That’s a picture of Spokane Falls from the north suspension bridge. It is kind of a symbol for where I am at these days. I have not posted to the blog for a long time because the processing of one’s life can be a complex series of events, understandings, insights that have to be put together like a 3d puzzle of flesh and blood. There’s a lot of crashing around rocks, vapor rising, noise and tumult but eventually as you observe the phenomenon for a while you begin to see patterns and then to know better what is happening in your life.
I knew that Mama Aya would be working in the background of my mind, helping me to see things differently, opening me up to knew possibilities. Considering what she had to work with it’s a wonder that things have moved at all. But I have, through my reading, prayer and meditation and talking to friends been able to open up to things in new ways and to embrace new ideas, and people. I have come to understand that some of my stuckness began when I was only a toddler. Lots of drama in the family at that time – no one to blame really – just life working itself out in the people that God had provided me with. But I had to protect my young psyche from an early age. Discovering that was due to Mama Aya’s help during the second ceremony. Learning that has freed me up to begin the process of healing, learning to trust. And in order to do that, God had to bring someone into my life that Mama Aya could show me how to trust and share with in a new way.
That person walked into my life about three months ago and though we got off to a pretty slow start (I am real slow on the uptake – thus the need for a lot of processing time) through Patty’s openness to my confusion, I have been able to take some steps in trusting and openness that I have not been able to do before. I am so grateful, so blessed. Lots of work to do but it’s the work I have wanted to do all my life. It wasn’t even possible until I encountered Mama Aya. So… Thank You Mama Aya. Thank You God. Thank you Patty.
This is my friend, Anya, She is a very special lady who has some very special interests which I will not go into here but you should get to go to her place in the country. Anya is the person who connected me with Wakana and helped to arrange for my Ayahuasca ceremony experiences. I asked Anya to share her own journey and here it is:
Ayahuasca, in short, gave me the opportunity to live my life. What I mean to say is, I now feel sustained joy in being alive, as opposed to existence in struggle. I kicked 35 years of anti-depressant and ADD med dependency. I no longer think and behave addictively with alcohol, opiates, and food. I no longer entertain suicidal ideation. I broke a 15 year insomnia schedule that never allowed me to get a restful night sleep. I gained a working metabolism, hormonal regulation, and natural dopamine release. Moreover, emotional issues I had spent decades of years and thousands of dollars to exorcise, were, one by one, expunged, in Ayahuasca ceremony. That is not to say that all of this occurred in a single ceremony. I’ve experienced and have born witness to individual paths of readiness to allow the medicine to work it’s magic. For me, it came in an initial 3 journey experience 10 years ago, and then, when I was ready, a full year of multiple ceremonies. If I were to express the full weight of my gratitude, awe and joy for the miracles I have received in my work with the medicine, my testimonial might seem overstated and off-putting. So, I am choosing here to maintain a factual accounting of the freedom I have gained from this amazing work. I now love life. I didn’t before. I now feel peace with life being finite. Before, I both feared mortality and simultaneously wanted to end my life. I now accept others for who they are, rather than feel either compelled to save them, in judgment of them, or afraid of them. I am now kind to myself. I speak of my failings in past tense and honor myself, without having to first compare myself to some artificial “norm” before rendering judgment. My choices are good for me. I am good. I am me.
That said, Ayahuasca isn’t for everyone. One has to be ready, open-minded, and brave. I do not push the opportunity to work with a Ayahuasca shaman on anyone, because it is not for everyone. If it is your time, you will naturally find yourself drawn to learning about it and will eventually feel compelled to explore it personally.
I am very grateful to you Anya. I hope we can participate in ceremonies together again.
So I have asked Leroy and Dan to update me, for the blog, on how the Ayahuasca experience is playing out in their lives. Dan generally says that he doesn’t notice much difference. And who am I to question that? But I mentioned this to his sister who said that she had noticed that since returning from Panama, Dan has been posting more selfies on instagram, facebook, etc. I think that that is an interesting change so I asked Dan about it. He says that Mama Aya told him that he is good looking and that he ought to share that and believe in it. Huh, I say. Isn’t that a significant post Ayahuasca development? Dan shrugs it off. Who am I to question that?
