33 – US/Netherlands
Ayahuasca has become a reliable and invaluable resource for my self-discovery. There are many ways one can explore this reality and find one’s path – religion, yoga, meditation, and on and on. But, for me, I find Ayahuasca the most impactful. It gets right to the point. It does not require a belief system, ritual,or course work in order to acquire the insights one needs. It only requires openness, curiosity, and a little bit of courage.
My journey with Ben is not my first Ayahuasca journey. I have traveled into my subconscious many times with Aya, but this was my first time with a different guide. Ben and I met during a group set-up to explore Ayahuasca organized by my first ayahuasca guide (or put another way our guide). One of our first assignments was to guide another member through an ayahuasca journey. I was paired with Ben by the organizer because Ben, he said, had a solid foundation of his identity and values and a laser focus on directing his life through them. Well. That’s perfect for me because I have a lot of challenges with that. I must say up front, that this was a great connection made by our guide.
Preparing for an Aya ceremony can be over or under done. Due to my participation with an Ayahuasca course, my week leading up to this session was highly focused on Ayahuasca and, as a consequence, preparation was a priority for me. Ben also helped me prepare for the week with some advice on diet and mental preparation. I found his website very practical and informative. I began by fasting and removing other distractions in my daily routine, such as podcasts and television. The focus on diet allowed me to cleanse my body and overcome the hunger issues that usually prove distracting the day of a ceremony. Maintaining silence by removing the noise from my headphones and television grounded me and clear my mind. Honestly, this was one of the most intensive preparations I have had leading to an Aya ceremony. That being said, it was manageable and really set me up for a nice ceremony.
I was very calm and centered the day of the ceremony. Usually, I am very anxious, unfocused, or too eager to dive in to my journey (or perhaps escape my worries). Ben was gracious in welcoming me to his location. We spent some time getting comfortable and connected through conversation with tea. The location was well prepared for the ceremony – mattress, blankets, pillows, etc. I find that I am very influenced by my surroundings before and during a ceremony, and this time, I was not distracted and able to continue to maintain my calm and present state. After situating ourselves in the room, we discussed my intentions for the ceremony, what questions were on my mind. Funny enough, I was so calm and relaxed, I didn’t have any explicit intention on the top of my mind. Instead, I felt like I was supposed to be there. But, as I described that feel, I reached a more important point. I wanted to know more about myself and to understand how in my day-to-day life I have become increasingly challenged with letting go and expressing myself – in communications with others and through creative expressions. After a short meditation to set the room and ourselves, we turned to the most essential step of an ayahuasca ceremony – DRINKING! Needless to say, one will not experience ayahuasca without consuming it. Both drinks are dreadful and taste horrible – no matter who is your guide.
After drinking the MAO blocker and DMT, I laid down on the mattress in Ben’s living room, Ben turned on some music, and I closed my eyes while relaxing my stomach as the brews do their work. This being one of my few day journeys, I had to get adjusted to the light and the life outside the building. I could feel the effects of the ayahuasca within 30 minutes – smooth but clearly happening. My mind was still focused on the reality of the life outside and the light as a song with a slow, melodic drum beat focused my mind into the increasingly strong rhythm of the ayahuasca. I knew then that I was in for a profound and intense journey. As usual for me in more intense journeys, I felt a pressure on my forehead between my eyes – as though someone was pressing with their thumb and smearing across my left eye; as though I were entering another dimension. I focused on my breathing and drifted into a deep trance with the music and a kaleidoscope of color and shapes. Time and my body ceased to be a factor in my experience and Ayahuasca began to reveal the deeper insights so valuable and inherent in these journeys.
As a new student of Ayahuasca (I’ve only been a consumer prior to this), I felt that I was being reintroduced to Ayahuasca. As though she were saying to me,
“Well, I better show you what I’m really about if we’re going to be working with each other now.”
The importance of the guide in an Ayahuasca journey became very clear to me. The guides create space, hold space, and share in the experience with the subject. They are affected by and apart of the experience. This was an important insight for me and something I continue to become more aware of. And, I was very impressed by Ben’s expression of this role in my experience, by the way. I was then swept away to more personal revelations.
The need to let go was an intention going into the journey that played a role in my journey. By focusing on my breathing and the Ayahuasca rhythm I was very successful in letting go. I learned that many of my struggles with communication derive from my anxieties and insecurities that prevent me from expressing myself. This idea of letting go of the anxiety and insecurities really resonated with me and felt like something I can work with in my daily life. Dovetailing from this thought, I realized that once I let go there is space to begin expressing and creating. The overthinking and hesitation could for me be replaced by playful thinking or activities – a genuine reflection of my expression. This was a very liberating revelation that I have learned will help me better connect with my friends and family.
Ayahuasca then turned to my final revelation.
“Wie ben jij?”
This question flashed in my mind in the most psychedelic aura…and also in Dutch. The question, regardless of the language, underlines the thing I have most learned about myself lately- the fact that I know very little about myself. I appreciate how important it is to I then came out of the journey for a moment. Long enough to share some of these insights with Ben. I realized quickly that I was not done, as I secretly wanted to be. I laid back down, and Ben reset the room for me. The music was very melodic and Keen awareness of the complexity of our existence – layers of the complexity – became confusing and overwhelming. I struggled a bit because I wanted to bedone and I was very disoriented. But, I realized that the awareness of complexities of our existence I felt represented the true complexities of our reality. Life is so immense and complicated that to try and make sense out of it will only make you confused and overwhelmed. It’s better then to just let go. Because the complexity and inability to control is what also makes our reality so beautiful.
This journey lasted longer than expected. I was quite drowsy as I resurfaced. My vision was still textured with geometric patterns and my legs wobbly. After grounding myself, I sat with Ben for some time, eating some light food and drinking tea. My conversation with Ben was a great way to process some of these insights. We were very well aligned. He was engaging, thoughtful, but mirrored me well, which made me feel comfortable. He also gave me some good advice to take action following this journey (journaling, finding who I am, taking it slow). This was very helpful for me because the days and weeks after ayahuasca is such an important time to reflect and integrate one’s insights. It’s as much a part of the journey as the preparation and drinking. All in all, it was a great experience with a lot of insights. I can and will recommend the work with Ben and I’m looking forward to the next ceremony.