Ayahuasca Part IV: Takeaways

What do you say about an experience that challenges your notions of what’s real and what isn’t? Well… This, I guess.

I had done plenty of psychoactive substances prior to my experience with Ayahuasca, and I did a fair amount of academic research on it leading up to the ceremony, but there just isn’t anything that prepares you for the kind of journey I was taken on. Every image that I saw with my eyes closed felt real – as if I wasn’t coming up with the images on my own, but I was being granted new eyes to see things that had always been there. Like in dreams where you’re convinced that you’re actually in that reality, but I never lost the sense that I left my reality – only added on new layers.

I interpreted the universes I saw as universes that exist simultaneously with this one. I knew that the spirits I encountered were very real, and many were there to help me. Not only that, but the other people in the room seemed to be able to tune into the visions I was having, and react to them in ways aimed at assisting me with them.

Prior to “releasing the dragon,” I had vivid images of the Spirit of Ayahuasca in a humanoid form, her hair made of long vines, her skin translucent, her heart and veins clearly visible, green, and glowing with life. Her and the Shadow Dragon stood side-by-side, arms outstretched, clearly holding space for my healing process as a blinding white light came from behind them. 

At the end of the ceremony on night two, Randy said, “I don’t want this to come off as egotistical, but I view myself as somewhat of a healer, and I was trying to help Sean release some spirits.”

“Let me set your mind at ease,” I said when the feathers were passed my way, “You hit the nail on the fucking head with that one.”

I view myself as an empiricist – I hold a very scientific worldview, but as any good scientist would, I leave open the potential that my view can be improved upon or disproven based on new evidence. This particular set of evidence caused me to challenge a lot of notions. It also ripped open a lot of old wounds, reexposing them to the open air, and if I’m being honest, I wasn’t ready for it.

I can see how, with the right guidance in the weeks following the ceremony, this would’ve been ultimately very good for me. I did not, however, have any plan whatsoever for the integration of this experience into my life. I should have set myself up with counseling to accompany this event, but I did not. I should have sought help to interpret these images and form constructive ways of dealing with them, but I did not. 

I do not see myself doing a ceremony again for some time – I still have a lot to go over spiritually, mentally, and emotionally after this go round. If/when I do embark on anything even remotely similar to this, I will have a very particular counseling plan set up so I don’t fall back into depression like I did this time. Without that plan, all those wounds just left me thinking, “Ow, this really fucking hurts,” as opposed to, “Here’s what I can do to help these wounds heal.” 

Ultimately, I’m glad I did the ceremony. I’m glad that I stepped outside my comfort zone to explore my reality in such an expansive way – I am, afterall, a dedicated explorer. Also, now that I’ve done this the wrong way, I feel certain that I’ll do it the right way going forward. If you choose to do anything like this, make sure you’re set up with a strong support system afterward, and be open about the fact that things aren’t okay. This particular form of medicine is powerful and can lead to amazing insights, but it’s also unrelentingly honest about where your weak points are, and without the proper guidance, that can really fuck your shit up for a while.

Take an honest inventory of whether this or any other psychedelic is the right choice for where you are in life before you do it, and make sure you’ve got a plan for afterward, otherwise you’re just doing drugs, and potentially causing more harm than good. Happy traveling.

Scared Sexless

I am considered to be – and in fact am – a person of considerable sexual prowess. I put in the time and effort to hone my abilities, learn how to read my partner, and maximally utilize my physical abilities for everyone’s benefit. Why is it, then, that when I’m watching videos about optimizing the human experience, I find myself avoiding the topic of sex?

At my core, I am a proponent of everything that they’re saying in the videos. I believe in the healing power of the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual connection that can only come from intimacy with a partner. I believe that through a physical expression of love, we can connect to higher parts of ourselves. I believe that sex is great! So what the fuck?

I’m struggling to write this because I’ve been pushing it to the back of my mind every time it crops up. I am largely happy in my day to day life, and if I want it, I have access to a nearly endless stream of partners as I am attractive, intriguing, and work in an industry that facilitates meeting a lot of viable candidates (not to mention the various online avenues I could pursue). Something is amiss, and I’m having real trouble putting what that something is into words.

Nearly two years ago, one of my exes and I gave it another shot. We were – in my mind – the meant-to-be-together type. We share a bond that goes beyond time and space. As it turns out, we are not meant to be together in a romantic capacity, and are now incredible friends, but I think the dissolution of our romantic potential really fucked with my head in ways that I haven’t been willing to acknowledge. I have no real desire to reignite that flame because we really did put in the effort, and it drove me to actual madness (viscerally screaming at the top of my lungs and pounding on my steering wheel as I spoke with on the phone toward the end) when it became obvious that no matter what we did, it just wasn’t going to work.

It’s worth noting that since then, I have had meaningful sexual and romantic connections, but I’ve let those flames whither while I pursue other things in my life that are more me-centric. What the fuck is it that I’m looking for? What do I want? Why have I lost connection with my sexual self, and how do I go about reconnecting? Am I just destined to be asexual to some degree now?

