was seeing in my mind’s eye were not external, they represented the ugliness I felt about myself.
I related these images to my shadows and yet somehow I managed to briefly convinced myself that I was actually a bad person, returning to a place of self-judgement about the act of disrespect from earlier. I knew it wasn’t a big deal but in the moment it felt like a huge, regretful mistake. A horrible manifestation of this awful person who has nothing worthwhile to offer the world. Regardless of how hard I tried to pull myself out of this mindset, I was completely stuck, submerged in the quicksand of my mind.
I continued to slowly sink into a valley of torturous desolation and suffering as the visions became more and more ominous. I suddenly realized that I was not prepared for my trip to Peru and that I would have to cancel. What a shame, a waste of money and how will I explain this to people? But it didn’t matter. I knew there was no way I could survive the jungle after this night. I just did not have the spiritual awareness and mental capacity for such a journey. What the hell was I thinking even signing up for such a thing? I am weak and worthless and have no business doing something so massive in magnitude. As the visions became more murky and nebulous, the reality of my situation became more apparent. I started thinking about how I would need to call the airline first thing in the morning and put this entire episode with the medicine behind me. This was not for me, I was not equipped for this type of self reflection and inner work. I wanted to crawl into a hole of my emotional slime and never come out. The visions became more complex and my negative thoughts encouraged them. A snowball traveling down a downward spiral of negativity.
I finally had a breakthrough of sorts when one vision presented itself to me as the one that would snap me into the realization of what was underneath this mess and the hidden lesson in all of this. It was a vision of a mask, with the public version of my face at the front. This was the face that I put out to the world. This is where my ego lived, but the face wasn’t just ego. It was also the version of myself that I try to put forth as the real me, except it’s really just a shell of the real essence of me. How I think I should be perceived. The face that wants to be liked by everyone and worries about being ignored of even worse, making a fool of itself. The back of the mask was divided into two halves. On the left was an evil, demonic version of my face. Menacing, nasty and dark. On the right half, was my real face, small, dormant and weak. The mask rotated clockwise with the ego face remaining unchanged as it came to the front. With each rotation of the mask, the evil side of my face became even more horrific, disgusting and frightening. As the real me came into view, it showed its face as more anemic, pale and quiet, shrinking in size with each rotation. Round and round this mask turned for what seemed like hours but was probably about 20 minutes. Each turn brought a deeper understanding of the three faces, my relationship with them, and the messages buried within each of them as I huddled on the floor in the side room, hunched over, with my hands on my head.
The public face – arrogant, aloof, unsure of itself, and fake. The pseudo-me, phony and fabricated. This was the version of me that had been in control for most of my life. It wasn’t entirely inauthentic. There are some admirable qualities in this version of me, but it still isn’t the absolute intrinsic version of who I am and the real essence of my spirit. This was the version of me that didn’t know how to act in certain social situations. It was the version that didn’t know what to say in awkward moments. It was the face that didn’t understand itself, had a hard time connecting with others and didn’t know how to slow down. It was the face of social anxiety, nervousness and uncertainty. This face was reactive and uncomfortable in its own skin. This was the face that would say or do things from a place of insecurity and not understanding itself or its true nature (the real face).
The evil face – pale, then gray, first light then dark. Hideous, wicked and repulsive. It was the villainous version of me and each time it came into view it was more scarred and repugnant than the last turn. It was vicious, vile and horrifying and it scared the hell out of me. This was me in all of my ugliness. Insecure, angry and grotesque. With each rotation it took on a more beastly and demonic presence, like a goblin or some other horrifying mystical creature. There was no love in this face, it was grisly, deformed and unattractive. I attribute this face to all of my insecurities, my darkest fears and all of the things I can’t stand about myself. This includes my lack of accomplishments and achievements, my appearance, my actions, my mistakes, my regrets, my bad habits, etc. Looking at this face as it evolved into pure evil was one of the most difficult experiences I’ve ever been through. By the time the mask reached its final rotation, I could no longer recognize any of my features in this face, it had morphed into pure, unadulterated evil.
The real face – sad, languid, tender and unsubstantial. Dying for a voice but completely muted with no power or control whatsoever. Smaller and more feeble with each turn. But honest, kind, humble and full of love. This was the true, veritable me and it was dying to come to the surface. The real me – credible, kind, faithful, loyal, reliable and lovable. This version of my face existed in the public face as well. It contributed to the good qualities of the public face and had a voice there but it was not in control and overall, it had no real voice of its own. But this was me and I felt the love and compassion in this face each time it came into view. Regardless of how powerless and somber this face seemed, I understood that the sadness and depression behind this face existed only because it had no voice. But the true essence of the real me was full of love, excitement, empathy and creativity. The smile within me was aching to show itself. This was the face that wanted to save the planet and help humanity. It was waiting to burst into the world in all of its glory and to celebrate the joy of life. I just didn’t know how to make that happen.
I knew there was a profound lesson in this vision because it stood out amongst all of the others and there were many horrific things I saw that night. But this one vision contained the lesson and although I knew it was there, and in fact already knew what the lesson was, I wasn’t ready to think about it. I was just too overwhelmed by the darkness. I curled my body up into the tightest ball I could, begging the grandmother to just let me disappear.
All I wanted was to be home in my bed. I spent a long time in the side room, alone with my thoughts. I felt like it would be best for me to be away from the room and my friends and allow them to get more into their process without my energy nearby and vice versa. At the very least, perhaps I could help my friends have their own experience without my energy interfering. Yet another ridiculous and irrational thought. I continued to sit with my inner pain and suffering with no escape in sight.
My patterns of negative thought didn’t make anything easier and when it came time for the morning healing, I wanted to hide. I thought about going outside, and even thought about running to my car to get away from it all. I wanted the night to end and it just kept dragging on. I started to drift off on the couch when one of the shaman’s helpers came to grab me for my healing. At this point, I figured it would probably be best and would do almost anything to feel better. My mind, body and heart were drained and even after the sunrise healing, I still felt wiped out, sad and broken.
The morning was arduous and I was unable to sleep. I had no desire to eat breakfast, which is usually one of the highlights. I just wanted to pack up my stuff and go home. The friend of mine who had her first experience that night laid in her spot next to me, curled up in her blankets, glowing. We talked for awhile and I started to feel a little better. It was so wonderful to sit with her, exchange ideas, hear about her experience, laugh and cry together. I squeezed her, kissed her on the cheek and we giggled and shed some tears together. I realized quickly that this little amount of affection was just what I needed. I needed to feel a little bit of love after the hours of self hatred I had just gone through. It reminded me of one of the things that I learned about myself during and after DMT ceremony. I am a highly affectionate person and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I’m an emotional being and I want to hug, touch, squeeze and love people. When I go through really long periods of time without affection, I get in a really lonely and sad place, something I’m continuing to work on. I am so grateful that my friend and I got to share these moments of love with each other. It was absolutely beautiful and it was so comforting to know that her first time was a positive experience and very similar to what I felt after my initial dance with the medicine in December. I understood exactly where she was at. This journey had instantly brought us closer together as friends. In many ways, she is like the sister I’ve always wanted. She really understands me and I am beyond grateful for her presence in my life. Having her there with me that morning was a life saver. I am not sure how I would have gotten through the morning without her. The love I feel in my heart for her is bottomless and expansive and will continue to grow as our friendship evolves. For that, I am thrilled. Still, I wanted out of there and she knew I was hanging on by a thread, just by looking at me.
By the time breakfast was served, I was still feeling nauseous, and my mood was in the gutter. I forced myself to eat a little quinoa salad and some fruit, chatted briefly with a couple of my friends and then packed up my stuff with the plan to go home and never come back to this place again. I was done with the medicine and needed to figure out how I was going to cancel my trip to Peru and how I would explain this to my family and friends. How embarrassing. If there was a well on site, I would have crawled down into it and sat at the bottom forever. This experience had left me feeling very unsure of myself and uncomfortable in my own skin. I paid for my final 2 nights, told the facilitator I would not be returning and drove home after saying goodbye to my friends. As I merged onto the freeway, I lost it. The entire experience started purging from my body in the form of tears, mucous and sobs. I realized that I was dreading going home to a house under construction with contractors working on the floors and stuff piled up everywhere. The idea of being alone in this moment was terrifying and I’m normally one who likes my alone time a lot. I started to have an anxiety attack and decided to call my ex for support. I wailed on the phone to her, told her the entire story of my night, my shame, and expressed the utter malevolence I had for myself in as many ways as I could. She urged me to return for a 3rd night but there was no way in hell I was going to put myself through such a horrible experience again on the next night or maybe not ever. It was too late, I was done, halfway home and already planning on how I could cancel my trip to Peru. I was not ready for this. I did not have the tools, the discipline or the proper mindset to embark on such a journey. I cried and cried and wished she was here with me. I wanted her to board a flight and come to Colorado. I needed her more than ever in this moment. I needed someone to hug me and hold me and reassure me that things were going to be okay. I felt sad, alone, emotionally unstable and completely pathetic. On top of all of that, I was absolutely exhausted and my body was sore. I followed up that phone call with another one to a friend of mine who also proposed that I go back but the mere suggestion resulted in nothing but disgust and fear. More tears and piles of plaintive uselessness and then I was home. I unpacked my cooler, put all of my food in the refrigerator and went upstairs to my room. I laid down in a bed of regret and thankfully was able to curl up with my cat and fall asleep in a short amount of time. I was actually grateful to be so tired at this moment because otherwise I would have lay there forever, stuck in my own negative thought patterns, hating myself for a few more hours, or maybe days, weeks, months, years … FOREVER?! When will this misery end?
I awoke several hours later and sighed deeply. I was defeated and hurting physically and emotionally. I drank some more coconut water and swallowed a handful of vitamins and potassium pills. What was I supposed to do now? The thought of sitting alone with my thoughts for the next few hours and days was dreadful. I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror. Surprisingly however, the nap had done something for my mood and I felt a little better. I suddenly realized that a large portion of something had disappeared in my sleep. It took me a minute to figure out what exactly was gone. Fear. All of this was about my own fears. Within a few minutes, I actually began thinking about going back for round 3. I couldn’t believe I was considering such a thing but I started to wonder if ending this medicine work on such a low note was a good idea. Maybe this is was my destiny and some better lessons and revelations awaited me if I could muster up the courage to face another night. I decided to call the facilitator to see if she had given away my spot and if not, if I could come back. Upon hearing her voice on the phone, I had a sense of calm fall over my body. She welcomed me back, thought it would be a good idea and that I would more than likely have a better experience if I did return. I know the medicine works in mysterious ways, to teach us and force us to face the things we don’t like about ourselves. In a matter of a few minutes, I felt the courage growing inside of my heart as I rushed to get my belongings in order and grab some more coconut water and food from the refrigerator. 10 minutes later, I was on the road, headed north to Boulder. I actually caught myself laughing at my own ridiculousness but it felt good and I knew that I was making the right decision my choosing to go back into the fire.
I called my ex again to tell her about my decision to return. She had just gone through her first ceremony two weekends prior and was proud of me for making the hard decision to go back and face the medicine again. We laughed and after I hung up I spent a few moments thinking about my relationship with her and our evolving dynamic. She is one of the most beautiful souls I know and I am so fortunate to have reached a place of positivity, mutual support and unconditional love with her. Our sometimes rocky past is behind us now and even though we are no longer together, it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is the real love that we have for each other which will never die. I am grateful to the medicine for helping us see each other in our true lights and we now have a level of understanding that is deeper and more evolved than ever. I am eternally thankful for this and for her and tickled by the new levels of appreciation I have for her, in all of her beauty, every single day. This is my real face in the photo below, in case you couldn’t tell. :)
As soon as I parked and started walking up to the building, I felt a drastic difference in energy between this curious Saturday night and the two nights prior. The air was clean, there was no more wind and the sky was relaxed. The violent gusts of the previous two nights had washed away whatever grubby energy was lingering around that building and left a sense of calmness behind. My fears were replaced with hope. I sighed and took it all in, trusting right away that tonight would be different. This was perhaps an important element of medicine work that I had temporarily forgotten. Trust. Trust in the shaman, trust in the process, trust in the medicine and most importantly, trust in myself. I walked into the ceremony room with courage in my heart and looked for a spot to sit for the night. I had consciously made the decision to choose a spot closer to the medicine, hopefully I could find one. The effects of the yage are supposedly much stronger, the closer you sit to it.
Unfortunately, the only spots available on both sides of the room were near the back. I consulted with one of the shaman’s assistants who looked for a spot for me before conferring with the Shaman’s right hand helper. He returned and said “You’ve been upgraded” and then proceeded to slide a few spaces down and open up the number one seat for me. I was a little taken aback but excited to sit in this position for the night. I would be in the first seat, with the helpers to my right and I knew right away that with this seat came a sense of responsibility, mainly to myself. Before the ceremony began, I had a chance to speak briefly with the shaman and used this opportunity to tell him about the rough night I had on Friday. He laughed and said “It’s about time!” He gave me some words of advice for the night and told me he would start me off with a smaller cup to begin with. It was the perfect idea and he sensed that I was ready.
