“ARE YOU READY?” were the last words Alberto Varela said to me before entering the geodesic dome, a place where I would have the greatest experience of my life.

A DOCUMENT THAT PRECISELY DETAILS  A  PROCESS OF TRANSFORMATION AND SOME OF THE COUNTLESS BENEFITS PROVIDED BY WORKING WITH  AYAHAUASCA AND PSYCHOTHERAPY:

The encounter with the cosmic consciousness within me and the healing of my physical body, supported and guided by Ayahuasca and the Inner Mastery International team.

By Estanislao Martinez Grau.
Psychotherapist.

Introduction

I never dreamed of having an experience like this. But above all I never imagined I would expose myself at a personal level to the extent that I am going to now, sharing facts that if I had read them written by someone else a few weeks ago would have seemed to me imaginative, boastful and naive, not to say a pack of lies, at the very least. So this is coming “out of the closet” for me as at this point in my life I feel I have nothing to lose and no image to “maintain”. I thank you in advance for taking the time to read these eight pages where I will expose  my process of personal transformation in an intimate and unashamed way. The reason for writing it, far from boasting which I’m not interested in at all, comes from the wish that my experience may be useful to show that, even if it is just for one other human being, that human evolution and physical healing are possible.

I made contact with Ayahuasca in April this year, the day after my 30th birthday. It was my birthday present and what was supposed to be one more experience in my journey through the world of personal growth and self-knowledge which has already accompanied me the last 6 years of my life. After nearly 5 years of humanist individual psycho-therapy, and 6 years of intensive and varied training, investing over 40,000€ in the process, taking Ayahuasca had to be just another step on this path of my human development which was supposedly meant to be long, hard and costly, and which I had bought from my therapists and teachers.

The last few months before the retreat had not been good. Gastrointestinal problems that had been dragging on for 4 years kept making my life complicated as they connected me with my rage and hatred which kept me constantly irascible with the world, with others and with myself. On the other hand I was taking up the relationship with my partner again which had been on “stand by” for a few months after 9 years of relationship, 6 of them married. The 30s crisis had hit my partner with force and getting back together was turning out a difficult challenge to sustain and it continuously made me connect with doubt and confusion because I did not know what I wanted. On the other hand my professional activity as a therapist, accompanying individual processes and working with groups was not at its best. Despite my practice being busier than ever and the fact that I kept doing courses, I found myself immersed in doubts about the real effectiveness of the therapies that I had received and in which I had been trained. Neither continuous supervision nor apparently successful therapeutic cases made me feel quite convinced that what I was doing was very helpful, neither for others nor for myself since changes were slow and sometimes unsustainable over time.

With all that going on I came to the retreat with a sense of inner fear that I tried to hide even from myself and that made me feel ashamed since everything was supposed to be quite different turning 30 just as I had promised myself. Despite everything I had been told about the good organisation of the retreats, I found it hard to trust those people who were apparently making so much money with the use of a plant that was supposed to be sacred.  So much advertising on social networks and those so long texts on the website didn’t sit well with me. I especially found it difficult to trust  the visible head of the organisation, Alberto Varela, who seemed so arrogant and  solemn speaking in some of the videos that I had seen.

That first night before the session I was very nervous. I tried to control it without much success. It helped me to hear Alberto’s explanations, who gave me much more confidence in person. But I was still seeing something in him which I did not like and which I couldn’t identify. It also helped me to be allowed myself to question my doubts. Everything seemed safe but something inside me was distressed even though some of the most veteran participants had tried to reassure me with their stories. I remember that they then prepared us for the session, receiving Oskaya from Alejandra’s hands, and  her intention was a tremendous gift that left me sitting on my mattress crying with joy and very focused. That was the best moment of my first session. What came next was not so nice. The dose was small as it was my first time and it didn’t produce any noticeable effect on me. I remember that it sat well in my stomach which I celebrated since even water had not agreed with me lately. What felt like several hours to me passed by and no effect of any kind appeared. I tried to be calm and focused but nothing happened. So when it was offered the booster, I decided to take it. I don’t know if it was because I took it with fear or because it joined the previous dose but what happened next could be compared with a weekend getaway to purgatory; I threw up a lot and after that I was very very weak, curled up in the foetal position, unable to move at any time during the session. When we were allowed to go to bed I was practically on all fours getting to the room.

