Ayahuasca 101: Hard-Earned Truth

August 5, 2015 194 Comments

The first time I ever experienced an Ayahuasca ceremony was seven years ago. It wasn’t in a remote jungle hut in the middle of the Amazon, or in some fancy Californian ashram. My first encounter with the legendary “vine of souls” (sometimes referred to as “vine of death”) was in a snow covered New England country house in my home state of Connecticut.

What can I say? The universe works in mysterious ways.

We sat, packed like sardines, in the tiniest room of the house – at the request of the Peruvian shaman who was presiding over the proceedings. The idea was for our tight circle of about 12 people to be so close that our knees almost touched.

Slightly claustrophobic as I am, this was not the ideal setting, but I felt I had prepared myself enough with other exercises and vision-inducing plant medicines to tread these waters with relative grace.

I didn’t realize I was in for the most challenging night of my life.

As we sat there in the candlelit circle, the shaman (whose name I will exclude) gave us the following words of wisdom:

“You will see many things tonight. Some pleasant and some not so pleasant. My advice to you is to assume a comfortable position, focus only on your breathing, and try to be still.

Be a conduit for the energy that is flowing through you and the information you are receiving, but don’t linger too long on any thought form, good or bad.”

Seemed simple enough. I drank my cup, went back to my spot in the sardine circle, and sat down Indian-style on a cushion. We sat for about 30 minutes in silence, broken only by the occasional whisper, waiting for the medicine to come alive within us.

If the circle was a clock, I was sitting at seven o’clock, the shaman was at twelve o’clock, and the person to his left (at one o’clock) had drank first. In anticipation of what was about to happen, I couldn’t help staring at one o’clock to see if there would be any noticeable changes in this person’s manner or outward appearance once the Ayahuasca took hold.

And then I saw something that gives me goosebumps to this day. Starting with Mr. One O’clock, heads and bodies began slumping, one by one, tipping like dominoes in order of who drank first. It only took about fifteen seconds for this wave of impossibility to make its way around the circle to me.

I spent the first hour or two of the ceremony in complete free fall. My bodily strength and sensation of being in a physical form drained out of me almost instantly – and it wasn’t pretty. I panicked and began to struggle for breath. As I dissolved into and through the floor, all of my deepest fears came surging up through the darkness to greet me.

A shrill voice in me cried out that I had made a terrible mistake ingesting this unknown potion and that I would soon die. I was tumbling through nothingness. The only remnants of the sardine circle were the distant echoes of a shaman singing his icaros (ceremonial prayer songs) to the beat of a drum.

I was clinging to any thought, desperately trying to get a foothold. But the only ledges and ropes offered were words of fear, shame, and sadness – each one building upon the other.

And the storm raged on.

Mid-somersault through the void, something unexpected happened. My right foot began to ache (this running injury had been nagging me for months, but I was in no condition to recall that!). Just then, the first emotionally neutral thought entered my consciousness, “My foot hurts so bad right now.”

In that moment ¬– almost as if I had hit pause on the TV ¬– the free fall stopped.

I slowly opened my eyes and saw a whirlwind of cosmic activity happening in the darkness around me, but not in my immediate proximity. The circle of bodies was more lopsided now, some remaining upright and others lying down in the fetal position.

Looking down in the direction of my welcome foot pain, I saw that my right foot was glowing a dim blue. The pain pulsed one more time and almost instinctively I brought my left hand up to my face and “turned it on.” I placed the hand (which was now glowing a faint white) on my blue foot and watched with silent astonishment. The pain dissolved into the darkness while the white glow engulfed the foot up to the knee.

In that moment I was not attaching any words or emotions to my experience, I was simply witnessing with an empty mind what was in front of me.

But unadulterated consciousness only lasts so long, and I ultimately broke the inner silence with a few innocent but ego-driven words. “I think I’ve got the hang of this now.”

Like a trap door had opened underneath me, I fell back through the floor and into the terrifying plummet. The next few hours continued much like this. Periods of feeling lost and overwhelmed, followed by moments of respite that could only be achieved by stopping the ticker tape of inner self talk.

I found that most words were “hot,” meaning they triggered free fall. But certain ones could be said again and again like a mantra to bridge those moments of doubt that are often accompanied by self chatter. The battle-tested words I turned to the most were: thank you, grandma, and love.

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The Pendulum

I came away from that night with a simple rule of thumb for ceremony, and also for life outside the circle. The teaching is this:

Envision your core self, or soul, as a pendulum that is at pure presence when it is absolutely still. When an emotion or thought form is held onto for more than a fleeting moment, it begins to swing the pendulum – regardless of whether the thought is blissful or fearful.

Another word for this could be attachment.

On one side of the pendulum lies fear and on the other lies absolute joy. If you cling to either type of emotion too long, it begins to pull the pendulum in the direction of that emotion. And we all know that once a pendulum is pulled one way, the laws of nature guarantee that it will swing back, past center, into the opposite realm.

It took me half the night to learn the lesson and stop pushing it either way. Looking back on it, the pendulum model synchs up really nicely with the sage advice the shaman gave us before the ceremony began.

Here are those three spiritual survival tips again. They can be extremely helpful in times of intensity and challenge:

1. Don’t cling to fleeting emotions or thought forms, good or bad, comforting or discomforting.

2. Focus on your breath, it is the river within you that gives life to all else.

3. Be still within yourself. Be deliberate in your movement, if movement is necessary.

That first Ayahuasca experience was reality shattering, but once I learned how to implement these principles, and got out of the way, the night changed entirely.

Sitting in stillness, I began to receive direct transmissions from a higher being who was motherly and compassionate, but also a stern teacher. I was like a pup, being taken by the scruff of the neck and plopped down into different cosmic circumstances to get what I needed to know and then move on.

