Category Archives: Travel

My Ayahuasca Experience: A Six-Part Mini-Series (Part 1)

Early last month (i.e. November 2019), Steve and I traveled to Costa Rica and stayed at a resort that featured offering ayahuasca ceremonies to its guests. I’ve decided to write a six-part mini-series to share my thoughts and experiences pertaining to this journey.

First off, I’ll readily admit that I was very hesitant to try ayahuasca. I live a pretty clean lifestyle. Sure, I’ll drink alcohol on occasion, and I enjoy caffeine from time to time as well (I have an on-and-off relationships with espresso beverages), but that essentially sums up my drug use.

I’ve never had a single drag of a cigarette in my life. I’ve barely ever tried marijuana – I’m pretty sure I’ve only ever gotten high from it once. And since I pretty much despise smoking anything (I wanna keep my lungs healthy, thank you!), I really have no desire to smoke it again.

I experimented once with making vegan pot brownies, but the ratio of pot marijuana to brownie was so very low that you would only experience a mild effect if you ate them on an empty stomach first thing in the morning (which I barely managed to experience while wandering through a museum in Amsterdam).

That pretty much sums up my entire life’s drug use! I’ve never tried anything else before, ever. …Up until last month, that is.

Aya-what?

What the hell is ayahuasca, anyway?

Ayahuasca literally means soul vine. Ayahuasca, however, typically refers to the brew or tea prepared from the bark of the ayahuasca vine along with other plants. The vine, banisteriopsis caapi, contains a compound that inhibits the human body’s naturally ability to quickly digest the tea’s hallucinogenic ingredient, DMT (dimethyltryptamine). The DMT-containing plant in the aya brew is often a shrub called chacruna (Psychotria viridis), but it could include a different DMT source. In either case, ayahuasca tea is also known to have strong purgative effects.

“Drugs Are Bad” …Right?

Ayahuasca is illegal in many countries around the world, but it is legal to prepare and consume it in Costa Rica.

Since I pretty much shun drugs by default, I had a lot of concern and hesitancy about trying ayahuasca. Is it safe? What does it do to my physiology? (I don’t like messing with my physiology. I even avoid pain killers and haven’t taken a single one in 10-15 years or so, maybe more.) Why would I want to mess with my body’s natural chemistry? Can something that’s known to induce vomiting and diarrhea really be good for you?

Plus, in all honesty, I was afraid that taking it might somehow lead to my untimely demise. I realize that sounds lie paranoia, but a handful of deaths have certainly been linked to or perhaps even the direct result of ayahuasca. It’s not without risk.

Additionally, a friend of mine died while in Peru several years ago as the result of participating in a tea ceremony that was known to have purgative effects. (You can read about that here.) It was deeply saddening to me to learn of her death.

I also remember hearing a story from a guy I once briefly dated that a friend of his died from mushrooms. Apparently she had a reaction to the mushrooms that caused her brain to swell, and that swelling led to her death.

Even though deaths from such drugs are uncommon, they do happen. And since they have happened to people I know or people that others I’ve met have known, it’s always been a concern of mine. What can I say. My survival instinct and desire to live is strong.

I realize that many people have very positive, and even beneficial experiences with psychedelics and other drugs, and I’m not meaning to pass judgment on anyone who consciously decides to explore this realm. It’s just that I tend to be weary of any type of drug – including the legal ones. (But that’s a whole other story.)

If Steve hadn’t been so keen on wanting to try ayahuasca, I’m pretty sure I would have never sought it out on my own.

Dieta

In order to reduce the potential for unsafe reactions to ayahuasca, everyone is encouraged to follow a particular diet for at least a week or so beforehand. Being vegan, Steve and I had no problems following this diet. It also recommended abstaining from caffeine / coffee, which was also no problem since I had already been avoiding caffeine leading up to then, anyway.

For safety reasons, it is also necessary for participants to be med-free. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, one must be free from prescribed medications for a month prior to participation in the ayahuasca ceremonies. This was no problem for either Steve or myself because we both live med-free lifestyles.

In addition to the above precautions, one also has to pass a simple medical exam upon arrival to the resort. They checked my blood pressure, heart rate, and asked a few basic questions. It was pretty straight forward.

My blood pressure was great, as was my heart rate. So there was nothing to stop me from participating. But even so, I was still unsure if I should do it.

A Blessing in Disguise?

I had been on the fence about trying ayahuasca for a long time. My uncertainties certainy hadn’t dissipated once we had arrived at the resort in Costa Rica, or after I had my med exam.

Why even bother to go to the resort at all in the light of uncertainty, you might ask? I figured that even if I didn’t participate in the ceremonies, I could still enjoy the weather, the beach, the hammocks, the spa, etc.

It almost came down to a coin-toss in terms of deciding whether or not to do it. But instead of a coin-toss, a serendipitous synchronicity of sorts presented itself to me, which led me to decide to take the plunge go for it.

[ Note: Since I’m not sure if I have other people’s consent to share the their presence at the resort, I’m going to be somewhat vague here when in comes to describing people. ]

One of the people in attendance is an author who had recently published a book about money and our emotional and energetic relationship with it. He published his book in English as well as another language (his mother-tongue).