The next day I woke up with no trace of discomfort and with a certain level of comfort. But above all with clear understanding. Ayahuasca had shown me so clearly and without any subtlety what I had been doing all my life; messing up my experience of living because of control, fear and judgement about any experience.To be able to integrate it in the morning in a group was important to me and helped me have a less traumatic experience the following night when I took only one slightly larger dose than the night before. That second night I had no more than a few physical sensations and some small insights. I left the retreat very happy as in the afternoon workshop I was able to work deeply on an important matter that ended up with a long healing hug with Oscar, one of the facilitators.

During the month and few days between the first retreat and this second one, there were no big changes in my life. It is true that my emotions were more available to me and that after an open-hearted talk with my partner I was able to feel closer to her. But my irritable colon was still irritating me and I still felt that my therapeutic work was getting poorer and less and less effective. I felt that perhaps continuing having powerful and revealing experiences with Ayahuasca could be useful for my process, so I decided to continue attending retreats. This time I was eager to attend one for 3 days due to the fact that the ceremonies would be guided by a shaman from the Amazon. I arrived with a reduced sense of fear and insecurity as I knew the place, some of the participants and because I knew that Ayahuasca would not do me any harm. Even so I was nervous. Meeting the shaman left me a little disappointed. I am not sure why and  soon my opinion of him would change.That first night I decided to surrender completely to the experience. The dose I received was larger than those the first weekend. I quickly felt the effect and could really hold it this time. I felt how my body became small to contain my being and every time I breathed my body put a limit to my soul which seemed to want to leave my body. I could hold on to the experience pretty well but I did not completely release. I was still unconsciously controlling and judging that experience from a place of fear.

Meeting and surrendering myself to my heavenly mother.The deep connection with the Being and joy of life.

The miracle came the second night of my second retreat with Ayahuasca International. I call it miracle because there is no other way to call it. It is very important for me to say here that I have always been a very pragmatic person and that from the mind I could understand all those concepts that “we are all one”, “everything is within us” etc, etc. I had never really come to believe deeply in anything spiritual or mystical beyond feeling it from the mind, and I had had some peak experiences that lasted no more than a couple of seconds. I secretly despised and made fun of anyone who came to me with esoteric or magical stories, or stories that had something to do with anything that was not available to my perception. I was convinced that they were ways of escaping from this human reality of which so far I had believed that there was no other choice but to deal with it but with resignation. I would never have expected to live through and far less share publicly anything at all like the experience that I am about to describe.

That first night I went with intention and decided to “work”  on giving all of myself. I thought I had managed to trust the night before but I felt I had not surrendered myself completely. The dose had its effect within minutes and I quickly noticed my body expanding even more than the night before. A sea with visions of classical geometric figures was present in my mind. I just kept telling myself “hold it, hold it, hold it” which was the way I had at that moment to say to myself “surrender”. The visions increasingly became part of me. They were not visions anymore, rather they became part of my total experience. I did not see them. I lived them. At one point I could clearly feel how I was having my entire gastrointestinal tract “operated on” by a kind of delicate bamboo cane surrounded by coloured ribbons. There wasn’t anybody, just that “energy” healing me while I could leave myself to “that” which was doing its job subtly, quickly and painlessly. I felt that those “energies” had really healed my intestinal problems.

Almost without realising it, after this experience my body began to disintegrate and melt at the same time. It was like coming home as they say. In fact I did not get anywhere, I just joined something that sprang from my solar plexus and that flooded everything converting me gradually in that totality. I can not describe in words the magic of that experience, but it was something like a twinkle of millions of precious rays of light in every imaginable colour. Such was the sense of peace and harmony that I don’t know if I will ever have an experience in my life like that again. It was like being back in mum’s womb. It was like being in the presence of God and being God myself at the same time. That presence was clearly feminine and maternal to me, as it was so cosy, warm and tender and it looked after me and held me as a mum does with her little boy. I was one with the universe and for the first time in my life I could really relax, let control go, trust, accept and surrender to the mysterious force in the universe that had been opened before me and in me at the same time. And as I understood it would never leave me ever again, very slowly that feeling lost strength and I started regaining consciousness of my body. It was like a return trip from that cosmic consciousness to my little human body of man. In that moment I only trusted, accepted and surrendered to what was happening, without trying to control it at all. On the way back I clearly saw what could be called “light beings” or clean energy that appeared before me as small blurry lights and they moved apart to make way for other ones, it was as if dozens of buddhas, angels and enlightened beings were rejoicing that I had arrived there and that I could return to tell other people and share it. I never felt any negative or “dark” presence and if there was one it remained overshadowed by the beautiful and luminous figures which kept me company on the way back to my human experience.

