If you read my last post (Ayahuasca – The beginning), I may have left you in as much suspense and anticipation as I had been feeling the moment I left the shaman on that intense first meeting. Weirdly, back in January after the first meeting I was sick. Really sick. I rarely get sick, but the next day my body ached, my head ballooned and Adam road tripped to Mae Sai on his own. I was ill. All the way up to the day of the ceremony. I nearly cancelled. I should have cancelled. I didn’t cancel. I was ill, tired, and aching, but this was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss. I wanted to drink Ayahuasca.
I brought everything that had I had made strong associations with over the past few years. In particularly, my spoon. This was the scariest thing about the ceremony. I knew I had to surrender and let go, let my spoon go, but, my heart was holding on tight.
I was eager to ensure the butterflies flew in formation.
Me and Adam paid a visit to the market to buy fruits and flowers as offerings to the spirits (fluffy I know, but I was willing to try anything). Lilies I could not find, so I settled with a cheap bunch of bright yellow flowers and an assortment of fruit, including the smallest oranges EVER. We met at a guest house. It was weird. Situationally, it had a feeling of a tour or trek where tourists gathered to only be bundled in the back of a truck for an adventure out in the jungle of some kind. However, socially, people were inward. This was a going to be a solitary journey. This scared me.
We arrived at this amazing space. Crystals, statues, and paintings scattered the room. The medicine was being prepared, and the shrine built with the offerings.
The butterflies were swarming.
The sun fell, the night darkened. The shaman prepared us. He gave us all small crystals. These were our swords and I was a warrior of light. He described types of demons that we may encounter, some evil, some good, some that look evil, but are in fact good. At his point I was somewhat confused. However, one of the main messages was to surrender and accept. This is how the demons cannot harm you. They can eat away at your physical being, but your soul they cannot touch. Or at least this is how I understood it.
We mediated, we concentrated, we Aum’d. This was my first group Aum’in experience and weirdly, it had some energy I did not expect. I was feeling more prepared. I was feeling less anxious.
The butterflies were understanding.
Me and Adam were split. I was alone, but comfortable as I had gained a certain trust in the shaman whom I was near. I was one of the first to drink. The shaman performed a ritual everytime he passed the medicine. It was some kind of energy transference from himself to the glass containing the medicine. Once everyone had drunk, it was time to drink the second drink. It wasn’t the best tasting of drinks, however, we did have the chance to munch on some sweet tasty fruits after. As we finished drinking the medicine, the shaman visited each one of us one by one. Some for a few seconds, some for a few minutes. This was when I heard a few words that stayed with me for the rest of the ceremony.
“Courage, patience and trust”.
I sat. I laid. I meditated. The medicine started to take effect. A feeling that I can only compare to having tripped on mushrooms or LSD previously where reality gradually goes from normal to a little weird, but good. I was anxious. The medicine had hit the butterflies and they were swirling and swarming around every part of my gut.. While my gut was filled with this chaos, patterns and images involuntarily popped up on my minds movie screen. My mind was active, my body was alive. Patterns, fractals, colours, snakes serpents and eyes domoinated the screen. Pleasure, pain, guilt and lust infected my body.
I was uncomfortable. My eyes opened. The space was weird.
Time to try again. I would meditate, lay down, close my eyes and very quickly my eyes would open once more. I took comfort in the surreal world around me. The distorted reality was my security. The medicine took me on a journey into my heart, mind and soul, this was somewhere I wanted to escape. I procrastinated. I played with my crystal, I drunk water, I went to the toilet, I washed my hands, I went to the toilet… again.
I was ready.
Once more, I laid down. A decision come over me and I decided I wanted to meet death. I held my wrists out as if they were to be slit and I was to slowly fall into death. A slow and gradual pain began at my wrists as if they were being cut and I was voluntarily offering myself to be sacrificed. I wanted to experience death. I wanted to visit another realm beyond our reality. I wanted to know the unknown. I had something to say.
Something wasn’t right.
