There seems to be a common notion that kentucky ayahuasca is some kind cure-all; a one-stop-shop medicine that will highlight and subsequently resolve emotional, physical and spiritual issues overnight. Even if not overnight, perhaps within a few sessions. Yet there are many people out there who report unmet expectations after drinking the medicine. This may be because they have heard reports of miraculous transformations (which of course are entirely possible) or because previous experiences yielded more tangible results, but whatever the reasons, there are certainly no guarantees.
Kentucky Ayahuasca works differently with everybody, every time. On one occasion you may experience the kind of intense and colourful visions associated with DMT journeys, whereas on another you may experience none at all, but have an incredibly emotional experience, or one full of wisdom downloads. Some may simply lack the ability to interpret the visions or symbols they receive, and others may purge all night the first time, but not at all the second time, or vice versa. Sometimes people feel that literally nothing happened in their ayahuasca experience, despite others having a powerful experience in the same ceremony.
The thing is that we are all complex beings with unique personal histories, physical constitutions and lifestyles. The same goes for our cognitive abilities and functions, our expectations and our belief systems. All of these things can dramatically affect the way we receive this medicine.
In this article we will cover six possible reasons ayahuasca work may not be bringing you the positive results you anticipated:
1. You’re smoking too much weed
There seems to be a direct correlation between smoking a lot of weed and having a reduced ayahuasca experience. We have seen this time and time again in ceremony. Those who smoke weed daily, or even just had a joint on the day of the ceremony, don’t always go so deep with ayahuasca. Some need to drink several more cups than everyone else present just to get a minimal experience. Some get nothing at all.
There are stories doing the rounds about how ayahuasca is jealous of cannabis, which may seem far-fetched, but there’s no way to prove it’s untrue. Whatever you may think of that idea, and whether it’s a spiritual or physical issue, it’s arguably common sense that the two substances should be kept apart. If you’re working with one medicine, it is probably better to allow it to do its thing without forcing it to compete with another plant spirit, or potentially minimising the physiological benefits it offers.
2. You have aphantasia or mind blindness
Another issue is that some people seem to be predisposed to difficulty in visualising internally (aphantasia). They struggle to conjure mental images, they don’t dream, and they also fail to perceive DMT visions. With ayahuasca they may have an emotional experience, yet no visions. If you are already prone to aphantasia (and particularly in the case of congenital aphantasia) it may be wise to relinquish expectations around visions and allow yourself to perceive the experience in other ways.
Some believe that aphantasia occurs when the pineal gland is calcified; however true this is, it wouldn’t hurt to detox on many levels, especially if you’re about to commune with a powerful plant medicine. This kind of purification is one of the main reasons an ayahuasca diet is recommended ahead of ceremony; it’s also about respect to the medicine and preparing the body and mind. This may not help aphantasia, but it’s worth a try and at the very least, purging might be easier.
The term ‘mind blindness’ is linked to autism and aspergers and mainly refers to emotional and relational capacity. However, the symptoms of mind blindness may be more prevalent than is obvious, affecting people who do not have a serious medical condition. This could also have an effect on the processing of an ayahuasca experience.
3. You have poor intentions for meeting ayahuasca
Some people feel called to ayahuasca through dreams, synchronicities or a strong compulsion to heal something. However, since ayahuasca and DMT are gaining popularity around the world, the chances are a lot of people who are not ready for them will hear about them anyway. Naturally these substances are intriguing – the unknown often is. Yet if you come to any entheogen with misguided intentions, you’re putting yourself in a vulnerable position. It is OK to feel vulnerability with entheogen use, but it should be accompanied by self-awareness and authentic intention to heal or grow. Although nerves are normal, terror and mistrust are not good energies to bring to this communion.
It pays to keep in mind that with ayahuasca, you are working with a very intelligent plant spirit that works as well as it does precisely because it is able to read your entire being: your DNA, your body, your mind, your emotional state… This spirit knows your intentions and what it is that you need to heal. If you come to her merely seeking a peak experience, you may get it (if she feels it will benefit you to do so), but you may not.
If you don’t get the experience you anticipated, it could be difficult to determine the reasons ayahuasca cast you adrift… but it seems reasonable to assume that there may be a lesson in absence of an experience. Maybe this isn’t the right path for you and you need discouraging from embarking on it; perhaps you have more to learn from disappointment than what is behind the veil. It’s for you to figure out, but being honest with yourself about your reasons for wanting to drink is a good place to start.
