Shifting My Suicidal Mindset With Ayahuasca, Rapé and Sananga – Embracing Death With Plant Medicine

Now when I have suicidal thoughts, I try my best to shift the focus on accepting an INTERNAL death, rather than feeling like I need to take some drastic action to end my physical existence.”

There is currently a lot of positive movement in my life, a lot of meaningful connections and realizations being made, and I’m overall just feeling so grateful to have made the decision to do Ayahuasca in December 2018. Now, two years later, my experience at Dreamglade has helped me quit my job to work on my mental health, start my own business (that’s currently on hiatus), become a certified Kundalini Yoga instructor, and join a social change organization, all of which has been teaching me the healing powers and importance of community (way better than any traditional therapy I’ve ever done). I’m feeling more fulfilled and stable than ever before, largely in part to learning how to repeatedly surrender to the unknown and change my relationship with pain through cultivating deeper connections with the Earth and my own natural cycles. Plant medicine helps a lot with that, and this new perception I’ve developed since the Ayahuasca retreat has no joke gotten me through the pandemic and this crazy time in history. Not to mention make peace with my dad’s death and build resilience and patience to feel capable of mentally handling life’s difficulties. As I do more and more healing work to untangle the programming that got me to where I am today, I see how Western culture and the polarities of my upbringing contributed SO MUCH to my bipolar tendencies. Now that I finally have a break to get to know myself, I’m finding that for me, it’s all about learning how to manage my energy and shift mindsets and patterns to rewire my brain.

A huge pattern for me is suicidal thoughts and ideation, which is so common for bipolar minds since we feel so deeply, and the pain to keep living can become unbearable. There’s no ceiling to the mental pain we can inflict on ourselves, whereas if you break an arm for instance you generally know that the physical pain is temporary and it’s gonna heal. Around the time I got diagnosed, I was feeling constant pressure from wedding planning, work, and life in general that these thoughts became so overwhelming I was actually making plans to do the deed. It’s a huge part of why I took the plunge and bought tickets to Peru. For me, I was ready to die and I was terrified I wasn’t long for this world if I didn’t make a drastic change. I was about to get married, and I knew I had to learn to manage these thoughts because I couldn’t do that to my husband, dog, and any potential future children. Ayahuasca was a last resort, and I’m SO GLAD IT WORKED. My internal landscape has been permanently transformed in a way I never thought possible. Integration has taken a while, but I’m starting to notice profound positive changes in how I show up in the world.

Ayahuasca is also called the vine of “small death,” and I owe my intensely life changing ego death experience at Dreamglade to the decision of opening myself up to doing kambo, rapé and sananga. I won’t go into what these medicines all are, but you can click on their names to read about them. You can also check out our kambo experience here. All of these plant medicines have vastly shifted my perception of pain and increased my resilience to my bipolar episodes, helping me stay grounded, empty my mind, and create space for the universe to step in. They not only remind me that life is a miracle, but also that death is an important part of the cycle of nature, and it’s to be embraced. Even though it’s super hard to do (at least for me because I’ve had a TON of resistance). But thankfully, after a couple years, now when I have suicidal thoughts, I try my best to shift the focus on accepting an INTERNAL death, rather than feeling like I need to take some drastic action to end my physical existence. I ask “What part of me has to die? To be reborn? What is lashing out that I still can’t let go of?” I guess this is process.

One of the reasons I’m most grateful for the internet is because I feel like the healing and integration happening with me, right now, is SO supported by having access to rapé and sananga. Our brains get so wired with bullshit throughout our lives that repetition is necessary to break all these bonds to suffering that become our comfort zone over time. It’s an absolute DREAM to be able to do them on a consistent basis. This is my little kit! I named my kuripe Raul after the shaman at Dreamglade ;_; You can hear one of his icaros here…so glad someone posted this on Soundcloud.