But that part of the story is for another day!

I hope the three shamanic principles and the pendulum model help you on your path. They have certainly become trusted allies of mine.

Stay curious,

Nick Polizzi
Director, The Sacred Science

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Filed Under: Shamanism

About Nick Polizzi

Nick Polizzi has spent his career directing and producing feature length documentaries about natural alternatives to conventional medicine. Nick’s current role as director of “The Sacred Science” stems from a calling to honor, preserve, and protect the ancient knowledge and rituals of the indigenous peoples of the world.

View all posts by Nick Polizzi

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  1. Rosemary says:

    thank you

  2. Gillian says:

    Look forward to “another day” !

  3. Stacey says:

    THANK YOU xx

  4. Jacqueline says:

    Thank you for sharing this!

  5. Tabitha Howell says:

    I found this so interesting! Do you have any words of advice for my predicament? I am so brought down by the terrible destruction that is being wrought upon the natural world, and fear for the extinction of so many beautiful animals, birds, and plants. How can I possibly stay in that still place where the “pendulum” is that rest? How do *you*manage to not give in to despair at this, Nick? What do you think the shaman teacher of your Ayahuasca experience would advise? I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Thank you, Tabitha

    • Jeri says:

      You did not ask to hear from me, so I hope this is not an intrusion. The death of species is terrible and disgusting as is your own death. Look to your own death the wisdom waits for you there. When you stop feeling all that sway you will know what to do.

      • Jacqui says:

        Hi Jeri, Thank you for leaving your advice for Tabitha! I too have struggled with fears for the planet and other fears for which I have tried to still my pendulum. I am going to take your advice!

      • Tabitha Howell says:

        Thank you for your input, Jeri. I am not overly afraid or concerned about my own death, nor do I regard it as disgusting or terrible. It’s the destruction of living creatures, many of whom are on their way to extinction, and indeed the entire beautiful web of life, whose violation I abhor. Cultivating my own peace of mind is not going to stop the relentless rape of our beloved planet.

        • Jim S. says:

          However,

          That which you hopefully learn along the way, WILL give you ideas and the tools to help further minimize the needless destruction we are witnessing. There is nothing worse than those who refuse to take what they have learned, and apply them towards a solution that would ripple in ever-wider circles of the collective consciousness. It is for the sake of this, and for the entire world, that we become more of “doers”, rather than just inert “thinkers”.

          Each and every thoughtful action we take, results in more ripples that will eventually be felt by all. This is who civil-rights movements began: With just one determined mind, with the passion for change.

          – Jim.

    • Smiles says:

      I have the exact same dilemma! Especially bringing a son into this world! Truly it seems our heart is whole from an intact ecosystem. But it seemingly is peirced by an earth that cries and suffers. So a broken heart is meant for those that give a care for this beautiful mother. And yet the broken heart open to the pain, may equally be open to the light of insight? Or open to moving from a place that is more simple and or harmonious and oriented to solutions. There must be a certain acceptance and forgiveness about the way things are, but not a forgetting. Each step sacred, each choice make a difference in this world. Let’s choose to love and breathe…change, advocate, commune, speak for the tears of despair, allow the laughter of joy and find a willingness to act from hope despite it all. Easier said than done, but glad to walk this precious earth with those that remember to love her as deeply as their own hearts

    • Carmella says:

      Tabitha,
      Those on high have spoken that the time of distruction has come to an end. Our Mother/Father has deemed it so. All, I repeat, all will be brought to its original beauty once again. Look and notice the changes that have begun. Some are subtle and some not so. All consciousness is looking forward to the light. When you know the truth and observe only the truth no matter what is in front of your eyes there can create a feeling of peace in the heart that all is once again in the hands of our Creator. Abide in Peace and Love. Thank you.

    • Nelson says:

      Read the following Books and so you can come to an understanding:

      THE POWER OF NOW and A NEW EARTH

      Written by Eckhart Tolle

      • Tabitha Howell says:

        Thank you. I have read those books, but the techniques merely advocate being in the moment, not paying much attention to our thoughts and thus ignoring the terrible suffering going on in our world. Tolle teaches neo-Buddhist practices that are not relevant for our times: we now truly live in a global village and cannot ignore such suffering, unless we value closing our eyes to it all in the name of so-called “inner peace.”

        • Derek says:

          I like what Thich Nat Hahn said about working to mitigate the effects of climate change: Unless you are fully okay with the possibility that we may all go extinct from climate change, you won’t be very effective in changing the minds of those denying climate change exists. In other words, if we work from the freedom of the present moment and without attachment, we can meet others in a place of non-judgement and facilitate change in ways that otherwise would just bolster their resistance. The “Now” is a very powerful place in its lack of longing for power, and acting from that place may be our only hope.

