The main reason I wanted to dabble in the world of Ayahuasca was to answer the many questions I have on my constant pursuit of truth. What is the purpose of life? What is our purpose as part of humanity? How do we live happily and peacefully? What is consciousness? What is truth? They were questions I’d ask myself frequently, and questions I might have already had the answers to conceptually, after diving deep into the hearts and minds of some of the philosophers and scientists I respected the most. But I felt I needed more than that. I needed to feel the truth, and Ayahuasca struck me as the source to garner such a feeling.
I went into my first Ayahuasca ceremony having prepared myself well. I spent the week leading up to the ceremony priming myself both mentally and physically. I read as much as I could about the drug in the days before and read about many other people’s experiences. I watched documentaries along with lectures given by experts on the healing powers of the vine. I maintained a steady diet of fruits, vegetables, beans rice and water. I then fasted 24+ hours before the ceremony. I also refrained from sex (including masturbation), alcohol and any other drugs for the week leading up to the ceremony. From what I had read, this preparation would give me the best chance at having an optimal experience.
Ayahuaca ceremonies are often referred to as “the purge” due to the purging effects of the drug in the form of violent vomiting and diarrhea. I have always hated throwing up and dread having to do it, unlike some people who love the idea of getting it all out. My gag reflex has always been something that sort of freaked me out. So I went into the experience a bit uneasy about the vomiting part, preferring it to come out on the other end.
The Shaman for the ceremony was a young female in her late 20s. She came from a family of Shamans from the Amazon in Peru. She is now living with her husband on a farm outside of San Jose, Costa Rica, where the ceremony was performed. We did the ceremony up in the hills on this secluded farmland in a secondary room built behind the Shaman’s house. The room was approximately 400 square feet and had one bathroom. There were only three of us in the ceremony, along with an apprentice helping the Shaman and playing tribal music on the drums. The Shaman’s mother was also in and out, who is a Shaman as well.
We began the ceremony by taking a comfortable position. There were candles lit and tribal music being played. I laid on my back with blankets and pillows and focused on my breathing, trying to set the intention for the trip. I was told it is good to set intentions, but not to have expectations. My intention was non-resistance; I wanted to let Mother Ayahuasca show me what I needed to know. I had thought about the many ways I would deal with my mind if the trip were to go bad. One was simply asking the Shaman for help, the other was in repeating the mantra, “witness, and allow” as to not resist. I had been told that the Ayahuasca only teaches you what you are ready to learn, and that resisting blocks the flow of knowledge from the source. One thing I was sure I would be forced to confront was my own death.
Witness and Allow
The Ayahuasca is brewed into a tea. I started with one cup, which the Shaman summoned me over to drink. I was told that the taste is pretty unbearable and that it is difficult to keep the medicine down. It definitely had an earthy bitterness to it, and the texture wasn’t the smoothest, but I had a pretty easy time getting it all down. I laid on my back meditating and focusing on my breathing before the Shaman came over about 30 to 45 minutes later with a second cup for me to drink. I would say about an hour to an hour and a half into the whole experience, I started to really feel the medicine flowing through my body and felt tingling sensations while lost in my stillness. I then started to feel warm sensations in my heart, and a feeling of connective-ness to something. I wasn’t too sure if it was just the stillness of the meditative practice combined with a bit of anxiety that was causing the sensations or the medicine itself. But then the Ayahuasca began to take over my body, and I could really feel its energy.
I then began to see faint designs and patterns in all directions while my eyes were closed. I had heard of people seeing all sorts of geometrical shapes, which I had imagined to be a lot more intense than what I was seeing. But it seemed as though any sort of shape and color my mind could project, I was seeing in front of me with my eyes closed. I then opened my eyes and looked around the room, and this was when I knew I was under the influence of the medicine. The entire room had this aura to it. I could see shades of greens and purples. When I looked over towards the Shaman and her assistant playing the drums, their energies were moving. There was this glow surrounding their bodies. I spent some time just observing what was going on around me, trying desperately not to give into amazement at the intense visuals I was experiencing.
Energy was Moving
I started to feel a bit nauseous and got up to go to the bathroom. When I got into the bathroom, the visuals came on a bit stronger. Physical objects seemed to be sort of morphing. I could feel how everything was just energy. I thought I was possibly going to throw up, but didn’t. I sat there for a while trying to gain control back over my mind, focusing on my breathing. When I came back out of the bathroom, I immediately sensed a strong energy. It felt like some cosmic force had taken over the room. The forest outside had become louder and louder. It was as if we had woken something up by taking the medicine. The Shaman tried to direct me back to my mat. The vibe I was getting was that something was off. I could sort of sense nervousness in the Shaman’s body language. I had this urge to be in nature. I started to feel trapped in the small room. When I asked to go outside, they did not want to let me out. I think it was in fear of being at liability if I were to run off. I tried to open the door, and when I did, there was this magnificent glow of green everywhere. The outside I had known when I arrived just before sunset looked as if it had transformed into this ocean of energy. It felt like everything around me was alive. The Shaman quickly closed the door and directed me back to my space.
I tried to lay down and stay calm, focusing again on my breathing. The girl next to me was going from laughing hysterically to crying and screaming. I realized that the thoughts in my mind, for better or worse would have the power to take control of the trip. I laid back and tried my best to let the energy and feelings flow through me, practicing non-resistance. I told Mother Ayahuasca that I surrendered to her, and to show me what I needed to know.