As chance would have it, this fellow was beside me when I was debating whether or not to pay the additional $400 to participate in any or all of the four ayahuasca ceremonies that would be held at the resort that week. While he was standing beside me, and while I was deliberating with cash in hand, I noticed that there was an interesting character that had been stamped on one of the bills. It was a non-English character, and I suspected it was in the language that the aforementioned fellow read and spoke. So I asked him if he knew what that character said.

“Oh, I think it means means blessing or blessed.” Did it really? Was the money telling me it was giving me its blessing to participate in the ayahuasca ceremonies? I honestly thought he was joking and pulling me leg. So I took out my iPhone and used ran the Google Translate app on the character that was on my bill. …And well, he was right!

He said, “That’s really cool, I’ve never seen that before!” Stamping this character on money was right in line with the theme of his recent book. “I should look into finding a stamp like that!” …Seriously, what are the odds? And it wasn’t just on that one bill, it was on at least two or three or them! (In hindsight, I SO wish I had taken a picture of the characters on the bills.)

Considering the crazy synchronicity of the circumstance, I decided to take it as some kind of affirmation to go ahead and sign up to participate in the ayahuasca ceremonies. So I did!

The first ceremony would be taking place later that very night.

…Stay tuned for my next post in this mini-series, in which I describe my first ayahuasca experience.

Learning to Use My Intuition and Inner-Guidance System

Learning to Use My Intuition and Inner-Guidance System – by Rachelle Fordyce … [Photo by Jari Hytönen]

This morning I was sitting outside in our backyard enjoying breakfast and listening to an audiobook. The narrator-author had just spoken a sentence about using our inner-guidance system versus solely relying on our physical senses for guidance, and as that sentence literally hit my ears, I observed something that perfectly summed up what the author was talking about – a perfect synchronicity, if you will.

What I saw was this: A somewhat large insect, presumably a fly or large bee, whizzed by and – bam – flew right into the living room window! Not to be deterred, it promptly recovered, turned around, and whizzed right back the way it came.

I’ve seen birds fly into windows before, and on occasion I’ve seen insects do this too. But I thought it was especially synchronistic that that would happen right as I was listening to that very sentence about navigating using our inner-guidance senses in addition to our physical (aka outer-guidance) senses.

An Inner-Guidance System

What is an inner-guidance system? Basically, it refers to our intuition, our ‘gut’, our inner sense, or our feelings. It’s when we feel or somehow know something is right or not right, or off (or whatever the case may be), but yet we can’t necessarily use logic or reason to explain why or how we feel or know this to be.

Although some might be drawn to write off intuition as some “woo-woo” airy-fairy thing, on some level or another, it seems to be a very real phenomenon. There are countless examples of intuition stepping in to veer people away from trouble or perhaps even guiding them towards a positive experience. I don’t think it’s logical to discount all anecdotes and personal testimonies.

The instance of the bug slamming into the window made me wonder about intuition as a guidance system. Clearly, that insect was relying solely on its physical perceptions to guide it. But our physical perceptions can misguide us from time to time. I’d imagine that insect somehow perceived the reflection on the window as equating to more sky and air and such. Birds often do the same thing too. Similarly, and under the right circumstances, humans may witnesses mirages with their physical eyes… and yet, we can’t always trust what we see.

Do insects posses the ability to exercise intuition? I have no idea. I would guess not, but who really knows? Maybe some do and some don’t. Maybe it depends on the species. But either way, if that insect did have some sense of an inner-guidance system, I wonder if it might’ve kicked in and told it, “Hey, don’t fly this way! That’s not actually air and sky over there… that’s a glass surface! It’s a reflection – an illusion of sorts! Don’t go that way! It’ll just waste your time in the long run, and you might even hurt yourself!”

Learning to Trust My Intuition

When it comes to my own intuition, I’m sure it’d serve me well to lean into trusting it a lot more than I currently do. There have been way too many instances where some tiny voice in the back of my mind wonders something, almost as if to warn me of what could go wrong… but then the logical part of my mind takes over and says that other thought is simply paranoia, that I shouldn’t worry and just carry-on and continue as planned.

But then, somehow, of course – it turns out that that little, tiny voice was actually right. And had I listened to it, I would’ve avoided some sort of annoyance or delay or mishap or whatever / fill-in-the-blank. And then, I invariably kick myself for not having realized that that was my intuition/inner-guidance system trying to speak up and that I should have listened to it.

Story Time: How NOT Listening To My Intuition Almost Turned Out REALLY Badly!

Let me tell you an amusing story about intuition and the consequences of not listening to it.

A number of years ago, when Steve and I were still in the midst of our long distance relationship, we had bought tickets to see a Depeche Mode concert together in Las Vegas. (They’re pretty much Steve’s favorite band.) We had purchased the tickets far in advance, but I had yet to purchase my travel from Canada (Winnipeg) to Vegas for the concert date.

When booking travel, I tend to book tickets that are the least cost while also being the most convenient in terms of layovers/connecting flights, length of travel, arrival and departure times, etc. I also take into consideration the airports/cities of connecting flights.

