I awoke on the Sunday morning relatively refreshed. We had made sure to kill any loitering mosquitos before hitting the hay and so my sleep was a little more comfortable. There was as usual an array of weird dreams, none of which I recalled or could make sense of. I felt relatively relaxed about the approaching ceremony. It felt good to have broken through to a level where I could appreciate the beauty of the ayahuasca experience without being overwhelmed or terrified. Of course there were some residual anxieties that the worst was yet to come, the pessimist in the mist is always lurking. Overall though I felt like I still had some work to do, and was looking forward to getting it done.
Cups of tea were drunk as I chatted with some of the others. One was planning to go as far as possible that day, calling it “the big one”. He also advised me to push it as far as possible, to go all in. Luckily I wasn’t easily persuaded, I had my own plan and knew not to be affected by how other people were thinking or doing. The ayahuasca experience is a thoroughly individual process and I knew to only take advice from the likes of the shaman or the helpers like Rini. They were the ones who had the best experience and knew how to advise people on their journeys.
We began to gather in the by now familiar ceremony room. I sensed that the atmosphere was a lot more relaxed than the day before, without the same level of tension. The Sunday was the day for consolidating work done on the previous days, taking stock of the lessons learned and trying to piece it all together into a plausible framework that could be used going back to real life after the weekend. Having said that, we were still drinking ayahuasca, so you never really know whats in store. There could be a lot more work to be done, the unexpected is never far around the corner! After the formalities of sharing and our usual prayers and chanting, we drank our little glasses of yagé and were ready to embark on another wonderful journey. Our warm up this time would be a purely personal one: no staring, no group work, no dance partners. We were to do the Shaking Meditation which was new to me. Basically it consisted of three stages for us:
- Stage 1: Shake! Rini and Norberto had chosen some music which was quite ambient, basic and repetitive. We were quite simply to shake on the spot, shaking or arms legs and body until it fell into a kind of rhythm, where the body was shaking itself and I wasn’t doing the shaking. I found the music to be really cool, trance inducing and was quite easy to shake to and try to disconnect from everything else. Of course we all probably looked ridiculous, but with eyes closed we were all in our own little worlds. This stage was to last 15 minutes which passed quite quickly.
- Stage 2: Dance! Now we were to let our bodies dance for the next 15 minutes, moving to the music as it wishes, without trying to force anything or without think of pulling any good moves! This is a little more tricky for me, the self-consciousness is always a factor with my dancing, so I find it hard to just let it flow. At least the music was right up my street and so I found it easy enough to wriggle and writhe and just try to let go of things and let the rhythm flow through me.
- Stage 3: Be still! Now we were to hit the mattresses and have some quiet time for another quarter of an hour. By now sinking into a meditative awareness.
I was already starting to feel the effects by the time I sat down on my mattress. This time I was relatively calm about the oncoming journey, there wasn’t the same level of anxiety or resistance as the previous days. I think the meditation exercise was a very effective way of distracting me from any worries or negative thoughts. I remember phasing in and out of awareness, drifting off into periods of thoughtlessness, observing without really processing or analysing. Then coming back to awareness, remembering where I was at and what I was doing. This was probably a sign of a growing experience with the ayahuasca experience – the ability to check my state of awareness, to pull myself back to be present every so often instead of wandering mindlessly.
The atmosphere in the room was very calm and quiet. The reflective silence was only occasionally interrupted by the sound of retching and vomiting, but I hardly even noticed these disturbances. Overall people were still. I felt waves of emotion begin to pass over me again, waves of sadness and regret. Lina was very much the focus of my attention and again it wasn’t such answering of questions or confirmation of thoughts, it was just raw emotion being released in all its force. It felt very much like saying goodbye, a grieving process. Not wanting to let a loved one go, while realising that there was no way back. I felt immense sadness at the hurt I had caused and the damage caused seemed admittedly irreparable.
