Ayahuasca Reflection

Ayahuasca in the jungle
Life is full is moments, falling seconds that slip by the spirit like rain from heaven. Some moments have the power to change a human’s heart, these rare experiences can reset a souls journey home. I’m fortunate to have had several life changing moments in one life time, leading me to live many lives in this dream we call reality. In fact its become a theme in my life to be a new person every several years by evolving the way of my existence. When one transforms their way of seeing the world they influence their perception and bring about a new being.  It is beautiful thing to reborn, life’s good like that.

Life’s good like that…
An integral catalyst for my evolution has been my journeys to the sacred jungles of Peru and then Costa Rica where I’ve been blessed enough to share the space with the sacred plant medicine and jungle spirit Mother Ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is a challenging phenomena/experience and concept to discuss, because trying to put it in words lends itself into more confusion than clarification for those who have not taking this plant brew and commune with ‘the mother’; its like trying to express colours to the blind.

It can and should be noted that I do speak of Ayahuasca as a plant teacher possessing a spirit with a feminine character, a motherly one too, but I am not dogmatic and perhaps if you were to take Ayahuasca she may not appear as such, and I would not deny the truth and reality of your experience. Already we have approached a chasm, wherein it becomes difficult to speak of such an alien experience. For the uninitiated I will give a brief introduction to my experiences on my Ayahuasca retreat using a vocabulary that will be understood by most western minds, which for the most part are reductionist, materialistic, and rational, in their thought and thus choosing to see the world in terms of science, psychology and through the collective eyes of their culture. This is by no means a negative way of seeing the world, it just presents a barrier is discussing the ayahuasca experience because taking ayahuasca is a very internal experience and thus subjective, and science being an objective way of ordering perception find it hard to grasp such things.  Furthermore, our culture lacks the language to describe such foreign experience that are not common en mass.  For language uses words and concepts that can be communicated readily through our common experiences. what I mean is that its easy to talk about water because its a well known phenomena in the world that we can see and grasp with our senses and our minds. However, many of the experiences on ayahuasca are as it seems truly novel occurrences that are highly subjective and specific to an individual’s life, and that no words will ever do the experience justice. Moreover, in describing and discussing the ayahuasca experience people often grasp at metaphors and analogies, such as the ‘experience felt like dying’, or ‘I had an experience of being torn apart atom by atom only to evaporate into water before being unzipped and awakened looking through the eyes of my mother as she experienced the pain of her divorce’.  Such a language with its use of metaphor is constructed in order to grasp what things feel like, but at times because of the heavy use of metaphor can tend to become poetic rather than truly descriptive of the situation, and though the image of someone being unzipped and looking through the eyes of their mother may allow someone listening to gain a supposed understanding of what took place, the one who experienced the unzipping would certainly attest that words fall short and though they can speak of it, the ability for another to imagine and step into the experience is near impossible and almost does as much to confuse the individual trying to understand because they have a false sense of understanding; the psychedelic experience is ineffable by nature. It begs mentioning that spoken and written language is a horrible way of truly transmitting knowledge that is subjective, for when we say a thing we mean to express a specific sentiment, and for the one listening there is a near infinite amount of way of interpreting that sentiment wrong, and generally only one or a handful of correct ways the speaker meant to say what they were saying.  Further, if we are discussing a specific sentiment about a subjective experience we are trying to transmit how a thing felt and what emotions are present, and emotions are not objective entities and thus we are trying to communicate a unique state of being at a unique time in space. Therefore, language is at its best when dealing with the objective things in the world, but is severely limited towards subjective experience, which is better transmitted through heart on heart interactions of empathetically aware and open individuals.

So bear with me as we proceed.
Let me try and talk more about what my ayahuasca retreat looked like and we will work our way backwards into the experience of taking ayahuasca.  In my most recent journey I attended a retreat at the Soltara Healing Center in Costa Rica, working with the incredible master shaman Wiler Noriega Rodrigues and Master shaman Angelita Sanchez Rioz. My retreat was 10 days in length, despite feeling like a short lifetime. The atmosphere of Soltara is the perfect place for relaxation and healing, the facilities are modern, which is in contrast to the relatively more rugged retreat I attended in Peru. Initially I had some hesitations attending a retreat that was more on the luxurious end, because I feel that part of the experience of these retreats is to be able to step away from the luxuries of our developed nation with our close connection to technology and to give our minds room to find a new type of silence. However, I would come to find that the facilities were incredible and enhanced the experience greatly. There were daily activities ranging from yoga to breathework and other spiritual cultivation practices to excursions like snorkeling and boating to see the little slice of jungle heaven we found ourselves in. I should say, bearing witness to our beautiful earth mother is as much a healing phenomena as any other practice, her perfect blend of harmony among the elements and her healing frequency is medicine.  I could catalogue extensively all the great offerings of Soltara but this write up is not meant to be that kind of trip report. In short and to conclude, I will leave it at these few words, the facilities were immaculate and the activates were varied and offered a lot of value that worked synergistically with the healing. To the degree that if I were to attend this retreat without taking part in ayahuasca ceremony’s would have been a beautiful vacation with a decent price point for what is offered. However, this was a retreat not a vacation in the typical sense, and the activities in between ceremonies were all platforms for further work to be done.

