Ayahuasca integration lessons: It’s a tricky business

Ayahuasca Integration Stories
Ayahuasca Integration Stories

I think this post will be useful for those trying to understand what integration post ayahuasca might be like for them. Ayahuasca integration is not only about concreting the lessons you have learned into your life afterward, but also about integrating yourself back into a world which now might be seen through different eyes. Very different eyes in my case. In this post I’ll talk about my own stories of integration and how I understand the world after meeting spirits – which I have to say is a real head-fuck.

Integrating things I learned in Ayahuasca Ceremonies

In my experience, Ayahuasca sends you information or helps you to understand things you’ve been unable to understand until that point. These understandings are like light bulbs illuminating in your mind. Once I was given them I saw that I could leave behind certain stresses, thought patterns and behavior but there were unintended consequences of my Ayahuasca experience as well.

Confidence but perhaps a lack of compassion which displays the remaining work I must do on my ego:

In order to combat negative thought patterns, Ayahuasca made me feel very confident. “Trust yourself” she had said and “you know what’s right for you. Just go execute”. So I did. Specifically, I was more forthright and spoke my mind more. I ended having an argument(s) with a family member which led to her being upset.

As I write this I am still forming ideas on it in some ways. On the one hand, I could see that her ego was inflamed and I saw her execute, I thought, some tried and true methods for defending her and her ego.

I noticed her saying all the correct things (before our argument) like, “Why don’t people talk about their problems?” but then when it came to discussing our issues there was no point I was told, “you are as you are”. Some obvious contradictions there which I thought was the ego coming into play when the opportunity for her to be wrong was on the cards. It was also a way, I feel, to ‘win’ because I had suggested that we talk and I thought her denying it was in her mind a win.

So some pretty obvious ego bullshit going on there but, then also my psychedelic experiences have told me that the first part of this sentence is not filled with enough compassion for her.

It might be that I am able to see more clearly the ego at play here. That makes me feel like I’ve understood something that she has yet to be able to. But referring to ‘ego bullshit’ is perhaps showing less compassion than I should. After all, my most recently Ayahuasca experiences have shown that I should be more humble and show more compassion while I navigate this world. I’ll touch more on this later in this post.

Note: That last paragraph was not a real-time description of what I did in our argument, but the thoughts I have had since then. I think that this shows my learnings about the ego are not ingrained in the months of integration I have had so far. They are becoming more so but, it’s a slow process which requires effort (ie writing this) to more fully understand them.

Can you see how integrating things you’ve learned in Ayahuasca can be difficult? It’s taken me a few months to get to the above realizations.

I suppose going forward I need to think of compassionate ways to be and talk with this lady in the future. How can I show compassion for someone who wants to vilify me in the eyes of our other family members? Something for me to figure out but, feel free to leave a comment with a suggestion.

Integrating lessons on my relationship with my Dad:

Another thing I was shown was some of the reasoning behind why my Dad was ‘such a prick’ as I would put it when I was younger.

I know now that that attitude is too compassionless to be one I can let linger for too long lest I miss another one of Mother Ayahuasca’s teachings but, it’s commonly how I catch myself thinking before I have to say to myself, ‘where is the compassion in that statement?’ to correct myself to be more in line with what I have learned from Ayahuasca and other psychedelics.

After being shown this, I immediately stopped thinking about it anywhere near as much. I was enjoying the weight of my shoulders that the Ayahuasca experience had brought.

Not much integration needed there I thought but, as I write this and I delve a little deeper I should note that there can sometimes be a disconnect in learnings like this.

For example, I haven’t heard his voice in over 8 months. I have messaged and emailed him several times this year but, my last few emails have been rebuffed for some reason.

Have I chased them up? Sort of. Have I made a big deal of calling him or getting my sister to tell him I need to speak with him when she next sees him? Nope.

I think this means there is probably more integration needed on this point because if I was completely OK with it I would pick up a phone and call him I suppose. Maybe there is a history of us not doing that to break through or maybe I’m being hard on myself. I have reached out. What is the compassionate and practical (ie the egoic) response here?

So here I’ve tried to give you a flavor of the kinds of integration lessons I struggle with. I think you can tell I have a strong ego at times and I struggle with the next step of the ‘psychedelic learnings’, that being, how do I act more compassionately to people? I may have learned a lot about ego but, the responses to people I’ve had lacks a certain humility and compassion. I see this as being something to work on in the future but, now let’s have a look at someone else’s view on the integration of lessons.

What do others have to say about integrating Ayahuasca learnings?

