Before working with ‘psychedelics’ there are a few things you should know.
As a western woman, surrounded and immersed in what I would call a very ‘sick’ culture, I feel honored to have had the opportunity to work with plant medicines.
Plant medicines are not drugs, nor should they be labelled as such.
There is a huge misunderstanding in our society around what these medicines have to offer, and how they are meant to be used.
More often than not plant medicines are abused.
We expect them to solve our problems, offer us enlightenment, and make us feel whole again.
I’ve watched many turn to an ayahuasca mat, or pop some mushrooms in the forest, as a way to feel like they ‘belong’ somewhere.
That feeling of belonging, which has been stripped from us due to displacement along with a disconnection from our ancestors and homelands, has caused us to yearn for something which we do not know how to find.
We all seek belonging in one form or another.
Whether we choose to spend time who have similar tastes as us, join a group or community, it all comes down to seeking safety in numbers.
This is primal, emotional, energetic and can be all consuming.
Having recently watched documentaries describing in detail the impacts of isolation in prisons, being alone for too long can literally cause an entire mental breakdown.
There’s nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to our deep desire to belong, but we must closely watch the shadow aspects of it.
When the shadow of belonging is alive in us we make decisions purely to be accepted, rather than making decisions from our own truth.
We will often have a fear of missing out or a sense that if we don’t do what others are doing we will be abandoned or rejected.
Plant medicines are not to be meddled with, attending a ceremony purely to fit in or because it seems like a cool way to “get high”, will likely lead to the medicine giving you a strong (and usually uncomfortable) reality check.
Now, if this happens – well, it’s in itself a huge healing. And, we must trust in that process for ourselves and others. But if you’re on the fence, have never worked with medicines before, and have a lot of questions – really check in around your true intention.
Plant medicines are not to be used as a quick solution to your problems, because trust me – working with plant medicine is not a fast process.
Just as it takes much time for a seed to sprout and grow into a fully formed plant, your healing can take just as long, or more likely – span across lifetimes.
Some of your pain is ancestral, and we must traverse back in time through our genetics to unravel the trauma of our grandmothers and grandfathers.
Plant medicines can take you there, with the help of a very experienced shaman, but this is no easy process.
So ask yourself if you’re ready to invest in the time and energy, amongst immense sacrifice, it can take to really do this work.
Working with medicines is akin to the process of ‘waking up,’ through shadow work. Often, we claim we really want to awaken, but when faced with the intense darkness of our shadow nature we turn the opposite cheek.
Even the most committed seekers face resistance time and time again, which is why the willingness to really look at your mind, question your beliefs and do the ‘harder’ work is required.
The above might sound quite heavy, and you may have heard of really positive “love and light” plant medicine experiences. These can and do happen, but it’s uncommon that every ceremony you enter will be a joyous one.
What I’ve found in my own personal experience, and from speaking to individuals and shamans with a lifetime of sitting with medicines under their belts, is that the consciousness of a plant medicine will pick and choose when to give ‘positive’ experiences based on each person’s particular healing journey.
The spirit of ayahuasca, for example, is extremely intelligent. I’ll call the spirit/consciousness a “she” as many experience and refer to her as an expression of the divine feminine.
Aya seems to know exactly what to show an individual to aid them in their healing process.
Sometimes, she will provide a very joyous journey, one full of light and beauty as a way to bolster your courage for a future session that might be quite the opposite.
She may also do this as a test, a way to see and show you how you might respond to the content and use it to feed your ego.
As my teacher likes to share, there once was a Zen student who approached his master after many hours of meditation. He shared with his master that the Buddha himself had appeared in a vision in front of him. The master turned to his student as said, “keep meditating, it will go away.”
The idea here is that we must watch the way our ego will make us special for having beautiful or powerful visions. And while this can be an exciting aspect of working with plant medicines, it can also be a huge distraction from really doing the ‘work.’
If you approach plant medicines with integrity, and a certain humbleness, they can and will work with you in ways beyond your imagination.
Deep healings, both physical and psychological can take place.
I’ve watched a fellow ayahuasca traveller regain hearing in an ear that had been non-functional for years. I’ve witnessed individuals with immense social anxiety become calm and centered in their interactions.
And I myself have experienced profound healing while working within the medicine.
However, I don’t see my work as done, I have merely scratched the surface.
The teachings ayahuasca provided me are ones I must remind myself of time and time again.
Coming back into our normal, everyday lives, with long-held patterns and habits is a huge challenge.
We are tempted to go back into our old ways, and even this is a part of the teaching the medicine provides.
The truth is no one can truly heal you, but you.
Medicines can aid you and support your process in extraordinary ways.
At the end of the day, your healing is in your own hands.
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