Mind & Body

I tried it and this is how I felt

Author, psychic medium and transformational coach Sheila Vijeyarasa went to the Amazon to lose her mind and face her fears.

Ayahuasca is the drink on (almost) everyone’s lips. It is a sacred medicinal brew, made from a combination of an Amazonian vine and another plant which has powerful hallucinogenic properties, that Shamans claim opens your mind and heals past traumas.

In recent years this ancient A-word has begun to infiltrate mainstream consciousness, thanks to A-list celebrities like Chelsea Handler showcasing Ayahuasca in her Chelsea Does TV series – and on Gwyneth Paltrow’s The Goop Lab – and for most people who have heard of it, it triggers images of people vomiting up a week’s worth of meals, while writhing on the floor, white (or green), sweating like a pig; all of which may leave you wondering, ‘Who in their right mind would willingly do this to themselves?’

It’s a good question. To which I have a good answer: ME!

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Having just ended a significant relationship that left me feeling lost and gutted, I knew I was trapped in repeating destructive life patterns, and I needed something to jolt me out of it.

Ayahuasca has been known as an effective treatment for depression, anxiety and PTSD – and for many people, Ayahuasca has shown a path to a kind of enlightened experience which allows them to see truth with such exquisite crystalline clarity that their lives are never the same again.

Of course, this experience of being spiritually “cracked wide open” may not be pleasant. One needs to be ready to experience this powerful healer.

They say that one cup of Ayahuasca is like 10 years of therapy – and having done way more than my fair share of therapy, I was ready for an acceleration of my healing.

I was in a tiny boat heading against the current up a tributary of the mighty Amazon River. There was thick jungle all around me and we were all sitting in a trepidatory silence. I was days from anything resembling civilisation.

I wondered again, as I had repeatedly for the last week, what the hell I getting myself into?

Hours later, in darkness of the night, I took a giant gulp of the foul-tasting, potent elixir, Ayahuasca. The sludge trickled down the back of my throat and I gagged painfully. It would be 30 minutes before the effect kicked in. I had to sit back and wait. My heart started to thump and soon the visions began to appear.

Over five ceremonies, spread over 7 days, I projectile vomited, cried uncontrollably, experienced diarrhea and shook furiously. Shamans see this as a way to purge toxic thoughts. And the sage advice that I was given, was to not fight the medicine when it took over me, as it would make the process worse.

For me, the experience was exhausting, terrifying, illuminating and exhilarating all at the same time.

I learned there is a spiritual protocol when engaging in an Ayahuasca ceremony. A strict diet is required – you must avoid salt, spices, red meat, alcohol and sex and drugs, for a period of four weeks in the lead up to the ceremony.

It is also recommended to set an intention. Mine was, ‘Show me my fears and how they do not serve me.’

Ayahuasca put a spotlight on the parts of my life that were holding me back. I was shown the unconditional love offered to me by my family that I had been too stubborn and blind to see.

I’d been living my life with clenched fists and a closed heart. I was shown how my victim mindset had adversely impacted my life. I had to sit for five hours each night in this psychedelic haze and I could not turn away from my painful reality.

For me, the spiritual epiphanies were life changing; the visions were extraordinary.

Ayahuasca exposes the gap between who you think you are and who you actually are. I was set free from my rules and illusions of being a “good girl”. Finally, I was free to unconditionally love my family and to attract a soulmate into my life.

The period when we return home after experiencing Ayahuasca, is called integration and can be the most important part of the process.

For me, it was a time where I had to put new insights into practice, make significant changes in my life and to adopt a new mindset.

Whilst the plant medicine of Ayahuasca is powerful, I was shown that the power to change my life resided within myself and my actions and behaviour. The real work to transform my life would begin when I returned home.

Sheila Vijeyarasa is the author of Brave: Courageously Live Your Truth (Rockpool Publishing: $29.99). She is a powerful psychic medium and transformational coach.

She combines spiritual wisdom with executive leadership coaching to empower you to go out and transform your life. Brave is available at all good bookstores and online at Rockpool Publishing. Visit their Instagram here.