The ancient practices surrounding Ayahuasca are considered to be sacred as is the medicine itself. I truly respect and appreciate the sacred traditions of Peru where I first drank the medicine but what of the values of this teacher plant? What I’ve learned from the medicine is that we are all sacred, and how we feel, live and think are so much more important than the kinds of things we focus on all too often. The truth is that Ayahuasca is being practiced in the Amazon in a very different way than it has been for most of its existence. Traditionally, Ayahausca was only experienced by shamans or medicine women/men, who would drink the medicine then pass along Ayahuasca’s teachings, healing and wisdom to others in the tribe, clan/village. Now, Ayahuasca is being offered to large numbers of people from all over the world. Why? Because we need it. It’s quite intentional that this medicine is spreading worldwide and it’s understandable that as it spreads, new traditions are being born. After all, the tradition of serving it to so many people at once is a very new one. It’s also to be expected, that many people who are just discovering this medicine will use it in ways that are very different than what is considered to be traditional.
I feel that to honour Ayahuasca is to honour the wisdom and the nature of its healing. The medicine has made its way into other cultures and areas of the world for a reason. It is a medicine and it’s treating illnesses. These illnesses appear in many ways and they don’t only exist in one area of the world, they exist everywhere. Sometimes, we may be in danger of honouring the traditions more than the values of Ayahuasca. This reminds me of the reason why religion never appealed to me – Christianity and Catholicism in particular. It occurred to me very early in life that in many situations, the focus of religion was on tradition and rules rather than living the values at the very core of the religion. They forgot about love.
My own relationship with the medicine has been of a non-traditional nature. I experienced Ayahuasca in what would be considered by many to be a traditional setting in the jungle with Maestras and Maestros from the Shipibo tradition. Except for the fact that there were people from all over the world receiving the medicine, I believe that these incredibly loving and gifted shamans performed their work in a way that was considered to be traditional. I admired everything about them and it was clear to me that they loved their work, which is very important. All of this work was being done so that we could experience the gift of Ayahuasca. What would be the point of any of it if we didn’t follow the wisdom of this teacher plant? As many people do, I had a dialogue with Ayahuasca from the very beginning. Ayahuasca hinted to me back then the nature of the work that I would do – working with the medicine in some way – and I was so reluctant. I figured that this would entail years of training under the tutelage of Maestras/Maestros and I had a young son that I needed to get home to. One of the reasons I was there was to heal from depression which had kept me from being able to connect with my son or anyone else in a healthy way. Ayahuasca’s response to my reluctance was “don’t worry, we will stay with you”. And so ‘they’ did.
When I returned home, I began a sort of training that was very unique and directed by this same voice that I heard when I experienced the medicine. It has taken me through a long and arduous journey that has allowed me to build a better relationship with myself while building one with my son. It has taken me through some fascinating and deeply healing experiences that have taught me about my own ability to heal myself and it helped me to understand the origins of certain kinds of emotional and physical pain. It also helped me to be aware of my thoughts and feelings and the connection between the two and how to use tools to address unhealthy thought patterns. It has taught me a great deal and when I interview people on my show who have been through traditional training, I recognize some of the things I’ve been through and I understand why I was trained in this way. I needed to be with my son and I needed to train in a new way that was all about integrating this wisdom into my life that is not lived in a jungle or amongst people who understand this medicine. It’s lived here in a world that needs to change.
This higher form of consciousness that expresses itself as Ayahuasca has wisdom to offer that is sometimes beyond our understanding. If we are to honour it, we must trust it. It has made its way around the world intentionally and we have an opportunity to support that. Although many of us have different ideas as to the best way to experience the medicine, let’s try to honour the most sacred of the teachings of Ayahuasca: love.
Ayahuasca is a gift and everyone who receives and offers it is at a different stage of growth. I know that the medicine has changed many lives but everyone is free to choose just how they want to continue this kind of personal work or if they want to continue it at all. Having this freedom is the nature of our existence. I hope that many people choose to use this freedom in a healthy way and I think the medicines are helping people to get there. Many of us are finding that the medicine asks us to take responsibility for our own lives, live them with love and recognize how powerful we are because often, we use that power against ourselves and against others. This is also a choice.
One of the most important aspects of my ongoing training is the focus on self. For the first year after I arrived back from the jungle, Ayahuasca made me aware of how much energy I was expending in my mind on other people and what they were doing. I was continually asked to focus on my own reactions to others and to discover why I was having them. This changed everything for me. Instead of expending energy on what I couldn’t change, I was beginning to understand, heal and change myself in some incredible ways. This was powerful. It became such a deeply rooted habit that when it came time to speak about things affecting others, I was again very reluctant. But when I found that there was no longer that edge in my feelings about it, I knew that I was ready.
I think that the best way for us to honour Ayahuasca is to honour ourselves. And the best way to honour ourselves is to heal and love our selves without judgement wherever we’re at in our lives and this will help us to approach others in the same way. Not all of us find ourselves able to do this all the time but if this is our intention, I know that we will be supported in this work. If we keep to honouring Ayahuasca in this way, all of the things that we hope to change will follow from this one most important act of power, the source of which is love.