Feeling the duality hard today. Integration has been a roller coaster. Today Amy brought up her struggles with me and it made me realize how tired I am with speaking. Human language is so limiting, and since I’ve been back it feels nonstop recounting my ayahuasca journey to people on weekend excursions and weekday lunches…by the time I get home I’m just so drained and can’t speak at all. But then Eddy is going through his own shit and our conversations have just become a complicated miscommunication mess due to my state of mind.
I’m tired of constantly feeling the need to tell everyone about something I’m excited about. I need to learn to just be alone and keep shit to myself, but it’s almost like that goes against everything I’ve been for such a long time…I’m not sure who I’ll be if I embrace this type of life.
But She’s been telling me to listen and pay attention, and I think the thing I’ve NOT been paying attention to is how all this TALKING and INTERACTING is causing so much tension in my body. It’s no longer anxiety like before but…now it’s just tension from overexertion and I gotta cool it. Silence would be much appreciated…seems like I’ve had a constant headache from word vomit lately my goodness.
I wanted my next entry to be our ayahuasca journey but because of the state I’m in…I just can’t right now and gotta accept that this is ok. I need time and wanna do it when it feels right. THIS entry was more important right now. Gonna be patient with myself and take a break.
Amy suggested this lecture to me today cuz I’ve been going on and on about duality since I’ve gotten back and she said this reminded her of me. Lol I haven’t finished it yet but…it’s already been pretty helpful. I gotta learn to stop talking and just BE.
Haha I just realized that I created my last blog to document my bipolar journey after I got off my meds, and this blog is basically becoming my ayahuasca integration journal…and now I’m migrating back to the bipolar blog! It’ll be cool to look back at this in a couple years and hopefully say something like “look how far I’ve come!”
Turn off those expectations, Elora. You know better than that 😛
After not sleeping for about 48 hours, Amy and I arrived in Iquitos, Peru. We were on different flights and met up during a 5 hour layover in Lima, but spent all that time talking and eating awesome free food at the VIP lounge Amy had access to because of her credit card.
Dreamglade requires you to stay in Iquitos the first night you fly in to get some rest because you basically go straight into your first ceremony as soon as you get to the center. However, the way we planned our trip was that we would get into town at 7am, check into our room at La Casa Chacruna, then hook up with Victor, a jungle guide from Kambo Jungle Expeditions to go on an adventure until about 5pm. I always try to make the most out of my trips and schedule a shit ton to do, so I wanted to do a bit of sightseeing before spending the entire time at the retreat.
As soon as we got off the plane in Iquitos, we were swarmed with people trying to sell us things. Much to our surprise, most foreigners in town are specifically there FOR ayahuasca, and the locals know how to take advantage of polite Westerners. It totally happened to us, with a guy immediately getting into our taxi with us on the way to town, trying to sell us stuff — ayahuasca, a jungle expedition at HIS retreat, things FOR ayahuasca ceremonies — he even tried to get us to come to his house that he claimed looked like “Jurassic Park”, and when we didn’t go with him he charged us double the normal taxi fare. SO PLEASE KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GETTING INTO. Don’t tell ANYONE where you’re staying, where you’re going, and what you’re doing. BE SAFE.
Basically right after we made it into La Casa Chacruna, Victor showed up and took us by boat to an awesome butterfly farm and wildlife reserve called Pilpintuwasi, a really great floating restaurant where we did rapé for the first time, and monkey island where we got to play with a ton of cute monkeys 🙂 Hanging out with Victor was awesome because there’s not much to do in Iquitos without a boat and hard to communicate if you don’t know Spanish. After getting taken advantage of at the airport we were a little shaken up, so we felt a lot safer to be with someone who knew their way around. We learned so much from him and he was so kind and accommodating, even offering us Kambo which we spontaneously agreed to do.
We honestly weren’t expecting to do rapé OR kambo, but in my opinion this was the best possible way to kick off the journey. We were there to heal with sacred jungle medicine and Amy said she would do whatever I was down to do… and I was desperate enough to do anything.