Saturday night would prove to be the diametrical opposite to Friday and Thursday. I spent about an hour and a half writing in my journal, chatting with one of the helpers to my right and another astral traveler to my left. I greeted a few people who I had met in December but were not in the room the previous two nights. I then spent some quiet time putting out my intention for the evening and opening myself up to receive whatever teachings the grandmother had in store for me. My intention for this night was simple. Inner Voice. I wanted to learn how to listen to the voice within and speak with this inner voice at all times. This, of course was related to my intentions from the previous night and indirectly complimented the quiet mind intention from Thursday as well. The inner voice intention was one that I had considered saving for Peru but after Friday night’s lesson, it felt appropriate. This is something I’ve struggled with for a long time and now was the time for my inner voice to reveal itself.
Before the ceremony began, I used the restroom and chatted with two other participants in the side room who were joking about a task they had just completed. Apparently they had lubed the hinges on the front door with some olive oil and managed to fix the annoying squeak. This was another clue that tonight was going to be different the than previous two as well as the ceremonies in December. One less noise, one less distraction. As with all the other ceremonies, the night began with tobacco tea to clear up the sinus passageways and a puff of tobacco from the wooden pipe. The room fell silent and was instantly blanketed with a calmness that was unlike any I had felt during the previous ceremonies. The energy was peaceful and I felt excitement building, ready to experience every moment of it. As the lights ticked off, I focused on my intention one more time and asked the grandmother for her divine guidance and help with my inner voice. Recognize it, listen to it, speak with it and act on it.
Instantly after drinking my first cup which was a smaller amount this time, I settled into a comfortable position on my mat and sat in the darkness. Within minutes, I felt serenity within myself and the room, and I began the process of focusing on my breath. On this night, my mind was finally quiet and the only thing that existed was myself and my breath. For the first hour, I formed an intimate relationship with my breath and really spent some time feeling every millimeter of my stomach and lungs expand with each breath, all the way up to my neck and shoulders. In no time, I began to go deeper with my breath and the medicine opened up inside of me. It felt warm, fuzzy and I slipped into a comfortable state of presence and awareness.
There was no twisting, turning or turmoil, just peace. I found power in my breath and sank further into my comfortable nook with each exhale. Finally. No more chaos and confusion, just motionless tranquility. It was exactly what I wanted and it was just the beginning. As time ticked away, my focus became even more intent and deliberate and each time I thought I couldn’t take a larger breath, I managed to do exactly that on the next inhale. With each exhale, my body relaxed even further as though years of stress were slowly released from each muscle in my body. I felt it in my neck, lower back, shoulders, core and everywhere else. I spent the entire night completely alert and attentive and not once did I lay down and close my eyes or detach from the energy in the room. The collective energy of harmony became more apparent and intertwined with each breath and I slowly began to feel the real power of my energy, holding space in the first position at the front of the room. I explored this energy sphere and came into my own power as a spirit being; love, peace, and power emanating from my body with each exhale. I had experienced this before a handful of times, but it was only momentarily and more subtle, nothing of this magnitude. The enormity of feeling myself as a true spirit being and the temple of my body grew with each breath and each minute and I could no longer ignore my inner power, rising to the surface and taking over my entire presence.
I finally began to understand the awesome power of my love. This was real peace and it was breathtaking! Slowly, the harmony gained steam and any remnants of negative energy evaporated quickly. I felt an abyssal kinship with the shaman, his helpers and everyone else in the room. This was an experience of a lifetime for me. There was a common silent understanding and feeling of unity in the room and not once was I distracted by thoughts or pulled away from my center and my process of staying connected as I had been so many times the previous nights as well as in December. Occasionally, thoughts would come to me but they were deliberate and I took them in, continued to breathe, and let myself feel the vastness of the emotions that came up with each of them before letting them softly pass away. As I filled my lungs with air, I felt more and more comfortable in my own skin, the depths of my body’s capacity and the feeling of interconnectedness with the true nature of my soul as a spirit being. There was an intense cooperation of energy happening in the room that was subtle but impossible to ignore at the same time. On this night, I wouldn’t need any stones or sacred objects for strength and grounding. I had everything I needed, manifesting as a bright light inside of me.
Sitting at the front of the room also allowed me to observe all of the details and intricacies of the ceremony itself. But this was a new type of observation. It was slow, childlike and joyful and not distracting in the slightest. It felt empowering to be in full control of my mind and my thoughts, choosing when to think about my friends, family, life circumstances and future goals but with a cool sense of collected discipline and then always back to center. As the night continued, I marveled at the silence and my continued process of deep breathing. This was what I had been trying to achieve in meditation and I finally knew what it felt like and would now have a reference point moving forward.
I went up for my second cup and the intensity increased but the stillness and restfulness remained. I explored my depth even further and it opened up to me very quickly. I got to the root of the real me, in all of my complexities, uniqueness and true power. I shined the light on corners of myself that I knew were buried far down inside of me but hadn’t really seen them in their totality before this night. There were no insecurities to be found, only love. I saw myself in new ways and was filled with joy around every corner of exploration. This is me, in all of my glory. I started to get excited about my trip to Peru and the possibilities of what else I could learn about myself down there. I explored new realms of empathy, compassion, my masculinity, my place in the world, and my general true essence of self. It was delightful. :)
After some time into the second cup, I noticed that even my movements became subconscious and fluid, flowing with the energy of the room and the participants around me. There was no thinking, only fluidity. When I needed to get up and walk to the restroom or grab some water, it happened naturally, in flux with the energy of the rest of the room. I began to glide, as if I was slow dancing intimately with the earth and her energy while remaining in complete harmony with other beings.
The room became a sacred container and there was very little distraction in the form of noise or movement. Not many people going outside and hardly anyone spending much time in the side room. The sounds of purging were minimal and the shaman spent most of the night in his chair, playing his harmonica softly. The room held a sense of seriousness to it but with an all encompassing peace and love, like no other I had ever experienced. Over time, the unity became evident as one collective breath, inhaling and exhaling in unison. I felt the ocean inside of me and was moved to tears at how spellbinding this night was becoming. It was truly magical. About halfway through the night, as I was examining more levels of my overwhelming power, the shaman unexpectedly called me up to the front of the room. I slowly and gracefully made my way to his seat and knelt down in front of him. He smiled at me with his kind eyes and I was reminded again of the beautiful nature of his humility. We think we know what humble is, but we have no idea. This shaman embodies the nature of humbleness and it has inspired me to no end. His smile was contagious and we shared a quick pleasantry.
“You like the Yage, yes?” he asked.
“Yes,” I replied, as a huge grin fell over my face.
“Good, good,” he said. “Because the Yage really likes you.”
“Yes, you are feeling good right now, yes?”
“Yes,” I said, with an immeasurable smile.
“I have something for you, I want you to take it to the jungle when you go to Peru next week. It will protect you and keep you safe.” His hands were cupped and he began blowing into them, clearing the unseen object of any negative energy it may have accumulated over the last few nights. He spent about 5 minutes doing this and then handed me a beautiful necklace with a boar’s tooth at the end of it.
“Good luck, you’re going to do well,” he said as he smiled at me again.
“Thank you so much,” I whispered in return, as I placed the blessing around my neck. I couldn’t believe it. A rush of gratitude and awe flooded my body and as I walked back to my mat, I received nods of acknowledgement and kinship from the helpers. What an amazing blessing this shaman had just bestowed upon me at the exact time I needed some reassurance and encouragement.
He knew. He knew exactly what I was feeling, how I was flowing and what the medicine was doing for me. He knew that I was more plugged in than I had ever been up until this point and that I had reached a level of comfort with the grandmother. I finally began to understand my personal relationship with her, how to receive her, how to drink the medicine and how to control myself and put the true me in the driver’s seat at all times. Exhilaration encompassed my body and I felt as though I had finally arrived or been initiated in some way. I felt respect and was proud of myself. I also began to understand the previous nights’ lessons more thoroughly. The vision of the mask made even more sense now and the lessons became more evident with each breath. The false versions of my face, my public and evil faces weren’t false at all. They are part of who I am, only they’ve been in a state of imbalance for a long time. My doubts, fears and insecurities had been in control for most of my life. The true me needed a prominent voice at the front of the mask, with the ego and evil faces in the back. These are sides of us that we all have, they are part of who we are but the test is to live from the real self in all of our words, thoughts and actions. Of course I understood this intellectually, but the grandmother helped me to feel it on entirely new dimensions. Exploring my real self on this night gave me the courage and confidence that I needed to remove the masks, reveal my true self and begin to live my life from the genuine place of love and integrity that I was looking for on Thursday night.
For the remainder of the night I traversed further into my self, exploring my character, my personality, my dreams and goals, my sexuality, my relationship with music and writing, my community and network of support, my singleness, my oneness, and everything in between. It was one of the most intimate experiences I’ve ever had with myself and it was beautiful on so many levels. For the first time, in a long time, I started to feel a rooted sense of love growing inside of me which was even more profound than what I had felt in December. I saw subtle and abstract visions of my ancestors, felt their presence and the energy of ancient Egypt inside of me. Egyptian symbols and artwork appeared in my mind’s eye, including Anubis, the jackal-headed God of the afterlife, a personal favorite of mine.
These images were not external however, they were emanating from inside of me and reminding me of who I was and where I came from. I felt my past lives underneath all of this, only it was not yet accessible, something I hope to explore more in the future. But I could sense that it was there and it wasn’t only my past lives but also the combined energies of my lineage, my previous families and even lovers. I saw Pharoahs, beautiful Egyptian women, cats, scarabs, pyramids, heiroglyphics, ankhs, astral symbols, symmetrical sacred geometry and all sorts of other wonderful things that reminded me how much I love Egypt!
I felt the energy of the desert inside of me as well and could almost smell the region.
Even grandmother appeared before me with an ancient Egyptian energy around her.
My true nature was all love and the excitement began to build as I started to realize the possibilities of a happy life in the future and what that would look like in terms of health, family, friends, career, service and eventually, a partner. There was no feelings of depression or loneliness on this night and I vowed to stay with this energy moving forward. Late into the night I went up for a 3rd cup, but only took a small sip. I now realized that going deep didn’t necessarily need to entail diving in head first and swimming to the bottom. Deep could be slow, calm and mellow, and discomfort did not have to be a prerequisite. I spent the last portion of the night poking around my inner core, examining corners of my soul and taking a new look at my life, my future, my relationships, my creativity, my sensuality and all aspects of my true self. My intentions for Peru became even more clear and the work I am about to embark on was no longer filled with fear. Everything was finally calm, quiet and full of love and I knew that Peru was going to be an amazing experience. Morning arrived with another round of limpias which were cleansing and refreshing.
I spent the morning speaking with many different companions and the sense of unity and understanding that we shared was incredibly comforting. I was amazed and relieved to finally be speaking from my inner voice and it was evident immediately as people came to sit with me and engage in conversation. The real me was at the surface now and it attracted like-minded energy. The things I learned from listening to others was an added bonus to the entire experience. Everyone else seemed to be in the same place of peace, love amongst all of us. The things I learned from listening to others was an added bonus to the entire night and I arrived at a place of newfound love for humanity in all of its dynamic uniqueness. Conversation flowed like medieval wine with no awkwardness or social anxiety and I remember sighing to myself on multiple occasions at how content and loved I felt by the entire community. But more importantly, the deep sense of love I felt for myself was simply remarkable. This was hands down the best night of my life.
After another glorious and healthy breakfast, I decided to go visit a friend in Boulder who was throwing an Easter Sunday brunch party in her front yard. I ate some more delicious food and lay in the radiant sun without a care in the world. I was on cloud nine and 100% content. I didn’t need to do anything for comfort other than just lay there with myself and soak up some splendid vitamin D which seemed to recharge my batteries a little bit. It was a beautiful day in Colorado, and a pleasure to spend a little time away from ceremony with a few friends and some heavenly food. The sun and the breeze were heavenly and love radiated from everywhere. The dogs, the birds, the food, the children and the music in the background all felt like a soft warm blanket curled up around my heart. This is exactly what life is supposed to feel like.
After hanging out for a few hours, I had a decision to make. Should I go back for a fourth night? I hadn’t gotten any sleep and my body was exhausted. Part of me felt like I should call it quits while I’m ahead and get some rest, especially with this big trip coming up in a week. The giddy and adventurous side of me however, wanted to go back for another round. My stuff was still at the ceremony site so I decided to go back and feel out the energy in the room and make my final decision. I stopped at Whole Foods to get some more coconut water and ironically ran into four of the people I had sat with the night before. We laughed at the chance meeting, but I knew it wasn’t a coincidence and took it as a sign that I was making the right decision to go back for the fourth night. I gave the four of them a round of hugs, jumped back into my car and headed towards the farm.
