Over the years working with ayahuasca many people including myself have asked “how does ayahuasca heal?” The family- Maestro Gumercindo and Maestro Don Roldan will say ayahuasca completely cleans all the negative physical and energetic blockages out of the body. These blockages are not allowing energy to flow as it should and by removing them the body is put back into it’s optimal operational mode. When there are energetic blockages in the physical and energetic body (think meridians and channels i.e. Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicines) it causes pools of energy to sit and stagnate, thus causing dis-ease. Ayahuasca goes through the physical and energetic bodies, removes the blockages, and ejects the putrid, stagnate energy. This removal is done by purging. The most obvious type of purging is throwing up, diarrhea and running nose. Other ways that we can purge are sweating, shaking, watering eyes/crying, racing thoughts (cleaning/quieting the overactive mind by bringing this issue to the surface), and even breathing.
I agree with the above explanation and it has come up that there may be yet another additional manner in which ayahuasca heals. Ayahuasca provides us with the great gift of teaching us is that we have no control over anything. While we like to think and tend to think that we have control over our lives in reality we don’t have control over anything. It this illusion that we have control over our lives that can cause frustration, stress, anger, sadness, etc… and therefore dis-ease. Learning that we have no control helps us let go and allow the challenging moments in our lives to “roll off our backs” and actually learn from those challenges rather than getting mired in our negative emotions such that we end up making the same mistakes over and over.
For those of you who have been studying spirituality, this “we have no control” idea may not come as any great new revelation as all the great teachers in history (Christ, Buddha, Krishna, Muhammad) and current teachers (Adyashanti, Tolle, Hawkins) have taught this concept in one form or another. However for those who are not familiar with this idea, let me give an example…
Let’s say you have decided to come to Peru and drink ayahuasca. The decision has been made to “make it happen”. However this does not mean that you will actually come to Peru to do so. There are infinite possibilities that could prevent you from coming- work, family, boyfriend/girlfriend etc… At this point you have just increased the possibility it actually happening. To take it a step further, you may get the time off, book a ticket etc…, but again an infinite number of possibilities can prevent you from making the trip- again work, family, flight cancellation, weather delays, etc…. Each step of the way increases the possibility/ sets favorable conditions, but in the end it may or may not happen depending on an infinite number of possibilities that we have NO CONTROL over. This can be applied to simple things such as drinking a glass of water or going out to get coffee- there are infinite number of possibilities that can prevent one from doing these things. Therefore, we have no control over anything.
The error that we tend to make is that we think we do have control over the external world and then we become attached to the desired outcome. If one has not learned both intellectually and experientially that we have no control over anything and how to let go of undesired outcomes, we suffer if the outcome is perceived as a negative one. This suffering comes up in the form of “negative emotions” such as frustration, sadness, anger etc… Then we identify with (become attached to) that negative emotion. In turn we often suppress those emotions such that they build up in our bodies and this can lead to dis-ease.
The other option or path that can be taken is to realize/accept that we have no real control over outcomes. Then, if any negative emotions arise, (with this understanding) it can be easier to let those negative emotions go. This is a simple concept to understand intellectually and many of us understand the idea of “letting go”. However, true understanding comes from learning this concept experientially. If one learns to do this experientially there will be less negative emotions suppressed/built up in the body and therefore less dis-ease. This is where ayahuasca can help.
When one drinks ayahuasca for the first few times it is unlike any other experience that I am personally aware of. The way I like to describe these first few ceremonies is that one is learning how to dance with ayahuasca. At first it can be clunky, awkward, outside one’s comfort zone and toes get stepped on- i.e. one is not in control and can feel uncomfortable, insecure, frustrated etc.. during these first few lessons. This is often due to one resisting/tightening up and trying to control the process or control how they look etc…Then with practice/more lessons one begins to relax, feel the music and really enjoy dancing. It is also true that when people approach dancing with a light hearted, relaxed manner they tend to enjoy the process and learn to dance faster.
The ayahuasca experience is similar, if one tries to control the ayahuasca experience or resist the experience it is just like dancing, it is awkward and not that much fun at first. Luckily ayahuasca has incredible patience and is unconditional love. She will not give up on this teaching: that the best way to move through life is to understand that we have no control and that we need to let go in intense situations and of expected outcomes. Once this lesson is learned, then it opens up space for the understanding that everything is perfect, everything is as it should be. It is our false perception, resistance and trying to control things that is the true problem.
This lesson of understanding that we have no control and letting go is one that we normally have to learn by living life and it can often times take a very long time, lifetimes in fact. The issue with learning this lesson through life is that it can cause a significant amount of suffering and dis-ease as we humans tend to be pretty slow. We tend to make the same mistakes over and over again. The cool thing about ayahuasca is that it teaches this lesson really fast on a relative basis (it may not seem like it at the time as we like quick fixes/taking a pill and putting forth minimum effort) and ayahuasca is safe (provided the person drinking is in good health and not taking contraindicating substances). With ayahuasca one learns about letting go in a safe ceremonial environment with love all around them- the love of the maestros, the family, other guests, the support staff and ayahuasca herself.
All of this said, ayahuasca is not a quick fix, but rather an experiential learning tool. This lesson is a BIG lesson to learn and just by experientially understanding it during an ayahuasca retreat does not mean that one will return to the outside world being non-attached to everything. Ayahuasca helps one let go of the major issue/s at hand, experientially learn the process of letting go and provide a view into what is possible in one’s life. After an ayahuasca retreat, one needs to continue to work on this lesson in their own life after an ayahuasca retreat. Just like learning to ride a bicycle, we fall off at times. The key is to get back on again after falling. In fact while ayahuasca has helped me immensely with learning to let go, learning that I have no control, I still fall off the bike albeit much less than pre-ayahuasca. It is probably the biggest lesson to learn in life and I am so thankful that ayahuasca exists to help us learn it.