Thursday, December 31, 2015
My Trip to the Edge of Sanity
This is a couple of reports on the Ayahausca experience and one is from one of the first facilities in North America providing the service.
I have not experienced this drug nor have i experienced any drug nor particularly care. I am deeply interested in the developing beneficial results of targeted and carefully guided applications of psychoactive drugs like Cannibis and Ayahausca. The good news is that superior protocols are also evolving that are far less physically stressful.
The remarkable take home is we have two individual reports of long term drug addiction been resolved. I would like to see this tested on nicotine to see if some relief can be found there.
I am optimistic that science has been cut loose on all these drugs and some sort of sane therapy protocols are now well on the way..
My trip to the edge of sanity
Fans say this drug can cure heroin addiction… but its use is controversial and illegal
5 December 2015
A single flickering candle is the only source of light in the living room of a house in Wandsworth. Six of us are seated in a circle, each occupying an armchair or a spot on a sofa as the shaman, Adam, sings a rhythmic tribal chant in Spanish and shakes a rudimentary rattle made from dried leaves.
We’ve all knocked back a dose of ayahuasca, a powerful Amazonian hallucinogen, and are anxiously waiting for the drug to take effect.
I’m doing my best to relax, but I can’t help noticing Jess, an Australian charity worker in her twenties, out of the corner of my eye. Seconds earlier, she buckled over and rested her chest on her lap, burying her head into her knees. I’m about to ask her if she’s all right when she lifts her head and is violently sick. I think of that Bette Davis line in All About Eve: ‘Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.’
I first met Adam several weeks earlier when I was trying to find out more about ayahuasca. A concoction made from particular leaves and vines by the tribes of the Amazon for many hundreds of years, it suddenly seems to have become all the rage among fashionable types in London and New York. Celebrities from Paul Simon to Sting, Miley Cyrus to Lindsay Lohan, have spoken about its benefits, and it featured prominently in a recent film about the lives of Brooklyn hipsters called While We’re Young.
But the drug’s recent surge in popularity has brought controversy too. A 19-year-old British backpacker died in Colombia last year from an ‘allergic reaction’ and in Brazil ayahuasca was implicated in the murder of a prominent newspaper cartoonist — both he and his attacker were members of the church of Santo Daime, which administers the drug as a sacrament (and has a handful of outposts in the UK). And there’s no shortage of anecdotal reports linking it to seizures and mental illness.
On top of all this, the active ingredient in ayahuasca is dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, a Class-A drug. Although there has only been one ayahuasca-related conviction in Britain to date, anyone supplying or dealing the drug could in theory face life in prison. So what is the attraction?
It’s not always obvious. Some initial research revealed first-hand accounts of people who had taken the drug and experienced vivid, sometimes bizarre visions — mind-boggling colours and patterns, a swarm of malevolent red-eyed bats, or a personification of the brew in the form of ‘Mother Ayahuasca’. One man even described seeing his own penis take on the form of a towering building, ‘rendered from solid, impenetrable stone’.
More intriguing is the claim that it has therapeutic properties. Some users report temporarily heightened powers of introspection that allow them to consider their lives in a deeper, more meaningful way. Others speak about an increased sense of connection with the natural world; and there are claims (credible ones, according to Professor David Nutt, a former government adviser on drugs) that heroin users have been cured of their addictions after just a few supervised sessions.
I got in touch with Graham Hancock, whose books about archaeology and ancient civilisations have sold in excess of five million. He also gave a TEDx talk about his experience of ayahuasca in which he described how his encounters with ‘Mother Ayahuasca’ helped him kick a 24-year cannabis habit and re-evaluate the impact that his actions were having on those closest to him. He suggested that by stopping people using the drug, we might be ‘denying ourselves the next vital step in our own evolution’. Administrators removed the video of Hancock’s talk from the TED website amid accusations that he was pedalling ‘pseudoscience’ — which seems slightly unfair, considering that accusation could be levied at 99 per cent of TED talks.
However, when Hancock welcomed me to his beautiful Georgian home in Bath, he told me this move did him ‘a huge favour’. Footage of the presentation was reposted on YouTube, where it has garnered more than a million hits. When it was revealed earlier this year that Hancock would be giving a free-to-attend talk about ayahuasca at Waterstones on Oxford Street, the initial response was so overwhelming that the organisers asked him to tell his 84,000 Twitter followers to stay away.