Now that I had a more intimate understanding of my sensitivity to external energy, I knew it would be easy to feel what the night might look like energetically once I got there. I arrived back at the farm in about 15 minutes and immediately felt a similar vibe as I had felt on the previous night. Still, I was really run down and while I was definitely prepared for another round of medicine mentally, the thought of another 9 hour night seemed incredibly daunting. I conferred with the shaman’s right hand assistant who suggested I just drink a cup and go to sleep. This idea didn’t seem very appealing and I caught myself creating expectations for a repeat of Saturday night’s energy, wanting to hold space in the same way and be alert and attentive the way I had so that I could have a similar experience. Saturday night was that epic. But if I was going to sleep, I wanted to be in my bed. I thought it over and decided to go for it.
Sunday night was the most mellow of all 4 nights, but still compelling. I drank my first cup and slept for several hours until one of the helpers woke me up for the water ceremony. My body needed the rest and when I awoke I felt no effects of the medicine whatsoever. I enjoyed the water ceremony and then went up for a second cup which ended up being the potent honey again. Even as I write this, the thought of that stuff just makes me want to projectile vomit. It took me a little deeper and I spent the rest of the night focused again on myself and my ever increasing depth. My intention for the last night was simply love. No details or specifics, just love and that’s it. Love for myself, love for my friends, love for my body, for humanity, for the earth and for my life. The fourth night was an abstract recap of everything I had learned the previous three. I spent some time thinking about specific individuals who are prominent in my life right now and the role they have played in shaping me, influencing me and helping me reach where I am today. I felt an immense amount of love as I thought of these few individuals, what they meant to me and how much love I have for them. I was amazed yet again at how the levels of love I had could continue to grow for these people. As I thought about each of them, I sighed heavily and enjoyed the process of getting to know them all over again and on more intimate levels than ever before. Their true spirits, their involvement in my life and the gratitude in my heart overwhelmed me all over again. I love these people so much and I am the luckiest guy on the planet!
My morning limpia ended with a bit of irony as I thought about April for the first time all weekend. I was a little shocked to realize that all 4 nights had passed me by without thinking about her even once, and yet there she was, right at the end. She showed up as sort of a bookend to the experience, a measuring stick of sorts. I cried hard but they weren’t tears of grief. These were tears of love, gratitude and honor. I felt her fill up my heart and gave thanks for everything I ever learned from her all over again. I knew she was there inside of me, right next to me and all around me, as she always has been. It was really overwhelming but wonderful at the same time. I wanted to scream her name and thank her out loud, but I wept in silence instead. This was a deep realization that the last 3 and a half years of my life have brought me to this point and that every single moment of anguish and all of my pain and struggles have only made me stronger and helped me reach a level to embark on this new spiritual path. I spent a few more minutes engulfed in her essence and felt her beauty all over again. Her laughter, her innocence, her charm, her style, and her deep love for me. My angel, always watching over me and once again I understood her on an even more intimate and confidential level than ever before. I saw even more levels of her femininity and womanhood and remembered everything about her in an instant. It all came rushing back but with new layers of who she is and how she hasn’t gone anywhere and the love for her has only evolved.
To you, my dearest April … thank you so much for everything. Thank you for teaching me the gift of giving and for continuing to give with such humble generosity, even after death. Thank you for reminding me that life is too short and should not be spent wandering down the boulevard of broken dreams. The countless lessons and gifts you have given me in this lifetime are priceless and I will always cherish them and you from the basic foundation of my heart and my entire being. Your love and presence in my life is as real as it gets and I know that you are smiling at me right now and proud of the progress I’ve made. I can say with pleasure that I have finally arrived at a place of peace. Losing you was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through but it has also been the most rewarding life experience for me and I am no longer filled with sadness when I think about you, instead it’s a joyful love that continues to grow every day. I am going to reach my goals, my power and my potential and with you by my side and in my heart, there is no stopping me anymore. A shattered and broken heart has humbled me and made me tender but I have finally been able to start rebuilding it and putting all of the pieces back together. Some day, somewhere, someone will be on the receiving end of the love inside of my heart and they will have you to thank for a large part of it. Because of this experience, and the many many things I learned from you, I am a better, more complete and real person than I ever would have been. I am honored just to have known you. To have loved you and been loved by you was and still is the most thrilling feeling imaginable. Thank you for giving me your heart and please know that you will always have a piece of mine and that I will love you forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever………..
… and to my dearest friends, you know who you are … There are not enough words in all of the languages in the world to describe the level of regard I hold each of you in, the respect, gratitude and the love that I have in my heart for each of you. I have learned so much from you fine men and women, and without you, I am nothing. I look forward to new chapters of love, laughter, growth and evolution as we move ahead in life and I look forward to learning more about you and from you. I hope you know that no matter what happens on this crazy adventure we call life, you will always have my undying support and unwavering friendship and unconditional love. I am elated to be on this journey with you.
The next chapter of my transformation begins on April 16th, as I head to the Amazon jungle, just outside of Iquitos, Peru to work with the Peruvian blend of ayahuasca and learn from the wisdom of the Shipibo healers. I’ll be far away for the next 15 days, spending 7 nights with the sacred medicine and learning as much as I can from the grandmother and these wonderful healers. But please know that no matter how far I am geographically, I am always with you in spirit and prayer. Wish me luck. :)
The earth sits still, held by its chill,
Uplifted by glance with no second chance.
The orange sun crested,
Behind the mountains brown breasted,
Coppice blossoms dance and sway,
With light that swims and shines with dawn
The wind at bay, a sigh and yawn.
Falling in woodland space,
Delighted by her face.
Oh, this memorable place, stuck behind the sun’s rays.
Of the mountains and their splendor, the forest and its space.
My love for her is tender, her innocence and grace.
Hush … as the strong winds cease.
The wheels of mind halt, the heart at peace.
Mysteries in death, replaced by wonderment of birth
Sands of time dissolve between somewhere and earth.
She saved me from myself, forever friend, forever dear
Worth all this pain and every last tear.
She is with me, she is of me, she is here.
No words to say, nor commands to obey
Love me, touch me, in the night and all day.
Wrapped in delusion, weak and frail
I return to seclusion, my lonely shadow-veil.
For her eyes hide the world behind them
Neither now or never, find counterpart in them.
As specter in a moment reveals my lonely fear
Through laughter and banter, never disappear.
Dreams slip away and eventually shatter
Falling to dust without a matter.
Say something clever, or lose her forever.
In blessed, perfect eyes these dreams pass
Fear returns, love leaves a stainless glass.
One last touch, one certain calm of will,
And the maker of love shall be poisoned still.
But her love is pure and there is no cure,
For this broken heart, that’s for sure.
“Destroy thy core, extinguish thy flame,
A heartbeat lost from sight of thy name!”
Sun dissolves in horizon of honey, work is complete.
Yet her scent remains so subtle and sweet.
Gently stealing, both thought and heart.
Where to begin, where to start?
Night falls and brings frigid frost
Open again or be forever lost!
Friday, March 16, 2012 was the date of my first experience with DMT. I am grateful to have participated in such a sacred ceremony and to be able to engage in this medicine with the respect it deserves in an environment of love, understanding and acceptance. The approximately 8 hour ceremony which I attended with 4 other individuals and the facilitator has proven to be a very interesting learning experience for me, one that I will never forget. It has ripped me wide open and reminded me that I have a long, long way to go on my journey to reaching the goals I have set for myself. There were unbelievable highs and extreme lows and I am thankful for every moment of it.
Without going into too much detail about the ceremony itself, I will say that the facilitator was absolutely amazing, extremely knowledgeable and carried the perfect energy of love, kindness and goodwill towards us. I am now considered an “initiate” and look forward to working with this medicine again in the future. The flavor was 5meo, for those who are wondering. The ceremony began with an introduction and an orientation into the medicine and the sacred rituals performed. I was lucky to have a duality of 2 participants who I knew and 2 who I did not know. But by the end of the night, we would all be reminded that we are one and we all know each other already. In physical form, this was manifested in a large pile of hugs, sighs and pillows.
My 40 minute journey is pretty much impossible to describe. From the moment I inhaled the vapor of the 13mg dose, I felt all of my stress and my ego fall into the background, completely slipping away and leaving me in a state of pure bliss and infinite consciousness and energy. My body melted into the soft padding below me and I suddenly became aware of the awesome force of love in each individual around me and within myself. The love I felt inside of me was like nothing I’ve ever felt before. It was much more intense than ayahuasca on some level and it left me feeling like my love could conquer the world and that I need to get to where I want to be so that I can share it in a healthy way.
Looking back on it, I find it somewhat ironic that I chose Openness as my intention and Loneliness as my shadow. Perhaps a horrible combination as I would find out later, but probably exactly the way things needed to be for where I am at in my life right now. Leading up to my launch, I enjoyed participating in the exercise of “holding space” for the 3 individuals who launched before me. I would come to understand the sacredness and beauty of this exercise in a short amount of time and was honored to participate in this role for the others. I would be reminded of my strength and the power of my love.
As I laid back into the bed, the world began to open up to me. I had my eyes closed for perhaps the first ten or fifteen seconds but decided to open them, as it felt more natural and comfortable. As I opened my eyes, the entire universe opened up to me and my heart expanded. It felt as if it was growing larger and larger by the second. I breathed heavily and the feeling of pure, raw emotion began to pour out of my heart and my body. It was heavy and intense but also felt incredibly wonderful and euphoric. I felt as if I was being reborn, looking upon the world with new eyes, as if I had never seen it before. I began to whisper to myself and the cosmos … “Wow … Ohhh…. Ohhhh… Ohhh…” With each breath, my wonderment increased. My body tingled and I felt like I was melting in the warmth of the earth.
The presence of the 5 participants holding space around me was strong and helped me feel secure, loved and accepted. I felt my body releasing pain and anguish and with each breath I took, I felt my heart fill with love. The release of emotion was overwhelming. I was like a child, wide-eyed, squirming, touching my chest and arms, I never wanted the feeling to end.
I began to smile, giggle, laugh and cry, all at the same time. There were no particular emotions attached that lasted longer than a second, it was just pure release of love and organic emotion. My heart was bursting and the tears streaming down my face. I completely let go of my ego and was just me, in my purest, rawest form, completely accepted by my fellow travelers around me. No ego, only pure love. I rode through the first wave of it and then sat up for a moment for some water.
I laid back and rode the second wave, more tears and crying and joy all wrapped up in a complex ball of emotion that I had not experienced before. I reached out to my friend on my left and motioned for her to hold my hand. She was the one female in the group, holding that all important female energy for all of us. She was strong, wise and beautiful and I felt so much love for her. I reached my hand out to my right and held hands with another new friend. Eye contact followed and I became instantly grateful for our newfound friendship, realizing in one moment that the universe had a plan for connecting the two of us. We may have just recently connected but I have known him for a long, long time.
The other two mates held space for me at my feet and covered both of them with their hands. Whereas a few hours earlier, they were mere strangers, they were no longer people I had just met. They were instantly brothers on this sacred journey. I looked at each of them and saw the light in their eyes, beaming at me with no judgement, no barriers, only love and acceptance. For the second half of my journey, I had an extra awesome force of energy at my hands and feet which took it to another level for me. I became more aware of my true self as an affectionate being, one who needs to touch others, hold their hands, hug them and love them with everything I have. There’s no longer a need to be ashamed of this because it doesn’t fit in with some societal norm. This is me, this is who I am and I want to love the world with everything I have! I want to touch, hug and kiss every living thing on this planet!
It was intense but none of it was really uncomfortable, it was mostly bliss and ecstasy, with profound lessons about myself and my true nature. This is who I am. It was a great reminder of my lesson in the ego from my ayahuasca ceremony a few months ago. This is the real me, my ego is not me and I need to continue to work hard, double my efforts, in order to keep control of it and let the real me come out into the world.
When I finally came back to “reality”, my ego came crashing down into my body. I felt it hit me strong and wished it would go away forever. The remainder of the evening was a wonderful lesson in love and bonding and going deep with individuals as a reminder that we are not separate. We are all the same and we are full of love. The planet is begging for our love and our creativity and we must continue to work diligently to deliver. There were no words that needed to be said after this experience. We understood each other to the core and the warmth of our eyes, smiles and embraces were just subtle ways we could express ourselves as humans. But we didn’t need our human expressions to understand each other. We understood each other on an energy level, as one. We finished the evening first with a bottom’s up which is the way we started. A bottom’s up is a small dose that we all take together and then melt into the pillows. We laid there in absolute comfort, laughing, hugging and holding space.
The next two days were very very difficult. The shadow came up. My shadow of loneliness which I recognize stems from one of the biggest obstacles in my life right now, my past and my heartache. I had made so much progress through aya ceremony in this regard, especially with the intention of my attachment issues, but this was a much needed reminder that I still have a lot of work to do. I must push forward, I can’t slip back into this dark place. A set of circumstances that occurred during those two days brought up the shadow even further, to the point that it was sitting right on top of my heart. How did I get back here? I was doing so well, why is this happening again? Moody, depressed and lonely, I found myself back in this familiar place of excruciating sadness. I want to fall in love, I want to have that again, I want to be healthy and ready for it. But this is just coming from a place of loneliness and neediness, this is not what I want, I want to love myself.
