WHAT IS A SPECIFIC EXAMPLE OF PSYCHOTHERAPEUTIC INTEGRATION?
The message of all psychotherapies is that we have a deep wound, that there are traumas that steer our life from the unconscious. Some psycho-therapies explore the origin of the conflict in some depth by consciously inquiring into the past or by correcting the perception one had of what happened. If this exploration is complemented with the use of ayahuasca, the process becomes more profound and dynamic.
The message of all shamanisms is that a meta reality exists above the one we apparently perceive, and that thereupon resides our essence, our origin and our destiny. Shamanisms have explored with more or less depth the divine origin of human nature, seeking answers to the eternal existential questions, and have done so through the consumption of master plants, through rituals and chants, through dances and observations of nature. Indeed, the process of shamanic exploration would be much more practical and effective if it was complemented with a psychotherapeutic integration that is alert to the possibility that the individual may get distracted by everyday concerns yet to be resolved.
An integration of different disciplines or approaches must rely upon an arrangement of the different parts that allows them to assemble and merge together.
A numeric example of fusion: When 1 + 2 integrate, they do not yield 3, it is not an addition. They are not 12 either, because it is not the union of two digits. They are not a multiplication, even though their result is multiplying, if unforeseen. Integration entails the birth of something new that goes beyond the individual value of the integrated parts. The result is the birth of something original, different. Something that will cause confusion among those that created and followed 1 and among those that created and followed 2, because they will encounter a result that can neither be measured nor controlled applying the same categories that were used before.
We are confronted with the possibility of applying an existential formula that has been the origin of everything. The possibility that 1 ceases to be 1 and that 2 ceases to be 2. It is complicated to ask a shaman to stop being one or to propose to a psychotherapist to stop being one as well, especially if they have a sound mastery of what they do and rely on knowledge and traditions.
Trying to integrate Ayahuasca and Psychotherapy would mean that, at some point in the process, each of them would cease to be how they are. We know that leaving behind something that works is painful, risky and does not guarantee anything. That is why the leap belongs to the bold, to those that are not bound to what they know, or to those who have nothing to lose. Deep down, those who accept are those who trust.
Parts of the whole, apparently separated, must cease to be what they apparently are and acquire the integrative quality that would allow them to regain the memory of wholeness.
Division is not real but apparent, at the root of each one of the parts we know there only exists one whole. A civilization united in consciousness is truly united. One may work with and for ayahuasca and be apparently joined with the parts that come together for it. One may work with and for psychotherapy and be apparently joined with the parts that come together for it. In such cases, there would be union within each group, but they would remain separated. However, if you decide to work for consciousness, you cannot be divided internally or externally. Consciousness is the level of transcendence in both psychotherapy and ayahuasca that enables a new and more elevated positioning than those they individually had. It is part of evolution.
My conclusion as far as integrating Ayahuasca and Psychotherapy goes, is that it depends on a conscious attitude, which in turn depends on a decision. This decision must be unitary. In fact, there is nothing more unifying that a decision, for it brings about a fusion. A decision is only such thing in a mental environment, but when it is realised it becomes an action; it leaves behind the realm of reason and turns into something concrete and tangible. As long as a decision is not realised, there is division. If one thinks about doing something but does not, there is division, the non-execution of a decision already made.
Most people that turn to a psychotherapist for help do not suffer from severe emotional disorders, but they do so because of the suffering caused by everyday problems, by the barrage of stimuli, social changes, family breakdowns, losses, abuse, abandonment, betrayal, humiliation, loneliness, helplessness and other traumas from the past that manifest in everyday life. They do so because they are tired of their reality, because they feel they can no longer go on and that they do not know what to do to change their lives.
