How can it be that I have devoted myself to Meditation, Mindfulness, and Love and still I am overcome with this feeling of loneliness, despair, and suffering?
This is the thought I found myself juggling with five days ago as I sat on the nightstand in my room crying, unsure of how I would move forward from an unexpected setback.
How must I adjust my perception, my way of thinking, my reactions to the happenings of this world, in order to not only survive, but to Thrive in this life?
Little did I know, The Universe had already begun fixing its mouth to whisper a response into my anxious ear. You see, the next day, February 29, 2020, I would go on a trip that would change me in ways I could not possibly imagine. An Ayahuasca Trip.
I had been meditating in Chapultepec when, out of desperation, I asked the trees, “Please, help me. Show me who I must be in order to move forward in Peace, Love, and Gratitude.” In that exact moment, I received a message from a Shaman, who I had considered soliciting the help of, in the form of their meditation services, just the week before.
“How Serendipitous,” I thought. Going out on limb, I asked the Shaman what other services he offers, to which he responded, “I lead Ayahuasca ceremonies, the next one being this Saturday, February 29.”
How curious! I had recently been invited to such a ceremony that would take place on that day by some people I randomly met one month ago, but it had been canceled.And now, as I sit amongst the trees, calling out for help, another opportunity arises for the same day?! I took this as a sign and accepted.
It was the sight of the trees swiftly passing by that calmed me, as I sat during the two hour bus ride from Mexico City to Tepoztlán. “If you get hungry, keep drinking water,” the Shaman encouraged during our voyage. Leading up to the ceremony a specific diet and abstinence from herbal and sexual activities is required in order for the Ayahuasca to have its desired effect. Not sure of what to expect, I finished my bottle of water as we approached a giant gate, the only entrance to a body of land that lay hidden behind what seemed to be an even larger, enclosing wall. The Shaman knocked and the door opened to what very well could have been the most beautiful garden I had ever seen, littered with peers of equal beauty. They were all there for their first experience with the ever sought after, Ayahuasca.
We laid out our sleeping bags and blankets in rows throughout the garden in preparation for the ceremony, which would last the entire duration of the night, entirely outside. Laying the groundwork, the Shamans thoroughly explained their Knowledge of, Relationship to, and Experience with The Ayahuasca. “If a Jaguar, Snake or other animal appears to you, remember, it is not real, do not be frightened, instead, open yourself up and say ‘I love you,” was the suggestion of one of the Shamans to the group. I had previously read that such hallucinations were common in these experiences, but it was made clear that nothing can be promised, exactly. For the Ayahuasca helps illuminate on the subject of your previously set intention, but everyone’s experience differs based on their resistance, state of mind, and even still, unknown factors. Ayahuasca has been known to help people with depression, addiction, and even to move further along in the path to enlightenment. We all had fears, past traumas, and self doubt we hoped to work through that night. But what exactly was to come, we did not know.
Every hour for six hours, the Shamans offered us a serving of The Ayahuasca. Following this, they sang to us with the accompaniment of various instruments as we laid on our backs, staring at the stars, waiting for The Ayahuasca to take hold. “Pay attention to what you see, what you hear, what you feel.” I followed these instructions for the first two hours and two corresponding servings, but I hadn’t felt anything yet.
“If this doesn’t work, it’s okay, I Love you and we will find a way, I promise.” I said to myself as hour two neared completion. It was in that moment that I looked to my right and noticed the woman next to me, now sitting up, crying.
What is she going through?
Beyond her, was a man grunting, and shifting from seated to standing, to kneeling,to leaning every 3 seconds or so. “What is going on?” I thought. I don’t feel anything yet.
It was now hour three. The Shamans Approached me.
How are you feeling?
Do you feel the effects of The Ayahuasca?
Would you like another serving?
Five minutes had not passed when suddenly it seemed as though the grass was moving beneath me and my blanket, sweeping by like water along the edge of shore.
I started to feel uneasy. I sat up.
I kept repeating this, but I didn’t know why.
Comfort was escaping me and I began to move between positions trying to catch up with it, but it evaded me still. I looked over at the gentlemen beyond the woman next to me and I now understood, perhaps, what he was going through.
How do you feel?
Everything is Peace and Love and so if you feel uncomfortable, you must ask yourself why…
That’s right! In the midst of sensing this discomfort I forgot that I was here for a purpose. And so I began asking The Ayahuasca how I could change, what I must do. Please, help me. I closed my eyes and I saw another set of eyes looking back at me, in what I can only describe as an abstract, two dimensional, pop up book jungle, with black and white stripes everywhere. While I did not expect to see this, it was not frightening, it was oddly familiar. The discomfort increased. I continued to shift, at one point, I put all my weight entirely on my head. I looked up and saw the silhouette of something in the darkness. “Is that a human?” I heard the question leave my mouth, but I wasn’t entirely sure who asked it. But, if it wasn’t me, who was it?
Who am I?
More questions leaving my mouth, the source of which, I was still unsure. I found myself stumbling to my feet, I don’t remember even getting up. A shaman approached me.
