The Soundless Sound…

I find myself in Penzance, Cornwall where I’ve been for over a week now.

I came to find some quiet space to work on by children’s book and it has proved the be the perfect setting.

Colourful wild flowers warm the feet of ageing trees in full bloom. The sun smiles and the animals sing the soundtrack to my days. My hut resembles a moloca. A circular room with a skylight in the middle of the heightened dome-like roof.

A bird has started flying through the door to visit me every day. With each visit, it grows more confident. Explores further. Feels more comfortable. In bird mythology, this means one of two things. Either I’m about to receive some important news, or I’m going to die. Maybe he was just lost or smelt some food? Fingers crossed.

After having arrived last Monday evening, I spent the following three days reading. I read works by Rumi, NLP material on telling stories and Zen Koans. From Friday onwards, I began to write until coming to a dead halt today.

Today, I got up at 7am and switched on the computer. One of the first things I read when I arrived was The Sound of One hand, which is Zen Koan.

A Koan kind of sums up Buddhism. A religion which asks questions instead of providing answers. One that understands that being told the answer, is never as profound as when you find the answer yourself. Koans are answerless questions. If you think you can answer one, it means that you’re wrong. You haven’t understood it on the right level.

For days now, in the back of my mind, I’d been thinking how to retell one particular Koan. What was the message? What was it trying to teach us? This was not the first time I’d pondered this Koan. It was first told to me 10 years ago with pointers on its true meaning.

As I sat down to write this morning, I got lost in thought for about 4 hours on what the hell this thing meant until it finally clicked.

The Sound of One Hand generally starts with someone enlightened saying “you can hear the sound of two hands when you clap? Now, show me the sound of one hand.”

Monks were said to ponder Koans like these for 15 years before becoming enlightened. Some never got there at all.

Thankfully I didn’t have to meditate for 15 years. I’d had pointers in the past as to what this Koan was getting at. I’ve read about Buddhist concepts which helped me along the way. And, on plant medicines, I’d truly understood concepts of singularity and duality. This was ultimately the state that the Koan was meant to lead you to.

When looking at Buddhist statues, you will often see three bodies or 3 heads. This is to represent singularity and duality.

Singularity is the face in the middle looking right at you. This is the universal one. The being that is everything and nothing. Completely interconnected with everything that is. It is pure light. The purest white. It is enlightenment.

Duality are the two heads on either side that face in opposite directions. This is right and wrong. Good and bad. Love and hate. All debates of the unenlightened. All states born in judgement.

Therein lies the human condition. Caught between the knowing and the not knowing. Subconsciously knowing but consciously unaware. Frightened by the enlightened we take refuge in the safety of duality. The physical. Ego.

For this Koan, once you understand the concepts of singularity and duality, you become enlightened. Sounds like a pretty steep challenge when they would essentially go and sit in a cave for 15 years pondering it.

Singularity in this case is considering our true nature. We are but balls of light and energy. We represent ourselves in many ways, which is the physical. We have bodies, brains and minds, but what sublimes, is the spirit. The light. To consider this asks the question of what is actually real? Are our bodies real or figments of our minds? Are our minds real? Which all leads to thinking, was the clap real? Is a clap real? Is sound real?

Sound is energy that can be expressed and picked up on in many ways. An experiment was performed a few years ago where a scientist spoke to a plant. From these words reaching the plant, tiny monitoring devices sensed all the plant’s vibrations. The scientists were then able to convert these vibrations back into the original words. As sound can’t travel through a vacuum, this experiment proved that you didn’t technically need the sound. Just the vibrations that were made by the sound. Something that they will direct towards picking up communications from space. The point however is that how can we know everything we think we hear is real? Is it just our experience of that energy? And if so, how blinkered or subjective is our experience?

From working with psychedelics, I’ve had countless experiences where I’ve been led to understand singularity. Ego death. Out of body experiences. Channeling pure light. I’d seen myself. Understood my true nature.

Duality is much more straight forward. Whilst we are subconsciously aware that we are pure light, duality is the space where we experience the physical. The body. The brain. The ego. There is little doubt in this space that the clap you hear is real. Everything in this existence knows that the clap has a sound.

This concept is not hard to understand. This is where we live. Some people never even leave. Never get to take a holiday.

For the Buddhists that got to this point, the ones that understood the clap on a level of both singularity and duality, they had attained enlightenment. For me, it has not gone so well. I’ve now realised that, whilst it seemed like such a fascinating Koan to use, there is no way I can use it.

How do you tell a story when there is no answer? Just an invitation to try and find a question. No resolution, only dissolution.

I may stay away from Zen Koans in the future. I fear I may spend 15 years working in the wilderness, only to realise that I should not write the book. For after all, what is a book? What do the words really mean? How can I provide answers to readers who have not yet thought about the question? How shallow is my understanding if indeed I actually think I have answers.

It seems this one Koan has led me into a maze of thought. A labyrinth of lust for answers. But I am never truly lost.

I’m sitting. I’m silent. I’m listening.

Both I, and my true self, stride triumphantly out of the maze.

I Love Goodbyes …

Yesterday’s ceremony started with some words from Mark.

He talked about many things including ancestral healing. I realised this had happened to me on a previous ceremony. It’s based around the concept that we inherit DNA from our predecessors and that DNA can carry pain and trauma. My encounter with my grandparents and parents had allowed me to let go of pain I’d inherited. This was no doubt the reason the native American had appeared. To oversee proceedings.

As agreed with myself, the intention for yesterday’s ceremony was simply to offer thanks to everything the medicine had helped me achieve. In fact, everything that plant medicines, not just San Pedro, had helped me achieve. I was paying my dues to Mother Earth. To pachamama.

As we went around the group, everyone said their name and Mark would pour their dose. I said my name and he hesitated. He said he’d come back to me. This made me nervous. I found out later when he came to talk to me that he had saved the bottom of the bottle for me. The strongest part of the bottle where all the residue sat. It transpired that the glass I drank yesterday was nearly the same dose as the previous ceremony.

I once again took myself to a quiet corner of the garden where the hummingbirds hung out. Laid on my belly and quickly got into my slow breathing routine.

I’ve worked with plant medicines on and off for nearly a year now. I’m starting to understand how they work. Much like ayahuasca, San Pedro knew that I was coming and it also knew when I was leaving. It knew that this was my last ceremony. I was surprised that Mark had given me such a big dose as typically it’s best to go easy on the last ceremony. Stay clear headed so you are lucid enough to process all the messages you’ve received. Regardless of the dose however, San Pedro did know I was leaving and treated me to a beautifully blissful day.

The medicine started to take hold of my body and my mind and the euphoria returned. I once again experienced gratitude for every single thing that had happened in my life. I lay on my back chuckling to myself at how things had turned out. I reflected that it had not even been a year since I took that boat into the jungle to work with ayahuasca for the first time. In the space of a year I’d managed to free myself from addictions and completely alter the way I view myself and how I live my life.

The only scary part of the trip was when I envisaged myself in Iquitos prior to getting on that boat. From my state of euphoria, I was suddenly thrust into the body of my former self. It was terrifying. I felt everything that was going on in my body and mind. The intensity of my thoughts. The negativity of my mental patterns. I felt the tortured body that housed my mind. The tension. The fatigue. The drugs pumping through my veins. It was suffocating. I felt like I was on the verge of dying. I tried to open my eyes to break out of the vision but I couldn’t get out. I just kept sailing on the boat being forced to experience it all. I was being taught a lesson. Don’t forget that was less than a year ago. Remember that feeling. Don’t ever go back to that feeling.

I began repeating my mantra – I will only fill the void with love and light. After a few times of repeating this, I was back in my body again. It was a powerful lesson. I knew that there could be no messing around. The stakes were high. I had to be grateful for what I had and not take anything for granted.

