Updated: Aug 30, 2022
A journey to the self
Journeys come in all shapes and sizes. There have been many extraordinary journeys taken in the history of time. Journeys to the moon, to the North and the South poles, to the depths of the sea, to the peaks of the highest mountains, and to the furthest reaches of the globe. The type of journey I want to talk about is not dissimilar to these journeys. Journeys are often taken with excitement, trepidation, fear, and curiosity. The journey to the self is a combination of all of these things.
Approximately five years ago I was at my wits end with a situation where my daughter had experienced deep trauma, not just once, but twice and the psychologist was telling me that the only was medication i.e anti-anxiety medication or antidepressants. This put me into a massive tailspin as I had experienced medication of this sort myself in the past and although I understand there is a need for medication I believe it is a bandaid for what is actually being experienced. When we are depressed or anxious we are experiencing a reaction to a trauma. It may be a trauma we have suffered or a trauma that has been passed through our genes from a parent or grandparent, we call this experience phenomena ‘epigenetics’.
Regardless of how we experienced the trauma we know that unresolved trauma will either be present and reek havoc in our minds or and body, or lay dormant in the body/mind and when stressors of life become out of balance the trauma will present as anxiety or depression. I am not trying to oversimplify this process as a lot more happens in between, however, I believe there is not a single person on the planet whose true nature is not peace. It is our experiences that mold us into whom we see ourselves as and unfortunately, most of the time, this expression of ourselves is based purely on perception not reality.
A course in miracles states that “nothing real can be threatened. nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.” (2:1-14)
What they are actually saying is that the only thing that is real is our ‘soul’ and everything else that is created by perception, the mind and body are therefore unreal. The peace lies in connecting with the divine through the soul. Becoming simply aware of our connection to the soul will bring us closer to the divine, to that God-like state. Easier said than done right? We in the West have embraced mindfulness, meditation, spirituality, and yoga, etc. I have personally experienced a shift in awareness of soul energy through a combination of these modalities. I have witnessed many people change their lives in positive ways by committing time and energy to a dedicated meditation or yoga practice. At times the transformation has been profound and others a noticeable shift. However, what I have also witnessed is a continued state of underlying confusion and or struggle. My question is “Is struggle a normal part of existence, and if so why?” I accept that we are supposed to meet challenges on our life path and then learn from them. I accept that life is in a constant state of flux, mimicking nature. What I struggle with personally, is that people often appear to be slammed over and over again by these challenging moments, and they do not seem to have the resources to recover before life dishes up another powerful blow. Could it be that we are not prepared for the falls in life as we are hardwired from an early age to preference pleasure over pain, or is it more simplistic? Could it be that we are never in communion, past the age of say 2 years, with our soul energy, the divine. If we were, I believe we would see the difficult moments as lessons or opportunities for growth, learn from them, grow, reconnect with the divine and move on with a light heart and a positive outlook for the future. Each trauma be it big or small remains in the body or mind and as A.G Mohan states becomes a ‘latent impression’. My personal journey has been that these latent impressions can be shifted and resolved by simply shining the light of awareness on them, bringing them to the surface, and seeing them for what they are in reality, a manifestation of the mind. However, when the trauma has been too painful to shine the light of awareness on the body and or mind holds onto the trauma and pain resides.
So how do we connect with the divine? How do we allow ourselves the freedom of mind to look at our stuff with complete equanimity and move through a process towards complete and total union with our stuff so that pain no longer exists in relation to that trauma? Back track to the frustration of my experience of my daughter being unable to be freed from the cycle of pain, I started to look for other modalities to heal trauma. I spoke to a friend who heads a prestigious university psychiatrist department in Australia and he spoke to me about Ethnobotany, the study into the efficacy of traditional plant medicines experienced in other cultures such as indigenous Brazilian tribes, in particular Ayahusca. This was the very first time I had heard of the medicinal plant Ayahusca and certainly the first conversation that I had been introduced to the idea of plants as medicine for the mind. I had heard of magic mushrooms and cannabis but only ever in relation to partying and altered states of mind with the end game of having a good night out! Wow, I cannot believe how small my life had been and how unusual it was that I had not heard of this medicine (and others) before. I am an avid reader, researcher, curious, and intensely determined to find better ways to live a natural and healthy life. I was blown away by the world that I was now introduced to. I started reading and researching online about Ayahusca and its efficacy and all of a sudden conversations about plant medicine started to infuse my world. I started meeting people who had taken the drug and wanted to share their experiences with me. Articles were turning up on my computer randomly and it appeared, in some strange way that I did not understand at the time, that medicine was calling me. I kept the conversation to myself for some time as I had a rising feeling that this was the medicine that would be the ‘cure’ for my daughter and instinctively knew there would be resistance from her father, who by his nature was extremely conservative.