Rapé is basically jungle snuff that you inhale through your nose. It’s a combination of various medicinal herbs (Victor had us take 2 different kinds, one made out of 15 herbs, another 25) that helps focus and sharpen the mind, clear energetic fields for ayahuasca ceremonies, detox mind and body, clear sinuses of mucus and bacteria to combat sickness, and help with mental illness like depression and anxiety. It made us feel GREAT!!! 😀 Really awesome intro for the journey we were about to embark on.
Similar to the rapé, kambo is supposed to help clear your body of panema, the negativity that builds up over time. In that same vein, it’s a great remedy for mental disorders like depression and anxiety, making you feel more joyous about life. It’s also just overall great for the body and the immune system. He said he never got sick again after doing kambo regularly. Victor even explained to us how it even cured his grandma of cancer doing it twice a week for 6 months. He had told us also that he had done ayahuasca but he felt kambo was more in line with his own healing… how horrible his life was and when he did kambo for the first time, he had a vision of being surrounded by people laughing at him, then a huge frog appearing and embracing him. From then on he started to administer kambo and has seen miracles.
To me, kambo was actually more painful than ayahuasca OR sananga, and I think it’s simply because it’s mostly physical. I also had eaten so much that morning and also at lunch, so when my mouth started swelling, it was really gross to feel a ton of pieces of food come up and I couldn’t tell the difference between my skin and the food. The sensations are really hard to describe, and Victor explained that everyone reacts differently. I for example, was clawing at my legs a lot because I was so uncomfortable, to the point where Amy had to massage my hand and it was so helpful just to know she was there. It was SUPERRRR intense. She on the other hand mostly sweated on her entire body, and seemed to take it way better than me.
The pain only lasts about 20-25 min until it starts to subside, and you can feel it traveling up your body, from your toes to your face. I remember when it got to my torso area and went up my neck, I thought I was gonna die. I kept having to tell myself to breathe, and remembered that I had to live for Eddy and Han. It was also really helpful to have Amy and Victor there, because I knew that it would all pass and they were making sure I’d be safe. Victor had even said beforehand that sometimes people faint, but he knew how to bring them back (which was kinda a scary thought and I prayed beyond anything that I didn’t faint because he made it sound almost like your heart could stop? Haha)
After the kambo, I felt FANTASTIC. Although our faces were super swollen and made us seriously “one with the frog,” I at least felt like I had tons of energy and was positive to the point of taking on the world! This sensation lasted throughout the next day, and probably even into our stay at Dreamglade.
Regardless of how alive I felt, we still passed out pretty quick after the kambo for like… 13 hours, which ended up being the best sleep I got the whole trip so I’m really grateful for it. The next morning we felt refreshed and ready to head to Dreamglade! 🙂
Deciding to do Ayahuasca at Dreamglade was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. I swear I’ve watched every single ayahuasca video on youtube, looked into every center in the amazon, and spent hours and hours reading reviews. I couldn’t help being nervous setting out on the journey, but as soon as Stacy (the owner) picked us up from Iquitos, I knew I had made the right decision and couldn’t imagine doing it anywhere else.
The reason that research is important is because Ayahuasca is the main source of tourism in some parts of South America and there are a lot of people doing it for the wrong reasons. Ayahuasca is NOT a drug… it’s a medicine and needs to be administered in the right way for HEALING. It works best if you feel called to it, and have specific intentions about why you want to do it. It’s definitely NOT to have fun and trip out…it’s HARD WORK. People even say that your intentions guide you to the center and ayahuasca experience that’s meant for you. Here’s a tour video I took on the last day to remember what it was like walking around the place…I miss it SOOOO much. It makes my heart ache.
