Tag Archives: mediation
So I am now in a position to compare a 3 day Ayahuasca retreat with a 3 day intensive zen retreat.
Ayahuasca is a flood and a zen koan is an overworked file clerk.
When we are children we are high energy expression. We are fearless. We are timeless. We just are.
As we age we start to judge ourselves. Each day we put on a new jumper without removing the last. Each jumper is that days baggage of self identification. Who we believe ourselves to be based on our memories and experiences.
Over time the weight of the jumpers becomes crushing and constrictive. We are hardly able to function under the weight of who we think we are.
This is where both koans and Aya come in. They both, in their own ways, strip away this self identification. They wash the dirty cloth to make it clean once again. They rebirth the child back into the adults body.
Ayahuasca overstimulates the mind. Inundates it with information. Perhaps it disturbs the functioning which holds back subconscious knowledge from the conscious mind. It holds up a mirror and says “This is who you think you are”. It dredges up you shit and sticks it right in your face and says smell this.
It is a tsumani, it is a flood. It smashes your mind with a hammer. The ego battens down the hatches and waits for the waters to recede. The smashing waves have broken open the filing cabinets of the subconscious and washes away the thoughts of self, as the body purges itself.
The tensions and memories that have been held in the body are washed away.
In Zen,the self enquiry method of “who am I?” asks the file clerk to pull out the file on who I is. But the file clerk isn’t sure.
So the file clerk makes a best guess. “Is it this?”, “No”, “Is it this?”, “No”, “Is it this?”, “No”,
The file clerk becomes manic running around the mind opening the file draws an pulling out the various files.
The file for my name, the file for my age, the file for my race, the file for my gender. The file for my job, the file for my hobby.
The file clerk becomes exacerbated that it cant find the correct file. It starts grasping at any random file throwing it out as an answer.
May be I’m this memory, maybe I’m that memory. Maybe I’m this thought, maybe I’m that thought.
The file clerk starts looking all the files Buddhism to see if the rational answer is hidden in there somewhere.
In the end the file clerk is exhausted and stares at all of the files littering the floor. Non remain in any of the draws. The file clerk weeps in exasperation.
Awareness is still on but it is thoughtless.
All I is, is what it is, when whatever it is not, is removed.
So in conclusion both intensive zen meditation and Ayahuasca help you strip off the sweaters of self-identification and free the child to play and experience the joy of life.
I just woke up as nothing.
From within sleep the void opened up again.
It was complete emptiness, nothingness, living death. Then their were golden sparks, golden fireworks. Fireworks of joy. Fireworks of joy, in the death nothingness.
joy, love, nothingness, joy, love nothingness.
Then flashes of white sheet lightening. flashes of everything. flashes of nothing. Light and dark alternating. I am everything, I am nothing.
I said a while back that after my journey to discover the solution to emotional pain had concluded that I needed another challenge. and that I had decided that my next challenge was to discover ‘universal truth’ or I guess enlightenment if you wan to put it that way.
I have come to discover that these are not separate journeys but in fact part of the same continuum.
The path away from suffering and emotional pain, is exactly the same path as that the which eventually leads to ultimate truth.
I have described such mechanisms before but I am going to reiterate and update because I feel that its important knowledge to get out there.
So, as a distillation of 30 years of knowledge and direct experience I conclude that the most effective mechanisms for dealing with trauma/abuse are:
2) Meditation – Samatha (Concentration) + Vipassana (insight) or Mindfulness if you prefer the english translation
3) Performance – singing / dancing /acting / improv / comedy
In my experience therapy probably has a place somewhere on this list but id say that its not near the top in terms of timely effectiveness.
What God is. The word God is a label which describes all-encompassing everything, the full totality of the infinite timeless universe. God can be experienced by direct knowledge and experience. God is infinite timeless love.
What God is not. God is not the word that describes it, God is not concepts. God is not doctrine. God is not fear. God is not power and control.
Belief in God. To believe in a God is a concept. To not believe in God is also a concept. The true God is not the label that describes it. To believe in or not to believe in God are equally erroneous.
Proof of God. Everything simply exists as it does, its existence does not require belief. Nor does it require proof. Belief in God is not knowledge of God. This belief is an inaccurate non-provable concept.
The one true God. Wars fought over one god verses another are wars fought by the human ego protecting its belief. Accepting that God is a label to describe everything, there can be only one God as there cannot be two everythings.
