Gods R Us – Day 7

As I start to embrace spirituality I want to briefly state my general position on God and Religion. The term God, for me, is tainted by tribal Religiosity. Man-made rules and writings that not only subordinates women but makes them property, like chattel. Androcentric societies described their male-dominated views in religious texts and sacred books that forged a humanity that is, not surprisingly, indistinguishable from a primitive society still present in male centric Religions today. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-06/uom-sw062314.php

My Take is that the only tangible benefit to lift people out of their poverty and misery is the suspiciously convenient possible of a glorious afterlife. The abuse of power and privilege reeks of Religion, not spirituality, and does not reflect the glory of the cosmic consciousness. The result in the Religious indoctrination of innocents is an ‘us versus them’ one-true-religion syndrome. https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/homo-consumericus/201001/it-can-be-confusing-find-the-one-true-religion

Yet, looking at such wealthy corporations today, Religions fail miserable at delivering on the core message of ‘doing unto others’ and taking responsibilities for their actions. Hypocrisy comes to mind when I reflect upon my experiences with the Catholic Church but here is some extra reading to help you better understand how you and your religion are doing.https://lifehacker.com/seven-important-lessons-from-world-religions-everyone-s-1613615832

Her name was Ginette, the name of the person revealed to me in my first Ayahuasca experience, who ‘was God, or at least God-like’ 

An early morning drive to the airport and, after a short wait, I was headed home feeling pleased that I not only survived but thrived in this arduous experience. A week has not yet passed in my transcendent quest and I already find it one of the most amazing journeys of my life. I knew that people claimed it to be so but first hand experience, for me, a science-based, physical world-centered, skeptic allows me to know the truth that it holds. Experiencing another dimension in our cosmos, for me, was as real as death is inevitable. 

On the flight down I was fearful of catching a cold from fellow passengers so I wore a protective face mask and kept to myself. Now, not only didn’t I wear a face mask but I felt more open, more connected to my fellow passengers. I engaged with the kids that I ignored on the flight down and started a conversation with the elderly woman sitting beside me, who turned out to be the grandmother of the children.

As I relaxed, the children ran around me as studied the stranger in their midst who sat in the chair across the aisle and between their parents and their grandmother. I engaged their grandmother, who was their de facto guardian as their parents dozed, to understand the family dynamic. We traded pleasantries but when we exchanged names I was stunned. Her name was Ginette, the name of the person revealed to me in my first Ayahuasca experience, who ‘was God, or at least God-like’. 

My thoughts ran wild, like the unsupervised children in the aisle

I couldn’t dismiss this coincidence. Yet, I’ve always viewed such improbabilities as random unlikely circumstances. But, now I’m no longer so certain. She was the first person that I’ve met named Ginette, ever. Yet here we are sitting beside each other on a flight home to our respective middle-of-nowhere communities. It was only a few days ago that I was told to seek God by seeking Ginette. 

During my first Ayahuasca experience I experienced a comforting warmth and unconditional, eternal love. Yet all I saw was a magical sky. There was no entity, no image of a consciousness behind this force, known for spiritual awakening. For a moment, I wondered if it was real or just my over-active imagination stimulated by the traditionally religious Ayahuasca but I had no real idea how it might effect me. https://www.soul-herbs.com/ayahuasca-effects/

Then, when one of the Soul Quest people kneeled beside me and gently told me ‘if you want to know God then you need to seek Ginette’ I was intrigued but confused. But this didn’t occur just once. I was told by another person that while on Ayahuasca, he also was told to seek ‘Ginette’. I remember distinctly talking to him about this at some length, yet like the Soul Quest person, he also denied the interaction.  

Maybe my Ginette-is-God delusion has nothing to do with Ayahuasca or Aging but simply that I’ve lost touch with reality

It was a freaky coincidence that some, including Carl Jung, might call synchronicity, which holds that such collisions of events are “meaningful coincidences”. Yet, for me, both of these experience were not only as vivid and as real as a tooth ache but they were also absolutely unique. I couldn’t imagine a more unlikely set of coincidences, let alone believing that they were inventions on my part. https://www.carl-jung.net/synchronicity.html

I couldn’t help wonder if all this was my imagination, despite the apparent ‘meaningful coincidences’. Perhaps it is connected to an Ayahuasca hallucination that felt real at the time but was simply a projection of mine based on what I imagined I had already heard about Ginette in a prior conversation. 

I realize that my mind, body and heart are extensions of me but not me. They are my ego, with their own demands and agenda. My ’true self’ is not driven by my ego as it has its own separate and distinct demands and agenda. Both forces in each of our lives compete for control so perhaps my Ginette-is-God delusion is a casualty of my ongoing internal battle. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_God_Delusion

Or else I could have simply gone off the rails from age-related degenerative mental impairment. I already notice some memory loss and have been recently evaluated regarding memory issues. A brain scan was done, to establish a base line, which confirmed some age related loss. In a standard test, administered by a nurse, I scored 29 out of 30. This result was a clear indication that my decline, although unnerving, is normal for my age. 

Then there is the possibility that I am going insane. The entire Ayahuasca experience has challenged my sense of reality from the get-go. At times it was difficult to separate what was real from what was not, even though I knew that my hallucinations were not physically real, the sensations were tangible. Maybe my Ginette-is-God delusion has nothing to do with Ayahuasca or Aging but simply that I’ve lost touch with reality. 

My true self, which I now see more clearly as childlike, curious, playful and spontaneous, resonates like a radio broadcast, which amplifies my too frequently unheeded signal 

I can’t help but wonder if God is moving in mysterious ways and that this is his/her/its way for me to understand that the cosmic consciousness is in each of us. Yet, this implies that God would not only has the time but the inclination to teach me lessons. It reminded me of my Mother praying and excepting answers to her prayers. At the time it was preposterous to me. I admired her faith but, until now, I didn’t understand it as love. 

I didn’t know what to say to Ginette that would start an acquaintance with her so I again drifted away with my thoughts. I thought about why this was happening to me now. Did these events happen now because now was when they needed to happen. I did seek God, after all. I did experience a transformative transformation. Yet, once again, it sounded too self-serving to be real. 

Maybe there is a guiding light in life. This was a firm belief of my late Mother but not one that I ever considered seriously. Now I’m not so sure what to think. I now know that there is a cosmic consciousness and given that belief, also believe that anything is possible. Perhaps a ‘guiding light’ is what others might call a guardian angel, who serves to protect whichever person is assigned to them and to present any and all respective prayers on that person’s behalf. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guardian_angel

Guardian Angels, for me, represented the seductive idea of an individual letting go, surrendering to a higher authority. Yet, this might be a step too-far for me to take despite my acceptance of the concepts of spiritually letting go and surrendering. A guiding angel might seems like an easy fit in the new and revised me but, first I need to get past my aversion to man-made higher authorities, such as Religions.  