At Dreamglade we were immediately told that their main goal at the center isn’t a “light show for the Westerners” but legit healing. If not done right, it can cause people to have psychotic episodes and return home worse than when they came. Some shamans, called “Brujos,” can even steal your energy, or invite bad spirits in to mess with you. Also when you’re on the medicine, you are in a really sensitive, vulnerable state that continues post ceremony, even into integration, and I’ve heard about people being taken advantage of at some centers and even raped.
In my research I noticed that some places even sell tourist packages that include something like, one ayahuasca ceremony and then a jungle adventure or something, which seemed shady to me to begin with, but after actually TAKING the medicine I have no idea how people even do that. If you plan on using this to truly heal, you’re gonna need time to recover from this thing and process your experience. I’m not even sure how, at some centers, people can do ceremonies days in a row. At Dreamglade they actually require you to do 4 ceremonies MINIMUM, to give you adequate time to get used to the medicine, with the ceremonies every other day with rest in between. Those rest days were SO important. A LOT comes up that you just don’t understand, and I can’t imagine not having the right people around to help you through it.
Stacy, the owner, started up his center around 5 years ago and was really honest about the process of getting used to doing these ceremonies. We came at a really good time because by now, they REALLY know what they’re doing and you feel VERY SAFE the ENTIRETY OF YOUR STAY. I decided on Dreamglade because I felt, more than any other center that I’d come across, Stacy and Drew, his right hand man, are doing it for the right reasons. They recognize that the world is pretty messed up, and our only hope as a species is to heal ourselves, one by one, because only after we heal ourselves can that energy diffuse to others. The work that they do there is absolutely unbelievable… you can feel the power and love radiating from their shamans, Raul and Lidia. The entire staff is amazing because everyone plays such a specific role in taking care of guests coming in and supporting the great work of the shamans. So much sacrifice goes into running the place, and it can only be described as a labor of love for everyone there. To get a sense of what I mean, I urge you to watch the documentary. Here’s the link!
What immediately stood out to me was the general vibe of both the place and the people who work there. They’re not trying to sell you anything — they’re just very down to earth, genuine, amazing people, and it’s easy to get a sense of that from watching the video. Stacy really put his blood, sweat and tears into designing and creating the center himself, and when you’re there… the atmosphere is completely magical. SUCH great design, cozy spaces… thought put into every corner.
Something else I really love about Dreamglade is how picky they are with who they admit to the center, and how small they keep the groups (only 9 guests max at a time). You’re attending a retreat with a bunch of strangers with, in some cases a lot of emotional baggage, and that adds to the atmosphere of the whole experience. I was actually almost turned away from Dreamglade because of my bipolar diagnosis, and I immediately freaked out because they were my number one choice. Regardless of this, I still got a great vibe from Jann, the woman who handles their email correspondence. She explained that above all they were concerned about safety, for not only myself but their guests. When I signed up for the retreat I had been newly diagnosed and wasn’t aware that being bipolar was an issue, but she said that it could lead to manic or psychotic episodes depending on how severe the disorder was. I was clearly heartbroken in the emails, so Jann said she would run my case by Stacy, and she let me fill out their questionnaire anyway, which by the way is very extensive. I felt like I was writing a college entrance essay the way I responded to that questionnaire… and I basically begged to get in. I even sent them this video about the healing potential of ayahuasca for people with bipolar… it was literally my last resort.
I was sitting on pins and needles waiting to hear back from Jann and Stace about whether they would let me come to Dreamglade, and because I’m so impatient I actually emailed about 10 other centers while waiting, but none of them felt right for me. Stace says that both him and Jann are very intuitive and have been doing it for so long that they can tell when something is a little “off” about a person, and they don’t hesitate to turn anyone away.
I can tell they do a fantastic job with their screening process because we were able to experience two groups of people while we were there and everyone was awesome, good vibes all around 🙂 I also had SO many questions and Jann was super quick and thorough about answering them all….the Dreamglade staff is seriously just top notch. They showed me the true power of collaboration, communication, compassion and love. Thankfully I was allowed to come…I can’t imagine having gone anywhere else.
