Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Chapter 2: Tess and Tabacco

So, many of you know that I felt guided to stay in Iquitos for 10 extra days (I thought) for rest and a peaceful place to decompress and integrate the work done at the temple. I didn't want to stay in the city but I wanted to be near the jungle and when I found Tess's house on AirBNB I immediately knew this was the place for me. I had no idea at the time just how right I was! As it turns out, Tess is a very talented Tabacchera (A painfully simple definition is someone who works with the master plant Tabacco which is very different than the tobacco that is used in western cigarettes) among many, many other things. She didn't readily advertise this and I got the impression that most people who found her through AirBNB would leave her house having had a lovely experience but not knowing about her work with the medicine. I admired her humbleness and appreciated her profound sense of integrity. In fact, I am pretty sure she only told me all that she did because she already knew that I was there to work with the medicine she had to offer. By the end of the first night I was asking her for a diagnostic. No harm in that, right? It just tells her what, if anything, she has to offer that will help me on my path. I felt plant medicine work, food as medicine classes, and relax and go home in 10 days were all equally possible outcomes of the diagnostic. What I didn't expect was what she actually said. One word: Tabacco. Tabacco?? Really?? I have heard stories of people dieting Tabacco. It didn't sound like a fun time. 'Are you sure I am ready for that?' I asked her. It is super powerful medicine. 'Yes', she said. 'You are strong enough. Many are not but you have a strong constitution.'  Well, OK then. Everything in me felt that I could trust her and knew that I had come to be her patient and her student. I suddenly knew that I was not finished with medicine work.....oh, no...I was just beginning. I decided right there and then that I would stay and learn as much as I could from her and the medicine. I mean, I had come all this way ;)  When she asked me if I had any questions I only had one: "When do we start?"

So, a plant diet or 'dieta' is when you work with a specific plant for a continuous amount of time that varries based on the plant and the person dieting. I know that in the west we associate diets with food restrictions and that is certainly a part of plant dietas but not for the purpose of losing weight. Again, what you eat during dieta depends on the plant and the person. Perhaps you are beginning to notice that it is a very individual process and experience. Well, of course it is. Everyone is different and needs different things :)  I got a lot of fruit juices (well I guess more like smoothies because they were made with a blender not a juicer). They were super yummy! There are also restrictions before and after the diet that are very important and vary slightly based on the person and plant but generally include the restriction of pork, alcohol, drugs, salt, sex, excess oils, things of extreme temperatures (like ice and hot tea) and spicy food. But back to the medicine...
Each night Tess would prepare the medicine for me to drink (yes you drink tabacco) and after a short ceremony I drink it.  Then the medicine and Tess go to work. I would love to tell you about this process but I can't because I don't understand it! All I know is that it is amazing, healing work. Most of the work is done on an energetic level but there was a lot of physical stuff happening. Afterall, Tabacco is a stronger purgative than Ayahuasca. I have learned from Tess that tabacco is the master of all plants and it only works with the truth. It is strong and powerful and doesn't concern itself with the surface level of issues. It goes straight for the roots of the issue with a backhoe and rids you of anything that doesn't belong. Again, this is not something that can be described with words. So, the medicine did at least 80% of the work. My 20% was to drink, purge when and as often as necessary, and rest a lot with as little resistance and as much gratitude as possible. Simple, huh? Actually yes. Simple but very challenging. The end result after 7 nights of drinking medicine was a much lighter and more spacious me! (I know that I will become aware of  more work that was done as things integrate) I am referring to energy here. Haven't you ever had a really good cry or released the fury on someone or something and afterwards felt lighter.... like you released something yucky that was weighing you down. So, yeah......that times 1000. The way the medicine works (in my experience) is that it heals you not by giving you things to make you feel better or be more healthy but by removing and releasing the things that are stopping and blocking you from feeling and being your best. I have heard the fish bowl analogy used a few times so I will share that with you: So, when we are born we are like a fish in a nice, clean bowl of water. We are healthy because our environment that surrounds us is clean and healthy. As life goes on our water starts to become polluted. I am sure you can use your imagination to see how this might happen. Our world is full of negativity and fear. Some things we are conscious of but most things are happening on an energetic level that the vast majority of us are not aware of. However, just because we don't know how the water is getting polluted doesn't stop it from becoming that way. Before we know it, the water in our bowl is very dirty and we are sick. We are all aware of the vast number of ways sickness can manifest in our bodies and minds and the western way of dealing with these sicknesses is to treat the fish. Well, that doesn't work very well because the real cause of the sickness, the dirty water, is still there. What the medicine does is clean the water. It filters and removes all the dirty water so that you have a nice clean bowl of water and, once you have that, your body is perfectly capable of healing itself because the source of the probem and sickness is gone. Did that make any sense? I hope so but the wonderful thing about the medicine is that you don't have to understand it or even believe in it for it to work. The medicine works on the level of spirit. It has an incredible amount of intelligence and consciousness and, because it works on the spirit level, it is only there to help and never to harm. Now, this being said, there are some people that will do harmful things while claiming to work with the medicine. Just like anything else, it can be abused. But I am speaking of my experiences with the medicine being used with integrity and respect by someone who has permission to serve the medicine (Tess) and by someone who has been invited to drink it (Me).

