Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A little poetry...

Medicine Dance

Wild mind
Sweating body
Cleanse on a cellular level
Still the mind and
Vibrate the body
Dance from the inside out and
Break the moulds
Break the splints
The restraints
The masks that
Keep you captive
Unwilling to look into
The eyes of another
Fear of reflection
Fear of and longing for
The same thing

Cradled like a baby
Growing, expanding
Connected, communicating
Shower of vibrations
Scanning, reading, seeing
All I have ever been
All I could ever be
Already inside of me
Surrounding me
Warm womb
Infinite, everlasting

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Lessons on release and surrender

I have decided to write a short blog post on the most profound lesson I have learned while being in Peru. For one reason or another, I have been taught this lesson over and over again these past two months. I find it amazingly profound and frustratingly simple and it is: No matter what I am struggling with or what my current "issue" is, no matter what question I am asking the Universal powers that be, the answer is always the same: Get out of your own way, Bethany and surrender!

Not sure what path to take? Frustrated? Angry? Things not going "right" or "as planned"? Lost? Insecure? No worries.... Just get out of your own way and surrender! Now, I know just as well as everyone else that just because something is simple doesn't mean that it is easy.....oh heck no! But this, like most things, become easier with practice.

Trapped in your head? Thoughts running amok down a frighteningly familiar and disastrous path? Emotions consuming you? Banging your head against a wall? Crawling out of your skin?  EXCELLENT! Well done, friend! You have reached a point of change and growth! :) You are being given a most excellent opportunity to release those old thoughts/patterns/emotions that are no longer serving you. They are arising because they are ready to be released. A lesson is ready to be learned, a transformation is ready to be made! Get out of your own way by taking a few deep breaths, relaxing, and coming to your center. Then surrender by releasing your attachment to whatever it is that was consuming you. Thank it for being there, for teaching you the lesson, and for releasing. I find it is easiest to receive this lesson when I am in a quiet space, preferably in nature. While at the Temple, I learned a tool to aid in this process of release called Ho o'pono pono (some people may know it as zero limits). Now, I in no way claim to be an expert on Ho o'pono pono. It was taught to me in a 1.5 hour class at the Temple but I can say that I have used it MANY time since then and it friggin works! So, even though this blog has taken a different course than I originally thought and probably stopped being "short" a couple of paragraphs ago, I would like to share this tool with you :)

Ho o'pono pono has 4 basic steps. I have added a 5th that I find helpful and the facilitator that taught it to me also added a step so I guess my version has 6 basic steps :) But first, the setup: Once you become aware of the issue at hand find some time where you can be alone, preferably in nature. Get comfortable and try to connect with the thought/emotion/pattern. I believe that they are their own entity with their own energy so instead of getting lost in it again try to just see it as its own being. Often, I like to ask why it is here.....does it have something to teach me? Sometimes it does, sometimes it is just ready to be released. Sit for as long as you feel you need to to get an answer or lesson and then proceed to the steps. If nothing comes simply proceed to the steps. The steps are actually a conversation (don't worry, you don't have to speak it aloud...in your mind is fine haha).
1) I love you: This might feel weird but this step is about more than love, it is about recognition and acknowledgement. In this step you are recognizing and acknowledging its existence and loving it for being there.
2) I'm sorry: There may be something or someone you feel you owe an apology to but not always. For me, this step is often apologizing to the thought/feeling/behavior for holding onto it and imprisoning it for so long....in other words, for my attachment to it.
3) Please forgive me: For what you apologized for in step #2
4) Thank you: For the lessons it taught you, for being with you and serving you when you needed it (because some part of you did) and also for coming to your awareness to let you know that it is no longer serving you and is ready to be released.
5) I now set you free: This is the step that I added. I personally believe that permission is powerful so I give the thought/emotion/pattern my permission to be free. It shows intent and is something that I feel is important.
6) Have no expectation to the outcome whatsoever: This is the step the facilitator who taught me added and I agree with him. When you set it free, really set it free. Free to stay or go. Free. No expectations or attachments.

Then get up and go about your day. I have found that about 9 times out of 10 the thought/emotion/pattern releases immediately. Seriously! I have also found that if it does not choose to release that it is still there for a reason. Usually I still have something to learn from it so I go through the steps again. This time I pay special attention to the prep time and really give myself space to learn why it has come to my awareness. There was one time when I had to do it 3 times. Each time there was a different lesson. Triple score!!! :)

Remember: Everything is happening FOR you, not TO you.