I uploaded some raw videos mostly for archive purposes, but I might as well share them here. This is the first one that was supposed to be an account of my first ceremony but turned into going a bit into why I decided to do ayahuasca and Dreamglade praise 🙂
About a month ago my friend Amy and I returned from Dreamglade, an Ayahuasca retreat in the Peruvian Amazon. This is actually the post I wanted to start this blog with, but since we’ve come back, life jumped full force into the holidays, into my birthday, then back to work, so it’s been pretty rough to get my bearings. Not sure if I’d recommend planning an ayahuasca integration for such a busy time but…I honestly didn’t realize how difficult it would be to come back to “reality.”
Still, I wouldn’t trade the experience for any amount of money in the world.It was way more valuable than I could have ever imagined…
I first heard about ayahuasca about two years ago at a lunch with coworkers. We were all sharing our experiences with Psychadelics when one of the girls said something like “Have you guys heard about ayahuasca? A friend of a friend just did it and I heard it completely changed her personality. She quit her job and claims that she’s a healer now. Her husband doesn’t know what to do with her. It’s some crazy shit.”
I was immediately intrigued but she didn’t know much more than that, so I got back to my desk and launched into a full force investigation about ayahuasca, watching every documentary and testimonial I could find. A sacred jungle plant medicine that has the ability to rewire your brain, cure anxiety, depression, and addictive behavior? YEAH SIGN ME UP!
I’m not going to go too much into the details of what exactly ayahuasca is, aside from that the brew is a mix of the ayahuasca vine (“Vine of the Soul” or “Vine of the Dead”) and this plant called “chacruna” which, when combined, activates DMT and allows you to go on a spirit quest with this “entity” or “goddess”… Mother Ayahuasca (Mother Nature). She gives you some pretty tough love, making you physically purge what is no longer serving you to make room for something better. Your “inner darkness” if you will… repressed memories, shit you hate about yourself… that kinda thing. Only then will you be rewarded with something good. At least in my experience 🙂
Here’s one of my favorite videos about Ayahuasca from Your Mate Tom, which happens to also be shot at Dreamglade. It’s where I first heard of it actually, so thanks Tom! He gives a really good intro into what Ayahuasca is, and his experience is really interesting.
And here’s a documentary that I highly recommended about the scientific benefits of ayahuasca and how it actually affects your brain. Basically what western medicine doesn’t want you to know 😉
Anyway, the reason I was so attracted to ayahuasca is because I had been depressed for my entire adult life and wasn’t really sure why. When I started dating Eddy (now my husband) about 5 years ago, he basically taught me how to communicate and a lot of repressed emotions came to the surface. Prior to that, I never really knew how to express what I was feeling or look deep within myself to question my actions, or values even. I was going through life blindly and felt broken without knowing why, and when Eddy made me start talking about my past it was like opening a Pandora’s Box of pain. For the sake of this post not turning into a novel, I’m going to let most of this unfold in my ceremony explanations and instead offer up an easy bulleted list of reasons why I decided to book that ticket to Iquitos.
Mydad died 3 years ago and I felt like I was still holding onto grief that was preventing me from moving on in my life, so I wanted to somehow reconcile with that. I actually specifically booked the retreat so my final ceremony was on his death anniversary, December 14
I was diagnosed as bipolar in April of this year, tried going on meds and hated it, so I was looking for a way to naturally learn to balance my extreme highs and lows
During a manic period in my early 20s when I was trying hard to “make it” in the animation industry in Los Angeles, I barely got any sleep, partied all the time and made a lot of “surface friends,” but the lack of meaningful relationships and the exhaustion of being out all the time led to the worst crash of my life, where I isolated myself from the world and was never able to recover. Depression hit me like a brick in the face and got worse and worse to the point of completely forgetting myself and what it even meant to feel joy. I would jump from empty high to empty high to feel “happiness” but nothing ever felt real, which left me constantly wanting to kill myself
Anxiety that got so bad I couldn’t leave my desk at work and led to a phobia of people that I had no reason to be afraid of
I got married in August and my poor husband Eddy has been so patient with me this entire time but started to express that he didn’t know how much more of my behavior he could take. I finally saw how my mania, depression and anxiety had affected HIM for years and I was so self involved I didn’t even realize it, and it disgusted me. I knew that if we ever wanted to have kids (which we do), I had to do something serious about myself, especially because I was so often suicidal and had a huge fear of doing it someday soon.
