Recently I got confirmation of my place at a spiritual Ayahuasca workshop in the Netherlands in July. I was delighted to get an email from Céu de Amsterdam earlier with details of a host of workshops they had planned over the summer. It also came at quite a poignant time for me, with my personal life somewhat in disarray. I had no hesitation in signing up for a couple of workshops in the hope of at least securing my place at one of them. And so my luck was in!
Last time I embarked on the Ayahuasca trip into the void I was in quite a different place. Looking back I was quite naive and was really there more out of curiosity than of any urgent need to address some deep problems I was grappling with. Reading through my previous blog posts (see my A Sacred Cermony – An Experience of Ayahuasca series), I recalled how at one point I lost my focus and lost my way, largely forgetting who I was, where I was and why I was there. I am relatively certain that this could be due to my lack of purpose from the beginning. The experience is so intense, that if one doesn’t have a real intention and focus of attention there is a risk of being overwhelmed. Not that I got bored, that is surely impossible! Rather I got too distracted by the colours, patterns and aesthetics and was essentially wandering aimlessly, as an indigenous person might experience Las Vegas for the first time.
This of course was only a portion of my overall experience. My overwhelming emotion afterwards was one of joy and empowerment. I had a real sense of being alive, full of energy and inspired to go out into the world with renewed purpose and positivity. It was a genuinely life-changing experience, the effects of which linger on to this day. Now I feel the need to go back and this time my motives are very different. This time I feel I have genuine intent and a very clear focus. Work is most definitely to be done.
In the last year I have experienced all sorts of emotions and have encountered real suffering for the first time. It all began with an ever-growing and expanding feeling of anxiety that crept slowly from the depths and then quite suddenly exploded to the surface as something far beyond my control. Panic attacks, everyday physical effects such a chest pain and a lump in throat and a paralysing sense of fear and dread before even the simplest (and sometimes most enjoyable) tasks. Life, it seemed, would never be the same again. I walked by restaurants and longed to be “normal” again like those happy people in the windows: chatting, smiling and laughing. I would never be able to experience that again. Its amazing how quickly I felt totally outside, totally alien to a world where I belonged so easily for so long. I was totally oblivious to how it felt for others to be outside these social circles. I always saw it as a choice really – if you wanted to be in it, then you could! Finally I had come to experience how it felt to be an total outsider against my will.
Previously when I heard talk of anxiety and depression, I lacked the understanding to know how deep these emotions go, and how profoundly they affect the individual. I saw it as just being sad, staying home and watching movies, not feeling the ability to be social. A phase that would pass in its own time. After my own experiences I realised that it went so deep that watching movies or reading books was not even on the cards. All normal pasttimes were pointless. Existence itself was pointless. If there is no reason for being, then nothing can bring any enjoyment or sense of pleasure. Also the totally debilitating sense of fear before doing anything made it impossible to enjoy doing anything. I felt anxious before getting in a car with a friend, before playing a game of golf, before meeting a friend for a beer. It was a matter of getting through everything rather than enjoying anything.
Anyway, before I drift too much, my point is that I now have a much deeper understanding of the human condition, having felt the extreme depths of emotion that I was capable of. My purpose in going back to Ayahuasca is to get some invaluable perspective on the root causes of my suffering. Today I am still struggling to be decisive, to know what I really want and act with conviction to realise my goals. I am hoping that ayahuasca can help me release these mental blocks that are holding me captive, the chattering negativity that makes me doubt my own intuition and my decisions big and small. I hope for some clarity as to what I can do to be happier, and in loving myself I know I can be a more loving person. I would like to use all of the negative experiences I have had in order to become a better person.
I am aware there will be no quick-fix or sudden enlightenment. I realise that my journey of self-understanding is always unfolding, always just beginning. Ayahuasca can be the teacher that helps me learn to deal with the negative experiences and emotions and hopefully use them to my personal betterment. I believe I need such a powerful teacher to be able to shock me out of my current negativity and provide me with the energy and inspiration to make the necessary changes in my life.
I’m booked in for the 25th-27th July. This is the firt step in my preparation. This time I will be ready!