Thursday, January 22, 2015

I'm Alive - a little Splat from my Ayahuasca Retreat in Peru

I made it back alive! So happy to be out of the jungle. Here's a little splat from my 7 Ayahuasca journeys in Peru at the Temple of the Way of Light.

Calling my experiences intense would be an understatement. In my 2nd ceremony, I was telepathically told by the Maestro’s and Mama Aya that “we are teaching you the language of the heart.” Little did I know that to learn this new language meant I must face my greatest fears.

When they introduced themselves the 5 Shaman which we called Maestro’s and Maestra’s addressed us as “passajeros” which means passengers. Truly we were were all passengers on what was to be an incredibly wild ride.

My mantra for the first few nights was LOVE and SURRENDER, over and over. I was nervous as usual and for good reason. In my 2nd journey, I was brought the edge of life and death. Ayahuasca heightens your sensitivity so every sound, thought and sensation is felt approximately 20x more intensely than usual. My mind desperately tries to keep track of everything going on and stay sane. But there's just too much. So finally it gave up trying to keep track of all the sensory input; the burps, farts, purging and crying going on around me, my own body purging, the insects and birds from the jungle, the Icaros or songs of the maestros, the medicine showed me that everything, all sensations, thoughts, emotions, and stories are a distraction from the Truth; the Truth which is the vast emptiness that lies beyond the body and mind, beyond the story of me. “She” or Mama Aya, lured me to the edge many times, asking me to go beyond the noise of the busy mind which never ceased to chatter in the background. Asking me to trust in the wisdom of the body, that it would take care of itself. And she gently lured me to stop breathing. 

Luckily, someone in the group during our share circle that day spoke of this happening to him for very long periods of time and he always came back alive from it so I was able to relax into the experience a little and allow my breath to stop. And then everything stopped, all sounds and thoughts faded to the background and something else was vying for my attention. In this space which felt like death beyond the body and mind, there still remained a vast, alive and booming consciousness, a knowing presence that was somehow embedded in the emptiness. This space wasn't necessarily loving or inviting, it didn't have many qualities, it just was.

It was terrifying to my ego in fact because there was nothing there for the little me. I was being asked to surrender everything and fall into this void, to trust that there was a power greater than me at the helm of this ship we call life and that I could allow my body and the heart to take the lead. I see how much courage it takes to really surrender and trust in this and I respect the teachers in my life who have gone all the way even more now because I’ve experienced what it takes. The Maestro’s and Maestra’s were telepathically letting me know I was being invited to the “other side” of this surrender where true freedom lies. They were letting me know it was safe to die into the emptiness. They were letting me know I was here to “go first” for my family and friends and that this was one of my gifts.

Over the next few ceremonies I was shown that my mind is still very much an untamed monkey that thinks it’s in charge. I was brought to tears with incredible fear of this emptiness of existence, not to mention my incredible fear of the dark. With the medicine pulsing through my veins nearly the whole 12 days, I was opened to subtle energies I hadn't felt before. The background soundtrack of the jungle with all it’s wild aliveness mixed with the pitch black darkness of the night was too much for my mind to handle and I made up scary stories about what I couldn't see but only hear. The “energies” could be dangerous my mind told me and I didn’t feel strong enough to protect myself.

I have always felt I had spirit guides or angels with me in my life and for some reason have been terrified of actually seeing them. A couple new friends/angels I met at the temple taught me that I could command my space and only allow the benevolent spirits into my space. I practiced this command and it helped a little. This fear is something I will continue to look at and inspect, unfortunately I didn't conquer it and it’s not over yet. It’s a core fear of the unknown, of letting go of control, a fear of living and allowing all the unpredictable and intense energy of life inside my heart. 

During most of the ceremonies I was receiving heart and spine surgery. During all my previous 8 ceremonies back at home, my lower back would writhe back and forth uncontrollably and there would be pain at the base of my spine. People have told me this was Kundalini energy and I'm pretty sure that's what it is. This energy began to move up my spine and during some of my journey's I would suddenly sit up straight and there would be a mysterious "helper" aligning my spine exactly straight. My body would wiggle back and forth just so until it was exactly aligned and then my head would wobble up into alignment until it felt I was so straight and supported there could've been metal rod was through my back. 
Also at one point the energy was going up and down my spine so intensely that my whole body began to move up and down and it felt like maybe one of the Shaman was giving me a massage. It took me a bit to realize this wasn't the case and it was just the energy pulsing through me. The body would sway back and forth and around and around and it was kind of entertaining to watch what it would do next. When the Shaman sat in front of me and sang their Icaros, oh my gosh did my body go crazy. It would start to pulse towards them with my chest leading the way. A few times the body started to sob but no tears were coming out of my eyes. 

My heart is much more open now and this is a bit scary. I understand even more now that if I want enlightenment and to live with an open heart, I must feel things deeply, including this fear.

Another highlight of the trip was connecting with the people there. With no technology or distractions available to the group of 21 people, we had the time and space to really connect with one another. True listening is a rare quality these days and I was fulfilled with gratitude for the time and space to be with these beautiful people who listened without judgment. I felt that we were all valued for where we were at in our journey and we all only wanted the best for one another. Everyone in the group was already so wise and I learned so much from every interaction. It was like one continuous dream where each conversation would bleed into the journey that night, each interaction from the day was a potential lesson for my soul growth. By the end I was overwhelmed with gratitude for everyone there, my fellow passengers, the maestros, the facilitators, the staff, everyone. It helped me realize that I needed to nurture my relationships in my life better and to create community where I lived.