The Wound is the Place Where the Light Enters You – Rumi
Ayahuasca Journal: 7 Days of “Surrendering To What Is”.
I attended Rythmia, with my husband Ken, from February 11 to 18, 2018. Below is my daily journal for the week and what I experienced first hand at this transformational retreat centre. I want to express to you all that as much as I am sharing the incredible things that happened, I’m also sharing the mind-blowing “scary” things that happened. This is so very important for growth. Without experiencing the darkness, you can’t move into the light and this is what happened for me. I moved into a knowingness that I will never be separate from again. I moved into the knowingness of self-love and a profound attachment to my soul and self-worth. I would never have come into it without ‘jumping into – darkness’.
Welcome to my journey.
We arrived at 2pm and we were given our room to settle in. We stopped at the restaurant (Roots) to get some delicious food and ‘watermelon and basil’ water as we had been travelling since 5am from Toronto. Tonight’s evening class was ‘transformational breath work”, from 5:30pm to 7pm. It got us primed and ready to go for Monday night’s first ayahuasca ceremony. This kind of breath work has the ability to give you the same kind of emotional cleansing experience as ayahuasca and I was blown away as to how I felt after doing it. This rapid breathing for 45 minutes enables you to have a transformation that I had no idea you could accomplish from breathing. We all utilize about 10% capacity of oxygen going through our bodies, and with this breath work, you bring in an additional 90% of oxygen into you, which heightens your mind’s awareness and takes you back to connecting with your soul. Here is the link to learning more about Breath Work.
For most of the day we were in classes. Dr. Joseph Mercola is here with us for the week, as the featured speaker! I love him! (Total fan-girling here! I have been a follower for over 15 years of him). We also had a workshop with Gerry Powell, the founder and owner of Rythmia, to learn more about our ceremony this evening.
Monday’s ayahuasca ceremony was borderline nausea hell for me. All of us (approximately 80 people) arrived for the ceremony at 5:30pm. We had to pick our mattress (and bucket) and we got settled in. We were introduced to our shaman, Scott. He explained our evening and how it would begin and end with the ceremonies and blessings and intentions. The room was dimly lit with candles and incense and smoke burning. We were called up to get in line and be given a cup of the magic brew. This was certainly a very intense evening for me. It was overwhelming with the intensity of the music and smoke (my first experience) and I felt resistance flow through me. I was learning to let go and surrender but for someone who is an epic control freak, I was having great difficulty. I felt toxic and dark. I felt held down/locked down on my mattress. There was, all of a sudden a twitching, out of control movement happening with my face. From the area of my cheekbone down to my jawbone – it began to heat up and get warm and move and twitch and be pushed around by another entity – it was not me. I felt fingers on my face. I lay there and kept asking myself if it was me. I then watched my thoughts and confirmed…. It was not me. I had no concept of time but it felt like it was for hours that this went on. This night, my visions were sacred geometry and bright purple encapsulating my mind. I felt very much out of control and as they say in ayahuasca, Mother Ayahuasca gives you exactly what you need.
At one point, all I could hear in the room was Ken throwing up again and again and again…I saw the shaman dramatically working on him with his arms in the air and the ceremonial tribal outfit on and waving his arms all around him. I could feel the nausea in the room and I lay there unable to lift an arm or my head. I’m not sure if I was absorbing his energy or not. When I looked up, I saw a conveyor belt of hundreds of people on it with suitcases being dragged behind them and the feeling of chaos. When the lights came back on and the music stopped, we were all called into the main room where the shaman’s altar was and discussed how we felt. I loved this part to hear how it went with everyone. I could feel myself softening with the shaman explaining how ayahuasca works and when we open to mother ayahuasca and surrender to the process, we all will get what we came for and merge with our soul. Some people slept through the whole ceremony, others experienced nausea, some experienced happy thoughts and others had a night full of visions of dark visions with sacred geometry – it is different for each of us. I was now tired and wanted my bed in our room. It was 2:30am and emotionally, I was ready to go.
The next day (Tuesday) I awoke confused, tired, yet positively committed and determined to make our way through this adventure and the next ceremony. Ken had purged for most of the Monday ceremony. For me I did dry heaves and nothing came up. I did my very best to just let go of any kind of thoughts and judgment of the previous night.
We had a group meeting in the morning with Gerry today (Tuesday) and he gave us all a pep talk as to what we experienced the night before and what to expect for tonight. His words of wisdom when feeling nausea was to say to Mother Ayahuasca, “Thank God this is leaving me”. Blessing each of our experiences is so important with ayahuasca.
We then moved into Tuesday ceremony and the energy tonight was light and kind (for me). Brad, the Shaman, created a whole new vibe for this evening and all I felt was love and warmth and gentleness. It was deeply loving and intoxicating trippy. Does this make sense? I was nestled on my mattress and lay there and felt so much love. I flew around and saw the world in all of its beauty and with gratitude.
