Etnika's ayahuasca
Me, Luke, two of the shamans, and the assistant, Jennica (at Etnika’s retreat near Cusco, Peru)

Alright, so last post, I told you all about the entheogenic, life-changing brew called ayahuasca.

You learned what it is, how it works, and an idea of what you might expect if you have a chance to dance with it.

I suggest you read the following two posts prior to beginning this one, in order to give you the solid background on what I’m talking about here.. otherwise it might get confusing!

So yes, now that you hopefully know all about what ayahuasca is and the personal problems I was having that lead to me and Luke participating in it… let’s get down to business here and tell you all about my three ayahuasca journeys.

Just to warn you… even after breaking this down into three parts, each one is still really long. So much happened!

So only if you’re interested in taking a long journey into my deepest subconscious, you should get a cup of tea and make yourself comfy…

Let us begin…

My General Desires for What I Wanted to Get Out of It

Like I said in the last post, you don’t do ayahuasca for fun.

You do it because you have some serious self growth and healing you want to achieve, and accept that you may be sent to hell and back in the process.

My two basic things I wanted were to:

  1. Just have a general emotional and spiritual cleansing of anything that is holding me back or not serving me. Whether those be limiting beliefs, or emotional blocks, or recent hurts, or whatever. Help me leave them behind and move forward from here.
  2. Help me figure out where I am going from here in a life sense. What’s next for me? Do I need a new career? What’s going on with The Love Vitamin? Is it the end, or not? What’s my next big passion project? I feel lost, give me some direction please!

One thing you have to understand is that ayahuasca doesn’t always give you what you want, but it always gives you what you need. Even if it’s not what you wanted to see or feel, it’s going to show you what you need most.

So I went into it with a big grain of salt next to my intentions. I knew it was just going to have it’s way with me in whichever way it wanted.

That being said, for each night you are doing the ayahuasca, you are supposed to set a clear intention for that evening, in order to somewhat direct the experience.

For the first night, I specifically said: Tonight, I just want to be cleansed and purged of everything of the past. Everything that isn’t serving me, even if I’m not consciously aware of what it is.

Whatever it is, just cleanse me of it, so that in the next two ceremonies, I can be rebuilt and renewed.

Get the bad stuff over with first, I said.

Since purging and cleansing in ayahuasca literally tends to come in the form of vomiting (or as my friend told me, visions of actual demons flying up and out of her throat), I expected it to be a pretty rough night.

But I was still taken off guard when it actually was.

And So Night One of Ayahuasca Begins…

After heading to the jungle hut at 8 pm and drinking the brown ayahuasca sludge (seriously… worst. taste. ever), we sat back in our sleeping bags and nervously waited for it to kick in as we stared at the roof of the dark circular hut.

ayahuasca hut
Outside of the hut where it all went down

As I lied there, I tried to be positive about what was ahead… people often say that you need to surrender to the ayahuasca, no matter what happens. Let whatever is going to happen happen without fighting it. The harder you resist the experience, the worse it’ll be (sounds like a good general life lesson, right?)

Inside the room where the ceremonies take place

So I told myself… it’s ok. You got this. You can surrender to it.

After about an hour of patient silence, the first thing I hear is Luke bolt upright beside me and puke violently into his bucket. Which of course was disturbing, and added a sense of foreboding to everything.

Next was the guy across the room letting it go.

After that, I was still waiting and waiting and wasn’t feeling a lot. Was it even going to work?

I knew I shouldn’t, but I felt myself get a little impatient, something I am known for. When I want something (in this case the experience to kick in), I want to be able to do something to be able to get it and get it as soon as possible.

When I am not in control, I have real trouble with that.

But I did eventually start to feel shivery, tingly; and I knew it was coming on.

Suddenly, I felt sick to my stomach and I was also upright, puking my guts out into my bucket.

And let me tell you, the brown sludge didn’t taste any better on the way up, that’s for sure.

When I lied back down, that’s when the hallucinations began to come on, and it got intense.

And when it did, I just felt so, so bad. Like deep, horrific, anxious depression.

It was like this dark scary ugly cloud was over me. Just a general feeling of awfulness that you want more than anything to just go away, but you feel like you can’t escape.

And on top of that, I wasn’t seeing any visions.

ayahuasca visions
Most people see crazy stuff like this in their eyelids (art by Pablo Amaringo)

I was seeing psychadelic stuff (the room breathing, patterns swirling), but I wasn’t seeing the typical visions that people usually get on ayahuasca. Scenes playing out in your eyelids. Like psychadelic movies.

