Thursday, February 2, 2012
Rebirth: A Journey with Ayahuasca
The old house stood at the foot of a beautiful ravine. Groupings of rocky bluffs jutted up from the far side of the wooded arroyo. The sky was clear, the sun was shining and the air was cool. Inside, I sat in a chair in a living room. Amongst me were 6 other people, all of us forming a circle. There were candles, beautiful paintings and music playing. We each had a cup in front of us containing the medicinal liquid: thick and brown like the color of mud.
We gave thanks and expressed our intentions for the journey that lay ahead. We each took a cup and began to drink. After struggling somewhat with the ultra-bitter taste, we managed to finish the drink to the last drop. We exited the house and followed a narrow and winding path up the ravine. We arrived to an area with two leveled-terraces that overlooked the gully.
Tribal-sounding music floated through the air. We began to breath deeply and meditate. After a while, I became very sleepy and decided to lay down. My notion of linear time continued to obscure as the potent rhythm of the music carried me into a trance-like state. With eyes closed, yet feeling very aware, I continued to be dazzled by ever-changing intricate patterns of brilliant colors. I opened my eyes and saw that the outer world was very different. The colors of everything around me were vivid and bold and seemed to have a comforting radiance about them. Birds, plants and insects of all kinds caught my attention. My body pulsated with energy and life.
After what seemed to be a long while swimming in these savory new sensations, I experienced a temporary “coming-down” off of the heightened state of consciousness. Feeling quite hungry, I got up and went back down to the house. When I arrived to the kitchen, there lay a bountiful spread of food. Soon, a few people joined me including the Shaman of the ceremony, and we began to feast on the variety of breads, soups, casseroles and desserts.
It was as though I was rediscovering the simple act of eating to my heart’s content. Tastes and textures exploded in my mouth and brought pleasure to my palate. I felt as if I was eating human food for the first time with a body that I had just been gifted to me. A wave of silliness started to come over me and I started to laugh almost uncontrollably. This escalated into sort of a “silly-panic” as I couldn’t quite regain my composure. Soon, this passed. Then, the shaman said that the “window” would end soon and it was time to go back up the ravine.
Just before reaching the door though, I felt a sudden twinge of hesitation. My thoughts were telling me that this was too much too fast for me and so I decided to stay in the comforts of the house. This was the beginning of my descent into fear. Intermittently, it seemed, I would lose the connection to myself that I experienced before the more I allowed my attention to focus on fearful thoughts. I told the Shaman what was going. She told me to breath, to put my awareness in my heart and lay down for a moment. As quickly as these techniques brought me back to center, my digression to an agitated state caused me to slip out of equilibrium. I felt as though I was struggling to balance upon a knife-edged ridge with incalculable drop-offs on either side. From the experience, I could see how much I didn’t want to take responsibility for staying in my power and trusting my heart. It was like I had regressed to an immature state whereby I needed someone on the outside to take care of me.
Soon, my vision started to radically change. I saw a type of holographic pattern with brilliant colors that vibrated faster and faster. It formed a type of tunnel and the image repeated itself ahead of me into what seemed like infinity. The energy of this tunnel was such that I was being invited to go deeper and deeper into it. I knew the best thing for me to do was just to breath, trust and let myself psychologically “jump” into it. However, my hesitation due to fear of this unknown destination caused me to halt once again. The more I resisted the faster the energy of the tunnel “pulled.”
By this time, the shaman had left. I looked around in desperation. In the kitchen, a woman was eating. The thought to call out for help hung floated in my mind, but as much as I tried to call to her, I couldn’t —I wasn’t able to make any sound come out of my mouth. Now, the fear and panic of being completely alone in the world reared its ugly head. Not wanting to slip further into this unsettling state, I managed to collect myself enough to trust that this was simply something I had to go through on my own. I was faced with an existential dilemma: Do I yield to my fear and stay in limitation or do I “jump” into the unknown and see what can be experienced in the great beyond?
Suddenly, it all became too overwhelming. I rushed to the bathroom and forced myself to throw up. As I did, I experienced what I would describe as a purging of my limiting self-identities. In other words, it was like a spontaneous release of beliefs: “I am not enough,” “I cannot know true love,” “I am only human.” This was proving to be one of the most intense and difficult rite of passages I had come to know, and yet, there was still more to come.
After purging as much as one possibly could, I proceeded outside and walked toward the trail. As I ascended, I realized I still felt very much in doubt about everything. Just before reaching the terraces, I saw the Shaman coming toward me. I asked her why I felt so completely uncertain about who I am. She looked me straight in the eye, smiled and said, “You are letting go of all the old limiting factors that you believe make up all of who you are. It’s seems so scary, I know. You can let all of this go either with resistance or without; it’s your choice.” Her encouraging words immediately resonated truth inside me. She continued to explain: “There is light at the end of this tunnel. You must get back into your heart and feel the love that emanates here. You will find that is who you really are. You must trust again that you are supported even though you can’t “see” who or what is supporting you. Connecting to your heart is how you will navigate from now on.”
Having somewhat alleviated my agitated state, it was time to put what she said into practice. By this point, I was so desperate to get back to my center, that I began talking myself through it: “Put your hands on your heart. Focus here. Breath. Know that I am supported. Feel the love within that has never faltered.”
Then, on one of the terraces, I saw another man who was on his hands and knees. He looked to be in a similar state that I was in, so, I approached him and asked if he needed help or something to drink. He shook his head and continued to shift from one position to another. From extending my hand and offering help to another person, I realized that I connected, albeit faintly, to my heart once again. Although this was comforting, I noticed how quickly my ego latched on to this simple act and made it into something I should strive for: “If I just continue to help this person, everything will be alright.” In a split second, the disconnect from myself occurred once again. But now, through paying attention to the subtleties of my thoughts and emotions, I found it increasingly easier to steer my awareness back into my heart where I felt rooted and self-contained.
I moved to the other terrace and began to voluntarily purge once again. However, this time a shift inside me occurred. I realized that this was the conscious “I” of a higher vibration making the choice to “let go.” No longer was the “little me” of density and fear in control. I felt so incredibly humbled by this realization; it was like a glimpse of what it’s like to be finally freed from the prison of the fearful mind. I was now out of the “birthing canal” so-to-speak and firmly planted in the “captain’s seat” of my own self. A beautiful wave of lightness, came over me. My whole being softened as I experienced a deep connection to this indescribable peace. All I could do was just bask in this pure, undiluted and unshakeable bliss.
Feeling so grateful and appreciative for the lessons learned, I now understood the importance of trusting myself and trusting that I am always supported. I now know that I can always get through the worst of my fears remembering that the answer to everything always has it’s root in love —true love which resides within the human heart.