I arrived late to Soltara on the first day of retreat. A Sunday evening.
The rest of the group had met earlier that day, and started bonding on the ferry and bus pilgrimage together from San Jose.
I walked in in the middle of dinner.
I was feeling very internal, and for probably the first time in my life really didn’t care what first impression I made. I was here for me, and that’s what mattered. I gave everyone a wave, mustered up a small smile, then grabbed a plate of food and sat down quietly in the first available seat.
Although Guatemala, and speaking at the Volcano Summit, had energized me, I was in this moment feeling tired, nervous and not much up for chatting.
I’d missed the orientation talk, however the team at Soltara got me up to speed after I’d eaten.
I needed to be up and at the Maloca (the large, round, open-air, bamboo and read-roofed structure where our ayahuasca ceremonies would take place) by 7am for Vomitivo.
Instantly I felt nervous as they described Vomitivo for me.
In order to prepare our bodies to purge, we needed to move through a process where we’d drink and drink (and drink and drink) bowl fulls of lemongrass tea until our bodies ultimately vomited it all out.
Like a turtle, I retreated just a little further into my shell. What was I embarking on?
I woke up and everything felt surreal. All I was experiencing was just so different to my everyday life, I felt as though I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around it.
We met for Vomitivo in front of the Maloca, where there were four stations set up along the nearby fence. Each with a large bucket containing lukewarm lemongrass tea, and a bowl ready to be filled and drunk from.
There were around 25 of us in the group and we were invited to just step up to a station when we felt ready. As each person finished their process, another of us could jump in.
Sitting and watching others came with waves of uncomfortable anticipation. I can do this. Why am I here. I can’t do this.
Eventually it was my turn.
I stepped up to the fence, and was handed my first bowl of tea. We were guided to drink slowly but consistently. I put the bowl to my lips and started gently gulping down the tea.
I drank one bowl.
A third bowl.
My stomach began feeling really full and tight, I didn’t know how I could drink more, however I could also feel my body not wanting to hurl.
A little burp came out. My stomach felt fine again. Nooooo.
I was handed another bowl.
A fourth bowl.
A fifth bowl.
It felt terrible and I could feel myself resisting. My mind started racing, I can’t do this. I need to stop. If I’m resisting this I’m going to resist the medicine. I’m not able to do this. I’m failing. I’m not good enough. It’s taking me far longer than everyone else. I don’t fit in here.
And then I heard my friend Rachelle’s voice inside my head. I remembered her recounting her ayahuasca experience and the resistance she felt. I remember her describing it to me with non-judgement and this was enough for me to let go.
It’s ok if I’m resisting, there’s a lesson in that.
Just keep going.
One of the things they told us to remember is the only way out is through. It went for the vomitivo process, our ayahuasca ceremonies, and for life and healing in general. The only way out is through.
The only way out of our pain, our fear, our darkness is through.
One of the healers came and massaged my stomach. Still nothing. I kept drinking.
Somewhere toward the very end of my sixth bowl of tea, I started coughing a little, and spitting, and gagging, and then there it was. It erupted from me like a firehose.
And with it, a sense of relief. A sense of release. A sense of letting go, and moving through.
My mind got curious about the concept of resistance almost immediately. It was like a new level of understanding, and throughout the rest of the day (and ever since) I became hyper-aware of the things I was resisting.
In this new group of people, a lot of resistance was surfacing, this person is loud, that person seems odd, this person is frustrating me. Over and over again, I’d feel into that resistance and ask myself what is it in me that I’m seeing in them, that I’m rejecting in myself, that I’m afraid of here.
It’s constant in our lives, these things we resist and reject, but they’re each little doorways into self-inquiry and growth.
Already a lesson from the Mother.
This note is the third 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.