Honor The Ending: Time Is An Illusion

It’s the time you spend on your rose that makes your rose so important. … You’re responsible for your rose.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Two weeks ago my friend Amy and I got back from an ayahuasca retreat called Dreamglade in the Peruvian Amazon. I wanted to kick off this blog with that story, but when I started looking through photos and videos I realized that it’s just too big, and rushing would be doing a disservice to the whole experience. It also put me in a really strange mood that sent me spiraling into a familiar darkness.

I foolishly thought that, with all the progress I’ve made because of the ayahuasca, I would be impervious to pain. One of the themes throughout the journey was recognizing that pain is temporary and all you can do is move through it, rather than wallow in it. I felt like I had made a major breakthrough, but coming back to this “reality” I now see that pain manifests in so many different ways. Modern society is naturally overwhelming because we’re all constantly overstimulated, so to be able to isolate reasons for feeling a certain way can be difficult sometimes. It was much easier at Dreamglade because we were literally only working on ourselves, and had so many of those stimuli taken away to detox from this mess we live in. Eddy reminded me that a retreat is literally “backing away from a battle to recuperate,” and for me, coming back to Los Angeles to live my “normal” life is like returning to battle.

I wanted SO BADLY to honor our two week Dreamglade anniversary and spent hours yesterday trying to get it done in time, neglecting so much else. I fell into the same patterns of beating myself up about it when it got later and later and realized I just wouldn’t be able to do it. Looking at photos made me feel even worse, like I was losing something important by not having archived it quickly enough. Watching my video journals while the emotions were still fresh, seeing myself talk about little details I’d already forgotten made me so afraid that I’d forget everything I’d learned and felt. That this whole ayahuasca journey, the most important thing I’ve ever done in my life, was already fading into a dream and it would all be for nothing. I heard Drew’s voice echo in my head “You’ll remember what’s important” and responded with “No I won’t, that’s bullshit.”

But then I remembered this “meditation for endings” that Adriene released on her Yoga with Adriene channel yesterday for New Years, and how she emphasizes the importance of “Honoring the Ending” and a “Resolve to Evolve.” I did this first thing in the morning as soon as I got the email, and it made me cry because it resonated so deeply. It’s amazing how we as humans all struggle with such similar issues of not being able to commit to practicing what’s good for us because we crave “perfection” or “instant gratification” which makes no sense when we’re still new to something!

“This is one of the most maddening things about human nature: we quit doing the things that help us most.” – Phil Stutz & Barry Michels, The Tools

My whole life I’ve struggled to commit to anything, allowing myself to wallow in the dark hole of my pain. It’s resulted in me feeling depressed, stuck and unable to follow through with anything important…life continually slipping through my fingers. Being diagnosed as bipolar, I am very much a slave to highs and lows, not understanding how to balance that duality and live in the normalcy of life.  Another Drew quote from the retreat when I was going through some pretty bad shit — “Maybe this is a sign that you just need to start living.”

But what if you’re not even sure how to live, after not living for such a long time?

This is a very common problem with our species, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because we’re all slaves to time, and need to constantly remind ourselves that time is an illusion — Something my dad also clearly struggled with, expressing his frustrations in a comic where time is literally the enemy, “Tempus Fugitives.” But time is something so abstract, a force we’ll never be able to control as mere mortals. This is why “honoring the ending” is SO important, and something great to keep in mind while moving into 2019.

There’s talk about how, after doing ayahuasca, you experience a lot of synchronicity in your life… things that seem to just be meant to happen. Reading The Last Unicorn (and also The Little Prince) has been part of this for me, because I am getting so much life changing advice from both of these books. There’s a part of The Last Unicorn that completely blew my mind regarding time, which I think sums up the issue quite beautifully. It made me realize that what ayahuasca does is open ourselves to receive messages from the higher powers, allowing us to see the world differently and experience magic. Because what is magic? Things that we don’t understand that inspire wonder, similar to when we were a child. And, ayahuasca or not, I believe that magic is always there. We just live so blindly on a normal basis and float through life without recognizing what’s actually important. And this is why art exists, as a desperate plea from people who have experienced these universal truths — a reminder to take the time to see.

