It took me a while to recover from my first Ayahuasca experience in 2015, but it’s been on my mind ever since. Looking back, I realize that the purging I did was not simply a physical purge, but a release of so much toxicity I was holding in my body. While I had many opportunities for another Aya ceremony while living in Ecuador, the timing simply wasn’t right and so I abstained, but it never left my mind.
I was looking through Facebook one day when I saw that a friend of mine “liked” a page – Soul Quest – an Ayahuasca church in Orlando, Florida. Aya had been on my mind daily for at least a month and I was even looking at flights back to Ecuador for a ceremony. Intrigued, I followed the link and saw there was a ceremony that weekend.
Four months clean from unprocessed foods, all drugs and alcohol, sex, and caffeine, my body was as pure as its ever been. Four months of detoxing from unhealthy relationships, my heart was on its way to purity as well. With my last weekend free before teaching yoga again, the timing was synchronous. I was called and when Aya calls, you go. Two days later, I was driving twelve hours to Orlando.
The retreat was three days and two nights, with an Aya ceremony each night and an optional daytime ceremony on Saturday. There was also a Rapé (rah-pe’) ceremony late Saturday afternoon – another sacred medicine from the Amazon, a powder made from tobacco and other plant leaves, finely ground herbs, seeds, and ashes. Check out my last post for my Rapé experience.
The medicine was mellow. I did throw-up once but it was minor. I cocooned on my mat and slipped in and out of consciousness for hours. At one point, I was held in my grandmother’s bosom while I felt the pain of losing her. I cried as I could feel that at our core, we are all the same and we are all craving connection. I felt the desperate longing for connection within my own soul.
I looked at the fire and saw the volunteers all dressed in white, looking like marshmallow men. They were enjoying each other and I was tapped into their energy as I found myself laughing along with them despite not being in on their jokes. The rest of the night passed quietly.
It was clear that Friday night was prepping my body for Saturday as the medicine came on strong. I lay cocooned in my blankets, in the fetal position with my eyes closed. With the sound of crystal bowls resonating in the background, a most miraculous show began to unfold. Geometric patterns of the boldest alien-like colors sliding around in my head. I was entranced for a while before I began to demand, What is behind the show? I watched. I waited. I demanded again, Behind the show. Behind the show… I want to see what is behind the show. I’m not here to be entertained. I realized I was whispering this aloud.
A voice emerged and a conversation began. I was told,
You can have anything you want, Stephanie.
Anything? I countered.
Fame and Riches?
Yes. Make it so.
I found it interesting that Fame and Riches were my first ask. I’ve realized that “Fame” and “Riches” are the worldly validation of what I actually want: To be valued and respected as a thinker and a writer. My logical brain knows this is already so, but my heart doubts. It’s so full of fear. Fear and its transcendence was to be the theme for the night.
We had been warned about the music. Our Sound Goddess, Amy, had said she would be playing some tracks that we might find unnerving. To let it take us deeper inside ourselves. There would be dissonant tones and they were meant to break up energies…. Ummm….Yeah. That worked.
I began to feel uneasy. The music was heavy. My organs were shaking. There was too much pressure in my body. I was running my hands through my hair incessantly as if smoothing my hair would smooth out my nerves. Finally, I purged.
It was all black liquid. A mixture of Ayahuasca, Rapé from earlier, and bad energy. I was on all fours in tabletop position, hovering above the bucket and staring down at my vomit. I was asking,
What just came out of me???
“Do you really want to know?” I heard. “I’ll show you if you want to see it.”
As I stared down at the liquid an image began to form as if looking into a magic mirror. Then I heard, “You don’t have to look. You can leave the past in the past and be happy it’s out of you.” I pushed the bucket away and laid back down on my mat content to leave the past behind me.
The show began again. The patterns, the colors, they carried on in their glory but I wasn’t here for a show so I repeated… What is behind the show? Then I heard, “Open your eyes and see. Look at all the light beings.”
I opened my eyes to the most incredible sight. Amongst the construct of reality that I had known before drinking the Aya were also the light beings. Thin holographic ribbons of rainbow light streamed through the air in many directions. It looked like a trail that Tinkerbell might have left behind, but these ribbons were entities in their own right. I was told, “These are the light beings. They love you more than you can imagine. You are surrounded by love.” And I felt it, I felt all of the love in the world. And then they told me…
There’s no wrong way to be. There is no wrong way to be. There is no wrong way to be!
