In addition to four Ayahuasca ceremonies, we were given an additional, very special ceremony. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to partake in a Bobinsana Heart Opening ceremony.
As described on the Spirit Quest website, “In the Peruvian Amazon, An alcohol tincture of bobinzana stems and leaves is taken in shamanic ceremonies to open and heal the heart, to increase empathy, to strengthen one’s connection with nature, and provide spiritual grounding. Bobinsana produces lucid and colorful visionary dreams.”
It was a beautiful experience. After drinking the medicine, I could feel my heart start to open up. The medicine did not come on nearly as strong as Ayahuasca. What I felt was quite subtle, but it was enough for me to start feeling gratitude and love for everyone around me. After the short ceremony, we were told to turn to the person next to us and embrace them in a hug. We then proceeded to make our way around the Maloca, hugging each and every person in the room.
We also had the chance to visit an animal rescue centre during one of our rest days. We were welcomed by several energetic monkeys, some of which actually jumped into our boats before we disembarked. I had a great time letting the monkeys climb on me, until the smallest one bit my hand, which drew a bit of blood. Initially, I was worried about rabies, but I was told it’s not a concern in the area. It’s been 2 months now and I’ve had no foaming at the mouth or fever, so I think It’s safe to say I’m clean.
The day of the final Ayahuasca ceremony finally arrived. Everything was about to come together for me. I was about to have my “big Ayahuasca experience.” The work and learning for me, started in my room, hours before the start of the actual ceremony.
I took away an important insight from the previous sharing circle. This insight was that Ayahuasca communicates with us all in different ways, depending on how we personally hear things best. Some of the people with more artistic personalities, seemed to be communicating with the plant through vivid, elaborate visions because that is how their minds naturally work.
I was getting frustrated that I wasn’t receiving the same type of visions. However, that is not how my mind naturally works. That’s not how I normally receive insights or communicate with myself, so why should it be any different with Ayahuasaca? I personally get insights and inspiration through relaxation, reflection or introspection.
These insights and creative thoughts usually come to me regularly, on a daily basis, however since arriving at the retreat they seemed to have really slowed down. I realized that I was being lazy. I had stopped listening to my inner voice because I expected Ayahuasca to do all the work for me.
I decided to be proactive, instead of waiting and hoping for something to happen during the ceremony. I went to my room to relax and I went to work on opening my heart. Throughout my experience working with Ayahuasca so far, I started to understand something. I was on a journey to find unconditional self love. The message I was getting, was that I am already full of love, but that I have it bottled up inside of me. And that for me to start feeling love, I have to start expressing love.
I spent the next couple hours visualizing people in my life whom I care about. One by one, I would express my love to them and tell them how much they mean to me. I said all the things that I always wanted to say to them, but didn’t have the courage to. I felt my heart open wide and I sat there in that space of love. This is how I felt as I entered the Maloca, for my final meeting with Ayahuasca.
I Went into the ceremony with no expectations. I decided that regardless of what happened, I was going to be happy. My heart was wide open. The intention I set was, “To let go of all expectations and love myself unconditionally.”
I was given A LOT of medicine to drink this time. When I sat back down, I asked Ayahuasaca, “Is this going to be a long night.” The response I received was, “Oh ya.”
When I could feel the affects of the medicine coming on, I started to ask questions in my mind…
Q: What is my mission?
A: To inspire people to share their gifts with the world, to bring light to the world.
Q: How do I balance confidence and humility?
A: Be myself
Q: How do I stop living like a boy and start living like a man?
A: Believe I am a man
Q: What should I name my blog?
A: It doesn’t matter
Then a voice spoke to me in my mind. It said, “Why do I need to know all the answers? Surprises make life interesting.”
Then the medicine really took hold of me. This experience was not so visual, but it was powerful. I spent the entire night curled up on my mat, hugging myself and loving myself. It felt like I was two separate people, intertwined and embracing each other. I felt so good in my own arms, as I curessed and appreciated my body. I could feel healing taking place within me.
This entire time I felt strong and grounded. I felt so content and comfortable lying there, intimately, with myself. When the shamans brought the ceremony to a close, I was still heavily in the medicine. I could not have stood up to return to my room, if I had wanted to. The power of Ayahuasca was almost overwhelming me, but I saw the shamans off in the distance and felt safe.