It became very clear again and put me back to the place I was at after Burning Man. Only this time I could recognize that progress had been made, but it was incredibly painful and I felt so alone. I felt like I was back in the nightmare of losing April. Only I am now fully aware of what this really is and can see the difference in me today versus before ayahuasca. It’s no longer about her anymore, it’s about loving myself and continuing to work towards that goal. I spent two days in bed, staring at the ceiling, crying and losing it. I was a fucking mess and an emotional wreck, completely unstable. This is NOT what I want.
I decided to skip the integration circle that took place on Sunday night. I needed my own process and went to meditation class instead. In some ways, I regret that I didn’t attend as I realize it would have been very beneficial but I had to process in my own way. After class, I was able to finally get into a space of calmness to work through what was going on inside of me. It seems I have been blessed with the circumstance of having the most profound teaching/learning experiences I could ever ask for. Several times this has come in the form of an external trigger, one that I am eternally grateful for, for it has helped me return to my process, balance and center myself and examine what’s really going on with my heart and my emotions. I have come to understand that these circumstances, my feelings, my love is all very real, and not imagined, but all of this is still coming from a place that isn’t fully healthy. All of my external circumstances are here to remind me of what I need to be focusing on. Me. The distraction of love has seduced me over and over again and I am determined to right the ship and go inward to find it inside my heart. I know that I have a tremendous amount of love, compassion and creativity to offer the world and to offer to someone else one day but I need to first find my inner voice and true self before I can shine brightly and on the frequency of my true nature. The real me is buried behind these issues and it’s dying to come out.
I went through incredible loneliness, sadness, embarrassment, shame, feelings of being lost, rejection, and confusion. Lost in my head and heart. Again. Sigh. But in the end, it has been a very rewarding learning experiencing for me.
I have deep gratitude for everyone who was directly and indirectly involved in this ceremony and my process afterwards. Despite the difficulties, I am happy I did this and am humbled beyond words. I definitely need to detach and recenter in some areas of my life and re-evaluate my feelings so that I can navigate the ship properly and appropriately. I look forward to 4 more nights of Yage in a few weeks before heading to the jungle for my 12 day ceremony with the Peruvian blend.
I am pure love. I am awesome. But I am also a major work in progress, totally fragile and under construction.
It was the beginning of December, 2011 when I initiated the start of a lifelong journey with plant medicine and began the process of peeling away at the onion that is my mind, body and spirit. For those not familiar with plant medicine, I highly suggest a quick Google search for “ayahuasca” before reading on. I am going to try to keep this post as brief as possible because the journey was so long, difficult and complex that it would take an entire 100 pages to even begin to describe what I went through in the 3 nights of ceremony. I will touch on aspects of the ceremony itself but will try to keep it limited to my experience and what I learned. This journey is a very personal one and I have hesitated to share it but I know that it’s important to share, at least with my loved ones, so I’m sort of forcing myself to just write off the cuff and see what comes out.
Something really horrifying happened on the day of my first ceremony. I was at work and received a phone call from my cousin followed by a text, informing me that there was something wrong with my mom. My mom has been in Denver for the past several weeks. We are shopping for a home, to move her out from California. I called my cousin back and she told me that my mom was having problems remembering things. I got my mom on the phone and after asking her a few questions, quickly realized that something was seriously wrong. She could not remember where my sister lived, the text messages we exchanged earlier that morning, what she had for dinner the previous night or our phone conversation from the night before. She couldn’t remember meeting 2 of my friends the previous weekend and other details. My cousin rushed her to the ER and I left work to meet them there.
The drive to the hospital was horrible. I started to feel a strange connection to something bigger than me. The last time I felt this strong connection was when April passed away in 2008. I felt a heavy weight in my throat and the tears began to stream down my cheeks as I tried in vain to fight for oxygen. All of the years spent with my mother began to flash in front of my eyes, all the way back to when I was a child. I saw her as a young mother and one of my earliest memories of her came to the forefront. It was a scene from when we lived in Zaire, Africa and she was teaching me how to tie my shoes on the cheesy lime green pastel rug in our living room. I was probably about 3 years old at the time. I started to panic and felt despair and wondering why this was happening now, right when I was so close to getting her out to Denver. Why is this happening today? I cursed and screamed God’s name and pounded my fist on the steering wheel while weeping like a child. I was upset that this would likely mean I would miss my ceremony but obviously more upset at the implications of what was going on with my mom’s health. My grandmother had alzheimer’s disease and I was convinced that this was the beginning of the end for my mom’s memory and mind. More tears and screaming in my car, followed by a period of about 10 minutes of silence as I pulled off the freeway and into the parking lot of the emergency room. During that 10 minutes, I felt connected in the strangest way and understood deep down inside of me that this was happening for a reason, one that I did not understand yet.
I rushed into the ER where my mom was already in a room with my cousin. I walked in to be pleasantly surprised by seeing my mom laughing and joking with the nurse. She immediately looked at me and told me not to worry, and that she was fine, but I knew something was wrong. My cousin and I spoke in the hallway and she gave me more details about what had happened. My mom was fine when she woke up in the morning, took a shower, and after she got dressed, that’s when her memory lapse began. My cousin mentioned other things that my mom couldn’t remember and the whole thing was just so foreign and bizarre to me, I just didn’t know what to think or how to process what was happening. Then, she told me that my mom couldn’t remember that April had passed away and she didn’t have the heart to tell her. When I heard this, my heart sunk into my stomach and a familiar pain returned. I just couldn’t believe that she couldn’t remember such a huge event that happened in my life and what else could this mean? What other big things does she not remember? Does she remember my uncle (her brother) passing away last year? Or her other brother earlier this year? There was no way to know for sure without asking but we didn’t want to upset her so we just had to pretend like nothing was seriously wrong.
I wiped up the tears and went back into my room where we waited for the Doctor to return with the test results. The next hour was full of confusion and a sense of dread. I found myself planning the rest of my mom’s life, how I would take care of her, what needed to be done, finances, etc. For the sake of brevity, here is the long and short of it. My mom slowly started clearing out the cobwebs and began answering some of the same questions correctly but was still very foggy. For example, half an hour later, she was able to remember that someone in my life died but couldn’t remember April’s name. The Doctor finally came in and told us that all of the tests showed that my mom is fine, has no long-term issues and this has nothing to do with alzheimer’s disease. Basically my mom suffered from a condition known as transient-global amnesia. Apparently it is a random, freak event that can be triggered by a stressful event or a change in body temperature (shower). It can last for up to 12 hours but memory will return and odds are, the person will never have another episode. By the time we left the hospital, everything was fine and my mom’s memory was returning. I was so relieved and grateful and also happy that I could get back to planning for my first ayahuasca ceremony that night.
As I drove home, I felt the strong connection again and began to realize that this was ayahuasca (or “The Grandmother” as it’s referred to) communicating with me in a strange and mysterious way. It was abstract, but I felt it to the core of my being and I knew that this was meant to happen and that it was not a random coincidence by any means. I realized on that drive home that I was about to embark on an experience that would be much more meaningful than I had initially anticipated. This event would set the stage for my 3 nights of ayahuasca.
With the day’s events weighing heavily on my mind, neck and shoulders, I set out on the freeway to Boulder with plenty of time to spare, in case I hit traffic on the way up. I made a few phone calls to some friends and was overcome with gratitude that my mom was safe and that I had good friends to lean on during such a frightening incident. I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude as I reached the venue an hour before we were supposed to arrive. Little did I know that this feeling of gratitude would be multiplied exponentially by the next morning. I was the first guest to arrive on site; went inside and began to setup my bedding and secure a comfortable spot. I spent the next few hours meeting a few people as they trickled in, but mostly kept to myself and enjoyed the serene setting of the Boulder night sky and crisp, cold air outside. As we got closer to start time, I began feeling a little uncomfortable by the fact that my once cozy space was now squished with people on either side. We were all crammed in there one by one and I was feeling a little upset at the fact that the instructions in the e-mail specified that our mats should not exceed a width of 24 inches. I followed this rule but much to my dismay, many others did not and a few people seemed to go over the 24 inch limit by a landslide. I was in my head about this, felt it was unfair and found myself harboring some negative energy towards those people. How disrespectful!
By about 9pm, I was sitting in a small circle of first timers getting my initiation from one of the Shaman’s helpers as to what to expect and some tips on what to do in certain situations. Ayahuasca is a serious, sacred plant medicine and I knew that this was going to be an intense experience. I had read a lot about it including some very terrifying testimonials which made me nervous but the people involved in the ceremony assured me that this was a good thing and did everything to make me feel as comfortable as possible. By 9:30, we were ready to begin. The room was full of people, 37 in total including the Shaman and his helpers sitting at the front of the room, perpendicular to 2 rows of willing participants, one on each side of the room. I had my blankets, pillows and a few items of comfort with me to help me through the night. This included two beaded bracelets given to me by someone very dear to me (my ex-girlfriend from my last relationship). Amazonite, used for Self-Discovery which I wore on my left wrist. It is known as a stone of truth, honor and trust, and increases intuitive wisdom while improving communication. Amazonite also protects against electromagnetic pollution. Unakite, used for Vision, went on my right wrist. Unakite opens the third eye and helps balance and integrate the mind, body and soul and gives one a feeling of completeness. Over the course of the weekend, I would come to understand the true value of these objects and others, left for us here on earth by our Creator so that we could call upon them for strength as tools or weapons in our spiritual journey in life. The idea of sacred objects such as stones, beads, crystals, etc. is one that I’ve always been fascinated with but I was about to learn the true mystical and spiritual power that they really held.
The ceremony began with a tobacco pipe passed around one side of the room and a small glass bowl of tobacco water or tea on the other. Everyone took a few puffs of the tobacco pipe and snorted some of the tea to clear the sinus passageways and then the first timers were called up to the front of the room to be served a cup of Yage (The Colombian “cousin” of ayahuasca which is basically a similar although less potent brew). The Shaman served us a slightly smaller portion since it was our first time. He blessed the brew and handed me the cup and I drank it eagerly. I was surprised that the taste did not bother me very much, as most of what I had read and heard from others led me to believe that it was extremely pungent, bitter and downright disgusting. But for me, it had a familiar taste of molasses to it with a hint of bitterness at the end. I went back to my seat, full of anticipation and butterflies and watched the rest of the group walk up, one by one for their servings. After the final guest drank her cup, the lights were turned off and we sat in silence.
Now I should sidetrack here for a moment to discuss the idea of intention in an ayahuasca ceremony. Ayahuasca is an ancient, sacred healing medicine that involves participation of the individual in the form of coming to ceremony with an intention or something that you want to discover or work on. This could be physical, mental/pshycological or emotional but the more clear the intention is, the more you will get out of the experience. The idea is to put forth an intention initially and then let it go, forget about it, and let the medicine do its work and take you on the journey. It is said that ayahuasca will never give you what you want but will always give you what you need. Perhaps if what you need is also what you want, you’ll get both. In my case, this is what happened, especially on the first night. Leading up to ceremony, I had thought about what my intentions would be all three nights and had many different ideas but wasn’t really sure how to go about choosing them or in what way. When working with ayahuasca, it’s important to remember that your intention is, in a way, a form of prayer that we offer to the grandmother. It is a reflection of who we are, what we are dealing with and where we want to go. As humans, our tendency is to over think this but the idea is to just put it out there and then try to surrender to the process. The difficulty with intention is that sometimes our intentions are just feelings which are hard to put into words so it seems abstract, especially as a first timer to the process. I had a bit of trouble with this, especially on the first night but I really just wanted some general healing and put forth the energy for that. It was not a phrase or a set of words that I thought or whispered to myself but I wanted to feel connected. I wanted forgiveness and I wanted to heal the pain in my heart that I’ve been carrying for the last 3 years since April died. I wanted to learn how to surrender and work past the pain of my broken heart. I created a general intention to address these things and asked for the strength to be able to act upon whatever was received. I wanted contentment and peace but I was having a hard time narrowing all of this down to one intention, so I sort of just combined them all into one on an abstract level of thought and pushed it forward as a general introduction, a sort of “Hello, this is who I am and what I’m dealing with.” By the end of the three days, I would come to learn the importance of our intentions, not just in ceremony but in our daily lives and I now understand that our true intentions will always lead us to peace, freedom and happiness.
Another important part of my intention was the idea of letting go. This was my Rite of Passage at Burning Man this year and I have carried it with me everyday since. I wanted to take it a step further and be able to completely surrender to the process and further let go of things I have been carrying as well as expectations. Letting go of expectations is another important part of the ayahuasca ceremony. This can be tricky when setting an intention because of the way our minds are programmed in the default world. So it’s a fine balance between setting an intention and not having an expectation. One must learn to trust that one will receive exactly what he or she needs and thankfully I was able to do this pretty easily.
