Flow : Led to Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca Series Part 1

I have been asked a lot lately what led me to the plant medicine world? I would have to say it really started with a return to myself. I think I needed help remembering who I am–really. I lived my life with the assumption that knowledge is power. Play to your strengths: artist, writer, photographer, creative, outlier. I used my brain and learned to avoid sports, physical activity or anything that showed just how twisted, weak, clumsy, and uncoordinated I really was. “Some of us are smart and some of us are athletes,” my father used to say.

When I was a kid you went to the doctor for an acute injury; like breaking your arm or a cut or a scrape. But feelings were another story. You stuff your feelings because no one would believe you anyway. Avoiding, pushing them down into the subconscious, created energetic imprints resulting in abuse, addiction, depression, and anxiety. And for me a host of other chronic issues including: insomnia, migraines, endometriosis, weak digestion, anorexia, and scoliosis.

The vicious cycle resulted in a seemingly unending spiritual warfare with the need to hide, cringe, and feel ashamed of myself and my emotions. My body carried all the pain–quietly and alone. When someone is assaulting your body, you tell yourself it’s not happening. I went into the dark spaces of my mind and didn’t come out until it was over. Those spaces seemed to infiltrate my life over time with a low grade depression, a heaviness that was so insidious I often wished I was dead. At one point after my mom passed away a doctor told me I had PTSD. Not because her death was from suicide, but from a damaging childhood, suffering and witnessing abuse, addiction, and mental instability.

I was invariably lost and I couldn’t simply ‘think through’ how to help myself. The negative emotions I had pushed down from childhood created a wounding that had an energetic hold on me I couldn’t shake. For lack of a better way to explain what I needed to heal and how: I simply had a broken heart. From age eight to age thirty-five I was in talk therapy, psychiatric treatment, addiction recovery, jails, institutions, failed relationships, and financial disasters…you name it, I tried everything to fill that hollowness in my soul.

One of the most frustrating failures of Western medical practice is its lack of awareness of the unity of mind and body despite voluminous, elegant, and absolutely persuasive research evidence that the distinction between mind and body is false, unscientific, and — in real life — impossible.” –Dr. Gabor Maté

Left behind by western medicine, but not giving up on myself, I just kept searching. Trauma therapy, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) therapy, Healing Body from the Level Up (HBLU) therapy, Vipassana mediation, walking meditation, mindfulness practices, breathing practices, water fasting, yoga, various silent retreats, rites of passage, and a two month pilgrimage, along the Camino de Santiago in Spain.

Then, just over three years ago I was rear ended by a cargo van in my little MG roadster. The car accident was a shock to my system that shot me directly into some kind of parallel universe.

My body started to give way like a damn overflowing into Niagara Falls. I was being forced to deal with emotions and traumas in my body that I had been avoiding all my life. The shadow self, the dark corners of my mind, the spaces in between — no more hiding. It all came crashing forward with the collision of my worlds. I just keep envisioning getting thrown out of the windshield and my body shattering into a million pieces like there was some sort of explosion. The van barely made a dent in my bumper. From the looks of me and my car you would think nothing happened. That’s how I lived my life. I survived everything like a kid jumping up after skinning her knees. A little tattered, crying a little bit, and then laughing like nothing happened.

Following the car accident, two spine surgeries and horrible pain as a result, I knew something had to change, but what? I poured myself into trying to heal by reconnecting with nature, the study of Ayurveda, herbs, food as medicine, and mantra mediation. Again trying to ‘think’ my way ‘well’, came with an onslaught of copious injuries adding to the weight of what I was already carrying. My body revolted by slip and fall after slip and fall, near drowning accidents, bones cracking, broken elbow, broken tailbone, a broken wrist and a torn rotator cuff.

I had this terrible, sinking, feeling there had to be an easier way. Not trusting my head anymore, I resorted to seeing how I could fix my body. I committed myself a daily practice of moving my body vigorously with Vinyasa yoga and meditation. The same time every day for two years, in yoga and in my meditation, I asked the divine, why am I here, how I can serve? Awakening the energy flow in my body forced me to engage with my shadow self, emotional pain and face the discomfort. Whether I knew it or not the alchemy of transformation was afoot.

“From a shamanistic point of view, most illnesses and diseases are manifestations of blockages or knots” in the energy of a person, or where excess or insufficient energy creates imbalance in the overall system. This often happens throughout our life from trauma in its various forms. Shock trauma — often the result of abuse, attack, or loss — is one form, but trauma can result from many common occurrences of life: surgery, accidents, illnesses, injuries, relationships, financial difficulties, cultural and societal pressures, betrayal or anger from close ones, even problems from birth we may be unaware of — just to name a few.”

A series of events led me to connecting with my partner Jen who had been having her own awakening in the plant medicine world. Right off the bat, we could both see that we spoke the same language even though I had never done plant medicine, I was on the path and she knew it. The same way I knew it about her. Our paths aligned for a reason.

I am told the minute you hear the call to do Ayahuasca the medicine starts doing its’ job. I first learned about Aya almost twenty years ago, in the months and days following my mother’s death. One could say that the call came to me then and it took me all these years and other modalities to get to it. The first thing people ask me is when did I know this was the path for me? Maybe it was all those years ago and everything in between was preparation. One thing I have become comfortable with throughout my life is the phenomenology of letting things manifest themselves. I am by nature, a pattern watcher and a documenter. I document and then I follow the signs of what to do next.

We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

— Joseph Campbell

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