Just what kind of work is done in an ayahuasca retreat? Healing. This, and most ayahuasca retreats have a healing focus.  As I mentioned earlier I will start by explaining healing in terms of western science and psychology and then move more into my personal way of speaking about my experiences.
Ayahuasca can be characterized as a physical and psychological medicine. There is no shortage of case studies of people overcoming physical illnesses such as neurological pain, cancers, and various other chronic illness, such as two of the men I shared ceremony with, one overcoming chronic fatigue syndrome that plagued him for years and the other being cured of his asthma. Already this should arouse one’s sense of skepticism unless they are inundated into the world of plant medicine. I am not asking you to believe anything you have not experienced nor to dogmatically accept any kind of philosophy or belief that does not sit well with your own psyche. That’s the beautiful thing about plant medicines, there is no ideology and accepted belief system you must take as true for the medicine to work, people are encouraged to find their own truth and allow their experiences to guide them on their way.
Back to healing.

So there are all these miraculous claims of physical healing, yet it should be noted that not every person who goes and drinks ayahuasca is healed. There is nuance and mystery in these realms, even for the most initiated. It should also be mentioned that in the particular retreat I attended the participants all follow a dieta, or ayahuasca diet to prepare our bodies for the experience. It is said that the more clean your vessel (your body), the deeper the medicine can penetrate and work its healing. The dieta is done a few weeks before drinking ayahuasca and involves eating a clean plant based diet, no sex, or caffeine, among other dietary restrictions due to some possible interactions with the medicine. For more information on dieta please do an investigation into the ayahuasca dieta diet and the reasons why it is advised to adhere to this way of eating and being. Once again, I am skimping light on many of these topics which I could write volumes on because this article is not a comprehensive guide to ayahuasca, I merely mention diet in this case in the context of healing because food is medicine. And there is a certain synergy between the healing of ayahuasca and the healing received from eating a healthy diet, especially when individuals eat poorly in their regular life.
moving forward.
Ayahuasca is a deep psyche healer. using a psychological approach ayahuasca can be thought of as the greatest psychotherapist to ever live, move over Jung and Freud.  In psychotherapy a therapist and their client do the work of examining a person’s life to find the route problem of their issues, that often occurred in their early years and since then have caused a kind of dysfunction or cycle that has repeated itself. What often happens when we are young is we have an event that is in some way emotionally overwhelming or traumatic and we are in our early development and thus unable to emotionally process this happening and therefore we repress the emotion/trauma into our body and psyche where it is stored and causes dysfunction. Dysfunction may manifest as anxiety, neurosis, depression, phobias, or just a sense of being incomplete, as if losing apart of ourselves in that early experience of trauma. Therefore psychotherapy, by uncovering these lost or repressed traumas and memories is able to bring them up in a safe context and allow for the event to be properly dealt with by the adult with the help of new insights, reframing of the issues, releasing the emotion, or coming to accept the event. To summarize psychotherapy in short, early events may cause overwhelming emotions that the individual are unable to process. All our emotions are meant to build and released by their proper and healthy expression, without expression these emotions are stored in the body and psyche causing dysfunction unless that emotional energy can be released.
How are emotions released in the context of ayahuasca?