How are you feeling?
I don’t think I’m a person.
It was in that moment, the Shaman put his hand on my chest. I looked at his face and it looked, physically the same, and yet it was not. He was not human, he was an Angel or an other worldly being, it was obvious, but there was no clear evidence to explain this. And his touch was impact-full, and instant understanding of Love and Care, in the way that, without saying anything, a mother can give a simple glance to her offspring and they understand. Exactly. What. She. Means.
I am the Universe and I love you exactly the way you are.
My body instantly became calm, I entered a state of shock, in that, I had never considered that it was possible for anyone to Love me completely, exactly the way I am, let alone THE UNIVERSE. So many questions arose. How did I feel about myself? How could it be possible that I didn’t believe I deserved to be loved fully? Why did I imagine that Love came with conditions. I couldn’t respond. One note left the Shaman’s instrument and it sent waves through my body.
I can see the color of that sound.
Another note. And another. And another.
The discomfort returned. I looked up to the sky and as I did, I realized there was howling. Ten. Fifteen. Twenty dogs were not barking, but howling in the distance. Why? It was completely silent aside from the music and singing of the Shamans and that had been going on for hours, so why now? The discomfort returned.
Who am I?
This question again. Who is asking this question?! The dogs continued to howl and for the first time during this ceremony, I stood up straight. Completely. The discomfort still there, but not nearly as bothersome, because something else was at the forefront. I felt the way I was standing. It was not how I stand. It was different. I began looking over my shoulder. I looked at everything, only over my shoulder. Why was I doing this? It was like I was a completely different person. I could feel the way I was carrying my face. It was sinister. I could feel it. Why was I doing this? The dogs howled. I listened.
Why was I saying this? The dogs know what? What do they know?!
And suddenly… I knew… I wasn’t me… I was Satan.
It was clear. It was shocking. I. Am. Satan. How could I be Satan? Me? What? No. But, I felt it. And I looked around at all the people in varying degrees of self discovery, at the ceremony and I became fearful. For them. They don’t know that I am Satan. I don’t want to hurt them. What am I going to do? The howling increased. The Shamans drums reached a climax and suddenly, a familiar, yet very distant sensation appeared. I knew I had experienced it before, but it took me at least a minute to remember what the feeling signified. I touched my face. My nose was running. Both nostrils. Oh yeah, I knew that. It had been running for almost an hour now. I had forgotten. But, what was this feeling?
You see, my entire conscious life, there is one natural occurrence I had been afraid of and somehow managed to avoid. I don’t know how. I don’t now why. But, I always felt successful, in that, I routinely escaped this experience. In my entire life, I can count on both hands, the amount of times I remember it happening. It was for this reason, I couldn’t quite remember what the feeling was telling me. I looked down at the ground. I saw a plastic bag. I remember they had been handed out to everyone at the beginning of the ceremony. But, why? Oh, it was in case… you felt…. you needed…. to throw up! Yes, that is what this feeling is communicating. I’m about to….
I just barely managed to fit my ENTIRE head into the bag as this black substance come shooting… No. Flying. from my mouth. It was uncontrollable. And as I felt the pain, I remembered why I had always abhorred this feeling. My abdomen, completely concave. I didn’t think it was possible to go that far inward. It continued and continued. And all I could think is, “how long will this last”. All my life, this was the experience I may have dreaded more than anything. It always induced so much fear. But, I knew it was necessary. And that it was temporary and so I stopped fighting it. And that is when it ended.
I sat in the grass. And stared at the bag. One of the Shamans immediately came over.
Don’t worry about this.
They disappeared. And I sat there, grateful for the Peace. Ah, Peace. But, the Peace I was experiencing was not just due to the cessation of my hurling. I was at Peace. Everything was at Peace. The dogs were no longer barking. Everyone around me was still. It was as though I vomited out all the past trauma and fear. And perhaps what my mind represented as the “evil” inside me.
It was gone!
I looked to my left and saw the silhouette again.
I love him.
Why did I say that? Well, because I do. I looked around. I loved everyone. I was in Love. With Everything. I didn’t know it was possible to feel this at ease. What a Blessing!
The night continued to illuminate more and more details of existence to me. And, as this took place in Mexico and all conversations were happening in Spanish, I was often thinking in Spanish. As I laid on the grass, I was attempting to form a sentence in my head that began with, “I used to,” but what was that word… Solita. No, that means alone. What is that word? Solita. No. That is not the word. Solita.
The ceremony concluded at around 8am. We had a closing circle, where everyone shared their experiences. The full details of which are perhaps to Divine for this publication.
That is not the word. When I get home, I will finally look up this word.
Solia…”I used to” THAT was the word!
As I traveled home, I remembered, there is a song called “Solita” by Kali Uchis. So, I played it and danced as I listened.
Bailando aqui sola, como a mi me gusta
Es mejor que con el diablo”
Dancing here alone, as I like it
Dancing here alone
It’s better than with the devil”
Who am I?