Our natural human state is joyful, harmonious, and peaceful. However, for most people, deeply unconscious and long-suppressed fears, anger, and negative emotions drive our lives, causing us typically to “try to feel good.” Yet this very attempt is self-defeating and serves only to repress the pain we are carrying.

Our minds are masters at masking inner pain through a multitude of mechanisms that we develop in our formative years. We learn to disguise, suppress, control, sedate, escape, and “defend” ourselves against the painful experiences imprinted upon us. Life can often seem unfair. These defense mechanisms stay with us for life unless we delve deep to find their cause – a negative residual energy that manifests as an emotional blockage.

The majority of people carry negative energies originating from core painful events (either acute or developmental traumas) that occurred between 0 and 7 years old. On a basic level, this is the period of developing the emotional body, which is followed by the development of the mental body (7 to 14 years old). When working with ayahuasca, we are typically taken back to reflect upon (either emotionally, mentally, or physically in some cases), integrate, and then release these negative memories, emotions, and their energetic counterparts.

Working with ayahuasca is like “bungee jumping” into your inner abyss – you will always come back but it is difficult to fall into and face the darkness within.

This is the process of becoming whole: seeing the whole of yourself – both light and dark. It is normal to struggle during these deep healing and cleansing experiences because we are accessing causal events (and their memories and emotional charges) that exist at a point in consciousness when we didn’t have the mental capacity to form a concept of the experience. We effectively re-enter those states and re-experience those suppressed feelings.

Therefore, when healing these energies and the consequent emotional blockages, the mind tends to become confused and attempts to find ways out of the healing process. (The mechanisms, again, are numerous: running, suppressing, blaming, controlling, sedating, denying, avoiding, resisting, or attacking). True emotional healing requires us to face our shadow and surrender to the healing process. This means entering the darkness willingly, in a state of naked vulnerability, in order to integrate then release its hold. This work is the gateway to transformation.

Revisiting Childhood Emotions

Working with ayahuasca takes us back to our childhood emotions to integrate and clear them in order to change the quality of our experience in adult life. Pain and discomfort are words we often use to describe an energetic condition within our emotional body. This condition contains unintegrated charges that we perceive as physically, emotionally, and mentally uncomfortable. Our childhoods typically teach us to run from this feeling, but we need courage to face and “be” with whatever is surfacing. We must trust that the medicine and the healers will help us to release the charge. Needless to say, it takes determination, strength, and willpower to face our inner shadow.

Unless we reach back into our childhood to rescue the stranded aspects of our child selves that still carry pain, that pain will persist throughout our lives and we will perpetually manifest physical, emotional, and mental discomfort. Once freed, however, our adult self is able to return to authenticity and presence. When our child self comes to peace, so do we.

An attitude of surrender is strongly advised when entering any deep emotional and spiritual development. Surrender doesn’t mean to “giving up,” but laying down our resistance and taking responsibility for our own healing and wellbeing. This means being an open channel for the healer and medicine to do their work.

Temple Guest

We Are Not Our Thoughts

Beware of the mind during the healing process. The mind prefers familiarity, which is why patterns and programs are so hard to disable. Simply put, we cannot get our heads around the healing process. When we use our minds to understand, analyze and comprehend our emotional issues, we are using the wrong tools for the job. The mind often doesn’t approve of change and appears to discourage us from our healing. Instead, we must work at a deeper level – directly through our emotions and into our energy body. This process develops our emotional intelligence.

When suppressed emotions are either triggered or being released, we feel them and then tend to immediately interpret them with our minds. Generically, we conceptualize the discomfort as our issues. Our thoughts then become a symptom of the problem, not the product of reasonable observation. This is a crucial and tricky distinction. It is very easy to identify with our mental struggles and their version of “the truth” but we must recognize that they are an effect of our emotional blockages. These blockages can make us feel uncomfortable, angry, sad, panicked, judgmental, and/or blameful. These feelings must be faced, not run from or acted upon.

A classic externalization and usually first consequence of these emotional charges is drama. Drama is reactive projection – whether physical, emotional, or mental. When we face drama in our life, it is typically a warning sign to look within and not blame the person or circumstance that is acting as the trigger. Working with ayahuasca is very similar – it is a mirror. When we are healing emotional blockages and residual negative energies, the participant can sometimes manifest physical, emotional, or mental experiences that mirror what is being released internally.

Projection as a Defense Mechanism

We can also often experience visions in ceremony that seem to represent external issues, people, or spirits attempting to affect us. Most often, though, these visions are a projection of our internal issues. Our minds cannot interpret the pain, negative energy, and difficult emotions that the medicine is mirroring, so they project the inner experience onto a vision that puts the blame or reason outside of ourselves. During our experience with the medicine, we can frequently be taken to a place that reflects our childhood – typically emotionally and mentally. Again, projection is a defense mechanism against difficult childhood memories that an external event or agent has caused us to reflect upon.

This is so common that it is worth reiterating. When suppressed memories and emotions are being cleaned by the medicine, we can often be “triggered” externally. The ongoing circumstances in our life and our surroundings are essentially a reflection of our inner landscape. When we change our inner landscape, our outer landscape changes too. We see the world through our own eyes. When the energies have been cleaned from our systems, our visions change and we no longer project our “inner demons” onto the external world.

By working on our suppressed emotions and feelings, we are slowly able to move from being reactive to being responsive – consciously choosing to contain and constructively integrate the triggered emotion. We begin to release blame or judgment of others for any dramas in our life.