I’m observing Ginette’s gestures and actions as well as her words and deeds to obtain any insight into whether she is God, or not

I wish I knew a logical answer to this riddle. Using logic, however, may not help solve this mess. Perhaps I’m experiencing some Ayahuasca after effects or I’m having a mental breakdown. It’s possible but, from my perspective, my experiences are beyond the reach of our knowledge. After all, how could we even begin to understand the scientific basis for a cosmic consciousness? https://chopra.com/articles/what-is-cosmic-consciousness

Maybe I’m puzzled because I am using my limited perceptions and knowledge to understand something that is beyond my comprehension. Our knowledge evolves with time like it always has done. I’ve been socialized to think and act along the lines of our physical world that we are now discovering is not how it once seemed to be. In fact in the span of my life and perhaps yours there has been tremendous change, although very little understanding of the penetrating and profound insights of plants and mushrooms, let alone our spiritual existence.

It is a lot to digest so soon after the experience, especially now that I am sitting next to Ginette. Maybe The Ginette, who I totally ignored on last week’s flight despite the fact she sat across the aisle from me. Last week I ignored everyone. Last week I was just trying to survive. Now, I’m observing Ginette’s gestures and actions as well as her words and deeds to obtain any insight into whether she is God, or not.

Is she THE God or as I prefer, Cosmic Consciousness?

The idea of Ginette being ‘God, or at least God-like’ was a step further again from the physical world then I was comfortable embracing. I realize that God is, of course, everywhere, even in each of us. I guess, in a way, all of creation is God. So, technically, Ginette is God, despite nothing physical or provable. 

I can accept Ginette as God, as long as God is the spiritual cosmic consciousness. We all are God in that scenario and this is something I can support knowing that each of us has God’s love and compassion inside them. But why was I told to seek her or another person named Ginette? Is she THE God or as I prefer, Cosmic Consciousness. I am still open to what this experience means and hope that clarity will emerge somehow, sometime.

Despite our perversions of Religions and Gods, we are all a part of a cosmic consciousness that is God

Three separate events over the span of a few months is telling me something. Now I just need to grasp exactly what it might be. I’d like to believe that God is not simply in each of us and all of creation but that we are all mini-me versions of God. Yet, despite knowing we are all God, I see no specific reason to imagine Ginette as ‘the’ all-powerful, all-loving God that I knelt before in the past week. 

After the plane landed and we were waiting for our luggage not far from each other at the carousel, I gave her my name and email and told her that my wife and I would welcome her and her grandkids for an afternoon visit. She was polite but distant. 

I knew the gap between us would be too great for a protective, vulnerable person to jump. Nonetheless, I knew it would be a long shot no matter what I did or didn’t it. As I drove home after a week that seemed like a lifetime away I felt that, despite our perversions of Religions and Gods, we are all a part of a cosmic consciousness that is God.

Turning On My Heart – Day 5

The freaky paintings in my room came alive for me last night. I really needed to sleep and was so looking forward to a deep, undisturbed slumber. Nonetheless, I was unnerved from the depressing portraits of the people and life in the 19th century and had one of the worst night’s sleep in the past five nights which have all been characterized by sleep deprivation. Ironically, my sleepless night occurred despite all my efforts to arrange a quiet room on a quiet floor and in a quiet hotel and nothing to do in the morning but sleep. 

The instinctive act of empathizing with these still paintings was a surprisingly remarkably immersive experience

Instead of falling asleep, I fell into the despair and gloom depicted in the paintings on the walls of my room. I wasn’t interested in the details of the painting for they were real to me despite everything might suggest the opposite. For what seemed like hours, I was stuck in their real or imagined nightmarish lives. 

In the first of three portraits, a young gypsy has a distant, thoughtful look as if he is struggling to overcome an insolvable problem. In another, a cultured lady inadequately disguises her despair in a puffy, dark green dress and bright red hair bows, long gloves and lips. The tone of the final portrait was much the same as the other portraits, but here the plain, unadorned woman appears even more dispirited and disheartened.

I was compelled by what I imagined the subjects of the paintings experienced at that specific moment in their lives. In the scenic painting of a lonely bent relic of a person, who, dwarfed by a lifeless house and a barren tree, shuffles into the bleak landscape with its familiar menacing shadows and foreboding sky. The instinctive act of empathizing with these still paintings was a surprisingly remarkably immersive experience. 

For me, all the paintings were portals into the spirit and ‘soul’ of these individuals in history but these portraits transcended time and place and served as depictions that were prototypical for all mankind. Each of us and all of us were portrayed in these horribly sad scenes of beaten down or broken people. I could feel their anguish and despair as if they were alive and important in my life. 

It helped me to connect the pain and suffering of others with my belief that our world was a shared, rather than an individual experience.

As I continued to enter the paintings, my skin suddenly came alive as if I was experiencing an icy breeze on my bare skin. Periodically, I shivered uncontrollably. My peripheral vision became distorted as my fear became one with me and we become more and more inseparable to each other. I tried but was unable to turn the paintings around. 

Walking to my bathroom was frightening in the dark stillness of my room. When I turned on the bathroom light, I had goose bumps on my arms and a shiver going down my spine. My body  was anticipating something waiting for me, something that I didn’t suspect or want. In the harsh light I saw nothing unusual and knew that it was all my imagination 

Maybe I’m alright. Maybe I’m not. I don’t know. When I stared at myself in the mirror I saw a man who couldn’t get a handle on his own fears. I felt like I was loosing control of reality, my reality. The paintings made me feel that I was lost and, at the same time, like I had found my humanity. I felt good with this insight. It helped me to connect the pain and suffering of others with my belief that our world was a shared, rather than an individual experience.

I cannot always distinguish between what is real and what isn’t, in fact, knowing the difference is not always enough to overcome my trigger fears. 

It was around 5 in the morning but I pulled back the window shades and saw the first light of day. It was enough to change my rhythm, to start my day. At the lounge I engaged with the person in charge of the breakfast food. When I told her that I was awake by 3:00am, she told me that she was awake at 2:30am every work day and needed to get her child ready for school and then travel by three buses to work in time to offer a 6am breakfast service. 