Despite the cold and snow and the seemingly infinite process of snow removal things keep breaking loose for me. It’s a good journey, but also a difficult trek. I sometimes think of it as being similar to Frodo’s journey to Mt. Doom, carrying this burden that he had gladly accepted while not understanding the real nature of the burden and what it would do to him, how it would change him. Of course, this is true for all journeys and for all the burdens that we carry because there is the spiritual part of every human journey that is human life. There is the goal of dropping that burdensome load into the fire and then there is the goal of becoming the person we are meant to be. What most of us don’t understand that the temptations do not go away as we come closer to our goals the temptations become more powerful and insidious. It is significant that Gollum had to bite Frodo’s finger off in order for Frodo to finally accomplish what he set out to do. And though it seems so mundane, the most important thing that happened for Frodo is that he had a good and faithful friend, Sam (Samwise) who helped Frodo rise to the needs of the journey. Don’t we all need those people who encourage us to our best selves? Don’t we all need people who see in us the things we can’t see, both good and bad, and are willing and able to confront us with those qualities?
The deep and deeply personal things that I have been learning about myself have haunted me all my life. I did not think about my problems that way nor did I think about my coping mechanisms as being dysfunctional. It is a lot like getting sick, though: you are well until you know that you have symptoms. In reality the sickness was there long before the symptoms showed up. It’s better to know what is bugging us so that we can treat it before there are symptoms than to treat and then recover and then restart the process of living healthily. I’m not sure the last sentence makes a lot of sense to anyone but me. Good enough. So I will end by saying that I am very grateful for having had the chance to meet Mama Aya and to learn what she had/has to teach me.
What I appreciate about Mama Aya is that she works with you where you are. I had to trust that she is benevolent and that trust has paid off. Using the things I am familiar with she shows me the connections and knots that I have had for years and years, and she helps me to unravel them using familiar tools.
I have become familiar with the tools of philosophy, of counseling and of theology so as I continue to study and work within those disciplines Mama Aya helps me to find the paths that will move toward my true self. I had been interested in Integral Theory for a few years. So when I got back from Panama, I began to study it seriously; this time via Ken Wilber’s book The Religion of Tomorrow. And every part of the work and study I have done in my adult life is addressed in this book. I have learned a lot and have begun to apply what he teaches to my own life.
It is not more challenging than anything I’ve ever done or tried but the ideas and tools make more sense to me than any other approach that I have tried. Wilber himself is a Buddhist but he is familiar enough with other faith traditions to make valid and valuable suggestions regarding them. He is a therapist and a philosopher. He understands modern physics. He is a very smart guy. But none of this comes across as guru stuff. He presents like someone who has been there, done it, understands it and wants to give what he has received to others pretty much gratis. My bullshit detector never rises very high on the meter when I read his stuff. I have been using the tools he suggests to help me progress in my own journey with some success. Check him out if or ask me more, then check him out.
One very important thing that I learned is the real difference between human levels of growth/development and and levels of awakening. Makes a big difference in what one pursues and how one goes about it.
I am more and more convinced that my second ceremony wherein I was “not responsive” for several hours was where Mama Aya,figured out a lot of connections that she then made possible for me to reconstruct when I got back to my regular life.
I know that I developed, as a survival strategy when I was very young, what I call wilfull ignorance. It was a way of ignoring inconsistencies in family stories, avoiding questions and generally not having to deal with the craziness. It was a pretty good strategy except, as with all childhood survival strategies, they’re not useful when you have to deal as an adult with the “real” world. Only by then you just have this set of behaviors with no memory of why and how you developed them. And very often, they become monsters that control your life.
