After a while, I slept off and started having hallucinations almost immediately; during the course of these hallucinations I thought I was awake, I tried to get up from my bed but I had this very heavy feeling that couldn’t let me move or even speak. I managed to turn my face to the other side of the room where my roommate was, she was busy getting dressed up for her morning duties at her unit, I tried calling her but my voice felt as though it was inside and couldn’t be heard by the outside world. I kept looking at her direction until she turned and looked my direction but she had this look like she was staring at thin air, I felt like a ghost, I got so scared and thought I was really a ghost until I immediately gained consciousness that I was asleep and not dead. This is the weirdest part, the part where I literally felt as if I was fighting Death itself, I forced myself out of the sleep world to reality; I was finally awake and thankful that I was not dead really. This got me thinking about many unthinkable things and I didn’t wish to have this kind of experience ever again; I was terrified and was forced to believe that people who died in their sleep had similar experiences.
The Ayahuasca Experience
Ayahuasca is a hallucinogenic drug or brew that people mostly traditional and spiritual people use for healing and treatment of psychological and physical illness. It is believed to be the most effective hallucinogen that exists naturally and is quite abundant in the Amazon. It is mostly used during spiritual ceremonies and in shamanic healing rituals in South America. This Ayahuasca drink is made from the combination of Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis both of which are vines and leaves of different plants in the Amazon respectively; The leaves of Psychotria viridis contains DMT ( with the fancy name being N, N-Dimethyltryptamine) which is the active ingredient that triggers hallucination. When you drink the ayahuasca mixture, the DMT which is the active ingredient in the leaves move through your blood and straight to your brain with the help of the Banisteriopsis caapi (which is also in the mixture). The Banisteriopsis caapi helps the DMT to get directly to the brain without much interruption because it helps to inhibit the action of your gut enzyme and in the process letting the blood containing DMT to exceed the blood-brain barrier area of the brain; This is where the hallucinations kick off.
Before I proceed again, let me share an interesting story of someone who has had the ayahuasca experience. So, this dude was going through a very bad breakup and at that same period, he lost his job. Things were not going too well for him and he felt as if the world was crushing on him, so he spoke to his friends about it and most of them recommend an ayahuasca ceremony for him, as it is believed that people go through this ceremony to relieve themselves of pain, trauma, and other discomforting situation. It was his first time, was scared but had no choice so he had to go through with it because all he wanted at that point was to be emotionally stable so he would have the guts to move on and fix up his life. According to him this experience is a very spiritual one, it’s science to me because the DMT in the mixture is messing with the brain and hallucinations and what not is expected when our brains are being messed with but for him it was more than that, it was like, he was having a conversation with his inner self and felt at peace in the process.
He said that after he drank the ayahuasca given to him by the ayahuasquero (trained traditional individual that has a speciality in preparing and producing the ayahuasca tea) he waited for about 30 minutes to an hour until he vomited and the other people who also partook of this ceremony did the same. This whole environment was stinky but yet so intense, people were crying, some were just soliloquizing, others were on the floor and he was just trying to feel a bit better, the environment got more intense that he couldn't bear it again, so he went out and had his lone time. According to him, the drink helped him through his self-realisation process and there was something more to the drink, like a supernatural power.
The traditional people believe that you should always have your desires in your heart as you drink the ayahuasca tea; if you don’t follow this instruction, your desires won’t be granted by the gods lol. The good thing about this ceremony is that almost about 90 per cent of the people who go through it change their personality and attitude towards life and people in a positive way. This tea is believed to heal people suffering from depression and psychological disorders. People who have had ayahuasca experiences say that it is feeling that is somewhat energetic and somewhat like a near-death experience. Science definitely won’t buy all these spiritual beings or deities they claim to meet or the fact that they literally talk to their spirit and souls and in the process discover a lot about themselves.
What Happens in Our Brains When We drink Ayahuasca
Just as I mentioned earlier in this article; the mixture contains DMT and the vine helps in inhibiting the action of the gut enzyme and in the process allowing the DMT in the leaves to move through the blood straight to the blood-barrier area of the brain. When this occurs, certain areas of the brain that deals with reasoning, decision-making, emotional impulses, the parts where early and significant memories of our lives are stored are hyperactivated. These areas of the brain are the neocortex, the amygdala and the insula; when these parts of the brain are hyperactivated the individual begins to gain new consciousness, as the previous patterns of events stored in the brain begin to change and form new and more relaxing patterns. Not only that, ayahuasca is also believed to affect the “default mode network” area of the brain that is affiliated with anxiety, depression and social phobia. It affects this area of the brain by decreasing the activities in that area of the brain and the process lowering depression, anxiety and social phobia of the individual which could still explain why people who undergo this treatment tend to be more at peace and less depressed. Also, DMT also plays an important role in this process, as it is believed to have connections to proteins that in the preservation of long-term memory. It is also believed to have the potential of killing cancerous cell as the alkaloids contained in the vine induces apoptosis in liver cancer cells of humans. This experience we have when we drink the ayahuasca as opposed to the belief of the traditional producers of this drink is just our brain messing with us as a result of the DMT contained in the drink.
People’s experiences are usually different according to the way their brain responds to it and what they seek as they carry out this traditional experiment. It’s intense and overwhelming for some people and outrightly scary for some people which makes them try to describe the experience as a Near-Death experience. I wouldn’t know exactly how they feel and what they go through because I haven’t taken the ayahuasca mixture or brew before and I certainly do not plan on taking it as the few instances I have had Near-Death Experiences was really frightening and freaky. The ayahuasca drink and ceremony is illegal in some countries like in the United States because it could be fatal at times. There are cases reported of people who actually died because they carried out this ayahuasca ceremony; you know the traditional people would most likely not check the health status and complications of each individual that’s willing to drink this really acidic mixture that makes you vomit and sometimes causes diarrhoea even in very healthy individuals.
Regardless, the ayahuasca experience is usually help-full for the emotionally unstable people, people with psychedelic problems and people struggling with depression or going through a bad break-up. The list is endless, it does feel like a Near-Death Experience for some people but for you, it might feel a lot more different and you could end up being at peace as the most of the people who take part in the ayahuasca ceremony do. I would advise anyone planning to take part in the ayahuasca ceremony to be sure that their health status and doctor say that it’s safe for them to avoid health complications or in the worst case scenario; Death.
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