Plant Medicine, Part 1 of 5

Last weekend, I participated in a three-day Ayahuasca ceremony. This was my second time working with this plant medicine and its effects were profound. My first ceremony was about 2.5 years ago. Concerned with judgment, I have not publicly shared the deeply moving and healing experiences I’ve had. However, I can no longer stay silent. I believe that sharing will benefit others and myself, as I work to integrate as a fully authentic being. I am stepping out of my self-imposed closet to share my open-mind and open-heart… poco a poco.

This may be new to you – it was to me too a few years ago. But after seeing truth and value in many things that I once considered to be wrong or unfamiliar, I have learned to keep an open-mind. I hope that you can too.

About ten years ago, I was diagnosed with PTSD after just two visits with a therapist. While therapy is great for some, I was not interested in weekly visits or anti-depressants. Instead I sought to heal myself, trying everything from natural to synthetic substances, yoga, meditation, sound healing, journaling, personalized ritual, self-reflection, reading metaphysical and spiritual texts, holotropic breathwork, visiting ashrams and temples, and more. All of these have been valuable, but plant medicines have been among the fastest acting and most powerful in terms of self-realization and mental health.

Plant medicines are any consumable plant with medicinal properties such as ginger root and turmeric. However, my concern here is with psychoactive plants that are not commonly accepted such as Psilocybin (shrooms), Ibogaine, Ayahuasca, San Pedro, Rapé, and many others. There is so much talk already around Marijuana that I have little interest in discussing it now. And before reacting to the “psychoactive” property, please remember that caffeine and alcohol are psychoactive as well.

Iboga, a plant found in Africa, has the potential to kick a long-term heroin addiction in a single dose. If it were to become legal, it would go a long way toward solving a major social crisis – yet it is not. Why? Because it has the potential to shut down much of the pharmaceutical and rehabilitation industries and so it remains an illicit substance in the United States.

Of course there are risks with these medicines, but equal and often greater risks exist with currently legal pharmaceuticals which hold far less healing power than what I’m discussing here. A main difference between these plants and pharmaceuticals like Prozac or Lithium is that nature does not have rich and powerful lobbyists influencing governmental actions, whose aims are often greed and societal control. Prozac and Lithium require a lifetime of use and are more numbing than healing. They limit the experience of life while these plants broaden it.

Rather than numbing, these plants allow us to feel. We’re able to bypass the limitations of our current mental and emotional states in order to experience deep love and connection, often for the first time in our lives – gaining a reference point for these feelings which remain accessible after the medicine wears off. But then, who would pay for Prozac?

In addition to their healing properties, there is the expansion of consciousness to be acknowledged. As part of this deep psychological work, I have transcended into planes beyond this 3-dimensional construct that we find ourselves in. These are important experiences that tune us into our spiritual nature, that allow us to explore our unconscious minds where our issues lie and to dissolve layers of tension and conditioning, leading to much richer and fulfilling lives.

We are more powerful than we know and it is our right to have these mystical experiences. It is our right to commune with nature. It is our right explore the world around us. There is so much more here!

Working with plants responsibly can bring about great healing. Abusing them can bring about sadness and sickness. I have experienced each end of this spectrum as both the abuser who has made herself sick and the one who has been healed. If these medicines were legal, closely monitored, treated with respect, and more widely available, there would be far more healing and much less sickness.

I am not here to glamorize this – I am here to spread the truth. I do not share this without reservation – I have been frightened to do so, but I’ve grown tired of governmental control, misrepresentation, and closed mindedness. These medicines should be made safely available as options within a holistic treatment plan.

Because of my own progress and what I have witnessed in others, I feel it is my duty to share my experiences. My next three posts will be: my first experience with Ayahuasca in 2015, San Pedro last year, Rapé, and my most recent journey last weekend.

To be continued…

 

Tremble

Today I sensed what it might be like
     to tremble before God
     as I gazed upon long blue ridges
With their golden-hued leaves
    turning to soon meet their fates

I was overwhelmed by its magnificence,
     the power of its beauty… and I feared
     that it might stop my beating heart

One day I, too, will die blissfully
in the cradle of nature’s loving arms

Why I Teach Yoga

While studying yoga in Rishikesh, India this summer, I was overwhelmed with the the feeling that I needed to come back to the United States rather than return to Ecuador. I realized that as much as I loved it there, I am not able to be of service in the way that I’m meant to be. I realized that I should be teaching yoga here, to correct some serious misconceptions about the practice. We use yoga to obsess about our bodies, rather than to transcend them. We’ve lost the heart of yoga and can barely capture its essence.

