Between ceremony 2 and 3, I had a one day break. It was well needed. I used the time to recuperate my strength, learn more about the people I had met at the retreat and prepare myself for drinking again. We finished the day by watching Avatar on a projector, which was set up next to the main office. I thought the film was very appropriate for our setting. Even though I love the film the heat left me restless, so I ended up sitting outside listening to the bugs.
The day of ceremony 3 came. I woke early as usual. Part of my first thoughts were wondering what the night had to offer. I had a dark night my first time drinking, my second night was full of experiences, but I still hadn’t addressed one of my main intentions; which was career path. I only had two ceremonies left, and the thought of leaving without getting some clarity gave me knots in my stomach. Uncertainty with a side order of anxiety was the special for the rest of the day.
I did have a break from my thoughts when we went on a boat trip down the Amazon. Due to it being the dry season, water levels had dropped substantially, 15 feet in places. This left the roots of some trees visible. It reminded me of the power of nature and how the yearly weather cycles can change so much. The people who lived near rivers had accommodated for these changes, some living in what can only be described as a house’s on stilts. During the rainy season, the houses appeared to float on the water. But the dry season revealed it was held up with wooden supports.
We arrived at our mini secluded beach. The heat had picked on our way there, so we all decided to go for refreshing swim. The water in the shallows was a hot as bath water. Moving further in, I was able to find the sweet spot which was welcomed relief from the sun.
Our outing was interrupted by the noise of thunder, which was followed by rain that got heavier every minute. By the time we started the return journey back, the rain had become torrential. Combined with high winds which were causing waves, it made for a very interesting ride.
When I first arrived, I gave all my intentions to Joe and the shamans. Now the ways in which the shamans help with them are through singing iceros. Joe had mentioned a technique of keeping the intention in the mind while the brew took effect. This had me wondering how they knew which intention I wanted help with on a particular night. So I consulted with Joe and asked could the shamans focus on one intention. Joe agreed and at the start of the ceremony I handed him it on small piece of paper.
As I sat on my bed, the butterflies in my stomach began flight again. I tried to clear my mind and focus on my intention. My turn came; I drank then made my way back to my bed. At the start of ceremony 1 I was sitting next to James. He makes once a year trips to Nihue Rao, so has experience drinking Ayahuasca. He said that the more times you drink the worse the taste gets. Now on my third night drinking, his wise words were becoming true. My insides rumbled and the liquid coated my throat. I gargled with water, and then used some mopatcho to subdue the taste, but this only helped slightly.
The heavy head feeling started and then the need to visit the toilet. Returning I found the Ayahuasca coming on fast. I had dizzy spells and my heart pounded. Not knowing if I would be sick, I made my way to the end on the bed with my bucket. I was in a sort of worshiping position with my forehead resting on the mattress. Eyes closed now, the visions where full of multi-coloured geometric patterns mixed with the sense of falling. In between this I got a bird’s eye view of a huge lobster which was covered in the same multi-colours. The patterns on it ran in different directions, so it was distinguishable from the surrounding colours. With the visions becoming extremely strong, I now began to get a high pitched humming, which felt like it was inside my head. As it became louder I had the thought to just let go, relax my body and see where this feeling would take me. The falling sensation intensified, my sense of body lessened and I knew I was descending into the unknown. This must have triggered something in my mind and I brought myself back.
For me each ceremony I went through similar stages. Now the all over feeling of love and happiness started again. It’s so hard to put into words how I felt. It was profound happiness, love and belonging x 1000. Body shaking, arms stretched out, the mouth noises started. My lips trembled and my head buzzed with energy. Things were getting so uncontrollable and strong that it started to take my breath away. I placed my hands on my head and brought my breathing under control. Gaining control I felt something similar to the aftermath of riding a rollercoaster.
Next to me was a lady called Christine. I sensed she was having a rough time. It wasn’t something I could see or hear from her, just a feeling. I had the thought to put my hand out to her and try to help. I had conflicting thoughts due the fact I could be doing more wrong than good. I decided to go with my initial thought. I extended my arm and placed it on her shoulder. A surge of energy ran down my arm. I focused on my heart chakra and directed all my positive feelings. My hand shook which I thought was Christine. I lifted my hand, maybe a centimetre, but the shaking continued. The gap in between my hand and her shoulder was filled with energy. After about 30 seconds I took my hand away and immediately felt the need to be sick. It was like I had taken something from her and was now expelling it. The next day Christine told how she was in a bad place and when I placed my hand on her shoulder she instantly felt better. I cant explain this but all I know my intention to help her worked, which I was really happy to here.
