“I tried asking Ayahuasca to heal my depression, but I just got really angry and couldn’t focus because of the fucking singing and I didn’t have visions. And now it’s the next day and I still feel angry. I think the Ayahuasca is weak.”
Even if there are strong intentions to heal, people will secretly believe that something outside of themselves, like Ayahuasca, will do the healing work for them. They will often do nothing to strengthen their intention or prayer for change during the experience and secretly brood in distrust of the process, which can easily then contribute to them being more closed.
The apparent lack of progress could be explained by a physical blockage, the drug not being strong enough, an incompetent shaman, bad spirits or black magic, or because the grandmother has not yet heard the patient’s cry for help. There may be truth to each one, but the problem is, if any of these theories is relied upon exclusively, the patient is reduced to a passive spectator in the healing process and ultimately will be very unhelpful for long-term healing outcomes.
In the above example, the participant did not realize that this was the way that Ayahuasca was trying to RELATE to him about the depression, that the anger was a defense that was being used to avoid feeling afraid, weak, vulnerable, ashamed, etc. The participant was not taking responsibility as the Ayahuasca was encouraging him to be vulnerable and open to what the anger had to teach. However, because he was treating Ayahuasca like a drug genie that would take away the pain, he was not listening to the medicine and failed to understand her language and had no patience and couldn’t trust in her intelligence. Feeling good is not the same thing as being healed. So the habit pattern to disconnect or become angry when faced with an emotion, then blaming the drug or anything externally, stopped the Ayahuasca process in its service. This is a very common reaction.
Often we can over-engage with any process and Ayahuasca is no different. Many of us have control issues which can hijack the entire experience in the name of needing to “do it right” or following the idea that more of a good thing is better. Such people, however, are particularly lost in their mind and disconnected from their inner guidance system. They will read words like “surrender” and “trust” and “listen with your heart” and “engage” but not have a clue what they mean and will wrack their analytical brains trying to find the correct algorithm to execute, and despair easily because they don’t feel they are “doing it right”. In these scenarios, it is useful to speak with a guide who has experience and EMOTIONAL AWARENESS. Sometimes a person has been so in their head, judging obsessively each moment of their experience, that a useful form of counsel to this is to “turn towards” whatever is happening while breathing deeply. Sometimes there is just nothing to do except be with the experience, even if that is one of resistance. Just lying there, breathing deeply and saying ‘do your thing, lover, I am open, I am ready to give up “doing” and to be present to this experience”’ is the best thing you can “do”. “Turning towards” and “allowing” what is happening while breathing is the process involved in laying the seeds of change, empowerment, awareness, vulnerability, love, etc.
Ayahuasca is a relationship, a spiritual communion guided by the heart. She sometimes tells you what you need to hear for the growth of your spirit, even if it is not the literal or absolute truth. Such a relationship requires ENGAGEMENT AND PARTICIPATION. Below here are just a few ideas for positive or healthy ways to engage in any relationship which can be applied to Ayahuasca. This is only meant to disarm unhelpful ways of relating and stimulate the parts of you already relating healthily to go deeper in that direction.
Respect is the basis of any healthy relationship and many other harmonious and productive ways of relating naturally flow from the energy of respect.
- Trust her intelligence even if I don’t understand how she works with me consciously. Drop expectations and be present. Accept and surrender whatever comes up.
- Listen and be receptive to all of the ways she communicates with me, without trying to impose my ideas or desires over the things she is trying to show me.
- Be vulnerable and completely honest with myself and my feelings and share this with her.
- Notice and be grateful for the ways she helps me instead of continually focusing on what she has not yet helped me with
- Do no rely on her as an emotional crutch or use her in an abusive or dependent manner. Do not treat her like a lifeless antidote drug that will air-lift me from pain to pleasure.
- Do not compare my relationship with her to the relationship she has with another person.
- Be patient and put into practice each day the things she shows me. Take responsibility for my own healing process before, during, and after ceremony.
Take responsibility for your healing before, during and after the ceremony. This is consistent with any relationship you are involved in: each person needs to do their best to take responsibility for achieving their fullness, or the thing falls apart and you find yourself drunk, numbed, and stoned all too often.
Do not yearn to be RESCUED from your issues. It involves the recognition that Ayahuasca is here to help you, but ultimately you are the one who will be doing the work, you are the one who will be healing yourself by the strength of your intention, willingness to feel, openness to new realities, ability to forgive, etc. Even if it feels as if Ayahuasca is doing the work for you, you are allowing that to happen with your openness and readiness to transform.
Ayahuasca is always trying to communicate with you. Don’t get caught up in trying to have a visionary experience if you are not having one; be with what is actually there.
