Illuminating the Psyche with Ayahuasca- My Experience With Healing, New perspective, and Personal Truth

The Amazonian plant medicine Ayahausca has been touching the souls of people around the world for decades, including my own.  True to its name, Quecha for “vine of the soul”, it acts as an amplifier of what is present in the psyche, highlighting anything from current conflicts, deep unconscious issues, past lives, mythic revelations, and unlimited concepts that transcend the material universe.    As one of the most powerful mind-altering potions on the planet, it is commonly misunderstood- perceived as a drug, or at best a door into mysticism.

While there is some truth to both perceptions, neither give a hint to the powerful healing potential on the psyche.  Whether psyche is defined as the mind, the soul, or a Greek deity, the capacity for healing any of the latter is as profound as it is real.  

Illustration of PSYCHE- the Greek Personification of the human soul. Redefined by her passions and misfortunes in the Psyche & Eros myth

Illustration of PSYCHE- the Greek Personification of the human soul. Redefined by her passions and misfortunes in the Psyche & Eros myth

My Personal Experience with Ayahuasca

My experience ended up reflecting my intentions, I had very vivid visions relating to ancestral karma and knowledge.  I also had the classic perceptions of plant and animal spirits, and a sense of interconnectedness with ALL.   It happens in a space where ancient embodied knowledge resides and although the deep wisdom is felt in the moment, it is not necessarily captured. Much of it is too elusive to describe accurately and often too fleeting to recall in detail.   And overall, very scary for me and I left with no intention of every trying it again.

But then 18 years later, my best friend invited me to go with her on a wellness retreat in Costa Rica.  Picture yoga on the beach, vegetarian food, chakra balancing, nature hikes and more- whatever to takes to rest the mind and reconnect with ourselves before going back to our stressful lifestyles and bad habits. The Rythmia resort was all that, with the added perk of being the Taj Mahal of Ayahuasca (in terms of safety) in the Americas.  I had unexpectedly quit my job to give myself the luxury of time and was hoping to gain wisdom concerning my life purpose, or at least inspiration for a path towards using my passion, talent and creativity for a greater good.

I came with noble and clear intentions, but instead I got something much different.  I learned that Mother Ayahuasca doesn’t always respond to your questions or provide the lessons that resonate with your intentions. She rather provides what she knows to be critical for who you are at that specific point in time.   I was taken on a journey to see who I had become that revealed the demons my guilt, remorse, and subconscious fears had become- an ugly mirror that I was not prepared to see.   After two sessions I was grateful for the experience as a whole, but like the first time, it was rough and I didn't contemplate doing it again.   

Yet for the third time, I felt a calling and went last November to the setting of my first experience- Iquitos, Peru. I was in a different place in life with different lessons to see and therefore had a very different experience.

A gateway into endless possibilities for self-knowledge, healing, universal AND individual truth

I had many beautiful visions and deeper understandings relevant to my context.  More importantly, I experienced the power of the medicine to separate the mind from the spirit. I was able to observe my thoughts from outside of myself and to have a conversation between the mind and my higher self.  Basically, I finally understood what “getting out of your head” meant, and to observe negative mind-talk from the outside. Inspired to know more on the integration of Ayahuasca and psychological healing, I found a surprising amount of empirically established studies, academic essays, and books on the subject.

Ayahuasca and Neurophysiology

The most interesting studies explore the mechanics of neurophysiology, proving a direct effect on creation of new neuronal circuits and synapses. It’s like hitting a reset button that allows for changes in ways of thinking and to see “reality” in a completely new way.  Temporarily deactivating our old thought patterns, it provides the possibility for a new perspective of the world and our role in it.   Disclaimer- if it sounds too easy or too good to be true, it IS.    While I agree with proponents that it can potentially replace months of psychotherapy, its not usually a quick fix.  In order for any changes to be permanent, we still need to do the work ourselves to integrate the learnings and develop the discipline to monitor and keep old thought patterns in check.

Ayahuasca and other aspects of the mind

On the other hand, traumas from suppressed memories can potentially be healed immediately and permanently which can facilitate letting go of the victim stories we tell ourselves about why are a certain way.  Often times those stores are untruths that need to be dissolved, and if true, we need to reinvent them and replace the victim with a hero.  If we can stop living life in consequence of our past experiences, stop seeing people according to the snapshots we filed away on them, we can make a better effort at living in the present in a more positive and constructive light.  

This is healing in the true sense, and is not a state of being but rather a new attitude towards each situation of the past, present, or future:  Open, sensitive, intelligent, and void of negative emotion.  

This type of healing is the basis for growth and inner evolution, and is why I keep going back.

Care to join me? If you are lucky, it will be the best (and worst) thing you ever do…

Next adventure coming up next weekend at Kawsay Vida, Valle de Bravo, Mexico.  

 WORKS CONSULTED  What Ayahuasca Does to the Human Brain. Alex K. Gearin, PhD - January 18, 2018 Enhancing Your Ayahuasca Experience: Harnessing the Power of Intention and Belief

Listening to Ayahuasca- New Hope for Depression, Addiction and Anxiety   Rachel Harris, PhD Novato California 2017.

Los Cuatro Altares- El Libro de la Liberacion  Alonso Hernando Alvaro del Río Merino, Cusco-Perú 2017.

Tecnica Aborigen Del Autoconocimiento- Ayahuasca de la Selva su Espiritu  Iturriaga San Jose, Rivera Cachique, Cusco-Peru 2016.

The Four Insights Alberto Villoldo PhD,  2006.