    • JD says:

      Tabitha – Thank you for your question and thoughtful and wise responses to the responses (& thanks Smiles for reflecting where many are at with this question while on this watchful, open-hearted and humble path) This ‘down’ and ‘despair’ seems to be the surface attitudes covering over an angry injustice for a “…terrible destruction being wrought upon this world…” You may not be comfortable with my renaming of your feelings but bear with me in case something useful is revealed. Our sense of injustice, or angry justice, seems to be, surprisingly, at the core of human delusion/human destruction and human irreverence toward the hand that feeds because of its power to be self referencing/self reinforcing by providing a resounding, “I am” in the context of what “I am not”. Even within our materialistic and even spiritualistic pursuits of a higher and grander dream of a harmonious quality filled, bounty filled life, that really only leads to disenchantment & lack of true satisfaction, can be found the desire to be above and away from the charnel places of destruction and despair and away from, and rejection of, the ones who bring about these situations. Living from the heart trumps all of these dilemmas & leads to true satisfaction; that fire-like strong stillness. It is tricky say how to deal with a specific terrible injustice without becoming entangled in that pendulum of self-referencing attachment. Make the priority to open your heart first then see how you react to the circumstances close to you. One powerful tool I have found, like the Pendulum tool, are the words or focus of feelings “All are Welcome Here”

    • Nina says:

      Hi, Tabitha – I’ve found the following guidance helpful in relieving my own anxiety: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_RHbbMY8LU I like the idea that the more I take care of myself, the more positive energy I bring to Earth and all Earthlings (have you seen the movie Earthlings? It’s a very tough thing to watch). I find the last exercise suggested in this talk to be most helpful to me and have been speaking it out loud every day on my drive to work. Hope this is some help.

    • Sherry says:

      Hi Tabitha

      This has helped me with a lot of different issues. My intention is that you find the helpful.
      Blessings
      http://www.thetappingsolution.com

      • Blessed says:

        Hi Tabitha, I feel the same as you. I always tell my son “we are soldiers of the Light army, we are on the planet to hold light”. Pray for peace, love and joy- send it to every living thing on the planet. Love is the salve we need. Picture and feel a beautiful whole planet, and know that we are going to be the majority very soon.

    • Scotty says:

      I read the concerns and comments below. I totally feel you. I know I’m blessed with the most Awesome people in my travels. We have been very watched out for from a lot of people that I/we well never meet physically, Some that are not famous some that are, and some that don’t want to be known for the Awesome things they put in place for us and are doing for us now.
      I have witnessed a lot more good then bad here on Earth for sure. Yes it’s hard seeing what some people are doing to this planet and humanity. Yes I get fired up about it. Not as much as I used to though. The more fired up, I realized the more I see wrong, I don’t want my focus there. I want to focus on bringing the gifts of this Earth/Universe to the people. There are some Kuel things that are coming out and that have been shown to me that are really awesome technologies that have the Nature foundation in mind. A lot of passion behind this stuff for sure.
      I know it’s just words and its a huge test of faith but I am learning to just send whatever the situation that is bothersome a good dose of love energy. More and more now just wanting them or it to get be connected again and from what I’m learning again ( My reminders show up from time to time) See it, in-vision it, and my test lately,,, feeling it.
      It’s all in the actions, words can be anchors, The kids are watching me and learning from me. I want to show them what’s in my heart not my head. That’s what they well remember, I know I did. Show them with out words or only when needed. That’s how I see people and learn from them especially when I was coming into this world. For me I need to be the change and focus on what I’m doing and doing the best that I can. I know I haft to be at peace inside so I can serve you better. That’s what I focus on. I’m passionately being a hand up just like Nick is for Me. I’m embodying his lessons in this letter that he gifted me for sure. Thank You Nick your surrounded by the most Awesome people for sure.

    • Ahntara says:

      What we give our attention to increases. Take this to heart. It’s the over-riding principle that is proved time and again with our wars on drugs, on terrorism, on poverty. You can’t stop something by fighting against it, worrying over it or feeling distressed. It’s true that lots of terrible things happen. But there is also a LOT of wonderful happening all the time. Focus on that and it will increase. When you become aware of something you that is the opposite of what you do want, take this as a cue from your own ability to co-create reality…it’s only a dissonance. Respond to this (even your own thoughts) with “this is just showing me the opposite, thank you for that” And then (fill in the blanks here), “the IDEAL situation would be___”. Imagine and focus on what you would like to happen. Imagine villagers rescuing wildlife instead of poaching it. That actually happens! There are videos and news reports about that also. Imagine the on-going efforts to preserve the rainforests. This happens. Find evidence and focus in celebration on that. Step into your role as a powerful co-creator of the kind of world you’d like to be in and watch the physical world respond. You do the world no favors with your broken heart and crushed spirit. But the very beings and environments you mourn are buoyed by your loving attention and celebration. I wish you peace.

  6. Pat K says:

    You don’t mention purging..I can’t imagine what it would be like purging in a sardine environment . I did ceremonies in Peru last year and purging was all I experienced..eyuck..

  7. Elton Ivey says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I, too, have great respect for the master teacher- Mother Ayahuasca.

  8. Dave Potter says:

    Thank you

    This reminds me of vippassana and Buddha’s teaching with regards to cravings and adversions.

  9. Gypsyblu says:

    Wow! In your writing, I went on this mind blowing experience.
    I am still in awe. To experience that first hand would be life changing for many as long as they are ready.

  10. Mariella says:

    Thank you!!

  11. Ken says:

    Thx. That was very useful. Looking forward to the experience. I have a dear friend in Peru who has been a top govnmt official for yrs. He has been wanted my wife and I to visit. Do you have someplace in Peru you would recommend for us to explore these experiences?

  12. Erin says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I’ve just begun looking into this experience, and have been curious about safe and legit places in the states to feed this curiosity.
    Do you have any other sources you’d like to share as far as location, or preparation.
    (I apogize…this is the first email I have rec’d. The answers might possibly be located right on your sight). I’m in NC, btw!
    Thank you again for sharing your experience. ☺️

  13. Mindy says:

    the middle way is the truth

  14. Isaac says:

    Awesome & terrible! Lol thanks so much for sharing Nick.

  15. Melanie says:

    Thank you !

  16. Kaja says:

    so interesting, thank you!

