When we say, “this is how I am”, this is “me”, we are creating self limiting cage of what we are not. One could say we basically do that when we say anything, because language is a way of narrowing, approximating infinitely rich experience of the world into concepts, ideas, dualistic declarations. This is why @ Psychonauta Foundation we do not do integration circles in the day after ceremony – we let things settle, emotions and experience slowly seep into thoughts and dreams before – and if at all – someone chooses to share them, enclosed in words. Even that is a compromise from indigenous perspectives – many tribes believe that ayahuasca experience is an intimate relationship with living intelligence, that should not be revealed to third party.
What precedes the word is thought, and meditators and experienced psychonauts know it is also a filter obscuring reality. In ayahuasca ceremony, it often blocks the experience – with chattering mind clinging to his tricks, analysis, creating a map rather then trekking through reality itself. It is so painful and scary to see your personality split into fragments, and not give interpretation to calm oneself, to rationalise, to convince that things will be all right – in other words, escape from now into projection of future – where the map continue to exist, once the experience is gone.
Putting upside down many psychoanalytical and rational approaches of the western world, as well as obsession with visionary experience of many modern psychedelic users, I would like to stress again primary importance of somatic side of ayahuasca experience. It is not the intellectual, or even emotional fleeting realization of some profound truth that is so liberating and so healing in long term as dissolving of physical tensions, of sense of physical restrictions, increased awareness of bodily functions, feeling of eternal frown on forehead loosened just a bit, pipes of digestive system unclogged, or simply a good purge and crap taken that all lead to transformative and cumulative shifts that do stay with us. After we already relapsed in ups and downs of the life adventure of our mind, our body more than anything else remembers even that short experience of not being imprisoned in its former stiffness, and it pays off. Just like accumulation of life’s traumas forced us into rigid protective shield, every time we got a chance to crack it a bit and step beyond “this is what I am”, we have worked our way a bit more out of the cage. Our body will remember. But that is also why process of dieta in which our ayahuasca experienced is delivered is important, because that memory is strengthened by absence of distractions, stimulants, comforting foods sending contradictory signals.
First photo comes from a series of portraits of ayahuasca shamans of the Amazon.