We arrived at the Shaman’s home in the jungle in Costa Rica. Two friends of mine also decided to participate in the ceremony. The living room was a big open space filled with colours, beautiful artwork, and decorations. After we found our spot in the room, we gathered in a circle with The Shaman sharing our intentions.
My intention for the ceremony was to feel safe being who I am. A few weeks earlier, I had the realisation that I never felt safe being myself. However, I wasn’t aware of why I continued to feel anxious in social situations. I hoped that Ayahuasca could help me find what was causing this feeling of unsafety and anxiousness.
After the opening sharing circle, The Shaman prepared the medicine. Shortly after, I received my cup of Ayahuasca. The taste was strange, bitter. I was relieved when I finished my cup. When everyone finished their cup, she started the music. I closed my eyes and allowed myself to go into a meditative space. After lying down for a while, I could feel the medicine slowly taking over my body.
In the beginning, my inner judge prevented me from surrendering to the Ayahuasca experience. I became aware of my inner critic creating a split within my being. I was constantly judging myself and the experience I was having, which took me out of the perspective of the experiencer into a more judgemental view.
The narrator, in my mind, was constantly controlling my experiences.
I WANTED THE ONGOING STORYTELLING WITHIN MY MIND TO STOP.
AYAHUASCA CAME TO MY AID AND HELPED ME TO REPROGRAM MY MIND.
Ayahuasca came to my aid and helped me to reprogram my mind. She told me that every time I go into the narrative perspective, I need to bring my awareness back into my body and become the experiencer of the present moment. Every time I went back into the habit of thinking about my experience, I reminded myself to be the experiencer of my journey.
When I surrendered to the medicine, my journey became very emotional. I re-experienced different moments in my life where I felt rejected, hurt, and envied for being the full expression of myself. These memories helped me to get a deeper understanding of why I felt unsafe expressing myself authentically. What I repeatedly experienced in my life was people envying me for being myself fully, or feeling trapped by people always needing or wanting something from me. I received the insight that I want to be free. Then, I experienced a massive emotional release, which felt incredibly intense. I sat up crying, and then the medicine woman came over to bring me some tissues.
When I felt the biggest waves of emotional release pass, I decided to lay down again. Now the second part of my journey began. The medicine became stronger and stronger, ultimately spreading throughout every single cell in my body. It felt like Ayahuasca was taking me deep into the soil of the earth. My perception of self was fading away. Slowly I felt my body merging with earth.
Beneath me in the ground, I could feel and see there was a skeleton. Intuitively I knew it was me. Then Ayahuasca told me: “You are going to die.” I didn’t resist her and said: “That’s ok.” I surrendered to the experience of death. Ayahuasca took me through a burial ritual. For a while, there was nothing;
I BECAME ONE WITH THE SOIL AND THE ENERGY OF MOTHER EARTH. MY SENSE OF SELF AND MY BODY COMPLETELY DISSOLVED. I COULD NO LONGER SENSE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MY BODY AND THE EARTH.
Then it felt like I was experiencing the full cycle of life. After experiencing a spiritual death, I went into the third part of my journey, my rebirth. The Spirit of Ayahuasca told me that birth is a long in-depth process. I asked her a few questions which started off a deep conversation, I was getting to know her, and she was getting to know me. She became like a loving midwife taking me through the process of giving birth to myself.
Then I went into the stage of giving birth. The sensations within my body intensified. I decided to breathe through it. I focused on taking long deep breaths into my belly and slow breaths out. I felt the medicine come up, and I walked out of the ceremonial space outside to the plants where the medicine came out of my body on to the plants (before the ceremony the Shaman said that is ok to purge near the plants). For me, it didn’t feel like I was purging. It felt more like a little bit of the medicine needed to come out. I felt like a baby entering this world, feeling overwhelmed by all the sensations, energies, and stimuli. I felt disoriented, like the space around me was spinning. I was like: This shit is intense!
In this experience, an anxious part that was previously suppressed within my subconscious came up. My body felt restless, and I needed to hold on to something. I held onto the rocks near the plants.The Shaman walked towards me, without speaking any words, she asked me to follow her. We walked down a small path to a beautiful old tree. For a moment, I connected deeply with nature, touching the leaves of the plants, slowly moving my hand over the tree bark and feeling my feet touch the soil.