As Mark approached me, I was in a state of pure gratitude. I explained I was feeling so grateful for everything in my life. He explained that he’d given me quite a strong dose but nothing had been able to wipe the smile from my face all week. He said he thought that my work was done for the time being and suggested we take a photo to capture the moment. He said I had a lovely smile and that people had been commenting all week that my smile had brought them back down to earth. When going through tough times, my smile had reminded them that it’s no big deal. It’s just a trip. This made me happy. I felt I’d helped others. As he stood in his cowboy hat whilst the picture was being taken, I was beaming from ear to ear.

After he left, I laid on the grass laughing to myself for about 5 minutes. I don’t particularly know why I was laughing. Just couldn’t stop. As the laughing subsided, I realised that I had found the stillness I had been looking for. One of the reasons I came here in the first place. Just staring up at the clouds. Not a thought in my mind. Not one worry. This was stillness. This was calm.

I reflected in this moment on various comments I’ve received on my journey. This perception that I was on a mission to find myself. At times I got hung up about this. I knew I was here to do something but didn’t know what. In times of total relaxation, I felt I had been avoiding the real reason I’d set off on this trip. The truth is that my intention was never to find myself. I knew myself very well. Too well. I knew every aspect, on an intellectual level, of what drove me. Why I punished myself. Why I abused my body. Far from wanting to find myself, I embarked on this trip to lose myself. The self that had held me back for the majority of my life. I had achieved my aim. As I looked at my old self, I realised that monster was a distant memory.

There were no tears today. Not even tears of joy. Just a happy and balanced individual who had a feeling of purpose. A motivation to move forward. To live and to express my unique talents.

With my palms placed face down on the grass, I asked pachamama for more guidance on my book. It was half hearted. No answers cane back, just as I expected. I knew deep down that I had received enough guidance.

Whilst I had drunk a strong dose, by the time we all went for a walk, I was in full control. I was able to use my phone, something I had not even attempted on previous ceremonies. I captured some photos of some of my beautiful fellow travellers before heading back.

Whilst I knew I could go so much deeper working with San Pedro, I was being told that I have everything I need to continue my journey on my own. I will micro dose in order to stay connected however I do not feel the need to work with it in such an intense manner. I know that it’s there if I need it. I know it will call me if it thinks I need it.

For those who don’t believe in the power of plant medicines and believe that it’s like taking drugs, I invite them to look closely at what they see. Seemingly some people are more at ease looking at a high functioning drug addict that exists within the norms of society. Indeed I’ve had to go outside the norms to find my peace, but I’ve found it nonetheless.

Ironically, I am no longer at odds with society. I understand it better than before. I see the traps. I’m more in tune with the beauty. Better equipped to control my path. I feel more loving. More open to love. Still the same guy but different.

Strangely however, my desire to write has faded significantly since I’ve started working with San Pedro. My fears were true. It was an ego fuelled obsession. I wrote this entry as it felt like my journey had come to an end however the words don’t flow like they used to. Nothing on my mind that I desperately need to get out. I don’t need to write to understand what’s on my mind. There’s really not much going on anymore. It’s like the noisy family have left and there’s just an empty house filled with love.

It has been quite a journey though. A transformative journey. Looking back, I’ve had to face my demons. Look them in the eye and see them fir what they are. Negative, deeply embedded thought patterns that didn’t serve me. It’s been hard to let go at times. There were points where I had gone so deep inside my mind that I questioned my own sanity. Moments where I experienced huge self doubt. But I am free. Sort of.

I’ve realised that I have lost parts of myself. Deprogrammed myself and left myself open to reprogramming. I have come to the conclusion however that I’m still me. I will never be able to simply run away from the parts of me that I don’t like. It takes work. Work that will never end.

To say this is a new beginning for me would be indulgent. It’s just a twist in the road. Albeit a road I see much more clearly now.

My journey with plant medicines is far from over but, for now, I’m focused on living the life I’ve missed for so long.

Penultima…

Simon’s brother Mark stopped by the hostel on Monday afternoon as he would be running this weeks ceremonies.

He seemed to think I’d been there a while and asked when I was leaving. I explained that I would attend the remaining ceremonies this week before deciding whether I’d stay on another week. As 2 ceremonies had been cancelled, I think he assumed that I’d already attended 4 as opposed to 2 ceremonies. 3 is usually what they recommend as the number to receive all that you need. He started saying that some people just get caught in a loop of constantly attending ceremonies without processing and suggested that I go deeper in the next ceremony by drinking 2 cups.

When we sat down in the moloca yesterday, as I said my name, he followed through by pouring me double the dose.

It was a perfect sized group yesterday. 8 people meant that there was plenty of space around the garden. The sun was shining and, as soon as I drank the medicine, I felt the effects immediately. I found a quiet corner in the garden and laid down on my stomach. Within minutes I felt woozy. Colours heightened. I could hear everything, and I mean everything. The wind. The water draining around the garden, insects sounded like planes. The intense audio experience would continue throughout the trip.

Journeys now are not so full of revelation. A sign that I’ve moved on significantly from when this trip started. I was told to roll over onto my stomach and the same process of pain extraction started again. I laid for about an hour breathing deeply with my belly on the grass. I kept repeating “whatever you take from me, I will replace with love and light”

At this stage, whilst I’d gone much deeper into the medicine, I felt such a sense of control and power. I decided to explore my body. I started to focus on certain areas of my body and imagined light in these areas. Due to the intensity of how the medicine was working, I began to see more visuals than previous ceremonies. Rather than the black goo I’d seen the week before, I would see insects and snakes alongside the building blocks of my insides. Feeling empowered, I did not panic. Did not open my eyes. I remember thinking that there was no need to worry. Everything I was seeing was in my body and mind. I’d been running too long. I now had the self confidence to face up to these dark forces. Still laying on my belly, eyes shut and smiling from ear to ear, I faced these forces head on and shone light at them. It was quite hard to achieve at first however after 10 minutes, I started to see rays of light pierce the cracks of this dark matter. Feeling like I could do this quicker, I decided it would be easier to do this on foot.

I began to imagine a miniature version of myself walking around inside my body with a flashlight. It felt similar to Ghostbusters. I had a little backpack on which was connected by a wire to a huge flashlight. As I walked around inside my stomach, everything I encountered one of these animals, who were symbols of addiction, I shot a bright light at them until they disappeared. As they disappeared, my immature self would look back at me, pump his fist and shouted “yeah” It was great fun.

After repeating this process for an hour, my heart started to open up more than ever before. I experienced a very strange 15 minutes when I felt gratitude like never before. I lay in child’s pose. Knees bent with my forehead on the floor. Hands stretched out in front of me with my palms touching the floor.

Whilst we didn’t say our intention at the start of the ceremony, my intentions this time were 3 fold. Allow me to find love and start a family. Help me to connect with confidence and power. Show me my purpose.

Pachamama is what the Incans call Mother Earth. Often when people work with San Pedro, they find themselves in poses where there palms are touching the earth having incredible feelings of connection to this goddess. As my hands touched the grass, I felt love exploding into my heart. I started thanking her for my abuse. At one point, I even remember thanking her for bringing my abuser into my life. I thanked her for my addictions. I had an overwhelming sense that all of this was meant to be. Everything had happened in order to lead me to this path. At that point, if you’d offered me a chance to go back in time and erase that event, I would have refused. Grateful for every last thing in my past, present and future. It was a strange feeling but it occurred naturally. I felt like I’d taken another big step towards letting go. I felt a sway in the way I viewed the world around me. A switch on how I viewed myself.

