Ayahuasca scared the living sh*t out of me, and then healed me in her own unique way

This is for anyone interested in trying plant medicine, or on the flip side, anyone who knows without a doubt that mind-altering substances aren’t for them but are simply curious. My story illuminates that whatever preconceptions you enter with and whatever you think will happen with plant medicine, probably won’t happen at all. But no matter what, you’re going to come out the other side viewing your universe in a completely different light.

Photo credit: Annelie Solis

Photo credit: Annelie Solis

I was called to do Ayahuasca. And I listened.

I never in my wildest dreams have thought I would have been drawn to partaking in hallucinogenic plant medicine ceremonies led by legit modern-day shamans, especially since getting “high” in the jungle certainly isn’t my jam.

The call happened in June of 2018 by way of a documentary that entered my life via YouTube. After months of mulling it over, my husband Mark and I found ourselves on a flight heading down to Rythmia Life Advancement Center in Costa Rica, the only licensed plant medicine facility in the world. Although there are many establishments that allow guests to partake in plant medicine, from lean-to huts deep in the Peruvian mountains, to retreat centers in the Australian outback, to someone’s backyard in California, we chose this facility particularly because it boasted a clinic and full-time medical staff on-site, giving us a sense of ease in case something unforeseen happened. It also combined daily yoga, breathwork and workshops that corresponded with the with plant medicine; an all-round healing experience.

In hindsight, I truly believe now that the calling to do plant medicine was directed towards Mark. He wouldn’t listen, but I did. You know, like when a telemarketer keeps calling and your partner just hangs up on them as soon as they butcher your name, but then you answer and instantly feel a twang of guilt that you need to hear out what the guy selling vacuums needs to say? And then you go ahead and buy the vacuum and your partner is happy because now he has a clean house? Kinda like that.

We both came out the end feeling like new souls, but Mark’s healing work (house cleaning?) went into another realm completely, and he’s already planning his next trip. I, on the other hand, am a little shell-shocked by the experience, and this is my slightly less cosmic story.

My overall experience was life-changing, but the plant medicine scared the crap out of me. Mother Ayahuasca, as she is lovingly called by shamans (Mark calls her Mother Nature, and throughout my crazy week, I called it a drug), has been used by the indigenous cultures of the Amazon basin since the beginning of time. Well, modern-day’ers really have no idea how long it’s been used, but we’re presuming it’s been around for a while.

The mixture of two separate bush plants containing MAOI and DMT are brewed together order to create a drink with psychoactive effects, allowing partakers to connect with the oneness of the planet, to heal deep rooted pain and trauma, and to see yourself for who you truly are, which can be quite a shocking experience for most people.

Before we went down to Costa Rica we researched endlessly online. We watched testimonials of those that stayed at our retreat and at other retreat centers around the world. We did whatever we could to prepare ourselves. One thing was for sure - no two experiences were alike and everybody had a unique relationship to the medicine. Most of the reviews surmised that the experience was life changing, and that it was also the most difficult thing they had ever done in their lives. I was soon to find out that both of these insights were unquestionably accurate.

The underlying premise of Ayahuasca is to help delve below the conscious mind, assisting with disconnecting with the ego and the veil that we live behind, and reconnecting with the soul. Healing can be done on the physical, emotional and spiritual level, and can include miraculously fixing ailments that may have plagued you for years. For example, one woman had her leaky tear duct repaired after one session, and I have my fingers crossed that my mouth herpes has been eradicated.

 
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It’s the most difficult thing you’ve probably ever done - delving into the dark and light sides of your consciousness, and you’ll learn things that you might not even want to know about yourself. It’s said that it’s like 20 years of therapy all rolled into 4 nights.

Firstly, I would like to remind you that everyone’s journey is completely different. Secondly, this was a very personal journey and I’m still unraveling things that I learned throughout my week. The reason I am sharing is because when I was looking at heading off into the unknown to do this, I wanted to read everything I could about other people’s experiences. I’m also sharing this because I did have a scary experience, and I didn’t find a lot of scary-experience documentation out there, so I feel like I need to let people know what can happen with the medicine. Please just know that if you get into a similar situation with the medicine, that no matter how scary it may seem at the time, it’s all just part of the healing process.

