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.
- My dad 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.