As if we were on a strict agenda, my thoughts and feelings turned to love. I again affirmed that in the void left by the removal of dark energy, I would only replace it with love and light. My only quest now was finding love. Starting a family. I would no longer pursue physical gratification for the purpose of self validation. Past lovers and women in my life kept appearing. I was unsure whether the medicine was trying to tell me these were the ones for me or whether there was another message. Something that I was not able to reach a resolution on.

At this stage, it felt natural to ask pachamama for something in return for the work of done. For the hardships I’d experienced. I asked her to deliver love to me. Unwittingly we pushed onto the next item on the agenda. The conversation was silent however she communicated through pushing understanding into me. I realised that I’d been too closed up for far too long. Weathered by the storm. I’d stopped opening up my heart to the world. Letting countless women drift out my life without telling them I loved them. Not engaging in conversations through a self defeatist mindset that told me it would never work out. I was being told that, aside from finding love, in life in general, I had to spread my gift. My smile. My heart, which I was being told was a special one. I was being told to walk out into this world with confidence. With strength. Love. Meet the world face on and tell them how I feel. Worry not about rejection. Fear of rejection was always fear of self.

I walked to the toilet with a smile as wide as a mile. I let go of some negative emotions and returned to my patch of peace.

As I sat back down on the ground, we moved further through the agenda. I touched both hands on the grass and a vision shot into my mind. Whilst I’d previously been sent a message that I should write a children’s book centred around concepts I’d learned on my journey. Concepts that would help children deal with their emotions, my ideas were still relatively loose. A vision appeared of a children’s book. Everything was clear. The name. The artwork. The book was called Pachamama. Mother Earth. I turned the page and realised that there was a family at the heart of this book. Pachapapa, Pachababa and Pachabibi. The messages I was trying to convey would be told through this family however now they would take on more of a spiritual focus as they would all be children of the earth. I would incorporate the elements. They would learn wisdom from the water. Fire. All discreetly blended into stories that would not sound like their origin was from Buddhism, psychotherapy and work with plant medicines. This vision left my mind pretty quickly as if the universe was telling me that I had to work for this. Nothing would be handed to me on a plate.

I got up to visit the toilet. Once again with a silly grin from ear to ear. I strode across the garden with true confidence. As I left the toilet, I bumped into Simon. Aside from my legs being quite wobbly, I knew I was quite deep at that point, as I could sense peoples’ energies. He was agitated. He’d given another guest the same dose as me however he was not handling it well. He approached me looking a bit nervous and asked how I was feeling. I beamed back at him and explained I was feeling electric. He looked relieved and explained that not everyone can handle that much medicine. He stopped momentarily, looked me up and down and pronounced “brother, you are right between the 2 worlds now, go spread the light” This made me feel amazing although I didn’t entirely understand which 2 worlds I was in between and how I was meant to spread the light.

This all became clear however when I returned to my space. I once again sat with my knees folded beneath me. This time however, instead of touching my hands on the earth, I rotated my palms so that they faced up to the sky. I started channelling pure light into my body. As this happened my brother, Tariq, appeared. He was his 10 yr old self. Brimming with precocious self confidence, he began running around the garden playing so happily. His voice high pitched. He started bossing me around like older brothers do until he stopped and suddenly became very shy. He assumed a position behind a tree as if he was scared and trying to hide. He kept saying – “I don’t think I should be here, I’m scared”

At that moment, another version of himself appeared however he was now at his current age. This new version was trying to lead his younger self away saying “It’s just not right”

Once again the tears started flooding as I grabbed them both, pulled them towards me and cradled them into my arms. I hugged them both for about 5 minutes repeating “Its ok, I know. You have me watching over you now.” Then we started playing. In my vision, I was tickling them, chasing them around the garden. We all felt so free. At this point, I became conscious of both my vision and my body. Now sat cross legged, palms still up in the air, I decided to focus. I imagined a light stronger then ever before and started internally chanting – “as long as there is light, you can play in my garden”

I’ve never cried so intensely in my life. I felt I could help my brother so much but knew I had to respect his path. I was overjoyed however that we were able to share this moment. On my knees in the garden, crying my eyes out, the sky broke and a hailstorm started. I didn’t want to leave. I sat in the rain for 5 minutes whilst the light flickered on and off, desperately trying to allow us all more time to play. As the marble sized hailstones started to bash off my head, the light disappeared. We waved goodbye and they vanished.

Being fixed inside at the height of my trip wasn’t too enjoyable. My ears could hear everything. Inside the kitchen, I felt the acoustics. I could hear conversations from 15 metres away enter the kitchen and bounce off the walls before hitting me. By this time they had mutated, clashed with other sounds and were freaking me out. I found a quiet place to sit down. Tried to reconnect to the light but it was gone. Too many distractions to find the light.

Yesterday’s trip was the longest I’d ever experienced. 14hrs before I was able to go to bed and another hour before the visions finally ended.

I’m starting to find peace in so much and have continued my intentions into today. Whilst my original intention was to spend up to 3-4 weeks here, something’s telling me it’s time to go. I know the importance of integration. Allowing yourself time to process in a less intense environment. Instead of new messages arriving everyday, I needed to give the ones I’d received time to breathe. Develop. Grow.

This place will always be here. I have the San Pedro I’ve been travelling which I plan to micro dose in order to stay connected.

My final ceremony will be tomorrow. It feels like a natural end point to what has been an epic journey both physically, mentally and emotionally. Tomorrow my intention will simply be to offer thanks. I do not need to take anymore. The universe has provided me with the tools I need to move on.

As I approach what I think will be my last ceremony for sometime, I reflect on what I’ve achieved.

There’s A Word For It…

I wrote a journal when I was in Japan about the process of writing.

I must have written about 1,000 words about how I have no idea what’s going to come out before I write. The intensity of the process. The fact that I’m not always present when I’m writing. The way that I write to understand what’s on my mind.

It turns out that it didn’t actually need to be described in so many words as I learnt yesterday that it has a name. Auto-writing.

I’m auto-writing right now. I’m finding it harder than ever before as I have nothing on my mind. The whole process of writing right now seems rather pointless. I have no desire to see what’s on my mind. I know that very little of interest is happening. I don’t feel any need to share what’s I’m thinking. I’m happy with my own thoughts. I’ve changed my whole perspective on what it is to write. Why I write. I hold neither an obsession to understand my ego or a desire to share it with others. I’m continuing the process anyway for a few reasons. It’s a creative outlet. I know I’m not perfect and I’m also aware that writing has uncovered things before.

Yesterday I woke up feeling drained. 2 days before I had drunk 4 large beers and felt lacking in energy the day after. I arose yesterday with an upset stomach and, whilst I’d planned to go on an impromptu San Pedro ceremony with some friends, decided that I wasn’t up to it. I went back to bed after breakfast and slept until 10am. As I said goodbye to the group, something told me to analyse my feelings. If I was really honest with myself, I’d been feeling ill earlier however, at that moment, I didn’t feel that bad. I’d let my thoughts run away. The sleep after breakfast had actually made me feel better. I quickly grabbed some stuff, ran down to the taxi rank and just managed to jump in one of their cars before it pulled away. It was one of the best decisions I’d ever made.

Laying in bed with the lights off never cured anyone of anything. The sun was shining and, even though I hadn’t yet decided whether I’d drink medicine, I knew I would I would feel better in the sun and around friends. The only thing playing on my mind was being miles from a toilet. After walking for an hour, we arrived at the Incan Temple of Water.

We lay a blanket down and conducted a mini ceremony to show respect, both for the medicine, and the site we were on. I decided to drink San Pedro. The day turned out to be blissful. The energy coming out of the ground was at points overwhelming. The views. The sunshine. The company. Everything was right. As per my San Pedro ceremonies across Hawaii and Japan, the experience was one of love and connection. No deep delves inside myself. I took this as a positive. I’m getting nearer to the point where I can just be with myself. I don’t need groundbreaking revelations. Life is good. I’m starting to find direction.