E=mc2 is misunderstood. It doesn’t mean that energy and matter are interchangeable. It means that energy IS matter. They coexist at the same time.
Humans at base level consciousness only perceive the world at the physical level. Presumably humans of the highest level of consciousness only perceive everything at the energetic level (I wouldn’t know) and humans rising in consciousness perceive the physical world and the energetic world simultaneously.
Ayahuasca elevates the consciousness you can perceive at a higher or the highest level of consciousness.
During this process I was aware that the shaman was walking among us but when I open my eyes her body was sat motionless somewhere completely different. So it appears that the human energy body can depart from and move independently of the physical body. This is something that I had believed to be nonsense.
Also during the ceremony I experienced negative energy depart the body of another. The vomit full of negative dirty energy was placed too close to me and I felt tainted and poisoned by it.
Our bodies are energy, our thoughts are energy, our emotions are energy, our memories are energy. Everything we ever do, everything we ever experience affects our physical body and our energy body.
Toxic thoughts, toxic emotions and toxic memories are all poisonous to both bodies.
Ayahuasca works on a physical level and an energetic level. It cleanses toxic thoughts, emotions and memories energetically which manifests at a physically level. I will be the first to admit that going into the ceremony I thought that this was nonsense, but coming out of it now there can be no doubt.
I understand now why people of higher consciousness are vegetarian. An animal slaughtered in a factory will have its energy body tainted with fear. When we eat its flesh not only are we combining animal energy with our own energy, which has its own complications, we are ingesting the energy of fear which is toxic to us and can manifest physically.
Ayahuasca takes a muddy filthy cloth and washes out all the dirt. It cleanses dirty and toxic energies.
Matter is understood to have definable physical boundaries, but am I correct that energy has not? If energy had definable boundaries would it not be matter? And so if we are physical bodies and energetic bodies at the same time, then those energetic bodies are just one singular energy body.
And so humans of base level consciousness perceive themselves as separate physical entities and those of higher levels of consciousness perceive that the energy body is just one energy body.
And this is the headfuck, of all the listening to discourses from Buddhist monks, tai chi teachers, martial arts instructors, meditation instructors, yogis, gurus and psychonauts over all these years, all their incomprehensible nonsense is suddenly not only true but makes sense.
I never ever thought in a million years that I would ever have a direct experience of that which I have been trying to wrap my mind around for the past 17 years.
Wow. Just wow.
A brief recap. I spent 30 years of my life trying to heal from emotional pain. Ultimately I was to be freed from this by my mediation practice. But, during my years of research into self help, actualization, healing and development there were two words that kept on cropping up again and again. Vipassana and ayahuasca. Vipassana was primary in my healing journey, but what was this Ayahuasca? Ayahuasca, Ayahuasca, Ayahuasca, the word kept on cropping up.
Upon investigation I discovered that Ayahuasca ceremonies can supposedly heal both PTSD and addiction. So I decided I had to give it a go. At that time my goal was to compare the efficacy of Ayahuasca with that of Vipassana, but as it would turn out, there is no comparison.
I arrived at the retreat on Friday night. I was welcomed in with warmth and compassion which went a long way to calm my trepidation. The people felt right. The location felt right. Over the years I have learned to trust my intuition so I knew that this was going to be right for me. Even on the journey there my heart said “you are going home”.
I set up my personal healing space. This consisted of a blanket on the ground and a sleeping bag and pillows, a vomit bucket, a toilet roll and bottles of water.
After the initial greeting the first order of business was a brief interview with the assistant shaman to ascertain whether my system was free from prescription medication or illicit drugs, that I hadn’t drunk any alcohol in the last two weeks, and that I had avoided processed meats and other Ayahuasca unfriendly foods foods for the previous two days. Luckily I was able to answered yes, as I has done my research and knew what was required of me. Apparently you aren’t meant to have sex a few days before a ceremony either, but I’m not sure that this was mentioned.
Next I was interviewed by the shaman. She asked about my mental health, previous traumas and if I had an intention for the ceremony. I mention wishing to investigate any residual pain and the desire to break my unhealthy relationship with alcohol.
There were to be three ceremonies over the course of the weekend, but I will only discuss one here for brevity.
The room had the alter at the front with the shaman and assistant shaman sat behind. Nine of us tessellated our blankets and pillows into the available space. The room glowed with candle light, incense and herbs protected us from inquisitive entities.
