Yoga: Journeying with Ayahuasca, the mother of plant medicine – Part 1

“…we never find the crest of a wave without a trough or a particle without an interval, or space, between itself and others. In other words, there is no such thing as a half wave, or a particle all by itself without any space around it. There is no on without off, no up without down. […]

While eyes and ears actually register and respond to both the up-beat and the down-beat of these vibrations, the mind, that is to say our conscious attention, notices only the up-beat. The dark, silent, or “off” interval is ignored. It is almost a general principle that consciousness ignores intervals, and yet cannot notice any pulse of energy without them.” Alan Watts, The BookScreen shot 2015-07-08 at 19.39.38

In the next few blog posts, I will relate my first foray into the world of hallucinogenics and their active ingredient – DMT which happened last Summer.

If you are sitting comfortably, I shall begin. Like every other ayahuasca adventurer, I dutifully carried out my research. I read prolifically. I watched every youtube video I could get my virtual fingers on. The various testimonies, papers, advice, forums and discussions on the nature and ritualistic use of ayahuasca formed the focal point of my existence for some months as my imagination greedily swallowed every pixel of information it could. How or why it came into my head I don’t quite remember. It had always been there I guess, bubbling away. Ever since I’d seen Bruce Parry glug the stuff in the Amazon somewhere it had burrowed a hole into one of my neural pathways, and slumbered, waiting to be awakened at an appropriate point. Suddenly I was consumed with curiosity. I watched documentary after documentary and debated how it might cross my path. However, it was only when my friend James mentioned that he too had been spiked by the same dangerous malaise that my voluptuous craze wrapped itself around his as we united in our voracious consumption of information like two heroin addicts looking for our next hit. We would send links to each other and swap the fruits of fact finding missions from the moment we woke till till the moment we slept but neither of us had the funds for a trip to Peru. So what next? A hunt to find a facilitator elsewhere ensued.

But what is this mystical, ethereal ayahuasca you ask? Briefly and crudely, it is the most powerful hallucinogenic known to man. It is the Native American ‘Love medicine’. A brew composed of (most commonly in the Amazon at least) the Caapi Vine and Mimosa Bark containing the ‘spirit molecule’ DMT. When the vile mixture is ingested, the drinker goes on a ‘spiritual’ journey into the world of the unseen. The process usually begins with what is traditionally termed, “La Purga’ – the purging of any toxins (both energetic and bodily) through sometimes quite violent sickness and diarrhoea – followed by what is considered to be, ‘the death of the ego’ where one loses one’s sense of self and experiences the infinite and interconnected nature of being. One usually meets the consciousness of the plant (symbolised as a serpent) who serves as a guide introducing the journeyer to their own fears and neuroses (often symbolised as monsters and other creatures) in order that they may face them down – the reward being an experience of eternity and infinite love and sometimes, lots of pretty patterns and stuff. Not something you’d generally swallow on an average Saturday night out! Many have used it as a guiding post to other healing herbs to help them find the plants they need to work with to cure everything from cancer to alcoholism. By this point, my friend had declined from accompanying me admitting that, he just wasn’t brave enough. He was replaced by my friend Kat who, a few weeks prior to the ceremony mentioned that she’d been desperately seeking it out.

Ironically, given the subject matter of this blog post, for anyone interested in taking such a journey, my advice would be to refrain from reading too many of other people’s experiences. The reason I say this is because I know for sure that reading some people’s testimonies definitely contributed to the impending sense of doom I felt on waking the day of the ceremony in spite of my knowing that really, as a close friend had reassured me, “… there is nothing to fear and nothing to doubt.” The last thing I would want to do is put off anyone who might benefit tremendously from the ‘trip part’ of the journey. People have been known to cure everything from brain tumours to bi-polar and depression using the wisdom of the plant’s teachings. Preparation is important but your shaman (because you wouldn’t be silly enough to do it without one on one of your first times at least now would you?) will verse you in the ‘dos’ and ‘do nots’ beforehand, not least because there are certain risks involved with regard to the potential chemical interaction between certain foods and the brew’s ingredients which can at worst, result in death. There are also protocol to follow to ensure the respect of the consciousness of the plant including a period of abstinence from sexual activity.

So why did I want to drink? I wanted to be taught how to love myself. I wanted to release the patterns of behaviour that I felt kept me locked. A seemingly constant fear around a lack of money or ability have a functioning relationship. A desire to change the aspects of myself that I felt had held a loving, long term relationship out of reach for me for a long time and the physical issues that have manifested in me as a result of these fears many of which circulate around my skin. Having experienced the sensation of our eternal nature and unconditional love that rests at our truth, I was also searching for a way to immerse myself deeper. I wanted to wash myself clean with the divine spirit of all existence; to share any of my learning with clients and I guess seek validation for being.

Unlike many who first encounter the sting in Mother Ayahuasca’s tail, I had already faced down many of my own demons. I have moved away from the toxic lifestyle of a the urban world and into a life surrounded by nature, free of the constant mouth of the media. I don’t watch or read the news, I hear about calamities oftentimes days after they have happened and very little negative ‘stuff’ comes up in my facebook news feed having edited it so that I don’t see the feeds of friends who post such things. I eat mostly organic and vegetarian with a tiny bit of dairy and fish now and then, I do yoga almost every day, am very self-aware and meditate and practice reiki. I have forgiven all who have brought painful lessons to me and have generally, very little baggage to carry except discontent with myself – the heaviest of all.

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