“When I was alive, I believed–as you do–that time was at least as real and solid as myself, and probably more so. I said ‘one o’clock’ as though I could see it, and ‘Monday’ as though I could find it on the map; and I let myself be hurried along from minute to minute, day to day, year to year, as though I were actually moving from one place to another. Like everyone else, I lived in a house bricked up with seconds and minutes, weekends and New Year’s Days, and I never went outside until I died, because there was no other door. Now I know that I could have walked through the walls.” – Peter S. Beagle, Last Unicorn p.236

This literally made me tear up just typing it out for this post, because it’s SO FUCKING REAL and WE ALL SUCCUMB TO IT. We feel constantly busy, constantly behind, things piling up to such a crippling extent that we don’t allow ourselves to live…but what are we even living for at that point? It’s such a joke! “A house bricked up with seconds and minutes, weekends and New Year’s Days”… “New Years” is just another excuse to put more pressure on ourselves to set resolutions that we won’t commit to if we don’t see the root of the problem.

Even now, attempting to honor endings, part of why tears came while during the meditation was my fear of failure. The fear to just let go and experience life, rather than try and control it. The fear of TRUE CHANGE. But the same behavior has prevailed time and time again and caused me so much pain…and what is insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. The results won’t be different unless you make the choice to change, and that choice is where all our power lies. That choice is our magic. 

“The clock will never strike the right time. Haggard scrambled the works long ago, one day when he was trying to grab hold of time as it swung by. But the important thing is for you to understand that it doesn’t matter whether the clock strikes ten next, or seven, or fifteen o’clock. You can strike your own time, and start the count anywhere. When you understand that — then any time at all will be the right time for you.” – Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn

Time is much more fluid than we think…it moves backwards and forwards, and if you pay attention, the more life you live the clearer this becomes. I’m already starting to see it, but that’s for a future post. This quote from Haunting of Hill House explains it well for now.

I thought for so long that time was like a line. That our moments were laid out like dominoes and that they fell one into another. Days tipping one into the next into the next… in a long line between the beginning and the end. But I was wrong. It’s not like that at all. Our moments fall around us like rain…or snow. Or confetti.” – Nell Craine, Haunting of Hill House

As we left Dreamglade, Amy and I were huddled in tears in the front of Stacy’s car as he was playing sad, appropriate songs like this one:

And she said “I feel like the end credits are rolling” which made me cry and cling to her harder, not wanting the moment to escape because it was too perfect. 

Indeed, that’s exactly how it felt, and during these magical times I try my best to “live in the moment” but can’t help feeling like it’s never enough. But this too is part of being human. We live in the painful space between past and future, a space that doesn’t truly exist. The tragic beauty of humanity is that nothing lasts forever, and everything comes to an end.

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Me and Amy in Stace’s car during the “end credits.” Huge thanks to Erik for the photo!

To make me feel better last night, Eddy reminded me of the concept of “eternal return,” and the idea that time is infinite and because we can’t even fathom the nature of infinity, it’s nice to believe that time will repeat itself someday. So every experience that we have is part of us forever, and rather than be sad about an “ending,” focus on how beautiful it is that we’ll always have these memories within us. People constantly take photos and videos to capture a moment, but, like Mother Ayahuasca told me in Peru “The best camera you have is your mind.” As badly as we want to cling to the past, we have to trust that regardless of details, we’ll remember the feeling we had at certain times in our life, and that’s what we have to treasure.

once youve met someone you never really forget them

This is a constant message in tons of books, movies, songs… because it’s such a universal struggle and requires effort to remind ourselves to focus on gratitude rather than sadness. And this is what “honoring the ending” and “resolve to evolve” means. All we can do is be grateful for the joyous experiences in our life and use them to better ourselves… to remind us to commit to practices that clear our minds so we CAN focus on the good rather than the bad, and be patient with ourselves when we fall into the trap of being human.