Once I could be fully aware of my body again I felt that what had happened would change my life. I felt full and had absolute confidence in  existence, in my heavenly mother as I now like to call it. I knew in the depths of my being, and  without any doubt, that someday when I leave my human body I may go back there with her where I had come from. I knew that no one could take that away from me, and that no matter what happened that experience would live in my being and my human heart. I knew that was inside me, and actually not only inside me, but inside all sentient beings in the universe. At that time I felt special and away from the others because I had lived that experience and it was only from the mind that I understood that it could not be just my heritage. I felt an enormous pleasure but above all great confidence in “that what we are all made of” is “good and generous” and that it just wants us to evolve. I felt I could trust that everything coming in my life from that moment on would be good even when I could not see it at that time, but I knew I could trust, accept and surrender to any experience existence brought me.The rest of the night was a show of continuous insights. If a thought came to me I automatically solved it in the form of deep understanding. I could learn more about my character and my ego in those hours until dawn than in 6 years of study and deep experimentation of my mind, my emotions and instincts.

Throwing up was also magical. I remember that I did it with a smile on my face, and I clearly saw that what was coming out of my body were “parasites”; I had been obsessed for some time with the idea that my gastrointestinal problems were caused by parasites. I had followed a long and complex de-worming plan that barely made me any better and had made me more controlling, if even possible. By vomiting however I clearly saw what these parasites were; judgement and control, putting a good or bad label on every experience of my life, and wanting to control even the smallest detail in my life. That was what had screwed up my life and my intestine, and now not only I had been “operated on” by a compassionate and loving force and I had been cradled in an ocean of consciousness and peace,but I had also gotten rid of those parasites that were sucking my life away by myself with love. Not without first thanking them for trying to protect me, it was fear that created them and did not allow me to be confident and made me judge and control every moment, now I no longer needed them…..EVERYTHING WAS FINE.

The next day I did not wake up as “illuminated as I was supposed to be” but I went on with my day as someone else at the retreat. My intestines did not bother me so much but there was no miraculous change; from noon I began to worry because I couldn’t find my notebook. It was especially useful as I had notes in it on the different workshops and training I had attended since January. And it also contained many of the notes I had taken the night before, almost in the dark, of the hundreds of insights I had had. It was a misfortune for me to lose  it, since one of the things that had accompanied me all my life was my poor memory and inability to remember important discoveries from the mind which I then didn’t integrate. That’s why I had the “obsession” of writing them down, always, so not having my notebook anymore meant not having all that knowledge or my own discoveries. On the other hand in the afternoon the house was overcrowded with a wave of  new participants in the retreat and I began to feel that I needed important space. All this made my “neuroses”  be on edge and made my nature and ego to come up, sweeping away any trace of the work of the previous day. Night came and I wasn’t calm, nor had I managed to barely retain the feeling of confidence from night before.

What a disappointment I thought. It has just been one more experience, one more experience of those that I had not integrated …but fortunately I was very wrong. Before starting the session I bumped into Alberto who I asked to talk for a few minutes. I was surprised  to see how calm he was with all the chaos of accommodating so many new people. I shared my experience from the night before, looking for recognition as I had always  done with all the figures that I transfer authority to. The father image. But instead of that I got a question that took me out of myself for a moment. Alberto questioned me if I had ever distrusted him or the organisation. At that moment I felt that my ego was left aside and I answered a clear and forceful YES without thinking. But I specified that I had experienced clear insight and a chink of joy ran through my body. I told him, just how I felt it, that this distrust was a reflection of myself, that everything that  annoyed me about him, everything I did not like about him and his organisation, spoke to me clearly of myself and my shadows. At that moment I felt free and I desperately needed to give him a hug for the gift he had just made me. I had realised in a experiential way and not from the head, that everything is in me and I can not see anything outside that does not dwell inside.

When later on Alberto said “you are ready” and I was “awarded” a place in front of him for the session, he shared the scene of the question and the embrace in front of about 80 people before we started I felt special, of course. On one hand from the ego because “the father” had recognised me and seated me on “his right” but also from the being; I felt special because my example of unfounded distrust served as a mirror for others there. The session started with us knowing that the Ayahuasca was stronger so I expected an experience at least like the one from the previous night. I decided to work on gratitude and compassion since the night before my peak experience had only included me and the others had been left in the background. I knew (at that time from the mind) that it was not complete and I needed to include the other beings who accompanied me in this existence, in my human experience, and above all to connect with gratitude for the opportunity to live that union, that healing and the coean of insights from the night before.