I could literally feel my fears start to melt away as I thought about her struggle to survive another day. Yet she tried to comfort me. We hugged and I felt connected to her. I had turned my gaze outward, away from my fears and over-active imagination. We talked a bit about her child until other hotel guests arrived and abruptly ended our conversation. I gathered my breakfast, including some energy bars for the day, then walked barefoot in my sweat pants and t-shirt back to my room. 

As I showered and shaved I thought about how whether my recent life-changing experiences have been remarkable given how little sleep I have the past week or, rather, because I was sleep-deprived. In any event I still function, even if in altered states of consciousness. I also wonder why I was so emotionally connected today when yesterday I was so cognitively connected.  As I started my last full day in Orlando with the hope I could find a functioning  balance between my Ayahuasca transformed life to my every day reality in the ‘real’ world. 

I departed the hotel with the realization that my fears were within my power to control. It is such an obvious realization but one that I sometimes struggle to fully appreciate. I am a pawn to my irrational anxieties for they, too, are part of me. I cannot always distinguish between what is real and what isn’t, in fact, knowing the difference is not always enough to overcome my trigger fears.

I realized that my mood was different today. I was less cerebral, more driven by my heart

I decided to explore my neighbourhood. On the first street corner, a homeless person with a generous smile saluted me as I approached. Before returning his salute I weighed the fact that I wasn’t a veteran or an American but, recognizing his gesture, I honoured his greeting with a return salute. We chatted briefly. He had prime real estate and knew his market well enough to strike the right notes. I made him a few dollars happier, at which point he blessed me. I gratefully accepted his blessing and wished him well.

As I continued my walk I asked a person on the sidewalk for directions to a health food restaurant. When I commented on his agitated state he explained that he just started a new job, cold-calling businesses for advertising in a local paper. He wasn’t doing well and as I walked with him for a couple blocks as he told me his life story. He was a guy trying to do the right thing, to support his family with no skills and no job prospects. He was scared so I told him about my first and last door-to-door experience selling encyclopedias that ended in a sales person’s nightmare. 

I encouraged him to dig deep and told him that it was his time to be a warrior. He opened up to me more about his struggles and when we parted ways it seemed like we both got something good from the random encounter. For my part, I not only appreciated that everyone was the center of their universe and that we all suffer from the same or similar journeys in life but also that each of us has the power to control our respective destinies.

‘You are expelling negative things that no longer serve you…stay focus on your new life and perspective on things’

As I continued my unhurried journey through Orlando, I remember how much I enjoyed exploring a city in my youth when I walked city streets all night long to see the authentic side of a place. Now I was more cautious but, even so, that didn’t mean I had to stop exploring or avoid confronting my fears.It was easy to end up in the wrong place at the wrong time but equally as easy to connect with my humanity, to remember my good fortune in life when so many others have lost their way. 

I distributed energy bars to each homeless or street person that I encountered. I liked the idea better than money as then I knew that had a positive healthy impact. I was more in tune with this approach then when I offer to buy some cigarettes for the woman at Soul Quest who helped me during a long night of my first and only frightening hallucination. She was out of cigarettes and I unthinkingly offered to buy her some until I realized that this was only facilitating an unhealthy habit. 

Then it struck me that I was now facilitating my own unhealthy habits. I returned to the hotel and asked them to remove the art in my room. As I waited I reached out to Carlos for his advice. He promptly replied saying ‘you are expelling negative things that no longer serve you…stay focus on your new life and perspective on things’.

As I reflected on Carlos’s wisdom, the art was being removed from my room by two hotel staff who explained that they often get similar requests. I asked why the hotel persisted to exhibit paintings that had shown to be unpleasant to hotel guests. They shrugged in off saying that they were told art was subjective and everyone sees it differently. I knew that they were not the right people to direct my complain towards so I simply asked them if the art in my room was typically a source of complaint then why continue to feature it.  

With my awareness and knowledge I can begin the journey to control my ego-driven mind and emotions.

At the hotel, I packed for tomorrow’s return flight home. I have so many souvenirs from my Ayahuasca experience to arrange. My crested Soul Quest shot glass used for my first Ayahuasca ceremony, leaves that fell on me at the outdoor Ayahuasca ceremony and discarded ceremonial medicine flowers used by a Shuar traditional Medicine woman in the third and last Ayahuasca ceremony as well as my white plastic vomit bucket (that I learnt to call ‘my friend’) I used in the last and most productive Kambo ceremony.

As I lay in bed I was reminded of the haunting paintings from the wall marks that still outline their shapes. I was drawn to the two-dimensional expression of emotions through tone, light, shadow and the depiction a certain reality of an unknown time and place that still resonates today. Yet, I’m relieved that they are gone as are the feelings of anguish and fear that I experienced. They likely will return as I know it will take training and dedication to change my deeply rooted habits. 

Nonetheless, I have awakened and it is a beautiful time in my life to learn what it takes to be present and to stay in the moment that puts distractions in their proper place. I now know that I can control my emotions when I stay focused on ‘my new life and perspective on things’ as Carlos has suggested. In other words, I have the tools to begin the journey to be my true-self and control my ego-driven mind and emotions. 

Turning off my Mind – Day 4c

When I parted the beautiful alternate reality of Soul Quest, Carlos drove me to my downtown hotel, the Grand Bohemian. He was puzzled why I didn’t select a more affordable or a more conveniently located hotel but I had my reasons. I wanted tranquility from a non-Disney oriented hotel with room service and a pool. I needed this time to decompress in order to have an easier reentry back into the mainstream. Carlos, however, understood but seemed unconvinced that I was acting wisely.

At first I thought about my relative isolation at Soul Quest and that I mostly managed to ignore the broader culture of the outside world. I had quickly acclimatized at Soul Quest and was seldom reminded that I was visiting the US. I could almost be forgiven for concluding that everything I saw was mostly the same as Canada wth the exception of the hot weather and legal Ayahuasca. 

As we drove I couldn’t shut off my busy mind. I couldn’t let go of the distraction from everything around me. It was a stimulus overload. I expected it would be a rough transition but I never expected a heightened state that I couldn’t readily regulate. So I went with it. As Carlos navigated traffic and as my mind went into a an stimulus rich environment I began to see some of the differences.

But Orlando is not just about materialism, it is also about ‘manufacturing consent’. 

As we weaved our way through traffic to my hotel, I couldn’t help but wonder how different the world would have been if love was our motivation as a species instead of prosperity, power and prestige. Materialism, of course, lifts us up above our ancestors but doesn’t, in itself, provide for a healthier, happier life. What would our world look like if we had chosen spirituality as a goal over materialism? 