I liked what Rain Forest Healing Center had to say on the topic. They stress that integration actually begins before the Ayahuasca experience and I tend to agree. In fact, a young tourist I met recently who was interested in my Ayahuasca experiences also made this connection as it happens. Specifically, they say,

A growth mindset and determination to take personal responsibility for your healing are pivotal; you must be committed to your mission to heal. This means that you are willing to take chances and step out of your comfort zone. You have done just that by booking a retreat, but there’s more to it. You do not expect Ayahuasca to touch you with her magic wand – and voila! – you’re healed. Instead, you start envisioning how you want to live your life and what steps you can take now to make this a reality. You understand that personal development is a process, which means that a medicinal plant retreat is just one of the tools you have to heal yourself but it doesn’t begin nor stop there.

A realistic attitude is an essential factor in successful integration. When you are realistic about what you may and may not be able to achieve within a particular time frame, you allow the shifts that have occurred in you to slowly manifest themselves.

Rain Forest Healing Center – 2017

The young tourist I had met recently said something similar. When I recommended he go to the retreat center in Peru that I had gone too he must have thought I had meant get down there ASAP. I didn’t but, in the confusion, he brought up a great point. That he wasn’t due in Peru for several months and that he was going to spend that time sober and sorting out his nutrition and exercise regime, his morning routine and other hobbies which brought him alignment and pleasure.

How wise I thought. By the time he gets to Ayahuasca, he will hopefully have nipped some of the easier to kick habits in the butt and I think his Ayahuasca experience will be more beneficial for it.

Integrating yourself back into the world:

Learning lessons is one thing but, there are levels to my own integration. What I mean is, I struggle more with changes in ‘world view’ as opposed to implementing the, relatively simple, lessons.

What is a World View?

According to Oregon State University, a World View is,

worldview is the set of beliefs about fundamental aspects of Reality that ground and influence all one’s perceiving, thinking, knowing, and doing. One’s worldview is also referred to as one’s philosophy, philosophy of life, mindset, outlook on life, formula for life, ideology, faith, or even religion.

Oregon State University – 2001

What was my World View before psychedelics?

I don’t know if I had a world view as some others do. That is to say, I wouldn’t have considered myself spiritual or religious before psychedelics. I was raised with no religion.

I suppose if I was to sum it up I would say perhaps my world view is better described as a mindset. When I use that word I tend to think of myself as the following comprising key aspects of my mindset.

  • I had problems with my mentality and negative thought patterns.
  • I struggled to fit into jobs and situations where I had to do things that I didn’t want to. Like, show up at a certain time for example.
  • I wanted to be ‘free’ as I put it which meant I wanted to travel, have adventures and earn money without having to be in one particular place
  • I had a great interest in self-improvement.
  • Every now and then I would help others. For example, teaching what skills I could pass on to community groups, for example. That felt good.
  • I enjoyed pushing myself physically in surfing, yoga, hiking bodyweight workouts and cycling.
  • I enjoyed learning new things. Sometimes to the detriment of completing them.
  • I enjoyed living near nature, ie not in large cities.
  • I had picked up on certain themes that I saw and was influenced by like,
    • Personal Responsibility: The belief that ultimately anything that happened to me was my choosing somehow. That appealed to me and relaxed me. After all, I am most able to control myself.
    • I noticed a lot of ‘tribalism’ in people. An unwillingness to discuss controversial topics with detachment. That is to say, I noticed people arguing for their ‘team’ with a bias. Finding information and options which backed up their own opinion etc.
    • I should note, I am guilty on the above point as well from time to time.

What is my world view after psychedelics?

I think I still think and believe a lot of the above but, there are differences.

  • I am forced to now think of the world as a spiritual place which is difficult. I struggle now with the concept of what I previously would have called ‘woo-woo’. Under the influence of psychedelics,
    • I have spoken to spirits in some sort of telepathic way,
    • I’ve met ‘demons’ and ‘evil’ or ‘mal-intentioned’ spirits.
    • I’ve communicated with Mother Ayahuasca outside of ceremony.
      • How am I to now integrate these new and very strange experiences into my life?
      • How do I speak to people about it?
      • Do I speak to people about it?
      • Have I undergone some sort of psychosis? I now don’t think I did but, it crossed my mind.
      • These are all things that I have thought about and to varying degrees and come to terms with them. It’s a head fuck.
  • Negative thought patterns remain but, are largely decreased. I had direct teachings about these in my Ayahuasca ceremonies and found confidence from these but, I need to temper the confidence with compassion I am learning.
  • I still don’t feel that I want to be in one geographic location or job.
    • I have always wanted more control over these things and now I still see this as a worthwhile thing to strive for but, I would say that in the past there was a large element of escapism in trying to achieve this.
    • For example, I struggled to fit in with the world and as such part of wanting to travel and have adventures was perhaps because I wasn’t good at navigating the world I was from.
  • I still have a great interest in self-improvement but, I think I can see that this can sometimes be an unhealthy loop that you can get stuck in.
    • What is self-improvement good for if you don’t at some point turn your focus to others and help them to also improve or otherwise do something that is less selfish and shows more compassion for other humans and the world in general?
  • I now believe that helping others should be more of a focus. I have done this in several ways, even in the the last several days, and will continue to do so.
    • Sometimes this is by telling people who are interested about my experiences, much as I do here in this blog, and in other cases, it’s just passing along a contact so that someone can get a job.
    • I think this could quite easily extend to building a few websites as well for people who need them but can’t otherwise afford them.
  • I still enjoy being physical and in fact, Ayahuasca has helped with a back injury I have.
  • I still love learning new things and have taken more steps to actually cut out taking on too many projects so that I can focus on achieving the ones currently in front of me to the best of my ability.
  • I still prefer to be near nature. Especially near a surf beach.
  • I still think personal responsibility is important.
  • I struggle less to do daily routines and tasks post psychedelics. Having an arm’s length from my ego means that I get less caught up in its negative, overthinking ways which in the past could make it difficult to do these things. If I wasn’t so stubborn and strict with myself sometimes then I probably wouldn’t have been able to keep a routine together at all. My lifestyle also supports this more. I can work out when I want and start work when I want.
  • I still notice a lot of tribalism in the world. I now see this as a negative consequence of an unchecked ego.