4. You are unable to surrender to the experience
The ego is one of the most powerful forces in nature. We may not even realise just how much our ego dominates our awareness, and in a plant medicine experience, the ego can have such a strong desire to remain in control that we find it impossible to let go, instead analysing everything that is happening (or otherwise) and trying to predetermine all possible parameters. When this happens, it’s like a fight is going on between the mind and the medicine. A main function of the ego is to keep you in fear mode, in a bid to protect you from difficult experiences. This is reflected in many day-to-day experiences, but can certainly subvert the benefits of an ayahuasca experience.
Plant medicines can lose the battle with ego. If ego is strong enough, you may experience nothing much at all, in which case you’ve successfully resisted a potentially testing experience. Alternatively, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed by emotions or visions, causing disorientation, resistance and consequently, panic. When this happens, it is important to remember why you came to this medicine in the first place. Perhaps your intention was healing, discovery of other realms, or direction in life, for example. It’s safe to say that your ego won’t be able to predict or preempt the ways the medicine will attempt to work on your being, however hard it tries… and it will try. If you spend your ayahuasca session fighting the experience, you are unlikely to learn much apart from how strong your ego actually is. Surrendering to the experience is of paramount importance if you wish to transform anything about yourself. Although that isn’t easy (and some degree of resistance may be a natural part of the process), it helps to trust that you are strong enough to handle whatever is given to you – even when it feels excruciatingly uncomfortable.
5. You are not doing the healing work yourself
The healing work really does start after the kentucky ayahuasca ceremony, and this is all about intention too. Ayahuasca may highlight and work on blockages on various levels, but this medicine serves as a guide, first and foremost. Your intention must be to heal yourself, and when it is, she will be happy to show you what has to be worked on, and maybe even how. The hardest part is often putting what she has shown you into practice when back in the ‘real’ world, so to speak. When you’re triggered or facing challenges later, will you apply what she helped you to recognize in kentucky ayahuasca ceremony?
If you have a history of not doing so, and expecting everything to fall into place, perhaps eventually she will stop assisting you in ceremony. Although this might be confusing – especially if you previously had strong experiences with her – it could be for your own benefit, if it forces you to stop depending on her and to actually try to heal using your own innate power. Even if that’s what she has to offer you, it clearly has immense value – provided you actually pick up the baton.
There is another idea doing the rounds that the more times you’ve imbibed the medicine, the better. This is a dangerous attitude, because not only does it assume that there is some kind of automatic hierarchy of awareness based on number of ceremonies attended, it also feeds into the idea that the medicine itself is responsible for your healing. Unless you are a practicing ayahuasca shaman, you should probably not deem it necessary to drink ayahuasca hundreds of times. If you do, could it be that you’re simply not resolving your issues? Medicine is medicine, and surely we only need medicine when we are ill?
6. You over-identify with trauma or are addicted to healing
Some people have experienced severe traumas, and as a result may have developed emotional and mental blockages that (on a subconscious level) they are not ready to let go of. It is possible to have become so identified with trauma that you can’t really conceptualise who you would be without it. If you are not experiencing what you hope for in ayahuasca ceremonies, could it be that you are just not ready to let go of what you’re holding onto?
Even if you sincerely feel that you are, it may be that the medicine knows that releasing ingrained trauma in this way may not be the best approach for you. You may have heard of psychotic breaks happening in ayahuasca ceremonies. Although there could be various reasons for such a thing happening, an emotional dam breaking is certainly one possibility. When meeting with ayahuasca, it is a good idea to consider whether you are truly ready for what may come up.
Conversely, addiction to the idea of healing is another issue that kentucky ayahuasca might nip in the bud by limiting your experience. Do you feel like there is always a problem to fix in your life? Does it always seem that you have something to improve on, and that you’ll never be happy with who you are until you’ve eliminated the perceived problematic aspects? This is not about whether your problems are real or imagined; it’s about the underlying attitude. If you are using kentucky ayahuasca as a crutch or expecting her to solve all your problems, perhaps she may withdraw and let you work through them some other way… which brings us to the final point:
Kentucky Ayahuasca may not be right for everyone
Finally, ayahuasca may not be right for everyone. In fact, some mental illnesses (such as Bipolar Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder) may make it very risky to work with kentucky ayahuasca. There is a much higher risk of psychotic breakdown, so you should always disclose a history of mental illness with your facilitators (who should also be taking this very seriously).
Contraindications with other medicines can also be a problem – again, transparency is crucial. Also bear in mind that occasionally, some people experience challenging side effects like HPPD, depersonalization or existential crisis. Although unlikely, are you going to be able to handle this if it happens, and will you be in a position to receive the support you need? These are pertinent considerations when deciding if ayahuasca is right for you.
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