Additionally, I was writing in fits and stops, hindered by anxiety and the unknown pressures to come, as well as having to work out logistical complications for each new section of Convergence, my Sci-Fi epic. www.convergenceepic.com Fear of rejection and of an excruciatingly lengthy search to get it published added to my stress. Also, it's taken over 7 years to write the first book and after it's published, how can I produce the second one within a year or two, as expected in the industry? Time management has never been my strong suit and for me, writing is a slow process of building, honing and chiseling away.
The stop/start pattern is one that I tend to get trapped in when I'm out of balance. It told me that deeper things were preventing me from moving forward in these two important areas. The desire to refresh myself with a return to my jungle home (as it has felt before) or the ache for a vacation were secondary to addressing these issues. I knew that Ayahuasca would be cleansing and healing for me. It was time to return.
As chronicled in earlier blog posts on this site, my previous Ayahuasca experiences were wild, and as the first night of ceremony drew closer, I had trepidation about taking it again. My fears began to be allayed by Don Guido's extremely generous and soothing introduction to us. His every word (in Spanish and translated) was gentle and reassuring. He explained the purpose of each prop that he used during ceremonies and passed them around our group. The huge bundle of hand rolled cigarettes were a pang -- I had forgotten about how much smoke was a part of the ceremony -- my sinuses collect pollution all too well, and I left my netti pot in the hotel in Lima. On the other hand, the "rattle" a branch of copious, dried leaves (the name of which I forgot) make a delicious, soothing sound when shaken and were a treat to handle. But, most heartening was Don Guido's explanation that he would take each participant's pulse to determine the dose to give them. While I'm sure in my previous experience the shamans assessed us in their own way, taking pulses is a more fastidious method. I had a suspicion that I had been given too much in the past. And finally, he assured our group that he never closes ceremony until everyone has returned to a peaceful state -- it was also requested that no one leave until that point. This was a comforting logistical difference from my past experiences of the ceremony ending before I was "back" and people leaving of their own accord. All 16 of us, plus Don Guido, his staff and helpers held space for everyone to process what needed to be processed.
Being once again instructed about meditating on what questions to ask during the ceremony and framing your questions as succinctly as possible, I was ambivalent. I wondered if it was too controlling, recalling that my desire to control my experience was an obstacle before, and felt that being open is key. Yet, I also was determined not to approach ceremony as a tourist, as I had before -- too disorganized and overwhelmed to form questions. I decided to follow Linda Fitch's advice and made "Show me what to do to achieve my best health," the question for my first night.
It was fascinating -- after I had taken the tablespoon Don Guido gave me (much less than the previous 1/4 cup that I was given), I felt calm while waiting for the trip to begin and watching him give the others their dose, and finally switching the lights off. But, as the numbness and buzzing in my ears started about half an hour later, I balked and had to repetedly remind myself that it's ok, I wanted to do this. I had the sarcastic thought of my body reacting like, "oh no, not this stuff again." I also encountered my first mistake -- not peeing just after taking my dose. The result was that as I monitored the increasing pressure in my bladder, I went into the strongest part of the trip, when physical movement is very challenging. Your body is numb and heavy, and moving tears you out -- it takes forever to even move your fingers. Thus, it took about 15 minutes for me to gradually get up and begin to walk toward the bathroom to pee. Brandishing hand-held flashlights, the helpers guided me there, once they saw me shuffling along at a snail's pace. Once I got there and did my business, it was challenging to get up again. I sat on the commode, empty barf bowl in my hands and powerful images coming at me -- while I thought over and over, I should get up, others may need this toilet. Finally, I got the momentum to leave. I didn't make that mistake twice.
This was the first time that I engaged with Ayahuasca with a question in mind -- it was pretty great. I was strict about restating my query when the images that I was shown felt off-message -- warped genitals, for example -- and the Doctor responded by getting back on track. In fact each time I dialogued with the Aya, it kindly reacted. When I told it that I got a specific message and said thank you, it continued to the next one. If I didn't acknowledge and give gratitude for a message, I found that it would keep repeating it in different forms until I did. The rules were simple and courteous! I had no sense that my adherence to my question hindered my trip -- it kept it focused. Meanwhile, I balanced my intention with being open to what I was shown. It was a break-through!
Doctor Ayahuasca has a sense of humor. On that night, I was shown lots of burlesque or belly dancers with Betty Boop hair, many tattoos, fishnets and make-up. This was a unique stage because I had a negative, critical voice come in and call me a whore, and "Look at you, just giving yourself to this." The voice seemed outside myself, but of course, no one said that in the room. Then more dancers would appear and the voice cut in again. Finally, I hushed it by commanding no more negative or snide comments. The next day, after I discussed that struggle with the voice, I realized it was an internalized message from my often critical and harsh father. Me and a small group of peers did a healing piece on it. A more humorous facet from this section of the trip was an often repeated image of nail polish -- especially in dark colors like black, blue and deep burgundy. It was funny! For your best health -- paint your nails! I kept ignoring the message -- not getting it, so it kept coming back. Only in hind sight did I understand the broader scope -- it was about being artistic and colorful, to create with my hands. I took the dancers to simply mean that I need to dance -- great!
Most movingly, that night I reunited with Shakti (the name I gave my new hip, but also the Divine Feminine force of creativity). She came to me as a blond, blue-eyed beauty with billowing, blue veils, creamy skin and graceful hands. I immediately recognized her, though I'd never seen her in that form before. I also learned that night that I already know plenty of things to do for my health, I just need to DO them. I asked about my hips and was given no specific images, which I took to mean either I don't need to focus so much on them, or I already know. Same response when I asked about diet. The only definite was that I shouldn't eat cheese. Ayahuasca doesn't waste time on things you already know.
After the stronger, more disorientating section of the trip, then comes purging for most people. It was the same for me and not too terrible, even though I knew I was cleansing out residue of three surgeries since my last Ayahuasca experience in 2012. I had my bowl in hand and bottom over the toilet -- a hard-won lesson from last time -- never trust that you'll only purge from one end at a time.
After that phase, the trip dissipates about as fast as it comes on. I remember thinking that Don Guido's brew is excellent in how smooth the transitions are. When I wasn't in the throes of my process, I was grateful for and in awe of the quality and longevity of his care over several hours. It began at 7pm and we got to our cabins around 12:30 that night. During this Peruvian journey, I realized that the shamans also partake of Ayahuasca when they're leading a ceremony. It seems impossible to be so skilled, so sensitive to the group and so musical, and to be on your own trip!
Best of all, after he finished the group chanting, he checked in that we're all ok and when we said yes, he began to come to each individual and do about 10 minutes of unique healing for each participant, with chants and rattle rhythms tailor-made for that person. A beautiful peace had settled over all of us. When that night was complete, my fears had vanished and were replaced with reverence and awe for this unique opportunity and for all those who were a part of it. My burdens were considerably lighter too and I slept very well with gentle residual images. I was ready for two more nights.