We walked around the tree to a place on the grass near the ceremonial space, we sat down on the grass. I still felt anxious.
THE SHAMAN TOLD ME, ”IT IS SAFE. YOU ARE SAFE, MOTHER EARTH LOVES YOU.” THESE WERE EXACTLY THE WORDS THAT I NEEDED TO HEAR.
She repeated the words a few times like a mantra. I felt the words sink deeper into my mind, body, and heart. My nervous system calmed down, and after a while, the Shaman left. I told her that I wanted to stay here for a while.
When I started to feel ungrounded or unsafe again, I touched the grass and the soil while reminding myself repeatedly that I am safe. I felt the awareness that nature is safe integrate within my being slowly moving into every cell. I felt the protective energy of Mother Earth hugging me, she told me: “You belong to the earth and nothing or no one else. You are safe here, free to be yourself.”
I belong to the earth beneath my feet. Different memories came up when I was a little girl hiding in nature whenever I felt unsafe or needed some space for myself. Nature has always been my safe haven, my sanctuary. Whenever life got painful or overwhelming, I would find my way back into nature.
I closed my eyes, and embarked on a deep philosophical journey. I always love philosophising about life. I dove deep into the topic of alienation. Ayahuasca shared with me how humanity is alienated from nature, our authentic self, each other, and our daily occupations. A process that has unfolded over many centuries. We have forgotten what it is like to live in harmony with nature. We have forgotten our human nature.
This alienation can make us feel separate from our environment, which makes us feel unsafe. She told me that we need to create an inner sense of safety in order to be free. When we are operating from fear, we are more open to being controlled by others. This constant feeling of powerlessness can create an unhealthy dependency on external authorities that promise to keep us safe. Which can be dangerous when these authorities don’t have our best interests at heart.
The division in humanity reveals itself through external conflicts that exist in every human. Disconnection from our true self creates a state of disruption. The opposing parts and inner conflicts within every individual are reflected externally by opposing groups and society’s conflicts. We are at war with ourselves, and so we are at war with each other.
When we don’t feel safe within ourselves, it becomes more difficult to trust other people. This will cause us to feel alienated from our fellow humans. When we become disconnected from our work and daily occupations, life will become meaningless because we can no longer experience our existence’s interconnectivity.
We can create personal freedom and harmony within communities by creating safety within ourselves. I realised that my inner judge perpetuated my internal split. I decided to give her a new purpose to become the philosopher of my life instead of the critic.
I NO LONGER HAVE TO LIVE IN A BOX OF CONFORMITY. I AM FREE TO LIVE OUTSIDE THE BOX AND MAKE CHOICES THAT RESPECT MY AUTHENTICITY.
I was filled with the excitement of all the insights I was receiving and decided to go back into the ceremonial space and lay down for a moment to reflect. Then I sat back up, grabbed my notebook, and I wrote some of the insights down. The rest of my journey was peaceful and reflective, I allowed the insights to integrate into my being.
A few months later, I was still amazed by my first Ayahuasca experience. This deep, profound experience remained with me even when I traveled back to The Netherlands. After spending more than three months in Costa Rica, my return was unsettling. I took the insights of my experience home with me and every time I felt restless or ungrounded, I would find my way back to nature again. Often I now go for a walk to my Angelic Oak tree in the dunes near my house. I climb in her branches until I reach my favourite spot where I can see the dunes from a bird’s eye view. I allow my philosophical mind to reflect and nature to bring me back to safety in these moments.
My interaction with friends and family changed significantly. I speak more openly, and I no longer hide my previously suppressed spiritual side. The barrier to expressing myself freely lifted, and my inner judge takes more breaks now. She still hangs out in my mind ones in a while, and that’s ok. What has changed is that I am now aware of when she tends to take over the control and understand that this is a wounded part of me. I realise that my authentic self has always been within me, waiting to be free from the expectations that were controlling me. Now it is time for me to live freely in my own skin. I am safe here now, to be wild and free.