Plant medicine experiences are often deeply profound experiences that inspire us to examine our lives and to live in a healthier way. This opportunity for change is a gift but it can be challenging to continue to make the kinds of changes in our lives that honour these experiences once we get back to our daily lives.
My own Ayahuasca experiences involved a dialogue that continued long after ceremony and continues to this day. I have been experiencing a guided form of integration for years now and have begun to produce written work that is entirely inspired by this continuing dialogue. http://offthedeepend.ca/blog/category/ayahuascawisdom/
I’m now in the process of creating workshops under this same guidance that will be designed to help people to pursue their own path of personal development in keeping with the wisdom of plant medicines.
Please firstname.lastname@example.org (email me) to get onto the contact list so that you will be informed of the dates and times of upcoming workshops!
“Meeting and talking to Rebecca about her experiences with plant medicines changed my life. [She] opened my mind to possibilities I hadn’t considered before…. genuine insights into the human condition… yet down to earth, relatable and authentic”
-Psychiatrist, New York
“Rebecca is raw, honest and compassionate in the way she holds space for you and asks riveting questions that pierce through the fluff and get to the core. She has helped me see things clearly and confront things that I didn’t want to see, which has helped me achieve inner breakthroughs for deeper joy”
“If the longest road you ever walk is the sacred journey from your head to your heart, then Rebecca Hayden will conjure a magical space where the two can meet at once. She will empower you by sharing her exploration of plant medicine, and you will gain this wisdom without having to travel through four continents to arrive there.”
“Rebecca’s story of honest unwavering commitment to spiritual discovery, is fascinating and inspiring..”
Intentional blends are a unique, customized combination of 5 organic essential oils that are used to accompany and inspire daily intentions. They are applied to the crown, the forehead (3rd eye) and the heart centre while the intention is formed. This can be a powerful and enjoyable daily ritual that can help you live your life more intentionally.
The Story of Intentional Blends:
I created my first intentional blend when I returned from my Ayahuasca retreat in Peru. During my time among the Shipibo Maestras (Shamans), I was given a ‘Pasanga’. This was a bottle of floral water that I used to create daily intentions. It is a tradition among the Shipibo people to dab this floral water on the crown (top of the head), the third eye (middle of the forehead just above the eyes) and the on the heart centre while creating an intention for the day. I took my Pasanga home but found that I didn’t like the fragrance. I created my own with the guidance of a presence that has become a part of my life since my experiences in Peru. I was given 5 specific oils and the number of drops were specified as well. I used this until it was empty and then a brand new formula was given to me. Months later, a friend came to stay with me from out of town and while showering one morning, 5 oils were given to me for her. I asked her if she’d like for me to make her this blend and she agreed. She loved the fragrance. I instructed her how to use it and months later, when she had used it all, a new list of oils was given to me for her and for many others.
Since then I have discovered that this ritual has been practiced throughout history by many different religions and cultures and it’s almost always considered to be sacred (relating to religion/spirituality and/or healing). “Anointing” it is called and it’s performed at the height of the coronation (the crowing of royalty) signifying the royal person’s direct connection to God. In various religions, high priests are anointed in this way. Anointing of one sort or another is performed in many religions worldwide. It was practiced by the Egyptians and other indigenous cultures including this ancient Shipibo tribe. The Christian tradition also uses 5 oils, which was a revelation to me as I had always wondered why there were always 5 notes/EOs designated for each blend. There is still a great deal of mystery surrounding all of this for me but I am at peace with the mystery. It leaves me open to learning more and allows me to remain in a state of wonder – which is something I never want to lose.
Of course essential oils have their own healing powers beyond the role they play in this particular ritual. I have included some sources below regarding the various healing properties and qualities of essential oils. However, the explanation that most closely resembles the one provided to me by the same source of these unique blends (involving frequency and vibration) is the following excerpt from a book by Dr. David Stewart entitled: Chemistry of Essential Oils
“When molecules of essential oils are inhaled swallowed applied to the skin or internalized into your body in anyway they resonate with your bodily tissues at the frequencies intrinsic to their molecular spectrum as well as their resultant harmonic and beat frequencies. This increases your natural electromagnetic vibrations and restores coherence to your electric fields to produce healing and maintain the wellness.”
Finally, this quote:
“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”
Please contact me if you would like me to create an intentional blend for you.
Ayahuasca is a medicine that helps us to change the way we see ourselves and our lives. It can change our understanding of our very existence. It calls into question many commonly held beliefs and this can be a profound experience indeed. It can also be a disturbing experience because it has the power to disturb the rhythm our lives and the way that we think. Within this disturbance lies the possibility for great change. The desire for change is often what leads us to the medicine in the first place.
