Facing Your Shadow
A retreat at the Temple can be intense and often one of the most challenging yet ultimately rewarding experiences of your life. An ayahuasca retreat can be considered ‘boot camp’ healing – because it takes courage to face your shadow and to bring light to many painful aspects of yourself that have been suppressed and unresolved in your past.
Our shadow is everything inside us that we have disowned, avoided and kept in the dark. We all turn away from pain at some stage in our life, especially during our childhoods, yet whatever we have not processed gets relegated and hidden in our shadow. Our shadow is where our life-force gets trapped and is no longer available to us. It is energy that is not integrated with the rest of our being, akin to pieces of ourselves that have become compartmentalized, pushed aside and treated as an unwanted child.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” – Carl Jung
Shadow work is counter-habitual: we turn towards pain, not away from pain. We access that place of pain within us and slowly bring it into the open, become acquainted and then intimate with it, until the estranged pain is not a dreaded “it”, but a reclaimed “us”.
There is a well-known Sufi story about Mullah Nasr Id’n, out at night under a street lamp on his hands and knees, frantically searching. A friend comes along and asks: “What are you doing?” The Mullah replies: “I am searching for my keys”. His friend asks: “You lost them under the light?” The Mullah looks up, grinning and replies: “No, actually, I lost them over in those dark bushes by the door, but the light here is so much better for seeing.”
Ayahuasca healing is a journey to the heart of what really matters – an opportunity to face and integrate our shadow, transmuting trapped energies and making them available for life-affirming purposes. The medicine helps us search for the keys where they have been lost: in the darkness. True healing with ayahuasca can be very hard work, requiring courage (to face fears), determination and commitment to your healing journey. Ayahuasca is also an amplifier that will bring to the surface patterns and programs that do not serve you.
Ayahuasca is not a recreational ‘drug’ taken for entertainment, relaxation or escapism. The medicine does not allow us to suppress issues and escape reality. In fact, quite the opposite is typically the case. Ayahuasca compels us to face, resolve and release issues that have been buried throughout our lives.
As pioneering psychologist Ralph Metzner, Ph.D states:
“The fact that Westerners will seek out a foul-tasting jungle medicine in a faraway environment and culture, a medicine that frequently leads to violent purging and can include terrifying visions, is a remarkable paradox.”
Our healing work at the Temple is to clean, clear and transform trapped energies that hold you back in life, cause emotional distress and create perpetual discomfort that often manifests as ‘dis-ease’. Surrendering to the healing process is essential to cleansing and integrating painful memories, deeply embedded emotional blockages, energetic imprints and self-limiting patterns. It is the accumulation of suppressed memories, blocked emotions and energetic imprints that prevent us re-discovering our ‘true self’ and living a life filled with joy, abundance and inner peace.
During and after the process, perseverance, courage, a strong will and patience all significantly help facilitate the healing journey. The results are highly beneficial with the end goal to come back into alignment with our true nature, find balance between our heart and mind, balance between our sub-conscious, conscious and super-conscious selves, and to re-awaken self-respect, self-worth and ultimately, self-love.
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”– Rumi
Healing with ayahuasca and the plant spirits is a journey and not a one-off event. A retreat at the Temple initiates a much longer commitment to healing, integration and increasing awareness. After leaving the Temple, it is necessary to process and integrate the healing and lessons learned during the retreat into day-to-day life.
Healing is a ‘two-way street’: you are not a passive recipient of healing but an active and willing partner. The significant healing that can be achieved from taking part in a retreat is the beginning of a much longer process that can accelerate one’s spiritual development and re-awakening. Before booking a retreat at the Temple, it is essential that you are fully and passionately dedicated to changing your life. You will typically be returning back after retreat with an increased level of awareness and it is important that you understand what this entails.
Having an increased level of consciousness means you become more aware of patterns and beliefs that no longer serve you and what is no longer beneficial in your life. You will then be presented with ongoing choices to change various aspects of your life with an increased awareness, moving away from charged reactions into consciously responding to life. You must be resolutely prepared to commit over the long-term to your integration process after retreat.
When working with ayahuasca, it is important to not hold on to expectations. Healing and transformation often unfold differently from what we expect them to look like. Our tendency is to avoid painful experiences we think of as negative, to shy away from situations that may be hurtful, and to suppress our real feelings. The heart can only come to our aid if, instead of running from what we dislike, we become fully present with what we are experiencing during our healing process. When we accept the unacceptable instead of pushing it away, we discover that the flip side of psychological and emotional pain is personal growth – and that our pain is simply our healing wanting to break through.
“You get what you need which isn’t always what you want.”
The facilitation style at the Temple has evolved significantly since our inception in 2007 and focuses specifically on guiding participants through and integrating the deep and often difficult experiences faced at some stages during ayahuasca ceremonies. Our healing programs work with tried and tested techniques to help guests move through the process with determination and grace. We have learned these techniques through the trials of our personal deep healing and work with the medicine over many years. Healing with ayahuasca is a process of self-awakening, with a significant helping hand from Nature. The pathway is through the shadow, which is often reflected and projected both during and outside of ceremonies. In short, the best way “out” of emotional pain is through that same pain by surrendering to the healing process.
It is important to understand that deep healing can be challenging. You will be embarking on a journey into the unknown, which ultimately is a journey into yourself. Ayahuasca typically reflects only what is contained within – your emotions, pain, patterns, programs and fears. Working with ayahuasca is, in many ways, a powerful system of emotional development and mastery. It is a very difficult yet exponentially rewarding process if we stay committed.