During my daily dialogue with Ayahuasca there have been many lessons around my thought patterns and some of the best lessons came when I was actually in ceremony (after ingesting the brew).. or so I thought. The reason I thought this was because during ceremony, I didn’t have my usual defence mechanisms at play – I was a captive audience. However, during one particularly memorable ceremony, Ayahuasca deliberately allowed my thoughts to occur as they normally would and used this opportunity to show me how I allowed my thoughts to get in the way of doing the things I wanted to do in my life. She literally showed me these thoughts as they occurred right after she had encouraged me to consider doing something wonderful. My conception of this wonderful endeavour was inevitably followed by thoughts that began to belittle this idea and make it seem not realistic or unlikely to succeed. Ayahuasca then pointed out how these thoughts themselves were the barriers I faced – not the subject or content of the thoughts, just the actual thoughts themselves. Then Ayahuasca said “Tell Them!” in an emphatic way.
This is not the first time that Ayahuasca has asked me to pass on messages, teachings and urged me to talk about the things I’ve experienced and learned. During a ceremony previous to the one described above, the usually abundant dialogue with Ayahuasca was very sparse and after a short lesson about how I create my own barriers (one of her favourite subjects) I heard “We will speak through you” and then I purged in a way that I won’t soon forget (and unfortunately, nether will the others in the clean up crew). Other than the obvious discomfort of the purge and the rigors of the medicine experience itself, it sounds like an easy thing to do, to share these teachings, but it wasn’t for me. I felt that I had to sufficiently address these issues myself before I could pass along these messages and teach what I was learning. But what did I consider to be sufficient? It was a yardstick that just kept growing and I could never measure up.
I had always been rather critical of spiritual teachers – probably because somewhere inside of me, I knew that I was one myself. My expectations of them were extremely high and this is one of the many lessons in the form of cosmic jokes that I’ve encountered on this integrative journey with Ayahuasca. It’s a good thing that I have a sense of humour – it comes in handy. Every time I’ve judged people in my life it has come back to haunt me and I’ve been humbled on many fronts. This particular judgement was the most difficult because it became a barrier to my own calling. How could I teach if I was so self-critical that I could never live up to my own standards? It was more than a barrier – it was a trap. I managed to make it seem so righteous. Ayahuasca was not impressed.
Well, I’m over it. One thing I always admired in teachers was their willingness to continue to learn and this is something I can honestly say that I’m always doing. Ayahuasca is my constant teacher and one of the best lessons yet was one she offered to help me to address my misgivings about moving forward with teaching. She let me know that due to this constant guidance, my awareness of my thoughts – including the ones that are harmful – is heightened. As I continue to move beyond my comfort zones, it inevitably involves contending with the thoughts that protest this move. She kindly pointed out to me that this is a sign of growth and progress in my life. If I wasn’t constantly moving beyond my comfort zones, I would not have to face and address or traverse these protesting thoughts that intervene. The point is to not let them take over and dominate my decisions or feelings about what I’m doing.
Ultimately, I hope to rest between major shifts outside of my comfort zones. In the meantime, I have decided to regard these periods of discomfort as badges of honour and to move forward with teaching, knowing that we’re all learning together. All I can do as a teacher is to pass on what I learn. This is all any teacher can do and it’s not only teachers that do this. I learn from everyone and what I hope to inspire people to do is to discover the ultimate teacher – the teacher within.