I could write an entire book about my week and this isn’t a short read by any means #sorrynotsorry, but I couldn’t chop it up too much. I picked the highlights that seemed to be the core of the major changes I experienced, but there is just so much to share, especially for those who have never had an experience like this in the past. I did attempt to do mini-vlogs, but that didn’t pan out so well, so here’s me, always the writer, sharing in words rather than videos.

I invite you now to take a time-out to venture into your kitchen, fix yourself your favorite comfort tea, and settle in for the long haul.

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Scared Shitless

I wait reverently in line for my first cup of plant medicine for the evening, my hands cupped at my waist in front of me. This is my third night in a row of ceremonies that will last into the early hours of the morning. The room is silent. It’s as if I’m standing in line waiting for holy communion, but this experience goes way beyond a sip of red wine and a stale wafer. My shaman, a delicate and reedy woman with streaming blonde hair gracefully floats between the ceremony attendees and her table that’s adorned with vials of herbal mixtures, candles, shaman paraphernalia, and two large plastic pitchers of thick purplish mixture that is Ayahuasca.

I approach the front of the line and she sizes me up. I’m presuming she’s reading my energy to judge how much medicine I need for my trip to the cosmos this evening. She steps over to her table with her back to me as she delicately pours my cup, and then returns to present me with a small, shot glass-sized portion. I pause, silently give my intention for Mother Ayahuasca to “show me who I am,” and dutifully sip back my portion. The medicine has the taste of prune juice and earthiness. I can’t help but to quietly smack my lips at the not entirely unpleasant, but overall unsavory flavor. Let’s just say, you wouldn’t want to pair it with your favorite pasta dish.

I make my way back to my mattress on the floor. My blue puke bucket sits at the end of my bed, along with a toilet paper roll for varied uses, including bodily fluids that may spontaneously project out of various orifices throughout the night. I sit upright on my mattress with my back against the wall while the medicine makes its way into my system. It will take about 30 minutes for the effects to kick in. While I wait, I scan the darkness of the room in silence. There’s no music yet, just the sounds of the geckos squawking and crickets chirping in the maloca - a modest, yet comforting structure with white ceilings, faux wood beams and open windows on all sides which allow the remnants of the twilight hour to linger in our peripheral.

I spit into my bucket, feeling the residual effects of the rapé I ingested prior to the plant medicine. Rapé is a mix of burnt tobacco and herbs that’s scooped into a little wooden tube and blown up your nose, not dissimilar to herbal snuff used by European elitists, popular in the 1500’s. It creates a shocking burning sensation up the nostrils before giving you a nice head buzz. Consider it a pre-game rally for plant medicine.

 
Rapé Ceremony. Photo Credit: EntheoNation

Rapé Ceremony. Photo Credit: EntheoNation

 

The past two nights of ceremonies gave me some interesting insights, including showing me that I have a fear of what people might think of me, which manifested into putting up a strong resistance to puking up in front of everyone. I finally became so nauseous during the closing blessing that I vomited in my bucket in front of the whole group, lights on and everything. Needless to say, this was Mother Ayahuasca’s way of getting me over that fear. A barrage of other information has been trickling in from the first nights, which I was still processing. I’ll revisit my scribbled notes once my head clears.

Eventually I lay down and close my eyes. With my eyes closed I visualize the ceiling I was just gazing at in the dim light. Then the imagined room starts to move in the steady wavy way that Ayahuasca does. The shaman begins to beat her drum and softly recites her chants, da dee dee dee dee dee, da dee dee dee dee dee. It’s as if the chats are stirring something within everyone, because almost in unison, people begin throwing up. It’s a symphony of retching. I don’t feel nauseous, and for that I’m grateful. 

Colors and shapes begin to enter my internal cortex. The colors are like an intricate tapestry, rich with Latin colors that you may find in a marketplace in a small village in Peru. They wave and flow, ever changing, like an optical kaleidoscope. I settle into this technicolor array, content with what I’m experiencing so far. Mother Ayahuasca’s presence starts to seep in. She’s eerily silent, but you know she’s there.

