Soul Journal

The Ayahuasca Ceremony & its Profound Ability to Heal Trauma

May 16, 2021

#ayahuasca  #plant medicine  #travel 

It is said that Ayahuasca calls you. In 2021 she called...

It was my turn.

After a trip in March to Costa Rica with my son, I immediately booked a flight to return to the jungle for 3 main reasons:
Experience Ayahuasca & plant medicine. 
To learn to surf better. 
To connect with women.

    I had no idea how I would find the Mother of Plant Medicine, "Aya" as she is called, and someone to facilitate my journey. Like most things in life though, it always works out in perfect alignment when we surrender to the process. So in typical Manifesting Generator fashion, I put some feelers out and waited to respond. No forcing. Just allowing the Universe to conspire and make it happen. A couple of options presented themselves but neither of them felt quite right. 

    Then with very little effort, the perfect situation came to be. My SoulJour sister, Talaya Thomas, had heard about an alchemist who grew Ayahuasca plants on his land where he lived with his family. Located just 15 minutes from the retreat space she's running,  I reached out to Tristan (@intihealinghouse) and we talked about the process in detail. It sounded ideal – reasonably priced, super FRESH plants and potions (unlike some that come from Peru and can be old), an intimate setting with our closest friends, and close to hOMe to be able to chill afterwards.

    With logistics in place, one of our Admirals and radass musician, Sandra Small, reached out to me saying she wanted to come. Yay! We met for the first time in real life in San Jose where we rented a car and drove the 5+ hour drive to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. It was great to finally meet in person and we chatted non-stop all the way down. We spent 2 days swimming in the warm, blue water, hiking, and eating delicious Caribbean food.

    In order to get the benefits of Ayahuasca, one must eat super clean, nothing fried, no meat, alcohol, coffee/caffeine, smoke weed, or do anything that would hinder the plant in doing her job. I eat clean normally but for the week leading up to this, the level of clean was at the highest level. For the second ceremony, I ate only fruit and water the day before and then fasted on water only the day of the ceremony. 


    And so our Ayahuasca Plant Medicine journey began...



    The timing of Ayahuasca and my plant medicine journey came at exactly the right time. The morning of the ceremony with journal in hand, I wrote my intentions and goals for the experience:
    1) Lower inflammation throughout my body 
    2) Allow healing to occur to my jaw & ears which I haven't been able to pop for 3.5 years
    3) Break a lifetime and lineage of verbal abuse & narcissism from all women in my family
    4) Remove the PTSD residing in my cells from this abuse
    5) Talk to my grandmothers and receive a message
    6) Surrender to the medicine and allow the experience to reveal itself

    The Ceremony

    With pillows in hand, we arrived at the property's gate where we entered and parked the car. We hiked up a narrow, faded trail for about 15 minutes in flip flops! (Note: Next time wear sneakers). We met our guide Tristan who would lead us up an even fainter trail to the ceremony site. Deep in the jungle, we passed so many beautiful plants, frogs and birds. As with most everywhere in Costa Rica, the sounds of the insects permeated the landscape. We even passed the Ayahuasca plants, a vine that grows and twists around the tree it inhabits. We touched the plant unsure of what was to come, gave thanks and respect, and continued on...
    The endpoint was an open air building: One side a platform that housed mattresses and buckets for purging where we would lay down, the other side opened to the jungle with an area for the altar and a small fire that would burn all night. There were 5 of us. 

    Tristan spent about 2 hours slowly prepping. He explained in general how the ceremony would work, shared a few stories of others experiences. He took his time carefully placing each object in its spot on the altar. He built a small fire. He smudged us all extensively to clear the energy.As darkness started to fall, it was time for the first step:


    Rapé

    Rapé is a powder mixed with special plants, herbs and tobacco. The purpose of this rapé was to ground us into the earth. Nerves, uncertainty and curiosity were certainly taking over so the idea of this was nice. The reality of it was a different story! Tristan scraped the powder off the palm of his hand into one end of the rapé apparatus – an "L" shaped tube where he stuck one end up one of our nostrils and the other end in his mouth and blew. 

    BAM!

    Make no mistake, doing rapé is an intense, somewhat distressing feeling. It's like a fast shot to the brain. The only way to deal is to close your eyes and breathe out of the mouth while it begins to work its magic...And as if once isn't bad enough, soon after he does the second nostril! With eyes watering, a ball of phlegm formed in the back of my throat. Then as suddenly as it hit, it disappeared and a wave of complete tingly ease took hold. My shoulders dropped significantly, the tension in my jaw and neck relaxed. And sure enough, a delicious feeling of groundedness ensued. After we all did this, laughing a bit and commiserating, it was now time for the main event: Mother Ayahuasca. 

