We are living in a time of global transformation. An immense change is taking place, marked by significant upheaval and chaos, and many people are finding themselves at a crossroads, questioning all that they have known. There is a growing movement that calls us to transform our way of life, from our governing systems, to our relationships with the Earth and each other, to the beliefs that guide our lives. People want to live in more mindful and compassionate ways, and are seeking greater wellness and balance. There is a growing vision of global peace, joy, freedom and prosperity for all, and we long to shed the old ways and embrace this new vision. The reality is that as we awaken, we will encounter the conflict between the way things have been, and the new ways that we desire to create.

Navigating this conflict can be challenging. Though we want to live in a harmonious world, we carry beliefs, habits, patterns, and stories that must be transformed in order to come into alignment with that vision. Gandhi said, “We but mirror the world… If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.” No true transformation can happen without courageously facing our shadows. This is often chaotic, as we honestly look at our conditioning, habits and patterns, our wounds, and stories about who we are. We must feel the things that were too difficult to feel, and find meaningful ways to release what has kept us stuck. This is a true hero’s journey: to create a peaceful, joyful, and prosperous world we must face the places within ourselves that are not peaceful, joyful and prosperous and transform them.

As we follow the journey of transformation, there are many beautiful traditions that offer meaningful practices and wisdom. However, it is possible to engage in spiritual practice for years and continue to long for a breakthrough that continues to elude us. Desiring transformation, and remaining stuck in the limitations of the mind, change comes slowly. Making the leap from mental understanding to embodied experience is key, and David Deida says it perfectly: “Knowing the truth is fairly useless; feeling it is profound; living it makes all the difference.” It is one thing to understand wisdom as a concept, but to bring it into our lives, we must awaken beyond the small mind as we explore the darkest parts of ourselves with understanding and compassion, and let go of what no longer resonates.

Today, many people are making the journey to Peru to accelerate this process through working with the plant medicine Ayahuasca, which has been used in the Amazon Basin for thousands of years to expand awareness and facilitate healing. Ayahuasca opens our hearts and minds, and for a time we are free from a lifetime of conditioning. Coming into direct experience of the present moment, we understand things as they truly are. From this awakened perspective we know ourselves and our world in a new way, and it becomes easier to see the necessary steps to make lasting change in our lives. Though the work required to make those changes is no less demanding, the pathway becomes clear.

For this expanded awareness to take root within us in a profound and lasting way, we must also release what keeps us stuck. Ayahuasca is known as la purge—the purge—for the profound cleansing process it initiates. As we purge, Ayahuasca helps us to unlock the physical, mental, emotional and energetic ties we have to our old habits and patterns. We come to understand the roots of our behaviors, including the ways we hold on to things that no longer serve us, and through purging we leave those things behind. Through this process, it is possible to envision new choices, and to choose new thoughts, leaving us free to recreate ourselves based in a larger understanding of who we are and how we want to live our lives. As we recreate ourselves, we inevitably recreate our world in a sustainable, grounded way that honors the fullness of our vision for peace, joy, freedom and prosperity.


Originally published in Natural Awakenings DC, August 2016

Top photo by: Yulia Mikhalchuk

Ayahuasca: A Hero’s Journey