The Ayahuasca Diaries: "I Was Unprepared For All The 'Feels'."

"You mislead me."

I was being accused of unintentionally painting the ayahuasca experience as just "easy" and "fun."

"I was prepared for the purging part," the woman said. "But I was not prepared for the intensity of the emotions that would be coming out of me."

I was absolutely guilty.

Earlier in the day, I had been talking to people at the retreat who were new to the experience. It was  the afternoon before the first ceremony. As usual, people were nervous. Even I was nervous, not knowing what to expect when it came to the purging.

I explained to people that it was an awesome and profound experience.  That you purge and then are able to think very clearly. For some people, it includes visual interpretations of things. For others, it's just clear inner thought. But the experience is healing and beautiful.

But in order to get to that... You have to purge the layers of negative emotion you are holding on to. Anger. Sadness. Loss. Fear. Plant medicine like ayahuasca brings you face-to-face with your emotions. And if you're holding onto something and have never realized it before, you are going to feel it. And it will be intense.

I had become quite good at confronting my emotions. Especially the sadness and the fear. Just a week before leaving for the jungle I had spent a good two hours deep in a stream of tears. Something was attached to me... A strong anxious feeling of sadness and fear, connected to the year anniversary of my split with my ex-husband.

I was discombobulated. My mind was confused. I didn't want to be in my marriage. I was at peace with the split. I had wanted the split.

"What is going on?" I said to myself, as I was bent over a toilet, dry-heaving. "Why am I physically reacting this way?"

I allowed myself to cry and feel the anxiety. Eventually it stopped. I was able to process it all. I realized that it was emotion connected to the year passing... And not being in the place I imagined I would be friendship-wise with my ex.  I allow - and encourage - him to contact me as much and however he wants to. But if I try to contact him to share a funny story or see how he is doing, I get an "I'm not ready" response. And this is very disappointing.

And this dark and consuming purging fit was just me finally allowing myself to feel that disappointment.

So the emotional purging people were going through with the taking of the ayahuasca... I have trained myself to do a lot of that without the ayahuasca.

My Bikram yoga practice helps me emotionally purge regularly. There are times in class where I will find myself laughing hysterically while in a deep back bend. Or tears streaming down my face while in Cobra pose. Or a burst of claustrophobic anger rolling through me during Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee.

I feel all the "feels" running through me pretty consistently. I'm emotionally aware. I always have been.

So when explaining the beauty of the ayahuasca experience to people, I omitted the intense emotional purge because... I don't seem to have it in tandem with taking the plant medicine. I appear to have largely released the emotions I hang on to prior to taking it. So I move directly into the space of clear inner thought.

I apologized to the woman for misleading her. I encouraged her to talk to the shamans about her experience, but that one has to get through the emotions first. The shaman she spoke to gave her great insight and said for her to take less ayahuasca the second night. She came away after that with the beautiful experience I'd come to know from the plant.