    Receiving Ayahuasca
    Each one of us came to the altar, where Tristan poured us a small amount of the thick, dark reddish brown liquid in a clay pot. I said a prayer and drank mine. One big sip to start to get acquainted: sort of bitter, sort of sweet. No smell. I went back to my spot and sat there letting the medicine take over. After a few minutes, I laid back. My goal was to not purge right away and lose the medicine, so I breathed slowly and carefully unsure of what was to come. A phrase from my first yoga teacher Richard Odom came to me, "And from the crown of your head to the tip of your toes, a long delicious feeling of ease and deep deep peace..." I repeated this mantra over and over until the first visuals started. 

    The psychedelic visuals I watched in the movie of my brain was the craziest thing I've ever seen. It was as though my brain was short circuiting...rebooting itself...traveling through a layer of who knows what?! When it was too intense I would remember that opening my eyes was an option. And so I would. Only that was worse so I would close them again. And surrender..."This long delicious feeling of ease and deep deep peace..." 

    Every time I found myself resisting, I would remind myself to surrender more to let the Aya work her magic. It all feels like a dream now but for a very long time I kept thinking that this was the hardest thing I'd ever done. The day before Sandra had asked me "What's been your biggest adventure?" I couldn't answer because I've had too many to count but as I sat there letting the medicine take over my being, I thought "For sure this!!!" And I didn't even move!

    As stated in my prior post, my intention for this journey was to get rid of a lifetime of narcissistic and verbal abuse that was so deeply living in my cells and the cells of so many of the women in my family who came before me. My mom, her mom, my grandmother on my dad's side, my third grandmother not by blood, and myself all dealt with similar stories from their husbands: lying, cheating, bullying and narcissism in one form or another. I came to this wanting to not only heal myself but also to let them heal through me. As I lay there, as uncomfortable as I was, I would ask the medicine to take the pattern away. It was SO hard! I'd never felt so vulnerable. So uncomfortable in my own skin. Occasionally I would hit a spot and violently sit up purging. This is part of the process - ridding the body of toxins. Dry heaving. Apparently I was moaning a lot but I don't remember and was totally unaware of this...sorry neighbors! 

    Every once in awhile Tristan would come by and put his hand on my back. A human! It was so nice to be able to truly relax into his energy. Another time he came by to work on my ears which I haven't been able to pop for 3.5 years. Completely melting, I let him touch my jaw and relaxed into his touch. This was so helpful. I just kept thinking...Nobody said breaking lineages and lifetimes of a pattern would be easy. This is going to be hard. 
    And it was. Really really really hard.

    Every time I opened my eyes the pulsation and vibration happening around me was so intense! Tristan would play an instrument periodically...a flute, a hand pan drum. A couple of times he came by with a shaker of some sort and a cold wind would go by with him looking like a dark shadow? I'm not sure I loved that one so I would close my eyes again.

    Finally at some point I opened my eyes and life wasn't vibrating and pulsing. No more colors. I finally felt like I could stand up and go pee. I walked out to do so and the light was so bright outside. I looked up and the moon was incredible! I did some light movement, prayer, and gratitude for nature and the light which surrounded me. I felt extreme gratitude for this incredibly intense and beautiful experience with my friends in such an intimate space. I went back to my spot and laid down and sort of fell asleep, sort of not – a shavasana type rest. 

    After a few hours, we all woke up and shared our experience – it was radically different for each of us! Sandra hardly felt it (he said it doesn't always work the first time). I couldn't believe it since the medicine swept me away. Not only did I heal a bit of my PTSD, the ankle I had twisted twice in the last month felt so much better. No pain?! Talaya observed the medicine working on each body part and recalibrated each part. She didn't purge until the very end. Mark heard every insect and the inside of his brain, he purged violently at the very beginning and again at the very end. The random guy had 5 cups and didn't feel anything even though he cried and laughed and purged uncontrollably the whole time? 5 cups?! 
    We walked down the hill and after some more chatting went straight to Bread & Chocolate in Puerto Viejo. Super kind food and we were super hungry! A veggie juice, a watermelon juice, fruit and a plate of kind food please. We all felt floaty and really great even though nobody slept...The opposite of a hangover.

    That day was spent chilling in the salt water pool, napping and with an early sushi dinner on the ocean. We survived Day 1! Now on to Day 2...