Got the rapé at Rainbowbridge.love (Promo Code RAINBOWHEALING for 10% OFF)

I see now that the weed actually made my bipolar worse, offering a temporary numbing solution but messing with my energy to contribute to rapid cycling patterns. As my awareness has increased, I notice how quickly I reach for my pipe when I’m feeling uncomfortable energy in my body.”

I used to smoke a lot of weed, but last month I developed a sore throat with occasional earaches. I took this as a sign that I probably needed to stop smoking. I’ve been doing a lot of embodiment exercises, yoga, meditation and the rapé daily (sometimes morning and night), but I was still giving in to the weed habit. As my awareness has increased, I’ve noticed how quickly I would reach for my pipe when I’m feeling uncomfortable energy in my body, either to soothe the mania or depression. I see now that the weed actually made it worse, offering a temporary numbing solution but messing with my energy to contribute to rapid cycling patterns. It works for some people, but I’ve definitely read it’s not great for bipolar minds… something I never wanted to admit to myself until now.

I’m grateful for this neverending sore throat because I keep getting messages of “you need to stop smoking weed.” I tried my best to, but the other day ended up doing it again… and ended up going to the doctor yesterday since my throat and ears were so bad. After the exam, he said I looked perfect. Just as I thought…energetic. Of course I could do edibles but… what this whole thing is making me realize is that I had actually gotten addicted to weed which I never thought would happen. I really don’t want to live like that anymore. My body is done with that, and I’d rather come into my personal power than rely on getting “high.” My mania is already a natural drug anyway. What now feels more productive for me is shifting that relationship to pain and discomfort and learn to stay grounded and connected to the Earth to not get swept up in whatever energy is coursing through me from my moods.

“Imagine if we forced the trees to not shed their leaves in the winter, what would happen? They would be stuck with a bunch of leaves they don’t need and be unable to adapt for the next season.”

– Kai Njeri

Growing up in America, I feel like I was taught to create unrealistic expectations for myself, and because those expectations would never be met, I’d just wallow in self pity, hating myself for not being able to make shit happen. We have also been taught to fear death and the natural cycles of life which are honored in other cultures. Just like the seasons, the moon, and everything else in nature… we have to die eventually, along with certain parts of ourselves. Otherwise, we’d have no space for anything new! One of my friends from Shakti Rising said the other day, “Imagine if we forced the trees to not shed their leaves in the winter, what would happen? They would be stuck with a bunch of leaves they don’t need and be unable to adapt for the next season.” Seriously. From everything I’ve experienced and have committed myself to experiencing… embracing death is the best way to peace.

Which is why I am SO grateful for the plant medicine! Rapé is like jungle snuff that you inhale through the nose, an herbal blend made by various indigenous cultures in South America. You can read all about it here, what it is, benefits, all that. The one I have is an Ayahuasca blend, which has been MONUMENTAL in continuing the healing work with Mama Aya that was started in 2018. When my friend told me she found a site where you could get this, I actually cried. If interested, you can order it here from Rainbow Bridge. Proceeds support the indigenous cultures they work with, their customer service is incredible and rapé blends top notch… I’d highly highly recommend ordering from them. If you’re feeling called, please use the promo code RAINBOWHEALING for 10% off!! 😀

I’m dying because I just saw that they now have these HUMMINGBIRD KURIPES!!! Even though I absolutely love my lil shaman… hummingbirds are my spirit animal so I couldn’t resist ordering a new one, especially because they have a new Ayahuasca blend! So excited to try it!! 😀 I’ve been doing the rapé pretty consistently since December, and it’s enhanced my dreams and really helps me feel connected to Mother Ayahuasca. And talk about embracing death…When this stuff is taken with intention, I can attest — It’s absolutely life changing. Every day when I inhale through the left nostril, I meditate on what I need to let go from my life, and on the right, I meditate on what needs to be reborn… the newness that will take up the space of that death.

To me, life is now a ceremony. Because why not? This shit is magical.”