After what seemed to be several hours after taking Ayahuasca, nothing happened and I was calm accepting that I would not have an experience like the one the previous night again, which was what I caught myself secretly waiting for; neither that night nor possibly ever  would that powerful experience happen to me again. Anyway, I accepted it and did not resign myself as I would have done at other times. I decided to spend the night calm, feeling the music, and in contact with whatever my heavenly mum had prepared for me even if it were boredom or discomfort like had happened in other sessions. I really felt a slight discomfort in my stomach like in each session. Once again I could hold it, although after a couple of hours I got tired and I sat up straight to throw up. I threw up all the Ayahuasca and a little water, and I had nothing else to throw up. When I finished I was calm and I lay down again; and it was then when the second and final miracle happened. First I could clearly feel how “something” ran through my gut forcefully but without any pain, It went through each of its parts, from the bottom up and when it got to the stomach it was dissolved without a trace., There any remaining discomfort after throwing up disappeared completely and a feeling of well-being, not comparable to anything I had felt before, started to flood me. It began as something physical. I was felt very good. Then it went up to my head and face and a smile of utter happiness rested there. It was completely spontaneous and didn’t disappear from my face until halfway through the next day. I had never experienced anything like it. I connected with a kind of happiness and  pleasure unknown to me, and in addition they did not leave. I felt something that can not be expressed in words, but I can try to do so. My body was relaxed at a level unknown to me. I released all control and suddenly my mind was completely empty of thought. I was experiencing a state of deep meditation, with my eyes open and in full contact with the world around me. I remember a period when I was aware that there were no thoughts going through my mind. Insight automatically came to me summarising several existential questions.

The final answer was always the same, EVERYTHING IS FINE, everything is perfect as it is, because my heavenly mother is perfect, as is the existence that emanates from her. I remember the sentence (everything is right) resounding in my mind each of the few times that something kept it busy and my smile becoming increasingly bigger and more gentle. The rest of the time I could only take pleasure in the most complete enjoyment I have ever felt. It was all so perfect. I remember that every person who I saw from my place seemed to me beautiful and complete. I just wanted to touch and hug the people passing by my side.

It was a feeling of genuine brotherhood with everybody. There was no difference among us, we were all the same thing. I also remember that another one of the sentences that resounded for a while in my mind was, I HAVE ALREADY ARRIVED. I saw Alberto far away I and sent him that thought, “I have come brother, thank you for leading me so far.” Now, with perspective, I can say with no fear of being judged or branded as a fake that I was enlightened that night, and I have returned to my human experience. I was a Buddha for a few hours, but I did not feel special or different, all the participants in the retreat were Buddhas that night. Some of them felt it and some did not. I could clearly see that I was not the only one who reached that state that night. For example, it was beautiful when I went to the bathroom and I met another participant who I spontaneously hugged full of enjoyment and called him little brother, not because that was the jargon of the most veteran participants or facilitators, but because I felt it, and we merged in one of the most beautiful hugs I remember in my life. Then I decided to go out and see the stars and I strolled around the place.

I remember it was all so perfect and harmonious that I could not believe it. My happiness and my pleasure didn’t fit in my chest. I lay down on a hammock under the light of the stars and I remember looking at them with brotherly love and with such enormous trust that we were the same thing. I even called some of them gorgeous because it sounded more familiar to me as if we had met “before”. The night went on with that state of pure love, pleasure and enjoyment that did not leave me and I thought I would stay that way forever. In fact in the morning I felt exactly the same, perhaps with a little less intensity but that “stupidly celestial” smile was not gone from my face and it accompanied me until I got home in the afternoon. I wanted to hug everyone, but hugging them with my soul,

I got closer to people who days before I had a feeling of rejection towards and I joined in beautiful molten hugs and brotherly looks with everyone who crossed my path. I felt so blessed by that experience that I knew in the depths of my being that my life had changed forever. So much so that I did not quite know whether to go back home to “my life” or whether to stay living there in that ocean of joy and peace which was tempting. But I knew that the ultimate test was to see if I could take what I had experienced to my daily life so I took the challenge of going back home, but not before saying goodbye with huge hugs to all my little brothers and sisters wishing them luck in the last session which I would not be participating in. I had already had enough, there was nothing else for me to find. I had already arrived where I had to, at least for now.