Then I remembered my plane ride to Orlando. There were four or five little girls onboard who were already outfitted in feminine Disney products, complete with Disney princess suitcases. Their materialistic values as well as their roles and relationships in life were clearly influenced by their middle aged mothers, who fought the progress of their years with almost identical little girl, barbie doll looks complete with youthful clothes and dyed blond hairstyles. 

Even from remote Canadian fishing communities little girls learn that charming men is not only an acceptable way of life but a path to marriage and hopefully everlasting love. Yet, the Disney story is the American dream incarnate. Making something out of nothing. The little guy fighting all the odds. The vast empire today that provides joy and prosperity to countless people every year, however, it also creates life-long aspirations fashioned by fantasies and, for little girls, a life lesson that charm is valued above competency. 

The richest country in the world has made peace with being always at war, even with its own people.

Ayahuasca opened me up to the connectivity that we humans share with other life forms and each other. We are, after all brothers and sisters regardless of position in society, race, gender or tribal affiliation. But as we approached my destination the clean streets and modern buildings are littered with the disenfranchised homeless on nearly every street corner. 

Here in the richest country in the World our brothers and sisters, where million of Americans sleep in shelters, transitional housing, and public places not meant for human habitation, poverty makes survival more pressing than long term aspirations and opportunities possible through education and proper health care. Here, in the ‘land of the free’, freedom, for some, means being born into crippling generational poverty and life in a culture that looks at the surface and not the roots of a problem.

But it’s also different here, for instance, in New York where I’ve seen homeless sleeping on sidewalk doorways or like San Francisco where I’ve seen the home living in cardboard shelters like. The Homeless have become the new normal for Western cities but here such reality is largely sanitized for the Disney experience. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Education, at least 2,000 children live in cheap, crowded motels in central Florida and on the highway leading to Disney World. An invisible problem, however, is still a problem even though we choose to ignore it.

Is it any wonder that Americans rate America as not a happy place to live?

Soul Quest also opened my eyes to the how extensive trauma is in the lives of ordinary people in America. Maybe it’s the same in Canada but I don’t think to the same degree. It seems like there are a lot of people in America that are not only traumatized but who have no where to turn for effective treatment and an alternative to suicide. 

America has always struck me as an immature country not yet comfortable with its own strength. The states is truly divided, except when united from nationalism or fear. They fear socialism but few are happy under their version of capitalism. I understand that there are problems with socialism and it is often confused with communism but I don’t understand why Americans choose to ‘throw out the baby with the bath water’ when, as a people, they are largely unhappy with the status quo.

There are better examples in the world where people who live under capitalistic governance are happier than America. Canada consistently rates higher on the happiness scale than America. In Nordic countries, such as Denmark, where socialism and capitalism work hand and glove the Danes and other Nordic countries are consistently among the happiest people in the world. Compare that to the happiness in America, where every hour there are nearly 30 killings, 10 rapes and 4 suicides. Is it any wonder that Americans rate America as not a happy place to live? 

It is difficult to calculated the cost of traumatized lives. For the individuals and families traumatized it is impossible. For society, however, it means that money and man-hours wasted on a problem that doesn’t ever go away. It simply resurfaces both with those that struggle to survive their lives and those that live in fear that they might be next to be raped or killed.   

The hotel was a not-so-well-disguised wink and a nod to the rich and wealthy who created this oasis of privilege. 

As I unpacked, I consciously choose to ignore the outside world of television and radio. I didn’t want to see or hear more violence and/or suffering. I didn’t want hear opinionated people yelling or see breaking news about more mass killings. I simply wanted to get back into a sacred head-space in order to process the Soul Quest experience, which had ignited the brotherly love inside me but it now flickered against the first head-winds that I encountered.

I needed two nights to myself before returning home on my once-a-week return flight. I knew that the ordeal of the last few days as well as the stress of integrating back into society would be harsh. I wanted to better understand the virtue of what I experienced while it was fresh and I was open to change. I knew that my experiences revealed my true self and answered many of my concerns but I also knew that without a supportive community all this is especially difficult to nourish.

I don’t plan to go very far afield so avoiding more public venues, even the hotel restaurant, so I rented a room located on the ‘executive level’ to ensure a quieter environment and unfettered access via the executive lounge for snacks and breakfast. When I first went to the executive lounge to get some water it was empty and quiet except for CNN in the background. As I got closer to the TV behind the bar area I saw that The Notre-Dame Cathedral was burnt almost to the ground and Wolf Blitzer was frantically milking the human misery from its ashes. 

I need find a way to still my mind before I lose it

His superficial coverage is symptomatic of the state of ‘journalism’ today in America. It stems from a corporate culture and revenue based services dedicated to political divides. In an America that fails millions of Americans it is more than just another reminder that American culture ignores the roots of a problem. It is part of the problem through its self-interests, complacency and biases. 

Yet who am I to judge? Better yet, why do I judge?  I no longer struggle to build a better society. I no longer hold the view that anyone can make a difference. My hope for a better world has slowly faded during my lifetime. There were signs of hope such as the removal of Nixon and the rise of the Hippies and then Trump followed Obama. I now question who among us can alter the destructive course we have all willfully or silently embarked upon. 

I was never a hippie but in my heart I always will be one. Not the hippie that is only seeking sex drugs and rock and roll but one who connects with nature, fellow travellers and has a healthy suspicion of the military/industrial complex. In other words, one who is awake and conscious, one whose values include creating a better, healthier world. Yet, this and all the other signs of hope have been dismantled systematically by the greed of capitalism.

At first I was fascinated by this tragedy, but, the sensational reporting soon got to me. I didn’t feel comfortable shutting off this public TV so I just tuned it out. I understand that it is really impossible to shut out the outside world but selective exposure is my preference over over exposure. At the same time, however, I came to realize that since I left Should Quest that I’ve been not grounded in the present moment and that I need find a way to still my mind before I lose it.   

I am all alone in my room and all alone in this city with no bearings and no-one to connect with that I could share my plight

This would be huge for me. I can easily lose quality sleep and waste precious time with matters that are either abstract and not important to me personally. I realize that I probably will need to pursue meditation as well as seek a supportive community. I feel that these two goals are the reasonable next steps in my journey.

I don’t feel a supportive community is an option for me given my age and isolation. I would value such a community but will need to cherish the times when it occurs rather then regret the times that it doesn’t. For, now, however, I need to find my balance. I must learn to integrate within the larger world while putting external distractions aside and to stay in the present. Meditation is something this post demonstrates that I need and convinces me that it should be a step on my transformative journey.