  17. mary claire says:

    yet again the wisdom of the sages of the ages is confirmed: non-attachment, gratitute, love and breathe. thank you for sharing

  18. Dianne says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. I love reading your posts. My son has also experienced Ayahuasca but in a different form. He smoked it and immediately went into his experience. It was life changing for him and he is on a completely different path.
    Can’t wait to hear your next story.
    Thanks, Dianne

  19. Lawrence says:

    I don’t think that hallucinatory drugs are either necessary or accurate in terms of exploring inner peace.(torment for some perhaps)
    A state of self hypnosis and sitting quietly in meditation will always bring inner peace and with its better understanding of our world. Sorry but I don’t buy into drug culture.

  20. boggs says:

    Wow. Amazing

  21. mary claire says:

    also, reminds me of my few LSD experiences…..

  22. Stan says:

    Does it make you feel as if you can’t breathe?

  23. Cindy Beville says:

    thank you

  24. Barbara says:

    Thank you for your sharing:)
    Amazing how all spiritual guidelines come down to pretty much the same !

  25. Mousie says:

    Thank you , loved reading your experience!

  26. Katherine says:

    Deeply Grateful, Namaste!

  27. Maria says:

    type your comment here…Very interesting/ Thank you!

  28. Karen says:

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing that!

  29. maureen says:

    Nick you have brought me a much needed message at a very significant time for me. It is an intense rush of truth and hit me in this manner. I thank you for being who you are and following your own lead as you seek. I send you love♡

  30. Lourdes de Jesus says:

    I can’t wait to have my own experience. ThankYou

  31. jeri says:

    Amazing I “died” the first time I did cannabis. The revival in breath and some inner abiding wisdom alive in the strength of life brought me through. Your expression of your experience lets me see what is going on with so many who can not turn off the chatter. Can it only be resolved by some herb that puts one face to face with an utter absolute?

  32. Mimi says:

    Thanks so much, Nick, your lesson really helped.

  33. Cheryl Leitch says:

    Your trip sounds inspiring. I don’t indulge because being an old hippie (67) I don’t know how the ayahuasca would affect me. I have i:jested well over 500 trips of LSD in my time and found simular experiences. One thought will engulf you if too mught energy is paid to it. Also hallucinations slow down after a while and can me more or less controlled. I am a spiritualist and practice meditation but have no desire to go any further at this time. However, love hearing about your journey. Please continue to keep me in the loop and good luck exploring….xox

  34. Raincrow says:

    Thanks Nick. I’ve always wanted to take part in such a ceremony.Though I have taken part in other ceremonies with my Lakota and Cherokee teachers. Those principles are important on our spiritual path. Thanks my friend.

  35. Carmella Liff says:

    Just so to set the scene…
    I am of a place where when I read anything there is such a depth and volume that it affords me an observers experience of the event. I so enjoyed the article. And yet it seems so familiar. To be sure I look forward to you again if you float by me again. Go in peace and with my love and blessings.

  36. Dean says:

    Thanks for sharing. I’m always appreciative of any wisdom shared!

    Aho

  37. Nona says:

    type your comment here…I can’t wait for that anther day when that part of the story is shared with me. Thanks for sharing. Nona

  38. Nicolas says:

    Good one!

  39. david says:

    Outstanding info, and so lucid. Thank you from a future voyager. Tell me, is it wise to take the voyage solo

  40. Kathy says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this powerful experience with us, Nick! I am very grateful for receiving The Pendulum and three spiritual survival tips. They are just what I needed today. Warm Blessings to You.

  41. sheela says:

    Great share about ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is really an amazing plant and has cases of curing cancer, PSTD, depression, addiction and alcoholism. If you want to read about my personal experience, you can check it here

  42. Logan Schroeder says:

    Great testimobial! Thank.

  43. beth says:

    Awesome. Thank you so much for sharing this incredible experience.

  44. Felisa says:

    Very insightful. Thank you.

  45. fariba says:

    Thank you

  46. Lezlie Harris says:

    Awesome, thank you!

  47. Pam says:

    I am very curious about this and I think I want to try this…how do I find someone that I can trust to lead me through this? I know there are a lot of people out there that have led this before but I need to know who I can trust…who is genuine.

  48. Jenniffer says:

    Thank you for sharing. Any chance we can hear from someone else in the circle as well?
    Love your articles; read them all.

  49. Veronique says:

    Thank you Nick!

  50. Mark says:

    As you maybe know what you experienced is more of your own deep self, we are born in psychological symbiosis, and are trained to ignore it and focus on logic and the reigning social conditioning… What is happening with you here and all of us in this age of stressful breakdown is our Egos rediscovering our symbiotic Self who has been psychologically closeted since about age three when we began writing and playing the serious act of a socially oriented Ego..

  51. Marlana says:

    thank you so much as it is illegal in Austrslua so I am starved of this knowledge at present. It’s the prac version of ancient spiritual teachings.

  52. Dee Dee says:

    Many thanks exactly what I needed right now!

  53. Sue says:

    Wow – what a coincidence. I just finished reading Michael Singer’s, “The Untethered Soul” two nights ago and the last chapter is all about the pendulum and living in the middle ground. I’ve been pondering this concept ever since. As much as I’d love to try Ayahuasca, it seems way to scary for me. Thanks for sharing your experience and I’d love to hear more.

  54. Ragda McAfee says:

    Alright Nick, that’s just not cool :). You gave us an amazing story but then stopped at the climax. I love the three bits of wisdom from the shaman, but want to hear the rest of the story! Ayahuasca is calling me, and I will do it soon. I haven’t yet. I’m going to Peru within the next six months to visit sacred sites in Machu Piccu w a shaman friend of mine. I’m hoping to do it then. Thanks for sharing your story (even though it was a tease ;-)).
    Take care – Ragda

  55. Fredline says:

    Thank you. Very interesting write up. For those who are unable to travel to South America, are there ceremonies held in the USA?