Cheers ya'll and happy Ho o'pono ponoing :)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Integration and living like a local

Well, friends, I am back in the city after two more plant dietas. I greeted the city with equal parts exhaustion and excitement! After two months of medicine work I was in need of a break...a real break that lasts longer than a couple of days. I was feeling squeaky clean, centered, and grounded but also depleted. I needed rest...and food! I also felt that I needed some down time to integrate all of the work that had been done. I could feel it circling over my head in a holding pattern just waiting for me to settle down and be still long enough for it to land. Well, even though I new this, I didn't give myself the gift of being still. I had friends, old and new, who were in the city for the week and I was so excited to connect, chat, and eat and so that is what I did (I also rested but not enough). Well, by the end of the week I felt ill. So, back to Tess's I went and she cleaned all of the toxic city stuff out that I had accumulated that week and it became so clear to me that I needed to take this integration period more seriously. What to do? Only two things were clear: 1) I was not ready to go back to the medicine 2) I was not ready to go back home.  I knew I needed more integration time but how much? So I sat with myself for a bit and what came to me is that the hotel/restaurant lifestyle was not working for the integration and also, it was getting expensive! It was time to live like a local and do normal, local people things. I needed to stop living out of my suitcase and start making smoothies. So, I looked for an apartment and found one that met my needs. I have a clean room, a small kitchen, A/C, Wi-Fi and a bistro table outside by the gardens. I have keys to my very own space! What a gift! My very own sanctuary in this crazy city :)

I am excited to see what this month brings and how the medicine work will integrate. I never thought I would find myself renting an apartment here but this is what has unfolded so I am rolling with it. Next stop: Who knows? I am currently in a space of infinite possibility! <3

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.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Let the Purge begin!

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this yet but the sacred plant medicine Ayahuasca is a purgative! In layman's terms it is drain-o for the body, mind, and spirit. It unclogs physical, mental, emotional, and energetic blockages and allows toxins and anything that needs to be released the freedom to release. I have read that Mother Ayahuasca starts to work on you and with you from the moment you set your intention to work with her and before you ever drink the brew. Also, that things become more intense the closer you get to her. Well, all I can say is I find all of that to be true! I have felt her guiding me from the beginning and I have already released and grown so much just in the past 6 months! But she has stepped up her game... especially this last week and I have been feeling the Purge! It has not been pretty but I'm still here :)

Though physical 'purging' is common during the Ayahuasca ceremonies, my 'purging' thus far has mostly been the releasing of old thought patterns, old "stories", old habits, and other "old stuff" that did serve a purpose at one point in my life but is no longer serving my highest and most authentic self.  I have generally been on a "purging" path for many years now because I have been on a path to find my true and most authentic self. What I have learned in the process is that I don't need to "find" myself--I am already here--I need to uncover myself. It's about shedding the layers of things that are not authentic so that my true self that has always been at the core can be seen and known. It is often described as peeling an onion :)  This has been a slow and gradual process of releasing toxic jobs, relationships, patterns, and habits from my life and nurturing healthy ones. I am at this very wonderful point in my life where my relationships are healthy and happy, I am grounded and connected to the Divine, and I have worked through a lot of my "stuff" in this chapter of my life (trust me I know this is a life long process). I think the reason that this last week has been so hard is that I am really down to the 'nitty-gritty' now. I'm being asked to release my attachment to things that I am REALLY attached to. Things that are like my security blanket...and have been for quite some time. Things that, when taken away, force me to a point where my 'humanity' is not comfortable. At all. It is uncomfortable in a way that is hard to describe. It feels like dying. Perhaps that sounds dramatic but it's not far from the truth. In truth, parts of me are dying. They are being released and I'm pretty sure I've had some of these patterns for many lifetimes so the pain and the fear is intense and deep. There are surface level things and there are core level things and I have hit the core level! The really scary thing is that I know this is just the beginning of this level and once I get to Peru in a month (Yes, seriously it's only a month away! yikes!) I will be offered the opportunity to dive in even deeper and I pray every day for the courage to do so.