I had known that the ‘real world’ transition can be rough but today’s post on Disney, homeless, happiness and ‘flower power’ was not only an unexpected ‘stream of consciousness’ but reminiscent of being stuck in an Ayahuasca loop. I felt almost unable to control my own thoughts and for a while felt a little scared. From my experience loops are learning experiences that one needs to pay attention to. I also know this from being stuck in a rut like so many others I have known.

Now, As I sit silently all alone in my room and in this unfamiliar city. I have no bearings, metaphorically or geographically speaking, and no-one close enough to help guide me, especially those I love back in Canada. Yet, despite my gloomy reality, I took comfort from the fact that Ayahuasca opened up my heart and that I had experienced and likely am still experience some sort of cosmic love and acceptance. It gave me strength to know I wasn’t alone but part of sometime that up until now I couldn’t even imagine. I felt blessed and believed that this blessing would always be with me as long as I tune into it and not be preoccupied by everyday distractions. 

My Unvarnished Self-Day 4b

The long night has become my last day at Soul Quest. I wanted to stay connected with everyone but also knew that these feel good experiences have a way of evaporating once back into the demands of everyday life. As I saw people with their suitcases and backpacks depart I was struck by how special this moment was and how best to remember it.

I needed to dig deep inside me and that it was my time to be the warrior

However, when I connected with my Uber driver and Kambo guide, Carlos, he convinced me to have another Kambo session first. I’ve had two sessions already but Carlos informed me that having a third session within the same moon phase would solidify and increase the life span of the Kambo’s intended and desired result. It was a measure of my trust in him and my heightened Soul Quest openness that I so readily postponed my intended farewells.

This Kambo experience Carlos wanted for me was focused on deep purging. The deeper the purging the greater the potential medical and psycho-spiritual benefits. I threw up a lot in the previous sessions but never had any dark vomit, only clear or light yellow. Instead of consuming the requisite four litres of water I was required to drink previously, I now faced the intimidating task of drinking six litres. My initial react was that it was not possible, at least for me.

I knew by now that Kambo is a battle. I barely managed to consume the required quantity of water in two previous sessions and now I was told to push past the stomach pain and have even more. I was told that it was a matter of mind over matter. So I set out to face yet another challenge when I thought that today would be just a matter of saying goodbye to dear friends.

As I assumed the now familiar posture on a mat beside a throw-up bucket I imagined consuming 50 percent more water in 20 minutes or so. I have set my daily rate at 2.5 litres based upon my body and age and already struggle to accomplish this during a 24 hour period. A litre every 3 minutes felt simply undoable. I hated the idea. Carl, however, calmed my anxieties gently telling me that I needed to dig deep inside and that it was my time to be the warrior. 

I mostly managed the pain but was surprised by the duration and depth of my bodily expulsions.

As I struggled with what being a warrior might possibly entail, I was momentarily distracted when Carlos asked where I wanted the last four burn marks. After some discussion I became aware that the previous five burn marks coupled with today’s four burn marks represented myself and all those who I love or have loved during my life. It was perfect. I have three wives (two divorces) and five children. I now knew that this was the right ting for me to do now.

Carlos methodically lined up today’s Kambo burn marks. The significance of my ‘four directions’ shoulder tattoo then hit me. I had always seen this tattoo as representative of my Metis heritage. I have full native status in Canada. The nine burn marks and this tattoo represents my life and is unique suitability to me.

I have long put aside the bittersweet memories of past marriage partners but, deep in my I know that I will always love them. It felt right, perhaps overdue, to acknowledge them as a foundational part of my life and the mothers of my beautiful children. It also felt like the right time as now I am embarking on another, more spiritual chapter, of my life journey. I didn’t know what lay ahead or even what today might bring but I knew that the circuitous path that I have taken to get here made this moment, this realization, a profound experience for me.

After the Kambo was fully administer and some hesitant drinking experience I a wet fart. I was delighted by the fact that I again didn’t need to crawl the distance but once in the outdoor bathroom stall I didn’t want to leave out of fear of more such embarrassing incidents. I was uncertain how best to proceed. Shortly, however, I cleaned myself up and returned to the ceremony. I knew that staying in the stall was not a viable option once Kambo kicks into gear.

When I settled once again I leaned into the experience as others outside the ceremonial tent embraced each other and slowly began to depart. I wanted to be in two places at the same time but this quickly passed as the Kambo drink-a-thon progressed. It was more intense but also more rewarding that any previous Kambo experience. I mostly managed the pain but was surprised by the duration and depth of my vomit. One in particular seemed to go on forever which caused Carlos to call me a champion.

I felt a certain pride to have completed my third Kambo in four days, along with everything else in spite of my sorry state.

I didn’t feel much like a champion, however. Nor did I look much like one. I was by now only wearing my short summer pants, no socks or shoes, no t-shirt and no underwear. I had left my soiled underwear discretely in the bathroom stall and managed to tell a staff member that I would return for this in due course.

This was the best arrangement that I could make as I was under the influence so going to my room was not an option. The only problem was that I had no belt and after fasting the last 4 days my short pants had a tendency to slip down. I clearly had let myself go during this ‘retreat’. I had clearly become less self-conscious. No-one was judgemental and everyone accepted who I am over my appearance or what I am.

Not only was my general appearance suddenly obvious to me but so was my general lack of good hygiene. I had not shaven or even properly cleaned my teeth for far too long to be excused my circumstances. Yet, at the same time, I also felt that this entire experience was essential an out-of-body experience for me. After all, even eating and sleeping became luxuries. Nonetheless, I felt a certain pride to have completed my third Kambo in four days, along with everything else in spite of my sorry state. 

Taking souvenir pictures of my support community was a lot of fun, at least for me

When Carlos released me I again began to focus on creating a memorable moment or some sort of lasting impression. I realized that some people had already left but more still hanging out, enjoying the last moments together as a community. I grabbed my phone and some props  and began to arrange pictures with everyone that I had connected with in the past few days. To make it more engaging I created a narrative. 

I asked each person that I wanted our picture together to choose the background as long as it meant something special to them. I had received permission to take a bouquet of ceremonial plants and added these to my large plastic bag of medications and an apple. I asked each person when the moment came for a picture together to hold onto the bouquet and apple as I held the medications. 

Everything made sense to me. The bouquet is our common ground, the medications represented the start of my journey. The apple symbolized the lost of our garden of eden and the disconnection we now have with the destruction of our world, our ecosystem. At every new picture I took another bite from the apple so that it started as a whole apple and ended as a meagre core of its former self. 

