My Ayahuasca: Day

A Chronicle of my first ayahuasca journey in several parts. Names have been changed to protect the sacred. All other content accuracy approved by the ghost of Hunter S. Thompson.

Human life is traumatic. All of it. The story of Siddhartha’s transformation to the Buddha teaches us that even the most affluent, privileged and sheltered existence cannot shield us from the existential suffering associated with being human. Once the impermanence of our own lives and the inevitability of our mortality becomes known to us, life itself becomes something precious, and death becomes something fearful.

Add to this the exponential curve of technology that makes every year of our short lives played by different rules, the environmental toxicity of our urban environments, our poor sources and decisions regarding food, our poisonous, inadequate and superfluous medical solutions and all the other unnatural ways that we humans have long since left the environment, mentality and culture that our biology adapted to exist in and the trauma, the existential pain of being, only increases from there.

Parenting in the modern digital age is becoming an impossible task. Where in the pre-industrial revolution society the task of a parent was to simply pass on their knowledge and skills to the next generation, parents since have increasingly had a hard time even understanding the world in which their children live, or will live in the future.

It changes too fast.

My father couldn’t simply pass his life knowledge on to me and expect that to be enough, the way I can’t simply pass my life’s knowledge on to my sons. Those books of knowledge aren’t enough to raise children to be successful in a world that no one knows what will look like next year. The generation gaps have grown larger, and they continue to grow, leaving the dynamic between parent and child all the more difficult to navigate. All childhoods are traumatic childhoods.

Many of us suffer in ways compounded on top of the simple, but significant, discordance with our natural state of being. Many of us have been physically abused, psychologically conditioned, trained and manipulated. Some of us have seen the horrors of war, assault, catastrophe, suffering on scales no person was ever meant to experience. Many of us obsessively watch these things through handheld screens, subjecting ourselves to more of the world’s woes than any one person was ever meant to take in.

We are anxious, depressed, suicidal, physically and emotionally unhealthy. We suffer in our relationships, our marriages, our friendships, our family life. We struggle with our own sense of being, instead choosing to live by the whims and desires of those around us, often not physically around us, but by the will of digital tribes of disconnected strangers who tell us who to be, what to say, how to act and what to believe.

It’s not all bad news. We have the amazing ability to explore and be enriched by the vast and amazing depths of our world and our species. We can travel across the globe, experience culture, art and society in a way that was nearly impossible even a few generations ago. We have rid ourselves of many diseases and ailments, lifted hundreds of millions of people out of slavery and poverty. We have created and opened channels of communication which, while often abused and infested with bad actors, can also serve to connect us to the beauty of humanity. We only have to learn to use our digital networks for better outcomes. Much like the foods we choose to eat, it is a choice. A simple choice, but not an easy one.

With all of this in mind, it’s no wonder we seek the types of healing we do. With a vast and increasingly complex world of stressors, environmental and genetic discordance, abuses and gauntlets of broken relationships and a shrinking availability for refuge and solace, it makes sense that the options for healing would be as vast and intricate as the world that creates the need for healing.

Throughout my journey I wondered what the rest of the month would be like for my fellow passengers. Many of them are returning to the ayahuasca ceremony on a regular basis. Some are there every month, and have been for many months and even years. I couldn’t help but wonder if some were getting caught in a cycle of being traumatized, healing, venturing out back into an ocean of unhealthy choices, being traumatized again then returning to seek more healing. Or maybe the humans who were there more often and in the throws of deeper experience just had a lot more healing to do before their ships were capable of setting sail to deeper waters. It’s ultimately not my place to know and certainly not mine to judge.

“Madre, bless that human. Wherever they are, wherever they go. Bless those humans.”

I wondered how much the regular passengers were growing, and whether or not there was any growth built into the ceremony itself. There was never any talk of what happens next, after the ceremony was over. No talk about making better decisions to reduce or mitigate the level of trauma we experience in our day to day lives or to work on skills of self-healing. Maybe those conversations were personal, between Madre and passenger. I hope that many in the ceremony were focusing on growth as well as healing.

I do feel healed after my weekend sitting with the ayahuasca medicine. There is a lightness in me I haven’t experienced in a long time. In fact, I can’t remember if I’ve ever truly experienced it. Even in the few short days since ending the ceremony, I feel I’ve made some bolder and wiser decisions in my life. I’ve gained confidence and courage to make the next steps in my growth process. I don’t feel a need to return to ceremony next month. I’m not sure if I ever will return. I like to know it’s there if I need it.

Until then, I’m going to go forward and continue my journey of healing, both of myself and of those around me in any way that I can. I’m going to continue to learn and to grow and to read and to experience this life in a way that heals me. So that I may be a better healer.

I also haven’t felt much like drinking this week, oddly. So there is also that.

Gracias, Madre.


Stories that make sense of the complex human experience

Jason Stauffer

Written by

Combat Veteran. Antifragile Researcher. Entrepreneur. Writer. Director of Research and Development for Morozko Forge. @MorozkoForge @Jcstauff


Stories that make sense of the complex human experience