It took me over a year to write this post.
Too raw, deeply personal and far out there to even think about sharing. Way too vulnerable. An emotional television host recording her journey into the Peruvian rain forest for an ayahuasca retreat? No way. I’m a third generation Japanese American woman- we aren’t raised to DO things like this, let alone talk about them. No. Just no.
For those unfamiliar with ayahuasca, it is a medicinal brew made from two vines, employed by the indigenous people of the Amazon for healing purposes. It has psychedelic properties, from its active ingredient, DMT (dimethyltryptamine), and can induce vomiting and/or an emptying of the bowels, known as purging. Non-addictive, with no adverse side effects (aside from the purging, we’ll get to that later…) ayahuasca can elicit visions and is considered in some circles to be an effective tool for enlightenment.
I have zero experience with recreational drugs. I am as straight as they come. I have been a good girl my whole life, ticking off lists and doing exactly what’s expected of me… and then some. Going to the rain forest to have a spiritual awakening with Peruvian shamans seemed so far outside of my box, beyond my wildest dreams, truly unbelievable…and all the more reason to stay home in my safe little life. I’m a single mom, what if something happened to me? What if I came back forever changed and couldn’t be the mother, sister, daughter that I am? What then? I couldn’t possibly.
While researching ayahuasca, I was intrigued by the access to higher spiritual dimensions, the opening of the pineal gland- the “seat of the soul”, and the opportunity to expand my consciousness. The accounts I had read both terrified and intrigued me. What if my years of spiritual skepticism could be contradicted? What if I was shown something so dark and terrible, I would never be the same? Could this foster the spiritual connection that I had always longed for, but never allowed myself?
I toyed with the idea, and once I began to investigate the possibility of going, things fell into place very easily. Very easily. I could actually book my plane ticket using miles. (That never happens!) My family could watch my son for a week. I was about to turn forty, I had just gotten out of a relationship. I was aware that I was repeating patterns but didn’t know how not to. I was down for some profound healing. Childhood, divorce, co-dependency, lack of self-love and self-esteem, were my own personal demons, so when I read that ayahuasca can be comparable to ten years of therapy, that clinched it. I can fast track healing and spiritual learning to just one week away from my son? That didn’t seem too crazy. Efficiency speaks to me. I’m all about results. My pro-Peru reasons were undeniable.
One year ago, I flew to Pucallpa, Peru for 9 days. And had the biggest experience of my life.
Upon return, my friends listened to my tale of ayahuasca with rapt attention from start to finish. I could remember everything that happened while on the medicine and it was profound. Every thought, every vision, the smell and taste, and most vividly, the pure, unconditional love I experienced to the core of my being. It changed my life.
I knew I wanted to continue to share my journey, I just didn’t know how.
Weeks after I returned, I started to look at what I had shot in Peru, after all, it was my norm to dive into work. If I couldn’t make an experience worthwhile in terms of my career, why bother having it? But as I started poring over the footage, I couldn’t even bring myself to look at what I had shot around the ayahuasca ceremonies. What I had recorded to document how I felt before and after the 3 ceremonies seemed intrusive to the experience itself, even false. I wasn’t ready to put this out there. I couldn’t even fathom it. I looked at the footage I shot before I arrived at the Tierra Vida retreat, that was much more comfortable. I cut some travelogue style videos about arrival in Peru, hinting at, but never addressing the real purpose of my journey. I made a food video. I jokingly referred to “losing my mind” in the rain forest of Peru, but never really expected that it could happen. But it did. Thankfully. Just not the way I thought it would.
I created this blog as an exercise in courage. And I hope that my journey may touch others on their own path. I’ll be sharing my story here, along with my adventures since, and I hope that you’ll join me.