With ayahuasca, everyone has unique experiences. It is so important not to compare one’s medicine journey with another. All of our souls and life experiences are so unique it is impossible to get the same effect as others. For some, Tuesday night was hell and Monday night they slept through the whole thing (I couldn’t believe that). Others may throw up or yawn or cough or do dry heaves, or cry or yell out…. we all have incredibly different purging experiences and these purges release energetic pain that has been stored in our cells and dark corners of our bodies.
Ayahuasca goes back to our soul lineage
As the shaman, Brad, said in our closing ceremony, “we need to be best friends first with ourselves. We need to learn to love ourselves all over again. Ayahuasca goes back to our soul lineage – whether we are born from water, the stars, the tree, the flower, or maybe the wolf…. there is accumulated pain that needs to be corrected and to become pain free. That is the very essence of living a pure, blissed out life.”
I was ready to go to ceremony #3 on Wednesday evening.
Wednesday night was the female Shaman ceremony and I was looking forward to working with their divine feminine energy.
All I can say is, “HOLY F.U.C.K.” – This is the night I got my ass kicked and funny enough, it was the night I looked forward to the most. This was judgment day or maybe judgment detox day. I’m not sure! Any way you slice it, I saw exactly what I needed to see. I tried to take her (mother ayahuasca) on and control this trip and was doing my best to get a handle on these thoughts that permeated my psyche. IMPOSSIBLE! It was an onslaught of visions and nausea. I tried to control my thoughts and lead the way (of course) and Mother Ayahuasca did not have that in store for me. She kicked my ass so hard that by 3am, when everyone else had left, I was the last person lying in there and Ken had to lend his shoulder to me and carry me out to our room.
At the opening ceremony, the 3 female shamans, called us to their special altar. I took my cup from Abby, who was the lead shaman. The lights were low, the candles were lit, and the soft music was playing. I made my way back to my mattress, plumped up my pillow, and covered myself with my blanket. I was good to go.
About 25 minutes later it all began to unfold…the tossing, the turning, the nausea
During the course of the night, I was deeply immersed in a twisted helix of my life. It appeared I was in my DNA. It was so dark, with shadows and twisted narrow hallways and streets and abstract room after room (after room after room after room). Each with a new surprise of my past from my father, to men I had been ‘involved’ with, to dark orgy type settings, to utter sadness, loneliness and emptiness, and the feeling of loss and desolation. I saw Ken morphing and fusing with previous girlfriends and walking away from me with other women. I was with my dad and I was about 5 years old and he grabbed my arm telling me to not cry, “Stop crying!” I felt so scared and alone. The psychedelics moved me to a hyper-nauseous state. Every corner had skulls and crossbones and darkness. I felt the utter emptiness without my daughter and the suffering from her childhood (when I left her father). I re-lived my sexual assault and saw the face and felt the energy of the perpetrator with dark, devil eyes glaring at me. All of it was shown to me. Unearthed and a release of what had been cleverly stored for over 54 years. It (the medicine) was relentless.
This went on for hours and it didn’t matter if my eyes were open or closed, the story line continued through dark stairwells and laneways and rooms that seemed to appear to be interwoven within cells. The only peace was when the shamans sat with stillness and the music stopped (I discovered first hand the correlation between the shamanic music and the nausea. When the grindy music started my hands automatically gripped my blanket knowing another round was about to start). At the end of it all, I ended up in a tiny open, wire-meshed, paper trashcan. I was crumpled in a ball. I panned around a dark room and moved past the intense glare of a man and I could see a small version of me as I peered into the trash basket. That was where I was left. I quietly cried feeling the intense pain of lack of self-love and no value. I was ‘worthless’ and had no value – thrown in the garbage.
I suddenly came to when I heard the screams and cries and moans of a woman who was releasing her past. She was about 10 beds away from me. It was very unnerving – but supposedly, quite ‘ordinary’ in these ceremonies. I lay there and as the dim lit room was spinning, I could not see too clearly. I saw through the smoky candlelight to the silhouette of the shamans that were holding her and fanning her to move the energy out of her. At times the voice yelling was a very high-pitched screech and female, and other times, it was distorted and very masculine (not kidding). It screamed out in Latin, English and other different languages. It was fucked up (I’m sorry I have to swear. I only bared witness to this before in horror movies) I’m being as honest as possible. If you have ever watched The Exorcist, with Linda Blair, this was that scene I was witnessing and it appeared it was never ending – I was scared and frightened not able to walk due to the medicine, yet at the same time, I felt warm and safe on my mattress. I rolled onto my one side to see this lovely older woman beside me, on her mattress, with a smile on her face. We both were kindred spirits there. She was frightened too but we knowingly had each other. I then rolled to my other side and there was Ken. It wasn’t like he was going to be able to save me or anything. I told him I was scared. He said, “This is not fake Kelly, this is real”. Huh? I knew that! He was so high; he had no concept of what I was saying. I too had no idea what he was saying! He looked up at me and his eyes were black. I said to myself “OMG. I can’t get up and leave. Everyone, including Ken is now on the dark side too! I am going to close my eyes and when I wake up it will be all over. Right?”
