ARE AYAHUASCA AND PSYCHOTHERAPY COMPATIBLE?
Since just a few years ago, a new encounter between two ways of reaching self-knowledge and healing is taking place, and although they are used by just a small part of mankind in the hands of independent and separate groups, they now look at each other with the intention of joining; because time has come for them to meet.
I am referring to AYAHUASCA and PSYCHOTHERAPY. Or put another way: shamanism and Western therapeutic approaches.
Ayahuasca is not an indispensable resource in the context of current psychotherapy; neither is psychotherapy an indispensable resource for millennial shamanism. Both are paths towards the understanding of life and existence, going through different stations on the way, and only meeting at certain specific points. In this sense, they have one or more points in common, but are distinctly different in other ways. The destination is also different, but complementary. Humans want to reach both destinations but we can’t be on two trains at the same time unless both trains unify their route to go through all stations and reach both destinations. In reality, there aren’t two destinations: one is the departure and the other one the arrival station.
Psychotherapy leads to empowerment starting off from the injured human side and moving towards our own centre; Ayahuasca leads to the cosmo-vision of the universe starting from the bright and healthy side to go to the centre of existence. And some psychotherapies existing today are designed to take us beyond the personality. There are different schools or shamanic methods that were created to take us into the shadows. De facto, Ayahuasca has the ability to let us enter the most uncomfortable and unpleasant inner places as a prelude to the afterlife journey. But when an Ayahuasca consumer enters those dark and incomprehensible areas of the human condition, the need to assimilate and apply these insights to everyday life naturally occurs. At that point, psychotherapy and Ayahuasca meet to offer the consumer the possibility of transferring his visions and understandings or misunderstandings and even confusion, into everyday reality; this task can be performed through the use of speech in a conscious and experienced manner.
People should know that Ayahuasca will not replace conventional medicine or conventional psychotherapy. Ayahuasca is a natural preparation opening the human body in many ways, but it neither attacks the disease nor allopathic medicines, doctors or psychologists. It is a natural resource, and is therefore compatible with any other technique. It will never try to displace other used methods, or in any way attempt to stop the use of prescribed drugs by competent doctors. The approach produced by Ayahuasca consumption is aimed at boosting health, activating psycho-emotional resources of individuals, giving them more clarity in terms of decision-making. It works in favour of one’s health, one’s emotional and sentimental states, and the curing or healing processes the person chooses.
It is important to make this concept real clear: AYAHUASCA IS NOT AGAINST ANYTHING, IT DOES NOT ATTACK.
An example: If a person has cancer and takes Ayahuasca, it will not attack the cancer, but it will strengthen his body and immune system, give him vitality and desire to move forward, it will help him accept the disease and understand its meaning. This is a great psycho-therapeutical achievement produced by Ayahuasca use. It will also open the body’s own pharmacy and will purge it to create the internal medicine one needs and partly counteract the side effects produced by some drugs; but it will not cure the disease. If a person is cured from a disease after taking Ayahuasca it means that his own body awakened from slumber and took care of expelling it.
Similarly it DOESN’T work with the psychological ailments of the individual but with the sleeping potential that one has to move forward beyond life’s problems or limitations, with one’s own resources. It is a “resilience” wake-up call, the natural ability to face difficulties in order to continue the road without getting stuck.
In this sense, Ayahuasca doesn’t replace any psychological treatment or psychotherapeutic process, but can be combined with any technique or method. This is the magic of Ayahuasca: it supports both the individual or patient, and the psychologist, psychotherapist or doctor. And of course it supports what is being done to improve the individual’s physical and mental health.
I can assert that neither does psychotherapy need Ayahuasca nor does Ayahuasca need psychotherapy, but people looking for solutions and healing of their internal wounds, need the integration of Ayahuasca and psychotherapy as complementary tools. Because a great healing power comes from such an integration.
A proof of this within the psychotherapeutic community is Integrative Psychology. Its creators aim at integrating different approaches and developed this idea or proposal based on this acknowledgment: “we therapists, more than ever, know that the different currents in theory and practice of human psychology will address the patient, favouring one or another “Mind-Body tool”.
It is obvious and logical that some techniques or approaches for the act of treating a person asking for help are preferred. We are generally addicted to what dominates us; on the other hand each psychotherapist comes from wherever he comes from and has his studies, influences and his own natural inclination to perceive things in his own way. But that “way” of seeing a certain reality is conditioned by subjectivity.
At present, there are many health professionals such as shamans who are realizing that we need to open up to a harmonious encounter bringing together the power of both streams.
The leap I suggest to take through the CONSCIOUS SCHOOL and INNER EVOLUTION RETREATS is based on reaching a point of objectivity and balance between the different approaches or tools that we have. Integrating destinations and stations that cross both paths: the one leading to overcoming the trauma and the road that leads to the encounter with our essence. Because, in the encounter and integration of both streams, we will assemble a complex mechanism capable of making us develop our potential.
Alberto José Varela