Last weekend I did my first Ayahuasca ceremony. This is a blow-by-blow account of my experience …
Ayahuasca is something I’ve been wanting to do for many years. When I found out there was a ceremony in Ibiza (just after I moved here) I immediately signed up. First off, I’d like to express that Ayahuasca is not a recreational drug, It’s a plant medicine that heals your body and soul. Please do your own research on this subject before experimenting. I do not condone the use of illegal substances in any way.
Since I was a kid I have always suffered with aggression and anger issues and have also been diagnosed with ADHD. I don’t believe it’s right to simply accept the diagnosis and not seek my own answers or resolution. I’ve tried lots of things in the past including supplements, alternate diets (lots of them), hypnosis and also counseling. Nothing has worked so far, so I hope that Ayahuasca could potentially inspire me to change for the better?
In the days leading up to an Ayahuasca ceremony, you have to eat a strict diet, called a ‘dieta’ in Spanish. In my case it was seven days without red meat, dairy, alcohol, salt, spices, sugar, coffee or citrus fruits. I basically lived on porridge, plain grilled chicken & steamed veg, almonds and non-citrus fruit for a week. This regime is to prepare the body and the soul for the healing properties of Ayahuasca.
The ceremony was spread over 3 days. We were to arrive at 3pm on Friday, having eaten our last meal before 2pm, then five hours of fasting until the first ceremony which was on Friday night at 7pm. The second ceremony was to be 7pm on Saturday, with a view to everyone leaving on Sunday afternoon. The moment I processed the schedule it really began to hit me what I was about to do. I have to admit I was terrified! But a bit of me was also excited…
I arrived at the venue for the ceremony which was an absolutely stunning villa in the hills of Ibiza. The views across the Ibizan landscape and sea were utterly breathtaking. I couldn’t think of a better setting for what I was about to do. I was then greeted by the hosts of the ceremony. Their story was certainly an interesting one.
The head was not your average Shaman (if there can be such a thing!) and in fact, he doesn’t like to be referred to as one. When growing up on an island himself his mother married a Shaman and it was thanks to this he was taught the ways of Ayahuasca. It turned out the Ayahuasca we were going to take was actually grown organically from the land where he grew up. This all set my mind at ease that whatever was going to happen was going to be authentic, but I have to say, my mind still wasn’t fully settled about the whole thing… I was nervous as hell!
Out of 14 participants, I was one of only four who had never done it before. I was such a bloody amateur that all I brought with me was a yoga mat … I didn’t quite comprehend how long I’d be required to lie down for. Thankfully, I was able to borrow some foam from another participant, an 18-year-old girl who was at the ceremony with her Dad. I found this kind of interesting and nice to see families sharing positive experiences with one another. It was also great to see a familiar face in the group – my friend who’d recommended this to me.
After spending a few hours chilling and getting to know people, it was time for the start of the ceremony so the Shamans (male and female) began by burning essential oils, sage and tobacco (but not the same tobacco was we might use in cigarettes… this is jungle tobacco which, when inhaled, is meant to improve the mind’s focus on the Ayahuasca experience). They introduced us into the ceremony with a talk on what to expect. They then went around putting frankincense onto various parts of our bodies … And then out came the Ayahuasca – Shit was starting to get real!
Each one of us was summoned to the front of the room to get our cup and instructed to sit down and wait until everybody had gathered theirs. When my turn came around I was shaking like a leaf. I knew that what I was about to do was going to be life changing, but I was also praying to God that it would be life changing in a good way.
We drank it all down in unison. The taste was really hard to describe. Some people warned me that it would taste awful, others said it tasted like molasses, but the thing that it reminded me the most of was carob syrup (it’s big in Ibiza).
Once everyone had finished their cup, we all lay down. The female shaman started playing instruments and singing – it was like nothing I’ve ever heard before. It certainly wasn’t English and it certainly wasn’t any kind of musical structure that I recognised, but it was unbelievably beautiful. I was told later that this was the plant language!
I then remember coming up really strongly. It was overpowering, but at this point, not profound. All of that was to come later. I had three more cups that evening, and for the most part I didn’t feel particularly under the influence, but towards the end of the night’s ceremony I got a glimpse of what was to come. My mind began to argue with itself… “why do I get so aggressive sometimes?”…. “why do I not give people the time of day?” etc. etc. Then some troubling things from my childhood that I hadn’t dealt with properly flashed up, and I remember consciously thinking “not now, not now”.
But the Mother Ayahuasca is there to show you what you need to know. “These things had been brought up for a reason,” I thought to myself as I started to come round. Then I had this horrible feeling that I’d missed the boat, that my unwillingness to open up to myself about the issues that came up earlier was a monumental mistake on my part. “You’ve fucking ruined it,” I kept saying in my own mind.
Sleeping was difficult that night. Not so much because I was still feeling the effects of the Ayahuasca – in fact I was surprised at how ‘normal’ I felt not too long after the ceremony – but it was more, I think, because I was a bit annoyed with myself for suppressing some of my thoughts, and also the sheer anticipation of what tomorrow might bring if I played it right.
A couple of hours after breakfast we all sat in a circle and, one by one, went through our experiences from the day before with the group. I hate talking in front of people, so I found this really challenging, especially because I felt that I didn’t get the best out of the day before.
I started to feel better once lunchtime came around though. It really was the most incredible food. I was there with so many seasoned pros who were used to cooking for the Ayahuasca dieta. It was nice to see so many people, quite literally, bringing something to the table. It was basically a banquet of the most amazing healthy food you could imagine!