    Day 2: Tuesday

    After a few days off, we were at it again. Only this ceremony it would be women only – myself, Sandra, Talaya, and Tristan's wife, Alejandra as the facilitator. The energy this time was completely different! Much softer and more feminine. Because we knew the walk (sneakers!) and knew more about what to expect, we mostly just chatted the way women do to ease into the ritual. She was so sweet but this time it was more hand's off. We were mostly on our own, in our own experience, our own world. 

    For this experience I fasted for 2 days prior, one day of fruit and water, then the day of was water only and a carrot (we went on a 3 hour beach walk prior!). The experience was much different. The rapé she blew in peacefully which didn't lessen the intensity but was a different more feminine feeling. During the Aya, the visuals were less crazy psychedelics, way more pulsing, vibrating colors when I opened my eyes. This time my jaw would open and close, open and close over and over again. My tight jaw slowly loosening itself. I felt like my body was flopping around oddly...like a fish out of water. I kept telling myself to just relax but my body would continue to short circuit. At one point I looked at my arm which was shaking and flopping about. No judgement. Just surrender. Then I would roll over a bit to let the medicine move to my back. Purge. Dry heave. More dry heaving this go around. Still I had the "this is so uncomfortable!" feeling while at the same time a wave of love. Every sound was enhanced. Every insect. At one point Tayala was up and moving around, she asked me something which sounded like Charlie Brown's mom, "wha wha wah wah." Then she thought I said I wanted to call my mom?! I was like..."I'm pretty sure my mom and I can't talk right now." We all died laughing before falling back into the quietness of the movie of our lives.

    This time when I opened my eyes and the pulsing had stopped, I walked outside and laid on a yoga mat in the grass under the most incredible stars. No light. Millions of stars and jungle sounds. Alejandra gave me a bit of a massage that felt so good. I was ready for bed and soon after fell asleep for a few hours.
    When we woke up (this time later), we once again shared and our vastly different experiences. After chatting for awhile, we realized how HUNGRY we were! We walked down the hill and proceeded to eat a delicious vegan meal in Cahuita followed by a nap in the cool A/C. This day was heavier. No floating. More tired. The car smelled like rapé when opening the door to drive home. I almost purged again. The medicine stays in the body for 3 days afterwards and small relapses and faint memories would continue to occur over the next couple of days. 

    Post Ayahuasca Glow

    Conclusion

    In an incredible yoga class that Talaya taught the day after our journey where she took us to church and back, I cried and cried during shavasana. There was a major release as I deeply forgave my ex. I acknowledged him, our ignorance, and finally saw that chapter of my life and over. Done and done. It felt like a huge weight off my shoulders to finally grieve a subject I'd had such a hard time totally letting when relentlessly triggered?

    The impact of Ayahuasca is clearly profound. I feel like there is more to this story and I'd like to do it 2-3 more times but after nearly 3 weeks and namely 10 days at home back in my normal routine, here are the results I've noticed:

    1) Ankle pain & swelling from 2 twisted ankles the month before is gone.
    2) Thought patterns regarding narcissist ex-husband have shifted. I no longer feel a "charge" & have given the subject dramatically less energy than before.
    3) Restless leg in my right leg has stopped.
    4) I haven't picked my lip like I normally do regularly.
    5) Metallic taste in my mouth that I've had for years disappeared.
    6) Overall feeling more calm.

      I'm not sure I had any clear messages from my ancestors. And the overall experience was nothing that I could truly describe as so much of it feels like a dream now. I came wanting to heal from a lifetime of narcissism and I feel very good in knowing that a dramatic shift has occurred towards this subject. A new chapter filled with love and positive energy is now here. Prior to this journey I was feeling a deep need to get my story out and help other women. To hold gatherings and discussions with others in a similar boat. Now I no longer feel this?! This isn't to say I don't still want to help women who have experienced verbal abuse and covert narcissism to come forward...quite the opposite. I feel so strongly that this phenomenon needs to be discussed and I hope my story will help other women leave abusive relationships. I'm here to hold space for these women rather than be the leader of the #verbalabuse movement. There are others who will do this better than I. Instead I'd prefer to move away from and not be categorized by my biggest challenge. I'm a SoulJour after all, and it's time to SoulJour ON....

      My Message to Mother Ayahuasca:

      Thank you. Thank you for the wisdom and healing you provided. You are not for the faint of heart. You are for real, for real, for real. You took me on one of the most difficult journeys to date and yet my feeling towards you is one of deep love and respect. Thank you for doing what I asked in a way I never would have expected. I know there is more to the story and I look forward to meeting again.

      Pura Vida,
      Ashley