A few people asked me whether I got what I wanted? Whilst I didn’t have any revelations, I had been at peace. I sat in the same spot for 6hrs. I was full of love. Yes, I git what I wanted.

My friend Bobby is someone I will never forget and plan to keep in touch with. A man who grew up in foster care, was a serious drug addict and a professional drug smuggler. He’d kicked his addictions before arriving here through using iboga however, in the week we’ve spent together, he’d found exactly what he was looking for. He’d found his life purpose which was giving back to the world. Helping kids that had been through the same struggles he has. His confidence and motivation was what I sought. They are the only two remaining parts of myself that I need to work on before returning home.

I was once very confident. I now understand that it was all a self defence mechanism. I had to get people to like me so that I could feel loved. Never able to love myself, it became a must to get it from others. That feeling of validation. I’ve changed now. I understand myself more. I do however need to regain that confidence. I need to relearn how to go for what I want.

When I first arrived in Cusco, I was lying in bed awake at 3am and an idea came to me. I envisioned a series of children’s books, complete with name and logo. Whilst many of the details will require some thought, the concept was clear. Something that would be a creative outlet whilst being something that could potentially help people.

The heart of the concept surrounded connection, compassion and communication. Essentially SQ. In a world where mental health is on the rise, a world where kids have social media, the emotional strain on kids is like never before. One of the biggest challenges is helping children how to be with their emotions. Adults also struggle with this. The aim of the books would be to distill powerful messages that I’ve learnt from Buddhism, Psychotherapy and working with plant medicines, into stories that parents could read to their children. This would be aimed at pre-nursery children to help them interact in a more positive manner.

An example of the concepts that came to me in this vision was a lesson about ego. If a child shoves another kid in the playground, it inevitably leads to a lot of emotional turmoil. Whilst we have to show compassion for what the child has gone through, the real message should be one of perspective. Firstly, life is suffering. People will hurt you. Loved ones will die. Secondly, have some compassion. We don’t know what that child was going through. He is not evil, just a product of his causes and conditions. Thirdly, have some compassion for self. The reality that being shoved, not only engaged our primal fear instincts, but it put cracks in our very fragile egos. Being able to deal with these instances would stop the build up of negative patterns. Stop us putting up walls. Help us get perspective.

Clearly, if your child got shoved in the yard, you wouldn’t tell them that life is suffering. The idea is to boil these concepts down into stories that kids can relate to. Part of the concept is to provide signposts to parents to follow through the conversations that arise naturally that also serve to connect the parents to the message.

I don’t have kids but have spent time with my nieces and nephews as they were growing up. When something happens in a story, the way to know why. You reply with a superficial answer. Before long they’ve asked why enough that you hit a dead end. You realise that you don’t know the answer. You’ve never thought about it before. You were just told that was the way by so many people that you assumed it must be true. They are open. Hungry for information. Little bits of information develop new neural pathways faster than ever. They are receptive to knowledge and are pre-programmed to understand love. That’s often, for a lot of kids, all they’ve ever know.

If a storyboard lead the parent and children to follow through ideas of compassion, self compassion and how to deal with emotions, I think stories would take on a new value. I’m sure there are many books out there now but, from some research, they all look too obvious. They’re clearly sending a spiritual message. It looks like something that would make the parent feel good about buying. Imagine something that kids loved that taught them lessons without feeling like they’re receiving psychotherapy. My brother and sister-in-law appeared in the vision. Apart from having a huge admiration for them based on how they’ve raised my niece and nephew, they also have the perfect skills to bring to a project like this. My sister in law already writes children’s fiction, something over never done before. She is also a primary school teacher and has great knowledge about what stories kids enjoy and what is right for a certain age. My brother is also hugely creative and has endless knowledge about neuroscience, psychology and personal development. I may try to distill the idea before pitching it to them as a potential partnership. I may however see how far I get on my own first. In my mind, I don’t think I could write fiction. The reality is that I have an imagination. I think it could be quite liberating to free myself from writing about me. It actually excites me.

I know that deep down inside, I’m still lacking confidence and motivation. What these two sensations boil down to is – Am I really capable of this. Am I going to fail?

Every time I work with medicine, it knows when I’m leaving. It takes you on the journey you needed to go on, whether that’s 2 days or 2 weeks. I will be sticking to my original plan of spending 2 weeks here. Take what you need and move on. Take some time to reflect on what you’ve learned and figure out the next step. Don’t dwell on it.

I firmly believe that, as soon as I decided to leave after this week, the medicine also knew. The intention for my last 2 ceremonies will surround strength, confidence and power. Whatever he gives to me, wherever he takes me, I will know that it was necessary. It may not be evident immediately but it will be a lesson.

This journey, for now, especially if I get what I want from the final 2 ceremonies, looks like it will be coming to a natural end. A productive journey that had helped me make peace with many things.

I’m more open to give and receive love. My feelings of self love and self pride have dramatically increased. I’m more comfortable in my own skin. I have a greater sense of purpose than ever.

My trip will end with seeing friends in Canada, before meeting my friend Simon to explore some of the country’s national parks.

I’m feeling like I’m ready to call time on this part of my adventure. The story may be over. Giving way to a new story that looks forward as opposed to driving with one eye on the rear view mirror.

I guess what they call auto-writing is worthwhile. I never really knew I felt this way until now.

Today and tomorrow will be pure preparation for the final ceremonies on Wednesday and Friday. Whilst I’ve been mainly vegan for my time here, my stomach still takes a barttering from working with Medicine. It is an energy hub for the body. San Pedro cleans out the energies that are not serving you. I have 2 days to calm body and mind. Focus on my intentions.

I’m excited about looking forward at the moment. Not thinking about the problems. Only focusing on opportunity.

Opportunity to connect. Opportunity to love. To respect my body. To embrace life.

To find love.

It’s All Coming Back Now…

Yesterday’s trip was the most eye opening experience I’d ever had working with plant medicines. It was a hugely emotional day lived in a state of total bliss.

I’d been awake since 3am as I was still struggling with jet lag. Unable to sleep in the nights due to sleeping too much in the day, following Monday’s energy sapping ceremony. By the time we got to the retreat centre at 10am I was starting to get hungry, but at least my stomach was more settled than Monday.

Simon talked for a while again before we drank. He spoke of the intention we should have when we drink. The fact that shamans smoke these strong mapacho until they’re 90 years old and don’t even know what cancer is, because they smoke with the right intention. Aside from the fact mapacho are chemical free, they don’t believe they’re taking anything bad into their body and there is, therefore, no bad energy being created.

He carried on to talk about the power of our thoughts. If we believe we’re suffering, then we will suffer. The negative energy we create from these thoughts is the real illness. This hit me hard. Whilst I had worked hard to understand my pain and heal myself, perhaps now it was time to move on. The more I thought about it, the more it existed.

I, once again, said my name however this time my word was healing. He poured a full cup again. I held the glass of medicine near to my heart, shut my eyes and said let’s get rid of this pain once and for all. I wanted to connect with my power. Whilst my intention was healing myself, what actually transpired was a decision to prioritise healing others.

Once I’d drunk the medicine, I took myself to the far corner of the garden which was less busy. A quiet place for reflection. The trip started fantastically. It was a glorious day yesterday and I laid in the sun, under the trees and next to the plants. Bees were buzzing. Hummingbirds we’re constantly arriving to feed off the plants and I fell into a state of euphoria.

Watching the branches of the trees sway above me and the clouds drift through the sky, my breathing naturally became very slow. I’d inhale slowly for 3 seconds, pause momentarily before exhaling for 4 seconds. Wait 2 seconds then repeat the cycle. I could feel the air filling up my stomach, flowing into my chest and was even able to draw it into other parts of my body. In Arkana, Weronka had explained that breathing into your left shoulder promotes self compassion. I was not only able to do this with ease but I started breathing into different areas. First my right shoulder. Then focusing on my solar plexus. I felt like I had complete control and I became utterly relaxed.