This time I wasn’t so nervous, I felt like I’d got very close to where I’d wanted to get to the night before so if I just relaxed and let it happen, everything would take care of itself. But two cups later, almost nothing had happened. While everyone else was inside crying, throwing up, sometimes screaming, there I was just desperately waiting for something to happen. Was there something wrong with me? Was I too evil for this? Am I such a bad person that Mother Ayahuasca just doesn’t want to know?
I had to get up and have a walk. Lying down, waiting for something to happen and then getting at myself when it didn’t happen was not doing me any good at all. Then I saw the shaman on the balcony.
“Don’t you worry,” he said. “She’ll show herself before the end of the night.” And then he gave me a wink. I trusted him, but I still had this bad feeling that one way or another I’d screwed it up for myself and that maybe I just wasn’t cut out for all of this.
Then I was handed a bigger cup, almost twice the size that I’d had before. Those of you who know me will probably know that I’ve spent my fair share of time being a glutton for whatever punishment happens to be on offer. Even for me, this felt like a bridge too far. I took a big gulp but quite deliberately left some in the bottom … for once in my life I was being cautious. Then, despite being in complete darkness I was handed back the cup and told “Danny! You missed a bit!”. The Shaman knew!
So I tried again. I lay down, tried to stay relaxed and just waited.
The self-loathing kicked in again. At one point I was so fed up that I thought about texting my missus to tell her it didn’t work and wondered whether she would be able to come over and give me a lift home.
But then everything changed! It felt like there were waves and waves of black energy rushing up throughout my whole body. I opened my eyes and saw what seemed like an alien with its tentacles all over me. It was as if the alien was plugged into my heart and my forehead and was messing with my ‘3rd eye’ and all the other subconscious that I’d been told about when I used to meditate (badly). It was also as if my chakras (all the energy points in my body) were being replenished and I felt at times like my heart was literally pouring out a continuous love!
I was in a different realm. The room just kept getting bigger and bigger, then I had a sensation that even though I was in a large space, I was somehow cocooned or entombed. Then it was as if these tentacles were fixing me… in my mind I was getting an MOT! There was just this unbelievable combination of the feeling of a mystical realm versus me thinking I was getting an MOT or I was an Iphone getting my Firmware updated!
At the time I didn’t have the headspace to process how funny this actually was, in fact quite the opposite, because soon I was smashed in the face by a load of very difficult feelings. The Ayahuasca Mother came back to show me just how much I had neglected my family. It was dissected like each was some kind of individual case study. One by one, I was confronted by my failures with my girlfriend, father, mother and children.
Then I started crying. I could literally feel my girlfriend’s pain. Then I kept thinking “I don’t know my boy’s favourite colour… I DON’T EVEN KNOW MY BOY’S FAVOURITE COLOUR!!!” In some kind of manic thought loop I’d be going through all the things I’ve not done with my kids and all the time I spend at work being too busy to spend time with the people I love. And then the most profound of epiphanies came to me – “I’m always chasing success,” I thought, “but I have success all around me.”
If there was ever an hour in my life that I could say was a turning point, it was this. But Mother Ayahuasca wasn’t done yet. I then began ‘purging’ as they call it, which basically involves you retching as if you’re being sick, but what comes out isn’t like any sick I’ve seen before. You literally feel sick with pain and shame and you’re just trying to force it all out of your body. It was like I was this big tube of toothpaste and I was squeezing as hard as I could, only for tiny amounts to just dribble out. The pain was incredible at times.
Then it was over. But far from feeling relieved, I felt really confused. Did I need to make all of these plans now? What would Mother Ayahuasca think of me if I didn’t do this right now? I started to bring my son into this fantasy land with me, where everything made silly farmyard noises. There was still this feeling of urgency from what I’d realised I’d done wrong in the past that had to be solved right here and right now.
Then I went out to the balcony and saw everyone there just chilling out, chatting and laughing with each other. There was no way I could face that so I crept off and tried to avoid any interaction with the group. Then, as he always seemed to, the Shaman popped up and saved the day.
“If you ever want it to stop, just stop,” he said. So quite literally, I asked it to stop, and then the next thing I remember was waking up an hour and a half later! At that point I felt absolutely amazing. Completely liberated. All the mind chatter had stopped and there I was just sitting there enjoying everything about my surroundings.
Then I was inspired. I got a notebook and wrote a series of pledges. I wrote the names of every single member of my family and then next to them, exactly what we would do together in the coming months. The whole experience had made me realise that not only was I taking my family for granted, I was also taking the world around me for granted … and not doing enough to help others.
Another pledge I made was that I was going to work with Last Night a DJ Saved My Life to help them with their ‘Get Equipped Africa’ project, which is empowering disadvantaged kids to produce and make music. And in the days since, I’ve followed this through. Watch this space folks! (more information here)
I’ve really had the most amazing spring in my step since I went on the Ayahuasca journey. First thing Monday this week, I smashed through a hundred emails and from then on I’ve been going from strength to strength. Not only has my work rate improved but now I’m attracting people around me who all seem to have the right energy and the right skills. I’ve had some great things happen to me this week which in time could prove very significant.
More importantly, I’ve spent more time with my family this week, blocking out dedicated family time and spending less time working … and yet I seem to have gotten more done than usual. This week I recorded my first ever podcast for example, after having procrastinated about it for months and months. I have some great guests lined up who have all been kind enough to give up their time to help and inspire people. Again… watch this space!
Now it’s time to wrap things up. Thank you so much for staying with me this long, I wouldn’t normally write anything so long, but I’m now desperate to share every detail of this positive and inspiring experience with the world. I spend a lot of time and money on personal development and it really doesn’t get any more personal than Ayahuasca. It has tons more bang for your buck than any Tony Robbins seminar! I will definitely be returning to Mother Ayahuasca and I can see it becoming a regular part of my life from here on in.
Peace out everyone, and thanks for reading!