  56. Mary Lea says:

    Thank you from my soul for writing this. Your words resonate with me as truth.

  57. Judy says:

    Your encounter and transmission is important. It is important because, it verifys and helps
    in not doubting. Thank-you.

  58. Suzy says:

    Holy Crow! I love synchronicity, and this beautiful message came at the perfect time! I was just sharing this week that I had the most amazing feeling of comfort and contentment and that I really wanted to hang on to that last week. Then, something happened that made me very unhappy, fearful, and stressed, and I realized that every single time I had that feeling of contentment and joy that I so desperately wanted to cling to, it was immediately followed by a moment of unsettling discomfort.

    I get it now.

    My first experience with the medicine was so shattering that I vowed I would never ever need to do that again! That was two years ago and I now realize that my biggest problem was not letting go and surrendering to the process. I was extraordinarily fearful and fought what was happening the entire time. My immediate take-away was gratitude, real and true gratitude, for my own life (which I had been complaining about for some time). My ego was gone, all judgment gone, and it felt amazing, but I did not want to go through all that again to get to that place.

    Well, ego is back…. judgment is back… and I am reconsidering whether I might one day return to the medicine to receive whatever message is needed… this time, not fighting, not analyzing, just receiving. My terrifying experience (which happened two nights in a row, exactly the same!) has changed me for the better, but I can only imagine the message I might have received if I had only let go of attachments.

    Thank you for these poignant and perfect words!
    Suzy

  59. Sandy says:

    That sounds amazing.

  60. Rennie Anllo says:

    I attempt to follow your three tips daily during meditation however, I have never experienced what you described. Is this Shaman available in the States? I would love to try that.

  61. Celeste says:

    Thank you, Blessed Grandmother. I love you and so appreciate your reminders.

  62. Sherri says:

    Thank you, this article was helpful. I have been feeling over this last year of doing a vision quest with a little help from nature.

  63. George Nasse says:

    I read your post with great interest.

  64. Bob says:

    How may I contact a Shaman here in the States to experience Ayahuasca- I live in NYC
    Thanks to sharing Nick

    • Ellen says:

      There is a center in Brooklyn, NY called “The Golden Drum”…not sure how you connect with them, but I sat with the Shaman from this group (with the group members as assistants) and had the most amazing experience/vision in my life. I really like these people and would recommend this group to you (and others). Good luck!

  65. David Fields says:

    Dear Nick,
    A lovely article. And very well articulated. Principles that hold up after the ceremony; which is what really counts. Thoughts themselves, whether labeled positive, or negative, are nothing more than clouds…until we grab on! And herein begins the suffering. As you lay out beautifully. This teaching is right at the heart of all spiritual practice. I deeply appreciate Ayahuasca being understood in this deeper context of instruction.

  66. thirdeye says:

    Awesome story, the pendulum symbolism makes perfect sense!

  67. Lynne Fisk says:

    Unfortunately for me, I suffer from panic disorder and hyperventilate without noticing!
    There is NO WAY I can focus on my breathing, it makes hyperventilation worse!
    I am JEALOUS!

  68. Linda says:

    Waiting for ‘another day’. Thank you for sharing.

    Bright Blessings

  69. Joshua says:

    Hello, thank you for sharing your experience! I’ve been saving up money for some time now to go visit South America and take part in ayahuasca ceremonies. Where did you go for yours that you could recommend to me?

  70. Mary says:

    I would love to have the opportunity to experience this, do you know of any shamen in upstate NY?

    • Ellen says:

      where in upstate NY? I know of a group in NYC area and they have purchased some land outside of the city (they call “upstate”, but I think it’s located somewhere in the Catskills area) and are building a retreat center. I recommend this group and in Brooklyn (where their center is) this group is called “The Golden Drum”. Good Luck!

  71. Anne says:

    Really, really like the 3 spiritual survival tips …. Obvious, but of course the obvious is often very easy to miss!

  72. Aruna Maya says:

    Hope one day to share this experience..thank you for your insight.

  73. Teri says:

    Thank you for your words of wisdom and sharing the lessons you have learned. I will hold them close and try my best to put them into action as I ride out this storm I am currently in.
    Peace,
    -Teri

  74. Dianna says:

    Thanks for the excellent information Nick. This is a ceremony I would love to participate. However, I am afraid of drugs, of losing myself. More so of losing Dianna. Not knowing “what is going to happen” keeps me hesitant. I am afraid of letting go.

  75. Stephanie says:

    I am thoroughly interested in drinking the cup with a shaman to further my education in this world. My friend has an office that offers alternative help for people. I am also one of those thinkers who has a hard time quieting my mind. Please let us know if, when & where we could possible partake in the journey. Thanks

  76. Jacque says:

    Thank you. I needed to read that today, right now, this second.

  77. Lisa says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Nick. I live in CT and am very interested in participating in a ceremony before I go to Peru later this year. If you could connect me with the same safe environment in which you participated (if it wasn’t a one-time thing), I would greatly appreciate it.

  78. Crystal says:

    I so enjoyed reading about your journey!

  79. Craig says:

    Nice one. Letting go is our biggest goal .
    So easy in theory yet so hard .
    I work as a mediator and positioning and power struggles are common .

    Best wishes
    Thanks
    Craig

  80. Vickie says:

    thank you

  81. gudrun says:

    Thank you for sharing………….

  82. Tina says:

    Rivetting…….thank you. It brought back memories of when I did the I Ching every day for a year.