The next instant I have a vision that I’m in a matrix. I’m trapped, like a seedling in a pod. I suddenly have no idea how much time has elapsed. My mind snaps into high-gear and starts to analyze these feelings and emotions that are stirred up.

They’re using my body for something, I can’t quite be sure of what just yet. We all checked in with the intent on a transformative week, but we have been drugged and are trapped here, and we have no idea. We are in a time loop and they’re feeding false information into our brains. Weeks and months may have passed. They’ve tapped into our phones and computers and are feeding us only the emails and messages that came in on our first week.

That young Costa Rican girl checking us in for ceremony each night knows us all by name. She couldn’t have possibly gotten to know all 40+ of our names in four days. They may even be after our kidneys, I can’t quite be sure yet.

I know that I have a powerful force field up, and I’m protected. I can fight this.  I have a special power and I know their secret. The shaman might be able to telepathically read my mind, so I need to build the wall thicker.  I don’t want them to know that I know the truth.

I need to get out of here. I have to plan my escape. It’s no good to try and leave in the night. We are fenced in and there’s barbed wire rimming the property. We’ll have to wait until the morning and then we’ll make a break for it.

I’ll need my passport. Maybe they opened the safe in our room and have removed our passports while we are at the ceremony. No, they wouldn’t alarm us like that, our passports are probably still there. Tomorrow we’ll have to pretend to go to the beach and make our escape. I hope they let us out the gate. They may have put a tracker in our car, so we should go to Tamarindo and leave our rental car there and rent a different one. We have to get to Liberia airport. They have copies of our passport information though, so they may have warned immigration about us. We may get detained. We’ll have to find the local airstrip for private planes and charter bush pilot to fly us to Panama City…

My heart in pounding. I’m trembling in fear. Panic washes over me like a giant wave, and I feel like I’m suffocating in it. I pull the blanket over my head in attempts to escape it.

I feel a gentle tap on my foot. I’m being summoned to take another drink by a sweet Russian girl who’s taken it upon herself to look after me. I lay absolutely motionless, pretending to be deep within the medicine. The nudging persists, “C’mon Mariah, let’s get another cup.” I shake my head from under the blanket and moan. “C’mon, another cup.” I’m panicked now. This is their attempt to keep me drugged. My heart is beating in my throat. She finally goes away. I surmise to stay still and close my eyes whenever any of the attendants walk by. I need to sober up.

The night moves along at a snail’s pace. I continue to plan our escape, not leaving out any detail. I’ll have to put keywords in my notebook among my garbled notes I had scribbled the previous evening, in order to get the message across to Mark. They probably have the whole place bugged so I can’t talk about it. I’ll write “Hotel California” and “let’s go to the beach.” I feel satisfied that he should be able to decode that.

Mark stirs and goes outside. I’m frozen in fear. He seems to be gone for a long time. Eventually my concern for Mark is too great and I slowly ease my way upright. I feel leaden. My limbs don’t seem to work, but my head is clear. I walk outside and Mark is gazing at the stars. “Let’s sit by the fire,” he says. He seems peaceful, unaware of my realizations. I notice that I’m shaking as I slowly follow him to the fire. I start to whisper my concerns, forgetting I was going to give him special code, and realizing the effects of the plant medicine has me speaking slowly like I’m drunk. “I don’t think I can do this tomorrow night” I say. His gaze drifts over my right shoulder, I turn to look and one of the willowy ceremony attendants is leaning down just over my shoulder, fanning her feather fan. I jump and shriek. She jumps back and we are both startled. She overheard me, I think. I need to be careful.

The night painfully drags on. I have no idea what time it is. I refuse to drink more so I’m sobering up. This is the longest night of my life.

Side note - Ok, so I’m obviously having a pretty bad trip, right? And it sounds like I’ve been watching too many conspiracy thrillers recently. They even prepare us for this. Don’t get caught in the loop. Don’t follow your thoughts. Just let go and let the medicine do its work.  Easier said than done though. In my head this was all completely legit. You’re supposed to trust the plant medicine, you’re supposed to just view it. You can even ask the shaman for help if you get stuck in this. But how was I supposed to ask for help when I had convinced myself that they had me trapped?

The entire next day I was living in fear.