The disappointing and hopeful return to my human reality

So back home, still with that smile of absolute bliss, I felt deep down that if at that moment I had an accident and died, I would not cling to life. I was prepared to die. Not from the head but from my being. I felt that my human experience had been enough for me, in fact it had been perfect and I would embrace whatever life brought me since TRUST, ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT resided not only in my heart but in my being.

It was a beautiful trip back, but as I had suspected that state of “grace” was not going to last forever. When I entered the city where I live, which is a “hole” as my friends and I used to call it when we were teenagers, I clearly felt how that state of pleasure faded almost immediately. It was a difficult reality check and it was especially hard for me, but after a few minutes I remembered the trust from my heart and that  it was being clouded by the “murky” energy I’ve always felt in my city. and I understood that my test to take my trans-personal experience to the everyday and human field began there. Hugging my partner when I got home was not as special as I had imagined, and the same happened with the group of friends I met later that I had not seen for months. I felt something between disappointment and kind of anxiety at times but there was still some of that trust and acceptance in the background that kept me  present and holding everything that was happening to me. The next day joy and commitment to “what is” returned much more weakly, and although it was not to my liking I put aside the judgement that what happened to me was “not good” and

I understood that it was part of the integration process and I clearly understood also that the higher you climb the harder the fall. I do not feel yet that I have fallen, but rather have landed abruptly first and then smoothly. The smile also came back, although less exaggerated, and little by little I began to get over the disappointment of the previous day to reach a much calmer state without the levels of happiness and peace of the previous two days. I clearly felt that something had changed in me however, something deep. And “that thing” that was so wonderful that I had experienced had not gone even if it had been initially overshadowed by the disappointment of not being able to remain “in the clouds” and on earth at the same time.

The real test has been coming every day with my routine and the ups and downs of everyday life. I want to emphasise that my attitude and my presence have completely changed, with my partner, with my parents, with my friends and even with people I come across in the street. And especially with people I accompany in processes, both individually  in the consulting room as well as in training groups. Now I can “see them” much more. I can feel their pain and observe it with love and patience with no influence in me and no will to rescue them from any of the experiences they go through. I have declared myself helpless as my little brother Sergio says, because I understand that their pains are part of their vital evolutionary process. I respect  “others” much more and I do not pretend that I can convince anyone of anything anymore.  A feeling of compassion with which I want to continue working and developing is beginning to swell in me. Also remarkable is  the very high level of trust in life that has remained in me after this experience. I have given up control almost completely and I’m really committed to what life brings me, convinced that I will be able to manage it and accept it. Physically I can say that my irritable colon has been “healed” 99% of the discomfort, and symptoms have disappeared. Now I can eat absolutely anything without fearing that it will not agree with me and I feel how all the food feeds me. This alone is already proof of the miraculous healing power of Ayahuasca as medicine, not only for awareness but also for the physical body. My body is much more relaxed on all levels. Releasing control has been incredibly good for my body. Several people have told me this week that my face has changed and that my stiffness, which tormented me and made me sick almost since I was a childhood, has almost disappeared  completely. I also feel a lot more mental alertness and my memory has greatly improved. There is a presence that is new in me. I think less, I feel more and I feel much more satisfied with what every present moment brings me.

A week after my experience I can say that I am integrating in my life, step by step, everything I experienced in those three days of deep contact with the cosmic consciousness that dwells in me along with the companionship of Ayahuasca and with the Ayahuasca International team. I feel in my heart a deep longing to accompany other beings so that they can go through some kind of process similar to the one I have had the privilege of experiencing and I keep going through day after day since I came back, since at least now I have the deep conviction that Ayahuasca and psycho-therapeutic accompaniment are a very powerful and valuable tool for everyone who is willing to see and surrender to whatever they have inside in order to heal and evolve as a human being. That is why I want to congratulate and thank Alberto Varela and his organization publicly, for their tremendous courage bringing these tools of awareness all over the world. Who knows how many years would have passed for me to decide to go to the jungle and take Ayahuasca. Thanks Alberto for bringing it to a close, comfortable and safe environment, ensuring that thousands of people can benefit from this gift. Today I no longer make plans for my life, my only purpose in life is to surrender to  existence and to be at its service, trusting deeply my “heavenly mother” and accepting everything that she brings to my life.

Lleida, 4 June 2016
For information of retreats around the world:  [email protected]

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