Ayahuasca – Surrender is the only path to happiness
I was scared.
I was scared to death. But I knew I had to do it. To resolve some of my issues before going to train in Japan for the next 4 months.
So, I signed up for a 2-day Ayahuasca retreat in Spain.
Going into it, it’s important that you have a clear goal, and the more precise the better.
How can I be happy?
This was the concise version of my goal. However, in reality it was much more than that.
How can I face my fears, my anxiety, leave my insecurities behind? How can I find true love, for myself and compassion for others? Be less selfish, more giving, altruistic.
How can I be truly happy?
Day 1: I was nervous. We were a group of 15 people.
The ceremony is held in a room full of dreamcatchers, instruments, psychedelic paintings (you know the ones with the crazy colours). We all have a mattress to sit or lay on and a bucket in front of us.
Yes, the bucket is for the puking. Lots of puking. It gets really nasty.
I read so many stories about Ayahuasca. The first thing ever was the podcast on the Tim Ferris show with Gabor Maté—how the plant is used to treat severe addictions and resolve trauma.
Then a week later a friend told me about it. Then another one. I became curious. But obviously would have never signed up for it because of my anxiety and being afraid to lose control.
3 weeks later I went on a singing course with Olivier Charlot. After that weekend a barrier had been broken down, a lost connection reestablished. I felt prepared for the next step: Ayahuasca.
For most of us it was the first time taking the brew. It tasted a bit like mole, the Mexican chocolate sauce they eat with meat. But also, a bit disgusting.
During the first night I had some beautiful hallucinations of geometrical figures but nothing frightening. I thought “this is it?” I even wanted to go home the next day.
Luckily, I did not leave. Because the experience in the second night became the most lifechanging impact I had, amongst the one when I went to a Buddhist monastery for 1 month (but that was already 10 years ago).
Day 2: It’s when it hit me. I never would have expected what happened next.
For those of you who don’t know what Ayahuasca is, I copied the definition from this post:
“Ayahuasca, the ‘spirit vine’ or the ‘vine of death’, is a brew containing the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and Psychotria viridis or Diplopterys cabrerana leaves. The vine contains harmine and harmaline which are MAO-A inhibitors, and tetrahydroharmine which is a weak serotonin uptake inhibitor. The leaves contain dimethyltryptamine (DMT), the strongest hallucinogenic known to man. Ingested, the combination of these plants lead to the uptake of DMT by your brain where it will alter your perceptions of reality. Many claim these are visions where the Ayahuasca spirit will talk to you, giving you knowledge about the, normally, hidden (collective?) unconscious psyche. Or so I was told.”
I definitely connected to those hidden, unconscious parts of my brain.
To summarize the experience: I went through hell and heaven.
After taking the brew you wait until you start feeling it. Otherwise you’re being offered a second take.
My trip started 10-20 minutes later.
Again, some nice visualisations. Bright colours, like diamonds and kaleidoscopes.
But this time it was different.
Soon, I noticed how the plant was getting inside of me. I saw plants, animals, insects entering my body.
My stomach was aching from the night before. I saw a tree grow out of my stomach.
The hallucinations became more intense and faster. Strong green colours, brown, red and pink.
I was open to let everything happen. I did not want to leave before having experienced the real deal.
And that’s what started right after. The moment I had the thought “oh what happens if I become afraid”.
That instant the hallucinations changed and became like some sort of metal images, like in the movie “Transformers”. The feeling of being stuck in an iron cage came up, the image of me in a swimming pool drowning arose. Fear hit me so hard I could only lean forward and puke. I wanted to puke the medicine out, the emotions that had provoked them.
A feeling of utter loneliness took hold of me. I’d never felt so sad and abandoned in my entire life. Everything started to turn, and I felt extremely dizzy. Panicking, I asked one of the facilitators for help. She came and I just wanted to hold her hand.
But the feeling did not go away. I started to cry. I cried for what felt like an hour straight. Images of my childhood and adolescence flashed by me. I could see and feel everything again, as though I were in a 5-D movie, but massively amplified.
The dizziness got worse, my body was aching, like when you have the flu. And I kept moving because when I stayed still, I couldn’t bear my emotions of disgust, feeling alone and fear of losing control completely.
I wanted to kill myself. Picturing a knife and cutting my writs just to stop the suffering.