Now lying on my back, my thoughts returned to my intention. I’m not sure how it started, but I began to think of all the things in my life which I looked upon as blockages. Then I heard the voice. It started to speak about my thoughts I was having. I assumed it was me, but as soon I did I was corrected. The voice told me, ‘’Listen to the words I am saying’’. This kept repeating till I eventually grasped what was going on. I started to focus my mind on my blockages, one at a time. With each thought the voice spoke. If any doubt slipped into my mind the voice would correct me. It would tell me to stop doubting myself. I asked about my career, it replied, ‘’You have always known what you need to do, but you let doubt and fear block the way. Follow your heart and everything will fall into place’’. This continued for a long time. With each problem addressed I had a compounding of clarity, which resonated the importance of trusting myself.
I was smiling on the inside and out. I now knew the true meaning of following your heart. Comparing this night to others, it was much clearer. It was like having a wise mentor sitting at your side. Even when I panicked that I was not going to remember all the advice I had been given, the voice told me not worry, and that I would remember it all.
Making a trip to the toilet I met Charlie sitting on the bench outside the Maloka. We exchanged our stories of the how the night had gone for us. After Charlie went back in, I contemplated what I had just accomplished regarding my problems. I felt free and it filled my up with happiness. Then the words, ‘’Here me’’ came into my mind. The jungle seemed to come alive, like someone had just turned up the volume. The animals and insects sang and I listened in wonderment. I looked at up at the moon. It was full and illuminated, like my own personal guiding light. I was so thankful for my time Nihue Rao and felt extremely privileged.
Back in my bed the euphoria continued and my visions carried on. I went to exotic beaches, had visions of my life path and thought of all my family and friends. My mum was present in my mind. I thanked her for all ways she has helped me over the years. I was lucky to have her and the unconditional love she gave me. Now that my mind was clear I really needed to forgive my Dad. The anger that I carried since 17 was something that I had buried, but now it needed to be set free.
I felt a touch on my shoulder, it was Joe. He was taking me to get a personal iceros from the shamans. He guided me with a red light to the mat in front of the shaman. I sat with my knees close to my chest with my arms round the front, holding them. I had my eyes closed; there was silence. Then a vision of shaman appeared in my mind’s eye. His face was suspended in a sort of mist. I felt as if we were communicating with feelings. I must have only been a minute of silence but it seemed longer. Then he began to sing. I immediately felt a surge of energy. It was similar to what I had felt on the bed, but this was different; it ran from my head to my toes. My body swayed from side to side in synchronisation with the iceros he was singing. The energy I was receiving filled me up. We was connected on a level I can’t explain. As he sang I had the mouth noises return. They helped me control and release the excess energy, but it felt just as good to expel as to receive. He eventually finished with a thank you, and I returned to my bed.
My visions continued till I fell asleep. I woke around 7:00 to the sound of the rooster, it was light and my first thoughts were how well the night had gone. I looked up to see that I was the only one left in the Maloka. I reached for my phone and began to record the night’s events. I smiled as I recalled all that had happened. As always my body felt extremely week, more so than other nights. This was probably due the ceremony’s catching up with me. I had dealt with a lot so understatedly this was reflected in me physically. It was worth every minute though.
Last night of drinking; this filled me with array of different emotions. I was grateful for having the chance to encounter this amazing medicine which helped me in so many ways, but now the time was getting closer for me to put these intentions into action.
The day was a relaxing one. I spent time speaking to everyone in the group and we all shared fears about leaving to go home. The main reason people dreaded going home was the fear of losing the amazing feeling gained at Nihue Rao. Everyone was pumped to make big changes in their lives and wanted to keep that state of mind to achieve it. When I researched the after effects of Ayahuasca, people could take a year or more to accomplish the intentions set at their retreat.