I got up again to go to the bathroom. At this point, the energy and visuals were becoming more intense. I was seeing more people in the room than before. I couldn’t tell who was who. There were just auras of energy, that did not appear to be solid. I felt like I was seeing some form of spirit that had entered the room. I started to question whether I was seeing something that was only visible in another dimension of light or consciousness.
When I got into the bathroom, I was not alone. I couldn’t see anything or anyone, but I knew something was in there with me. Right as I felt it, the door opened behind me. I was freaked out and closed it shut, and it immediately opened again. It was as if it was being done to confirm the feeling that I thought was real. The room turned into a purple glow of energy. I could feel her presence. I say her because it had this female essence to it. I soon remembered what I had read about channeling and contacting other entities while on Ayahuasca and how it should be done very carefully. A slight sensation of fear began to take over followed by intense feelings of the suffering taking place in the universe, most namely to nature. It felt as if nature was speaking to me. It was telling me that it was frustrated with man, and my first feelings were that it had some desire to get even somehow, and that I may have been it’s prisoner on this trip.
I soon began to feel the pain and suffering brought about by man’s inability to live in harmony with its environment. They were things I had known conceptually and spent a great deal of my time pondering, but truly feeling it brought the understanding to an entire new level. While I sat on the floor of this bathroom, back leaned against the wall, I slowly began to choke up and cry in the midst of this realization, and in that moment, music slowly began to play. It was a slow, heart-felt melody that was very movie-soundtrack like, and as it continued to play, grass and plants began to grow from the ground through my fingers. Trees sprouted all around me. I could feel and smell nature. There were all sorts of bugs and insects crawling all over my hands and up my arms. They had a gentle way about them, as if to remind me where I came from, that I was connected to it all. The music slowly began to fade up, and in the depths of my despair, I began to feel the entities empathizing with me. I knew they could fully sense my struggle. They were identifying with the human condition. The sensation was so intense it left no doubt in my mind. They were trying to tell me that our true essence is to live in harmony and that humanity was on a path to self-destruction.
The rest of the trip was more personal. When I got back into the room I could sense a negative, fearful energy. I thought coming into the trip that I would have to face my death, or at least the idea of letting go of life. I started to feel like I was going to die. It felt like the people in the room had been taken over by spirits that were controlling their bodies. I began to feel very alone and afraid. I needed to go outside. I started to feel as if my body was slowly melting away, and then slight feelings of nausea began to take over. I still hadn’t purged, and was somewhat afraid to throw up. My friend who came on the trip was outside with me. The sky had all sorts of flashing energies going across it. There were these red, glowing lights moving back and forth. Everything started to become much more dream-like. I started to feel unsure whether my friend was even him anymore. It felt like something had taken over his body. The Shaman seemed different as well. I couldn’t really tell if she was real or not at this point. She had this aura of energy all around her. I felt like I was in another dimension, and started to question if I would ever return. It felt like something was trying to take over my mind. The fear was manifesting. I refused to go and lay down; I knew that if I went into a meditative state, I was leaving my body. The feelings of energy going through my body were so intense that I was scared of how lucid of a world I may go into in my mind if I let the medicine take over. It was as if I was afraid to let go and allow Mother Ayahuasca to take me any further in the trip. I was resisting. I kept telling myself to let go and throw up, but for some reason, I couldn’t. I felt like if I did, a scorpion was going to come out of my stomach. I started to feel like I was literally dying. It was a terrifying feeling, and one that I was afraid to give into. I then realized it was just the death of my pesky ego. It was something I had to not be afraid to leave behind. I started to think about how all I really wanted was the truth, and then I heard the line from A Few Good Men, “You can’t handle the truth.”
Love and Connection
Then, I slowly began to feel my life flashing before my eyes. I could feel all the moments of my life and how they were connected to everything. When I opened my eyes, my external reality felt like a mirror. Everything I had experienced, everything I had placed blame on in my life was just a reflection of myself. I told myself that I was strong enough for truth, and music began to play for me again. I heard a voice say, “If you want to dance… dance.” Something then told me, that the dancing was the whole point of life. I then thought about all of my dreams and desires. I then heard the same voice say, “No matter what you get, you always want more.” It was something I knew, but I began to feel the dangling ball of desire which would always just be dangling in front of me if I were to base happiness on worldly desires.
Profound feelings of gratitude then began to take over. It was a strong vibration of love running throughout my body. I started having all sorts of flashbacks of my friend’s smiles and little moments in life that were often taken for granted. I could feel the unconditional love I had received from my mother, and could feel the relationship I had with my brother growing up, who had a whole life I wish I knew more about. Feelings of slight regret for not fully appreciating every little moment and relationship ran through my heart because it was all that ever really mattered.
I then knew the purpose of my life: to feel love and connection. It was as simple as sharing a smile and gaze with a stranger. The precious moments of life where we feel connected; that is what we live for.
Overall, it was a positive first experience with Ayahuasca. I wish I were able to resist a little less and fully let go. I think if I did, the trip could have gone much deeper. I am eager to do another ceremony where I fully let go, progressing further on the journey of the humbling path to truth.
Note from Jordan: If you’re looking for a safe and sacred place to experience Aya, I highly recommend my friend Trinity’s Ayahuasca retreat center in Peru. Happy healings!