Prior to drinking, we had spoke a lot about connecting with the divine, something that started to make sense in my mind. As I lay on my back, I bent my knees and let them fall to the side. My feet joined at the soles. My hands alternated between being palms down on the grass then switching to palms up to the sky using my elbows as support. I realised that all religions and ancient cultures, however distorted and laden with rules their teachings had become, were all based on this connection to the divine.

At this point, one of the facilitators, Chris, said he was ready to do the alignment work I’d requested earlier. I lay down on a mat in the moloca and he got to work. After 5 minutes of preparation that I didn’t entirely understand, he asked me to shut my eyes and be in a receptive mood. The following 15 minutes were pretty powerful. He moved shakra stones around my body and when he felt a powerful energy, he would pull the bad energy out with the stone, rub my forehead and that area immediately felt lighter. Whilst I had my eyes shut, I was having visions of the world of energies, the 4th dimension. At one point, I saw Chris within this realm, running around placing stones around my body. By the time he had worked down to my naval, my pelvis was twitching again. He said there was still a lot of tension there. By the time he had finished, I felt like he’d just blasted me into outer space.

After returning to my corner of tranquility, I decided to sit in the garden chair next to me whilst I smoked a mapacho. I’d never felt so relaxed. Semi slouched in the chair, knees spread apart with my feet stretched out, I propped up my left elbow on the arm rest with my hand up in the air holding the mapacho. At this point Simon walked by smiling and said:

“Now there’s a man with true wisdom. Commotion all around him and sat like Buddha in true stillness.”

I smiled at him without moving an inch and, only at that point, realised there were builders working away next to me. They were digging a huge trench for drainage. Wheelbarrows of dirt were being taken away before they would return. Diggers were shovelling the mud out of the hole in the ground whilst they chatted away. I had no idea they had been there the whole time. I’d achieved total stillness and focus.

Not only buoyed by my complete concentration, but also Simon’s comments, I felt a sense of confidence and power rush through my body. I felt electric.

I lay back down on the grass. My elbows once again held my hands up in the air, my palms were open and facing up to the sky. I began saying “I am the light. Give me however much you want and I will give you everything I can”

This continued for about 15 minutes until gradually a white light started appearing in my 3rd eye. What started as a faint light increased in intensity until I started feeling my whole body glow with pure light. Pure power.

My dad used to have a patient called Ann Tasker. A lovely lady who claimed she was a psychic and that she could communicate with the spirit world. She used to walk into my dad’s room in the surgery and would always say he had two spirits standing behind him, one of which was a Native American chief.

Yesterday, as the light filled up my body, a Native American chief appeared to the right of my field of vision. I knew instantly who he was. He had such a deep, calm voice that made me feel so secure when he said:

“I’m glad you have found your way here, my son”

He went on to explain that he had looked over our family for many years and would continue to for many more. We were all his children. I was absolutely blown away. He must have been some sort of ancient ancestor.

Following this vision, I lived through one of the most emotional experiences of my life which had me in floods of tears for almost an hour.

Out of nowhere my grandparents, on my dad’s side, appeared. Babagee cane running towards me. He lunged at me frantically and started pulling at my stomach. He was trying to pull pain out of me. My grandma, Aiya, was trying to pull him back so she could try, but he brushed her off and lunged at me again, this time throwing his arms around my neck and hugging me. He kept saying “shabush, beta”, which means it’s ok my child. He was so distressed by this pain inside of me. I noticed that some sort of spirit was wrapped around his ankles trying to pull him off me, but he just kept fighting to run back and hug me. Then Nana and Grampy, my mum’s parents appeared. My nana, like babagee, lunged at me and tried to do the same. She too kept getting pulled away. I remember Grampy saying “Now, now Maggie, it’s time to go”

I was in floods of tears by this stage and was asking the Native American why they were being pulled away. He explained that it was their time to leave this realm. “How come you get to stay and they have to go?” I asked. He replied by saying he had been given special permission by the universe to watch over our family but my grandparents had to return to the light.

Something in these words resonated within my mind. I came back to the light, back to my power, and started repeating the words “I am the light. I am the light” I felt an extraordinary power enter my body and I felt such strength. In my vision, I raised my hand to the Native American chief and said “Please stop for one moment” I stood up and walked towards my grandparents and explained that I had now found the light. They didn’t need to worry about me anymore and they needed to return to where they belonged. We said some emotional goodbyes which made the tears flow even more. I explained I loved them and that I was so grateful to them for delivering my parents unto this earth.

My nana was last. She was in floods of tears and kept saying in her sweet Welsh accent “You will tell your mother I’m sorry, won’t you? I never knew how to love her, but I did love her. I loved her so much. You will tell her, won’t you?” The emotion was overwhelming and more than anything I’d experienced in my lifetime. Whilst in reality, tears were pouring down my face, in my vision, I was calm. Assured. Projecting strength and light. As soon as the goodbyes came to an end, they turned, held their heads high, and each couple walked hand in hand towards the light until they disappeared.

As soon as they were gone my parents appeared. My dad was his 30yr old self however my mother was old and withered, wearing a black head scarf. My dad lunged at my stomach and, he too, tried to pull my pain out. I stopped them in their tracks and repeated what I’d said to my grandparents. My dad knelt down by my side, leaned in and whilst stroking my head, whispered “I’m so sorry son. I feel like I missed your life. But don’t ever think I didn’t love you. You’re my baby boy. I’ve always struggled to express my emotions but I love you more than life itself”

“It’s ok” I replied “I know. I love you too”

My mother then threw her arms around my neck, smothering me with kisses. She was crying hysterically. She must have told me that she loved me about 50 times before pausing and saying “You will tell Haider I’m sorry won’t you. I never meant to hurt him. I was never taught how to love and, whilst I love you all more than life, sometimes there was a darkness that stopped it coming through”

Again, I explained to my mother that I understood and that I loved her too. I promised to relay her message to my brother, Haider. I explained that I was the light now and that they need not worry. As the Chief lead them away, my mother was struggling, shouting back over her shoulder “You will tell him that I’m sorry, won’t you? Tell him I love him, will you?” It was like both my nana and my mother were caught under a spell. Their spirits were saying things that their physical forms never allowed them to. I thanked my mum for bringing me into this world before they disappeared.

Part of me, due to the emotional intensity of proceedings, was hoping that this was the end. It was not the end. It was the start of a life changing moment and one that provided me with a new found wisdom.

My brothers entered the picture. At first I saw my eldest brother, Saleem, however he was stuck in a loop. Like a video that was glitching. He was sat cross legged but his head kept jolting to the side. He couldn’t get out of this mental loop. It became clear that his desire for intellectual superiority had caused some sort of blockage in one of the chakras around his head. He seemed unable to break free from this and was living in his head.

Next my brother, Tariq, appeared. He was bloated and resembled a puffer fish. So full of negative energy, pain and frustration that he was floating in the air like a blimp. I wanted to help them so badly but didn’t know how.

Finally my 2nd eldest brother, Haider, appeared. He had little wings and was buzzing around us all trying to protect us. Trying to hold everything together. As he became larger in my view, he looked so tired. Exhausted from trying to be everyone’s guardian. Suddenly he coughed, spluttered and, as his wings stopped flapping, he fell into my arms. Absolutely spent. I held him in my arms for a period of time explaining how grateful I was for him and how much I loved him, before I kissed him on the head. I explained that he no longer had to carry this burden as I was the light, and was now looking over him. His eyes opened, his wings started flapping again and he flew away.