shivering, laughing, crying, yawning, smiling, changes in body temperature, tremors or twitches, vomiting, physical sensation such as pain, singing, dancing, or gas/gastrointestinal discomfort.
There are some cases where emotional experiences of trauma are relived with all the intensity and emotion of the initial event. Other times there is merely a release of energy without a specific revisiting that allows for the energy of the event to dissipate. One of the main issues with psychotherapy is that despite its understanding of this psychotherapeutic process, traumatic events and emotions are repressed and therefore difficult to access for the individual. Psychotherapy in its traditional form is talk-based and it can be a long arduous journey to attempt to access these subconscious realms of the mind which can take years without little actual healing. For you see, in many frameworks of psychology they divide the mind into at least two parts, a conscious and accessible part of our mind, which we are most readily able to access and explore as it is what we spend most our time working within in our ordinary experience, and there is the subconscious mind, which is a more inclusive and vast part of our psyche which is harder to delve into, but where all our memories, emotions, experiences are stored.
One of the short falls of traditional western approaches to psychotherapy is that talking is poor method of accessing the subconscious. That is why pioneers in the field of psychotherapy worked with dream analysis which allowed for individuals to come into contact with their subconscious – the idea being that dreams come from the subconscious and by examining the symbols and the meanings one could access subconscious information. The advantage of working with plant medicine and other methods which induce an altered state of consciousness is that an individual becomes untethered from their normal conscious experience and has greater access into their own subconscious, thus also cutting out the middle man and taking on the role of their own healer.
Now that we have a framework in understanding some of the healing process that happens in an ayahuasca ceremony that is hopefully tangible to most people without any woo-woo so to speak. Here’s a quick run-through of what ceremony entitles at Soltara.
– Ceremony is at night in a ceremonial building
– Everyone has their own personal mat, blanket, and space to sit or lie down for their experience.
– There are shamans present, which guide and mediate the experience through song, healing prayers, and the movement of energy
-There are facilitators which are there to mediate the experience by providing individual support among other things if need be
– Everyone is called one-by-one to drink some ayahuasca and return to their mat and wait for the medicine to work within them
– Ceremony lasts several hours, the shamans choose when to close the ceremony
– Everyone stays on their mat and in their area until the experience is through

It took me awhile to begin this next paragraph because I was not sure where I would like to take this writing. In my 10 day stay at Soltara there were 5 ceremonies and with over 20 people that is over 100 experiences, each containing enough content to write a short book on. The remarkable thing about experiencing ayahuasca in a group is that you become a tribe, wherein the stories and struggles of each individual personally effects you and in many ways their stories become real enough on that personal level that it is as though you had lived through them and the wisdom they contain. It’s kind of like acquiring a lifetime of lessons from each person, if you can understand how powerful and valuable that is, you would see the sacredness of ayahuasca and understand the reverence I have for this retreat and the deep love and gratitude for every soul who shared their life with me.  For wisdom gained from personal experience is rooted deeply in the bones with a life of its own.  True wisdom is gained from lived experience, and not from books. As such, if someone has endured abuse, addictions, loss, or ecstatic levels of bliss, reward, and accomplishment, these experiences live in the body, they have a vibration in the individual with which can be transmitted to others in a meaningful and real way that no book could deliver.  We are all each others teachers and each other medicine, and it is only in our exploration of the experiences with other people that we have access to different parts of ourselves, as such these people are necessary keys to unlock aspects of ourselves otherwise unavailable.  We are not ourselves in the sense of an isolated separate personality, we are a composite of every person we have ever met, and every person that has every lived.  By opening up ourselves to the experiences of others and the wisdom of the earth itself we transcend our small individual brain and its processing power and tap into true wisdom, the kind of wisdom that has guided men and women throughout unspeakable trails before the advent of books. For knowledge for most of history came from the trees and the earth itself, then past on through oral stories.  These stories came out of the distilled knowledge and the experience of people coming in contact with the unknown and transcendental mystery of life, as mentioned this knowledge passed through speech and story carries a specific vibration that can then be passed on, for the wisdom stories we inherit are so much more than words, they are the living vibration of our ancestors, here to guide us.  The stories and myths of our ancestors that were passed onto me during my ayahuasca experience I hold dearly in my heart like a compass, for it is though the individuals were sharing a piece of themselves, a piece of them that I can take with me. I thank each and every one of them, and honour all their ancestors who live deeply within every cell of their body.
This is where things take a turn and I ask the reader to be open in listening to these words on several different levels. The psychological models described hitherto have allowed for a great starting point but unfortunately after years of working with plant medicine they are unable to hold the weight and wonder of working with these extraordinary plants. As such, we are about to delve into plant medicines using what for many are foreign concepts out of the realm of their personal experience and thus I ask those who do not currently maintain such open frameworks of what is, to listen as you would listen to a story, just to acknowledge its perspective without scrutinizing whether you believe it as true or not. As mentioned, no one should be forced to believe anything unverified or contradictory to their experience. The beautiful part about plant medicines is that they lend themselves to individual verification, if you do not believe the extraordinary claims of individuals using plant medicines the best way to explore whether or not there is any truth is to experience them yourself and verify with your own experience. it is as simple as that. without further adue enter with me into the unknown.
As I have come to see it, there is an infinite amount of experiences and capabilities of the mind. This includes an infinite amount of dimensions, beings, past lives, physic phenomena, and other experiences and or talents. What does this mean in the context of ayahuasca, well it means that when one has consumed ayahuasca they may experience any one of these extraordinary experiences from heavenly to hellish realms or meetings with otherly presences to unexplainable physic events. Most speak of ayahuasca in the context of a feminine entity with a motherly presence, allow me to elucidate why.
In many individuals, including myself, the first time I drank ayahausca on my retreat I took the medicine into my body, but failed to have an experience that was psychedelic. There were mild perturbations in consciousness, perhaps a mild increase in my awareness and access into my own psyche, but there were no visuals or any of the experiences that many who have not tried a psychedelic come to associate with the psychedelic experience. What is happening here is that though I had taken the plant into my body, I have not been able to connect with the spirit of Mother Ayahuasca. In this way, the easiest way for our mind to understand this experience is that ayahuasca is not just the name of the brew of plant drink, but an entity that individuals come in contact with. The brew is just a means of communing with this deity of sorts, and its no guarantee that if one takes the medicine they will make contact. Why do individuals not connect with Ayahuasca?  There are many reasons, part of the reason individuals do a dieta or diet and preparation for ceremony is to cleanse the body and allow for communion, its all part of the process that over time many individual partaking in this experience have learnt allows for communion with this entity. In my experience and for the vast majority she comes on with a feminine presence, but I’m not dogmatic and she may appear in any number of forms. The reason why I speak of it as if its an entity is that when contact is made there can be conversation in the mind, as clear as any other conversation with any other person in the world, wherein questions may be asked and direct communication allows for answered to be spoken back, or shown in images or riddles.
I think this is all pretty straight forward at this point; it may be hard to explore the actuality of this experience, and the possibility of this actually being contact with an entity, even for those who have used plant medicines, but Ayahuasca is no ordinary plant medicine. She is a great healer, with a mother like love she comes on and give individuals what they need to heal. It is as though when you drink her sacred brew she enters every aspect of your being, having access to your body, memories and psyche.  She is able to heal what she feels is necessary at the time. Her healing may be gentle and loving, such as during my 2nd ceremony wherein she showed me aspects and experiences of every individual in the room for me to bear witness to their pain and offer them prayers. After she had shown me everyone’s experiences my heart opened and my entire visual field went pink and red as love poured into every part of my body enveloping me with warmth and vibrating my entire energetic body, no words can accurately describe this most basic experience, but I’m convinced if everyone in the world were to glimpse this level of love they would spend the rest of their life in pursuit of such divinity.