My experience continued on into the night. After spending hours, enjoying the feeling of hugging and loving myself, everything changed. Suddenly, I felt nausia stronger than I’d ever felt before. I felt a surge of energy flow through me and the world in front of me shifted. Everything went dark and I felt like I was now in some kind of spirit world.
Ayahuasca had taken all control away from me. I could not move. I could not sleep. I could not control my thoughts or emotions. I felt fear. All this time I had been wishing for a dark experience. Ayahuasca was now showing me how dark things can actually be.
I did all that I could do. I continued to lie there, hugging myself, completely surrendered, waiting for the medicine to run it’s course. Until that time, I was at the mercy of Ayahuasca. I learned that the medicine, didn’t just have the ability to change what I saw, but also how I felt. When it wanted me to feel fear, there was nothing I could do but accept it.
This lasted for hours, into the early morning. After the initial shock, I started to feel safe again in my embrace. I felt safe, giving up my control to Ayahuasca. I knew that everything she was making me experience, she was doing out of love.
The sun was starting to rise and some of the staff were walking around me, cleaning up. I continued to lie there. I don’t remember falling asleep. I just remember suddenly waking up, alone in the maloca, still embracing myself and the sun was fully shining. I felt great. It was like being reborn.
In the end, after spending a week of worrying and wondering why I kept having easy ceremonies, I finally got the “big Ayahuasca experience,” that I had been looking for. Everything came together for me. When I looked back on the week, I realized that I had been wasting my emotional energy, feeling worry and disappointment. It would have been much easier if I had just trusted from day 1, that the medicine new what it was doing and that it would give me exactly what I needed.
I believe that one of the most powerful things that I took away from my time working with Ayahuasca, was that I was able to clearly see the person whom I really want to be. What I saw wasn’t a successful entrepreneur, a world traveler or an international speaker, making a positive difference in the world. These are all things that I aspire to have in my life, but when I looked deep inside myself, at the man I really want to be, these were not the qualities that I saw.
What I saw was a man whom is so clear on who he is and why he is here, that he is able to let down all his walls and be himself. A man who is completely honest with himself and others. A man who knows exactly what he wants and sets out to get it. A man who isn’t afraid to open up, be vulnerable and tell people how he really feels. And a man who makes people feel good about themselves when he is around them. A man whom has the courage to step up and share his gifts with the world. A man whom loves himself unconditionally and shares his love with others.
Did Ayahuasca magically transform me into this man over night? Of course not. What it did, was show me what’s really important to me and whom I truly want to be as a man. Then it gave me some simple steps to follow, which will lead me to becoming this man. The rest is up to me.
A sad day arrived, when it was time to say good bye to half of our newly formed family. Half of our group was returning home, to start applying what they had learned into their lives back home. While the rest of us would remain for another week, to work with the ancient plant, Huachuma (San Pedro Cactus), in what would be another week that I will never forget.
So this was my story of my time working with Ayahuasca in the Amazon, this past May. I hope you enjoyed it and learned something about yourself from it as well.
Ayahuasca is not for everyone. However, if you feel a calling to it, as I did, I highly recommend working with Don Howard at Spirit Quest Sanctuary. If you want to learn more about working with the medicine, you can listen to a great interview with Don Howard explaining Ayahuasca, here.
I don’t believe Spirit Quest could have done a more professional job if they had wanted to. The Shamans were experienced and more importantly, were all amazing human beings, operating completely out of integrity and love. The staff were phenomenal and the food and lodging was way above my expectations coming in. There were people at the retreat, who had been to other retreat centres prior to this one and said that Spirit Quest is on an entirely different level than anything else they had experienced before.
If it seems I am trying to sell Spirit Quest, it’s only because I’ve heard way too many stories about people having poor experiences working with Ayahuasca because they chose the wrong Shaman or retreat centre. I am sure there are other good retreat centres out there, but they seem to be few and far between. I know that this one is the real deal.
I am so grateful that a friend of mine recommended Spirit Quest to me all those months ago and that I took the leap of faith, to come face to face with Mother Ayahuasca, for the magical experience you’ve just read about.
The story of my Huachuma (San Pedro Cactus) retreat is still to come… Follow my blog so you don’t miss it. Enter your e-mail in the side bar now and never miss another post!