Amy also recently gave me a vial of sananga, which we did together in Peru at the retreat. I told her that I had been using it whenever I had a weed craving, which helped so much. These cleansing eye drops make your eyes sting for about 5 min, but they leave you with clearer vision, an empty mind, and often soothing messages. Here’s a conversation we had the other day that I don’t want to forget. She has such a beautiful way of condensing information, whereas I word vomit all the time. I love how she recognized that I was working on “not being afraid myself anymore” which is exactly it… pretty messed up how easy it is to get caught up in that type of self hatred.

The exact part of that Little Witch Academia episode unfortunately isn’t on Youtube, but this wonderful analysis of it is!!! 😀 I was blown away by how beautifully Trigger handled an exploration of the inner psyche. Definitely worth watching…one of my absolute favorite LWA episodes. (This show changed my life btw, highly recommended especially if you’re into that magic vs technology kinda thing)

Anyway, I remember taking that sananga at the retreat two years ago before the ceremony that changed me forever. It made me feel deeply in my soul that pain is temporary, and that learning how to move through it with grace was the answer to regaining my power. Now, continuing these plant medicine rituals, I find that to be absolutely true. I’ve even got Eddy starting to see the point of them when previously he thought I was insane. He’s been having a ton of physical aches and pains from working at the computer, and taking the sananga and rapé was able to shift his focus on his physical pain to the pain of the plant medicine… but in a good way. If only more people were more open to this! Mother Earth really does have all the answers we need…

When we went to do Ayahuasca, we were told that she always gives you what you need, but not always what you want. They said it was important to not have any expectations and to PAY ATTENTION to what she was trying to tell us. I remember back then thinking “HOW DO YOU NOT HAVE EXPECTATIONS?!” And I see now that the way to do it is to listen. Listen deeply for what the universe is trying to tell you…what each MOMENT is trying to tell you. It’s all there, it’s all within us, because we ARE the universe. Everything is so deeply, unfathomably connected, and the more I repeatedly feel this IN MY SOUL, the more I find that it’s absolute truth.

To me, LIFE ITSELF is a ceremony. The more I am able to deeply listen, the more I find that every moment truly is a teacher, and the more meaningful and profound this adventure becomes. I think… maybe I’m starting to get it 😉

Thanks, Dad. A Valuable Lesson On Letting Go From Beyond The Grave.

As an old guy looking back, I can tell you we all have the same vivid sense of elation and depression haunting every day that we live. Have we done enough — Why can’t we do more? Relax. There’s lots of time to work it all out. Take it as it comes. Don’t worry so much about where you’re going. Enjoy where you are. “Go with the flow and ride with the tide.”

-Grady Lyda

In the process of writing a long reflection on today being 5 years since my dad’s death, I decided to look up one of my old blog posts from 2013 entitled “Restless,” in which he wrote a comment I didn’t actually read until a year or so after he died. It wrecked me then, and it very appropriately wrecked me again today. For some context, this post was written when I had just started to pursue a career in animation but was feeling horrible because art already felt like a “job” to me, just from the minimal freelance I had done. I was feeling absolutely stuck, and I came to the stunning realization that I didn’t know how to balance my life and that something must be seriously wrong with me. HILARIOUS. I wish I could go back to 24 year old me and tell her “It’s ok, you’re just bipolar! Watch these videos! Read these things! Start working on it now!”

In that post, I mentioned this podcast about Andrew Forsthoefel, a 23 year old kid who walked across America, and how jealous I was that he had gone on a true adventure that changed him forever. I felt like I was missing out and wanted to see the world, meet new people and hear their stories. It’s not like I’ve walked across America, but I have gone on some serious life changing adventures since then. When writing that post, I never in a million years could’ve guessed that I’d get married in Hawaii, meet Mother Ayahuasca in Peru, or sail through Drake’s Passage and have a chance to cruise around Antarctica. I also really have met tons of interesting people all around the world with amazing stories who have shown me that living an alternative lifestyle is possible, and that there can be another way to live your life.