Healing may be chaotic and overwhelming too. As discussed earlier releasing trauma is also releasing energy and that energy may come out as if every cell in your body is screaming, for example, whole body convulsions and exorcism like body movements are quite normal. As well as experiences of dying, breathlessness, hyperanxiety, and fear are all part of the process for some individuals. If this has turned you away from the experience, know that Ayahausca is wise, and she gives you what you need to heal, and it cannot be said before hand what that will look like, each individual is different. Through it all, heaven or hellish realms, her loving spirit is here to help you learn and heal, so there are no bad trips, only lessons. In fact, as in all of life, some of the most challenging parts of life are the most life-changing and fruitful for growth and change. At this point we have turned a lot of individual off, after all why on earth would anyone voluntarily go through with this medicine? Because it can reset your entire life’s path and you can be born a new. You are not alone in your struggles, the shaman, the facilitators, and your comrades in arms are there with love and support. Sometimes I even get a tinge of envy when my experience is not as far out and overwhelming, because I know how valuable they are. There is great wisdom in suffering, such is why in almost all religious wisdom traditions they discuss suffering as a means of salvation.  Enlightened beings are those who are strong, we cannot make this world a safer place, there will always be disaster and pain, but we can make ourselves stronger, we can raise our being and willfully take on the suffering of the world and through it all transform it with love.

