Psychologist know that most of our troubles as adults come from events that happened before we were seven years old. In our early formative years we learn many ways of facing and coping with the world, that for a child is often a frightening, confusing and unfair place. Our minds learn a variety of mechanisms to defend and protect itself so the child can feel safe. From the child’s perspective these mechanisms work, or they would not continue. Various ways of controlling, escaping, hiding, suppressing, projecting, blaming, how to mask and suppresses painful events are learned. We carry the energy and emotion of painful and confusing events, and as they build over time with the use of these coping mechanisms they begin to manifest as emotional blockages, anxiety, depression, emotional numbness and a multitude of other dis-eases. Many people develop beliefs that they are somehow less than others, not as important, flawed or damaged. This is the source of the negative self-talk that is such a prevalent part of day to day experience.
Our subconscious mind is essentially a store house of stimulus-response programs. Something happens in our environment and our subconscious automatically plays the “tape” associated with that stimulus. This happens without any effort or thought on our part. Have you ever found yourself going ballistic over a trivial thing like the cap being left off the toothpaste? Does your mind automatically tell you “I can’t” when presented with a chance to do something new? These are simple examples of subconscious programs running automatically.
The subconscious is also where our beliefs are held. Most of the contents of the subconscious mind were acquired in our early formative year when we did not have the ability to reason or choose what was put there. A lot of our beliefs are related to events that had a strong emotional impact. It is no surprise we have a lot of garbage stored there, beliefs and habits that are counter-productive or limiting in our adult lives. Neuroscience has established that the programs acquired by the subconscious mind shape 95 percent or more of our life experience. The good news is that the programs in the subconscious mind can be changed. The harmful or limiting beliefs and habits can be overwritten with useful productive ones.
To be free of limiting patterns, emotion and energy requires the willingness to look inward, to examine our inner landscapes and acknowledge, experience, integrate and ultimately release the energy of the negative emotions and memories we have been carrying. It is normal to struggle during this process of healing and deep transformation. Most of this will have its roots in childhood when we did not have much capacity to reason and understand. The coping mechanisms we developed will activate to “protect us” from the pain and fear of this necessary exploration. We can become confused, frightened, anxious and look for ways to escape. Yet the process of healing requires we face what lies inside us, stepping willingly into the darkness and pain, choosing to feel it, so we may learn from it, integrate those lessons, release and be free.
Ayahuasca facilitates this process by opening us to our inner selves. It brings the subconscious to the surface so it can worked with. A truism with ayahuasca is that whatever we carry inside us tends to be experienced in a magnified way. While this can be very uncomfortable, it allows us to see clearly its effect on us and understand it in ways we never did before. Often we get insight into root causes, how it came to be in our lives, how we may have chosen it ourselves and keep choosing it. During this process our minds can get very tricky. It automatically tends to analyze and interpret our experience and a common pattern is to put the blame on something outside of ourselves. We can feel very uncomfortable, angry, sad, fearful, resentful. It is important to realize that this is just an effect of the blockages within being brought to the surface. Simply allow the feelings to be present without running or hiding from them, without acting on them. Trust this is a natural part of the healing process we all go through. Accept and surrender, knowing it will pass on its own as the blockages are released.
The causal events of the emotional challenges we face as adults occurred mostly in our formative years when we did not have the capacity to understand our experience. As these arise in our work, we are taken back to the emotional and mental state of the child. The mind will try to make sense of our experience, but in this childlike state our capacity is limited. In an effort to form meaning out of the experience the mind may project it onto some external cause. With ayahuasca those “causes” may appear to be negative spirits or dark energies coming to trouble us, and they can seem very real. When working with a skilled ayahuasquero this is highly unlikely to be the case. It is almost certainly the manifestation of something within ourselves. It requires courage, strength and commitment to our healing to stay calm in the presence of this phenomena.
Early in one’s journey of healing a common externalization is drama, a reactionary projection that may be emotional and internal or behavioral, often inappropriate behavior. Drama is frequently characterized by a strong sense of “need” for some external change. If you find yourself feeling or saying “I need” this is good sign to look within and not blame external circumstances. No person nor event can make us feel anything. All of our emotional responses come from inside, from the sum total of the conditioning of our lives. Looking outside of ourselves for relief will never bring lasting results. The change must come from within.
The secret to getting the most from your time with ayahuasca is actually quite simple. Trust the medicine and allow it to do what it wants, trusting your experience is a necessary part of the process of healing. It may not be easy, but the resulting freedom and peace worth the challenge of the process.