May 30, 2011

Surrendering to the vine of the soul.

I am feeling happy, clean and inspired.Kajuyali Tsamani is a Colombian shaman who is touring through Europe these weeks. Last Friday and Saturday night I participated in the beautiful ayahuasca ceremonies he, his family and his helpers perform. It was a difficult, humbling but predominantly amazing experience.

For those who don’t know: ayahuasca refers to a psychotropic brew made by indigenous Indians of the Amazon jungle from a woody vine and the leaves of the chakruna plant. Local medicine men, or shamans, prepare the mixture, adding different plants to the mixture depending on the nature of the ceremony. Ayahuasca is used by shamans to induce an altered state during which the shaman can look into the future, travel in spirit form, induce healing and remove spells.

The word ayahuasca comes from the Quechuan Indian words aya (“spirit”, “ancestor” or “dead person”) and huasca (“vine”). Together these words refer to the “vine of the soul”. What ayahuasca reportedly does is that it can free the soul or spirit. And that’s exactly what I feel to have seen or learned this past weekend.

I get tired of being heart broken (what is still what I feel like these days). I don’t mean that metaphorically, I mean that literally. It costs me a lot of energy to feel pain, sadness and remorse over and over again. I often wonder if I’m exaggerating or that I’m abnormally sensitive or dramatic. Last week I spent another two full days struggling with facts that my ego finds painful or unacceptable. When I find myself in the middle of the storm it seems impossible to help myself. While my whole body aches, especially my heart (again: literally) the wise words I speak to myself don’t touch base at all. Then at some point, seemingly out of nowhere it flips and I feel space and love coming up.

I am starting to learn that my experience of life when I’m in a state of surrender is radically different from when I’m in a state of resistance. Unfortunately for me it seems I cannot gently will myself into surrender, I only submit after serious battle. But what I find striking is that the experience I described in the previous paragraph was very similar to the experience I had in the ceremony.

Surrendering is very counter intuitive for the most of us (it definitely is for me). Our egos are preoccupied with its own survival. We will do anything to escape surrendering to what haunts us: the truth. But when we tried everything, really truly everything, then surrender is the only option we have left. That’s probably why it takes us so long to get there. With surrender comes peace of mind. When we realize there is nowhere else to go we arrive home.

During the second ceremony, after my third cup of the medicine the ayahuasca had me finally pinned down to the floor. I was shaking heavily and vomiting violently. But every time the shamans did their healing work a tremendous peace came over me. When new thoughts, worries or fears popped up in my mind, the shaking started again. For hours I had to surrender time after time again, shifting from complete bliss to agony. Bliss, agony, bliss, agony, bliss, agony. Until I got it.

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