Anxiety started to infect my body once more as I thought about burning my spoon. This wasn’t how I was meant to feel. I wanted to be ready to let go. I wanted to burn my spoon and release it back into the universe with no bounds or cages. I wanted both to be free.
I had courage, but no trust and no patience.
I resisted and I did not surrender. Disappointment rose with the dawn and I felt I let myself down. I had high hopes and expectations to come out of the other side feeling better, feeling healed, clean and stronger. But all I had was tiredness and disappointed as the ceremony came to an end.
…. reflections to follow.
After 6 yoyo’ing months being in Chiang Mai, there was no better excuse to get away than my mum and her partner coming to Koh Mak and Koh Chang for a small break from good old Blighty. It’s been a long time coming. They’ve been saying they’re coming to Thailand for the past three years. Better late than never, innit?
The preparation for the trip was difficult. New associations of the past unexpectedly hit me with a few waves of pain when I tried to do the simple tasks such as pack, leave Chiang Mai and arrive in Koh Chang. The hardness was felt due to the fresh and raw associations, strongly linked to the past I hadn’t yet had been confronted with. Once the first is done, it’s easier (Kinda like eating a frog the moment you get up, everything after that is easy). The return to Chiang Mai for the first time alone was hard. Now, everyday is easier. Similarly, this situation of travelling alone will get easier the more I do it. Hmm…. Note to self: Travel more.
Realising. Adjusting. Adapting.
We loved sunsets, but it was now time for me to appreciate this love of the burning sky alone. Solitude is healthy. Aloneness is good. Those words are a few of many that I took from my Vipasanna meditation retreat. It allowed me to find peace with myself and I could again appreciate my own company; something that was always valuable to me.
So, it was sunset o’ clock and I was compelled to get myself to the beach. The sky was clear, the day was beautiful. I sat on Kai Bae beach in the heat of the cooling sun and watched the burning sky for a few moments with the sand tickling my toes. As I watched came thoughts, dwellings and memories attached to the past. I let them. I appreciated them and I respected them. I wanted to know them. After a brief visit to the past, it was time…
… time to close my eyes.
Once my eyes are closed, it is a commitment I give to myself to stay in the present. I find peace in the present as if nothing can harm you. Often my mind wanders and I slowly reel it back in with no question. It wanders once more, again with no frustration or questions I pull myself back to the present. With this, my consciousness had rapidly shifted from the past to the present as the heat of the sun hugged my body and the wind blew on my face, neck and arms. I was sucked in to the ocean and skies presence. With each minute that passed, the warm hug became lighter, became cooler. I could sense the sun sinking into the sea. Two transitions were happening.
The sun was sinking and the emotions were rising.
They were rising from my gut, to my heart and out via my tears; the release I was hoping for. (kinda like squeezing the last little bit of juice out from the lime. Although, there is a lot more juice left in this lime). So… as I digress, it seemed the inner me was in conflict. It seemed there was a battle between two forces: my consciousness and my ego. My mind, my ego wanted me in the past, it wanted me thinking I was not alone, it was stubborn, it was sad. It wants to keep me sad. Maybe I had found some identity with this sadness over the past 9 months. Maybe my ego is sad, maybe sadness is now my ego’s addiction. Maybe not. I believe there was once a time when I needed to feel such intense pain and sadness. It is this pain that is allowing myself to bounce back and grow. Now, after nearly nine months of feeling such emotion, I struggle to fathom a purpose. I let go of alcohol and it’s distractions as it didn’t serve me. It is time sadness gets the same treatment. I am letting it go, or at least trying to.
I remained present.
The deeper the sun fell, the more focused I was. I was determined to remain in the present with a middle finger and a rational, “fuck you!” to my ego that wanted to keep me caged in the past. Raw thoughts and memories came up bringing intense sadness that gripped my heart and gut. Over the last few months, especially after learning Vipasanna I have learnt that with any storm, there is always a calm. I observed and accepted the storm of tears and the calm inevitably came; the pain and sadness was released from my body. I was finally in peace. I sat, still being tickled by the sand, and remained still. My eyes opened.
The sun had sunk. The day had passed.
I was content.