Hancock’s view is that taking ayahuasca ‘might just shake us up so much that it allows repressed memories to be released, and allows us to empathise with people in ways that we normally block ourselves off from’. But, he added: ‘The sense of entering a seamlessly convincing parallel universe inhabited by intelligences is overwhelming. It is very hard to convince yourself that, at some level, it’s not real. I think it’s premature of science to say: “That’s just your brain on drugs.” I think it needs to be investigated much more deeply.’
It is in the cause of investigating more deeply that I find myself at the house in Wandsworth on a Friday night, where Adam, who runs the Facebook page ‘Brilla Medicina’, is to guide us through the ayahuasca experience. Also in attendance are two charity workers, a former schoolteacher and a nurse-turned-homeopath. Each of the guests has made a ‘donation’ of £100 and we are all supposed to be midway through a strict regime that forbids pork, alcohol, drugs, dairy products, red meat and sexual activity for up to a week before and after the ceremony.
There is some nervous small talk before we take our seats and eye up the cavernous black plastic sick buckets that have been provided. Adam, who is extremely tall and wearing jeans, shirt and a pair of Nike trainers, dons a brightly coloured tunic and a necklace decorated with animal teeth. He then lights a pipe filled with tobacco and sets about ‘purifying’ the candlelit room with smoke, pacing around and chanting between puffs. Next, he takes a plastic litre bottle filled with the ayahuasca brew and shakes it. The bottle hisses gently when he removes the lid and pours about 25ml into a small cup.
After some more blowing of smoke, chanting and hand gestures, Adam finally offers me the cup before repeating the process with each participant. We sit with our eyes closed as he sings tribal chants, shakes a rudimentary rattle made of dried leaves and tells us to ‘open our hearts to love’. The homeopath, Moira, has also spent time in Peru and she joins in, adding her delicate voice to Adam’s deep timbre, creating rather a beautiful harmony.
After an hour, apart from feeling very mellow, I haven’t noticed any effects. So when Adam asks whether we’re OK and would like a second cup, I say yes.
It’s after the third cup that I really achieve lift-off. To start with, I see a spectacular galaxy of moving, brightly coloured geometric shapes, which gives way to images of exotic jungle plants growing and sprouting new leaves. But these disappear if I open my eyes, which I do when I hear Moira move over to help Jess, the Australian charity worker who is bent double beside me at the other end of the sofa.
Moira kneels down in front of Jess and whispers: ‘You are carrying a great sadness.’ She then rises to her feet and blows smoke from a hand-rolled cigarette through her cupped hands and on to the top of Jess’s head. Instantaneously, Jess vomits into her bucket and begins to sob. ‘That’s good,’ says Moira. ‘Let the sadness out.’ After a while, Jess stops crying audibly, brings her feet up onto the sofa and goes quiet.
I close my eyes again and soon the visions give way to a strange, profound feeling — as if I am teetering on the edge of an abyss within myself. Below, madness awaits. Fortunately, I am still lucid enough to know that going insane would be a very bad thing indeed and so resolve to avoid that fate by focusing on happy thoughts with laser-like intensity.
This, rather soppily, leads me to think about my mother. I’m not usually given to sentimentality, but I begin to consider how much she loves me and how every-thing I have, I owe to her. But then I start to worry: maybe the reason I haven’t yet found a nice girl to settle down with is partly because of the strength of that relationship. Perhaps I expect too much? No, I tell myself, one day, I’ll find The One, and we’ll be able to make our own children feel as loved as I did growing up. This seems to do the trick, and I allow myself to bask in a feeling of contentment.
Eventually, as the effects start to wear off and I sense my grip on sanity becoming a little firmer, people feel ready to discuss their individual experiences. Jess says that she met Mother Ayahuasca herself and, overall, felt positive about the experience — even if, at one stage, it was as though she could feel the sum total of ‘all the sadness in the world’.
No one knows what time it is, but once mobile phones are retrieved and switched back on there is some surprise that it’s almost 5 a.m. — nine hours after we first arrived. Blankets and mattresses have been laid out on the floor to accommodate anyone who wants to sleep at the house, but most are keen for their own beds, and cabs are called.
As Adam leads the group into the garden to pour the contents of the sick buckets into a hole, my phone signals the arrival of an Uber. And somewhat gratefully, I begin the next leg of my journey back to reality.