“Let’s go to Tamarindo for lunch,” I suggest to Mark. Even though I’ve calmed down significantly, I bring our passports, just in case. I also bring my WiFi box so I can connect to an internet connection outside of the resort’s connection, just to make sure my phone isn’t bugged. Once we settle into a beachside café, I realize that can’t connect to the restaurant WiFi, nor my box. I get nervous.

As our meal finishes, I take a moment to look at the date on the restaurant bill and it’s January 24th, 2019, the correct date. Whew, I thought. At least they didn’t have us trapped there for weeks. We head back to the Beach Club in our gated community and go for a swim. I call my sister, just to make sure someone knows I’m alive, but as I’m talking to her I think, what if this is all just a vision? What if this is part of being in the matrix? Maybe I’m not really on the beach talking to my sister on the phone. My head is buzzing and feels like it’s stuffed with cotton balls. I try to think of any excuse I can make to get out of the ceremony this evening.

Later that afternoon, we sit in the meeting with our shaman from a previous evening. He looks as though he’s teetering around 30 years old, but we’ve been told he’s 53. Weekly doses of plant medicine obviously treats him well. He has a laugh that you can’t help but to smile along with and he’s filled with a jovial energy, but I’m feeling anything but jovial at the moment. He’s describing the final, fourth night ceremony, an all-nighter starting at 7:30pm and wrapping up around 7am the next morning. It’s an “open bar” we’re told. There are three drinks offered, but you can go at any time to get more. There’s also a healing ceremony. It all sounds horrifying to me.

He announces at one point that if you are a female on your monthly moon cycle, then you are not allowed to participate in the ceremony, based on tradition. The energy in menstruating women is too strong, I’m told.  I’m elated. My pre-menstrual symptoms had been setting in. I’m due any moment. It can’t be good for the ceremony to have me present. At the end of the meeting I approach the shaman, along with another woman in our group, and we relay our concerns about bringing our strong energy to the ceremony. The Moon Ladies, omitting the final evening’s event, decide to meet later for a mediation session. We are to meet the rest of the group at 7am the next morning for our closing healing ceremony.

I’m nervous to tell Mark. He’s going to be so disappointed in me. There have been moments throughout the week that he has believed that I’m not trying to fix myself, that I’m fighting it. I don’t know how to explain to him how frustrated I’ve become. Why is everyone else seemingly getting their so-called “miracle” and I’m feeling horrid? I’m trying damnit. Although on my first night, when I uttered those words into the medicine, a voice that sounded like Yoda responded immediately, saying “do or do not, there is no try.”

I sheepishly tell him that I’m not attending the final ceremony. He doesn’t quite understand, and he is disappointed. He wants my energy there. I don’t know how to explain to him how deep this fear is embedded within me. Before he leaves to go to the ceremony, he suggests doing a guided hypnosis session, which he has been urging me to do for years now. I finally agree. Anything can be better than going to this Ayahuasca ceremony. We turn off the lights in our room, all but the Himalaya salt lamp that glows in the corner in a pale orange color. He begins to guide me towards deep rooted pain in the same way that Ayahuasca does, just with a much clearer mind, until I end up letting go in a release of tears.

Afterwards I walk out into the fresh night air and bid him farewell as he heads to the ceremony. I’m not the least bit remorseful that I’m missing it, but I’m nervous for him. I know he’s strong, much stronger than me. I also know that we have connected at a deeper level, one that I will soon find out goes much deeper than I ever thought.

The Husband Who Heals

I head to the restaurant and meet up with six other Moon Ladies who weren’t attending the ceremony for their own reasons. We have the most delightful evening sharing our experiences. And to top it off, Reverend Michael Bernard Beckwith, international author and spiritual leader who had been hosting workshops all week, arrives and offers to lead us in a mediation and prayer. We walk up to stone benches under the watchful eye of a large statue of Buddha, ironic since our spiritual leader is of the Christian faith.

The waning moon is rising through the branches of a leafless poinciana tree, casting illuminating golden light. In the distance the ceremony is starting, the dimly lit maloca outlined figures waiting for their first cup of plant medicine. We sit in silence for some time. My mind, still in the grips of plant medicine, finds it easy to slip into that restful place of meditation.

