Why I Stopped Using Ayahuasca (Part 3)
As you might have imagined, I was eventually able to climb my way out of that black hole. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that life always supports us in our healing. But it’s life as a whole, not as some special technique, practice or medicine.
Life in its very simple complexity is essentially healing in and of itself.
To put all our eggs in one basket, whatever that basket may be, whether it’s Ayahuasca, Yoga, Meditation or religion, takes us away from seeing life in its wholeness and perfection.
We grow and mature, not through the ‘workshops and ceremonies’ we do, but through living each moment as we do. It’s the interconnectedness of all things that has its molding power over us like a magic wand.
What was the most healing after having descended into darkness is the slow soothing process of the ordinary day-to-day. I was still trying to make my way out of the abyss with medicine, digging my way down deeper. But over the years I was beginning to sober up. Having suffered so much, the resistance of my ego was under constant combat and had to wear itself out eventually.
I stopped to be so thirsty for the transcendent high and started to be willing to take in the soft pleasure of the ordinary, even if at first it was only a trickle. My journey had humbled me enough to be grateful for the smallest bits of light.
The discovery of embodiment
If you have read any of my other pieces, you might already know that I’m the ‘embodiment’-chick. Now you might be starting to understand how I have come to be so passionate about it. In my journey and process, there had not been enough awareness about the importance of it, nor had there been any support.
When I came across my Biodynamic Breath and Trauma Release (BBTRS) Training, it was literally a lifesaver. It was what brought me down to earth and back to life! It allowed me to see that whatever insights I had, whatever psychic openings there were, it was only as real and important as my body was able to open to it. It became integrated into its wisdom only through how much I could literally ‘breathe’ it in. And therefore embody it in daily life.
What truly heals
What truly heals is connection and safety. Even in my BBTRS training, I would say it was only fifty percent the ‘modality’ and fifty percent the group of people creating an amplified field, a container of safety to let go in. The realization that we were all in the same boat became such a direct experience that I couldn’t hide behind my spiritual superiority any longer.
What made it safe was the agreements of the group: to acknowledge that there is trauma in each one of us and that trauma is in the body, not just in the mind. That means we were allowed to shake and scream if need be, not just sit still in meditation. And that it takes the healing compassionate presence of another (or even better, the whole group) to have the courage to go deep into the freeze and feel it.
As we are being witnessed in our transformation, the imprint goes deeper than doing the work solo.
Acknowledging our shit from the level of our humanness makes everything more real, more down to earth. In comparison to seeing it from the transcendent where it’s so easy to enter the realm of ‘I’m not good enough, because I still don’t feel the divine in me.’
So what’s wrong about Ayahuasca?
Here I would like to make clear that these articles are not at all about making anything wrong. I love what the medicine taught me. I am forever indebted and grateful to her teachings and healings. I don’t think I would be here now if not for all the ceremonies I did. She is the grandmother, truly unconditionally loving and I feel blessed for her presence in my life!
And yet, I don’t think that to take Ayahuasca is enough for true transformation into an emotionally mature adult.
Everyone who goes into ceremony is at a completely different stage and evolution in his or her life. Some have a more complete and others a much less complete map of themselves. Which is exactly why not all the teachings are meant for us.
Why Not All The Spiritual Teachings Are Meant For You
We are living in a world that allows everyone instant access to basically everything. At our fingertips, we can read…
If you have cultivated a solid sense of self, then what Ayahuasca can teach you is maybe the next level of your evolution. It might connect you deeply into the mysteries of the universe and bring you more clarity and vision. Wonderful.
However, if someone, who is deeply traumatized and has patterns of disassociation for example (without even being aware of it!), goes into ceremony, they might lack the necessary stability to integrate their experience into life. They might see the light and then get hooked on it. Their experience of such profound love might cause them to reject everything else about life. They might never be willing to do their necessary shadow work. Or they might get completely overwhelmed by it.
They might get very confused about why we do all this healing work, thinking that they are the ones healing the planet with just their thoughts. Creating spiritual superiority and separation: there are the Ayahuasca Initiates and then there are the Muggles, the unawake ones.
(I feel ashamed now but that’s exactly how I used to see the world. It was easier to believe that I am special and chosen than to deal with my feelings of inferiority)
They might be totally frozen in their bodies, desperately holding onto the realms of the divine, refusing for the breath to enter, locked down in psychic warfare and paranoia with unseen entities. (I have observed and experienced this myself, it’s painful to watch). At the same time be completely unaware of their freeze and stuck in their self-righteous reality. After all, they had seen the light, they are almost enlightened. And everyone else doesn’t know what they are talking about!
There was a need for Ayahuasca and other indigenous medicines to enter the Western World and mainstream. But we need to be fully aware of the world where these practices came from. They are literally medicines. They are not a way of life.
You take an aspirin to get rid of your headache, you don’t take aspirin to maintain your headache-free state.
We also need to understand and honor the differences in the worlds that we inhabit. Ayahuasca was a medicine for people that didn’t live the modern western lifestyle, as we do now. Which makes integrating what we get from the medicine really an art.
In the process of which we also need to honor the wisdom that is coming through as a result of the world that we have created. Biodynamic Breath is one of them. Coming together in circle is another, for example.
We deal with very different maladies than our brothers and sisters in the jungle used to. Therefore we have different needs. Our brains are already overloaded with information. Our bodies saturated with chemicals. Our hearts suffering from isolation.
To take highly mind-altering substances without having a solid foundation of self, without having the necessary stillness available for integration and without belonging to a community in which it's culturally supported to do this work…it’s challenging, to say the least, and not always advisable. For it creates unsafety and unnecessary confusion.
There is room for everything
Our responsibility is to create safe (social and cultural) containers that can hold an honest inquiry about what it takes for the human heart to flourish into awakening. We need to come together, in circle, and have a dialog about the methods that are available and be authentic about our needs and the shortcomings of each practice. Honoring our ordinary humanness as much as our divinity.
We need to find a way to be integral. That means to
- look at our shadows,
- cultivate our embodiment,
- integrate our sense of self and
- build safe communities that support the awakening of the heart,
before we are mature enough to move into transcendence.
Kasia Patzelt works as an Embodiment Coach and writer living in Ibiza, Spain. She helps individuals to move out of trauma into a more wholesome, joyful life through one-on-one sessions and retreats. She is the editor of Embodied Thinking.