Deep in the Amazon jungle lay a tiny little shack with bug screens for walls and a roof made out of banana leaves that leak when it rains. The four wooden poles that hold the little shack up are normally infested with termites, and, on rare occasions we can find these rather annoying, but hard-working insects crawling on the tiny, firm cot given to sleep on. The wooden floors have cracks in them where the spiders and cockroaches get in at night. Aside from the man who swiftly delivers the full fish (eyes included) and two plantains for lunch, you spend all of your time in total isolation.
I lived in this tiny little shack, talking to no one but spirit, for three months.
“In order to love someone fully, you must first fully love yourself. It is unwise to be half of a person searching for another half.”
We’ve all heard this saying, whether it be from friends, relatives or internet memes. And it sounds simple enough, right?
We live in a world today where people almost completely avoid the act of being alone. If we aren’t talking with family, friends or colleagues, we entertain ourselves with YouTube, social media, and Netflix. It seems almost near impossible to just sit with ourselves, even if it’s only for a day.
When I left for Peru to begin this journey, I made the effort to delete every social media application off of my phone. I quietly entered this lifestyle, only letting relatives and close friends know when and where I was. I’ve always liked my alone time, so I thought isolation would be easy-squeezy. Wrong. From my personal experience, isolation was the most painful challenge I have ever taken on.
I had only been living in this tiny little shack for a day when my anger, obsession, lust, frustration, impatience, lack of confidence, and fear dramatically highlighted. It was strange because I didn’t think I possessed any of these traits. Why had I never observed these patterns in myself before? The simple answer is that I had avoided myself for God only knows how long. This was the first time I actually had to observe myself, and there was no running from it this time. There was no one around me and there was nothing I could do to entertain myself from the truth of who I really was.
By the third day, termites had devoured my only pair of shoes. I started pacing back and forth with anxiety, and I had frequent outbursts and meltdowns. I literally drove myself crazy. My violent inner voice took front and center stage as I began to put myself down for my behavior.
By day 5, I had undergone two terrible Ayahuasca ceremonies, and termites had infested my entire shack.
The first thing I healed from in Peru (and it was a process, I tell you) was the massive fear of living and dying alone. But it wasn’t until my fourth ceremony (one of the most brutally honest and painful ceremonies) that I was able to pinpoint where it all started.
I was run over by a lawn mower when I was five, and right after that, my father completely deserted the family. I've never thought of my father's abandonment as a problem. I had some father issues when I was a teenager, but aside from that, I didn't think it affected me all that much. Wrong. Dead wrong. His leaving was the root of many of my unhealthy behavioral patterns and issues. His leaving had deeply scarred me and was directly related to my consistent pattern of unhealthy romantic relationships. His leaving had not only caused a massive fear of abandonment, but also created a behavior pattern in myself where I, myself, became the abandoner.
I spent a good portion of my time healing from this trauma alone. In many ceremonies, memories (not good ones) of how my father treated me when he was around would surface which would help me to pinpoint another issue of mine that had gone unnoticed prior. As painful as these moments were, I can happily say that I'm close to 90% healed from this trauma now.
The thing about plant medicine is that it is a process. It is no quick fix, which most people are seeking. I'm going to be honest; there is no quick fix in life. You cannot rush your healing. This is why I use percentages to indicate how close I am to being fully healed from something. More than occasionally, plant medicine will throw you a curveball. For instance, I'd set "confidence" or "unconditional love" as intentions, and instead of getting information on how to be more confident or loving, I'd be shown exactly why I lacked confidence or why I didn't unconditionally love myself or others.
I found that one of the hardest things about isolation was learning something about myself (particularly something painful) and then having to go back into isolation without sharing. Through this, I learned how to be very, very gentle and loving with myself. I couldn't put that responsibility on anyone else when no one else is around.
The frustration I felt for the termites getting on my bed or in my clothes was never really about the termites at all. My frustration was mine, towards myself, directed outward into the world. I remember about half-way through my three-month process, I had gotten done with a very rough ceremony and was completely exhausted. I walked into my house to find termites had infested everything, including my bed. What had frustrated me in the beginning of my process no longer frustrated me. Even though I was sleep deprived, I cleaned their mess throughout the entire day. I did not frown once. I fell asleep in a clean bed, grateful to sleep.
Quieting the mind is a rather tough process in itself. But after being alone for so long, the pacing dissipated and I was able to sit and just look out the screen walls for hours and hours at a time. I was able to connect with nature and with spirit on a whole new level.
Living in isolation was painful. And being that I'm training to be a shaman, I have to spend large portions of the rest of my life in it. But I no longer fear being alone. I am 100% healed from that fear. Believe me when I say that being alone is where you actually heal. Finding the God consciousness within you is what will ignite the flames of real, passionate, true love; generated inward, projected outward.
Even with three months of total isolation, I'm still not ready for the remarkable soul that I give my heart to, whoever that may be. I am hardcore working on myself right now and I like where I am on my journey. I don't rush the process, and if anything, I am close to mastering the art of patience and I deeply appreciate the magic of divine timing. I want to be able to give that remarkable person the love that his soul yearns for and deserves. And I cannot give that person that love yet because I still have dark spots that I need to work on. The more energy and love I give to myself, the better shaman, mother and spouse I will be in the future.
You don't have to go into the jungle like I did. I understand that's pretty extreme, and I understand that people have lives and jobs. But I do recommend taking a vacation alone, taking a walk without your phone, or whatever you can do today to understand yourself a little better. If you are interested though, I definitely recommend plant medicine if you are seeking to heal certain parts of yourself that you may not recognize or see. Plant medicine has healing potential I've not found anywhere else, which is why I'm so passionate about it and why I want to be a channel for it. One of the most beautiful things I've gotten to witness in my life is seeing other people after an ayahuasca ceremony reveal pieces of their souls they had only recently found.