Ayahuasca and Tobacco have been used as medicine by the Shamans in the jungles of the Amazon for many years. As a yoga teacher and fellow yogi I would like to share my experience and my journey in healing this year in Ecuador. Bob McConnell RYT 500hr co-owner of SOYA.
Swami Sivananda said “The paths are many but the Truth is One”. I believe that it may take a few paths to find the Truth, but as long as one path is a platform for the next path, we don’t fall back but we keep going forward to that one Truth, that inner light that is a part of us all.
Through all my yoga training I have had my share of struggles. I didn’t know why. With the Annual SOYA Retreat, the different workshops that Mugs and I have attended. My SOYA 200hr training, the 300hr at the Himalayan institute. I was totally immersed in the practices. I had a personal practice that I was proud of and shifted my sense of consciousness to a different level.
But something was still missing. I never felt completely comfortable in my yoga skin. I felt there was something more. Then we went to Haida Gwaii!
There was a remarkable shift in how we processed our day. Starting at Hazelton we learned to read and understand the totem poles. We began looking at every decision as a moment to pause and see where our intuition would take us.
It was a couple of months after that trip that I had a dream, a “vision”. Usually my dreams are very fragmented and hard to remember. This dream I still remember like it was yesterday. It was about me going to a Shaman for healing and using the plant medicine Ayahuasca. I knew that this was something I had to do. I knew a good friend who was taking part in ceremonies, so I gave him a ring to see if he could introduce me to his group after the winter.
But a funny thing happened. I was talking to a friend in my kitchen down in Mexico, and the first time I verbalized my dream to someone in Mexico a sequence of events unfolded that were unbelievable. After the conversation in my kitchen I went to my acupuncture appointment and out of the blue he asked me if I ever did Ayahuasca. I said no, but I was planning too. Then I came home and the phone rang and it was a friend saying that they are going to Ecuador in January to work with plant medicines, (Ayahuasca). Naturally I said “Where do I sign up?”
It was an amazing time. Being in Ecuador, the birds, the sounds and a beautiful beach to walk on every day. Antonio taking me out on a hike to see monkeys, more birds, dangerous snakes……that whole jungle thing. Along with great food and accommodations, this was a wonderful place to relax, let go and go inward.
Working with the plant medicines such as Ayahuasca and tobacco is work. It is like any practice in our yoga – the more effort you put into it, the more you get out of it. It is important to note that Ayahuasca in Ecuador is considered a medicine, and Shamans are legally certified practitioners. Tania, one of the Shamans, said that tobacco was about this lifetime and Ayahuasca is about healing past lifetimes.
I really took to heart what Tania said about the tobacco and I went through my whole life backwards to the beginning, and back again to present day. It was this process that showed me how situations in life that may not appear to be much in themselves, when all put together can give a lot of clarity to what may be blocking me or holding me back.
With the Ayahuasca, Ed and Tania both said it is about surrender to unconditional love and trust. So I surrendered and put my love and trust in Grandmother Ayahuasca and oh boy, she showed me a few things.
The first Ayahuasca journeys are about cleansing. There is a good chance you will vomit and sometimes have diarrhea later in the night. But it is a good thing. You feel like you are letting go of what is trapped down in the abdomen. This is very similar to the Tantra philosophy, of cleaning and stabilizing the lower chakras to create a foundation for our spiritual practice.
Without going through all the details of my first journeys, the biggest realization is that I had to get back to the earth. I used to be a farmer, and then a landscaper. I was always outside working the earth in some way. It was after this journey that I emailed Mugs and told her we need to make some changes. It was time to sell the place in the Shuswap and find something that will nurture this connection with the earth again. The week in Ecuador flew by and I really felt I returned home a different person. This has stayed with me which doesn’t always happen. Usually I go to a retreat and leave feeling good, but life has a way of grinding you back to reality. This was different, the peace and tranquility stayed through me and continues to this day.
So…….I went back to Ecuador in May. Having done the cleansing aspect back in January I only vomited once and it came from way down deep. I felt like I was getting rid of something that had been stuck inside me for a long, long time. All my journeys were based on past life times. Understanding the good times but also some horrific times, which brought into clarity why I feel the way I do in this life time.
These are tremendous tools that the medicines give you. To understand what has created the “samskaras” for this lifetime brings an amazing amount of peace to my life. But, there was more to come……..stayed tuned for next month
Bob is leading a Men’s Yoga and Ayahuasca Retreat in Ecuador, January 6th to 12th. Please go A Shaman and Ayahuasca Retreat For Men, for more information.