The ceremony was to begin.
One by one we were called up to sit beside the alter and kneel on a cushion whilst Rapèsito, a form of snuff, was blown into each of our nostrils. Basically this is like having pepper blown up your nose. The net effect is that your eyes, nose a throat burn like hell, you bottom lip begins to quiver and then you begin to drool sputum in uncomfortable amounts. After the initial unpleasantness dies down you are left with a feeling of calmness which pervades your entire body.
The nest stage was to drink a cup which appeared to be a cold brown herbal lemon drink.
And then it was the next bit. The scary bit. What was this stuff going to do to me?
I had read that Ayahuasca was the most unpleasant taste possible. Maybe I’m weird but I liked the taste. I was like a rather bitter exotic earthy thick coffee.
I lay on my blanket and waited,….and waited. Is it starting yet, is it starting yet? After fifty minutes nothing had happened so I went up for a second cup. Twenty minutes later I started to feel sick. I really hate nausea, I really do. If there was anything I could have done to avoid it I would have done. But it was just a case of sucking it up and getting on with it.
The nausea built and built and built and then pop there I go, bluurgh. And then it started, the ride was on. Too late to back out now. In the words of the matrix “Buckle your seat belt, Dorothy. Kansas is going bye-bye”
My vision filled with thousands of tiny little rings on a black background. They began to spiral inwards like a worm hole. Rainbow colours washed over them the change in pigments of cuttlefish skin. I told the rings that I loved myself on the advice of the shamen and the little rings shivered in delight and did a little dance for me. I think they beckoned me in. Come with us, come with us.
And then the circles changed to sequins, and the sequins changed to rhomboid scales. The shimmering scales grew in size and complexity. Then I was in a world of lego bricks. Coiling and sliding like snakes, or rotating like a clock work mechanism. A kaleidoscope mandala of lego bricks. And then a kaleidoscope medala of rpg dice.
And then donkey kongs face, and then clowns, fucking clowns, so many clowns. And then skulls. More skulls coming out of the mouth of skulls. And bones of a rib cage designed by giger himself.
Apes, clowns, skulls, apes, clowns, skulls. Hello subconscious. Nice to meet you.
End of level one. Level one complete.
Was that the end? No, no, oh no.
A little break perhaps, a little breather. Welcome to level two.
On a conveyor belt moving forwards whilst the scenery of excessively bright orange and yellow vertical columns enveloped me. I’m pretty sure there was some Celtic knot work in there somewhere. I was scared. This wasn’t fun. This wasn’t watching something on a screen. This was there, I was in it. A different reality, a different dimension. I had no reference points. I had no residual reality to hold on to. The advice of my shamen came to me. “I love myself, I am safe, don’t resist, go with it, breath.”
I kept trying but I was so afraid. I pushed on a little with that intent but I was so afraid. So very afraid.
End of level two. A god, oh god, oh god.
Welcome to level thee. Oh fuck, clowns again, why is it always fucking clowns?
I was in my own personal clown hell. The fear level hit night terror level. I’m not sure there is any higher than that. Big huge thick red vertical pipes, with white and back pipes. And black and white diamonds. And jesters. Fucking scary jesters. I cant handle this help, help, help. Is this what they call a bad trip I thought to myself? In wanted to push on but the fear was just too much. I opened my eyes and for the briefest of times I got a break from my personally designed hell.
Could things get any weirder? Oh yes.
The body started going “ bwouuur, bwouuur, bwouuur” It was either expelling something, or trying to expel something. “bwouuur, bwouuur, bwouuur” My voice took on an unnatural sound. To be frank it sounded demonic. “bwouuur, bwouuur, bwouuur” and then “bwaourgh, broaugh, bluuurgh, bwuer” and then the body vomited. It may just have been vomit, but right then at that moment, it was darkness, it was negativity , it was evil . It was casting out of something truly horrible from within me. From my perspective my bowl was almost full of vomit, but when I came to inspect it later there was almost nothing in it.
It was at this point that I completely lost control of my body. The body was sat cross legged rocking backwards and forwards and in circles. The arms jurked at twitched, almost like an ape scratching the fur on its arms. The head was shaking from side to side making the lips flaps making a bawewe, bawewe, bawewe sound. Then the voice started babbling unintelligibly. Basically I was acting full horror film possessed. But I have been reliably told that this was not what was happening.
