Post Ceremony Reflections, Part 2: I didn't get what I wanted.
Post Ceremony Reflections, Part 2: I didn't get what I wanted.
It's Friday; you just arrived at the retreat center for a ceremony weekend. You are anxious but willing to experience Ayahuasca. You come with so many things you want to work on and although you wouldn't admit it, full of expectations. In the beginning, you felt the call to sit in a ceremony with one of the most powerful entheogens on the planet. You did your research, watching the videos, listening to a lot of podcasts, and read all about Ayahuasca. Some of your friends have heard or even experienced Ayahuasca and somehow convinced you or help you in making the decision. You then decide to pull the trigger and made all the arrangements and investments to make it happen. You made the prep calls, followed the dieta the best you could, and prepared your intentions. Finally, you're there. You made it!
Now, the anticipation to be in ceremony and drink Ayahuasca is getting to you. You have a lot of "wants and needs" to accomplish emotional trauma, addictions, a disconnect from self, or trying to figure out your life. Some come at the end of their rope, and it is this ceremony or bust. So many reasons to come and have a transformational experience with the potential to change your life forever. Then the time comes, and you finally get to drink Ayahuasca. You have your intentions in mind, sit in a meditative position, in communion with the mother. About 45 minutes or so into the journey, you should start to feel Ayahuasca....or not. You're looking for the fractals, the colorful visuals people talk about, the messages from deities, or spiritual connections you're read or were told about. However, you are seeing no visuals, and getting no messages. You see people around you are going through their journeys. Some people look happy, others are crying, laughing, moving, and contorting on their mats, deep in their journeys. But there you are, getting nothing, nada, zero effects while everyone else is having the experience that you want to have and have prepared for with so much anticipation. Instead, you're feeling sick, nauseous, heavy, anxious, and uncomfortable.
It is at this point that you start to think "wait a minute, this is not what I want". You are starting to feel disappointed, questioning yourself what happened, why you're not having an experience, what these other people are getting that you're not? What are you doing wrong? Your mind starts to think that this was not a good idea after all and you have wasted time and money coming here for nothing.
You question why are you here? Where was the mistake in your process that made you decide to be here in the first place? and who are these people dressed in white? Is this a cult, am I safe? You start to wonder what did you get yourself into? My wife/husband, my family, and friends warned me about it, and I took the bait and fell for it. You even start to question your sanity, your safety, and feeling disappointed because you didn't get what other people are having, you want to end it all right there and leave the ceremony space. Fuck this you say, this is bullshit and I want no part of it. Stupid me, I should have listened, and I can't wait to leave this place.
You come to us frustrated, even angry or crying, telling us that the medicine is not working, that you don't trust us and you want to leave now in the middle of the ceremony or check out early the next day.
What happened? Why you're not getting what you want?
In my experience, this is what I see during the first part of the ceremony.
For starters, not everyone gets to feel Ayahuasca on the first round (dose). For some, it takes more time and/or more Ayahuasca to feel it. On average, it may take from 45-minutes up to 2 hours to feel the full effects. Meanwhile, you may be experiencing yawning, stomach cramps or nausea, unable to stay still, and feeling emotional just to name a few. As these body sensations continue to grow, your mind also starts to get active and if you were already skeptical or disappointed, it will amplify those thoughts. Your expectations of the outcome of your journey can get the best of you. You are attached to the idea that you should be seeing visions, the spirit animals and entities, the purge that so many people claim to have experienced. You see people having an experience, some purging, some crying, others experiencing feelings of extreme happiness. And there is you, feeling absolutely NOTHING! Or are you really feeling nothing?
Mind and body sensations, feelings, and thoughts during the first two hours are indicators that you are feeling Ayahuasca, just not the way you thought it was going to be. On the physical level, the yawning, the sickness, the inability to stay put, are side effects of Ayahuasca. Some call it energetic purges. On the mental and emotional level, your thought process can indicate that Ayahuasca has entered your space by challenging your ego, shaking things up inside of you. These can be emotions that you hold on to very close to protecting them. You may get angry, feel insecure, sad, fearful, disappointed, have doubts, etc. and you don't like how it is happening, not one bit. Why? because you were not expecting any of this. It caught you off guard, you got completely blindsided. Most people on podcasts and videos don't talk about this part and instead get into the juicy, more dramatic part of their journeys.
To me, this is where is it, your introduction to Mother Ayahuasca. It is about challenging your comfort zone, what you thought you knew. It's about bringing everything that you don't want to deal with, those things you don't want to admit or keep to yourself, your insecurities, your sorrows, your fears. The walls that your ego put up to protect you from those things you were not able to cope with as a child or the emotional trauma caused by things that happen in your life start to crack and crumble down, leaving you with just your soul and your core issues. There is no place to hide, to run away but to face what you fear. However, you may not see this in a clear way that your mind can relate. Sometimes are things that you don't know what they are and see as a distraction over the real important things you came for. Ayahuasca can be a bit of a master riddler, not showing what you want to see and instead of showing you things that are illogical and don't make sense at all to you, at least at this time. The message is there, you just don’t get it at that moment. This pisses you off even more because you can't understand what it means, and your stomach just gave a lurch.
Then, two hours in, the second dose or booster of Ayahuasca comes in at the sound of the gong. You come to us sad or angry, telling us that it is not working. Some are crying in frustration because they're not getting what they want and that the medicine is not working and want to leave. Little that they know at that time that it IS working, again, not the way they expected. We talk about it and you either willing, indifferent, or reluctant decide to give it another go and take the booster. Having Ayahuasca in you already, the booster takes effect a lot quicker than you have imagined and there you are a few hours later, having an experience. For some, this may happen on the first night, for others throughout the weekend.
The point of all this is that Ayahuasca may not give you what you want initially, but over time either throughout the ceremony weekend or through the important part of integration after the experience, you will come to acknowledge, to understand, and accept that Ayahausca gave you exactly what you needed for you to work with what you got in order to get you from where you were to where you want to be.
What is asking from you is to trust the process of your journey and surrender your expectations.