After the first cup, we sat in silence for an hour. Due to my back pain, I decided to lay down, get comfortable, and wait. I was still in my head and feeling annoyed at how little space I had and how crowded I felt by my neighbors. Over the next hour, I began to drift off into a semi-sleep state but it wasn’t like anything I had experienced before. The medicine began to slowly rumble in my stomach but it wasn’t anything that caused me any level of discomfort. I began to feel slightly warm and cozy and eventually got sucked into a trance-like state that I could only best describe as the moment before falling asleep, but it was different. After a short period of time, I was somewhere else and unaware of my surroundings. I had completely forgotten that I was in this room, involved in this ceremony. I was almost asleep but there was still a slight awareness that I was unfamiliar with but was definitely somewhere else and the occasional sound of someone’s feet shuffling or the front door opening while someone was going outside to purge was so far in the background that I didn’t even recognize it.
Finally, after the first hour of silence was up, I was brought back into the room by the soft sound of the Shaman whistling. As soon as this music began, I returned to full awareness and had no concept of how much time had passed. I was a little taken aback at the fact that I had traveled somewhere else for awhile but the effects of the medicine were still hardly noticeable. While still laying down, I began to notice the effects of the medicine starting its next phase in my body, guided by the shaman’s quiet whistling. Next, he moved to the harmonica which started off softly and then slowly grew louder. The song was beautiful and it awoke the medicine inside of me and things started happening. It’s hard to describe in words what I was feeling but it was definitely noticeable at this point although nothing overwhelming by any means. I decided to sit up for awhile and felt a little drowsy and my limbs felt heavy but overall I was fine. The harmonica went on for awhile and then he moved to singing his icaros and that’s when the medicine really began to work. My stomach started rumbling some more and I felt an overwhelming sensation of being cradled and really droopy. It was as though I was in my mother’s womb, only it was the womb of the earth instead, a bubble of warmth. I noticed I began smiling and feeling a warm sense of joy. As the energy of the icaro picked up, so did the effects of the medicine but it still wasn’t anything that was heavy or hard to handle. I felt something but not much and began to wonder why, since there were already more than a handful of people who had gone outside to purge. So when the Shaman invited us up for a second cup, I sprang to my feet with the eagerness and excitement of a young child, sprinting down the stairs on Christmas morning.
I drank the second cup and went back to my seat for a few minutes while we sat for another round of silence. Within 5 minutes, I began feeling the effects of the second cup and it was heavy. My stomach began to twist and rumble and I could feel the medicine moving around inside of me. I felt like I had to go to the bathroom or that I might need to purge soon. The idea of purging was weighing on my mind heavily because I really hate that experience. When I vomit, it’s a horribly violent experience that usually leaves me exhausted, drained of energy and sometimes even my muscles get sore. They call it “getting well” and the medicine really starts working after you’ve purged. Needless to say, I still wasn’t looking forward to it. I began to feel nauseous and queasy and imagined the color flooding out of my skin. I decided to go outside to get some fresh air and hopefully purge. While not required, you are encouraged to purge outside and to take a bucket with you in case you have an accident on the way out. I went outside sans bucket and felt a little better once I was able to breathe in some cold air. This wasn’t necessarily a good thing though because my body was telling me that purging was necessary but I was unable to bring it up. After a few minutes I went back inside and curled up into the fetal position on one of the couches in the side room. The side room is available for those who aren’t comfortable in their spot, it’s a good place to take a break.
Within minutes, I was in the bathroom vomiting violently into my bucket. It was downright awful. I was gasping for air and felt so sick but happy that it finally happened. After I got cleaned up, I exited the bathroom with my filthy bucket in hand. I was a bit out of sorts and kind of confused and not really sure what to do with the bucket. I started wondering if I had missed this part of the instruction earlier and was feeling a little self conscious about my bucket full of vomit. The buckets are lined with plastic bags. I tied the bag and threw it in the trash and asked one of the helpers where I could get another bag. For some reason, in my confusion, I was under the impression that we were each assigned a bucket for the night. In reality, there are buckets everywhere and you can use any of them. He pointed me to a clean bucket and took mine and then asked where the bag was. I told him I had tossed it in the trash and he said no, they needed to go outside. Immediately I felt a sense of embarassment, shame and apologized. I grabbed the bag and asked him where I should take it outside. He smiled at me and said:
“No, no, you give it to us! We’ll take care of it for you.”
I kind of laughed and smiled back at him. His eyes and grin were so warm and it reminded me that I was in good hands and had all the help I needed, I just had to learn to ask and receive it. I gave him the bag and grabbed another bucket and went back to the couch. This was one of the first few lessons for me. I needed to learn how to ask for help in life and to be able to receive it when it’s offered to me. I learned that this was a problem for me in the past. The lesson was learned in 5 minutes.
I began to feel really relaxed and within no time, my hesitations, uncomfortableness and the minor things that were bothering me from earlier had disappeared. I started giggling uncontrollably and immediately felt self conscious, considering other people were groaning in pain and vomiting. As the laughter became a little much to keep control of, I decided to go outside to smoke some tobacco. As I stood outside, the fits of giggles increased. I stood in wonderment underneath the bright moon and the landscape of stars before me. I marveled at the peace and tranquility of the Colorado night and began to become aware of the unfamiliar yet pleasurable tingling happening in my body. I noticed a woman off in the distance on all fours, wailing and purging in the snow. She was crawling in agony on her hands and knees and must have been out there for at least 20 minutes, elbow deep in a foot of snow! While I felt so bad for her, all I could do was laugh. I went back inside and returned to the couch to sit by the window. I got really cozy and comfortable and that’s when the magic began. My body started tingling and as I closed my eyes, I began to have visualizations … they were soft and subtle at first but slowly built up in complexity and intensity. I should mention that this was nothing like mushrooms or any other substances I had tried in the past.
Sparks, swirls, fireworks, colorful patterns, kalaidescope dreams and all sorts of things I can’t even begin to describe. The colors were so lush and full of life, streaming into my consciousness with urgency, beyond anything my imagination could come up with before. At times the patterns were random with no rhyme or reason to their shapes.
Other times they were very distinct. Flowers – blossoming and twisting and turning as if they were coming to life.
I started feeling an all-consuming energy, like I was being rocked gently by the earth. The shaman’s music grew in intensity from the other room and guided my experience. I tried to remain focused on my breathing and the more I was able to get comfortable with my breath, the deeper I went.
It was by far the most euphoric feeling of I had ever experienced, physically, mentally and emotionally. My mouth was open in wonderment and a huge grin fell onto to my face. I felt covered with love and bliss. My skin was tingling with pleasure all over my body and my eyes opened up and tears started streaming down my face in buckets. They were tears of joy and love like nothing I had ever felt before in my entire life. Things began coming to life and taking on more intricate shapes and forms and the consciousness presented herself.
The visuals grew in intensity as I began to feel the higher consciousness. The grandmother. I saw glimpses of her colorful patterns, full of love. I could barely make out a face, eyes – but they were very abstract, more of a feeling and knowing than anything visual. The visual was there but it was in my 3rd eye. I was tucked in, so blown away and completely in awe. Connected. Finally. This is what I had been waiting for my entire life. I was in it and she was communicating with me. I had moments in my life where I had felt this before, but never this heavy and deep. The visions got more and more elaborate but always with the grandmother hovering above them in some form of light or color.
I should mention that as beautiful as this fractal art is, it is still NOTHING compared to the experience I had. It doesn’t even come close to depicting the dimensional depth, the emotions, the intensity, but it’s the best way I could figure out to describe this experience, at least the visual part of it. I lost track of time and was stuck on that couch for what seemed like hours. I went through periods of giggling like a child in complete amazement at what I was seeing and what was happening to my body and my heart. Then suddenly, the thought came to my mind. The thought I had been subconsciously avoiding and secretly dreading. What would it feel like, what would happen when my mind brought the pain back to my heart, back to my reality? There was only one way to find out. I knew it was buried there and I had to confront it to see where I was in relation to my comfort zone and my ability to surrender and face the pain.
I thought of her and was immediately FLOODED with love. As soon as she came to mind the experience multiplied tenfold as if someone had switched a fan on, right in front of my face. I felt as though I was being dumped on with love, bliss, forgiveness, acceptance and more and more and more! All wrapped up together in earth and grandmother spirit, caressing me like a child. I saw her face, only it was the matrix version of her face, smiling at me. Her eyes, her hair and her gorgeous lips … but it wasn’t just her, she was everything. She was the grandmother, she was my family, she was my friends, the people in the room, she was everything, everywhere and she was all pure love. She wasn’t just okay, she was more than okay. She was divine and full of light and I remembered everything about her in an instant. I fell in love with her all over again. My heart and my entire body melted and I swear I had never smiled that huge before! I was just dripping with love, it was oozing out of my pores and tear ducts and I began sinking deeper and deeper into the couch and further into blissful ecstacy. I stared at April in awe of what I was seeing and feeling. Tears continued to race down my face, my shirt started getting wet, more smiles and giggles. I just couldn’t believe it. There was no pain, no sadness, no despair, depression, darkness, agony, loneliness, anguish. None of it. Not even an ounce, it just wasn’t there. The only thing that existed was pure, unconditional love. She wrapped me in it and I felt her warmth and the familiar love of her essence. I knew then and there that she was still right here, she had never left and the grandmother downloaded a bunch of cosmic lessons about life and death to me in minutes. It was in these moments that knew I was going to be okay moving forward! I sighed heavily, multiple times.
I was so blown away that I had trouble breathing and had to force myself to get back to my center. But each time I got to the breathing, it intensified some more and it was a vicious cycle of centering myself and then losing my breath. My heart was racing and the visions continued to grow in intensity, guided by the Shaman’s music in the next room. Part of me wanted to get up and go back inside the main room but I was just stuck and there was no way I was going to distract my attention away from the awesomeness that was happening in my mind, body and deep within my heart and soul. The grandmother continued to pour love all over me in such a gentle and soothing way. I started feeling a sense of deep gratitude and even whispered “Thank you” several times as tears just fell. My heart was on fire.
The visuals began to speed up. I started to see patterns of sacred geometry that I could not keep up with, all the while the grandmother’s presence sat behind them. She was serious but kind, all-knowing and all-powerful. I couldn’t focus on her, she was abstract, but she was there and so was April and everyone else in my life. So close to my heart, I began seeing flashes of all of my close friends and family members, everyone smiling. Angels. I thought of my dearest friends, those of you who have had the largest impact and greatest influence on my life, one by one and saw you all in a new way, as spirit beings, full of light and love, brothers and sisters. I felt you all inside of me, as one. We are one. We always have been. I thought about my mom and breathed a sigh of relief that she was okay but the thoughts of my family members didn’t last long, it wasn’t time for that yet. This was my time to focus on April and my friends. I also thought about my cat, Jordan and was overcome with love for him as well. He has been my trusting companion for the last 10 years, always watching over me while I sleep. He has been my protector and he understands my soul probably more than any other being on this planet. I felt connected to him, like we were soul mates. We shared the same space, not as master and servant or human and feline but as true brothers and I realized that we have been together for many lifetimes.
I sighed again heavily, multiple times, covered with this unfamiliar feeling of euphoria that I had never known before, drenched in tears that probably tasted like rosewater. I began to understand that what I was feeling was the love inside of me, bursting. The candle had just been relit and I found myself swimming in a pool of happiness, and childlike joy. It was rapture, paradise, heaven, all wrapped in an enormous ball of love. The grandmother was giving me everything I needed and watching closely over me during the entire process.
As I sped down the highway, it took on so many forms and shapes. Spirals, colors, curves and I began to feel even more connected to the earth. This included the spirits of animals and of course plants. I thought of April again and was flushed with more loving energy. Sweet April and the love she embodied and everything she meant to me. I was reminded of our travels together, the passion we shared, the friendship, trust, laughter, and everything in between. It was all so overwhelming. I felt my heart healing on the spot, my troubles falling away. I heard her laughing and began to see my life in a new light with endless possibilities. It was by far the most beautiful experience of my life that cannot be conveyed by the words and pictures on this page. I have no concept of how much time passed on the couch but it must have been at least an hour and a half. I finally sighed again and decided to get up and go back into the main room, fully content and ready to see what awaited me around the next corner.
Although a little wobbly on the way back into the room, I was okay, all smiles and still tingling. I sat and enjoyed the water ceremony which takes place in the middle of the room. By this point the second cup had begun to wear off and the visuals subsided. During the first half of the night, you are not allowed to drink water and this is a rule for several reasons. Firstly, drinking water after you drink the medicine can cause the effects to come on very quickly and strong, which you don’t want. The second reason is so that you can learn to understand water as medicine and the sacredness of it. The water ceremony was beautiful. I sat patiently until the Shaman’s helper came to my seat and offered me a glass. I drank it slowly and was so grateful and instantly saw water in a new light. As a gift from the creator but not just conceptually … I felt it. I understood it to my core being.