  83. Elisa says:

    As an advanced healer with over 30 years experience and excellent proven spiritual guidance, I can tell you that most of the people I’ve seen who took ayahuasca got separated from their souls and many of those people are now run by entities. And even if they did not separate, they now seem to have, as a result of the drug, a ceiling on high they can progress spiritually. This is not a situation easy to repair because whoever is running the consciousness does not want it repaired and thinks that these big changes they’ve experienced are great. They are not. Giving ourselves up in this fashion is not what the soul embodied for. I know this information may be unwelcome when so many people are excited by this and want so much to have exceptional experiences or heal themselves in some big way, but given the proliferation of these “ceremonies” I feel it is time for me to share what I’ve seen.

  84. Marianne O'Hare says:

    Heard you being interviewed on this topic recently on NPR I believe. I actually sat in my car in the little borough of Stonington where I live to hear the story to its conclusion. I have done a little Shamanic training. Would love to know more.
    Thanks, and Enjoy the Day!
    Marianne

  85. Mary Dunsdon says:

    Do you travel and do these kind of sessions? I have a Buck Minster Fuller geodesic dome on my property which would be a great place to hold a session.

  86. Marta says:

    This is also done with meditation. Forgiveness work is essential. Empty all thoughts and one by one from childhood to the present, after 10- 12 deep cleansing breaths, in through your nose SLOWLY, AND then hold 1-2 seconds exhale slowly through your mouth. People will come to mind that you have to forgive, or ask forgiveness from. Some may come to mind you don’t remember. But if you ask for forgiveness and forgive them too, the work will be amazing. Once no one appears in your memory you are finished. You will fell a lightness unknown before. Took an eleven day seminar on Bio- electrical field analysis. Learned none of the physical healing work could be done or learned unless we were in this state. All eight of us, finished course, but one did not succeed in healing as she couldn’t forgive one person. This article reminded me of this course.

  87. Pat says:

    I am a shamanic practitioner in Canada, and in this past year I have been contacting by an increasing number of people who have experienced an ayahuasca “healing” ceremony somewhere in North America. They are now seeking help with the frantic, anxious, unidentifiable state they are in emotionally/mentally as a result of their experience. How has the sacred plant medicine reached the hands of those who are not of that culture and are without the knowledge of how to insure people are fully “returning” from the experience?

  88. Pat Wiggins says:

    Love your articles. I always learn and take away your teaching! Thank you.

  89. Sil says:

    Fascinating read. I’ve been wanting to participate in such a ceremony and it’s good to know ahead of time what might happen. Thank you.

  90. tina says:

    do you recommend this substance for everyone?

  91. Claude says:

    Thank you!

  92. Sheila says:

    Fascinating, intriguing, and aWEsOMe!!

  93. joyce says:

    thank you for this I look forward to reading the rest of the story

  94. Andrew says:

    Thank you Nick. Very much.

  95. kent says:

    Thanks again for another great bit of advice.

  96. Gilda says:

    Thank you for sharing this>>>> It was very informative.

  97. Aum Jah says:

    Bless your heart Nick, i truly appreciate you sharing these kind of experiences … though mine do not seem to originate in quite the same manner, they are often similar, and what makes an impact upon me from your writings, is that every once in a while as i’m too caught up in the bs we call life, it seems too far removed. It’s almost like questioning if i’ll ever step back into these realms. While i know i can, sometimes, it just seems so remote. But your sharing reminds me that it’s there and real. When i am done with what is in my now, i feel more assured of returning to what i know … so thank you.
    Guru Aum Jah here ….

  98. Jenn Azure says:

    I had a similar experience of clinging to my “usual” state of consciousness (obviously, in hindsight, not possible) where I was actually afraid of stopping breathing having a seizure and or dying. I did not end up completely falling into it as a result. I didn’t have much in the way of consciously recalled direct transmissions, except for one saying ” I have a family” (who loves me) which addressed a core insecurity of mine. There was ALOT of not-consciously-recalled learning that happened because I have been radically transformed by the experience and have in the 5 weeks after started or restarted doing the things I knew were good but was blowing off. I have rapidly grown a large amount!
    Another similarity was the Icaros.
    In my ceremony the leader of the ceremony is an accomplished singer and musician and her medicine songs were exquisite! They were my life-line back to the world.
    Thank you for sharing I will do better next time and have more trust that it’ll be OK (more than OK) When I let go.
    Thank you for sharing this!

  99. M says:

    Can you let me know where I can attend in Connecticut?

  100. Mariana Riquelme-Harmon says:

    In Lekesh. Thank you and blessings.

  101. Sandi says:

    Amazing situation and great advise about sitting still

  102. marybeth says:

    Thank you. I sort of had the same experience e/out a drug

  103. Rspurr says:

    Thank you for sharing the 3 spiritual survival tips.

  104. Deborah says:

    I will do my best in applying this lesson in my daily life. Thank you much for sharing your experience with us.

  105. Jim S. says:

    Wow!

    Most interesting. What most often forget, when it comes to embarking on journeys like this: It is the fear we choose to hold onto, that make our journeys scarier than they should be. The Universe, and all about, simply just are what they are, regardless of our feelings about them.

    The three principles you mentioned, go along way towards understanding the various lessons in life. Life, and everything in it, are in a constant state of change, as all things are expected to adapt to those changes.

    – Jim.

    • Deanna says:

      Ahhhhh yes the fear !! Let’s go there !! Last night I did a webinar. My first one with the Shift network
      It was about writing. And going to the Shadow side to intergrate healing
      And a lot was said around the FEAR
      I can only assume that in ceremony to can not put the brakes on !! So I thing awareness around what may come up is really important to have a working knowledge of in yourself
      Nick let’s us have it straight up
      I like VE that
      Wish I was I a sardine can on a seat night in Maine l .