Eventually we were asked by Rev. Michael to state our intentions. I ask to break down my walls - the guarded self that doesn’t allow others in. Then begin the beautiful prayers giving thanks for such a special evening. “Something wonderful is about to happen” professes Rev. Michael again and again, with the marked emphasis of a reverend, stressing a different verb and noun as he repeats the phrase.

As the prayer ends, we each take a moment to embrace before heading off into the night. It’s 10:30pm and I’m exhausted from my three previous nights of 2am bedtimes.

I enter my room and prepare myself for slumber, although I am already aware it’s going to be a restless night. I switch on the Himalaya salt lamp which casts a warming orange glow into the room, and a color that promotes sacral chakra healing, which I’m in dire need of. I settle myself into my bed and gaze over at Mark’s empty bed on the other side of the nightstand. I curl up and place my headphones in my ear, listening to some Indie guitar melodies. I drift off.

My mind chatters and my body twitches uncontrollably. The plant medicine is stirring within me. My mind begins a roller coaster of tumultuous thoughts and nonsensical patterns. I open my eyes, realizing my neck and hair is damp with sweat, even though I have the AC on. My heart is pounding. I hear the music from the ceremony. The drums are beating and I can hear the shaman chanting. My eyes are wide now. The music seems louder. Perhaps they are coming to get me, to bring me to the ceremony. I’m frozen in fear, my heart pounding so loud it seems in time with the drumming. I don’t feel safe in my room.

Eventually I get up the nerve to creep out of my bed towards the bathroom window. The window is high on the wall and I have to stand on the toilet to look out. I don’t see anything, so I venture to the door, unlock the swing-latch and tentatively poke my head outside. The partial full moon is coming over head, illuminating the property. I realize that I actually can’t hear the music and now I’m confused. All I hear is the chirping of crickets and the lonely sound of the wind through the bare trees.

I shut the door and return to my bed. I look at the time – 2:30am. It’s horrifying to fathom how much more of the night I have remaining. I try not to re-conjure up my fears from the previous night, but I realize I’m trembling and my heart is so loud it’s filling my ears. I move slowly towards my headphones and find Hawaiian guitar melodies with the hopes of transporting me far away from this room.

Deep breaths. I try to calm myself and close my eyes. Time seems to creep by. I drift in and out, but I’m still restless, and overcome with intense fear. I know at this moment that I’m completely tuned into the ceremony and I’m afraid that something terrible must be happening. I imagine myself surrounded by a glowing white light to protect myself. And I imagine Mark surrounded by the white light too. I’m protecting us both from the dark side, from evil spirits.

Eventually I notice my body begins to calm, not by my means, but as if the ceremony has calmed down, and has allowed me to calm. I sit up and check the time. It’s 4:30am. The ceremony still has a few more hours, but at least now I feel as though I can rest. I close my eyes under the protection of my orange lamp and fall into uneasy sleep.

I awake at 6am as light is streaming in through the gap in the curtain. I hear my neighbor outside my door and the beads of the jovial shaman who has chased him down. They are murmuring, but I can hear them clearly. You aren’t supposed to leave the protected space of the ceremony but I hear my neighbor say he had an accident and needed to shower and change, he’d return in ten minutes. Another joy of plant medicine – inadvertently shitting yourself as you “purge.”

I breathe a sigh of relief, it’s almost over. I grab my computer and jot notes for some time, and around 6:45am I dress for the morning, grab my insulated tumbler and head up to the kitchen for some ginger tea.

On the way up, I hear our signature whistle. Mark has seen me and came out on the porch to get my attention. I rush over to him and ask him if he’s OK. He is, and he’s smiling. He tells me that two of the guests are getting an Ayahuasca marriage.

