Lessons from the Jungle

“When you drink ayahuasca, and you get to see divinity, you can almost never speak of it because it’s too big for words.” - Gerard Armond Powell

My feeble attempt to express my experiences in the Amazon jungle learning from Ayahuasca follows. If you are called to do self-study with Ayahuasca, please do not assume your experience would ever be similar to mine. The plant medicine is a strong Mother Spirit – she will embrace you and then slap you across the face. She knows what you need to see if you are brave and willing enough to full-heartedly surrender. No two ceremonies are ever the same, and these experiences are even greater varied between individuals.

If you are called to study the medicine, my only pieces of advice are as follows; do with it as you wish:

1. Find a SAFE and reputable center that employs local Shipibo shaman

2. Find a center that brews their own ayahuasca and does not, under any circumstances, add another plant medicine called toé

3. This is not a recreational drug adventure. This plant is sacred. Be certain your intentions are pure and that you are willing to surrender to whatever Mother Ayahuasca wants you to see

4. Surrender to her

These writings were edited from my post-ceremony journaling. I summarized and condensed the lessons I received from the plant medicine, in that dark Maloca, out in the middle of the jungle, with a symphony of jungle sounds in every direction. Many of the more personal aspects of my journey have been kept sacred between Ayahuasca and me.

And off we go…

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What do I need to see?

An intense heartbeat is pulsating from below. Everything is vibrating. I realize it is not my own heartbeat. There are two rhythms present. There is a stronger vibration underneath of me – it is the Earth. It grows louder and drowns out my own heartbeat until these two rhythms synchronize into an intense harmonic dance. There is nothing to fear. The Earth holds me.

There is beauty, color, joy, bliss, space, time, and love that cannot even exist on this planet. I see and feel it all. Eternity is unfolding. My body dissolves. Boundaries and definition cease to exist.

It is overwhelming; I try to back away and pull out of the endless expansion.

But I intuitively know that I must fully surrender. This is why I came here. I must trust the process. I dive in and shed the layers between me and absorption.

Shed the layers.

The body.

The mind.

My ideologies and beliefs.

It all must die and wither away to make room for rebirth and growth.

Be vulnerable and surrender to be free.
Release the crutches and security blankets I mistakenly believe protect me. They, in reality, hold me back from a vast experience of total absorption of the infinite. Willing be vulnerable, knowing full well I may also feel pain. The temporary pain is less devastating than a mediocre life filtered by mental constructs and false ideologies. Let go. Be free.
The sweet, soft whispers of the spirit and shaman encourage me to let go of my white-knuckled grip of the flashlight. I removed my glasses, even. I dove into the darkness.
I must be vulnerable and choose to surrender to the great unknown and the vast expanse of this universe. I must be willing to be in temporary pain to experience the infinite possibilities and endless depths in this life. I must let go to be free.

Overwhelming joy and love. So much love. I keep clawing at my own heart as it feels it will burst, and tears pour out of my eyes.

I must allow myself to feel this love. This truth. I receive and feel love before I can give love out to others.

How can I explain this? It is beyond any words. Words are just another defining and constraining disservice to what is felt. This love is beyond everything. There are no boundaries or conditions. It is truly boundless and infinite.

This is all there is. Infinitely expanding love. This is what death is. It is perfect and beautiful.

There is no “god.” How can we even attempt to label what this is? It is too big for words. It is too big for human ideologies and constraints. It is laughable to selfishly attempt to assign a name or anthropomorphic characteristic to what the Divine truly is. It is impossible. It is beyond all linguistic expression. It is ever expanding and infinite. There are no boundaries or names. It is just is everything and everywhere and beyond.

This is all there. Bliss. Connection. Divinity. Expansion. Love. Everything else is an illusion. It is a fragmented reality.

She wants to test my understanding that everything is love. She wants to test my willingness to surrender.

I dive deep into my memory. Painful memories. “Have you truly healed from these? Or do you just say you have?” She asks. There are some pieces, some debris that must be cleared. Okay, yes. More work will be done.

How hard am I willing to work?

Horror. My body is pulled apart in all directions. I writhe and purge in pain. My body dissolves. A night filled with terrors. Putrid smells. The smells light up a glowing green and burn my sinuses. There are whispers in the dark. Footsteps behind me. Decomposing bodies to my left. A dark hole with hands pulling me into it on my right. I have no choice but to look up – lay on my back – expose myself and be vulnerable.

I trusted her. I surrender, yet again. I am immediately consumed by darkness. The horrors fade away.

Beautiful dancing lights and patterns fill my eyes. I start to drift down into nothingness.

Until my heart is split open - physically and violently split open. It is painful.

Another layer. I am still closed off. I have more to reveal. There are lessons that can only be learned with an open heart.

What do I need to transform?

A long, exasperating exchange goes on…

Not until I release my grasping of the “What” does it all become clear.

I need my partner, Jesse. My love.

I always thought I had everything I needed on my own. I need no one other than myself in this life. I maintain a self-preserving, survivalist mentality.

No. I had it all wrong. We are not put on this earth alone. My partner will help me to grow as I will help him grow in his own way.

We all need each other.

Things that appeared terrifying in the night felt like distant dreams in the morning.
The horror of the late hours in the dark was reduced to laughable tales in the illuminated reality of daylight.

Isn’t that how it always is? Horror cannot last forever. We either succumb to it or move beyond. Either way, it changes. We change.

Mother Ayahuasca is a clever spirit. She gave me a beautiful, healing experience in the first ceremony to gain my trust – to test if I was truly there with a pure heart. Was I truly willing to surrender and learn?

The harder lessons came once I proved myself.

What is next?

Focus! I am so distracted by the nonsense that pulls me out of the truth of beauty, bliss, harmony, and peace. Remember the truth: the bliss, love, expansion, and infinite I felt. I am not alone. I am held by the earth. There is synchronicity and connection everywhere if I choose to feel it. Don’t try to define or categorize the sensations. Wake up to the truth. I must remain connected.

I feel like I'm seeing the world for the first time. Like a new cub emerging from the jungle.
There is a freshness about my existence. There is clarity. There is a purpose.

Ayahuasca stretched my mind and heart beyond any comprehensible limits. She made space in my mind for the unexplainable. She opened my heart to a love indescribable.

She is with me. The Shaman says Ayahuasca imprints into your DNA when on a dieta (as I was for a week). She becomes a part of you. I still feel and hear her within me. And even more, in the silence, she empowers me to trust myself.

I feel brave. I feel new.

Where did my fear go?

It is time to create. To focus. To receive and give love. To remember the connection. To remember that we are all connected, and there is limitless, boundless love waiting for us if we choose to give and receive it.

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 Belmira & Segunda: My two, loving Shamans during my time in the Amazon.

Belmira & Segunda: My two, loving Shamans during my time in the Amazon.

Sarah Kadel