As Simon walked by, I tried to stop him but could barely speak through the tears. I explained that 2 of my brothers looked like they were suffering. I told him that I felt so full of light and wanted to help them but didn’t know whether this was just the trip.

I composed myself, looked him in the eye and asked “Do I really have the power to…?”

Before I could finish my sentence, he replied “distance heal them? Of course. Meet me in the moloca”

Now in the moloca, I knelt down on the mat with Simon perched to my right. He had arranged 7 chakra stones in a vertical line with a candle sitting above the crown chakra. He asked me to write my brothers’ names down on a piece of paper.

I then opened my left hand so my palm was facing the ceiling. Right hand was open with palm facing outwards in front of me.

I started with Saleem. Simon told me to stare at the flame until I saw his face. Once I saw it, I held my hand over the flame briefly before running my hand over the chakra stones. I didn’t feel much so kept repeating this process until the 7th time I felt an energy from the 3rd eye chakra. I made a fist to pull this energy out, held it up to the sky, opened my palm and blew this energy away. Palm still open, I imagined a light. I made a fist of light and brought it back down over the stones to replace the darkness.

I ticked him off and repeated this process with Tariq. Every stone seemed like it carried a negative energy. I let it go and replaced it with light. I ticked him off the list.

In my vision, whilst Haider looked tired, I had not thought that he needed my help. I said his name out aloud and whilst imagining his face in the flame, Simon started talking about him. “He is a happy man, the joker in the pack, no? He’s been carrying this strain too long. Set him free”

As I touched the flame and ran my hands over the stones, I felt this intense energy coming from the heart chakra. My hand had turned into a claw shape and started trembling uncontrollably. As I tried to make a fist, it felt like I was pulling weeds out of the ground. There was resistance. Eventually I made a fist and let it go to the universe, replacing it with light. As my hand hovered over the stones, Simon said to tell him what’s in my heart. Trying to hold back bursting into hysterics at this point, I told him I loved him. “No not that” he said “tell him what’s in your heart right now. I can feel it in there. You know what you need to tell him”

I stopped crying suddenly and said calmly “worry no more brother. You have 2 very powerful spirits watching over you now”

I clapped my hands to release all the energy from me and felt light. Simon was telling me that I’d done a great thing. This was all that I could do and now it’s up to them and the universe. He said my brothers would feel different in the morning.

To finish the healing ceremony, I took the paper outside, laid it in the grass and set fire to it. As the smoke and ashes rose up to the sky, I said a prayer. May this light reach my brothers. May the universe look after them. May their troubles now be gone.

As the paper stopped burning, I stood up. Totally composed as if I had not been crying for the last hour. Walked over and started chatting with some other members of the group as if nothing had even happened.

The day continued on in bliss. I felt at peace whilst simultaneously being blown away each time I reflected on the day’s proceedings. There is a true power that sits within the light. One that is limitless in its use.

Now it is up to me to decide how I wish to use this and, if so, how I plan to keep it. Connection takes dedication in all aspects. Diet. Practice. Belief.

If I choose to pursue this, the possibilities are endless. Let’s see where this can take me.

Going Inside The Moment…

It’s safe to say that yesterday was nothing like my previous San Pedro journeys. I was truly humbled.

We made our way up to the retreat site at 9.30am. It felt like the medicine had been cleansing me over the past few days. My stomach, whilst I hadn’t eaten much, seemed like pure energy was coming out of me. It was growling on the journey and I knew I would get very little food all day.

We arrived into a beautiful garden teaming with plants and wildlife. Hummingbirds buzzed through the air and the sounds of nature we’re all around.

This phrase kept coming back to me every time I drank medicine – it gives you what you need, not what you want. Something that, without fail, I’m never prepared for.

I sat down in the moloca. Simon, the owner, poured the medicine, whilst you told him your name and said your intention in one word. He then decided how much to pour. I said my name and the word stillness as I wanted to find that state of mind where I was at total peace with myself. He filled mine to the top.

At the point however I wasn’t scared. I’d done San Pedro 5-6 times now. I was hear to get love, knowledge and answers. It turned out however this medicine was a lot stronger than what I’d been drinking. It was mixed with a bit of apple juice and, unlike the congealed powder I had drunk previously, this was a gooey substance that took 4 big gulps to get it down. It wasn’t pleasant. Simon explained the rules that we were free to wander wherever but the first two hours had to be in silence.

As we were at an even higher altitude than the hostel, the weather was unpredictable and altitude sickness was a real issue. Something I suffered from very badly later in the trip. I left the moloca and almost immediately it started raining. 5 minutes later the rain stopped and I was out basking in the sun. The trip started very quickly.

As I sat in the garden smoking a mapacho, something told me to lay belly down on the grass. I was resting on my elbows and things started to change pretty quickly. I’d asked for stillness and was shown it in a way that I never could have imagined. At first I started staring at the grass. The sun was shining. Wind gently blowing over me. I blinked and my vision flickered before everything slowed down. I could see each blade of grass growing. They were chatting and making sounds as if they were living lives just like us. I realised that I had reached such stillness that I was able to notice the most minute changes in every living thing. I was truly in the moment. Or so I thought.

As I lay my face down on the grass, right cheek touching the earth, I stared some more. I witnessed, simultaneously, one of the most mind blowing, profound and uncomfortable things I’d ever experienced. I went inside the moment.

My vision tunnelled into the grass until I reached a place that I’d seen on ayahuasca trips, albeit in a less terrifying manner. I went inside the building blocks of life. Something that I can visualise in my mind and feel within myself but am not yet anywhere near being able to describe. Even this morning, I tried to hold it in my mind but still couldn’t find a way to articulate it. Just felt it.

On ayahuasca, I saw the universal geometry and saw that every single thing on this earth is just a different expression of one shape. One building block that sits at the heart of everything. Going into the grass, I found myself within a clay coloured tube that was constantly spinning, morphing and evolving. Little holes lined the surface and it seemed to be breathing. It was telling me that, if you really want stillness, this is how deep you could get inside the moment. It was quite scary. I’d never felt so small. So insignificant. So unindividual. Spirits started appearing, again things I’d been shown through ayahuasca. Similar to being inside the moment, I’m not able to fully describe what these were. I felt them, but could not explain them. It’s as if they were representations of the moment. Like African Zulu masks but no actual outline to their faces. Just energies, dots and lines. There was always a drum playing. The rhythm of life whilst everything swirled and evolved to a specific rhythm. It was always quick. Like a Japanese pellet drum that plays at a fast pace to drive the growth and evolution of the planet.

As I saw all of this, I realised I was going deep inside myself. My balls and stomach felt like they were in a vice. Tighter than they’d ever been before. Whilst it shouldn’t amaze me by now, I’m still always surprised to know there are so many layers to shed in order to finally be free. It was becoming very clear to me now that ayahuasca cleansed me and showed me my pain, however it didn’t do the full job. It only scratched away a layer. A process that I now had to continue. As I focused on the tension across my midriff, I went further inside myself again.

There was a Spider-Man film recently where, at one stage, he turned into black Spider-Man. An evil alter ego. There was a black, gooey, oil like substance that was very much alive. It was a parasite. One that fed off people in order to harness its own negative energy. Once it latched on, it consumed spider man without him even realising it was there.

This is what I saw when I went within. Far from my pain having been removed, I was able to watch it forming a death grip around my insides. My balls in a vice grip. My stomach being strangled within an inch of suffocation. As it got quite scary, I opened my eyes again and realised I was still in the beautiful and peaceful garden. I knew however that I would need to go back to this place and untangle the mess but yesterday was not the day. Struggling with the intensity of it all, I decided I had another 5 ceremonies to work on this.

As I stared around the garden, thankful that it was still there, the reality came crashing down that ayahuasca had not healed me. It had simply cleansed me. Showed me what I needed to work on and also introduced me to my next healer. San Pedro. I had a moment of true self pity and broke down in tears again.