As it happens, those that go to a session of ayahuasca or to a shaman do so for the very same reasons, except that those motives are generally hidden behind a search or exploration of new paths or alternatives for their lives. In this search, they maintain they are exploring other dimensions, other realities or other ways to look at themselves. It is here that ayahuasca manifests its great power to show such new options of self-exploration. Nevertheless, the ayahuasca drinker runs the risk of believing that he has obtained what he needed to feel fine. Deep down, he retains many layers of trauma that, if left unexplored, keep the individual under the tyranny of a past that has not healed and that may resurface at any time. In such cases, psychotherapy can constitute a complementary direction for the exploration of unresolved traumas; a space for the observation of the consequences they have of the kind of life the person leads.
One of the techniques that has successfully integrated the use of ayahuasca and psychotherapy is meditation. However, meditators have turned this technique into a palliative “measure” that alleviates and brings peace. Very few are capable of transforming meditation into an attitude of life. At this point, meditators who experience with ayahuasca to enhance their experiences are surprised to discover that they have not yet touched deep aspects of their unconscious, while others recognize that they are still subjugated to the dictatorship of their conditionings; they at least see it, realise it, and that is because they have meditated.
In any case, we human beings stand before something that unites us all: the pressing needs to DECIDE and REALIZE the decisions we make. Deciding is easy, but sustaining the decision until it is effectively real is more complicated. Which decision awaits at the gates of your consciousness, ready to come to light and become a reality?
If you do not decide what you want to do, you are divided. If what you decide does not happen, it is because you are divided. The decision is between the present and the future. The future does not exist, but we create it to place there the moment when our decisions will be realised. That is why most people that understand what they have to do, ask: how do I do it? Thus the word “how” not only turns them into unconscious machines ready to receive orders on what to do, but also places in the future the realisation of what has been understood. “How” is future, evasion, and procrastination.
If what you decide comes to pass, it is because you are united. If the decision is an act, you are realised. One does not do what they decide, but that which one decides becomes what one does. “It is decided”, “It is done”. A magic moment of fusion between two apparently different moments.
Given that the existence of 2 disconnected or fragmented parts cause most conflicts that arise during a person’s process of evolution, if they are not united such conflicts cannot be resolved. These two parts are: the part that decides but cannot act, and the part that acts but cannot decide. Or, said otherwise, the part that sees the things that need solving and can think about them but does not execute them, and the part that cannot see them, that is blind, but that has the energy and intention to see them through. A conscious but passive part and an unconscious but active one. One that senses but is impotent or does not have energy to act; another that does not perceive but that holds the energy to act without intelligence. This is the division and the specific problem posed by trying to achieve a psychotherapeutic integration.
In order to put this unified and unifying theory in practical terms, I want to consider a concrete example of what goes on in a session of psychotherapeutic integration. I will do so by quoting the words of Oscar Gómez, a great psychologist and holistic psychotherapist, with decades of clinical experience and use of ayahuasca, expert in PSYCHOTHERAPEUTIC INTEGRATION of the organization Ayahuasca International. He affirms: “Consciousness cannot be postponed. Once you are able to SEE, the decision will be soon realised. Psychotherapeutic integration will help you clear your gaze so that you may make the most out of everything that drinking ayahuasca stirs up. THIS IS THE MOMENT WHEN YOU CAN DARE CLEAR YOUR CONSCIOUSNESS AND REALIZE YOUR DECISIONS”
One of the most specific functions of psychotherapeutic integration is supporting the realisation of decisions, although it also assists in the clarification process that leads to making the decision, which belongs exclusively to the individual. When a person reaches the necessary clarity to decide, he or she takes an enormous leap that produces satisfaction. However, if the decision is not realised there is not only division, but also guilt, demand, reproach, accusations, and resentment against oneself. All this simply as a result of not doing what one has decided to do.
Faced with this reality, only consciousness can help us; this is the moment when both psychotherapy and ayahuasca disappear from our path and leave us alone before our own limitations. It is in this moment of solitude and introspection that a deep understanding of who we are, or rather what we are and what we are not, can arise. For me, this is the result of a fusion of resources, disciplines or schools: COMPREHENSION. (But I shall leave this topic for the next chapter)
Alberto José Varela