When the picture was being taken I asked the photographer who I had randomly conscripted to hold the button so that a series of phots would capture the specialness of the moment. Once the we were set I created to the circumstances. As the picture taking proceeded I might either saw something heart felt like ‘I really value our time together’ or ‘I love you’ but I might also try to kiss the men on the lips. Taking souvenir pictures of my support community was a lot of fun, at least for me.

 I felt accepted here as my true, unvarnished self

I will miss everyone that were part of my experience whether they stayed with me when I most needed it or annoyed me or if they were simply a passing exchange. They were almost more than brothers and sisters to me for everyone has shared a deeper, more meaningful experience that I have had with any of my real sisters and brothers. 

I especially sought out Krystal who I had already empatically told that I rejected her sexually suggestive ‘I love you’. Krystal was delighted. She was shocked by my ‘betrayal’ and adamant that she wasn’t being sexual. We were friends again. During the moment of the picture I looked at her and I told her that I loved her. She began to cry and I felt closer to her, again.

Today I felt that I was briefly living my ’true self’, something that Dr. Scot understood when he said ‘you are more fun than colonics, and I love colonics’ and others have described as a warrior and a seeker. I now can view my old body in the context of one of the happiest moments in my life. I must have presented a surreal backdrop with my vomiting but everyone seemed to take it in stride, another day another deep dive but I felt accepted here as my true, unvarnished self. 

For me, this experience required the right attitude and loving myself enough to invest in my true self and higher consciousness.

As I walked to my room I felt that no matter how I looked or how exhausted I felt that I was one of the happiest experiences of my life. I learnt to not fear death, or life. I overcame my health fears and anxieties and for a brief moment became a warrior. I reconnected with my true self. I connected with a spiritual force and a cosmic love through death and rebirth. Would I recommend this experience to others? Yes, but with reservations. Every person is different and every person is dealing with their own issues so it requires the right attitude and loving yourself enough to invest in your true self and higher consciousness.

Confused Consciousness-Day 3C

Tonight is my third and last Ayahuasca ceremony. I’m not sure what to expect but I now know enough to not have too many expectations. I could not have imagined the experiences that I have had during the last few days. After all, I’ve experienced my death, my birth/rebirth as well as cosmic love. I’m getting more and more accepting of the unexpected although not having expectations is still a struggle for me. The very act of consciously letting go only serves to make me more aware of my more deeply-rooted expectations.

As the group sits in a circle around the fire, the Ayahuasca is prepared and blessed. Everyone is fixated on the two indigenous healers; Taita Pedro Divila, a no-nonsense Shaman and traditional indigenous physician from Columbia, and Teresa Shiki, a gentle but powerful Shuar traditional medicine woman from Ecuador. After the blessing there are four separate ceremonies that Pedro gives each of us, while Teresa stays close to the blessed ceremonial plants. 

It takes time to go around once, there is a lot of work and a lot of us. Taita takes his time while giving so fully of himself that he soon becomes drenched in his own sweat. The group is at a different place now. When we first sat around a fire, I remember how animated and engaged we all were. Now I see everyone focused on their journey, their traumas and the insights they are encountering as well as the plans they have made to depart tomorrow or, perhaps, how they will cope with the world that they left behind now that they have changed and the world has not. It is a lot to process.

Now I see my age as a state of mind. The price of admission to a more fully conscious life and more accepting embrace of my own death and dying. 

For me, it was all the above but mostly about how happy I was despite the struggles and upheaval of the past few days. It is too early to know what all this will mean in my life but I am beginning to understand it less as a transitory and more as a transformative experience. I want to change. I want to incorporate the love that I have experienced into my life. I need to. If I don’t then I am dead inside and, I believe, my life will holds no beauty, no wonder. Now that I have awakened and my consciousness expanded this would be a life not worth living.

Maybe these first feelings and impressions will fade as my body processes the ceremonial plants. I hope not but that would be fine too. Everything changes so this, too, will fold into something else. I only know what I’m feeling today. I believe that my authentic self has been fully awakened and that I’ve begun experience my life differently. I’ve begun to transform from a worrier to a warrior who no longer fears death, or life, from an easily irritated person to a calmer, more reflective person and from a non-believer to a believer. 

It is such a beautiful and joyful experience. I never thought that such an experience would be still possible at my age. As I approach seventy years of age, the simple fact is that I wasn’t ready for the opportunities that presented themselves earlier in my life. I was too engaged in my life and what other people thought of me.  I was ego-driven and unable to understand that things and people who don’t accept the real me don’t matter. Now I see my age as a state of mind. The price of admission to a more fully conscious life and more accepting embrace of my own death and dying. 

As an agnostic, who believes that nothing can be known about the existence or nature of ‘God’, the recent spiritual experiences have been especially challenging.

For now, however, I am struggling to understand my spiritual experiences. I’ve never had a spiritual experience or ‘come to god moment’ despite my years in a Catholic schools run by Nuns and Christian Brothers. I was taught some of the verses and scriptures but none of the love. I’ve learnt to fear Nuns, dread the Brothers and reject Catholicism. I understood the emotional and physical abuse and, in time, knew others who were also sexually abused. I could not shape-shift into having Faith, or belief in an unjust god. Eventually I saw people as people, not ‘god’s representatives on Earth’.

Before this weekend, I’ve judged a religion by how well it demonstrates its religiosity. For instance, no religion that I know, with perhaps the exception of Jainism, has shown a loving, compassion way forward for non-human life forms and nature. Yet, now I see that this is another distraction, a mental fabrication. An ‘us versus them’ distinction. In time, I hope to embrace the belief that there are no such barriers between any of us. Maybe I will also be able to not judge people’s choices, especially their choice regarding how they seek to express their spiritual light. 

The overwhelming love and acceptance that I have felt from the Amazonian traditional medicines and breathwork has been given me an overwhelming sense of openness and oneness. I am left to wonder if this overwhelming love was god or god-like. I felt the need to show my acceptance and love before I received ‘cosmic’ love and acceptance.  I waiver between the influence of the Amazonian traditional medicines and a God-like force, one that I sometimes call divine and other times I call light and love. I don’t know what it is but it is now on my ‘bucket list’.

While it is true that I’ve had a spiritual experience I don’t make the connection that many do to their preferred ‘god’. I fundamentally view religion as branded morality. The Bible, the Koran and the Torah, to me, are not much more than a means of teaching morality and controlling the uneducated and gullible. Such organizations strikes me as perfectly suited to the faithful who are willing to be lead by the axiom ‘do as I say, not as I do’.

