In a previous post I talked about the importance of starting or continuing a spiritual practice upon re-entry. The idea is to maintain the energetic cleanliness, and/or continue to clean your energies once you return home from Peru as access to quality ayahuasca ceremonies in the western world is quite limited. Funky energies abound at home and they can become overwhelming, thus causing somewhat of a backward slide if you do not have a practice to clean out things you pick up at home. I suggested practices such as yoga, meditation, chi gong, etc… Now I want to talk about doing these types of practices while working with ayahuasca in Peru.
For many months I had been doing a cycle of drinking ayahuasca and when I had time off from ceremonies I would return to yoga and vipassana meditation. This was largely due to a combination of being tired from ceremony, having low energy due to the diets, and pure laziness. This cycle worked fine, but I recently discovered that this cycle is not optimal.
Luckily I met my new friend Alex Good a.k.a “Mr. Good” or “Don Bueno” a few weeks ago. Alex has been living in peru for about 10 years. He owns a mountain lodge in Huarez called The Way Inn. In addition to his time in Peru, he has spent a significant amount of time in India learning from various gurus and he has been a yogi/meditator since the age of thirteen. Net net he is a very solid and cool guy.
When Alex showed up at La Familia Medicina we became quick friends due to our common our interests in raising consciousness, yoga and meditation. That said, when he started to talk about breathing techniques to awaken the kundalini I kind of blew him off. My ego was telling me, “I have my own practices (vipasssana meditation and vinyasa yoga), I don’t need a new one, I know what I am doing.”
Then the night of the second ceremony, Alex brought up these breathing techniques again. This time I listened. He told me to practice what is called “The Full Breath” where you start by filling your lower belly, then your mid section, and finally your chest with breath. At the same time visualize pranic energy starting at the base of the spine then moving up the spine to the third eye, often called “pranayama breathing”. I gave it a shot. “Wow, pretty cool”, I thought and later told him. I could really feel the energy moving- especially during ceremony. It was like a battery re-charge, something I needed during ceremony as I was giving my energy outwards towards the guests via icarros and helping Gumercindo do his work.
He was like, “You think that is cool, try this: at the top of “The Full Breath” use your bhandas (energetic body locks used in yoga) to lock in the breath, hold it for 15-20 seconds while “pumping” the bhandas then roll your eyes up towards your third eye.” Again, I tried it…..OH MY GOD when I used this technique my vision of light EXPLODED and when I exhaled the light stayed for some time. Amazing.
The next day I pulled Alex aside and asked him to provide a full explanation of these techniques.
We headed off to the ceremony house where he explained the concept of kundalini energy. Essentially the energy centers in our body are shaped like a snowman. We have a big ball of energy around our belly and sexual organs, “the root”- sexual energy/survival energy, the most powerful energy that we all carry. The next ball is the solar plexus/chest which is where we get ambition and finally our head, or “crown” which is how we connect with the divine. It does not take a genius to figure out that a significant portion of the world is stuck in their lower two energy centers.
We also receive external energy through our crown and root. The idea with kundalini is to pull that sexual energy that already exists in the root upwards towards the crown/head thus connecting us more with the divine. It is also a process of energy channel purification- removing blocks that foul up the “energetic wiring” and flow in our bodies. By doing this practice over a period of time we can open up our energy channels so that they are operating efficiently and become more aware of the divine, the universal oneness.
Once Alex explained the concept of kundalini, I posed the question, “So this technique does the same thing as ayahuasca, but by using breath.”
“Exactly. It is just that these technique takes years whereas ayahuasca (with a dietas) can get you there MUCH faster.”
I thought about this for awhile. There is a problem with the idea that is held by some westerners that ayahuasca will lead to something like enlightenment- I have yet to meet a peruvian shaman that is focused on consciousness or enlightenment. Sure there are great shamans that operate on much “higher levels”, but truly enlightened?? Of course who am I to judge who has reached enlightenment? I certainly have not reached it yet (I know, we are all already enlightened), so how would I know? It is just that I have noticed that this is not a focus for local shamans.
After more thought I came to the following hypothesis: Amazonian shamans are focused on curing not raising consciousness. Local peruvians show up on a shaman’s doorstep to help with specific problems, not to learn about how to connect with the divine. Sure shamans call on the divine for help and often have a solid relationship with the divine. However consciousness or connection to the divine is not their focus. Healing is their focus. With healing and helping others as a focus, higher consciousness is a by-product.
Then I came up with another hypothesis: If we combine practices such as kundalini breathing with ayahuasca, they ACCELERATE each other. They are like peanut butter and jelly.
I brought this idea to Alex, and he was like, ”That is exactly what I have been thinking for some time, I just have a few personal circumstances that have held back my examining this idea deeper – 1) I live in the mountains where there are no quality ayahuasca shamans. 2) I have been searching for six years around Peru for a quality ayahuasca shaman that is happy to share his knowledge about the medicine. Now I have found Gumercindo and La Familia Medicina. This new discovery solves problem number two.”
After our discussion I started to play with the breathing techniques both in and out of ceremony. One amazing discovery for me was when I locked in the lower bhandas (the anus, parenium, and base of the penis) and sang icaros, my voice improved significantly. I also discovered that I could consistently recharge my energies in ceremonies and during the day by using breath and the bhanda locks. I found that if I was feeling “off” energetically I could do a couple rounds of specific breathing and clear the funky energy out. Awesome stuff.
Gumercindo heard us talking about these techniques and his interest was piqued. Alex ran through the details and some of the benefits. Gume listened and tried them out, but it took awhile for him to really get into the idea. Then two nights ago he tried the full breath with the locks during ceremony. He was AMAZED at what happened- he stopped breathing for two minutes. I should say, he forgot to breath for two minutes with NO negative effects. In fact he said it was incredible, he was taken to a higher consciousness. Gume has now started a regular meditation/breathing practice.
Since Alex has returned to the mountains, I have maintained a twice daily meditation practice that includes these breathing techniques. In the past few weeks I have already found that with the combination of ayahuasca and meditation I can go into ayahuasca like states during meditation without ayahuasca. I am also feeling much more connected to the divine throughout the day. In ceremony this connection has been off the charts. Obviously I will continue with the combination….and I will let you guys know what happens.
PS- while we are on this point, the above experiences are the reason we would like to have a true Kundalini Yoga instructor come down and volunteer to teach for one to three months. If you, or anyone you know is qualified and interested, please e-mail me at zach@LaFamiliaMedicina.com. Note: please do not use the comment box below to contact me- that comment box is for comments.