I’m ragged from a long, sleepless night but the ceremony is uplifting. The shaman who was in charge of leading the previous night’s ceremony has the looks of an ancient medicine man. He is dark skinned of Latin descent, wearing a taupe colored Panama hat adorned with feathers. He wears a poncho and around his neck is a heaping portion of jingly, raspy beads that make noise with each movement. The marriage participants are draped with a woven shawl and are huddled together as the shaman gives blessings. Those that had assisted with the night’s ceremony are playing hand drums, flutes and rasps. The shaman then rises and begins stomping his foot and elevating the scene. The couple, bound with a ribbon at their wrists, dance down a line of bougainvillea flowers that create an aisle-way. The ceremony attendees rush up from their mattresses to join in with the dancing. I sit on Mark’s mattress taking it all in. He lays beside me, I can tell he’s exhausted.

I’m now summoned outside for the blessing with the 7 of us that didn’t attend the ceremony. I remove my tanktop and sit in my sports bra. The jovial shaman who had led one of our previous nights’ ceremonies, along with two medicine women, get us comfortable and begin their blessing. My eyes are closed and I feel into the energy. The shaman takes a sip of a clear tonic, a mix of herbs in a glass bottle that smells florally and earthy. He sprays it on my face and again on my back. I try not to flinch. It’s cold and I can’t help but thinking about the fact that he’s spitting on me, but I also smell a waft of alcohol, so I’m presuming it’s somewhat disinfected by the time it lands on my skin.

He then takes his chakapa, a shaker made from a bundle of leaves, and brushes it on my head, stomach and back for quite sometime, while he whispers whooska wooshy wooshy woooot wooot, along with whistles, wisps, and other indecipherable chants. When he is finished, the medicine woman comes along behind me and softly brushes me with a feather, gentling chanting her own wooshes. I feel overcome with emotion and tears begin streaming down my face. Something has changed within me, but I’m not sure what. I have come through two equally horrifying nights and the relief I feel is like a boulder being lifted off of my chest. I can breathe again.

The Realization

After a nourishing breakfast Mark and I decide to rest our weary bodies by the pool. We sit in the shade of one of the bright orange cabanas, my comfort color, and I begin extracting Mark’s experiences from the previous evening. I feel a twang of remorse for missing this final ceremony. I held fear of the all-nighter, but he said it was beautiful. There was a healing ceremony and then dancing - we both know how much I love dancing.

He begins describing his new-found realizations about the universe and the acts of forgiveness he bestowed upon those that have caused him pain. He goes on to mention that after his third cup, around 2:30am, he goes out to sit by the fire. He’s mulling over the fact that I didn’t join the ceremony that evening. Since he had found his own miracle and healing, he asks Mother Ayahuasca what he can do to help me. In that moment I appear at the bench opposite him, sitting very close to my mother. It happened to be my mom’s birthday the day leading into the ceremony, January 24th, and I lost her ten years ago in the coming February when she took her own life. He said my mom and I were sitting so close that we were almost one person.

He began extracting our pain, which manifested in the form of octopus tentacles. Once fully removed, the octopus floated towards him and the plant medicine urged him to eat it. He swallowed the octopus, taking on the pain of myself, and the pain of my mother. In that moment, my mom and I merged into one, and vanished.

Now Mark was concerned. He had taken in all our pain. Now what? If you aren’t yet aware, part of the process of plant medicine is purging deeply held emotions, traits, behaviors and traumas. The purging can be in the form of vomiting or pooping. Yawning, sneezing, laughing and crying are also forms of purging, although the most profound ones are the ones that involve bodily fluids. If you can’t get past that idea, you know that Ayahuasca isn’t going to be for you. Mark did his best to try and throw up, cradling his blue vomit bucket amigo, to no avail. He began to get nervous that he took on more than he could handle. Eventually his tummy started rumbling and he made his way to the bathroom. Without going into too much detail as to my husband’s bowel movements, lets just say it was the biggest one of the week.

As we discuss the time frames, we realize the moments that I was feeling anxiety throughout the night, were the very moments that Mark was working on healing me. Once he purged, I felt at ease. Mark took on my pain and my emotions and released them for me, because I couldn’t do it on my own.

Who else can say their husband does that for them?

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I realize now that my ego is very, very strong and did its best to hijack the situation. My ego was the one warning me there was danger. It was the one convincing me that this visiting plant lady couldn’t be trusted. I was equating it to previous instances in my life when people I trusted gave me mind-altering substances that resulted in fear and terror. “Remember this from before?” It whispers to me. “I’m here to protect you from it,” says ego. When the plant medicine realizes that my ego is too powerful, and that I’m not giving in, she uses other means to heal me. I’ve been told that the medicine is able to do 50% of the healing silently on its own, and the other 50% is by working with the mind. My mind wasn’t cooperating with her, but it trusted Mark.