The plant medicine experience has the power to shift your life in a profound way. It is the beginning of “The Work”. This work entails not only honouring this shift but opening up to further shifts that will continue to bring about the kinds of changes that were the impetus for the journey with Ayahuasca. Although everyone’s experience of Ayahuasca may be different, there are underlying universal lessons and necessary changes in perspective that help each person, in their own way, to improve their lives.
I have been engaging in shamanism and working with plant medicines for over 3 years now and during this time I have worked solely and intensively on integrating the experiences I’ve had with these medicines into my daily life. This work has improved my outlook, mood, health and relationships exponentially. I have had continuous assistance from our plant allies and continue to work with them to help others to make the most out of their experiences.
It’s Valentine’s Day and although I can’t say that this is usually a big holiday for me, I have been thinking about love and expressing it on this day. I’m single right now and I will be spending Valentine’s Day with my 7 year old son. This is something I’m looking forward to. I know that we generally think of Valentine’s Day as celebrating romantic love and I think that we’re limiting ourselves in this way. I have been urged more and more to ‘put pencil to paper’ as Ayahuasca advised during my last ceremony so I’m doing this in cases where I’m asking about things that might concern everyone. I asked about love, thinking of it both in the way of celebration and in a way that will help us. I wrote the answer which I have typed out in Italics below. The message begins from the standpoint of a separate entity by saying ‘your’ and ‘you’, and then moves into the position of ‘our’. This has happened before and I don’t correct it. I always hear this voice from the perspective of ‘we’ (they speak as a collective that is speaking to ‘me’) but lately and especially when it comes to something I intend to share publicly, it quickly moves into ‘we’ as in all of ‘us’. I hope you don’t find this too confusing.. the message is the important thing. 😉
Love is the root of your existence. To celebrate love is to celebrate all of existence. Begin with you and move on from there to everything and everyone. We love ourselves into existence and the quality of our existence depends on the quality of our love. Judgmental, conditional love creates an existence of suffering. When we create an atmosphere of punishment, we deliver love only as a method of reward. Love is not a reward, it is the very fabric of a healthy existence and it is boundless. When we limit love, when we restrain it, we are compromising our very existence.
When I read the above message and thought about posting it, I admit to feeling a little reluctant. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel the wisdom in it, I always do. I just felt that maybe people aren’t ready to embrace this and I felt that I’m not always able to live up to it myself even though I try (which is where the judgment comes in of course 😉 Here’s the response I got:
Your existence is in a state of flux right now. People are learning to approach things differently and this will change things very quickly. This new approach will allow for growth and change on a different level than you have seen before.
You look at these words of love with a sense of the past and with a feeling of heavy responsibility for yourself and for others. You must only take responsibility for yourself and know that when you form the intention to live in this natural state of love, you feel the authenticity of it. When you deviate from it, you feel the pain – judgment/punishment of self and others.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seriously pondered issues of conflict beyond my own personal ones. I used to be an activist/documentary film maker and I was admittedly a rabid activist – always angry and ranting about something. In fact, I was in such an unhealthy state that ultimately I had to walk away from these endeavours to find a way to address my depression. It was the best thing I could have done and it has changed my life for the better in every way. It was at this point in my life that I discovered shamanism and plant medicines. Once I began to focus on healing, I carefully chose what media I was exposed to and although I had always been very selective in this regard, I became even more so and the effect was a very calming one. It allowed me keep my attention where it needed to be.
I have been engaging in shamanism for some time now and working with various medicines and doing the most important work of all: integrating these experiences. In other words, I have been taking the lessons I’ve learned through this medicine and shamanic work and applying them to my life. In doing so, I have improved my health, my relationships and my outlook on life. This integration work continues and it will continue for the rest of my life. It has become a way of life for me. And now, I find myself in a community of people who like me, are working towards a better world. All of us do this in our own unique ways. Within this community it has not been possible to avoid the kinds of conversations that arise from the events that have been prominent in the news media lately. I skillfully (although not always successfully) avoided conversations about Trump but now, I find it increasingly difficult to refrain from involving myself in conversations about the attacks arising from Islamophobia. I have come to fully appreciate what it means to ‘be the change’ and yet in the face of these disturbing issues being discussed all around me, I found myself conflicted and felt the familiar disturbing feelings rising inside me. Although they are not anywhere near my old feelings of rage, I still found it difficult to sort through what I felt and so I asked for guidance.