Shortly after the water ceremony, I went for my third cup. Seconds after it passed my lips and went down my throat the rumbling in my stomach was back and I felt deathly ill within minutes. I was moving slowly, very uncomfortable and groaning with pain. I had trouble with depth perception and equilibrium. I picked up my bucket and tried to make it outside but purged uncontrollably on the way to the door. I was rocked. Eyes watery, gasping for air and rushing to the first seat I could find. My head pounded as I continued to purge in my bucket for 10 minutes straight. I felt like demons were flying out of my body. Another lesson that was learned in the first night was that purging is part of the process that you really should not be self-conscious about. By the end of my third night, it was an afterthought.
After I got well, I hobbled back to my bedding, drank some water and laid down for a few minutes. This is when things took a turn and the hard lessons began. Long gone were the feelings of joy from earlier, now it was time to get down to business. She was serious and it was evident that the real work was about to start. I sat up and began rocking back and forth, still feeling ill and having a hard time breathing. Now the thoughts of my mom came to me and it was extremely heavy. The visions of her smiling and my relief were replaced with sadness, grief and a fierce desire for forgiveness. I started seeing flashes of moments of my life with her and how precious she was. Some of these visions were the same ones I saw in the car on the drive back from the hospital. I saw a flash of her giving birth to me, but from her perspective. I saw her hardships, raising my sister and I as a single mother, struggling with hard times. I felt her pain, her loneliness and all of the shit she went through over the years and I felt all of those years combined. It hit me really really hard. I started having deeper visions but this time they were not sunshine and roses. They were urgent and much darker.
By the minute, I was learning so much about myself, my relationship with my mother and all of my past mistakes. At the same time, I felt the physical effects of the medicine, pounding in my head, poking around my insides and working in my stomach and intestines. She was exploring the area from my hernia surgery from when I was 5 years old and digging around each of my teeth individually. I felt muscles spasm and certain areas of my body tingle and twitch uncontrollably. She shifted my vertebrae and spine and kept working. The grandmother was showing me everything I had done wrong in the past and how I had not been grateful enough for my mom. I was shown in very distinct ways that this freak transient-global amnesia thing had happened so that I could learn the important lessons and the value of my mother. I saw her as a young woman, in all her beauty and then saw her age quickly, right before my eyes. I replayed the moments of the day in the hospital, heard her voice and her facial expressions engrained in my mind’s eye forever. I saw her as a child and the role reversal became evident in a matter of moments. I wept like a baby and the Shaman’s music took me deeper and deeper into my own darkness. The grandmother hovered over me and I felt like an inmate and she was the warden.
But the love was still there, she was just showing me what I needed to see. Why could I not see this before? I knew it, it was inside of me but I still was not grateful enough for my mother all these years. The events of the day along with this blanket of intensity that was wrapped around me in the moment hit me very, very hard. I cried and cried and begged for forgiveness. I released everything that I had been holding inside, all of the masking I had done in my life was removed and my emotions just projected violently out of my body. I humbled myself in a way that I didn’t even know was possible. I never realized I was capable of feeling so deeply. All of my regrets poured out of me and the Shaman’s music continued up the mountain as the grandmother forced herself in my mind’s eye and I couldn’t escape her.
I took my beaded bracelets off that my ex-girlfriend had given me and began rubbing them between my fingers for strength. I continued to rock back and forth in attempt to receive some physical comfort from the raging riot that was going on inside of my body. I attempted once again to pour all of my focus into my breathing but it was so overwhelming and I was losing control. I cried for my ex and cursed myself for another failed relationship. I felt her pain, her sadness and continued to weep. Anger. Disgusted with myself, wishing I could erase the past and change things. My mind was swarmed with thoughts. I miss you so much. I’m so sorry for everything. I’m sorry I couldn’t give you what you deserved and that I was so broken and not able to love you the way I wanted to, the way you needed me to. I humbled myself and asked for redemption, feeling more love for her than I had ever felt before. The combined pain of my ex and my mom was excruciating. Then, my sister came into the picture and I cried even more. The Shaman’s icaros began to reach climax. The grandmother focused on me intently.
As the Shaman approached the summit with his sound vibrations, the pain continued pouring out of me. Why have my sister and I not reconnected after all these years? Why can’t we just let go of the past? I love her so much. I saw how beautiful she is and was so upset that she wasn’t in my life. I surrendered to all of this and humbled myself to the grandmother, begging for forgiveness. Suddenly, the icaro was over and the room fell silent. The only sound left was me. Weeping uncontrollably, filling the room with my sobs. I couldn’t stop. I cried for at least another minute or two in dead silence, but I no longer cared. I had surrendered. I felt the prayers and blessings of the other people in the room entering my body from all directions. It helped tremendously and in an instant I understood the power of prayer, something that people spend a lifetime learning or might not ever learn at all. The crying subsided to sniffles and I quickly felt better. I wiped up the tears with my drenched tissue paper and sighed heavily. The grandmother lifted off of my chest gently, floated away and left me feeling defeated, yet somehow grateful at the same time. It was though she had just spent an hour beating me into submission and then kissed me on her way out the door.
I went outside and smoked some tobacco. The cold air helped me get back to center and return to my process. The worst was behind me. I thanked her for showing me and enjoyed the silence of the night, the snow, the stars, and the majestic rocky mountains in the distance, lit up by the bright moon above. It was all so epic and I felt thrilled to be alive and to have gained all of these profound lessons in such a short amount of time. I thought some more about my family, my friends, my ex, and April. I smiled at myself, and felt the love inside of me. Calmness, serenity. No anxiety, darkness or confusion, just peace.
I returned indoors just in time for the final part of the ceremony, the limpia healings. I took my shirt off and joined the others in the center of the room in a seated position, lined up facing each other. The Shaman and his helpers began walking up and down and healing us each individually from the front and back. He filled his mouth with water and spat it all over me. I felt a rush of cold, followed by a sense of relief and cleanse. The music was beautiful and one of the Shaman’s helepers, Harmony sang in harmony with him. She stopped and sat in front of each of us, one by one, rubbed my shoulders and put drops of oil on my chakras. The helpers swept the bad spirits away with their feathers and leaves and by the time it was over, we all stood up and received hugs from each of them. This was the end of the ceremony. The sun was just starting to rise and I was exhausted but also felt a renewed sense of life, an awakening. I went and laid down to try to absorb what I just went through and get some sleep but there was no way. I was feeling very introverted and wasn’t really participating in the morning part of the ceremony which is when you’re allowed to talk again and share experience with the others. I was still feeling a little out of my element and not entirely comfortable talking to people that I didn’t know. I exchanged a few smiles and quick conversations with some of my neighbors. Everyone was so warm, friendly, and full of love. I found myself wishing I was more comfortable to talk to these people but I was just so tired. After the breakfast ceremony, which was also one of the highlights, everyone gave thanks and I tried again get some sleep, to no avail. My body felt much better after eating and eventually I decided to go out to my car and try to sleep there. I ran the car’s heater, texted some friends and then finally drifted off into sleep for a few hours, off and on. By the time I awoke, everyone was gone. Mine was the only car there. I ate some more food that I had brought with me and then went back inside. The room was entirely empty and I had a chance to re-configure my spot and save a few seats for some friends that would be joining me for the second night. I wrote some notes in my journal and was also able to get a little more sleep which was a great idea, since round two would prove to be the most difficult of all three nights. Thankfully, I would be surrounded by 5 Angels the second night in the form of my friends.
My intention for the second night was to learn about and hopefully address my attachment issues. Since I lost April, I have been living an unhealthy existence and chasing love in the form of something external, instead of nourishing the love that is inside of me. I knew this but could never figure out how to overcome it. I wanted to learn non-attachment. To not attach feelings of love to someone else and to feel it inside of myself instead. I wanted to fall in love with me. At the same time, I wanted to continue the process of surrendering and humbling myself. The second night was the hardest experience of my life. I drank 3 cups total and went deeper and deeper into my soul, feeling more and more connected with a higher consciousness with each cup I drank.
The beginning was similar to the first night, I laid down after the first cup and drifted off into a trance-like state and didn’t return until the Shaman’s whistling began. I didn’t feel much at all with the first cup and was eager for cup number two and that’s when things began to get difficult. I went through a period of physical agony, trying to breathe and consulting my beads and essential oil that one of my friends brought for comfort. I had given the Self Discovery beaded bracelet to a friend to wear for the night but it turns out, I wouldn’t need it because I was about to embark on a journey of self-discovery that would seem to last for an eternity. In addition to the self-discovery, what I learned most on the second night was about the Creator.
Again, I surrendered and humbled myself and learned the sacredness of life. The preciousness of every moment, every second of silence, every sound, every musical note, every smell, every water molecule and stillness of the earth. I rocked back and forth in pain and cried a lot, wishing I would have found this healing earlier in life but I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I was comforted by a dear friend sitting directly next to me and my other friends in the room. I felt their process, their pain and struggle, combined with mine and felt more connected to them than ever before. We were all one with the Creator and the earth, and I was completely enthralled with the grandmother’s energy and wrapped up in her nest.
I finally understood everything that my mom had been trying to teach me for the last 30 years. It was a struggle. At times it was dark and always very emotional but beautiful at the same time. I kept breathing and after the 3rd cup and my second purge, went even further. I cried some more, and realized that my entire life was about to change and that I would be in service for the rest of my life. I was humbled and grateful for the opportunity. This was the opening and the beginning of a real spiritual path, one that would no longer be crowded with the confusion of daily life, drowned in the mundane activities of the default world.
I was so connected with her, more than ever before. She took me on a journey through time, were I saw glimpses of what I inferred as past lives, something I plan on exploring further in the future. She came to me as an abstract alien several time but so gorgeous and embodied the beauty of earth simultaneously. I was reminded of the creatures from the Abyss, one of my favorite movies from years ago.
She was everything and transcended time and space. She was all beings, all life, the earth, the moon, the sun, the stars, the plants, the animals, my friends. She was god, the universe, the combined consciousness of all living things. I saw birds, butterflies, fish, owls, frogs, reptiles, other animals and alien creatures, multi-layered on top of each other. She was the totality of everything at once, an all-understanding consciousness that lived inside of me.
I was completely out of the Matrix now. I had seen similar things before, during critical moments of my life but nothing as profound as the intensity of this experience. I knew there was no going back to the old way of life now. I tried to focus on the Shaman and the energy of the Creator but it was so hard and I was always back and forth between being connected and pulled away by my worries, fears, thoughts and turmoil. All the while, feeling a growing sense of love for my friends in the room. I saw them all in a new light as little beings of love, just like me. More gratitude, surrender, forgiveness and a newfound sense of urgency to the rest of my life. I had work to do, time to make up for and service to render. I traveled through the universe, the earth and the oceans, passing billions and billions of light beings along the way, and soaking up the power of life with each minute. So humble. So grateful to be alive in this amazing world with such wonderful Angels in my life.
It was such a rough ride but such a wonderful experience. What I went through the second night was so profound and hard to put into words but it was the most beautiful experience I had ever been a part of. Morning arrived with another round of limpias and I went outside with one of my dearest friends and smoked some tobacco. We grinned at each other in awe at the sunrise, the crisp air, the stars still high in the sky, the roosters crowing nearby, and the owls hooting in the distance. We sat by the fire in silence before returning to join our other friends inside. I sat in a little pile of love for awhile, in complete bliss with my friends. We chatted for awhile and I marveled at the love I felt for all of them. Their auras flowing out of their bodies and the feeling of mutual understanding, calmness and peace when we looked into each others’ eyes was incredible. I searched for my attachment issues and didn’t find them. I was smothered in nothing but love and peace.
After another glorious breakfast, two of my friends left. One of them was on the fence about returning for a second night due to a very difficult experience on the previous night, which was the first ever dance with ayahuasca, for this particular friend. I felt really bad, considering the blissful experience I had on my first night, his was the complete opposite. I was hopeful that he would decide to return and was delighted to see his smiling face later on that night. In the meantime, I left the compound with another friend who had offered a bed for me to get some proper rest in. As I drifted off to sleep, I went searching for my pain once again. This time, I tried to find my April pain and it wasn’t there. I panicked for a moment when I couldn’t find it in my mind and heart. I realized I had come to rely so much on it for comfort for the past 3 years, in a strange way that I could not understand. For a moment, I wanted it back. It had become a part of me and who I was. But I quickly realized that it wasn’t a part of me and that it was finally gone. It has completely disappeared and left me free and full of love and gratitude. I also realized that my attachment issues had completely vanished as well, replaced by compassion, understanding and love. I had almost forgotten about that intention completely since the night seemed to focus more on the connection to the higher consciousness than anything else. But the pain and the attachment issues were gone, and they were gone forever.
The third night was the most interesting and cerebral for me. I only drank 2 cups the third night, but it was more than enough and it would prove to be the right decision because it allowed me to stay in a more comfortable place of awareness and connectedness for a longer period of time. This is not to say it wasn’t difficult because it was, but the hard parts didn’t last as long and I was able to really spend some time enjoying the ceremony, the Shaman and the healing. I had spent a lot of time during the day writing and thinking about my intention for the third night. I knew that I really wanted to learn about my ego but thought that it was such a huge thing and I was already so spent from the previous two nights. I had thought about saving it for Peru since it was such a massive intention, I wasn’t sure I wanted to confront it on the third night. I was back and forth in my head about it. Ironically, I would realize later that this was just my ego playing games with me! I finally decided to go for it and also decided that I would really make an effort to do everything I could to stay connected and remain within my process on the final night. I wanted to keep the distractions at a minimum and maintain focus.