Some names have been changed.
I remember it like it was yesterday.
It was on one of the most intense nights of my entire life.
It was March, 2013, on a dark night... I arrived at the home of a local shaman in Peru.
He gave "the talk" on what to expect with Ayahuasca, how to get the most out of my ceremony, and he asked:
"Who here is sitting with Ayahuasca for the first time?"
I raised my hand, as others raised theirs around me.
"Wow, this is really happening," I thought...
Nervous, yet extremely excited, not knowing really how to feel, I made my way into the Ceremony temple.
We sat in a circle, got our buckets and our blankets, and one by one, went up to receive a cup of this potent, powerful, life-changing tea.
The lights dimmed.
The room went still.
And then, like popcorn, I could hear people around the temple starting to purge into their buckets.
And it hit me.
I started to get these colorful visions, that I didn't know how to make sense of.
Of course, I didn't try to make sense of them, as I entered a space of no-mind, no-thought...
I felt this energy moving inside of me, like a snake, slithering around... It was the Spirit of Ayahuasca.
I watched her, and I could see her go into places inside my mind, inside my heart, inside my soul...
And break them open. Tear them apart.
There was this sensation almost like an explosion going off inside of me.
And "the purge" began.
I vomited, and purged, and released, and cried...
I saw experiences from my life I had long forgotten about...
I witnessed scenes of my life, like a movie playing in front of me.
And things that once pained me so deeply to just think about, seemed to instantaneously resolve
and heal themselves, as I watched it, from this birds-eye perspective.
I saw my first girlfriend, and how I cheated on her...
I saw my addiction to chasing money...
I saw my parents getting divorced... and my difficult childhood...
Experience after experience, they played before me. And I continued to purge, simultaneously, as I saw these painful memories re-emerge.
I went between crying, vomiting, and curling into a ball in fetal position... and this continued for hours.
Until eventually, the worst of it was over...
And I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I was filled with this somewhat euphoria. A new-found sense of "lightness", like I just took off a 100 pound backpack of rocks that I didn't even know I was carrying.
And a smile crept on my face.
I started to laugh, at the journey I just went through...
I could see, I knew, how powerful what I experienced was.
And I knew, in that moment, I am here to share this medicine with the world.
I didn't know how, or in what way yet, but I KNEW.
And the journey began.
The next day, I was exhausted, but I could feel, deep DEEP inside, a shift. Beyond anything I could really comprehend.
I was different.
Life was different.
How I thought, how I felt, even what I wanted in a grander scheme, was different.
Clearer. More true to ME & my path...
It was one of the hardest, most intense nights of my life.
But it was worth it. Absolutely beyond words worth it.
And I had to come back. I knew, I had to sit with this medicine again.
Nothing has ever helped me as much as this did.
Nothing has ever created that deep of a shift inside of me, so quickly, than what I just experienced.
I'm not going to sugar-coat this.
It's NOT going to be easy.
But if you want real change in your life, then, it's not going to come through doing what's "easy".
It takes a commitment, a dedication, a perseverance, and a true heart-felt desire for the deepest shifts
inside, for anybody to come to Ayahuasca.
I won't ever tell you it will be easy.
But I will tell you, it will be one of the greatest things you have ever done for yourself.
If you're ready, to really face the pains aching at your heart from the inside out, to go into the shadows, find the memories that continue to create pain and struggle in your life, and finally let them go...
If you're really ready, then now's your chance.
You don't have to go to Peru.
We've brought Ayahuasca to you.
Because I know we need it. As a whole, our society is sick. We need this medicine.
So if you feel the call, click here to learn how to experience Ayahuasca in America, and get all the
details on our DEEP spiritual healing retreats.
We're here for you.
Whenever you're ready.
With SO much love, here for you in every way possible, Trinity de Guzman & The Ayahuasca USA Family PS - I'm not here to convince anybody to sit with this medicine. That's the last thing I'm here to do.
I just tell my story, share my truth, open my heart, and let you decide what to do for yourself.
Listen to your heart.
Ayahuasca is NOT for everybody. It's only for people who are ready to really go deep, look inside, and face the sadness that lays in the corners of our consciousness, that we often try to pretend don't exist...
Only if you're ready to do that, should you apply for any of
our healing retreats.
SO much love your way!