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Ayahuasca Assisted Therapy and the Integration Process

by Nina Izel

Heart Medicine
Balboa Amazon


The End of my world

“I didn’t know darkness like this existed before.

It is so dark that with my eyes open I cannot see my hand right before my eyes. It is pitch black. The blackness is all around me. It makes me feel uneasy. Memories of my childhood surface in my mind. Asking my parents not to close the door while I am sleeping, so if I wake up I can see the light coming through from the corridor. That’s how afraid I was of the dark when I was a child. And now here I am in the depth of the Amazonas jungle. Darkness surrounds me as I am sitting inside of a palapa, deep in the belly of the jungle and the shadows start to move around me.

Growing up in a city made me unfamiliar with lack of light. Here, there is no electricity, no manmade noise but the jungle is very alive. The sounds of nature penetrate deep into my body. This makes me feel even more creepy. I am nervous. I imagine a jaguar jumping through the door and devouring me. Or what if I sit on scorpio or a spider now that I can’t see anything. Oh my God. My mind is desperately trying to hold onto something familiar and orient in this black hole. But I feel my control is slipping away.

The taste of the medicine, the sacred Ayahuasca is still in my mouth. It taste like earth. What the heck I am doing here? A voice screams in my head: have you lost your mind? Are you crazy?

I voluntarily paid money and travelled across the world going deep into the untouched jungle, eight hours motor boat ride from the nearest village. There is no electricity, no running, clean water, no plumbing, no toilet, no showers. The bugs and insects are constantly biting me, sucking my blood and tearing into my skin. None of my repellents, lotions, potions help against them. The bites burn like hell and itch for a week, impossible to stop scratching. I bathe in the river that is the color of mud and a long way away from clean. I wash my clothes there too, although this is something futile as nothing dries here anyways. The humidity is so high that everything is constantly moist. My bed is always damp and my blanket soggy. The air never cools down. During the night I lay sweating in my bed, that is a piece of foam on a wooden frame and trying to understand what led me here.

Growing up in Europe with culture and comfort how did I ended up here? Am I insane?

I left everything behind. I burnt all bridges. Why did I do that? I had a nice life, other people would be happy to have all that. I should have been happy. Why did I want more, why wasn’t I happy?

I have no idea.

But I felt this strong pull in me, nagging me, calling me to follow. I have no idea where I am going. But I cannot not go. That’s why I am here. If this is insane, I truly must be crazy.

Nausea creeps up from my stomach. I feel like a snake is moving within me. I search for my bucket in the dark pulling it into my lap. I don’t want to be sick. Why am I doing this to myself?

Suddenly the silence breaks and somebody throws up. The nausea grows in my body, currents of saliva bitter in my mouth. Then I feel like a hand reaches deep down into the center of my being and my body convulses as I retch without control, my hair falling into my bucket and a foul smell in my nose. How gross. A couple of other waves wash over me and I surrender, loosing all the control. My insides twisted into a knot and I feel suspended there without breath for a moment and then everything lets go.

Relief washes over me as I lay down on my mat all power leaving me. I remember I should sit up and breathe but I am exhausted, there is no way I can move even a finger. I lay there in the darkness, in the silence, alone. My body feels strange. I am feeling each cell in my body infused with the medicine, buzzing, alive with energy. The jungle sounds coming from outside and resonate deep inside my being. Boundaries dissolve. I am scared. What is happening to me? I am dissolving away.

I am trying to hold onto some kind of ‘reality’ but it’s quickly slipping away and I feel pulled under by an invisible current sinking deep into the earth. The shaman starts to hum quietly. I follow the sound. He begins to sing gently. I feel the song within my body moving around. Like a thread guiding me, pulling me. I follow the song. It’s taking me on a journey I can’t resist. I am afraid, I am on unknown ground, unfamiliar territory. My mind desperately wants to understand and analyze what’s happening to me. What an impossible task! I laugh out loud.

The shaman Francisco finishes the song and silence drops again as I sink deeper into this strange world.

Waves of energy pull me down and I feel squeezed, pushed, pulled, turned upside down and inside out. I feel lost, I can’t orient myself, I am afraid of loosing my mind. Struggling to hold on to something familiar, something safe but there is nothing to hold onto and I feel fear growing rapidly in my heart.

I am pulsating, expanding and contracting over and over again. Feels like exploding from the inside out. Sometimes I feel I can take no more. Enough, I want to cry. My body is paralyzed with tension and fear. I hardly can move, I can hardly breathe.

Finally the waves start to recede and I feel more calm. My sweaty clothes start to dry, my muscles release, my breath slows down. I manage to open my eyes and there is light outside, dawn is coming. Wow I didn’t know how much time have passed. Everything feels different. Quiet, peaceful, serene. The shaman breaks the silence and starts to sing another prayer.

The last song flows right into my heart, it overwhelms me with its beauty and grace. I feel light, like lit up from the inside. I sit up easily and I feel joy rushing through my veins, everything is so beautiful.

The people start to gather around the altar in a circle and hold hands. I feel my heart and their hearts connected to all living things. I feel whole. I am overwhelmed with a sense of oneness. I understand that every moment is sacred. I am sacred.

Slowly we gather our things and return to our rooms to sleep. It’s dawning outside. I feel deeply at peace as I walk back to my bed. I close my eyes but my journey continues in a much softer way as I drift between dreams and awake. I want to think through my experience and remember to write things down but I am so tired, there is no way, all is good as it is I am thinking as I am falling into a deep sleep.”

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