We have to remember that the most important thing about life is to enjoy it with the time that we have and the people who we love. And to be patient with ourselves so we don’t miss this opportunity. Happy New Year everyone, 2019 is going to be different. Let’s approach it without fear or expectation. Remember…pain is temporary.

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Crushed By Reality And It Hasn’t Even Been A Week

Type 7 Enneathought For The Day: Make this Affirmation today: “I now affirm that I stay with projects until I complete them.”

Well… my first severe low has already hit and it hasn’t even been a week. I can’t really tell how much of it is because of my period that started today, but regardless…it’s been pretty rough. I was only at Dreamglade for 8 days, but the serene atmosphere and highs I was able to achieve through social interaction and the ayahuasca made me feel like the lows would never come. Kinda like when me and Eddy were in Kauai for our honeymoon, he made sure to REMIND me that the lows would come again and even though I agreed at the time, when I returned to reality and they DID come, they hit me in the face like a brick so hard it was nearly impossible to recover.

During my research I had read that ayahuasca makes you have a higher “ceiling,” or emotional tolerance before you hit something like depression. I have a feeling that’s true, because the negative voice inside me is definitely not as strong, or rather it’s now constantly being combated by the positivity, support, and rationality of Mother Ayahuasca. However, I guess the easiest way to describe it is still with the bipolar diagnosis. My emotions are SO STRONG and overpowering, and they’re very difficult to tame, and I have difficulty existing in a gray area between the high and the low of my moods. It reminds me very much of Second Ceremony, when mama reminded me that these “extremes” exist, and no matter how great I’m feeling, darkness will always return and I have to learn how to deal with it in order to regain my power.

As grateful as I am for Ayahuasca’s ability to make you face this eternal struggle of duality, I’m bummed that it hasn’t really made things too much easier. This balance is so fucking hard, and it’s not even that bad. This is just normal life.

Yesterday I had so much fire with the idea for this Hummingpup Healing Project, and I’m definitely still excited and motivated for it, but fears and doubts set in so quickly… definitely more quickly than I was hoping. I got home from work and did my Ceremony 1 speed painting with gusto, then as soon as I attempted to draw something “real,” I settled into my comfort zone of planning blog posts and outlining what I was gonna write.

Erik’s words (from the retreat) came back to me: “You need to paint. You’re so good at expressing yourself with words, you need to start expressing yourself another way. I would love to see you paint.”

Thank you so much Erik…These words will seriously never leave me…along with “If you change one thing when you get back, make sure it’s your diet. It affects every other part of your life.”

I’m still shocked by how quickly and how close I got to the people at Dreamglade, not only the employees, but the guests as well… they’ve changed my life in a way that no one I’ve known even for years has, which speaks to how open and vulnerable we really were over there. I can’t believe how much I’m still processing, not only how much my mind has shifted from the experience, but also how DIFFERENT I was while I was there. I think a huge part of it is just that opportunity to detox from the overstimuli of the modern world. I wonder if this is what it’s like when people go to rehab then come back to this reality? It’s a whole different game… and it really sucks 😦

ANYWAY.

When Erik’s words popped into my head, THAT’S when I realized I was wallowing smack dab in my comfort zone of planning and writing. The fear of facing myself with my art hit me so hard I had to go to sleep because I just… could NOT do anymore work on Hummingpup after realizing just how much of an “art phobia” I’ve built up over the years. It made me nauseous. Being so afraid for so long has built up this huge expectation for something great to happen when I go to put pencil/pen/whatever to paper. But WHY should it even be great? Like Mother Ayahuasca says “You’re a newborn. You have to crawl before you can walk, walk before you can draw.” OBVIOUSLY. It’s so strange how I’ve been able to learn how to work through the physical pain of kambo, sananga, and sickness/purging during ayahuasca, but I keep avoiding the emotional pain of facing how behind I am with my art skills. Even the forward motion pain tool isn’t helping right now! UGH!