I wasn’t getting any of that, which of course was what I had been expecting.

Before I knew it, a stream of negative thoughts were parading across my head and wouldn’t stop. Thoughts that felt much darker and more inescapable than I usually ever feel in waking life.

Normally I feel like I have some power to change and direct my thoughts, but I felt utterly helpless here.

“Ugh, I feel so f’n bad. This is awful. And I’m not even getting visions. Grrr, this is just like a bad mushroom trip that I could have paid 10 bucks for, instead of this stupid expensive retreat. I don’t want to be here at all. WHY did I do this to myself? Now I’m stuck here all night… can I actually handle FOUR more hours of this? And I can’t believe have TWO more nights after this one? No way. Are you kidding? No way. I’m not doing this again. Why would I do that to myself? Only an idiot would do this to herself again. In the morning, I’m going to pack my bags and sneak out the back door and just run away…”

And after a while of this, suddenly it hit me.

Ohhh. I get it. THIS is your lesson, Tracy. Duh.

You always want to run away when shit gets tough.

Why? Because you just want to feel good all the time. You want everything to feel good and exciting, and when it doesn’t … when life feels hard, or emotionally difficult, or mundane … you can’t handle it. You can’t function. You dig your heels in and resist with all your might.

And you will do anything to try and control the situation, anything you can to just make it all go away and get back to feeling good.

But you can’t run away from this.

Maybe this and the next two nights are going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. But you’re in it now. There is no escaping.

I mean, technically, you could leave, but you’re not really going to run away from the retreat. That would be ridiculous, especially when it’s so clear what your main lesson is here.

The only thing you can do is go through it.

No matter what, you’re going to live. You just have to find a way to manage and deal.

And No, You Can’t Just Tell Yourself It’ll be Over in a Day or Two and Go On Your Merry Way…

My instinct at that point was to go “oh well, it’s ok… yeah this is going to be rough and I’m going to hate it, then it’ll be over and you can feel good again”.

But I kind of knew my lesson was that I couldn’t just wait until I felt good again and all my problems were over in order to try and be happy.

No, my mission was to find a way to make peace with the pain now.

Because you know what? Most big problems in life… you can’t rely on them just magically being over in four hours time, can you?

So that’s what I tried to do. Instead of instinctually doing whatever I could to run away from the feelings or distract myself from them, I tried to just sit with the uncomfortable feelings… feel them fully and just let them be there.

I didn’t really succeed though. Every time I tried to focus on the feelings, it seemed to just amplify them.

Next, I tried some gratitude… maybe trying to be grateful and focus on the good things in my life would help?

But nope. Under that oppressive dark cloud, I couldn’t feel grateful or happy about anything. How could I feel grateful about anything when I feel THIS shitty?

Deep breathing helped a tiny bit, but overall, nothing was making me feel any better.

Honesty & Openness Is Your Power, Tracy

Be the open book again, Tracy. It is your deeestiny.
Be the open book again, Tracy. It is your deeestiny.

Suddenly, the ayahuasca started getting a bit less intense. And thank goodness… that little come down took me out of the really deep, deep dark thoughts.

I still wasn’t feeling on top of the world or anything, but a bit better. I began to feel a little more at ease with the experience. Maybe this was going to be a good thing after all, I thought.

Over the next while, it was a lot of random thoughts and insights coming and going. Instead of the typical visions that most people get, the way I was downloading information from the ayahuasca was more like a strong gut feeling (which is also the main way I seem to get intuition in my day to day life).

One thing that stood out for me at this point was a feeling that honesty and openness has always been a very strong suit for me. Baring my soul in an honest and authentic way has been the back bone of what grew the Love Vitamin.

And it’s possibly also why I’ve been falling out of love with The Love Vitamin.

Because I felt like I wasn’t being honest with all of you about what’s going on with me… about my journey with health, acne, and The Love Vitamin slowing down… how my diet and skin has slid quite a bit… how I’m kind of emotionally addicted to Estroblock.

I just need to be 100% honest and open in order to be my best, most passionate self. No secrets.

And so ayahuasca said:

“Hey Trace. Maybe throwing the towel in on The Love Vitamin isn’t the answer, but moving back into that honesty is.