Then suddenly I managed to regain enough control of my faculties to rush to the toilet and so a full on squirty, liquid bowl evacuation. Lovely. Thankyou legs. Without them it could have got very messy.
Then I sat down at started rocking and scratching and softly saying “ blu, bla, bla, bla, bla” over time this softened off.
Then the body was rolling around on the floor. I ended up kneeling with my head down on my arms. The shamen touched me on the back and told me I’d feel better if I vomited and that I should lay on my stomach. But I had other ideas. I didn’t feel like vomiting, I really didn’t want to be touched and I was quite comfortable in my current position. Eventually the utter horribleness passed and I collapsed on the floor and started wriggling and writhing. That was until I had to leg it again before pebble dashing the walls in korma sauce.
Reality was warping and shifting, the floor was tilting. My arms were phasing out of reality and getting delayed and catching up with themselves. I collapsed, exhausted.
And then it opened up.
Infinite diamond stars, of infinite sparkle, embedded in infinite velvet blackness.
At that moment I realized that all my experience in life up until this point were as a speck of dust to the universe. Not only the experiences I had had to date, but all the experiences I ever would have. In fact all the experiences of all humanity were infinitesimally small compared the beauty I beheld.
I laughed and cried in wonder. All My preconceptions were a joke, all the traumas and conflicts were a nothing. Everything I had experienced when compared to this ultimate beauty were so small as to be of no merit.
Who has seen what I have seen? Who have felt what I have felt?
Humbled and in awe I gazed upon the face of god.
I arrived at the Dhamma Dipa Vipassana Meditation (S.N. Goenka) centre in Hereford early on Wednesday afternoon. After a short registration, coffee and a biscuit I checked out my room. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that I had a single. My greatest fear of the 10 days is that I would be confronted by the need to cry but have no where private to retire to . Such is the shame attached to crying when you have been conditioned out of it.
On the first night I couldn’t sleep. Thoughts of fire breathing dragons, 90’s metal and past relationships bashed around the inside of my head like a tin can being booted down a dark alley.
Getting up at 4:00am and only eating meals at 6:30am and 11.00am everyday isn’t easy, but you get used to it.
Not having any stimulation and spending hours after hours bored out of your mind telling your brain to do something it doesn’t want to do isn’t easy, but you get used to it.
Sitting perfectly still, unable to move whist invisible torturers set about attacking your knee caps with blow torches and chisels is excruciatingly painful and almost impossible to tolerate, but you do, and eventually, if you don’t get up and leave the pain does. It is actually surprising what you can adapt to when you choose to.
Setting aside the spirituality and mysticism, the act alone of sitting immobile, bored out of you mind, in excruciating agony and yet remaining still is going to retrain your brain. Your threshold of what is unbearable simply moves, and that which is stressful accordingly stops being so.
Its amazing what sensory deprivation will do to the brain. You end up craving any kind of stimulation. My favorite pass time when not meditating became lying on my back wiggling my legs in the air looking for shapes in the clouds.
It really is quite disturbing how much one thinks of sex when mind is free of sensory input. I really get now why the sexes are split up for the duration of the retreat. I think even the glimpse of a feminine styled throw cushion would have sent me running off to seek seclusion.
Throughout the retreat I experienced both joy and misery; they both came and went as frequently as each other. On one occasion when mediating i was running around in the darkness of my own mind, screaming at the top of my voice, smashing my head through a window, slitting my own throat, choking my neighbor to death and destroying property with a sledge hammer.
On another occasion during meditation I feel into deep ecstasy, my mind become completely black and I disappeared. I was aware that something existed but I did not know what as i wasn’t there to witness it. Whatever it was that was still occurring were like distant muffled voices in a locked room some distance away. I wasn’t conscious or unconscious and i wasn’t a sleep. I can only presume that whatever the mediation was doing to my brain resulted in the release of some happy chemicals, the change in my brainwaves, and some areas of my brain to shut down.
This was in no way the full extent of my weird shit experiences. At the end of one meditation sitting someone walked past me and the air flow on my skin triggered a near orgasmic wave of pleasing electricity to ripple around the whole surface area of my body. We were told not to get attached to positive or negative sensory experiences so I came out of it, believe me I really didn’t want to.
Yet another time when meditating I had sensitized my mind to be able to follow my nerves around my body. I search around my own nervous system painting a map in my mind.