So during my breathing exercise this morning, I focused on my feelings of overwhelm as I called out for help. I was immediately flooded with all these familiar thoughts I hadn’t experienced while I was away, and I just could NOT stop crying.

“You suck, you’re already falling behind.”

“Why are you always so behind?”

“You’re such a failure.”

“You’re horrible, why even try?”

Except this time, rather than having to deal with these alone, Mother Ayahuasca came to my aid. So quickly did I feel her embrace that I cried even harder.

“Why do you feel the need to rush, my child? Slow down, give yourself time. Remember what I taught you…

LISTEN

FOCUS

PATIENCE

You’re not taking the time to listen… if you don’t listen, you can’t focus. Listen to yourself. Be patient with yourself. You have so much beauty within you waiting to be released.

SURRENDER TO THE PAIN.

She took my hands just as Raul did in ceremony, as if to say “I accept you, sweetheart. This is what it means to be human. Now learn to accept yourself.”

So much love and compassion in that gentle motion… It’s strange how quickly our human minds forget. I’m starting to understand why Ayahuasca is so powerful.

I took a mapacho break with Amy today and it’s funny because it was rough for her too. She was actually the first to say it this morning when we dropped off her Christmas present. “Uggghhh this is the first day I’m feeling a real low.” It was nice to hear that both of us are struggling with translating Mother Ayahuasca’s lessons in this reality. I suppose it should be an interesting and fun challenge, but because it hit us so hard today it’s really just frustrating. You’d think that undergoing these ultimate tests of “letting go” and “not having expectations” would teach us how to apply the same ideas to everyday challenges but… surprisingly not. I’m realizing now just how conscious and aware we have to be of these things. Time to reread that Tools book already 😐

What’s so great about Ayahuasca though is that not only are you under her influence for hours during ceremony, but the experiences are so intense and a lot of the time, her message is repeatedly harped at you because you keep trying so hard to understand. During my Third Ceremony death experience, my mind kept going to the same places — “Why can’t I see? I can’t move my head, I can’t open my eyes. I don’t understand what’s going on. Where am I? Am I missing something? Why can’t I move my body?”

Strangely enough, even though I knew I was going through an insanely profound death experience, it felt like it lasted an eternity and I couldn’t help but wonder if I was missing out on something. Not having a body for hours was so strange, and the fact that I could hear people around me in the physical world still bothered me because I couldn’t help wanting to know what they were doing, or participate in that world because I felt left out.

But Mother Ayahuasca kept saying the same things: LISTEN, FOCUS, PATIENCE and RESPECT. I also will never forget her giggling and saying “Oh I turned your body off, you don’t need it. Just listen to Raul and Lydia. You don’t need to see, you don’t need to understand. That will come with time.”

But again, because this lasted for an eternity, the same shit kept coming up again, and again and again… I wonder how many times she told me the same things. Hundreds? Thousands? That’s what it felt like. So it’s amazing to me now that my negativity has returned, how clear these lessons still are in my head. Rather than choosing to wallow and cry and just go to sleep… I forced myself to write this out and try to process further, because I’m realizing now that these days post retreat are SOOOO crucial to building the habits that I want to build.

Despite the negative thoughts being back, I do feel a renewed sense of motivation. Even though I couldn’t help feeling sorry for myself today, I’m fighting hard to pull myself out of it because Mother Ayahuasca is with me… and I very much feel like she won’t let me spiral into that dark hole again. At least not as easily as I used to. When I draw, I can’t even say “GO KILL YOURSELF” anymore because I’ve already died. So that’s at least something I need to be proud of. As unsettling as it is that these feelings have returned, I can still feel that everything is different now.

A permanent shift has occurred, and I’m not going back.