Maybe you should go home and write a series of truth vomit blog posts and just let it all out there. Say everything you’re terrified to say, and be damned what people think.”

I thought… well that’s scary, but ok. That may very well be the answer, and but I guess I’ll never know unless I do it.

Hence what you’re reading now (and previously here, here, and here)

Crying For the Love of Luke

Anyway… after this, suddenly, there was silence. The shaman had been singing what they call icaros… which are songs in his Amazonian Shipibo language that are meant to guide the spirits of your healing.

I wasn’t really paying any attention to them, but suddenly when they stopped, the silence triggered this intense flood of emotion.

I felt this overwhelming feeling of love for Luke, and I began to cry. And I couldn’t stop sobbing for about an hour.

I just felt so much gratitude and amazement at the amount of unconditional love, support, understanding and patience that he shows me.

And I started to wonder… am I even capable of that kind of unconditional love?

Or do I only love him (or anything or anyone) as long as it feels easy and good? As long as it directly benefits me with good emotions?

Aside from our recent blip, our relationship has been very positive, easy, and smooth. We have yet to go through any major life altering events, and so times together have pretty much always been happy.

But what if something happened to him that dramatically altered the rest of our lives together?

What if he developed a strong mental illness, got a disabling brain injury, became majorly paralyzed, or something equally as horrendous?

Could I honestly say that I wouldn’t want to run away when I was faced with those scary awful emotions and long term hardships that would come with something like that?

How could I handle seeing him like that? How could I face that heartbreak every day?

Of course I would want to be there for him but how could I NOT want to run away and stop feeling all those terrible things?

And would I actually do it?

I mean, I recently was considering giving up everything we hadwhat, because I got a little BORED?

assholeWhat an asshole.

And then I lied there crying and feeling like a big stupid asshole for ever having taken him for granted. Crying and crying… with shame, and gratitude, and love for him.

Giving Myself The Love

I could tell that Luke knew I was crying and that he wanted very much to comfort me. Because that’s how our dynamic is. He is my emotional rock. I rely on him for emotional support.

But ayahuasca is a solo journey, despite being physically next to the other people in the room.

I knew that I was on my own and that he couldn’t help me now, as much as I wanted him to come and save me from it.

In that moment, I instinctively started to hold my own face; to cuddle myself… I literally did feel like I was cuddling my own person, forgiving myself, treating myself with understanding and love, just the way Luke does for me.

I saw that I don’t really need Luke’s support, or anyone else’s for that matter. All the love really is there inside myself as well.

I continued to cry and cry and cry, and purge and purge and purge through my tears.

As the Ceremony Came to a Close…

Eventually, the ceremony started winding down and I knew that soon we would be sent off to bed. But then I started to feel all the negative darkness coming back in.

Not quite as intense as the beginning, but I definitely started feeling that awful dark cloud on me again and started wishing the night would just end already. When the lights came on in the hut, I was rather disappointed that I was clearly still quite high and I’d have a while to go.

Eventually we were escorted to our rooms where we are supposed to just cuddle up in our beds and ride the rest of it out until we drift off to sleep.

I spent the rest of it grappling with the awful feelings… trying to be present with them but not succeeding.

Lots of puking and shitting too (I had caught a bit of a stomach bug the day before, so it was like a double whammy along with the ayahuasca purging).

Luke had been put in a different room to sleep (as we were supposed to be on our own separate journeys), but he was allowed to come in to my room briefly for a hug and a kiss.

I was shocked to hear that he had had an amazing night! He saw God he said! It was like a crazy, visual, magic carpet ride through the universe! He felt overwhelming love and bliss for everything!

Best night ever!

Wow, ok. What a contrast. He felt bad for me, and I felt happy for him.

He went back to his room and I continued with my puking and shitting and feeling awful until I finally drifted off out of sheer exhaustian.

It didn’t last long, as I had awoken to my toilet flooding, and having to run to the bathroom outside in the rain.

As I sat on the toilet and stared at a bug that had drowned in a bucket, I laughed about what a completely awful night it had been.

But hey. I was alive. I had hit rock bottom and purged like mad.

Surely things can only get better from here… right?

…. right?

Stay Tuned for Part 2 …

Next week, you get to hear all about my second ayahuasca ceremony (which took place the next day). And yes, the night was even worse than this one, and yes, the blog post, even longer than this one.

Thanks for reading. This is obviously all very personal, sharing some pretty intense and dark stuff. So thanks for being there for me.