Let’s talk about healing with ayahuasca! There is a literal ton of information online about the magic of healing with ayahuasca, and there are countless resources for finding out everything you need to know about working with our grandmother, the spirit vine. While I aim to educate and prepare people as much as possible, so much of working with plant medicines is about the spiritual aspects of healing, which can’t be covered in scientific or academic discussions or explanations of these plants.
Today I want to offer a more personal reflection from the perspective of a spiritual seeker turned facilitator and psychedelic integration coach who worked with plant medicines to heal my addiction, low self-worth, body image issues, and trauma over an extended period of time. My relationship with plant medicine healed me and continues to do so, and my own journey is what led me to the medicine path as a coach and facilitator, because I want to help as many people as possible have this experience. I am committed to doing the work on and in myself along with my clients, and continue to grow my relationship with my plant teachers including ayahuasca. I consider this path and work a lifelong journey of healing, growth, and new awareness.
Why I Love Healing with Ayahuasca
Ayahuasca is just about the most intimidating plant teacher available, (although iboga may have her beat,) and is absolutely one of the most powerful psychedelics on earth. Many people speak of “she/her” because Mama Aya is a plant spirit. She feels like your oldest friend, your sister, your mother, your grandmother, all your ancestors, and The Earth herself. She is ultimately YOU.
She can appear as a stern, overwhelming, even aggressive presence taking you through layers of yourself, helping you shed your ideas of what is real and true, and connecting you to your deepest self. She will unravel you into the all. She will exalt you into ascension, and pull you clawing down into the abyss. She is also gentle, loving, and holds you like a sweet baby, giving you the love you need so badly to show to yourself.
Healing with ayahuasca bathes us in gratitude, appreciation, and understanding of the miracle that is life. She teaches us to respect and care for the water. She tells us stories of our previous lives, she shows us how old we are, how we have been doing this a long time and will keep doing it until all the beings find the light. She shows us worlds beyond this dimension where we are all one thing and that thing is LOVE. She shows us our human frailty, and we understand that we will die. She can also come on like a galactic freight train that drags you through some painful, uncomfortable, scary, and difficult experiences. She rips open our hearts and pummels us with love, forces us to face our fears, and is there to catch us when we break through.
She helps us understand that everything is in its right place, even when it seems like we are a big fat mess as a species.
My absolute favorite thing about ayahuasca is that no matter what I bring to her in ceremony, no matter where I am, or what I’m struggling with, I find the answer. Always. I find a deeper knowing of myself and how to be a human in this world, and I recognize that I came here on a mission to heal myself and my family, and to experience love. And that just by doing that, I am changing the world.
How We Get It Wrong with Ayahuasca
My relationship with this plant has grown into so much more than what I could have ever expected. I had it pretty wrong about how all this worked when I first started. I had a very passive, “victim of myself and everyone around me” mindset, and had the expectation that ayahuasca would swoop in and magically heal me. I thought I would get sick and barf up all my rage and anger and sadness.
Nope. Not even a little. What she did instead was connect me to my Highest Self, and allowed me to feel the vibration of love, purpose, and joy of living my life in a good way. I saw how my past behaviors and actions and understanding of how the universe works had been out of alignment with my greatest good.
She forced me to look at myself, and love my flaws and my own darkness.
I saw how holding anger, choosing victimhood, and blaming my father kept me from being in compassion for his suffering. I saw how I used alcohol to cope because I had no choice and that it made me a fierce spiritual warrior. I saw my strength and resilience and power.
I found a gift in my addiction.
Each meeting with her helps me move more into alignment, and grow more into the highest vibration of myself.. Having a relationship with ayahuasca helps me be the most myself I can be.
This medicine cuts through the noise and plugs you directly into yourself. There’s no bullshit. There’s no way to avoid or hide from yourself, and that is exactly what I need to remind myself when I forget. It’s easy to forget, and for me, the medicines keep me on the path of growth, self awareness, and compassion.
Ayahuasca gives you a choice to change and grow, and what you do next is totally up to you.
Why Healing with Ayahuasca Can Be Difficult
The fear of ayahuasca is the fear of really meeting and seeing ourselves. And that’s normal and okay. It’s hard to look at your shadow, feel your trauma, see injustice, forgive, accept, allow, and surrender. This spiritual healing business is hard work and it takes a gentle approach with yourself. Taking responsibility for our own healing is difficult when we come from a culture where we blame each other, our parents, our country, our partners, everything is always someone else’s fault.
Ayahuasca doesn’t let you blame other people anymore. She shows you that YOU are in charge of your life experience. That you have a choice to stay stuck or do hard things and grow. Choosing to heal is choosing to wake up, and ayahuasca is designed to wake you up, increase your awareness, and help you make changes in your life.
Yes, she can make you feel really sick. She makes people drool, puke, shit, scream, cry, twitch, shake, howl, spout nonsense, shout, and she can even make you feel like you are dying or dead. She will show you your shadow and your darkness. You will have to feel things you have been shoving down forever, and it will hurt. But you can do it.
I can’t tell you the number of times I have swallowed a cup of aya and thought “GAH this again? Really? Why do you do this?” (Like every single time, y’all.) The reason why is because I respect this medicine, I understand her immense power, and that whatever illusion of control I have is just that – an illusion. I know how hardcore she is, and I willingly take the ride every time, knowing it might not be a gentle, easy time. After more than two decades of psychedelic use, and well over 150 journeys and ceremonies, I have never had an experience that harmed me in any way or made me regret my choice to heal with plant medicines and psychedelics.
Building Your Relationship with Your Plant Teachers
Working with psychedelics is a skill, and the plants are the tools. The more you work with them, the less you need the medicine to come in, guns blazing, to blast you out of yourself. You learn to meet the plants, to open yourself and navigate the experience with your breath, your heart, and get out of your own way. You learn to laugh at yourself. A lot. You learn to ask for help, to share with others, to participate in the healing circle of your medicine family. You become able to give back and be in service, whatever that looks like for you.
Approaching ayahuasca with an open heart, an open mind, and willingness to go into yourself is the best way to begin a deep healing relationship with this medicine. And if you’ve had hard experiences with her in the past, good. Those are the best teachers. If you come to these plants wanting to have all the answers, know what it feels like to die, understand the whole spectrum of existence, etc. understand that you may get an experience that you don’t necessarily like, but you will get an experience. Allow yourself to release your expectations, and prepare yourself to deal with what comes after the medicine fades. This is where the work of psychedelic integration begins, and it’s the MOST important part of the healing journey.
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