I started this process in a seated position for the first hour once the lights were turned off. This was hard for me, due to my neck and back pain but at this point I was already so humbled that I felt it was the least I could do for this experience. Surprisingly I was able to tap into the mind over matter power and the pain was manageable. I sat upright, rubbing both of the beaded bracelets in my fingertips and breathing deeply for a full hour. I reached a very comfortable state of meditation and was snapped out of it by the Shaman’s whistling. I was surprised that a full hour had passed, but proud of myself for sitting with the pain and staying with my process. I laid back down and listened to his whistling, only this time I didn’t drift off. I thought about my friend next to me and sent him a prayer for a better second experience. Once the harmonica began, I got a little more comfortable and continued breathing, and that’s when the mind games began.
I started feeling so comfortable, tired and lethargic. I thought about sitting up again once the singing began but I was just drained of energy and stuck. My mind began playing games with me and these thoughts started coming up out of nowhere, telling me to just relax and fall asleep, one cup was enough for tonight. I’m tired and I don’t want to deal with another night of emotional turmoil. I’m over it. For a moment, I even thought about going outside and taking a walk to my car. How ridiculous, especially considering it was freezing outside! My ego was starting to take over, only I hadn’t realized it yet.
I tried to overcome these negative thoughts of wanting to be somewhere else, perhaps at home in my bed but I was still stuck and couldn’t move. The thoughts were telling me to throw in the towel, that I deserved an easy night of rest. I can’t handle another night of this rollercoaster. One cup is enough for tonight, considering everything I had gone through the previous two. I should take it easy, I’ve already gotten more out of this experience than I had expected and I had to work on Tuesday so I really should just chill out and be content with one cup. Back and forth this conversation went in my mind. My ego had full control over me but the REAL me wanted to sit up and focus, wanted to prepare myself for a second cup. But I just couldn’t move, my ego had me handcuffed and paralyzed and the real me was tiny in that moment. I wish the Shaman would just stop singing. WHAT? What is going on right now? Why am I having these negative thoughts? I finally began to realize that it was my ego and the lesson was beginning.
After what seemed like an eternity, I finally forced myself to sit up and get back to focus. I was still not feeling into it so I went to the side room and sat on the couch. When I sat down, I felt an object touch my leg, and then picked it up. It was the most beautiful stone, the size of my palm. It was so smooth, purple with light orange swirls, it really took my breath away. I started rubbing it and using it for energy. I quickly realized it had belonged to the woman that was seated on the couch before me but the stone was mine now, at least for the next few minutes! I enjoyed the way it felt in my hands and used it for strength and to help me get centered with my breathing. I watched the Shaman outside the building from the window for a few moments, chasing away evil spirits from the area while continuing to glide my fingers all over this magical stone. It was radiating with energy and I was mesmerized by its warmth. For perhaps the next 30 minutes I engaged in a sensual dance with this stone and the next thing I knew, I was completely seduced by it, just like Gollum from Lord of the Rings! My ego was using the stone as a distraction, to pull me away from my process. The all important process of being connected with the Creator. I began to see how this happens in my everyday life. It was amusing and I found myself chuckling at how silly this was but I could not, for the life of me put the stone down and was stuck on the couch for awhile. I thought about returning the stone to its owner but that was just my ego trying to distract me as well. Other thoughts came to mind, back and forth, slowing me down and pulling me away from center. This is ridiculous! Finally, I left it on the couch and returned to the room with a smile on my face. I beat my ego in that round, although it did take me quite some time to do it. But I was learning.
I went for my second cup and for the next few hours I was stuck in a difficult puzzle of the mind. It started slowly and grew quickly as the harmonica’s sound became more intricate. I struggled to keep my wits about me but the thoughts continued to twist my mind into oblivion. It was dark and confusing and at times I felt like I was going insane. As the Shaman moved from harmonica to singing, the thoughts got louder and began crowding me and bending my psyche. I heard strange sounds in my mind that were full of horror … ominous voices in my head that completely terrified me. I gripped my face and forehead with my hands and it was pure insanity. I rubbed my head and tried to shake it off but it wasn’t going anywhere, it was in my mind’s eye. Stuck in this bizarre world of riddles, thoughts, strange vibrations and voices. It was my ego, sinister and insidious, playing games with me.
It was so abstract, obtuse and confusing. Doors began shutting down on my brain and I had no control over my thoughts at all. I would try to take control by breathing and it would work temporarily but then I would lose control again and spiral back down the hellish tunnel of insanity. I would try to come back to my breath but had a very hard time and it was a constant back and forth. I have no idea how long this lasted but it felt like hours. My ego had full control and was flooding my mind with uncomfortable thoughts about myself, my insecurities, my personality and my character flaws. It was hijacking my mind, twisting and turning everything upside down. My ego taunted me and I could not shut it off, no matter how hard I tried.
I rocked back and forth, continually squeezing my face and forehead with my hands, shaking my head back and forth violently. I’m not good enough, I’ve done bad things, I’ve hurt people, I’m a failure, I’ve wasted too much time in my life. I’ll never succeed or get to where I want to be in life. I will always be stuck in this rut of dissatisfaction with my situation. I cried out several times in despair and anguish, trying to force it away, but I was completely trapped. I was in a straightjacket in a mental institution, bouncing off rubber walls. I felt lost in a maze of mirrors with no way out. It was complete pandemonium. I began to lose my grip on reality and wondered if this was what insanity was and if I’d ever be the same. I knew there had to be a light at the end of the tunnel but I didn’t see it and was stuck in these dark puzzle rooms with no windows, no keys and no idea which way to turn.
Grandmother was nowhere to be found. I tried asking for her help but she had to let me battle through this on my own. I felt like the character Jake, played by Jason Statham in the elevator scene from the Guy Ritchie film Revolver, another favorite of mine which I was now understanding on yet another level. Trapped in my own mind, fighting to break free from my ego, stuck in an elevator, a box constructed by my own thoughts. It was a long and arduous chess match, and I was losing big time.
I tried breathing again and was finally able to take control but only because I felt like my ego took a rest for a moment. I was weak and could not fight off the thoughts. My ego was showing me all of the things I hated about myself and my personality and laughing at me the entire time as I sat hunched over, whimpering. I felt alone, completely helpless and defeated.
After a few more rounds of healing, harmonica and icaros, things started to improve. I began to see my ego and its thoughts as nothing more than a construct of my own mind. It wasn’t me at all. We were separate entities and it began to move further and further away from my true spirit. The thoughts slowed down and I was able to regain control of my breathing. I saw my ego separated from me, first on the side and then eventually below me. It was tiny and I was hovering above it, completely connected and in control. It was in this moment that I realized that my ego was really weak and pathetic and that I had the power within me to keep it in check. When it started to rise, I saw it quickly, before the thoughts entered my mind and swooped me away. I was able to see the thoughts as they approached me, whereas before I couldn’t even realize that they were in my head until I was completely consumed by them. Now they appeared individually, one by one, moving through time and space very slowly. I grabbed onto each one, examined it and then dropped it to the floor. It was awesome, I had full control and was loving it. Then my ego shifted its strategy and started coming at me with pleasurable thoughts. I began to see that even the good thoughts were my ego’s way of trying to take advantage of me and move me away from center. For example, I thought of a friend and immediately got swept up in thought by the feeling of joy from picturing her smile. But even that was a distraction from where I needed to be, connected to the earth and the Creator! Damn you, Ego, you cunning little bastard! Stop it! I laughed at myself and played with this for awhile.
I came to understand very clearly that my ego had been in the driver’s seat of my destiny for my entire life but now it was time for me to get behind the wheel, take control and start driving in the direction I’ve always wanted to move towards. It was time to take a test drive on the highway of life and put my ego in the backseat. All of my problems, my past angst, sadness, depression, heartache, my future worries and all of the stress were things that I had created with my own mind. This was fear. Everything that held me back, came from a place of unreasonable fear. These thoughts weren’t the real me, they were my ego. My ego had created all of it, an elaborate trap in my own mind based on the fear of things which do not exist. I had visions of Sadhguru from a Youtube video I had watched over and over again recently. I heard his voice ring true and replayed the video in my mind. I finally understood it with 100% of my being. I hadn’t been living in the present, I hadn’t been living with life. I had been living in my mind, lost in my imagination. I had constructed a complex prison with my own thoughts, and all of it was designed by my ego. The reason for this was that because I was not living in the now, rooted in reality as Sadhguru explains in the video below. I was constantly distracted by my own thoughts and it was my ego which had created all that sadness, heartbreak and overall stress. My meditation practice helped sometimes but it was never as profound as this. I had read about and understood the concept of the ego but could never really separate my true self from it until now. The medicine showed me the true meaning of ego. Now, I literally saw my ego so far away from me that I was able to look at it and recognize it as something other than the real me. My real qualities rose to the surface and all of the things that I truly do love about myself came up. It was the beginning of falling in love with myself again and I knew it was going to be a long road ahead and that my ego would continue to play a role and have a purpose, but I was so excited to understand it on a more intimate level now. I finally got it and can’t wait to learn more. Sadhguru’s words are wise and they reflect exactly what I learned.
The final limpia stripped away the last remnants of the chess match with my ego, and I returned to the familiar place of normalcy, only with a quiet mind and a sense of peace. The Shaman and his helpers came around to hug us individually and wish us a happy morning. When Harmony hugged me and I thanked her, she whispered into my ear:
“I just wanted to let you know that when I was working on your back, I saw that you had sprouted wings and they weren’t there the first two days. It was really beautiful.”
This was the final confirmation for me. I was healed of a lot of problems I had been carrying and although there were still more layers to be peeled away, I now had the tools to move forward. I had found my smile again and the flame in my heart was burning brightly, no longer clouded by negative energy that I had piled on for so many years. I vowed to remember this moment and to keep it in the forefront of my mind so that I could continue on each day and integrate this new found love for myself, my creator and my fellow spirit beings.
I had learned so much in 3 nights and even in just one night! Now that I had separated my ego from my true self for a few hours, I couldn’t wait to continue the exploration. I was much more comfortable in my own skin after the third night. Breakfast ceremony was beautiful again, the food was delicious and talking to people was much easier. I was grateful for this because I continued to learn a lot more by hearing about other people’s experiences. But I still knew that the road ahead would be long and difficult and the little moments of social anxiety reminded me that there was a lot more work to be done. But I had begun my transformation and everyday since has been incredible. I am now living with life again, knowing and understanding the feeling of one consciousness, higher consciousness and collective consciousness. I raced home and dove into 2 hours of meditation and was overcome with gratitude that I could do this now, I really can do this!!! I will never forget this experience and plan to carry it forward with me and live a better life, leading by example and continuing to work on myself and cultivate divine love so that I can help the world even more in the future by being a better friend, son, brother and mentor to those around me. I am forever indebted to the Shaman, his assistants, and my friends for helping me reach where I am today and I want every one of my Angels to know and feel deep in your hearts the love I have for each and every single one of you (you know who you are). I am eternally grateful for you.
Diet, exercise and meditation are starting to become second nature, whereas they seemed like such a burden and a chore before. I’m reading and writing a lot more, desperate to soak up as much knowledge as I can, and to keep my creative juices flowing. I am now back on my true path and am eager to learn more about different practices, sound healing, sacred objects with healing properties, spiritual teachings, and anything else that might assist me in my lifelong spiritual journey. I am determined to become a sponge for the right energy that will lead me to where I want to go in life. So, the next chapter of my life begins and I am so thankful to be surrounded by Angels, helping me along my path. There were so many more lessons and moments of magic that happened during these three nights, it’s impossible to write about all of them but they are inside of me and nothing can ever take them away. The next page starts in Costa Rica for a week, to reunite with my family, share stories and begin a new relationship without the burden of my past problems. Then, I am off to Peru in the spring to work with the medicine some more, as this will undoubtedly be a lifelong path for me. I am really looking forward to exploring myself, learning about my issues, going deeper, and seeing what else the grandmother has in store for me. I’ve already begun a list of possible intentions and can’t wait to continue to the journey. This is truly the time for awareness and awakening, not just for me but for all of humanity and I am certain that this personal experience is a reflection of what is about to happen on a global scale on this planet. For now, I bid farewell with nothing but unconditional love in my heart for each and every one of you reading this blog.