I remember sitting in child’s pose. Both hands palm down on the grass and sobbing. How deep does this pain go? Why can’t I let it go? How do I let it go? It was the first time I’d ever actually seen the death grip this pain holds over me.

There were 2 dogs in the garden who were the animal guardians of the space. I’ve never been a big fan of dogs. Always thought they were a bit dumb and desperate for attention. In Japan however, each shrine was guarded by 2 dogs on each side of the entrance. It started to seem like they were actually guardians of sorts. Conscious beings that are compassionate and love human interaction. As I was in tears doubled over on the floor, this dog came over to me and would not leave me alone. At first he was nuzzling his head into me, then started pawing me wanting to play. I couldn’t get rid of him. I decided to stroke him and he lay in his back with his legs in the air. After I stopped, he too sat in child’s pose in front of me and I looked deep in its eyes. I’d never associated dogs with having souls but it was like he was saying it’s ok. Time to snap out of it. I stopped crying. Sat up and started to get perspective on what was happening.

When I’d worked with San Pedro previously, I had felt a gentle feminine energy guiding me through the forest. This time it was different. I truly felt it’s masculine nature. Far from ayahuasca’s nurturing energy that held me in her arms whilst I cried, telling me everything was going to be ok, I was now faced with a seemingly less compassionate father who gave things to me straight. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

So many messages were handed to me but I’m still finding it hard to process what to take from it all.

The main message handed to me as I was crying in the lawn, was that nothing in this life comes for free. Quite the opposite from ayahuasca telling me they would clean me without wanting anything in exchange. I was being told I would have to work for it. The universal tax.

All illness is energy. Bad energy. I’ve heard countless stories now of cancer being cured simply through using medicine or dieting with plants. It’s a spiritual illness that manifests itself in the physical form. Treating it on a physical level will never solve the problem. Solve things on a spiritual level and your body will heal itself.

The medicine was telling me that it could help me but it wanted something in return. I headed into the moloca and the same messages were happening around me. Simon was explaining that you can ask God for anything. God being the universal one. The all encompassing energy force. The trick was that you had to learn how to address it. Earn the right to ask the question. A long meditation took place that first demonstrated that you were willing to put in the effort. I was tripping pretty hard by this point. I didn’t take part so don’t remember exactly what happened and how long it went on for. Everyone was gradually being lead step by step up to the light. Once they arrived, they would pull pain out their body and and offer it to the universe in exchange for light. Simon kept saying that the universe is constantly hungry for energy, good or bad, but it needs to be repaid.

I was being told that the universe could take my pain but I needed to stop being so helpless and expecting to be fixed. I had to own the pain. Take control of the situation. It would take work. Messages were arriving that I needed to deepen my practice and learn skills. This would get me to a level where I could work with the universe to free myself. The tax was that I had to use this knowledge to help others. It became clear that this is what god wanted. This universal energy just wanted us to connect with our power of helping our fellow humans. I still had no idea how to help others. I wasn’t a healer. Couldn’t even pretend to be. But I got the overall message.

Now outside again, I lay on the grass belly down and the earth was pulling my hips into the ground. I had the feeling that it was trying to remove more bad energy. Perhaps, simply by understanding the universal tax was enough for round 1 of healing. A lady brought a small bowl of fruit over to me which blew my mind. Bananas. Mangos. Melons. Apples. Rotating between staring at the grass and my bowl of fruit, I was blown away that these fruits had just grown from the earth. I never managed to finish the bowl. So blown away by how it all came to be, it took me 45 minutes to eat half of it before becoming disinterested.

Around 4pm, it became clear that I was entering a new phase of the trip. The trip actually lasted from 10am-midnight. An intense and long experience. I started entering a phase of purging and I felt the medicine had turned on me. Or at least started being cold to me and wasn’t showing me much love. He was being brutal with me.

The purging was not like on ayahuasca. On ayahuasca, you would purge huge waves of bad energy and feel energised. Yesterday was not so easy. Tension everywhere and a constant feeling that you were going to purge but nothing much came out. The medicine kept asking me what am I prepared to do to get this out? What are you going to do to change your energy? Do you want power or not?

I realised that I had no power. The sort of power I was able to display in my previous role was not present in my personal life. There was no confidence. No presence. I was wilting and disappearing into myself being consumed by dark energy. I had to man up. I had to own my situation. Yesterday however wasn’t the day.

As the day wore on, the altitude sickness kicked in around 8pm. I’d never experienced it before so it took me until 10pm to mention it to anyone. I kept drinking water assuming it was dehydration. Then sugar thinking my blood sugar may be low from lack of food and purging. When I finally described it to the facilitator he confirmed it sounded like altitude sickness. It was the worst headache I’d ever had. Worse than the worst hangover after mixing drinks and having shots on an empty stomach. The back of my neck and skull felt like it was going to explode. Both front and back throbbing intensely. The last thing I needed after the day I’d had. I eventually found some ibuprofen, took 4 and after a while the pain subsided.

On ayahuasca, I would go through a seriously deep journey before waking up fresh as a daisy in the morning and start writing. Today I woke up exhausted. I’ve struggled to figure out exactly what happened and have slept most of the day. Tomorrow will be a challenge but will no doubt be rewarding.

I’m starting to understand what this medicine wants from me now. Tomorrow may not be plane sailing but I’m here for 2 weeks so I have time to figure things out.

Whilst yesterday was insightful, hopefully tomorrow will give me more of the knowledge I’m seeking.

Everyday Alchemy…

The past few days entailed a very long journey from Okinawa to Cusco. With delays on 2 flights, I was looking at losing 2 days of my life in transit.

When I arrived in Seoul, some negative thoughts set in. I realised that it had been an impulsive decision to book travel without any real thought. Impulsivity should not be confused with living in the moment. It can often be, as it was in this case, the very opposite. My gaze had become firmly fixed on being able to attend the Monday San Pedro ceremony that was organised via the hostel. I had no schedule. Nowhere I needed to be. It really wouldn’t have mattered if I’d arrived later in the week, 2 weeks later even. By this point my thoughts had ran away with themselves however.

As I rode the shuttle to pick up my baggage, there was a different atmosphere. The people seemed more relaxed. More open. I realised that, in my haste, I’d completely overlooked staying even a few days in a place I’d wanted to visit. A people I’d wanted to meet. Not only would I have had the chance to take in Seoul, it would have been much more sensible to break the trip up into stages.

It occurred to me at this point that my thinking was all wrong. Life is life. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in bed with a lover, with friends and family or whether you’re flying for 2 days. You are not losing this time. You can’t simply remove yourself from life and pick things up again when you land. Life is there to be lived in the moment. However unenjoyable these moments may be.

I challenged myself to engage with this time. Turn it into a moment that could be celebrated. Something memorable. I decided that documenting the trip would help me engage with my surroundings, help me focus on the positive, on the moment, and channel my creativity into a time where I would have normally switched off.

I shot some time lapse videos in Seoul airport and instantly realised that this film had to represent the frantic nature of travel. These could not be slow shots. It had to have a feeling of speed. An intensity. However it also had to show how much we can enjoy in even the most stressful of moments if we engage with them. I am alive after all and can afford to go wherever I want in the world.

As soon as this thought process happened, I instantly heard a song in my mind. Once again, as with some other videos I shot in Zamami, it came to me as I knew the intro would create the right mood however I was overcome again at how much, as the video unfolded, the perfect song had been delivered to me. As soon as this happened, it became a 3D process.

Everywhere I went, I was seeing the pictures, hearing the music, hearing the lyrics. All seemed to influence the other. I didn’t have to search for anything. Things just kept arriving. I felt so connected. So tapped in.