So I could arm myself with true knowledge I signed up for a course and learnt about the history of the medicine and continued to seek resources to help me better understand. By chance, an invitation to sit with a Sharman came to me and I went with my gut and booked my daughter and myself in for a weekend away. I then had to pluck up the courage to tell my husband. I am sure many would say that I should have consulted with him and it should have been a joint decision, however, I knew him well enough to know he would never give his approval. Naturally, when he found out he was distressed and made every argument for us to cancel. Fortuitously the day before we left there was a program on JJJ radio speaking about the medicine and its extraordinary benefits for people who had experienced trauma. We finally left for our first journey with the medicine with his total blessing.
The journey was huge, I will not speak to it here as there is not enough time or page space to do it justice. I will save that particular journey for another blog post, suffice to say that my daughter wasn't the only one that needed healing! I was faced with traumas that I thought I had well left to rest and her journey was long, traumatic at times, and frankly quite frightening for a mother to witness. The result however was not. We both left there different versions of ourselves than when we had arrived. Connected to nature, connected to the source, and more importantly connected to the divine. It was the first time other than in meditation I had felt connected to my true essence, although this time it was different. I felt I could recall the sense of connection even when I was in conversation with people or walking on the beach, or driving in the car. It was as if the true nature of myself was revealed and my ‘self’ was rediscovered, reset. My daughter no longer needed to see her psychologist, she felt healed.
Many things happened post the medicine, again for another blog post, but in 2018 a friend asked me if I would like to journey to the Amazon to experience the medicine with an indigenous tribe in North West Brazil. I was a little hesitant and then remembered that like before the medicine calls you when it is time. I asked my daughter if she would like to join me and she said yes, with trepidation but definitely no hesitation. In March we embarked on a journey to the Yawanawa tribe in Brazil. These extraordinary people live an authentic life relying on the Amazon jungle to provide them with food and medicine. In the West, many would judge these people as primitive in the way they live. I see them as our future. They live and breathe permaculture. They have minimal impact on the land and their environment and live in communities that are healthy, vibrant, and mentally well. They are loving, generous with their knowledge, and true custodians of the land. Their medicine is infused with the knowledge of their ancestors and a deep passion for wanting others to experience the peace and love they live with every day. This is true existence. This is true knowledge. Their education is received from the school of life and their ability to heal and treat modern-day illnesses with their ancient wisdom is our future. I place my hand on my heart with deep gratitude for all of the practices that preceded my journey to experiencing Ayahusca.
Of course, Ayahusca is not the only way to journey to the self. We can make extraordinary headway into getting closer to the source by breath work, lucid dreaming, hypnotherapy, meditation, transcendental mediation etc. In fact, these are all very well documented to have the potential to reveal the shadows and to help unblock where we are stuck. There is also a strong argument from the meditation world that plant medicines are a fast track and perhaps less authentic than other traditional methods such as meditation. To these people I would say firstly, find what works for you or even a better question how's that working out for you?”. Then gently point out that aesthetics and shamans have been using plant medicines since archaeologists can verify, so thousands of years. In India it is Bang, in Peru Watchuma, in Brazil Uni, in Australia Acacia tree (wattle) etc etc. I will say however in favour of other modalities, that understanding my breath, achieving deep states of meditation, sitting with my stuff, my shadows all certainly prepared me however none of them even have touched the deep connection I have made to my soul, to mother earth, nature and all living beings.
The journey to the soul is not one for the faint hearted, but it is a necessary one for us to learn and to evolve, to remember then to forget, to understand our true nature and to find forgiveness, real forgiveness and real peace. My wish is for every person who feels a disconnect to experience the bliss of the journey to the self, whether through plant medicine, meditation or transformational breathwork. That is my deep desire, that is my calling.
Next diving into the Brazilian Amazon to find some rare gems of truth………..