Finally, after I settled down and realized the retreat center was not trying to kidnap me, I began to analyze what happened. I wasn’t able to fully comprehend it, until I started reaching out to people. I realized that my situation wasn’t all that odd. The stories were slightly varied, but they all revolved around fear or being trapped in some form of hell. Their scenarios were specific to how the individuals showed up in their own lives. When I sit back and reviewed at how I show up, it was blatantly obvious - she was showing me the intention I asked for, she showed me who I am and how I‘ve trapped myself. I have built up a wall around me, and I’m trapped within that wall. I don’t allow anyone in, except those very close to me, like Mark.  

It’s hard to know if this was all supposed to pan out this way, or if she was just winging it. If you would have asked me how I thought things would progress with plant medicine, I couldn’t have conjured this up in my most creative and wildest of imaginations.

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So now, a round of Q&A

Did I get what I expected?

Yes and no. I feel changed, and at the same time, it’s as though something that had been there all along has simply surfaced - like when Santiago goes on his odyssey in Paolo Coelho’s The Alchemist, only to come home and find the treasure was waiting for him the whole time. My miracle came to me in a roundabout way. It showed me my fears, my walls, and my amazing ability to connect. Not through visions and trips to outer space like I was hoping for. Nope, Mother Ayahuasca sidelined me and took me completely by surprise.

Do I feel different?

Yes and no. I feel like the same person, yet I feel like I’m radiating with the energy of universal consciousness. I suddenly feel so much love towards others, and I feel like my walls are finally crumbling. When I got back home, my 13 year old dog came up to me and cuddled with me in bed, curling up next to my tummy, something she hadn’t done in years. My four year old rescue dog and I, with whom I’ve had a very tumultuous relationship with, have been getting along wonderfully. I realize the dogs, pure consciousness themselves, are only a reflection of how we act towards them.

The biggest change I have noticed is with my relationship with alcohol. My alcohol dependency was on my list of things to address when I was delving into plant medicine, but I believe now my use of alcohol was simply covering up deep-rooted pain. Once I healed the pain (I had minions enter my heart region and preform surgery, but that’s a whole other story), my need for alcohol to numb the pain dissipated.

Would I recommend it?

Yes I would certainly recommend it. But you have to be ready for it. When she calls, please listen, but just make sure you do your research and go to a center with great safety reviews and lots of support. I would love for everyone to experience this profound connection with the earth and all beings in the universe. There is so much to know that our human brains can’t comprehend on our own. And you seriously can’t make up the shit that it uncovers or the means by which it teaches you.

Would I do it again?

If you would have asked me if I’d ever do it again on my final days at the retreat center, I would have told you oh hell no. It took so much out of me emotionally and physically, and scared me beyond belief. What I do know is that I need to get out of my head, and I need to trust. Now that I know the retreat center wasn’t planning on holding me captive, I know I can consider doing it again. But I’ll have to have a long chat with my ego first.

What I do realize now, is that the only way out is to run towards the darkness. Once you show fear, it will haunt you. Once you show it love, it will merely step aside, pull back the curtain, and show you something wonderful. Mark knows how stubborn I am. I don’t quit. I beat myself up learning to kiteboard and learning to surf, but I just keep going. I know I have a long way to go to full healing, to full awareness. I know next time I need to run towards the darkness, because the light is just on the other side. And I also know, without a doubt, I’m not going to stop my quest to continue evolving.

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Albert Einstein once said “You can’t fix a problem with the same mind that created it.” Our rational, thinking mind can be very intellectual, but it’s not always right. Mother Ayahuasca helps us to get outside of that everyday mind, and into the bigger picture. You don’t have to use plant medicine to see this either. You can use meditation. But plant medicine certainly is a fast track to get there.

If you got this far in my neverending story, I just want to say thanks so much for reading. If you’re further interested in plant medicine, I’d start by watching the movie below that grabbed me to begin with.