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”

[for]

“No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.”  

and it is only in our exploration into darkness and the evil and terror that lies within that we can truly can the strength and have the right sight to choose the path of light

[for]

“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being” – quotes by Carl Jung.
Another area that lends itself to the ineffable is the level of love and brotherhood and sisterhood felt among my fellow humans in these times.  There relationships were as deep and meaningful as any relationship I’ve cultivated my entire life, and this takes place and in a matter of days. These experiences have the ability to allow for levels of love you never knew you were capable of, the kind of love that could save us all. That is why people speak with such passion and fervor of these experiences, because those who have taken and worked with the medicines for long enough have realized they are an essential part in restoring our world, and our relationship with our dear mother earth.
Those who know history are aware that the oldest cultures, the ones that are the progenitors of all that we inherit today grew out of shamanic cultures, that is, plant medicine using cultures. We sit upon the promise lands of our ancestors, the hundreds of generations that fought through hell and never gave up through wars, and plagues, and immeasurable sufferings to get you here and have relied on these tools. One such way they use these tools is after wars.  When a tribe would go to war, they realized there would be an tremendous burden on both sides and deep psychological wounds we be scarred on the entire population.  They would use plant medicines to help heal the soldiers and the collective to move forward, so the pain could heal, and the darkness would not grow.  Think about the collective wounds of civilization, from all the recent genocides and world wars we have fought, our people, all the people of earth have suffered and we have not healed.  Unless we heal these deep psyche wounds that live within us, that live within nations, and races, and the collective, then the darkness of the wars will return, as it did with a vengeance after world war 1 in world war 2, and if we do not heal, world war 3 is probably will be the most destructive exploration into the evil that lies dormant in the human shadow.

Every great civilization in the ancient world and in diverse places across the globe were not only plant medicine using cultures, they were also cultures that held these plants in the highest regard as the most sacred of sacraments, capable of miracles and guidance beyond our human intellect. There are extensive bodies of scientific literature discussing the possibility of plant medicines being integral to our evolution, expanding the evolution of our consciousness, giving rise to our sense of ethics, morality, art, and symbolic expression in language – in other words everything that makes us human. For those interested please explore these topics further for a more comprehensive view, I am but a finger pointing at the moon.  I have touched briefly on the idea that plant medicine is essential for healing our society, and restoring our humanness, our humanity, and putting our evolution as spiritual beings back on track, but let me further discuss how plant medicine can help save our world.

A simple way to discuss every problem in our modern world  is that we have forgotten who we are because have lost our connection to nature. What I mean here is that we are all one, we are not separate from each other or from nature. If we lived as though this were true, and I don’t mean we understand it intellectually, I mean we feel it is in our bones that we are one with our fellow humanity, our fellow plant and animal brethren  on our planet then there would be no disaster and Gaia would be restored. for we are self-destructive in this age, we are killing ourselves and everything we are out of this ignorance of our true nature.  Plant medicine is an essential component in revivifying this way of being, for it teaches that we are one, and many experience this not as a concept, but felt in the bones.  Paradise is not lost, just forgotten.

Let’s change course
I would like to touch back onto this idea that ayahuasca is an entity. let’s take for a moment the possibility that this is an actuality and explore the implications. Not only do those who confirm ayahuasca to be a real entity see her this way, they also see her as a being of extraordinary intelligence, capable of what can only be called by most people, miracles, because they seem to break every conventionally held belief about what is possible.

Let us take this slow, take a few breathe, and proceed, we have thus far posited an entity, so in this view aliens are real, or gods, or whatever you want to call ‘ the other’. And not only is this entity real, she is an intelligent companion and healer to our species.  This opens up a million conversation that urge science and society to open itself into these realms for further exploration. What it does not do is It is detract from any of the ‘truths’ or amazing realities of the scientific worldview.  It merely offers another perspective making new opportunities possible. Who says there should be just one way of viewing the world?  Why must we cling to ideologies and state our individual way of seeing the world a truth. Is it not abundantly obvious that individuals have diverse ways of seeing the world and perhaps there are an infinite amount of interpretations in this life that alter their perception of what is real. Whose to say reality must make sense?  Just because you can rationalize an irrational process, does not make it rational.  The more I look into the world the more I see truths and paradoxes, and I’m comfortable living in that paradox, I’m not obsessed with figuring it all out as if their was some final answer in life as simple as 42. Science is in a process of upheaval and its foundations and dogmas are being derooted as quantum mechanism theory alters the most fundamental of our understanding of reality.  As we begin to reorientate ourselves in the 21 century and accommodate such concepts as the many worlds theory we will begin to expand our awareness and become open to this new paradigm shifting and paradigm creating concepts. As we are on the subject of exploring new questions, here are a series of other questions that should spawn conversations in regards to the ayahuasca experience.
Are there individual who know there are other entities and they suppress this knowledge for their own greed or other dark reasons?

Why is this not front page new on every global news station? alien beings are real it should read.  I can prove it, you need not go to the jungle, a few hits of Dimethyltyrptamine and you will meet them, its as simple and straightforward as that.
What does this mean for religions?