I just turned 30 on January 6 and was just SO SICK of being ME I knew I had to resort to something drastic to finally start moving forward in my life. It was the best birthday present I could’ve ever gifted to myself 🙂 Perfect timing!
The idea of traveling to the Amazon to participate in a shamanic ceremony where you drink an ancient jungle brew that allows you to walk with gods is just too much for my adventurous spirit…something I never could have anticipated checking off a bucket list 🙂
In my opinion, the more you can mentally prepare for this the better. I had done so much work trying to figure out what was wrong with me I just could NOT move forward, no matter how hard I tried. This was literally a “last resort” type deal, which is really sad considering I have a loving husband, dog, and awesome community of friends. I was just mentally in such a dark place for so long that I knew everything I SHOULD be doing to function in life, but couldn’t make myself do it, or feel it, and that numbness is a dangerous place to be. At one point I came across something that said if you make the decision to do ayahuasca, you have to be ready to die, and I couldn’t agree more.
Wow. I can’t even believe how much I’ve been learning lately. I also am so ashamed that I dared to think the ayahuasca was messing me up due to my bipolar diagnosis the other day. Really… it’s helped me in ways I could’ve never even imagined, and I shudder to think about the trajectory of my life if I never made the choice to go to Peru. No joke… I would’ve most likely killed myself — A very valid fear which is totally GONE now. HAPPY TO SAY! 😀 Hehe!
“The whole process of nature is an integrated process of immense complexity, and it’s really impossible to tell whether anything that happens in it is good or bad.” -Alan Watts
Synchronicity really is the key word here. Another thing that Drew shared with me recently was this documentary about channeling that he had mentioned at Dreamglade, but we never got to watch. When I had my “episode” the other night, I wanted so badly to ask for help, but instead something told me to ask for the documentary instead, as well as the Tibetan mantras he would do during breathing and ceremony.
And holy shit was I rewarded for trusting myself.
This documentary changed my life. I actually want to do an entire post about this but again, GOTTA GO TO WORK. So here’s a link to it instead!
It’s amazing though how, everything I wanted to gush to Drew about, I got answers to from this documentary. Essentially one of the biggest messages that I came out of it with is that, the more we’re able to open ourselves up to messages from the higher powers, the more we’re able to harness the power of the soul and our lives begin to change. One of the women in it talks about how when we ask for something from the universe, it’s like putting in an “order” that we can’t expect to be fulfilled right away, or in any way we expect. We begin to think we don’t deserve it and get discouraged, but then that changes our frequency to where we can no longer accept, or even “see” the answer. If we open ourselves to abundance, we are rewarded with acts of synchronicity, that lead us in the right direction. Remind us that we’re on the right path, and give us everything we’ve ever dreamed of.
Yesterday I watched this documentary 3 times in a row, and it boosted my mood so much… and now that I think about it I’m assuming that also means it boosted my “frequency.”
Then THIS MORNING when I went to do Yoga with Adriene, I was so pleased to see that the theme of today was “DIVINE,” and it was about CHANNELING THE DIVINE YOU.
Adriene is seriously the best — I love how she turns these concepts that could so easily turn off a lot of people into something practical. Totally inspiring to what I want to eventually turn this blog into 🙂 Because really… all “channeling” is, is learning how to trust yourself. As Adriene says “focus on BEING not DOING,” or “trust your gut” or “process not product.” And in Women Who Run With Wolves it’s described as “ego apertures” or the “crack between worlds.”