Ego dissolution:

This is a major theme in psychedelics in general and indeed it has played a significant role in my experiences too. It forms a significant integration challenge also.

In my Ayahuasca experiences, I had experienced ego dissolution on a few different occasions but, recently I took another psychedelic and had a much deeper ego dissolution experience. I don’t think that it was a complete dissolving of my ego as some people experience (because I still felt as though I had a body) but for me, it was very deep.

It was only several days ago and I’ve been feeling strange since. Luckily I seem to be able to compartmentalize well so, most of the time it isn’t stopping me from writing, working, going out, etc but it probably would for some people. I’ve always been good like that.

It was a lot like an Ayahuasca trip in terms of communication with something higher (Mother Ayahuasca I assume as it felt the same) and even the visuals but, it differed in that it was, faster paced, the onset came quicker, it lasted longer and was more intense.

During the trip, I was ‘told’, by what I think was also Mother Ayahuasca,

  • that this life is a game, and
  • that souls come here to ‘level up’ (to what I don’t know) and,
  • that the purpose of this place is for souls to come and improve themselves via experiences. In hindsight, I suppose you need an ego to have an experience of any kind. Something I think a soul doesn’t have.
  • The way a soul can ‘level up’ was to do tasks of an incremental and difficult nature. That could be almost anything I think. Maybe it’s best to think of it as something you devote yourself to, a practice, over many years.
    • I think the first example of a lesson I had to integrate, spoken about above, might be a way to level up. ie slowly learning about yourself and changing ingrained patterns with a view to being more compassionate.
  • I was also told that the way to ‘win’ in this game was by doing two things.
    1. The first was to frequently ‘connect’ to her or in other words something higher. I understood that this could be from psychedelics but also via other practices, eg meditation, exercise or anything else that connected you with her. I suppose this could also be dance or fasting as is done in some cultures and religions.
    2. And the second was to navigate this game (aka life or world) in between connections as best you can with a view to leveling up but, also by helping others while doing so.
      • Navigating I think, could be interpreted in many ways and I understood it to mean to ‘do well’, ‘progress’ or ‘go through life’ in whatever way you thought good.
      • I suppose that would be very culturally based for people – ie based on where and how you grew up you will have a different definition of what is ‘good’.
    3. It was clear that I should,
      1. do no harm in my attempts to navigate the game and level up,
      2. but that eventually, I should be actively helping others.

The main thing I came away with was the ‘this life is a game’ concept. While I found the navigation stuff very useful the fact that she told me that this world and life I live in is a literal game that (created by her with the help of other entities as she alluded to also) really threw me over the last few days.

A few days removed from this trip I have been feeling strange at certain times. Like a new level of ego dissolution had taken place. I almost feel like I am on autopilot sometimes and often have a feeling like I am a video player controlling my body as I do certain things.

I did some research on psychosis thinking that perhaps I had it. Turns out psychosis has more of a negative tilt. Instead of being told to navigate the world without harming others sufferers of psychosis have profoundly and sometimes tragically negative thoughts running through their heads.

At one stage a few days ago I found it hard to use my analytical brain as I had previously. I think this is and will be temporary as I adjust to the new levels of separation I am able to access between my ego and the rest of my brain (consciousness perhaps is a better word).

I am today back to writing and was able to write more than 3000 words (over several websites) and even find time to work on another web build I have at the moment.

I’m not diminished in energy either, in fact, I feel great energy wise, but I suppose it’s just weird to experience the levels of dissolution that I have recently.

I don’t regret the trip but, can you understand the strangeness that integrating psychedelics can impose on you? Feeling like you’re a player controlling yourself, speaking to entities, etc not to mention getting into emotionally draining arguments and having to think really hard about old relationship patterns.

I hope I have done the explanation justice but I fear I have not. Describing this experience is of course very difficult in words alone.

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