It started as a message but soon I was the one whispering it aloud, There is no wrong way to be. So I can be me??? I asked.
Yes! You are a Stef, Steffing! You’re not doing it wrong. No one can tell you you’re doing it wrong! There is no wrong way for you to be. Be You, Stephanie. Do not worry about what others think. It does not matter.
I was like a child full of wonder. It was hard to believe that I’m allowed to be myself. That I’m allowed to be open and vulnerable, to be strong, talented and successful, to be unapologetically beautiful and sexy and kind and smart. To be a gift in this world.
It feels hard to believe that I can be a gift in this world. But I am. I am a gift. We all are.
Why are so afraid of it? Why have so many of us been made to feel shamed for who we are?
The sights and sounds carried on as I marveled. The messages were firing at me second by second.
Lay down your “needs”, Stephanie. You don’t need anything but to breathe. You have everything you need. Stop with the neediness. Lay it down.
Take better care of yourSelf. Your energy. Your spirit.
Don’t worry about food. Stop counting calories. Start counting blessings.
Stop digging for skeletons. You already know what’s there. Set down the past. Leave it behind.
Don’t worry about timelines.
You’re too controlling. Stop forcing things. When you resist life as it is, you push tension into your unconscious mind. This is why your body hurts.
You made a mistake with CAYA Yoga. You knew it too. When will you learn? Listen to your gut, Stephanie. You already know everything. Stop doubting yourself.
Your writing is a beautiful gift in the world. Stop being afraid of it. Don’t worry about what others think. Create from within. Own it. Share it.
Let your body age. Stop resisting it; it’s inevitable. Let your insides show. You’re beautiful. Be graceful.
Tell everyone how beautiful they are.
I asked about a former lover. I asked why I couldn’t let him go. She told me to “Be love and then leave.” This was what he had done and it was the lesson for me to learn. I hold on for too long sometimes. Sometimes it’s okay to just go.
I kept asking how to be an open-hearted being in the world. She said simply, “Be open-hearted.” I asked, BUT howww???? She grew tired of it. “It’s simple,” she said. “BE Open-hearted.” And so I’m opening. Poco a poco.
I was in awe of my experience. I was crying while saying “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” to Mother Ayahuasca. I was overcome with a sense of sacredness, sensing the ineffable presence of God. I understood, with all of my being, the sacredness of this plant and that it is not to be abused. She should be treated with absolute respect. And then she said to me…
You, too, are beautiful. YOU are worthy of love.
I felt so vulnerable – so fragile and passing – but at the same time seeing so much beauty in that. I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I am incredibly special and that I am worthy of love – all while feeling like I might disintegrate at any moment. It was like being a strand of the highest quality and most delicate golden thread, lingering out in space. I sensed my own value and fragility. I understood the need to protect my self-worth by setting clear boundaries with others.
I’ve never been clear with personal boundaries and I was receiving the message that I need to be. I need to understand my own self-worth and I need to protect my body, heart, mind, and spirit at all costs. I’ve never before considered any part of myself sacred. I was never shown that I am, until now. This was some very deep second chakra healing.
The thing that’s amazing about Ayahausca is the clarity it brings. This has always been a fuzzy area for me. I have moved through the world confident and self-assured, not even realizing that I had no sense of self-worth. They are different things – one is based on merit and the other is based on the inherent value of being. But lacking this esteem has resulted in depression, falling short of my own potential, and tolerating abusive situations and relationships. Aya illuminates the limiting belief systems that we are all carrying around unconsciously.
As I started to come down, I felt the need to expose my belly. Since feeling my IUD with San Pedro and having it removed a couple of weeks later, I was concerned that I had damaged my body. I was told to expose my belly so that the sounds could reach it. My womb needed healing from decades of birth-control.
Eventually the medicine wore off and I fell asleep. I awoke from the most beautiful journey feeling self-assured. Renewed. Upgraded.
We gathered for integration where I heard stories of recovery from addiction, fear, trauma, and pain. I heard people discovering purpose, who had uncovered their next steps, and who were taught how to connect with themselves without the medicine. Stories of how to be. How to heal.
For me, perhaps the greatest message that I received was to stop hiding. To be myself.
I have been conservative in what I have shared in the past. I have also made many choices that were not in alignment with who I am, in an attempt for validation. I have pretended to be someone else for too long. And so I will do my best to step out, into the life, and to be unapologetically Me.
We are all rising. This is a promise. We are the bringers of light.
I love you.