Occasionally the musicians would ease their way into a song now and again. If I wasn’t crying before the songs began then I was most certainly crying once they got going! There was a softness and delicateness to the notes of the instrument and their voices, an indescribable beauty that tore at the heart-strings and allowed all the pain to come through without the slightest resistance. I lay on my back with tears streaming down my face, so much so that my face and ears were soaked as if I had just stepped out of the shower. It was uncontrollable crying, without a sound. I mourned everything that I had lost, a future I would never have. It felt like she was walking away with her back turned and I was stretching out my hand in vain to touch her one last time. It was all a bit dramatic, like a scene from Gladiator when he sees his dead wife and child walking off into the corn fields and towards the eternal light.
My visions were again quite limited during this session. The overwhelming experience was one of raw emotion accompanied by incredibly beautiful soundscapes weaves by the infinitely talented musicians. The times when I wasn’t crying about my own loss, I was crying about the beauty of the place I found myself in, the music that caressed me and the other beautiful people who surrounded me. I felt an incredible yearning that everybody could be happy. Amazingly I realized that I didn’t want this experience to end, that I didn’t want to leave this sacred space. This was the first time I had felt so safe, secure and happy in the middle of the ayahuasca experience, despite all the sadness and grief I was working through. I realised the ultimate beauty of the experience, the indescribable feelings of life and love pouring in and out of my being. I curled into the foetal position and felt the embrace of my mother. A child come home to the safety and security of its mother’s arms. I felt both permission to cry as well as the forgiveness of the all-encompassing universe, a wordless embrace.
The offer of more ayahuasca came long a couple of times during all this. Again like the day before I didn’t feel like I had the energy to try go any deeper with my issues. I felt like the mourning and grieving was all I could manage, whilst still being able to appreciate the beauty of the journey. I felt like an extra glass could send me too far to a place I wasn’t ready to go, possibly undoing all the work I had managed to do thus far. I felt I wouldn’t be afraid of coming back to the ayahuasca sometime in the near future to take the next step towards resolving my deeper issues. I stayed for a long time in the ceremony room listening to the music and drifting in my thoughts, the powerful part if the experience over, but the fluttering, quivering patterns still clearly visible. I felt relaxed and calm.
However there was a slight lingering sense of regret that I hadn’t pushed myself further, that I should’ve been more brave and dived for the answers to the deeper questions. I hadn’t really got any definitive answers. I still didn’t know what had gone wrong, I had mostly just mourned that it had gone wrong. I reassured myself though that I couldn’t expect too much, that I should be proud of my progress that weekend and be glad with what I could take away with me. I finally left the room to go outside and sit on the grass and soak in the suns rays again. There was still a fairly big bunch of people fully engaged in the yagé ritual, but I left them behind as I wasn’t much of a contributor! Outside on the lawn I chatted with the others about the accomplishments of the weekend, and exchanged tips about music, book, movies and documentaries, another real benefit of meeting so many interesting people – a chance to broaden the horizons!
Eventually it was time for final sharing, the music having reached a crescendo and a peak of positive emotion. There were many smiling faces, a sense of relief at having survived another ceremony and privilege of having experienced it. We all sat in a big circle outside on the grass, passing the talking stick around the circle which allowed only the speaker the privilege of talking. Each speaker said their part finished off by uttering “Aho“, which is a native American way of saying “Amen”. There was a lot of emotion about, the overwhelming majority having had positive journeys or for those who had reached the dark depths of hell, positive benefits to take forward into the “real life”.
Its incredible the bonds you can make with people you have known for such a short time. Its hard saying good-bye! Others I only talked to for the first time on the Sunday afternoon and yet there is that common bond between us, a sense of achieving something together. It was so worth all the anxiety in the build-up, a huge release of emotion and an opportunity to feel the raw emotion of my circumstances without holding back, without resisting and protecting myself from the pain. A sense of relief to have worked through even a fraction of that pain, to have begun the healing process and an opening of the path to the future. I would have a lot of work to do myself, the hard part is often changing behaviour in everyday life without the aid of such powerful medicine. A lot will need to be figured out over the course of the next few months, but I am convinced that Mother Ayahuasca has given me the energy required to start alongthe road to recovery. My door is hopefully open to the next opportunity that may cross my path and I am certain I will be back in the future for another taste of the sacred brew.