So, that is it in a very simple nutshell. Afterwards I am free to leave Tess's house and venture to the city for post dieta approved food, Wi-Fi, and air conditioning!  Ya know, the luxuries of life ;)

Hola from Peru/ Chapter 1!

Hello again beautiful people! I truly did intend to be updating this blog more often--pinky promise! :)  I really don't even know where to begin to describe what has been happening in my life since I got on a plane in Sacramento, CA and landed in Iquitos, Peru. The description part is actually a huge part of the issue since the vast majority of the experiences I have had cannot be justly described by words that I have in my vocabulary!  I find myself torn because part of me wants to try very hard to recall and attempt to explain every single detail of this journey.....and another part of me wants to keep my experiences close to my heart, not cheapen them with words and simply write something like " It has been everything I dreamed of and SO much more. My life is forever changed. Thank you for your love and support" The end. haha  I have decided to try to find a middle ground....somewhere in the grey area of life that, for some reason, I often forget even exists eventhough I am pretty sure it is where most things in life do exist.

I have to tell you, friends, I feel pretty darn fantastic! Perhaps it's because, after nearly 2 months in the jungle, I got what is arguably the best pedicure of my life yesterday for less than $10 including tip!!  OR Perhaps it's because of all of the amazing plant medicines I have been working with ;)  As it turns out, Ayahuasca was just the starting point for me; an appetizer of sorts. As it turns out, I came to Peru for SO much more. But, I will start at the beginning......

Chapter 1: Ayahuasca
It didn't take long for me to meet fellow travelers on the road to Ayahuasca. The plane ride from Panama City to Iquitos was buzzing with talk of the magical, bitter brew. Just about everyone on the plane was heading into the Amazon Jungle to drink Ayahuasca for the first-or fiftieth-time. I knew that I was coming for (what I felt were) the "right" reasons but I quickly found that many people had very different intentions that me.  They were chasing the next new psychodelic "drug" (which Ayahuasca is not....in my opinion) so they could (pardon my french) trip their balls off. And, of course, there were plenty of snake oil salesmen (both literally and figuratively) willing to sell these gringos an experience they would never forget. Oh my goodness! What have I gone and gotten myself into now?! Breathe. Trust. Repeat.
I said a little prayer and the obnoxious guy sitting on the plane next to me was soon replaced by a gentle, yet troubled soul looking for healing and answers. He was going to the Temple of the Way of Light as well and would be in the 12 day program. We had a very nice conversation and he was the first of many amazing souls that I met and now call friends. Most of us Temple goers were staying at the same hotel so we easily met and bonded.
The next month while at the temple (why they call it that, I will never know....) was an amazing journey of growth, discovery, friendships, conversations, laughter, tears, and unforgetable experiences. I was 1 of 21 brave souls that came as strangers and left as family. The experiences are far too numerous to list so I will give a brief outline of what life was like for me this month. We were split into two groups for the Ayahuasca ceremonies. I was in group A with 9 others. The ceremonies started on day 2 and happened every 3rd day (so A,B,break,A,B,break). They took place in the evening after dark at 8pm. There was an optional yin yoga class prior to the ceremony which I enjoyed. When we were not in ceremony, our days looked like this: Morning yoga, breakfast, a morning class of some kind, 12pm flower baths, lunch, afternoon class, dinner (if you weren't in ceremony), meditation. Everything was optional and the classes had topics like self-inquiry, dance, singng, writing, orient yourself, the mother, the father, group share, and mantras. They were there to help us process the things that Ayahuasca was bringing to the surface and also to help us to expand our horizons and thought processes. I found them to be very helpful and I learned many skills and tools to work through things like triggers and to process and release patterns and thoughts that are no longer serving me but seem to be "stuck". Everything about the temple was exactly what I needed and was looking for...from the facilities and the food to the amazing shamans who guided us through our experiences with Ayahuasca. I am more than happy to speak about my personal experiences in more detail for those who are interested :)  I am super grateful to everyone who supported me in the process to make this healing month happen for me at the temple. My life is forever changed for the better.