  106. P8inter says:

    I am just getting over c diff…having read about all the shitting and barfing I have been through more of that than I ever want to experience again..ever

  107. Joy says:

    I’m very grateful for this. The vine and peyote have been calling me in my dreams. Iam a fire keeper and I’m on my 3 year of Hanblecha through all these years of powerful ceremony I never felt the call as I do now. May the teacher appear.
    Blessings to you
    Joy

  108. Tina says:

    What an incredible experience! Thank you for sharing this, Nick.

  109. Beverly Cialone says:

    Thank you SO much for this. At the moment, I am completely and utterly terrified. My fiance is facing dialysis and possible death without it, or without a kidney transplant. Neither of us want any of the aforementioned “remedies.” Instead, I have been trying some natural remedies, but I’m not quite sure if they’re working. Do you have ANY advice for us regarding how to deal with this? Also, do any of you have any known, proven natural remedies for severe chronic kidney disease?

  110. Cindy says:

    All I can say is WOW. What an enlightening and powerful experience this must have been and how brave were you to try this and how lucky it was available to you in your area! I loved reading about it and look forward to hearing the further stories in the future.
    Thanks Nick. Eye opening stuff

  111. Cindy says:

    All I can say is WOW. what an enlightening and powerful experience this must have been and how lucky for you that it was available to you in. Your area and how brave of you to try it. I can’t wait to hear the further stories of your experience. One question though, did you experience any foot pain after this event or was it totally healed? Thank s Nick.

  112. Oscar says:

    Amazing moments Thanks for sharing Nick it’s a beautiful experience our mother ayahusca. I took ayahuasca few months ago but some how I don’t remember so much of my Visions just few details, but it was at amazing experience and really thankful for taking our mother.

  113. Kathy says:

    A great Buddhist lesson from life..thank you

  114. Sue says:

    Thank you this is a treasure …

  115. Deanna Knudsen says:

    I can’t wait for you to tell me more
    I can not do a ceremony until I am off of my Phyfe meds for 6 month and I have not been able to go that distNce yet
    But there is fascinating deadest u on how these wonderful herbs and fungi car reset and free a brain like mine
    I would love to write about this

  116. David says:

    Thankyou for words that speak well and help me still my pendulum in hearing how you describe your experience. Many of your posts have been similarly helpful.

  117. Brenda says:

    Thank you

  118. Lizzy says:

    LOVE the pendulum model.
    Yes, the shamanic principles will definitely help me along my path….I just know it.
    Thank you so much for sharing.
    Namaste

  119. Penny says:

    ….so lovely for you to share & give life tools to enhance our skills in life….
    I truly so much in reading your words…
    seeing the pendulum, so beautiful…
    Thank you

  120. Linda Johnson says:

    Most excellent story Nick, thank you for sharing this with us. In deep appreciation!!

  121. Anna María Davis says:

    thank you i look forward to your next blog.

    Saludos

  122. Diane says:

    Here I am again – aware of the lesson – feeling the pain – understanding it will not last forever – moving through…

  123. Jay Atkinson says:

    Oh my! I have never taken Ayahuasca, but I bless your journey as it feels so relevant to me. I am living this truth having reached these valuable and life-saving conclusions via my own Shamanic trip, so to speak. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. It has helped to validate my own. May you be blessed x

  124. Donna Hughes says:

    Your shaman does not guide your ayahuasca experience then, like Manuel Cordova?

  125. edoarda says:

    OOPs..hadnt finished…reading this blogg,i felt that i was experiencing being in that ceremony…thank you for the so valuable tips..infinite gratitude and love

  126. Baba Wali says:

    I would love to try Ayahuasca to see what would be revealed to me

  127. Cynnamon says:

    Thank you for sharing your story! I too have had a life altering experience with Grandmother and it has given me a new zest and appreciation for life that I know has made me a better person in many ways! Thank you for all that you do! i am enjoying your hard work!

  128. Cher says:

    Great read. Ready for the next part of the story, yah

  129. Marybeth says:

    I have heard and had interest in this for several years now. I am curious as to how I would be able to experience this? Any advice?

  130. sally says:

    thank you for this beautyfully written, inspiattional & authentic contribution Nick :~)

    I will be looking out for you in my inbox !

  131. Laura says:

    Beautiful. I must say in reading this, it took me back to my own experience. That feeling in my chest that made me want to breathe harder.. that I can heal myself, telepathy is real, and that death is an illusion… wow.. once you feel this, there’s no going back. Thanks for this post..

  132. Adrian says:

    Nick that’s a very vivid account that fits with my own experiences. It’s easy to get battered by that pendulum! I bring myself back to presence by focusing on sounds, including music, icaros and dogs barking outside. When it works I feel like the jedi mind-training is all paying off and I sit in buddha peace. Other times it doesn’t work for shit and I just get battered

  133. April Minkler says:

    Thank you, Nick, for sharing these insights. They seem like they would be valuable under a whole lot of different circumstances! I don’t know if I will get the opportunity to meet Mother Aya, but I have gained much from your perspective. Much Gratitude!

  134. Diana says:

    Thank you.

  135. Sheryl McCartney says:

    Thank-you! reading your story is full of wisdom and has turned my thoughts deeply inward!!!

  136. A.M. says:

    Wow. What a description!

