So it’s been two weeks since the ceremony and I’ve struggled to come up with something meaningful to reflect on. It’s strange, because quite a bit happened to reflect on, but I’ve struggled to find words to put down here.
But after speaking to my good friend Marcelo over the phone on the experience, I think I have some things to say.
Also, while I captured the gist of each of the major experiences I had here, I forgot a reflection that was less flashy, but perhaps just as important.
On Day 3, as I was falling under the influence…Spell…Of the chanting, I started feeling intensely angry. For no reason at all. What’s interesting to me about ayahuasca is that you don’t really lose yourself in it. Honestly, I have that experience with drugs in general. Alcohol, weed, marijuana…Even when I ended up hallucinating after eating some intense weed brownies, I’ve never felt that I was “elsewhere.” So it was with ayahuasca – I could fall deeper into the trance but I was always lucid of the mat, my body, the blanket, etc. Anchored to the physical world.
I was angry for non reason I could fathom. I needed to curl my fists, so I did. I wanted to grit my teeth, so I did. I growled and raged inside and writhed on the carpet. It wasn’t blinding rage, just a general simmering fury. And I went with it for awhile, and eventually…I started to LIKE feeling angry. I reveled in it a bit. “Wow, I’m really angry! This feels kind of good!” That’s when I realized something interesting.
That anger didn’t control me. I could still think clearly, take action, and be present. Even though I was angry, I didn’t have to shy away from it. It was entirely human and being angry doesn’t make me less of a person. I think back to my father figures and how explosive, sudden, and irrational their anger was, and I’ve always done my best to avoid anger at all costs. And in the populace in general; I can think of several people who would manifest anger explosively from out of nowhere, leaving me reeling and needing to pacify and please them. Leaving me to always see anger as some sort of failing, especially in myself. And then loads of resentment for feeling as if I wasn’t allowed to be angry.
That’s when the feeling went away. And I think that’s what I needed to see there; that anger is okay and that being angry doesn’t mean I’m failing somehow or about to lose control.
So…2 weeks out. It’s strange, because whatever transformation I’ve endured, it was a very subtle one. I can’t say “suddenly, all of my addictions are gone. My anxiety has faded. I no longer eat meat.” Or any of the other things I sometimes read from post-retreat people. But I can say that I have a deeper respect for myself as an animal finely adapted to situational pressure.
If that sounds a bit obtuse and biological, well, I was formerly a biology major before I moved to Environmental Science, so it’s fitting. But what I mean is that I make sense. I am the way I am because of various situational pressures and my mind and body have adapted in intelligent ways beyond my control. I’m addicted to the Internet for sexual and social expression, anxious in social situations, and eat high calorie garbage for pleasure because that’s what a human animal in my situations would do to minimize stress and adaptively keep itself sane. And being surrounded by corporate influences designed to hook and addict a sick, stressed-out populace for their bottom line…It’s no wonder I’m just as susceptible as every one else to their influences.
I don’t know…I’m still coming to terms with it all, but it gives me new respect for the innate intelligence of my body and is inspiring me to make gradual changes. I’ve been making an evaluation of all of the influences in my life I do have control over; diet, exercise, and especially social media. I’m reading “10 Arguements for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now,” by Jaron Lanier, and it has me a bit spellbound. I’ve kept a low profile on Facebook for a few weeks now, because I’ve been following the news on social media’s influence in terms of politics, sociology, and general human happiness. And I had to come to the unfortunate conclusion that even though I simply post pictures of beautiful things and moments I come across in my travels…That I’m part of the problem. That I’m sucking people into wasting their time on Facebook, essentially working for them for free so advertisers, influencers, Russian bots, and echo chambers can get more chances to hook people’s attention. Not to mention the “likes,” “hearts,” etc, are scratching my primate itch for social validation and approval in a substitute for actual relationships.
This blog is still fine. Instagram…I haven’t decided on. But Facebook may get cut out entirely. Right now, it’s a useful email hub for all the folks I know and meet, but…There’s also email as an email hub…Excuse on my part?
So that’s where I’m at right now. Transitions. Unfortunately, I can’t say ayahuasca magically erased anything, as far as I can tell, but as an agent of change and reflection, I’d give it a 9/10. If it didn’t taste horrible and make you vomit or shit yourself, 10/10.
Ha…I had moments on the 3rd night where I knew I could fall deeper into the trance but there was a clear choice in front of me. I had to surrender all control of how it unfolded. And my bowels…During the aya experience, you can’t trust a fart. Is this a fart or a shart or a turtle head or something more?…Gross but there’s no dancing around it when Mother Aya takes you into her embrace. And I told myself: “No. I am not going to shit myself like an animal.” (my exact thought-words) I was willing to get up and use the toilet but I wasn’t going to shit myself or even use the bucket beside my bed where anyone could hear or smell me. So I still have some “letting go” to work on. Fortunately, I also have a new book on that topic, though I suspect the author didn’t mean it in quite the same way.