Listen and feel with your heart and senses everything that Ayahuasca presents you, as you would listen to someone who is telling you the truth as they die. Be present, not expecting or wanting them to say anything other than what they are saying, not waiting for your turn to speak, just quietly open with your heart receptive and still.
Take time to listen to your own heart in this same way (before, during, after ceremony), as that is just as important. If you are ignoring your own feelings, how can you be present for your partner in the relationship? This means being present and feeling. Anything further that you need to “do” with your awareness or attention will be found through this kind of heart listening.
Be willing to admit and feel the truth of the emotional experience. Being vulnerable is a critical part of the relationship with Ayahuasca. This also encompasses a willingness to ask: “how have I been bullshitting myself?” or “what have I been hiding from myself?” This means admitting that you may be WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING.
We all have a soft spot, which is the part of us that is exposed to feeling emotional pain. When triggered by an emotional pattern, being vulnerable means honoring and “being with” the soft spot rather than hardening or giving in to automatic conditioned responses (fear, judgment, anger, etc.). Doing so can allow us to see the pattern in its entirety, understand the real reasons for the feelings, or otherwise disarm the destructive power of the pattern and its grip on us. New insights and behaviors then become possible. If you are interested in resolving trauma or changing emotional programming, you must learn to be vulnerable. In this sense, vulnerability is beyond powerful.
However, certain people (and especially those who regard Ayahuasca as a quick-fix) bring into the Ayahuasca space a deeply-ingrained tendency to harden over the soft spot, to react to emotional pain, to not admit how they are bullshitting themselves. If one is not willing to be honest and address this tendency, they can blind themselves even in an Ayahuasca ceremony. The Ayahuasca experience can then become a warzone of emotional projections in which unhelpful or destructive patterns are further entrenched.
- Sense of Humor
Our entire life drama is an infinitesimally small part of the universal holy everything, space time continuum. Identity is a non-existent mirage. Change is the rule and we have almost no control over anything that happens. Ayahuasca is well aware of this and sometimes there is nothing else to do but cackle at the fuckity fuck of it all!!
- Trust, Surrender, Acceptance
Trust and love go hand-in-hand. Trusting that everything will turn out as I want or expect, “outcome trust” or “expectation trust” is not true trust. It is instead more like the Sufi trust of “this mysterious life may dissolve you in the twinkly lights of heaven or disembowel the fuck out of you. Either way it’s all good, it’s what you need, and you only have illusions to shed and infinity to gain.” Trust, somehow trust, that you are getting what you need, that this is the experience you are supposed to be having for your growth as a human being and your soul inside that human being. This is “process trust”. To find a way to trust the process is vitally important.
Turn towards everything that the moment presents, breathe, be with it and let it be. Letting it be does not mean I have to like what is presented, only that I don’t struggle or fight against it. Give up the struggle against WHAT IS, relax and offer up to Ayahuasca the illusion that you ever had total control over what happens in life. Fighting against reality is the cause of overwhelm. Letting things be exactly as they are, to accept them completely, yet knowing that you can start walking in other directions, is a certain special kind of love.
- Commitment, Intention, Integration of Experiences
Commitment in this context is really a commitment to yourself, and it means a deep, heart-felt and unconditional intention to heal, learn, evolve, return home. To do and feel whatever is needed, for whatever length of time is necessary, as the challenges and problems of returning home that you had before Ayahuasca will obviously re-present themselves.
We are not a single personality, but rather, a collection of fragmented personalities or parts. We are children frozen at different times in our lives. These parts / children have different agendas. Some are open to change and some are terrified and want things to stay the same. When someone makes a decision to change, both kinds of children will want to push their agendas, and there will always be some form of resistance. If the decision to change and the commitment is strong and clear there will be less resistance from the frightened children and self-sabotaging will be less likely to fall victim to. With making strong commitments to your process, this will magnetize the seeds of change that Ayahuasca plants inside you to grow in life-affirming directions. This will also carry you beyond the Ayahuasca process to branch out and look for other complementary practices to support your process.
Often what it takes to make this commitment is READINESS. People who express frustration about not being able to get where they want to go with Ayahuasca are most often just not ready yet. They are not ready to give up lying to themselves, they are not ready to be vulnerable, they are not ready to put in the work, they are not ready to change something in their environment. And one of the main factors that creates readiness in a person is that they have suffered enough. Ones who have suffered enough are willing to give up the fantasy of the antidote and take responsibility for their healing process. They are ready and willing to continue the relationship after the ceremony, after the honeymoon phase of things, because the truth is that the evolutionary journey home is in most cases a very long road…and that has to be ok.
Article above is a summary write up. Full original post can be seen at https://tangle-foot.org/2015/08/25/grandma-take-me-home-relating-to-ayahuasca/