2 weeks ago, I returned from Black Rock City, Nevada and my first trip to Burning Man. It has taken 2 weeks of simmering in self-reflection to finally be able to sit down and try to put into words what this experience has meant to me and the many ways in which it has touched and changed me forever. I realize that this is a fool’s errand, as there are no words to describe what happened to me out there. I learned many valuable lessons on the playa that I am committed to keeping in the forefront of my mind and incorporating into my daily life in the fake world. I knew that Burning Man would be an amazing experience, and I was very open to being enlightened. I was also very fortunate to be joining up with many other first timers and a great group of veterans as well. I had specific goals and wanted to have a personal experience out there and be able to make some spiritual progress, but I had no idea of the magnitude of the spiritual awakening that seems to have slapped me in the face every single morning and throughout everyday since I’ve returned. I’m absolutely elated that I was open to receiving it and have now been lucky enough to be touched by the universe in a very special and unique way that I always thought was possible but am only now recognizing that it has been right in front of me the entire time. My Burning Man experience just helped to open it up a little…
It has been a difficult transition to return to “normal life”, but I am so very grateful for everything that transpired and the spiritual lessons I’ve learned from my experience. This is my feeble attempt at trying to share what I learned in the (perhaps naive) hope that others might read this and gain some insight, wisdom and inspiration from my story. I really felt as though the universe spoke to me out there and I am awakened and humbled by what I have learned.
Rites of Passage for me was about Letting Go.
Leading up to Burning Man, I was determined to make this my Rite of Passage and to be able to use the opportunity as a way to help me reach a very specific goal I had set for myself. What I didn’t realize, is that I would be torn wide open and that the idea of Letting Go would take on a much more significant and expanded meaning. I reached my goal and so much more …
Almost 3 years ago, my ex-girlfriend passed away in a tragic car accident, the day after Christmas, 2008. This has been, by far, the most difficult experience I’ve dealt with in my life. I’ve made some progress but my Burning Man experience has reminded me that I am still very broken and far off my true path because of this loss and that I have a long road of healing ahead of me. It forced me to look inward and begin a real healing process, one that includes a proper balance of nutrition for the mind, body and soul. I was able to see the gaping wound inside of me for what it is … still raw, fresh and very visible and not a million band-aids will ever fix this broken heart until I’m ready to do the true healing work myself. Unbeknownst to me, I was about to embark on a major spiritual awakening and that the Playa would show me everything in my life, my paths, my choices, my mistakes … clear as day. It also showed me that I have not learned some lessons and have repeated mistakes without realizing them (until now). Letting Go of a lost love was just the beginning … by the end, and in the aftermath or “Decompression”, I would come to realize that Letting Go meant so much more than just letting go of her.
I need to let go of everything that has been holding me back from reaching my goals in life, and finding happiness. Letting go of past pain, loss, bitterness, suffering, anguish, failures, expectations, grudges, a broken heart, family struggles and everything else that has been preventing me from attaining what I want in life. I saw a lot of things out on the Playa, many of which were lost on me in the moment. It wasn’t until I returned and spent a lot of time thinking about my experience and reliving some of those moments in my dreams that I began to see the messages loud and clear and saw the signs that I had missed the first time around.
The spirits were communicating to me on the Playa, constantly sending me obvious signs and messages that I was unable to receive because I was stuck in a vice grip of sadness, loneliness, darkness and confusion. These emotions, coupled with the cloud of substances I was putting in my body left me feeling lost, misunderstood, and completely alone.
Thankfully, I am blessed to be surrounded by people who love me for who I am and who can see when I’m struggling and need someone to lean on. I felt like a dark cloud was following me around the desert, and I found myself wandering in a pool of emotions that I didn’t understand. No matter how hard I peddled on my dusty playa bike, I could not escape it. Over time, I accepted that the dark cloud that has been haunting me over these past three years is inside of me and that I’ll never be able to escape it or run away from it, and that I have to finally make the conscious decision to do the work that I need to do in order to fix myself. So I now embark on a new chapter in my spiritual journey.
I have spent the last 3 years feeling sorry for myself and searching for Love in all the wrong places when it’s been inside of me the entire time. I just haven’t taken the time to nourish it or to take care of myself. Instead, I’ve chosen a path of band-aids, distractions and unhealthy choices, sub-consciously trying to mask the pain of losing her and escape from it. But I now know for sure that the love I seek is out there somewhere but I will only find it if I can find it within myself first. Only then will I be able to succeed in life and in personal relationships. I am thankful and excited to start viewing life as a challenge instead of a burden.
Some of you might be wondering what specific experiences awakened me to these realities and it’s very hard to explain what happened to me out there as it was so abstract and subtle, I don’t even know how to put most of it into words. But there were some lessons that were very obvious and one of the things that I learned was that I have a lot to offer those around me and that I need to find the strength within myself to reach out and help others in any way that I possibly can and in some of the ways that I have seen others help me. In addition to this nugget of wisdom bestowed upon me by the playa Gods, I also came to the realization that I have an incredible network of support around me and have been too stubborn in the past to accept help that has been offered to me or to reach out for help when I really need it, something that I plan on changing starting now.
There was a lot of symbolism that was presented to me on a silver platter that I didn’t realize until I returned from the desert. I’m a little upset with and disappointed in myself for not seeing these things as they were happening to me in the moment, but I’m also very grateful for these realizations and there is a part of me that is giddy with joy because I can now see that what I want in life is possible, it’s just up to me.
Again, it’s almost impossible to go through everything that I learned so I’m just going to try and focus on a few very important lessons, otherwise this could turn into a novel in no time. Burning Man presented me with mirrors several times and I managed to take a few photos of a couple of them, completely oblivious to what this symbol would mean for me. After 2 weeks of being down in the dumps, thinking about my life and re-living moments on the playa through nightly vivid dreams, I’ve come to understand the meanings behind this symbol and the very intentional way it was placed before me on the playa.
The symbolism in mirrors and the way I came across them has forced me to take a very long and hard look at myself upon return. It’s been very difficult but I also welcome this new outlook and will continue to focus on it. The mirrors showed me that I can no longer ignore what I see in the mirror and must do whatever it takes to get my life back on track and moving in the direction I want it to. Mirrors were front and center on the Playa for me, throughout the week.
So, what else did I learn from this? Well, these are all very simple things that I think each of us knows within our hearts but my Burning Man experience really hammered them home from me and reminded me of some very simple but important life lessons. We are all reflections of each other and the universe has sent us together for very specific and deliberate reasons which I see clearly now within myself and those around me. We are here to help each other and learn from each other by looking at every single person in our lives as a mirror. This reflection serves very specific purposes. See the light in yourself that you see in others. See the opposites and learn from them. See the shortcomings and see them in yourself. Observe how others have helped you and how you can help them in return. Look at how you’ve been hurt by others and reflect on how you’ve done the same. Reach within yourself and don’t ever doubt the light that is within you. Take a long look at how others love themselves and see an opportunity for you to do the same for yourself…and vice versa! Know that you are surrounded by angels which you can recognize on a daily basis in the form of your loved ones. These angels have been sent to you by the universe, to help you along your path. But be sure to remind yourself that you are also an angel, and thus (since life is a mirror) have been surrounded by the same. Learn to look for the signs in others and they will undoubtedly show you something in yourself or give you a clue as to what you can do for yourself to improve your situation. Sometimes these signs will be glaringly obvious if you take a few minutes to think about them. Other times, they will be subtle, take longer to recognize, and can easily be lost if we don’t focus, but there are messages all around us, in the form of each other.
I also learned some very poignant and relevant lessons about friendship, love, teamwork/cooperation, and the human spirit. My experience taught me that wonderful things can happen when people communicate and open their hearts up to each other allowing love, light, communication and creativity to flow like water, unobstructed by life’s daily grind and concrete jungle. When we allow ourselves to open up and let others in, beautiful and magical things can happen. I was also reminded of the value of self-worth, self-awareness and that I am a spiritual being full of love and light and that I have a lot to offer those around me, but that I must take care of myself first, in order to truly help others. BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY, I’M AWESOME AND I KNOW THIS NOW BECAUSE I SEE HOW AWESOME EVERYONE AROUND ME IS AND THEY ARE REFLECTIONS OF ME.
I’ve been touched and inspired on such a deep level that it’s actually been very overwhelming and I’ve had a hard time keeping my emotions together since we’ve returned from that magical and mysterious place in the dusty Nevada desert. Needless to say, the 8 hours a day I spend in a cubicle is torture right now, but I’ve even managed to admit to myself that I must approach this daily, mundane routine with positivity and view it as a challenge instead of the disgusting existence that it really is. :)
My Burning Man experience also really solidified the idea that life is whatever you make of it and that we all have the power inside of us to manifest our own destinies. Obviously, this sounds so cliche but it is 100% obvious to me now. It showed me very clearly, many times, that I am at a crossroads in my life at this very moment. I’ve reached a specific point in my life where I need to start making critical decisions and the playa showed me the paths my life could take and where I might end up at the end of each of those paths. These were sobering experiences to say the least but I now know that ultimately, the choice is up to me.
Will I go back? When I first returned, my thoughts were that there is no way I can go back there next year, the experience was extremely heavy, introverted and personal for me and brought up a lot of unsettled stuff from my past that were not easy to deal with. The thought of going back was daunting and depressing. But I understand in my soul that Burning Man was meant to happen for me and that I MUST return to have another experience there, in whatever form that arises. I now realize that each Burning Man experience can be used as a barometer for me to measure my life’s progress. I am meant to return and have a different experience but I wouldn’t trade the experience of my first burn for anything in the world, as it was exactly the way it was supposed to be, in order for me to wake up and look at myself in the mirror. In any case, the playa isn’t done with me and I’m certainly not done with it either. :)
There are dozens and dozens of other lessons and moments of symbolism buried in my Burning Man experience but many of them are very difficult to translate into the written word. I experienced some things out there that I’ve never experienced in my life. But they weren’t external, in the form of art or music (although all of that was fantastic as well), they were all internal and spiritual and embodied in the spirits of my friends around me. You are all truly angels, this much is very clear to me now. I see the light in each of you and it is shining so brightly and I can no longer deny that this same light is within me, waiting to be brightened. We have all entered each others lives for very specific reasons and I look forward to sharing what I’ve learned as it relates to each of you specifically. I have already learned SO MUCH from each and every single one of my friends that were with me at Burning Man, old and new. I only wish I could have been in a better place to let my true light shine out there but I know that this was the experience I was meant to have. I can’t thank all of you enough for helping me see these things out there. I am eternally grateful to Burning Man and each and every single one of you for showing me things in myself and helping me see the love that I hold inside of me as well as playing a role in my awakening. I have now made the conscious choice to let go, stop resisting, and surrender myself to life. I felt very connected at times and will never forget that feeling of being wide open to the signs the universe was trying to communicate to me. I only wish I could explain what I saw …
So, I made a mix and tried to convey my experience out there through music.
I went into this project with only one goal, which was to describe my experience from beginning to end and attempt to put all of the conflicting emotions inside of it. I also wanted to give the mix a bit of a chronological order, so that the listener could get a general idea of the progression of emotions that I was going through the weeks leading up to, during and after Burning Man. I had originally intended on ending the mix on a sad note because I was very depressed when I got back. However, I have since seen such an amazing light and limitless possibilities that I decided to end it on a triumphant and hopeful note instead, which I think serves me (and all of you) more positively.
There were a lot of highs and lows out there which I tried to convey in this mix. I also tried to convey emotions of curiosity, excitement, wonderment, happiness, sadness, loneliness, darkness, triumph, and fun. This mix represents everything I went through out there. It’s quirky at times, lots of bumps in the road. It’s like nothing I’ve ever attempted to record or play. This is the first time I’ve ever tried to mix feelings of happiness in with sadness or darkness with joy. There are moments of strange energy shifts and flow, but it is exactly what my experience was out there.
This mix is dedicated to and inspired by Hoang, Marina, Will, Foley, Tara, Mike, Nick & Sophie, all of my camp-mates at the O.K. Korral, and my friends over at the Music Savages Camp. Some of you may not know it, but each and every single one of you has played an important role in this experience for me and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. The way I feel about all of you individually and collectively is expressed somewhere in this mix. This mix is also inspired by Lee Burridge who has been a master influence of music over the last few years for me and the composer of the soundtrack of my life right now. Lee is Burning Man and Burning Man is Lee.
Finally, this mix is dedicated to and inspired by April. I miss you terribly and my heart still aches for you the same way it did almost 3 years ago. I will always love you for everything you showed me about love, life, passion, loyalty, friendship, laughter, romance, the gift of giving, happiness and childlike wonder. You taught me that life is too short and we all must live it to the fullest or watch it pass by us and be left sad, unsatisfied, and alone. You left a life-long and lasting impression on me and taught me so much. I carry your spirit, message and light forward in the hopes that I can show others what you’ve shown me. You are more present in my heart today than ever and I just can’t thank you enough for showing me the way and guiding me through my playa experience and through life in general. I felt you present out there and feel you everyday, stronger than ever. I will never let go of the memories we shared together but it’s time for me to let go of the pain of losing you and move on with my life, just like I know you want me to. Thank you for always smiling down on me and being my angel and guiding light. You’ve made me a better man and even though I know you’ll always be proud of who I am, I intend to honor you by working on myself so that I can reach a point where my light can shine as brightly as yours did and still does. I love you and I know in my heart that I will see you again one day, in another world, another time, another dimension.
With much love and gratitude,