Ayahuasca says…”Stop thinking! Relax. Surrender”
The sacred space within our ceremony platform is there to make us feel safe and secure and to allow us to dig deep into our shadows and extract what is needed to remove and to re-connect and merge with our souls once again. I’d like to call it an energetic clearing or merging of sorts.
When the woman finally settled into quiet, the music started again and the three shamans and their assistants danced in the candlelight up and down the centre of the room, moving the energy with them. Right on cue, the nausea and my dark journey kicked up again. It was relentless. I think I lost 10 pounds in sweat – I was soaked.
At some point, the ceremony ended (I think it would have been about 3am as we got into our room at 4am), the lights got turned up a bit brighter and all 70 of us moved from our mattresses and congregated with the 3 shaman at the altar by sitting on the floor with the candles and crystals. The altar happened to be across from where my mattress was located so I didn’t have to get up. Who am I kidding? I couldn’t get up! I tried and fell backwards into the wall. I found it remarkable that most everyone was able to walk with ease and float past me while I was curled up on my mattress with the blanket wrapped around my body and head. I was still so high on psychedelics and the room was spinning out of control. The ceiling fans all had devilish faces on them as they were looking down on me and I could literally turn the ceiling fans on and off by just looking at them. “Stop!” I’d say, and the fans froze. This was the ayahuasca reminding me who running the party and she was in my head.
Upon reflection and in deep gratitude, the medicine kept reminding me to stop the control and that her power was much greater than mine. This was the Universal power of all. I needed to SURRENDER and open to this special night.
I wiggled my body and made my way to the edge of the mattress now. This mattress was a whole 6 inches high and I was afraid to fall off! One of the volunteers that work at Rythmia, her name is Raven, came over to me and softly took my hand. She looked into my eyes, and felt me and these were her gentle words she whispered in my ear: “Let go into trust and gratitude. This will heal you. Trust yourself – you know the way.”
As I was the last to get off my mattress and everyone was cleaning up around me, it was now time to go back to our room and sleep this off – Ken, with my arms draped around his shoulders, dragged me out and we bumped our way out into the darkness and under the bright sky of perfect stars to our awaited chariot – a golf cart – to take us back to our room. Our room was about 50’ away and there was no way I could walk and put one foot in front of the other.
It was a night I will never forget. What I have most marveled at is that, through it all, I still felt so centred and calm and light. I felt empowered to have made it so far. It was powerful yet unnerving. Through all the emotional baggage being tossed my way and the exhausting psychedelic craziness – It was a very dreamlike experience for me. I opened up, I jumped in and I DID IT!
Thursday – a tough day
God, what happened last night? I awoke at 7am Thursday (yes, we had about 3 hours sleep). As I’m sitting here on Day 4, I can’t help but feel the trepidation of moving forward tonight. I’m confused, scared, and fearful. I can feel these heightened feelings with every breath I take and as we move closer to 7:30pm and the start of the final ceremony. There were a few others that feel like me walking around the property and supposedly, this is normal. We had another plant medicine integration class with Gerry and he encouraged us to maintain forward motion with our positive intentions and mantras. I am, however, in terror mode. I’m also still high from Wednesday’s ceremony and they say that can happen to some people too. Again, we all get unique affects from this plant medicine. There is an acute intelligence that underlies everything in this medicine. An intelligence that comes from the one source of love that connects us all. This is the continual thread through all of us to surrender into knowing we will be protected and given what we need.
Gerry kept telling us that when it ‘gets hard and scary’ is when you need to move through it and stay the course and I was telling myself his words over and over again. What was playing over top of his words however, was my heart, my own GPS guidance that said, “Kelly, it is okay to not go. You are free to make your own choices. It is time to love yourself in the quiet of this evening. You’ve done great! Don’t beat yourself up!” Was this my ego? Was this my heart? I called Erinn back in Canada as I was beating myself up with guilt to not attend the 4th ceremony and she was so lovely. She said, “Mom – you got this. Trust your own voice. You’ve done 3 ceremonies! How amazing is that?! Stay in your room and chill out if you feel that serves you. Enjoy your alone time”. I agreed. I thanked her and God for giving me such a gift in her.
I did just that. I stayed in and I immersed myself with my journal and explored my life and my feelings. It was so therapeutic and centred me in gratitude for this journey I am on.