I had noticed that some airports’ border patrols tended to grill me a lot harder than others when going through border security, so I tended to avoid those airports if possible since I rather dislike being grilled as though my innocent travel was some impending threat to civilization. For this reason, one of my favorite departure airports for flying into the US was the Calgary airport – they rarely gave me any issues. So if I could, I’d always favor flights that had a layover in Calgary before heading to the US. That way, it was likely to cause me the least of amount stress – and less stress is a good thing!

In terms of making travel plans for the concert, I had determined my best flight would be to fly from Winnipeg to Calgary, which then had another brief stop in Denver before flying into Vegas. Sure, it was an extra stop-over, but the itinerary had my ideal Calgary departure airport heading into the US, and it would still have me arriving in Vegas 2.5 hours before the concert, which seemed like plenty enough time – especially given that I was planning to fly with only carry-on luggage. (The second-best option had me arriving sometime around midnight the night before, but Steve likes going to bed on the early side, so I thought it best to avoid that flight.)

Even though the flight I described above seemed like a good plan, I had a little voice in the back of my mind wonder about it.

Little voice: “Are you sure that flight’s a good idea? What if there’s a delay? More stop-overs equate to more possibilities for delay. I dunnnoooo…”

Ego/Logic voice: “What? It’ll be fine. I’ve never experienced a notable delay before when traveling to Vegas, and I’ve flown a lot. So it’s super unlikely. I’ll only have carry-on baggage too, so that reduces extra time waiting for baggage arrival. Plus, I’d really prefer to go through border security in Calgary. I think you’re being overly paranoid.”

Little voice: “I dunno… something feels off.”

Logic voice: “It’ll be fine! 2.5 hours is plenty of time to get to the concert after arrival. Even if there was an hour delay, there’d still be enough time. Heck, even if there was a two hour delay, there’d probably still be just enough time!! The concert isn’t far from the airport, and it’ll be a Sunday so it’s not like there will be any rush hour traffic to worry about. …So, shut up!”

With a little hesitation, I went ahead and booked that flight. At the time, the concert was still more than two months away.

When I shared my itinerary with Steve, he was concerned too. He thought maybe I should change the flight. I just told him the same thing I had previously told that little voice (minus the “shut up” part).

On the travel day, everything for the first flight from Winnipeg to Calgary went smoothly. Going through security went fine. …Then, I arrived at the gate for my next flight.

Shit.

It turned out there was a major storm causing significant delays. My flight was going to be delayed by several hours. I would end up arriving after the concert. WHAT?! This kind of delay had never happened to me before in my life!

I wondered if there was any way I could get myself to Vegas in time for the concert. Then I noticed a flight to L.A. was getting ready to board and take off shortly thereafter. I guess the storm wasn’t going to affect their flight path. I did some quick thinking…I figured if I could take that flight to L.A., I should be able to land with just enough time to quickly rent a car and drive from L.A. to Las Vegas, making it to the concert right on time.

I talked to an airline rep at the counter and explained to her my predicament about missing the concert if I couldn’t figure out an alternate plan. I asked her could I please transfer my existing flight to that L.A. flight instead. Also, since I was traveling with carry-on luggage only, that made this new plan even more practical.

The airline rep did what she could, and thankfully, she was able to carry out my request. YAY! I sent off a message to Steve to let him know what was going on and that I’d meet him at the concert.

And so that’s what I did… I flew to L.A., rented a car, then drove to Vegas (with a little bit of speeding along the way). I got there ever so slightly early with just enough time to change my clothes in the venue’s bathroom to something a bit more appropriate for a concert. And then I pretty much got to my seat and met up with Steve right as the concert was starting.

Isn’t that insane?

In retrospect, it seems that this insane re-route adventure could have been avoided all together had I listened to that little voice after all. But then again, if I had, I wouldn’t have this crazy story to tell and share with you. 😉

Practice, Time, and Patience

I’m starting to get better at recognizing that little voice, and sometimes I even carry through with its advice. But I’m still not 100% great at recognizing it and then following through on whatever it has to say. At least I’m improving in that area, and I expect to keep improving over time as I lean more and more into practicing recognizing that little voice and separating it from the other voice in my mind that says, “Oh, that’s just paranoia talking.”

Experience tells me that this intuition “thing” is a real phenomenon. It could probably be logically explained away as something else, and that’s fine. But even so, using the word or label intuition – or inner-guidance system, or maybe even subconscious – is probably more succinct than any other lengthy label or explanation.

Whatever it is, I think it’s worth paying attention to. All it wants to do is help us along our path, getting from A to B in the most efficient way. Just like any guidance system, there’s a calibration and learning process to go through.

Learning to make sense of my intuition takes practice, so I try to be patient with myself and my learning curve.

“Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect.”
You have to trust in something: Your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

– Steve Jobs

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.”
All great achievements of science must start from intuitive knowledge. At times I feel certain I am right while not knowing the reason.”

– Albert Einstein

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Have you ever encountered interesting circumstances as a result of not listening to your intuition? Or from actually listening to it? If you have, I’d love to hear about it! I welcome you to share your story in the comments. <3