Ready to Die: Understanding 'death' through Ayahuasca

Nature provides many plants we could use to treat or cure many ailments, from the physical to the psychological, and spiritual. I was raised in a spiritual background and am quite accustomed to alternative ways to interpret the world. My family always sends me special teas and baths made from rare leaves, plants, and roots that I use to reboot myself spiritually. I discovered an herbal drink made from plants indigenous to Amazonia—Ayahuasca. A tea used in spiritual rituals throughout the Amazon’s peoples. Ritual teas are not new or odd to me and I became intensely curious when I read about its various effects on those who drank it. I became fascinated when I discovered claims likening one Ayahuasca session equivalent to ten years of therapy.

           I couldn’t let it go and was tempted to try Ayahuasca for myself.  Well, I’m curious, not an idiotic, so I did a good deal of research and talked to people who’d experienced its effects. Each person’s were different and ranged from no affect what so ever to being terrified, and some said they’d been so changed they’d devoted their entire life to the practice. The one thing all had in common having the sensation of dying. Was I really ready to die, or even imagine dying? I have to admit, that scared me. The idea of hallucinating my own death seemed too intense, and then I wondered that if that ‘death’ people were experiencing was more a ‘death and rebirth’ of their spiritual selves.

            I studied for an entire year and became certain that this was a spiritual experience I was destined to have. Pushing any lingering fear aside, I attended an Ayahuasca ritual and within twenty minutes I experienced the ‘death’ people described. I suddenly found myself on my back, not knowing how I’d gotten there, arms together, and eyes closed. It was...peaceful. Warmth poured into and through my body and then...stopped—and a window into my soul opened and I began a journey I’ll never forget.

            I learned a lot about myself in that session. I received affirmation of the talents and gifts I use and hone on a regular basis and discovered others I’d never imagined existed. It allowed me to see things I was unsure of that were holding me back. Any remaining fears I had vanished and I allowed it to take me over.  As the effects wore off, I realized I’d been irrevocably changed. I walked out of that room feeling worn but revitalized. Light. Like a  drenched towel wrung completely dry.

            I truly believe my life-long spiritual studies; along with my being open new experiences, allowed me to have this experience. After all, this was not something I merely wanted to try.  I wholeheartedly believe in spiritual cleansing and had a very specific intention for participating in the rituals. I followed all the guidelines suggested and even fasted for a couple of days before the ceremony.

            From the very start, I understood Ayahuasca would not solve all my problems or remove all memories of past traumas. First and foremost, a person will resolve nothing if there’s no belief in the power Ayahuasca holds and difficult for anyone raised without first exploring and understanding a variety of spiritual beliefs. Lacking that, the ingestion of Ayahuasca is nothing more taking a drug in search of a high or trip. One’s intentions must be firmly in place before even thinking about partaking. Lacking focus, Ayahuasca is easily misused or abused, so it – in turn – abuses you, manifesting itself negatively, i.e. ‘a bad trip’.

            I was pleased to discover that I was correct about people experiencing a ‘death’ during their journeys with Ayahuasca. The only explanation I can offer is it felt like I transitioned from one plane of existence to another...a self-actualization. I believe each person’s ‘death’ occurs at different times along that individual’s spiritual path. One person’s ‘death and rebirth’ may happen in a day or a week. Others might experience that ‘death’ as a transitional phase, taking months or years for their life to change significantly.

            During this transition period, people’s lives are changed. Their blinders are removed and they make painful discoveries about themselves. Some have to hit rock bottom before they can change their lives. While you are guided through the process, one must be aware that a single ceremony may not be the key to changing one’s life. A single experience may simply be grasping the key to the door to transition. It might take several, many, experiences before a person can truly open the door to change. Partaking in an Ayahuasca ritual only signifies a readiness, a preparing, for that ‘you’ to die. Like ending a relationship, you have to be ready to face what comes after.

            I looked at death and the concept of it differently after that. I thought about the title of    Biggie album, Ready To Die, and saw the meaning of it differently. Being ready to die meant being prepared to accept harsh truths and feeling ready to move on.

            What if this was all a metaphor for understanding and accepting physical death? There are many ways people die. Spiritually or physically, it is my belief all are reborn in one way or another. After this experience, I believe when this earthly body dies, we are reborn with greater consciousness into another realm where begin the process again. You fulfill your mission here and then you are ready to die and everyone’s time is different. Some lives last an hour and others a hundred years. It depends upon the path chosen

            In gained a new outlook and understanding of the complexities of death and the varying ways we experience it throughout our lives. I became braver and less hesitant to meet necessary challenges or obstacles I needed to overcome. Accepting the death of things, and knowing there is a transition to bear, made me stronger and blessed me with a greater, more beautiful perspective of life.