I take these thoughts with me as I begin to experience the pull of Ayahuasca

As the first two purification circles are completed by Pedro and Teresa, they begin to prepare for the blessing. It is now dark and everyone is journeying inward with their thoughts. When the blessing was given to me, I felt the energy wave cover me as the smoke from Pedro blanketed me. The last circle wasn’t a circle. We were told to line up for the Ayahuasca and taught how to ceremonially receive it. After everyone had consumed their medicine I stayed outside, under the stars.

I have no intentions for the first time and as the medicine slowly takes hold I become outraged by the fact that plant-based Ayahuasca is illegal in most countries. Have we given up this right, this freedom? Why does the government want to stop its people from experiencing Ayahuasca? Does it impede the pharmaceutical industry or make all of us less prone to the industrial work ethic? Maybe. After all, we are living in what we consider to be a modern world, yet our primitive fear-based nature is stopping all of us from experiencing a more conscious life, one out of touch with the natural, life-sustaining world where nature and all life is part of who we are, not separated by our greed and by how others see us.  

Here I feel safe and loved. I am accepted for how I act, not how I look or the trauma that I am suffering. It is also about acceptance for who I am as a person, a flawed person, who is on a path of enlightenment. It is so beautiful that I can only express its beauty in terms of finding harmony after a lifetime of feeling there was no meaning to my life as an individual. A life where universal love and light exists in each of us but that our true self is a key, perhaps the key, to unlocking receptivity and openness to that birthright. I take these thoughts with me as I begin to experience the pull of Ayahuasca.

As she stood with the intention of pushing me into the fire six men wrestled her to the ground. After some considerable effort they managed to carry her away. 

I felt that I was in another blissful state at first. I was comfortable after the two previous experience. I knew what to expect and made the mistake of expecting the same type of things to happen once again. Everyone was blissful. No one was throwing up or having a psychotic event. No one spoke. It seemed like everything had been said and almost everything had been experienced. I recognized familiar faces of including Krystal and a large, powerful black women that referred to herself as ‘’big momma’’. I basked in the serenity.

Later it turned. ‘Big momma’ had transformed from a joyous person engaged by the music to a warrior. She defiantly stood by the fire and called most of us out for our ‘white privileged lives’. She was maybe 15’ from be but I didn’t react to her anger, I saw it as her trauma, her journey. At the same time I agreed with what she was saying. As she persisted and her anger grew, the staff engaged her. The white men made matters worst despite their gentle approach to calming and silencing her. 

When the person on my other side began to express his anger to me. I told him my approach and her accepted this for a while. However, as ‘big momma’ threatened people, he wanted to intervene but decided to move away. I also move but just a little further around the fire. Her anger was now impacting everyone, so I carelessly went between the fire and where she was seated, then turned my back to her. As she stood with the intention of pushing me into the fire six men wrestled her to the ground. After some considerable effort they managed to carry her away, 

I will need to reflect deeply on the question ‘was I real?’ 

I felt stupid but also grateful for the quiet. I moved closer but not close to Krystal. I hadn’t seen her since her psychotic event and wanted to know if she was in a good space, or not. After we exchanged pleasantries, I told her that I was relieved that there was quiet and that I needed to continue my journey. She, however, wanted to continue to engage me despite being told my a helper not to talk. I moved away a little but she persisted. I told her to be quiet or else I would need to move further away. At first she was quiet but when I glanced at her I saw that she was touching herself. It shook me. She called to me but I moved away. 

After a little while I saw that she was still engaged so I began to try and understand what had happened tonight and if how I reacted is teaching me another lesson. In time, I felt that how I reacted to ‘big momma’ showed that I do not live my own advice, something that I found to be truly humbling. It showed me how far I had to go before I could even think about giving anyone any advice and that I had the heart of a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do sanctimonious hypocrite. 

The way I reacted to Krystal, however, was different. I felt that she was turning my love into something sexual, something base not something elevated, like I had wanted. When I was her age I wondered if I was any different with the people that expressed their love for me. I had said that I loved her but also rejected her, not once but twice. In time, I saw that it wasn’t her that I rejected as it was her behaviour. I was judging her issues, her behaviour despite a lifetime of being judged by others for mine. 

I wanted to treat others the way I wanted to be treated but I wasn’t able to do so when it mattered to Krystal and ‘big momma’. I wanted to not be hypocritical. Yet all I could do was imagine what I might have done and to try to be more in touch with my own behaviour. I will need to reflect deeply on the question ‘was I real?’ 

Amazonian Medicine – Day 1

My Uber driver, Carlos, was waiting for me when I arrived. I immediately liked his easy going, non-judgemental and ‘there-are-no-problems’ self. By the time we arrived at the retreat he had revealed that he was a family man with deep spiritual convictions who has used and deeply believes in the wisdom and efficacy of traditional Amazonian medicines. At the time, I didn’t realize that he would become a pillar for me during this retreat but, after only a few days, I began to consider him as both a guiding light and a friend. 

I arrived in Orlando not knowing what to expect other than the upcoming Ayahuasca retreat will not be a pleasant ‘trip’ but rather a  gauntlet of intense self-examination and therapy as well as a test of my health and physical limitations. These things may seem to you like strange things for me to be excited by, but I see these unpromising prospects as the price of my admission to a possible life-changing event for me. My focus was strictly on the life-changing event that I was about to experience. 

After getting settled, Carlos approached and asked me if I wanted to participate in the traditional Amazonian ceremonies of Kambo and Rapé (pronounced ‘ha-peh’). It turns out that my Uber driver is a trained and respected practitioner at SQ. From his perspective in was a good time. I hadn’t eaten in over twelve hours and the first of three Ayahuasca ceremonies was set for tomorrow. The spacing between ceremonies would be good. For me, however, this turn of events was unexpected. I didn’t feel ready.

I didn’t expect to start my experiences with Kambo and Rapé so soon. I caught off-guard but, also, disappointed by the fact that I still had expectations. 

I didn’t really expect this to happen as the concern over the rapid lowering of BP was an issue that offered some concern and hesitation. Craig, the former EMT, had reviewed my medication and taken several BP readings and, despite conflicting machine readings, decided that I was good to go. I trusted in his advise and Carlos’ experience and was comforted by the fact that both would be involved in my ceremony. 

I had spent the last week letting go of my worries and anxieties surrounding this event. I thought that I was in a good place. I felt that I had let go of my medical concerns, my too-old concerns and my fear-of-the-unknown concerns but now it felt like the flood gates were opened and my self-doubt was no longer contained. Was I really ready? Am I strong enough? Why can’t I let go? I soon realized that having expectations was my impediment.

