I went into the last ceremony pretty clean and was vomiting well into the next morning. The vomiting isn’t the hard part though–it’s actually somewhat of a relief. What’s hard is the dark, scary thoughts/attitudes/emotions that cause the vomiting.
The ayahuasca has this interesting ability to connect the vomit reflex with negative thinking. It would be really funny if everyone experienced this during normal consciousness. Gossip about someone at work….BLAH! Indulge in worry about the kids…..BLAH! Ruminate about how someone did you wrong…..BLAH!
I’ve heard of some people vomiting every week, twice a week for two years, before they finally got all (or enough) of their negative thinking/attitudes out to stop the vomiting. It’s not all bad though, pretty much for the next day or two I feel light and good (though negativity still comes up and needs to be processed).
I wonder if ayahuasca is something like the spiritual equivalent of a controlled back fire. When there’s a raging, out of control forest fire, the firefighters commonly lights other parts of the forest on fire in order deplete the oncoming larger fire of fuel. When we vomit, and experience all the negative thoughts and emotions in ceremony, perhaps we are depleting some larger dysfunction of energy. Maybe.
There’s so much going on in a ceremony that it’s really hard to find a satisfying metaphor.
It could also simply be that, in ceremony, we are seeing how our negativity works out. And during that time, we are both learning a better way and healing. The ceremony could be thought of a controlled space, a laboratory perhaps, where we can experience and work out our crap, so we have less to deal with or process in real life.
It seems true that there really is a teaching spirit. It doesn’t talk (to me at least). It’s quite subtle, but there’s a recognisable pattern emerging from the experience. And this pattern, many people report (and I can confirm), leads us through our dysfunctions/traumas/negativity eventually to something more life affirming, healing and mature.
But again, the ceremonies and the Ayahuasca experience resists all metaphors, characterisations, categorisations. Everything I say about it feels incomplete. The ceremonies are often profound, new information comes, new insights, beliefs change, depression/anxiety/addiction of all kinds lessen or disappear. And it all seems to happen through actual experience, so, in the end, I think it doesn’t really matter what we believe about it. Whether it’s brain chemicals, spirits, or both, it just may not matter.
It doesn’t mean that if someone’s an ass before the ceremony. he/she won’t still be one afterward. Very few people, none that I know of, come out of a ceremony changed into Mother Theresa. If anything, we come out the ceremony with much homework. We come out with a vision of and push toward a much healthier, happier, more meaningful and connected life. But there’s a lot of hard work between here and there. I can personally confirm what someone else said, “Ayahuasca doesn’t make you a better person. It makes you desperately want to be a better person.”
And that description too, is incomplete.