Many traditional people recognize other entities as spirits and ancestors and have worked with them for thousands of years, what more knowledge can we find in the traditional ways of life and their wisdom traditions?

What are these alternate states of consciousness, how can we study them?

Is it possible that alternate states of consciousness are similar to traveling into different dimensions of the mind?

The ‘out-of-body- experience that is common on psychedelics and in near death states posits a part of ourselves that is immaterial, what is the reality of this part of ourselves, many would call the soul? Could there be a piece of ourselves that is eternal?

A common experience among psychedelic users is ego death and ego transcendence, if the limited sense of self we call the ego is only a part of who we are and we are actually one with everything and everyone, how does this truth and reality alter the way we see ourselves, our fellow humanity, and our planet?

The revelations and revolution that will occur as humanity continues to explore expanding their consciousness can be positive and negative,  how can we best guide our evolution towards responsibility and right action?

What is possible in this life?

What is possible in regards to healing and human capabilities, and how can we as a society explore and utilize this knowledge?
Who am I and what is life?
What other spirits are real?  For spirits, fairies, gods and dragons have been discussed since stories began, perhaps these are much less stories, but experiences we have forgotten or lost contact with?

How can we share these experiences and the knowledge contained with more people and restore humanity?
These questions are starting points for exploration, and volumes are written about each with evidence of one kind or another for further exploration.  The exploration of psychedelics and plant medicines is a multidisciplinary approach from many diverse sciences, to the study of ancient cultures, right up into new ways of use and even artists play a role in this new way of the world, as we reunite with the plant teachers that have guided us for many years.
Let us once again explore what has been explored thus far. In this article I have briefly outlined some of the features of my 10 day experience with ayahuasca, examining some of the frameworks for understanding the physical and mental healing that takes place on an ayahuasca retreat. I then brought up some of the remarkable questions that prompt exploration that are raised through these experiences. Also there was a brief introduction to how plant medicines may be the medicine needed to heal all our humanities course and to align itself with the rest of the planet in health and harmony.
Now I would like to speak a little about my personal experiences with the medicine.
Arriving on your own alone in a new country where you don’t speak the language is always an exploration, its like stepping into a story where your the main character. Before leaving, when people asked me if I was excited for my ‘vacation’, I often remarked that preparing for ayahuasca is a bit like preparing for both a wedding and a funeral, its like you have a ticket that can take you to heaven or hell, and it almost guarantied you will experience in some way the full range of human emotion in all their dimensional extremes.
The pilgrimage into the jungle is a walk into paradise, with living diversity at its highest, the life-energy and interconnectedness of nature abounds and astounds and captures me into the beautiful web of life. I find myself stepping outside my lens of my culture and it is as if I have new eyes.  As I journal my writing emerges with new light, as my words and sentiments flow effortlessly through the changes in my awareness. Traveling is a kind of psychedelic trip in itself, capable of allowing the individual to step outside themselves long enough to gain some perspective on their own life.  I also feel a deep appreciation that holds me like a blanket, because I live in Canada where we have luxury in living standards that to the rest of the world position us like kings and queens among man and animal.
This entire year has been a healing journey of the soul for me. taking part in psychedelic breathwork sessions, long hours of yoga, qi gong, and other spiritual and healing modalities of exercise and exploration. As well as taking part of traditional native American ceremonies, such as sweat lodges and working with the Huichol people of Mexico and the sacred plant medicine peyote.  It has been years of learning and working with plant spirit allies and medicines and I’m learning to let go of my selfish attachments and unhealthy desires in life to and helping me to live to help the collective; the we before the me. But I’m still early in my journey. I seek harmony in my own life, and the cosmic order. To live by divine law is what I seek, my highest self is that who I wish to embody. Humbly I pray, humbly I pray.
Before meeting the group I met up with a friend, let’s call her Mara. Mara is not just a friend, we use to date for several years. We are in many ways here for ourselves, but also for each other, for we realize that on a human level we are one thing, but on a spiritual level our purpose in life is in alignment with each others and the love we have for each other transcends our history. I am excited to share this world with her, as this is her first exploration into such strong plant medicines.
It has been awhile since we have seen each other and as with any best friend the connection starts right where it had left off. When you have an open heart and your soul shines through your eyes the conversation flows endlessly – incidentally we did not get a proper rest.
For those attuned to star signs she is an Aries and I’m a Libra, AKA she has infinite energy like a burning flame, and I am calm like a Costa Rican sloth – we meet each other in the middle, I ground her, and she gives me energy – its a beautiful thing when opposites become one in love.
In the morning we meet our team. After having experience enough ceremonies in the past I know to meet people as if they are my brothers and sisters, for in a few days these people will be family through the experiences we share and the bonds we meld in the fires of emotion and struggle. In my life I try and use this wisdom too meet all people in this loving way, for loving is the way to a heavenly state.
Soon enough we mingle and share stories.  Then we arrive at the retreat center, which is situated on a mountain overlooking a view I would crawl on my belly for hours just to look out upon. The center is our little slice of heaven, and the staff are beings of love and light. Instantly we are all at home. We have a full day and a half to prepare for our first ceremonies and I keep myself close to my prayers. finding respite in others, in my meditations, and on the beach where I feel connected to the energies around. What exactly do I mean by connected with the energies? It means I am in flow, my body moves fluidly, feeling the energy around like moving through a miasma of living ether, in this state when I write it flows out and I am merely a witness. when I draw images come from my psyche I never knew I could imagine let alone manifest on paper. When I speak there is no effort, there is no fumbling over words or thinking what to say, and my laugh bellows naturally from my belly to my head, there is no resistance or tension or suppression, I present myself authentic and whole, and I am met as I am, with acceptance by everyone at the retreat. I wish everyone could feel this free, I wish everyone could be supported and loved like I was by these strangers, I wish everyone could know Mother Ayahuasca.
[fast forward]