I also felt that realizing this mistake so quickly was positive in that it allowed me to rapidly reframe my perspective. This small change helped me to remember that I need to make allowances and to see my mistakes or missteps as guard rails that could help me stay on my path. Today this mistake helped me to realign myself with my letting-go/letting-be beliefs and to push forward into the unknown with minimal expectations. It also helped me to understand that I was on the right path and that I was meant to be here now. Mostly, it helped me avoid being defined by my self-limiting beliefs and the pitfall of starting this retreat by retreating. 

The Kambo experience was as unpleasant as it was humbling

Carlos lit an incense stick which would be used to create pin holes in my skin for the venom to seep into my circulatory system. We discussed where to burn my skin. He asked me to take off my t-shirt and we studied the 4-direction American native tattoo on my shoulder. He had over thirty similar marks on his shoulder and told me that he had nearly a hundred lasting burn marks throughout his body. We agreed to integrate my marks into my tattoo and my Uber driver and now, brother, proceeded with a practiced intensity.

The first dot of the venomous secretion of the giant leaf or monkey frog was applied and we waited to see how I would react before applying the other two. I could feel the secretion moving through my body like a wave. It started, of course, at my shoulder with a sharp pain that moved quickly through my arm. Next I started to sweat as my entire body heated up and I became light headed to the point where standing up was no longer an option.

Carlos, the former marine, gave me precise instructions. The white plastic bucket (my friend) in front of my mat was to go everywhere that I went. The most effective position to throw up is up on all fours. Breathing properly and regularly is key. When I needed to go to the bathroom, take ‘my friend’ and walk or crawl every step of the 120 feet that now separated us. Carlos told me it was my chance to be a ‘warrior’. It was this thought that stayed with me when I started to uncontrollably vomit. 

As part of the ceremony I was required to drink three 32 fl ounces of water that I now expelled in violent bursts as Carlos yelled ceremonial outbursts of ‘Viva Kambo’. It kept me focused on the fact that this was an act of purging not food poisoning or alcohol binging. In about twenty minutes the sensations decreased. I still couldn’t get off my knees or consider standing but I was comfortable that the worst was over. The waste basket was almost full of yellow liquid that, apparently, was from my now purified liver which could now reset itself much like I now could. 

The Rapé didn’t allow me to get comfortable

Then Carlos suggested I try Rapé, sometimes called the vaccine of the jungle. I resisted at first as I was overwhelmed with the power of Kambo. Then I realized that I was already deep in the jungle of this journey and felt that I might as well go ‘all in’. The first blow pipe of Rapé or Rappeé (pronounced Hepay) was forcefully blown into my nostrils and provide me with the image of the unstoppable power a speedy train slamming into a station. It’s power, especially after experiencing the power of Kambo, still knocked me back and almost almost immediately I felt that I had surrendered my body and no longer felt comfortable standing. 

On the mat, however, I couldn’t decide on the sweet spot that married comfort and control. Not capital C control but a diminishing sense of control that allowed me to throw up with a slight semblance of dignity.  I snorted the Rapé from my nostrils and into my mouth then spit it out the residue into my friend/ly bucket. I vomited uncontrollably. I totally lost and sense of self-consciousness. I didn’t care how I looked or the mess I made. I was in survival mode. I lost all sense of time. 

I was told to breath through my nose and to bring Rappé into my mouth but to not swallow. When my mouth was dry from spitting my bile and remains of the Rapé, I drank more water and my nostrils were lubricated enough that a forcefully inward snort brought more spit for my ‘waste’ bucket. This process was demanding in its own right but, as part of the ceremony, Carlos lit a cigarette and used the smoke to blow a constant cloud of noxious fumes that I was to breathe in as I emptied my nostrils.  

At one point I even held my breath which made no sense given the situation. 

When I couldn’t hold my breath any longer then I inhaled and accepted the foul-smelling smoke into my lungs. The music was ceremonial and, although I couldn’t understand the language, I took comfort from the fact this ceremony was thousands of years old. I accepted it with the realization that, after 5,000 or so years of use, traditional ceremonial medicines have been fine tuned and fully field tested. 
I knew everything would be alright as the the vomiting subsided, the sweating passed and my pulse rate normalized. I started to feel calmer, more grounded. Carlos leaned over me and said that I had done well. I didn’t especially feel like I had done well in any sense except I had survived the ordeal.

When I had nothing left inside me and I could lie back for a moment, and only a moment before the dry urge to purge was again instilled, Carlos suggested that I should eat. I agreed but explained that I was at a lost as how to get food. After all, there wasn’t anything here to eat and I didn’t know the area nor believe that I could leave this tent. Carlos said he would leave me to get some Chinese plain rice and vegetables. It sounded terrific and I offered to pay for his meal as well. He left and I stayed as I sank back into my mattress and bathed in the last of the day’s sun.

When he returned we ate together. Well he ate and I nibbled. He refused my offer to pay for his food and he choose to pay for mine. He was extremely happy with how well I managed both ceremonies. He called me a warrior and said that now I am more prepared for tomorrow’s ceremonies. I began felt a flush of pride until he explained that the quantity of my vomit was the basis for his complimentary outpourings. He told me that I needed to do a lot of purging as it was the most he has ever seen. 

In some perverse way I knew that I needed this struggle at this time

I didn’t want to be seduced by the comforts of my life. I know that this meant a soft entry into an inevitable state of oblivion. I want to stay vital until I die. It may not be in my cards but as long as I can affect my own destiny I plan to do so. I know that this requires effort and that part of this effort involves facing my fears. It would be easy to embrace the green pastures presented by old age and retirement but I know that this idealized image of retirement is an illusion. 

My first step in my journey of higher consciousness was taken in an open-front yurt tent.  My guide and practitioner is my Uber driver. I listened to the sounds of the Amazonian jungle in a hot 30C Orlando, Florida and it almost felt like I was there not here. The walls are plastered with intriguing Cameron Gray tapestries that danced with the soft, warm wind as I remember this morning I was in Canada. It is dark. It was snowing. It was and is home. 

Here, however I felt a tranquility. I felt almost a sense of oneness or belonging, as the sun slowly sank and the day transformed into night. The area is large enough a separate enough to feel safe and to be oneself. There was a lovely sense of shared experience, a commonality among fellow seekers and travellers all intent on having a life-changing experience. It also felt like a little bit of the hippie 60’s but mostly it felt like a place were there was little judgement and lots of spiritual love.

I felt that I could be myself, my true self.