By the time I’d got to the bar in LA airport, I’d put together the first part and was brimming with excitement. It’s not really the output that excited me. Not really the content but that fact that I was finally connected with the process. After years of never truly feeling creativity, it was now all arriving in such a natural, organic form. So tuned in to all these stimuli around me. I’d never realised airports were such fascinating places.

Due to the excitement of watching the video, by the time I’d boarded the flight, which had been delayed from 7.40pm to 1.45am, I was pretty tipsy.

Thoughts of cocaine came into my mind. I remember thinking that I’d come so far, and that maybe, given how much further I could go over the next 2 weeks, I could get away with doing some. As a treat. My drunken mentality is so different to when I’m sober. All inhibitions had gone. No concept of how much hurt had come from cocaine. Not one thought about the effort it took to stop. Didn’t have any concept of how much of a backwards step it would be to poison my body. Suddenly it had become a treat. Luckily however, I’m not the same person I once was. Like everyone, I’d experienced a moment of weakness, however I was able to catch myself.

I sat with my thoughts in the airport bar. Something that’s quite tough to do after 6 pints of strong beer. Everything swirls like whirlpools. Stillness is often a hard place to move to. My mind went back to the conversation with Gareth. My relationship with my emotions. I often find it hard to process excitement. My instinct is to escape from it where I don’t have to deal with it. I sat with this and overcame. I didn’t beat myself up. Wasn’t overly dramatic about thinking I’d experienced a huge set back. Just saw it for what it was. Whilst instinctually my programming was trying to send me somewhere, I realised it was the last place I wanted to be. I’m often at my loneliest when I’m experiencing happiness. It seems my body was so tuned into pain, that it didn’t actually know what to do when faced with the opposite state. I was proud of my ability to be self aware enough to perceive this and I moved on.

Flew on would be a more accurate description as, by the time I’d boarded the plane, I was euphoric. There was a glorious glow to the aeroplane. The night lighting, as everyone was trying to sleep, was a radiant mixture of purples and blues. I walked up and down the aisles filming with a beaming smile on my face. The hostesses seemed happy with my requests for limitless red wine which was seemingly fuelling my creation.

As I went up for another refill, I explained that I wanted to do a full walk up the aisle then go through their booth and down the other side. As I got into the booth however, they surprised me by doing an impromptu dance. I spent a few minutes adding this clip then headed back for another refill and showed them what I had. They were so engaged with it all which made me so happy. They were trying to spot which airports certain shots were in and made me play them the dance scene about 10 times. The wine kept flowing until one of the pilots appeared and brought proceedings to an end. He seemed unhappy that I was filming without peoples permission and, as I asked for another glass of wine, he said that maybe I’d had enough. The hostess, bottle of wine in hand, put it away and suggested I had some tea. Game over.

I woke up in a great mood. The sun was shining. I was looking forward to the next airport, the next flight to continue filming.

Much of the film doesn’t make literal sense with the lyrics and the pictures however to me, it made sense in terms of the feeling of it all. Everything gelled.

One segment of lyrics particularly spoke to me however.

And I’m not the dreamer or the dream you’re out there looking for

How did I get in this winding maze of love?

And there’s something wrong and it’s sending you, round and round ’til we go nowhere.

I read so much into these lyrics. My trip around these beautiful parts of the world, or so I had now learned, was not the dream I was looking for. Nor was the self I found in these places, the dreamer I was looking for. It wasn’t the me I’d been looking for. Whilst I’d changed in so many ways, I was still ultimately me. Still displaying many of the patterns that it’s seems I’d just been trying to run away from. You can never run away from yourself.

The winding maze of love was San Pedro.

Something was wrong, my ability to just be, and I was being lead around the world, back to where I started until I could learn to go nowhere. To not have to move. Not take my body away. Just be with myself. This felt so true. My body, combined with the plant medicines, were telling me I would have to go on a serious journey just to find stillness. Once I arrived here, I could be anywhere. I wouldn’t have to run anymore.

Explaining the fact that I’ve ended up back in Peru is proving to be quite a challenge. From the outside, it would seem that I had no grasp on geography, which would be a fair assumption. Why have your plans changed? Why didn’t you go there when you were already in Peru? I have no answers to these questions that I can share with most.

Even people closest to me struggle to understand that i feel like I’ve been called. I would have found this tough to believe aswell before starting my journey with plant medicines. It’s not like my phone rang and Mr San Pedro was on the other end suggesting I made an immediate reservation. It’s more like being tuned in enough to read the signs. Energies that are at work around us all our lives however we’re often oblivious to.

I arrived at Casa de la Gringa, filmed myself dropping down on the bed, only to realise that everything I filmed was the precise length of the song. Something told me that everything from the past 2 days was meant to be. That the tough journey had been completely necessary. I was in the right place.

The toughest journey is always the one that allows you to remain still.

I am starting to regret throwing out most of my socks however as I had no idea how cold it would be here. It’s colder than England. San Pedro ceremonies happen outdoors at an even higher altitude, so I may actually need to buy some clothes. So much for shedding baggage. Perhaps this trip isn’t actually about shedding layers. Maybe it’s about acquiring new ones.

After I arrived, I met Chris, a 31 year old Australian. We immediately sensed each other’s energies. There were about 10 people checking in at that point, various different groups who he was introducing himself to. I watched him go round everyone however when he got to me he straight away asked if I was here to work with plant medicines. I said yes and asked him how long he’d been working with them. There were no if’s or but’s.

I felt like I had been holding my breath for so long. Only ever able to talk about this stuff with my journal. With the American voice in my head. It was just a whole different type of conversation that we had. Same as the conversations I’ve had with fellow travellers. There’s never a guard up. You always know you’re talking to someone who’s seen themselves. They know you’ve seen yourself. The conversations are honest. Ego is not as prominent. I’d missed this.

It turned out Chris had been working with plant medicines for 7 years and, whilst he leads ceremonies back home, he was here to deepen his connection. As we talked, his words resonated. He mentioned that he felt like he just kept stripping layers away every time he worked with the medicine. That’s exactly how I felt. I explained the medicine had called me and there was not one shred of doubt in his eyes. Just a smile to indicate he was happy for me.

He asked me what the medicine had shown me so far, to which I replied, I’d felt a strong calling that my life purpose was to help others. He beamed at me again. Whilst he explained that we’re all on a journey, he assured me that, if the medicine is sending me such messages, rest assured that you’re on the right path. That means there was a deep connection forming. That the medicine was working and that I’d done the right thing listening. This really made me feel good and I decided that my body deserved a lot of rest.

I slept from 8pm then awoke feeling like it was morning. It was actually midnight. I didn’t get to sleep again until 4am then awoke this morning at 7am. The 14hr time difference between Japan and here may well prove tricky.

After breakfast this morning, Chris asked whether I’d like him to administer some Sinonga. Sinonga was delivered through eye drops and shipibo tribes use it to solve eye problems, improve vision and to help centre oneself. It burns. Badly. There was a moment of panic when I realised I’d let a guy I’d just met put burning drops in my eyes, however I centred myself and realised that I had complete trust in him.

It worked. The burning subsided. I felt clearer. More centred. A swell of heat across my chest made me feel energised. When I went to shake his hand afterwards, he paused, put his stuff down on the table, before looking me in the eye, shaking my hand and hugged me. There was an intention to his actions. Something I remember having at Arkana where I didn’t underestimate the significance of human contact, of each meal. We should fully engage with all these moments. Be present. Offer gratitude.

My focus for today is stillness. The preparation is the same as ayahuasca. No alcohol. No fried food. No sugar. No spice. No meat. Something that I’m actually going to adhere to this time as I didn’t want to disrespect this medicine anymore.

I’d had fun tripping around various landscapes across Hawaii and Japan.

Now it was time to go to work.