I’ll admit that, going in, I was a little dubious that I would get anything out of the experience. The premise of the evening was an experiment to see if past experiences with Ayahuasca could be recreated using hypnotism. The woo woo factor appealed to me but I have never partaken of a real Ayahuasca ceremony. So, in attending, I didn’t really expect much sensation or transformation.
I was pleasantly surprised with more subtle results.
Although there were candles and trance music, this was not a hippie-style hangout. Facilitators Albert Nerenberg and Rebecca Hayden are both professional and warm. And they are genuinely knowledgeable about the subjects of Ayahuasca and hypnotism.
As Albert explained, hypnotism is not magic. Today’s neuroscientists have learned that when people go into a trance, it’s because they give themselves permission to do so. The hypnotist suggests they enter a trance state and the subject complies, which results in rewarding experiences of peace and surrender. Brain waves, chemistry and physiology change subtly in ways that are very familiar to those who meditate. Apparently, the primary effect of trance is to quiet the amygdala – that reptilian part of the brain controlling our fear response. Long ago, it may have been a life-saver to our monkey ancestors when confronted by physical threats like hungry predators. But today it causes us to become stressed out over things that are only socially fearful, such as public speaking or making investments.
Rebecca corrected a big misconception about Ayahuasca. It is not a party drug. In fact, those who are experienced with Mother Ayahuasca tend to become offended by the very suggestion. They feel a personal bond with the plant and are very protective. Ceremony and ritual are integral to the Ayahuasca experience.
These are things people need. Native people know it but the rest of us have largely forgotten. Unfortunately, a lot of people caught up in the micro aggressions of modern life will dismiss this kind of experience as so much superstition and self-indulgent time wasting. I’ve been there. In fact, I’m still afraid of trusting people, of letting go and looking foolish. But this was a sublime opportunity for experiential learning and I found it very valuable.
It’s the kind of learning that is largely unconscious. It’s hard to rationalize listening to trance music in the dark; sharing stories of our mental experiences with people who care; letting go of self-control even though it is a source of stress and depression. It’s hard to verbalize but I can feel the learning and the benefits of this experience in my bones.
No one in our group reported a perfect recreation of the Ayahuasca experience. That was perhaps a stretch to imagine but, then again, no one reported being disappointed either. Instead they reported that the Hypnotic Ayahuasca ceremony provided a profound reconnection with past Aya experiences and stimulated new insights.
Life-changing experiences such as are reported with real Ayahuasca ceremonies or any other kind of drug or big event can be pivotal to anyone’s life. But I can’t imagine even Mother Ayahuasca would want you to keep trying to recapture her experience and messages endlessly. That seems like going around in circles.
The point I think is to take the profound learning and reflect on what you will actually do with it. From that perspective, the greatest value of Hypnotic Ayahuasca is as a sacred maintenance program for people who have forgotten what they’ve learned from their most profound experiences.
To learn more or to reserve a spot in future ceremonies, visit https://offthedeepend.ca/blog/2017/06/30/hypnotic-ayahuasca/