The monster gets assistance from the ways we learn to lie to ourselves in the family, the ways we things we do to dull the pain of knowing that we are not presenting our true selves to the world. Some people become quite successful in what the world calls success by focusing on things like work, money, getting ahead. But if we don’t deal with our false selves we fail in our relationships. I can say that I have not been successful in the ways the world considers success. And although all of my relationships need work, I have pretty good relationships because I have striven to be honest about my true and false selves. But you need more than honesty. You need knowledge. And my strategy was directly related to not having the knowledge. I did not know how to get there from here. Mama Aya did and she has been giving it to me bit by bit since I participated in the Ayahuasca ceremonies. I am grateful.
It’s pretty early on a very cold morning in Spokane. Thought that “pretty” describes the photo too, you know?
Processing deeply seems to have been the take-away from the ceremonies. After really trying to figure out what energies were clogging up my own system I came to the conclusion that I am carrying parental energy from, perhaps, infancy. The fact that it comes from so early in my life is why I have been unable to recognize it as not my energy. But once I figured it out and allowed myself to trust my own instincts and detective work on this, I did as Wakana suggested and called on my spirit guides, guardian angels, God Father/Mother, child and Holy spirit as well as few favorite saints to send that energy away and to help me keep it from sneaking back into my system.
So far it has been working and I find that I am more interested and invested in using my own energy to grow and develop in way that have always stymied me until now. It’s hard work but it’s satisfying work. I find that prayer and people help me to focus both to unravel old energy knots and to make straight the way in the wilderness. I realize that my strongest defense as a child was to practice willful ignorance. How did that help? Not sure of all the specifics but I do know that by having “I don’t know” as a ready response to intrusive questions and (frankly) all other questions I was able to preserve my “self.”
It was a very effective strategy but, unfortunately, i did not have an exit strategy because ” I didn’t know,” right? By the time I was ready or at least old enough to act on my own the ignorance was so knotted up in every aspect of my life that I could not un-knot it. That, I think, is what Mama Aya went to work on during the 2nd ceremony but, of course, out of my ken so that I could learn and grow. NO miracles allowed. That’s fine. I believe in developmental process as the true work we all have to do to evolve the world into the Universal or Christ or Buddha consciousness. God is good.
I asked Dan and Leroy about how things had gone/changed since our trip. This is what Leroy sent:
Well I’ve lost another 15 pounds. I’m much more conscious (in the moment) about my eating habits as well as my day to day activities. My taste in reading and listening material has shifted into a more heart centered space instead of knowledge of obtaining power. I’ve recently purchased a book called the collective work of the wingmakers which is interesting. I feel much more care free. I don’t have as much anxiety as I use too regarding bull shit. The first couple of weeks were tough because I could see very clearly how ass backwards our culture is here, and how the masses fall for this bread, and circus non sense. I could feel the pressure of the culture trying to suck me back into its hysteria. Since then I’ve learned to disconnect and detach my self from it. However the result of doing this is feeling out of touch with society and not really tuning into people’s so called problems. My perspective seems to have shifted into a much bigger picture. I have to watch this because I don’t want to come across as insensitive or uninterested regarding my wife’s work life, and school practicum experiences. It’s a very strange space that I am in right now. This is not to be thought of as negative just different because I’ve never been so carefree. I’m not sure if carefree is even the right word to describe it. Control free???
I also see a lot of anomalies in my peripheral vision now. It use to happen once in a great while before. Now it’s everyday multiple times. I almost had a out of body experience while I was driving my son to red rock. That scared the shit out of me because I don’t want to get in an accident. That’s pretty much it on my end. How about you…
I thought it would be good to show that it’s not just me who’s processing. It is different for each of us. My process goes on as I learn to deal with long-standing anxieties – some of which I had not even realized I was carrying. As a result I am meeting the world more “head-on.” I’m sorry that these posts aren’t regular. I do them when there is something to say. I am certainly grateful to Leroy for paying close attention to his process. Thanks man. Ron
I bought that crucifix in 2005 in Albuqurque. It’s made of fused glass and you may notice that the “corpus” is symbolic rather than the standard human form. What I think is interesting about this corpus is the serpentine shape. We are told before we begin the ceremony that if Mother Ayahuasca appears to us at all it comes in the form of a serpent. For most westerners that is scary and symbolic of things opposed to God.