But even after all the life I’ve already lived… This wise message from the great beyond will always bring tears to my eyes. Because life IS overwhelming, and no matter how much cool shit I do, no matter how much inner peace I manage to attain at times, I feel like that pressure to do it all will never quite go away. That feeling of needing to rush things because I always feel behind. And it’s because we’re human. And we die. Everything we are inevitably turns to dust. His words are validating, inspiring, and enlightening all at once. Reading a message like this at exactly the right time is proof that my dad’s spirit will always be here to guide me, and a deep reminder of the importance of learning to let go and live in the moment. When you think about it, that’s really the best option we’ve got.

This is GREAT! I love your commentary and all the heartfelt responses you received. I heard the same “This American Life” episode, and I was also touched by his discoveries.

It reminded me of one night when I was sitting at a Winchell’s in Santa Ana in the early 80s, innocently drinking coffee and eating donuts. A guy in his mid-20s came in with a big grin wearing a cowboy hat, and he looked at me and said, “I just walked across the US, from the East Coast to California. Now, here I am!” I said, “Wow, your feet must be tired.”

He was a cool guy, and the crowd in the shop was happy to hear what he had to say. He represented all of us who listened to his stories. Everyone wished they could have done the same thing. Actually, many of us HAVE done similar things. Life is a fantastic adventure that never ceases to amaze us. We make plans, but more often LIFE leads us into directions we never expected. The best we can do is be ready for whatever happens. Always be prepared to “go with the flow and ride with the tide.”

You have a wonderful list of goals and I hope you can accomplish them all, plus many more you haven’t thought of yet. Remember, you are in this for the long-haul. You might feel desperate to prove yourself and experience the whole world immediately. I’ve felt the same way, and I’ve criss-crossed this country several times, and visited other countries as well. It’s a fantastic planet and you have plenty of time to explore it.

As an old guy looking back, I can tell you we all have the same vivid sense of elation and depression haunting every day that we live. Have we done enough — Why can’t we do more? Relax. There’s lots of time to work it all out. Take it as it comes.

On my blog about my life 40 years ago, my younger self is always fretting about how nothing happens fast enough. Of all the entries so far, maybe this would be of interest to you:

http://truetimetravel.blogspot.com/2013_03_01_archive.html

Don’t worry so much about where you’re going. Enjoy where you are.

My dad had a blog he called True Time Travel Tales where he archived this journal my aunt returned to him from a trip around the country that he went on when he was 18 years old. I always meant to read it but never got around to it because I always found myself “busy” with something else. Then, after he died, I felt so guilty that I hadn’t been able to talk to him about it when he was alive I just couldn’t bring myself to read it. But then at one point shortly after his death I noticed there were a ton of broken images and contacted the hosting site to make sure they got it back up. Now, years later, I still haven’t read the blog, and again there are tons of broken images. Upon clicking that link, I had a straight up panic attack. I started shaking and couldn’t breathe, and completely lost it when I found out that the hosting site he had used no longer existed. The first time I had got the site back up, I vowed to myself I would save all the photos before this happened… but again… never got around to it… and now they’re gone forever.

My mom has a serious hoarding problem that was awful to grow up with, even getting to the point where me and my dad wanted to see if we could get her on the Hoarders show. When I was a kid I didn’t really understand it… I just thought we lived in a messy house. But as I got older and started seeing the hoarding tendencies within myself, it became clear to me that hoarding physical items represents underlying emotional issues of not being able to let go and move forward. Fears of the temporary nature of life and the inevitability that you and everyone you love are someday going to die. I’m not as bad as my mom, but I do take thousands and thousands of photos because my memory is so terrible and I find myself desperately clinging to certain moments of my life and not wanting them to disappear. I often have nightmares about losing all these photos somehow — in a fire, in a flood, in a zombie apocalypse, accidentally spilling water on my hard drives… I know this actually does happen to some people, which Eddy would constantly remind me of and make me more upset. Until today.