The concluding night began the same, with all the feelings after drinking. For me this night was all about consolidating the week. It had been a hard week with ups and downs too, so tonight was all about preparation for my return home.
I ran the same motions as other nights and got ready for the intensity of the brew taking effect. I was not disappointed. It hit me just as hard as previous nights, with the same multi-coloured geometric patterns. After these had passed I lay on my back and then the rain started. I was looking at the shamans with arms stretched. There singing seemed to combine with the energy that now ran all through me. I curled my legs up to my chest in an attempt to ride the feeling. My mind drifted to visions from previous nights.
Eventually it was my turn for the personal iceros. By this time the rain was extremely heavy and loud. To me it was nature’s orchestra and I had the front seat. I sat in front of the shaman and waited for him to start singing. When he did I had the urge to lie on my side. I ended up in the fetal position but still looking at him. The rain bounced off the roof of the Maloka. I turned my head to gaze up at the interlocking struts, which seemed to be illuminated; I felt protected and loved.
On returning to my bed I had bouts of trying to be sick but nothing was coming up. After a while this wore me out. My stomach was empty and aching. The thought of food crossed my mind but my body wouldn’t allow me stand. I managed to gather the strength to get up and then made my way to the dining room in search of fruit. Once there it was in total darkness. I reached in the cupboard for a green apple, sat down and tried to eat. I say ‘tried’ because my jaw was aching so much from all the mouth noises I had been making. It took a few attempts to take that first bite, but once I did, it was juicy and satisfying. After finishing I made my way back to the Maloka. It wasn’t long after getting back to my bed that I fell asleep. The rain continued, it was soothing and helped me drift off.
Time to change
Shortly after waking Maria came to see me with gifts of food and drink. It consisted of a small pack strawberry cream biscuits and an orange Capri-sun; the flavours were incredible! I hadn’t had anything sugary for nearly three weeks so this was a real treat. There was a sense of guilt niggling away while I ate. But I decided I had earned them, so carried on eating.
This was my last day and time to return home. I accepted that my time had finished at Nihue Rao, but it didn’t make it any easier to leave. Myself and Maria said are goodbyes to all the wonderful people we had met. There was tears and laughter. I think everyone was in a time of reflection on how there week had gone. Many different people and many different paths. The time at the retreat was a huge experience for me. It taught me to trust in myself more and to do the things I wanted, without fear of failing.
Since returning home I have made some big changes in my life. The biggest was ending my 6 year relationship. This was and still is one of hardest things I have ever done. Even though I still loved her, I was changing so much and knew if we carried on together, it was only going to bring us both more heartache. I was turning my back on the life I had built for a long time and our paths where now moving in different directions.
The change in me was something I could not stop. It had been building for a while and now was the time to make the changes. I knew before my trip to Peru, I wanted to be in a career where I could help people, to make changes in someone’s life and receive the reward of seeing them happier. This led me to a place called the Panya Project which is a permaculture farm, located in Thailand. I had been interested in learning permaculture for a long time but the way my life was structured, I was not able to pursue it.
So my next change was to quit my full time job. I handed in my notice and gave them a month till I was gone. At the time of writing this article, I have booked a place to take my PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate) with the Panya Project, were I hope to spend at least six months. This was part of my visions which came up in ceremony 3.
Permaculture is way for people to change the current system of living. It follows principles which can help us live more harmoniously with each other and planet. As we all know the way we treat the earth now cannot carry on or we face a bleak future. When I became aware of how bad things had got in the world, it left me with depression and a feeling of helplessness. I struggled a lot over the years trying to figure a way out to do my part. I still wanted to be round my family and in my relationship, but as I know now, making big changes means leaving some things behind.
My new path is one of uncertainty to where I will end up. All I know is that I am following my heart and in that I trust. I won’t be controlled by fear, I will take chances, be happy as much as I can and always be grateful for experiences that have been and are to come. I would like to thank you for reading about my experience with Ayahuasca. My hope is that if you are feeling lost or fed up, you can take something from here. It all about choices you need to make. I choose never to live with regret.
This article is dedicated to my Dad, Joseph. He was a care free, laid back and loving soul. He enjoyed the simple things in life and loved his family very much. I will treasure the memories and advice he gave me forever. Happy days man!