I’ll admit, I started doing yoga back in college because I wanted a sexy body. And that’s okay! Our reason for coming doesn’t matter so long as we step onto the mat. Over time, I realized that I had never regretted going to a class. Nearly every class ended with a sense of deep inner-peace, the blossom of increased physical and emotional alignment.

The physical piece is important! We must tune our bodies so that we can cultivate enough body awareness to next tune into our energy. It’s becoming common knowledge that we are animated by a consciousness that weaves in and out everything. In yoga, we call this prana. In other parts of the East it is called, Xi/Qi, in Christianity it is the Holy Spirit, and in ancient Egypt, it was ka. This is not new information.

The alignment I was experiencing at the end of class was a shift in this energy. After years of practice not only am I slimmer and stronger, but my ability to connect with my internal guidance system – the divinity within – has grown tremendously. I have clarity and better judgment. I have focus, insight, and more willpower. I am stronger and more balanced on all levels of being.

Yoga opens our bodies up and addresses energetic blocks. These blocks keep prana from flowing freely throughout our bodies. When the energy is not flowing with-ease throughout the body, the result is dis-ease. Stuck or blocked energy comes from a number of sources such as past traumas, injuries, accidents, resentments, heartbreak, grief or deeply held anger.

Yoga became my first love once I fully grasped its transformative powers. When my mom passed away unexpectedly during my initial yoga teacher training, it became much more than a physical practice to me.

The first day of my initial YTT (yoga teacher training), I learned that my mother was in a coma. Halfway through the six weeks, she died. On the day I graduated, her ashes showed up in a box. My relationship to yoga changed and I’m fairly certain this was God’s intention. It was imperative that I see yoga for what it is – an opportunity to heal along a spiritual path. It has helped me to heal from my mother’s death and the residual effects of a messy childhood.

Overwhelmed by the impact of her passing on my heart, mind, and spirit – all three longing for attention and healing – I went to yoga for relief, a tradition full of healing techniques that addressed all parts of me. In yogic practices such as controlling the energetic body through understanding of the chakra system, pranayama (breathing techniques), mantra (chanting), meditation, and the physical practice itself, I coped with my grief.

This is not solely a conditioning of body, but a practice that renews your entire being. It is time and space, set aside, to do the kind of inner work that leads to a sense of wholeness and alignment with our true nature.

Emotions need to be processed and released from the body, lest they become disease. I have seen people change in the space of a week during an intensive yoga retreat. I’ve watched them lighten up, physically and emotionally. I’ve watched the stress melt away and life return to their cheeks. In fact, I’ve seen this happen in the space of an hour. I see the magic of yoga happen with every single class that I teach. This is why I love yoga. This is why I feel passionate about teaching yoga. It is so much more than a gym class.

Later this week I’ll explain how the body is viewed through the lens of yoga: the five koshas, our five layers of being and how yoga heals them. Stay tuned!

As always… I love you!

Dear Brothers

Dear Brothers,
Please accept my apology.
I share it with deep sympathy.

We have shut you down.

We have shouted too many times,
You can never! let them see you cry.

If you do, You are a failure. You are weak.
You don’t know who you are or how to be.

And so you’ve have had to
Compress it.
Contain it.
Sustain it.

While we demand that you must be strong.
But you’ve carried this on for far too long.

And so it reveals itself in dramatic ways.
And we see it nearly every day…

Yet we don’t let up.
We still expect too much.

Society has shut down.

It turns out, neither of us knows
Who we are or how to be.
Again, my apologies.

 

 

*Just a quick note on this poem… Since Vegas and recent posts that I saw around #metoo, I’ve been thinking a lot about men and their place in our society. I’ve had some unresolved feelings and like I do whenever I’m unresolved about something, I decided to write. I have zero answers about any of it, but I do have this poem to share. Sometimes a little compassion is in order and that’s my Sunday morning mood. Sending love to all my brothers and sisters.

Open

Open

When we close our minds to that now unknown
We close ourselves to perspective grown
It’s convenient to think that we know what’s best
But we limit ourselves, evolution arrest
And isn’t it worth having choices more?
As we open ourselves to a life explored?
When our mind is free, comes nature’s gifts
Which hold the secrets to our own true bliss