Clicking on that link in my dad’s comment was beyond upsetting. I cried and cried and cried. In a way it felt like losing him all over again… losing these parts of him that I really truly wanted to discover, but again, being so caught up in myself that I never found the time. Familiar guilt and shame crept back in, and I felt myself grieving like I had in the beginning. I thought I had come so far and healed so much, yet the wound felt as raw as ever.

But then Eddy reminded me that this is basically like my worst nightmare… and now that it’s happened in this capacity, I should see that it’s ultimately fine. I’m still alive, I still have the memories of my dad, and life will go on. He also reminded me that my dad was never the type to cling to photos or physical objects. He was throwing things out all the time! In fact, the whole reason he made the site was because he had thrown out this journal years ago, and somehow a man found it and tracked down my aunt who had returned to him. Considering he was already sick and died 2 years after he made this blog, he was no doubt already feeling the need to reflect on his life somehow. He was never the type to hoard, and he was especially put off by my mom and would always try to throw out her garbage because he knew she never would.

When my dad died, I looked frantically for this journal because I wanted it so badly, but me and my mom discovered that he had already thrown out most of his things. It became clear that he had planned his death, and in the beginning I was super angry at him for not leaving behind any of this stuff for me, or even a note explaining himself. I suppose he thought I wouldn’t care… and it’s taken me a while to get over the idea that I should’ve just asked him… that I should’ve shown some interest while he was still around. All these familiar feelings of self hatred and regret came back today when I found out his hosting went down, until Eddy talked some sense into me and reminded me what kind of person my dad was. How he was never the type to hold onto things and wouldn’t expect me to either. He would want me to just keep moving forward and enjoying life…

So when I came back to my senses and actually read the post he had linked to me, I couldn’t help but laugh. Even though the image was broken, it was literally just a blank page. Just like life. Just like this moment. He said that he wanted to preserve the beauty of the page before adding his thoughts onto it. It’s just like him to make this sort of point… and I started to see that this is an incredibly important lesson for me to learn. Even though he’s no longer around, he will always be here guiding me, helping me break through these walls that are such a natural part of the human condition.

From the March 29th entry: ONLY THIS PAGE WILL HAVE TO SUPPORT MARCH 29, 30, & 31 IN THE INTEREST OF PRESERVING ONE SMALL PORTION OF THIS BOOK AS IT WAS BEFORE I MARRED ITS BEAUTIFUL BLANKNESS WITH MY THOUGHTS AND DEEDS.

We as humans can’t help but be so deeply affected by mortality. I felt so terrible losing these photos that I know he had thrown out. There was a time years ago that I started to try and save all the photos on each of his entries, but it took so long I couldn’t see myself doing it for the whole year. I also see that a bunch of videos he had posted have already been taken down… which really hurt in the beginning, but thinking about it logically… that’s just the nature of the internet. All this important stuff is just located on the cloud, and once it’s gone… it’s gone. This was a way for him to reflect on his life when he knew he didn’t have much longer in this world, and I have to just be grateful that he at least created this website and I have his words to reflect back on. And stop thinking that losing all of this was my fault…

In the end, all we are is dust in the wind. Just because these images are gone doesn’t mean he didn’t live a rich life, and it doesn’t mean he’s no longer my dad. Life is just a series of moments and experiences, and the best we can do is live in the present and enjoy where we are. And if something is important to you… don’t WAIT like I did, or it may be too late. I am so sick of waiting, of avoiding, of thinking “I’ll do that thing tomorrow” and never getting around to it, the weight getting heavier and heavier… JUST DO IT ALREADY.

A fantastic reminder for a 5 year death anniversary. Thanks, dad. Maybe now I can truly listen to your advice. Everything does indeed happen for a reason… lesson learned. All of this will be over before we know it. Perspective is such a trip.

I close my eyes
Only for a moment, and the moment’s gone
All my dreams
Pass before my eyes, a curiosity

Dust in the wind
All they are is dust in the wind


Same old song
Just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do
Crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see


Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind

Now, don’t hang on
Nothin’ lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away
And all your money won’t another minute buy


Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind

Everything is dust in the wind.