The 2nd ceremony.
The first ceremony was a bit of an introduction into the medicine, most people had a relatively light ceremony, not too much deep psychological releasing. Whereas the second ceremony went deep. Laying on my mat Mother Ayahuasca led me through a life review. She took me back into my past reliving all the times I hurt people in my adolescents with my sexual behaviours and drug use. I saw my life as a garden, and all the people I knew were seeds that I planted, but many of the seeds from my youth died and there stood acres of dead land and famished people. The question arose in my mind, what seeds are you planting now? This life is a garden, your life is not your own, seek not your own desires, but the desires of all living beings, plant and animal, and spirit alike. Deep insight into the nature of the human body as a microcosm of the macrocosm was aided by images and experiences I can’t even bring to words. Later I was taken into the eyes of men and women in a gas chamber in the second world war awaiting their death. Stepping into this experience was traumatic, and is still emotional arousing in a way that bring me to tears. The horror of being there in the flesh, imagine it with me now looking out with terror and panic as you know your body is about to be burned and seared causing unspeakable pain and everyone around you will die before your eyes, men, women, and children. How do you prepare for such sick sadism? How could anyone do this to another human.
Ayahuasca showed me that all the hurt in the wars and in our histories dark story is to help teach us about the light and love. For it is only through our exploration into evil that we can know what is right and what is good. This experience was reminiscent of a previous ayahuasca journey wherein I lived through the experience of a women being raped, a slave being beaten, and a victim of drowning. These experiences feel real as they happen, and their effects ripple forward as the intense emotions experienced still grip and evoke a kind of pain, as if these experiences were once realities in a past life and though my body was reborn my soul still remembers the pain it suffered once.   Or in another way of seeing things perhaps I’m tapping into the collective unconscious of humanity.
In Buddhism there is much discussion about desire and the attachments that forms in the mind, in Tibetan Buddhism they discuss the retention of these desires in the mind even after the body has died, thus as one cycles back into rebirth the same cycle is repeated until the individual is able to respond and evolve their mind past this unhealthy attachment and desiring. This central significance of cycles of desire and pain that ever repeat themselves until the lesson is learned is the exact kind of deconditioning and healing ayahuasca works on. She does this by allowing an individual to become aware of the desire or vice that may be quite unconscious to the individual, from here and with the aid of others and the luxury of being away from the world, the ayahuasca retreat provide an opportunity to reset yourself and start fresh as you re-enter the world, a kind of rebirthing, leaving to die what no longer serves you in suit of what saves you.
In an excellent article written by Kerry Moran, he outlined 6 ways ayahuasca can heal, and in the following paragraphs I will conclude this reflection by outlining some of his article with a piece of my personal story.
When I was 11 my mind was not as ease, some would call it a disease of the mind, or a mental disorder, my brain was out of order. Some called it depression, perhaps because of my suppression of emotions, this repression prevented the proper expression of feelings and thus I became out of tune. For years I carried a heavy shadow, a kind of malevolent darkness that stood with me even on the sunniest of days. Every up had a down, as is life, but when its out of control and never in balance I became lost. For every new low I found a new high, but when the good times fell short of the bad, my strategy was dissociation and thus I went numb. It was easier not to feel at all and not experience the highs and lows, and so I retreated into a shallow stoop of unwavering numbness. Till a demon found me in my weakness. Chanting in my ear horrible tales of my own wretched being. I began to believe his stories of my worthless nature. Ever his words in my mind I began to speak like him, and his message was clear. The world is black and grey, death is salvation and emancipation. After a series of events that left me empty and put my future in jeopardy I caved, and on a dark and cloudy day I walked to the shed of my parents home, grabbed a rope and wandered in a forest far from everyone to hang myself.
Picking a sturdy tree I found a borough that could hold my weight and carry my sorrows and I slung the rope round its lofty arm. Without knowledge of knots I could make no noose, so I tied a loop as best I could.
In a kind of daze I lowered my life into a new low, and with a thoughtless release I let go. The pressure of a person’s weight strangling themselves is immense. The rope felt sharp, as if it slowly were beheading my sorrows. The pressure began to build and the small vessels in my eyes engorged as my eyes surely grew in size, their epithelium stretched out like a balloon. Anxiety and instinct overrode my feeble attempt and unconscious animal instincts moved my arms and pulled my up from my date with the devil.
I never gained full consciousness nor did I snap out of my possession with the dark deity dancing over my light. I lowered myself down into hell once more and l felt the warm heat of the ovens bellows. This time omitting to chaos, the light of my life faded to black as my vision went dark and I became unconscious.
Angels, animal instincts, divine intervention? I speak about such events poetically as if they are stories or poems, because this is my story, and this is my life, and for some reason, I was saved, or I saved myself.
After the event the memory of the hanging went dark, as if lost, as if a part of my soul left that day and went away. Repressed from the shores of the mind, my pain sank deep into the ocean of the psyche.
‘6 ways ayahuasca heals trauma’ – Kerry Moran
1. Evoking and re-living experiences
– Ayahuasca provided me with clear vision, a way of looking back at memories lost. By stepping back into my experience with suicide, I was able to not only relive the experience offering remembering’s of what happened, but re-experience the pain.
2. Releasing repressed memories

