Ayahuasca #2

The day I started preparing my body, mind and soul to receive Mother Ayahuasca, was one of the worst days I’d had since my breakdown last year.

The evening before I’d sabotaged in a bad way, by getting on the phone with my ex-partner. It was emotional, and raw, and I was in no way ready. The conversation was filled with love and respect, but it didn’t matter. I was in a world of hurt, and though talking with him may have eased my pain that evening, I knew full well it wouldn’t serve me later.

I dreamed that night he was there. It all felt so real when I woke.

I didn’t want to get out of bed.

I stayed for several hours, laying in my tears and my pain, trying to summon up the courage to shower and get on with my day.

I had EO forum that afternoon and was cooking dinner for everyone. The only thing I needed to do was visit the grocery store, attend forum, and cook a casual meal for my friends. In my life, this is NOTHING. It should have been a walk in the park for me.

But no. I felt so overwhelmed by these small tasks and didn’t know how I was going to do it.

About 10am I finally showered and drove to Wholefoods.

I spent an hour in the car park, full body heaving, shaking, sobbing and crying. Everything felt meaningless, pointless. It took all my strength to make it into the store and pick up the food I needed.

The first part of our EO forum is updates, where we share the highs and lows of our previous month. I opened my laptop, preparing to read my update. My hands were trembling and tears welled in my eyes. I tried to speak and my voice cracked. The tears could no longer be contained, and rolled down my cheeks.

My friends looked at me. Shut the laptop Sarah. Just tell us what’s up.

I told them how hopeless I felt, how I didn’t want to exist anymore, how today felt just as bad as the worst days of my breakdown last year and that I didn’t know how I could go on living like this anymore.

It all just came out of me.

I’ve only recently come back to my forum, my original Colorado forum, and it felt somewhat relieving to just let these trusted friends in on how bad I was feeling. To feel their unconditional love as they talked with me, and held space for what I was moving through.

I’ll never forget that day.

We talked about anti-depressants and whether perhaps it was time I considered them. I explored my feelings of failure around going down that path, and felt supported and more open to considering it.

I also told them that day was the first in my preparation for ayahuasca. The dieta had commenced.

The dieta I needed to follow meant no alcohol, drugs or other substances, no caffeine, no meat (easy for me as I’m vegan anyway), avoiding processed foods, high salt and sugar, no sex (and no self-pleasure either) for the next two weeks.

Boy did I want to throw in the towel on the whole thing that day. I wanted nothing more than to down a glass of wine and have it all just fade away, at least for a few hours, as I’d been doing for the past 12 months.

I resisted.

Waking up the next day I felt somewhat calmer. I was open to the idea of anti-depressants, and spent some time sitting with that. I journaled and what came to me was a question. Had I done everything in my power to beat this black dog prior to resorting to pharmaceutical medicine?

The answer was a resounding no.

I’d tried, for sure I had tried.

But when I got into my truth of what ‘everything in my power’ meant to me, I couldn’t say with conviction I was there.

‘Everything in my power’ meant…

  • Cut out alcohol and drugs for a sustained period of time (months)

  • Meditate for 20 minutes morning and evening

  • Yoga, workout, or move my body in some way everyday

  • Eat well and avoid caffeine and processed foods

  • Journal, work with my therapist and healers at least weekly

Now, I’d been doing A LOT of this, in fact I’d been doing all of it, at about 80%. I’d had periods of a week or two off alcohol, I’d been doing my morning routine, but in truth it had become a burden and something I was trying to get over with, and I’d been working with my therapist, journalling and all the rest of it, but not regularly and not with respect.

In this moment of truth, I saw clearly that Mother Ayahuasca was giving me the very opportunity to do all of these things and more. And I was already a day in.

With conviction I decided this was it. I was going to go all in on myself, and my healing journey. And then, and only then, if all of this didn’t work I’d explore anti-depressants. I felt empowered, and proud. I was going for it.

I’d given myself permission to put myself and my healing as the most important, number one, top priority thing in my life for the next month at least, and that in itself was freeing.

I followed the dieta strictly over the coming weeks, and although I was still up and down emotionally, the edge had come off, the highs were not as high and the lows were not as low.

Underneath it all, I was calmly moving toward my plant medicine journey.

Many soul sisters and brothers encouraged me throughout these weeks, and shared with me their experiences and advice.

I’m especially grateful to my beautiful sister, Amanda Lindhaut, who encouraged me to consider a digital detox. It made a lot of sense, having had the experience of watching a TV series and falling asleep dreaming about it, I could immediately identify with the fact whatever my brain had been consuming online could easily infiltrate my psychedelic experience, which could defeat the purpose.

I was in Guatemala for a few days before I arrived at Soltara, speaking at the Volcano Innovation Summit, and made a point of limiting my phone use on the Saturday, and then switching it off altogether on Sunday morning. This gave me two full days off my phone before my first ceremony.

As I arrived at Soltara, late Sunday evening, after a day of travel. I was nervous, but strangely peaceful and calm at my core.

I was clean and clear mentally from the dieta, and reflective over just how much the events of the previous two weeks had shown me more than ever I was exactly where I needed to be.

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This note is the second in a six part series on my ayahuasca healing journey, where I’m taking you through my entire experience from how I got to Soltara, what the experience was like, and into my integration post-retreat.

Sarah Riegelhuth