Ken went without me to the ceremony and had a heck of a time.
I slept a solid 8 hours and when I awoke at 5:30am on Friday morning, I felt AMAZING! Ken was not back yet. He was still in his ayahuasca adventure for a few more hours (you can read about it here) and was not done until about 9am. I felt relaxed, bright and refreshed at 5:30am and also, I’d say the ayahuasa was almost completely out of me. Planet Earth had stopped spinning for the most part – but I still could not steadily hold a pen nor could I type on my iPad – lol. I made it to the Rythmia gym and did a light workout and got a fresh pressed green juice. I did a Facebook video for all to see back home – I felt on fire and connected to the world with a relaxed glow, to be honest, and I felt like my mind was wide open to receive my day.
When I finally saw Ken he shared his experience from the whole night. Wowza! He had a big night. It was really quite extraordinary for him by receiving downloads and healing blessings from the shaman.
The two of us decided this was a chill out day and we sat by the pool and enjoyed the day reflecting on all we experienced. It has been an incredible few days. There is so much to reflect on, I am still downloading what is coming to me. They say it takes about 14 days after ayahuasca to receive all of your transformational gifts from these ceremonies and it is stressed how important it is to honour your soul and yourself over this period of time and surrender into openness.
Tonight was another transformational breath work class from 5:30pm to 7pm and there was a very big turn out for this. I’d say almost 80 people. I didn’t feel too dialed in to be honest as we had to sit so far from the centre of the room and it was under an AC unit – it was distracting. I think a smaller class – maybe half the size would have been beneficial for me to get more assistance with ‘one on one’ help. We started with the breathing for 45 minutes and many people were affected by the end of this time period. You could hear weeping and yawning (purging of energy) happening all around us. This is what happens – the release of emotional baggage that brings you back to your core of self-love.
This morning was our final Integration class with Gerry and the coaching we all needed to THRIVE in the outside world once we leave Rythmia on Sunday (tomorrow). We learned how to allow ourselves the time and space to stay connected to what we have learned over these past 6 days, as it can be easy to walk back into the same life we had before.
Thank you Gerry as I’ve realized that we were all born into a “Garden of a Planet”. Gerry conveyed this story to us of gratitude of living in this garden and once we open our eyes and keep them open to ‘what is’, our happiness factor stays in place. He said, “Look at this garden of this planet we were born into. Stay with that truth. We are in “the Garden”. Know that we were born into the garden. Do I want to live or do I want to die? If you want to live then you better to start living this gift”.
Tonight was our final night at Rythmia and it was another evening of transformational breath work with a small group (about half of the number of people from the night before). This evening was very special for me. I found love for myself and I found love for everyone and I found love for the Universe in ways I never dreamt possible. I had visions of sacred geometry and even Jesus appeared with his hands extended towards me. He emerged from a purple centre with bright white light all around this image. I had tears of an overwhelming love simply stream from my eyes for over an hour. My face was soaked as the tears kept trickling out and cascade down my cheeks. I felt so intrinsically connected, “to be as one with everybody and everything”.
When I came to, I realized my arms were outstretched to the sides of me and my palms were up and open to all, I was holding a powerful space for the room. My palms were on fire. I rolled over and got up to leave – I felt like I was not walking. I was floating or hovering over the ground and that I was light as air. I hugged many people with a deep knowing of each and every one of them. We were one.
This was me the following morning and I know I even looked different. I looked in the mirror of the gym and said, “Whoa! Who is this?!” There is a bliss radiating from my eye and from my soul that I have never seen before.
I received many special gifts from Rythmia and I must say, the greatest one was to receive this infinite and eternal profound love for myself and for all sentient beings. It was gratitude and trust in MYSELF. It was as Raven, the light worker, had told me before.
They say that ayahuasca can plant the seeds of transformation, and over the course of these few days filled with life coaching and ayahuasca ceremonies – transformational breath work can then do the rest. This is what happened to me. The Wednesday night ayahuasca ceremony planted the seeds of seeing my lack of self-worth and showed me my little self, crumpled in a ball, in a trashcan. What a vision! Incredibly, that ceremony was required for me to feel such utter darkness. Only with darkness, can we absolutely then see our light. In that moment, of full surrender, can we experience the full gratitude of our very being. I experienced total bliss in that moment.
I’m honoured to be able to share this with all of you. I know I’ll be going back to Rythmia this year to tap into more extraordinary insights into living a life that is so full. In the meantime, I get to practice every moment of every day and TRUST that I will live in grace and cherish every moment.
If any of you are interested in attending Rythmia, please leave me a comment or email me as I now have ‘connections’ as alumni, to get you the best price and introduction possible. You won’t regret attending. So many people were transformed in miraculous ways – that simply left me in awe.
With so much love,