– As the repressed memories release the channels of emotions stored in the body and mind can express themselves and be released in a cathartic process.
3. Amplifying emotions and sensations, bringing awareness in the body
– I release my emotions physically more so than by re-living experiences. My body discharges large amounts of energy and all my musckoskeletal system tones and flexes and I shake and convulse to dissipate this energy.
4. Offering new realizations
– Through my work in the psychedelic-sphere my struggles have transformed places of pain to my most fruitful sources of wisdom. Pain makes a compassionate soul. Its all part of the human experience, to know, to feel, to suffer, and to choose love. I needed to go to that dark place to find the way to the light, no one could guide me to heaven but myself, and I could never have found my way without walking in every wrong direction.
5. Generating compassion and forgiveness for self and others
– Your struggles are mine, in this race of time and world of flesh we are one in our struggle, forever bonded by pain, until we reach salvation again.
6. Resourcing the nervous system with positive experiences

Om Shanti shanti shanti
I described the experience of trauma as a loss of soul, or losing a piece of myself, and it is common in healing to experience the subjective state of becoming whole. The idea being that we were once one, we were once contiguous and undifferentiated from the pure love that pervades the universe, and then we were born into this world, still one with our mother in the womb, later still we would grow into existence and find ourselves separate, further from our unity with all there is. The process of healing then is coming back into that oneness with the universe, and it is only by regaining what was lost in trauma that we reach greater wholeness. Other ways of becoming whole are to integrate your opposite energy (male or female) and coming to integrate your shadow, or the darker parts of your personality you distance yourself for various reasons.
When you heal yourself you heal everyone. Seek then to find healing, for yourself or for the collective, they are one in the same. The pursuit of this wholeness is the highest attainment, for when we are healed we are complete and we are free from the bondage of desire and we rise above the suffering of the world, capable of truly spreading love and light. If we have not fully healed we are the blind leading the blind. If we do not transcend our own suffering forever we cycle in this life and the next repeating the same mistakes, carrying forward the pain of yesterday, just as our society carried forward the wars and suffering of the past. It is through the deep work and untethering of our conditioning that we find ourselves complete.

[Epilogue]

It has been several moons since my stay at Soltara and my life is wholly guided by spirit.  I have evolved my practice as a holistic coach, teacher of meditation and breathework, movement and health.  I am taking part in leading men’s wilderness retreats, writing books, singing songs, and healing my community. I pray deep respect and honour to all my relations and to all those who sat in ceremony with me.  I love each and every one of your souls and support you all.

With love and chi,

Zachary Koop

 

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