One thing I learned form my first Ayahuasca ceremony is that I would have to somehow reconcile that old Christian mythology with where God was taking me. What I did not remember/realize is that I had had the reconciliation hanging on my wall for a number of years. Now that I see it I am having a Homer Simpson moment – “Doh!” The good news is that if we work at processing the the various paths of our lives, sooner or later they come together at a crossroads that helps us to know that we are on the path to the mindfulness we are called to.
Ken Wilbur and others who teach Integral Spirituality would have a lot of questions for ma about all of this. I am still learning, growing, developing, evolving so the connections are not entirely clear to me but I can feel them. So I am processing this information, these connections, knowing that they will help in my growth. One of the things I have learned is that I need help. It remains to be seen what that help will look like but I have taken steps to get help. Another new thing for me. Would not have happened without the help of Mama Aya.
PEACE and LOVE, RON
A week has gone by since my last post. That is the nature of processing an experience. Two things have happened. 1) Wakana was finally freed up from holiday busyness to impart the message she had received for me. The gist of which is: that I get clogged up, due to the nature of my work most likely, with other people’s energy and that I need to practice a discipline of clearing out that energy and strengthening my own. Good advice. Discipline. One of those words nobody likes to hear. But she is no doubt right. So I am working on that.
2) I realized that my first ceremony was spent dealing with a very primitive paranoia that I thought I had left behind a long time ago. It was the first thing I needed to work out, though, if I want to develop my own emotional/spiritual life. The paranoia was around the sense that I can’t worship the Trinitarian God and and participate without condemning myself to hell in Ayahuasca work. It comes from almost my infancy. It’s a false choice, of course. But my infantile self was not able to recognize that and move on to work with Mama Aya. And when it came time to debrief our experiences, I was too ashaned to tell what had really happened. As a result, I did not get what I might have from working with Mama Aya. Thus I am “processing” which is what people with counseling backgrounds are familiar with. Reinforcing my sense that Mama Aya works with us around our own spirituality.
What I know is that God the Creator made all things good and any evil that comes from our world comes from inside us. I was prevented with a false choice as a child and still carried it with me. Having processed this now, I know that I would have a very different ceremony experience. I hope to make that happen someday. It is important to know, that the unfinished business we have will be the thing that Mama Ayahuasca will help us work on. It’s a good thing even if it’s a little disconcerting.
PEACE and LOVE, Ron
As I was leaving mass this morning one of my fellows who attends mass more or less daily, stopped me to say that he’d heard something he wanted to share. Dave paused a beat, took a breath and said; “Make a good day… not have a good day.” It’s common at the end of mass for the priest to say “Have a good day.” My response to Dave was that making a good day is too much work. I proceeded on to have my morning walk. I really need the exercise. But Dave wasn’t done. He raised his voice to carry to me as I moved away and said that the whole point is to work, be active not passive in making a good day.
I understand the impulse in a culture that believes that we have to be active, control things, dominate the day. However, I just left mass, the whole point of which is to remind us of our dependence on God, that the day cannot be dominated. I”m pretty sure that this insight would not have occurred to me without Mama Aya’s intervention. I think that she has opened me up, I have been passive in this because there is nothing else that I can do bit let her show me what I need to know.
As I walked this morning, I went down many paths of exploration regarding this encounter with Dave and my response to his words. What I realized, is that there are many adequate and “truthy” ways to think about making a good day. What Mama Aya has been helping me to experience is what “the truth” is for me. She has also been helping to understand that “my truth” is not “the truth.” My journey with her during the ceremonies was about understanding where “the truth” is in things and how the truth intersects with “my truth.” What I expect is pretty close to “the truth” is that, as a culture, we need to understand how dependent, how passive we must be to actually survive on the planet. Something to ponder, process further as I go along.