  137. Sarah says:

    Hi Nick, thanks very much for sharing your Ayhuasca experience and the insights that flowed. I took Ay four nights in a row last November here in the UK with two shaman from Norway and it was certainly the most challenging few days of my life! After that I saw your Sacred Science movie with Roman and really identified with it. I was a Nurse and little true healing takes place in a hospital! I’d love to do it again soon. Love following you work.
    Regards, Sarah

  138. Sam says:

    Thank you for sharing

  139. Maria says:

    Very interesting. I have read other experiences and your advise is great. I however would not be able to try/partake I can’t even do pot. I black out and throw-up and sick for a few days. tried 4 different times and all the same. I pop in and out of existence. I would love to try it but no go for me, enjoyed your blog

  140. Mel says:

    That’s really great Nick. The pendulum has long been a visual aid for me to remember to temper my emotions. I’ve been a seeker for years and finally found a practice that answered all my questions and without chemicals. I practice Falun Gong or Falun Dafa. It’s helped me advance in ways I never could have imagined. Just another thing for you to explore. Thanks for sharing!

  141. Chris says:

    Thank you

  142. Mary Fenlon says:

    Thanks so much Nick. Is your right foot healed now?

  143. Jane says:

    thank you, I know this is a pure and true approach and appreciate having it framed so clearly, my body mind or something has been trying to teach me this for a long while with uncomfortable energy surges when I stray (often!) so thanks again

  144. Linda Penn says:

    Thank you!

  145. grace says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey, wonderfully exciting!

  146. Jon says:

    I will keep those three tips in mind as I approach my first experience with this medicine. Thanks!

  147. Salim razavi says:

    i have purchased some ayahuasca through the web and intense to try it alone. Any advice?

  148. Lykke says:

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful story. The last year I’ve been going through a rough phase which now seems to guide me to a new balance. I guess the herbs put you through fear and angst in a shorter time. I don’ t know if I prefer the long or the short road, but to everyone who has a tough time: the body and the spirit will eventually work it out. Our thoughts are the troublemakers. Namaste.

  149. Caroline Freedman says:

    Thank you for sharing 🙂 I really enjoy your posts. My first experience of the sacred vine was very psychedelic so I can tell which art is inspired by the vine. As a yoga teacher and meditator my experience was perhaps easier I that I knew to breathe through my heart chakra to get out of the mind space and surrender and had a deep experience of the essence of truth and beauty that resides within us all as the higher self or soul…. I will do it again when the time is right.
    Love and Light

  150. Teresa says:

    Dear Nick,
    Thank you very much for sharing your experience!
    I wanted to read about one and from what I can grasp is that Ayaguashca is an halucinogen plant!
    I would like to have an experience but without the help of any drug/plant. I had had in the past wonderful experiences with the Spirit world and I try to keep my physical body pure, eating the proper foods, etc.
    Thanks again!

  151. Teresa says:

    Just trying to see why my posting was not included!

  152. January Handl says:

    Thank you for this article and your rich experiences. I saved it in my inbox for awhile because I have curiosity around using sacred medicine for healing. I appreciate you teasing out the points we can carry without direct experience.

    I also want to carry away the idea that particular words (for me LOVE is certainly the most available as is Thank you) can act as an anchor, without stopping what is being offered from coming into consciousness.

  153. susan says:

    Thanks Nick your a star.

  154. Lorraine says:

    Wonderful story thanks for sharing. I am very much interested in and I was concerned Mon I am very much interested in an ayahuasca ceremony. Was planning to go to through November but our Canadian dollar stinks. Do you know of any ceremonies in Canada?

    • Lorraine says:

      I am so sorry talk to text sometimes gets away from me! Looking for an Ayahuasca ceremony in Canada.
      Thanks
      Lorraine

  155. monica says:

    I have completed the Core Shamonic training with all its inclusions and I intend to pursue the Shamonic experience. I would like to have the Ayahuasca esperience as I feel I will be able to receive its true benefits. How can this desire become a reality?

  156. Darryl says:

    Hi Nick, thanks for the info that you put out there. A comment on the aya experiance. The ayahuascaro that I have worked with would not have had people in such close quarters. You should not touch anyone other than the ayahuascaro when working with aya. You may very well end up with someone elses ” hoocha “. Ayahuasca should not be taken outside the jungle except in rare occasions. The energy of the jungle is also part of the whole experiance. Also, the chances of getting an ayahuascaro who actually knows what they are doing is getting slimmer. It has been said that only 1 in 20 are who they say they are.I would agree with that number. It has become a money thing. Many are becoming damaged or dying when working with ayahuasca because of the ” money thing “.Be careful out there, take a really close look at why you want to work with her, and do the homework before you jump into it. She can kick your backside like no other.

  157. Jan says:

    Thank you. Learning Not to attach is my challenge.

  158. connie jo says:

    thank you. I have the same difficulties re: the sadness of the cruelity and distruction etc of the planet and other lifeforms on it. I think that there are two causes: one is human overpopulation. and two is that I believe this world shows us what is happening on the spiritual level.
    Please excuse probable misspelling etc …this is showing me my typing way too light for me to read.

  159. monica says:

    Very informative narrative on behalf of Ayahuasca. I intend to take that step out into the Cosmos one day when I can locate such a structured, purposeful gathering. not because of the curiosity onlu but also for my personal enlightenment. Wish I were there with yu,, Nick. I am now in Guyana, South America and hope to be in the US ;ate October _ November. How can I be informed of such an opportunity? Please keep me informed.

  160. Paula Youmell says:

    Nick, thank you so much for sharing this. I have been very curious about ayahuasca and interested in trying as it melds with my work in this world. Your information is the best I have read thus far and I have read & researched with local shamanic practitioners, etc.

    Thanks for these blog posts and the online classes. As an herbalist and natural healer it was fun to hear perspectives from other traditions about plants I am so familiar with.

    Blessings to you as you do your work in this world.

  161. na says:

    Dilettantes looking for a quick fix who think getting high=enlightenment. Culture vultures.

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