You might be wondering why I haven't exchanged my ticket for a nice relaxing vacation to Hawaii. People have said to me 'wow... this seems like a lot of work...and not the fun kind. Why are you doing this again?'  Well, you are right. It will be a lot of work and 'fun' is a relative term and not the reason I am going. I am going because I am being led there by my heart and I know with every fiber in my being that this is what I am meant to do. Right now my ego is scared and freaking out from all of this change and release but my heart is strong, steady, and unafraid. So I am trusting my heart and following it because experience has taught me that my heart knows what is best for me. I know that who I truly am can never be lost or released so all of this purging is really shedding layers that are covering my true self. I also trust in the knowledge that everything....every single experience...is happening for me not to me. So, because I know and trust this, I know that on the other side of this purge is a more authentic me. Cheers to that!!!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Dedication, commitment, and being two feet in!

When Ayahuasca first started coming to me I quickly felt a few things very strongly. 1) This is the next step in your journey, pay attention! 2) You have a lot of work to do to prepare. 3) You need to be dedicated to following you heart on a whole new level. Two feet in baby!  I didn't really realize that I wasn't "two feet in" to a spirit driven life until this came up for me but that voice inside of me was right. I was living in the proverbial spiritual closet, if you will. I really only shared this side of myself with a few people who I knew wouldn't call me crazy and try to commit me. I knew that it was time for that to change.

I quickly had the opportunity to put myself out there (don't you just love how that happens?? ;)  As I have mentioned before, I needed money and the first thing that came to me was to create a fundraising site and send it to anyone and everyone I knew and then some. That was challenging and uncomfortable and, because I'm telling people that I am going to work with sacred plant medicines in Peru and not that I'm going to...I don't know...save kittens, people asked me a lot of questions that were hard for me to answer. They were hard because they were personal...and I felt vulnerable...but also because a huge part of living life this way is having faith instead of answers. I still don't know why exactly I am going...I just know that I need to go. That is enough for me but I find it is hard for people to wrap their heads around. However, I have been greeted with kindness, openness and support from everyone I have spoken with about my journey. I am so grateful for that!

The request for dedication didn't stop there though....

As I said before, I felt that I had a lot of work to do to prepare and it wasn't long before that started coming to me. It began with the book "The Presence Process" by Michael Brown. I was in the library one day just browsing for a new book to read and The Presence Process jumped out at me. As it turns out, it is a 10 week guided process to teach present moment awareness. I knew this was something I needed to do so I committed to completing the full process (which I did). I learned a lot about being present, I worked through and released more 'stuff', and I realized the importance of having a daily meditation practice. I started to become more grounded, more centered, and....well, more present. I was more "in my body" which is a new concept for me as this is not my natural state. Being in the body more reminded me of what I had learned about my body during my spiritual retreat in Vermont. I learned how much what I put in and on my body effected me. Every part of me. I learned that so many things that were troubling me were connected to the food and drink that I consumed--aches, pains, fatigue, brain fog, congestion, depression, excess weight, and spiritual disconnect. I had been eating a "healthy" diet (according to dietitians) but it was not a healthy diet for my body. So, starting this January I committed to eliminating the three big no-no's for me (flour/gluten, dairy, and sugar) and since then I have been going through a process of learning from my body, retraining my brain and fine tuning my diet. It has not been easy! Sugar has definitely been the hardest for me. Also, I feel like my body wants me to (again) be two feet in with this diet and follow it to the letter 100% of the time. That is not easy! Not only is it very challenging but it also feels a bit...unbalanced. Perhaps that is an excuse I'm using to cling to old habits. When I am strict on my diet (and I have been about 95+% of the time) I feel amazing! My bothersome symptoms go away, my body releases excess weight, and I have clarity and motivation.When I stray even slightly...whether it is knowingly (hello Trader Joe's GF waffles!) or unknowingly (like preservatives that I am sensitive to that I didn't know accompanied the salad I ordered) I feel sluggish, foggy, and yucky.

It's not easy! I didn't have cake on my birthday this year! I'm human so I get off track and stumble at times but the important thing is that I remain kind and compassionate to myself and hold on to the bigger picture and what is important to me. It's more important to be kind to myself and my body and to do my best to love myself exactly as I am than to stick to a "diet" 100% of the time no matter what. The body is amazing and forgiving and (I'm learning) my friend, not my enemy.

So this is where I am at right now.....which is great since, in the present moment, it's the only place I can be ;)