The easiest areas to flow my mind into were always my face, my palms and the bottom of my feet. Since i’ve been doing martial arts I’ve simply got used to fact that my palms are always going to be hot and buzzing with vibrational energy. As I zoomed around my body I managed to get my awareness into my teeth, my eye sockets, penetrate my arms and legs. I began to scan my awareness up and down my body like a laser. It felt like a beam of sunlight as it passed over me.
My vision began to flicker, and towards the top of my head began to glow white. As my awareness passed over my eyes there was blue flash. As my awareness passed over my palms and feet there was another blue flash. My hands and feet began to glow blue and pulse with a powerful pulsating energy.
Each time my awareness passed over them the blue energy spheres grew until eventually they over lapped, merged and then expanded to fill the whole of the body. At this point whatever it was that was scanning my body gave up and joined the party. From that moment onward, the whole of my sensory reality was simply a pulsating , throbbing warm fuzzy energy field. My vision was black apart from expanding and contracting splodges of yellow, pink and blue an psytrance VJ would have been proud of.
Wow, some party this. I was loving it. But where could I go from here? How could I scan if the scanner was gone? When I came out of this mediation I had a good old think about what had transpired. In the end no matter how beautiful the experience was I had to admit to myself that I was no longer practicing vipassana. I had followed the funky shit down the rabbit hole and had a wild party but I could no longer be said to be simply observing my experiences.
And so the next time the pleasant fuzzy vibration energy filled my whole body, I stopped the observer from joining the party. I remained objective. I realized, at least I think I did, that the lovely vibrational energy was pretty much flowing around the surface of my body. I hadn’t noticed that I wasn’t penetrating my body.
So, I tried to use my awareness to penetrate my torso. This was really quite difficult. Maybe my mind was not focused enough. I suddenly decided to see what would happen if I tried to ‘see’ my own heart. As I passed my awareness to my heart at first it seamed dark and impenetrable, but each time i tried to put my awareness there I got a slight urge to cry. Again and again I placed my awareness roughly around my heart or solar plexus and I got more and more upset. Eventually I moved on to other parts of the body. The interesting thing is that the next time I scanned my whole body, not only my eyes, feet and hands pulsed with blue/white light, but my heart did too. And every time my heart pulsed white I got a feeling of love and not of sorrow as I had done previously.
Ultimately after all of this mediation I do not feel that I had a strong spiritual experience, I do not feel that I had a overwhelmingly strong emotional experience. I certainly did not view objective reality, shout ‘everything is emptiness’ and realize that we are all one.
What I did experience was possibly the most prolonged periods of physical pain and deepest feelings of joy, peace and tranquility. As I leave the retreat I feel lighter, unburdened, calmer, stress free, sharp, focused and joyous, but I don’t feel any more spiritual or closer to having any of the answers to as to the true nature of reality or the universe.
I feel as if i have been split in two with the old me and the new me being able to gaze out through shared eyes and compare experiences.
Someone at work said something and I realized that historically it would have triggered a rant.
Someone did something and i realised that historically it would have triggered anger.
Someone else acted in a particular way and I remembered that it would have triggered anxiety.
I realized that I have always felt unsafe and that my mind created a construct of how I wanted my environment and the people in it to behave to allow me to feel safe. and if my environment and people didn’t conform to my imposed structure then I would use various levels of fear and anger to either escape from that reality or control it and try and make it conform to my expectations.
Sitting in silence for 100 hrs simply watching bodily sensations was simply brain training and using neuroplasticity to learn a new skill, the skill of being able to see things as they are.
For my whole life I haven’t been living in reality. I’ve been living in a projection of how I wanted everything to be and being constantly disappointed.
Perhaps this is the cause of anxiety and depression, well one of them atleast.
Today I was able to experience my environment and the people in it and accept for what it was. Doing so allowed me to feel at peace.
In all my past relationships I haven’t been in a relationship with those people as they really are, but rather in a relationship with my projection of who I desired them to be. Being constantly disappointed that they could never live up to my expectations.
If I am able to to feel my chest tightening and If I am able to feel my stomach constricting, . Then where am I?
If I am observing my bodily sensations, then I cannot be my body. If emotional pain and fear are felt in the body as sensations then who is feeling them?
If I’ve already established that I am not my body, and that emotional pain and fear impact on the body then they do not impact on me. So as long as i am able to see myself as the observer i am invulnerable to emotional pain and fear because it is not me that they are affecting.