Jenni’s first ayahuasca ceremony was borne out of her curiosity to understand the hype surrounding the amazonian plant. Several of her friends and acquaintances had returned from these ceremonies speaking of things and using words which her current experiences could not identify with. They described seeing beautiful large and codified fractal patterns while being fully awake, speaking to deceased ones, vomiting but feeling amazing after because of ‘clearing on a cellular level’ and being touched by the presence of divinity.
What intrigued her most was the experience of one close friend in particular. Jenni had known Amanda for over 30 years, and during that period she had never seen Amanda openly express any tears - sure she had teared up once or twice, but her very private demeanor meant that it was a rare occasion. Amanda’s pride and pursuit to unwaveringly demonstrate strength in everything in life had been inspirational for Jenni but simultaneously a challenge as Amanda, although sympathetic, rarely expressed compassion. She was one of the toughest cookies to emotionally break, and yet there she was openly crying at the dinner table in front of their friends as she relayed that mother ayahuasca had shown her all the people she had and was hurting by using her stoic defenses to hide her own pain from childhood. She sobbed as she shared that her ‘healing journey’ was allowing her to finally ‘find herself’. Jenni was shocked. She was aware that Amanda was going to a retreat but hadn’t expected this huge vulnerable expression and emotional personality change overnight. Above all, she had never experienced so much love, understanding, warmth and authenticity from her childhood friend in this way before.
Watching Amanda’s process unfold over the course of a year, where she went to three more ayahuasca ceremonies, triggered something profound within Jenni. If Amanda was recalling all these childhood memories and feelings, exposing unconscious pain, limited beliefs and experiencing a deep connection with what she was now calling ‘God’ (never having previously mentioned the word except in exasperation with no real substance to understanding its nature or meaning) then, Jenni reasoned, surely there must be something to these tea ceremonies. But she was also scared. Amanda was now an emotionally direct person and was having it out with pretty much everyone in her life. So what, Jenni wondered, would happen to her? Jenni led a reasonably comfortable life. It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t bad either. She felt she had a good handle on her emotions although something inside her flinched deeply when Amanda one day in her newly founded state, told Jenni that she needed to ‘sort out the daddy issues.
After two years of an on-and-off internal debate, Jenni finally took the plunge. By this time, Amanda had left the security of her high flying corporate career, dramatically ditched her partner of over a decade just before their wedding day, rented out her apartment and was traveling the world with her new boyfriend. However, Amanda was completely available for Jenni and provided her with essential preparation advice and her commitment to fully support her after the experience.
Jenni’s first ayahuasca ceremony was one of the most powerful experiences of her life. She first found herself in an Asian country, in the back of a restaurant which was hot, sweaty, oily and noisy. Then she vividly saw all the internal mechanisms of a clock slowly moving in large, bright and silver multi-dimensional fractals. She communicated with her grandmother and half sibling who had passed, and they guided her through allowing her physical body to release sickness. This resulted in her purging several times and seeing images of situations with her father that she had not previously recalled as a child. She saw how she avoided confrontation because it made her feel uncomfortable, and each time she dismissed her true feelings in favor of maintaining peace she was trapping herself in a powerless state of existence. She saw how this led to her being repeatedly passed over for a promotion at work, how it was affecting her sexual happiness in her marriage and that she was unwilling to admit to herself that she was not living the life she truly desired. She was drinking the acceptance sauce in exchange for a life of freedom, truth and creative expression especially with her physical body. She also immediately understood why Amanda’s decisions and personality change had irked her and caused her own fears to rise. She saw clearly that she had the choice to change her life or to continue to live with her unconscious behavior patterns.
While Jenni finally attracted a promotion at work within an incredible three months, it took her four years to authentically find peace with her father. She now has a loving relationship with him (and consequently her husband) despite his denial and lack of willingness to acknowledge his role in her painful childhood experiences. Jenni says “it took me a lot of time and so much courage to come to the medicine, and it also took me a really long time to deal with what came up for me. My advice to anyone interested in ayahuasca is that it is not a one-time experience but a catalyst for life transformation if you are willing to be open to new ways of being no matter how uncomfortable it makes you feel”.
Modern Ancient Insight: A journey with ayahuasca can be an exciting, nerve-racking and transformative experience. Here are three useful things to keep in mind if you are on the fence about an ayahuasca experience:
- 1. How has the medicine been presenting itself to you? If, like Jenni, it is through the experience of others or watching their journey unfold, step into a space of awareness about how it is making you feel and respond. Jenni was triggered by judgement and fear watching Amanda’s new personality unfold; ultimately both were a form of self projection and resistance to her own healing journey.
- 2. Do you have a close friend, partner or family member that you can trust to support and guide you with unconditional love while you integrate in the immediate aftermath of the experience? Be sure to identify someone beforehand or seek formal integration support.
- 3. Are you willing to commit to your own self exploration for the longer term? While Jenni received a job promotion pretty quickly, the deeper work was with her relationship with her father. Ultimately it always goes back to one’s relationship with themselves, as Jenni had to learn forgiveness to heal herself and find freedom from within.
Remember that love, peace and your dream life happens not just when you decide to journey with sacred medicines such as ayahuasca, but also when you actively practice integration to build on your vibration and maintain faith in universal power to keep moving forward.
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*Where requested names and identifying details have been changed in some stories to protect the privacy of individuals featured.