My dog certainly eats up a lot of my energy in terms of connecting with people. Today, my friend invited me out to just chill on the beach, and instead of doing that, I’m sitting next to my dog typing this nonsense. I feel small tinges of resentment toward my pup for that, but I know in my heart that I’m using him as a scapegoat, and that there’s something inside me that’s causing this. A sadness, I suppose.

As someone in the night life industry, I often see real love pass between the eyes of two patrons at my bar. I see the connection, the softness, the warmth, the kindness, and the longing as two people sit closely together and talk about the nothings in their day. As I am a student of human emotion, I’m good at mimicking shit like that for short-term gains, but I DON’T WANT THOSE GAINS! (okay, I a little bit want those gains, but I also want other things more).

I want to FEEL what’s behind their eyes. I want someone to FEEL that right back at me. I want that next level shit they’re on.

When I was going to Narcotics Anonymous meetings with some regularity, I was encouraged to find a higher power. Initially, I was resistant to the whole notion because I’m an atheist and that sounded like some theist “get on our bandwagon” bullshit to me, but eventually someone told me that it didn’t have to be God or Jesus or Buddha (let’s be real, most of them were just talking about God and Jesus). It could be anything that was bigger than oneself – anything that served as a reminder that there is more than just the individual. My higher power was Love.

Do I have love in my life? I most certainly do. I have the love of my family and my friends and those are real and I express them on a regular basis with the utmost sincerity and meaning. But it’s not the same. It’s not that earth-shattering, time and space nullifying, universe-connecting kind of shit.

Ultimately, I’m afraid. I’m afraid that I’ll be hurt again. I’m afraid that if and when my life takes me toward my next destination, I’ll have to leave it behind. I’m stopping myself from even the remotest potential of real connection because I don’t want to feel that deep sense of loss that stole my sanity. I’m still hurting from the last one, and the thought of jumping in with both feet again scares the fuck out of me.

Hm. I’ll be honest – that last sentence is not where I expected to end up when I started writing about sex. On my walk home from the coffee shop, I mentally wrote out something much more along the lines of, “orgasm isn’t even what I’m after, it’s the tantric, meditative melding of minds I’m looking for.” Still a good, accurate line, but damn did this go deeper than I thought it would.

I’m scared. I don’t know how to address that, yet, but writing it feels like a step in the right direction. Hopefully the next step will reveal itself sometime soon. Until then – I love you. Thank you for being here.

Author’s Note: Had I stopped there, it would have been 969 words, and that number made me laugh out loud.

Clever Title Re: Online Dating

Nothing says, “your life is different than it was” like walking your previously nonexistent dog down a snow-coated alley surrounded by tightly packed brick buildings. It’s so counter to what kinds of things filled my senses four months ago, that it’s comical and jarring and beautiful. On the flip side, nothing says, “your life is the same” like my restless right and left swiping on dating apps.

As it happens, I spend a fair amount of time each day on Tinder or OKCupid doing not much of anything at all. I swipe left and right based solely on a three second judgment of a person’s appearance. Sometimes, if I find their photos particularly attractive, I’ll take a second to read what they have to say about themselves. Then I find myself falling in love (maybe only to a small degree, but that’s definitely what the feeling is) with a person I’ve never met, based on five photos and an elevator pitch.

Brief aside: get your artsy landscape photos out of your profile pictures. That’s what Instagram is for, and you’re slowing down my rapid-fire judgments of a person’s potential for connectivity with your bullshit about flowers. 

Anyway, I don’t spend much time talking to people on dating apps. Presently, I have 215 matches on Tinder and more on OKCupid, and I’m only passively engaged in one conversation and actively engaged in none. I find that my reasons for being on the app as opposed to seeking out dates in a more “traditional” fashion, are the same reasons that I don’t end up actually dating or establishing a meaningful connection with these people – lack of money, lack of time, or lack of emotional currency.

I can’t tell how upset I am about that. I feel like I want a connection with someone. I feel like if my brain is trying to tell me anything with all of its daydreaming, it’s that having a partner would be nice. Then I think about it more, and I find myself wholly satisfied with the quality time I spend with my dog, the quality time I spend on Pornhub (separate quality times), and the quality time I spend with myself, writing or reading or doing whatever random thing pops into my head.

I like this life, and it feels like adding another human to it holds the potential to bring all that enjoyment to a screeching halt. Then I’ll have to deal with a whole other person worth of nonsense, and I just don’t want to. If history is any indicator, I’ll do a complete 180 on that pretty soon and dive headlong into a doomed-from-the-start relationship with someone who would have been perfectly happy having never met me. I’ll make it through about a year of an emotional whirlwind of happiness, anger, and ultimately sadness, and the cycle will start anew. 

Ah well. *SWIPE*