THIS POST IS GETTING TOO LONG AND I STILL NEED TO SHOWER AND MAKE LUNCH GAH!
OK REAL QUICK!!!
My original plan was to go running after yoga, but as I was going to put my socks on, my journal on my super messy desk called to me and made me do some automatic writing. I’ve been meaning to draw/write/paint/create SO BAD since coming back from Peru, but really… my messy room turns me off and has become an excuse. And that’s basically what my soul was screaming at me… TO STOP USING IT AS AN EXCUSE AND CREATE ANYWAY!!!
It made me set a 20 min timer on my phone so that I could go run at 6am, but I stopped writing before the 20 min was up because after the journal entry, I was compelled to do an automatic post it drawing in the “scribble style” Christie was explaining to me the other day. What came out was super interesting and unexpected, and although I don’t know what it means, it was at the request of my soul so… whatever. I was able to accept it.
Then, as I went to finally go running, Eddy knocked on my door. It was so early and I was surprised he was up already, so I asked “Did you have a nightmare?” and he said “Yes…” and he told me about his super horrific nightmare that I won’t go into but basically he accidentally set fire to a building and it ended up becoming like 9/11 and he killed a ton of people, including children, and was struggling to apologize and it was the worst ever.
Since I’ve come back to Peru, Eddy has been going through a CRAZY transformation which I ALSO have been wanting to write about but holy crap there’s just TOO MUCH TO WRITE ABOUT. So much potential for growth EVERY SINGLE DAY and it’s been happening… INSANE. But yeah essentially, he’s really been taking in the information I’ve returned with and it’s broken open this door to spirituality within him, and I think it’s made him ALSO really sensitive to signs and synchronicity.
Last week he was really shaken up because our dog Han just randomly ran into the street in a sort of…freak accident sorta way. One of the other puppies in the dog group we go to ended up rushing out after him, and they both almost died. However, he was the only one who saw how close a car came to hitting the other dog, and he hated to think about what would’ve happened if Han’s actions had caused that death, and how that other dog’s owner would’ve felt for him not keeping Han on his leash.
He took this as a sign that he needs to finally grow up and start taking more seriously… being more responsible… there’s SO MUCH here because there was so much crazy character development that happened that day I could write a full post on that too… but yeah. That was just last week and he was so driven for like a day or two, but again fell into bad habits.
So last night, he ended up playing a mobile game into the night, which is his ULTIMATE bad habit (seriously, he had to get a safe for me to put his videogames in so he could do some work), and he says that this nightmare he had was ANOTHER reminder to him, in a similar vein to Han almost dying, that he really needs to get his shit together.
Again… SYNCHRONICITY. I was blown away by how everything worked out so perfectly this morning. If I had gone to run right after yoga, I wouldn’t have been able to be there for Eddy to talk to him about his nightmare. And not only that, I realized that we’ve been going through such similar stuff… wanting to change our bad habits but not being able to. He was scolded in the form of a nightmare, and I was scolded in the form of my soul literally yelling at me in my journal and forcing me to take the time to do the automatic drawing that I’ve been putting off for a couple days. (Seriously Elora, Christie took the time to teach you that scribble game shit and blow your mind and you still haven’t done it.)
I’m constantly getting messages to SLOW DOWN, from Mother Ayahuasca, Eddy, Christie, Adriene… but today it really started to sink in. If I hadn’t slowed down this morning… I wouldn’t have given my soul the time to speak… and I’m really starting to see how much of a tragedy that is.
I ended up going on my run way later than intended, but was rewarded with SUCH a beautiful sunrise that sparked the poem above! If I went running at 5:30am like I was GOING to, I would’ve missed it! And I feel like that sunrise also taught me so much… Shining through the darkness of the other night.
SO MUCH SYNCHRONICITY!!! Such a magical morning… thank you so much, Universe 🙂 I’ll be listening more from now on.