I shouted for help again. The facilitator, who was holding the session came.
I replied: “I want this to stop. I want to leave.”
He asked: “What do you want to stop. Where do you want to leave?”
Me: “I’m so dizzy. I can’t do this anymore.”
He: “Focus on your breath. Breathe deeply. You’re in control. You can do it.”
I started to inhale and exhale the deepest I could. I was still feeling dizzy. And my whole body wanted to move and leave. Escape.
But it also reminded me of the situation when I was in meditation, your knees are hurting, and you just want to get up and make it stop. But you can’t because you should not move. And then the only solution is to breath your pain in. Face it, but don’t identify with it. Just let it be. Accept everything.
That’s what I did.
For the next few minutes I was breathing and becoming intimate with my emotions.
Facing, accepting and embracing them.
Yes, I was embracing them. They’re part of me. And it was the first time I could acknowledge them, understand them, go back to my traumas and hug that frightened girl I was back then and tell her “it’s ok”.
The music changed and it all transformed from dark colours into a red glow.
That moment was mind-blowing. It was like going through an enormous storm, with hurricanes, lightnings, thunder, snow, and the feeling of “I don’t know if I will survive”. The sky suddenly cleared up and I could only see the immense blue sky.
I saw my heart beating. Yes! This, to me, was the love. Something I had lost.
I embraced myself. Kissed myself. Looked down at myself and at my belly and thighs which I always hated, and just felt love and appreciation for them.
I saw my parents and embraced them. Saw my boyfriend, my friends, every human being. And felt this immense love and compassion towards every single one of them. Not an ounce discrimination.
The love was so big, it expanded to the whole universe!
I was fully aware of my emotions and hallucinations. I saw the stars and the universe opening up in front of me.
Whenever black images crawled up and lay like ashes on my love, I blew them away. No, I am in control and now I want to embrace these other emotions that have been buried somewhere very deep inside me.
I wanted to focus on my self-confidence. I felt my chest aching, same when I used to have anxiety. But wait, this time I felt my heart, and felt courageous. I felt how my heart was giving me a shield of protection and stability. I named myself Ms. Captain Courage.
You can do whatever you wish.
You are strong.
Of course I am self-confident! Look at how brave I am – what I just did. Facing my deepest fears. Understanding and embracing them. Clutching my fists, I felt as solid as a rock, growing into the vast sky.
Now I wanted to see what my happiness looked like.
I felt dizzy again.
What? I can’t find my happiness. Fuck! Where is it. There was only dizziness, and I had to throw up again.
But in that moment, I realized that I know exactly what it feels like to be happy. To laugh, to have fun, to dance, hang out with friends.
I started to sing, and the sky opened above me. I could see my voice as a light beam illuminating the cosmos in all directions.
The facilitator who had helped me before, came to me and told me to focus on expanding these emotions inside me. You’re in the center of your control.
That’s what I did.
A feeling of utter peace took hold of me.
Infinite contentment and wellbeing expanded inside me.
A chocolate golden brown glow appeared, and I felt like being at the heart of an armillary sphere, with all my emotions circling around me.
I shouted, “It all makes sense!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”.
Everybody else laughed too.
What a weird and so revealing experience. I thanked all the facilitators with all my heart.
The music changed again. Now, drums were playing.
I stood up and started to dance with the stars.
My body was moving to the rhythm. It was the music and everything inside me responding to the vibrations.
The planets, colours, and beautiful shapes surrounding me in my performance.
I was happy.
Meditative music followed. I sat down and meditated for the next 2 hours. All emotions arose and I could be at peace with them. Just observing and letting go.
I found my center. I found my peace.
The next day we talked about our experience in a group session with one of the therapists.
We had to define our experience in one sentence.
“Only through surrender, could I confront, accept and embrace my emotions and be at peace.”
He commented on my phrase: “Surrender is not something weak, on the contrary it speaks for strength. There is a painting of Diego Velázquez, the famous Spanish painter, called “La rendición de Breda” (English: The Surrender of Breda, also known as Las lanzas – The Lances). And Justinus van Nassau, the person who is surrendering, he actually has a very peaceful expression.
Surrendering to Ayahuasca is a pact with the truth in order to stop definitely with the lie.
The real transformation starts tomorrow, on Monday.
Enjoy the journey!
Happy spring and flowering for everybody.