I have been very fortunate to receive a great deal of guidance from an incredible source of wisdom and recently, Ayahuasca asked me to ‘put pencil to paper’. I have done so and not only received answers to my questions but I began to engage in writing some very unique material that doesn’t in any way resemble my style of writing. It’s familiar to me however, from my experiences with plant medicines, Ayahuasca in particular. It was Ayahuasca who used this technique to reply to my dilemma about how to respond to this disturbing feeling I had about the conflict that seems to be ever encroaching these days. Here’s what came out when I did as I was asked and put pencil to paper:
The beast within you knows that outer beast. They are friends. They work together to stage battles that we attend. If we were to change the rules and no longer allow these beasts an arena in which to hold these battles, the audience would leave and the show would be over. No more spectacle to engage in.
Our beast, the beast within us, answers the battle call always in the name of peace. If we vanquish the beast within, we will have fought our last battle. When you hear the call to battle, seek out the beast within that responds. This beast needs your love and attention. It’s the only way to end the battles.
These battle cries and responses are symptoms of a deeper problem that we’re not addressing. We never will address the deeper problem if we allow these battles to continue. We have proven this time and again.
This is a talk I gave at the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto on November 30th, 2016. This is the back up video and lighting challenges made it necessary to film in a close up fashion but hopefully, the message will outweigh the video quality. 😉
A huge thanks to Yvonne Erlichman for filming this talk and my unending thanks to the Temple of the Way of Light for not only providing some of the photos for this talk (of the vine itself and of the Shipibo Maestra/Shaman) but for the extraordinary time I spent there in the jungle where I first discovered Ayahuasca.
One of the lessons I’ve received and continue to receive when needed is about how I expend my mental energy. When I find myself carried away with thoughts about a frustrating experience I had, I am reminded that it’s over and it’s time to be present. Even when I am present and dealing with say a customer service dilemma, this is an opportunity to learn. There seem to be plenty of these opportunities in today’s climate and on one such occasion, while I felt my frustration begin to build, I was taken through various outcomes in my mind and realized that under no circumstances would getting angry serve me or help to improve the situation. It didn’t mean that I wasn’t encouraged to be persistent when it was appropriate, I just didn’t expend the kind of intense energy on the matter that I might have previously and in the end, things always worked out better for me. The outcome was always measured by how I felt, not what transpired. However, soon I began to notice that I not only felt better but the overall outcomes improved considerably. I made better choices because I was in a better frame of mind to do so.
The energy of the mind is something that is worth our attention. It is an environment that needs to be taken care of just as our physical environment needs tending. The thoughts we entertain send signals to our body and out into the world around us. Both our bodies and the world responds. When I invest in fear, worry and doubt, I end up feeling tired and experience a loss of energy. This state is reflected outward to others around me and they respond accordingly. There may be superficial activities and responses that seem to ignore this inner state but on a deeper level, this is what we’re all responding to all of the time and this is the level at which real change is possible.
We are sending out signals all the time with our energy and when we choose to engage in those highly charged negative emotional exchanges, we’re sending out the kind of signals that invite that same negative charge in whatever form it may take. Understanding this helped me to begin to take an active role in what I allowed to fill my mind because it was my engagement with certain kinds of thoughts that ultimately sparked this negative energy. We all have a choice in this. Our thoughts are not who we are but they affect how we feel and behave and that affects everything else. I began to actively refuse to entertain thoughts that I realized were continually intruding and causing harm. I used visualization techniques that seemed strange to me at the time but I soon realized that the method isn’t what matters, it’s the results that matter and the results were and still are consistently good. I began to treat negative thoughts as though they were people intruding in a harmful way and I would no longer engage with them.
This is a powerful exercise. It taught me that by using my will to cast out these intrusive and negative thoughts, I was beginning to take control of my life. I soon began to do this gently but firmly with some people in my life too. It became a ripple effect showing me clearly how my state of mind reflected outwards. By clearing out negative space inside of me and around me, I began to invite the more positive experiences and the kind of community that I had been craving. It has been the most liberating experience of my life and it all happened because I began to pay attention to what was going on in my mind and to actively participate in changing it in a positive way. We all have the power to do this and if we are willing, it can change everything.
One of the first messages that ever came to me was one that I’m sure I had read on a plaque with a picturesque photo somewhere before or heard in an uninspiring speech at one time or another – probably many times. The message was: “Everything you need is inside of you.” If it had been any other time under any other circumstances I might have laughed – probably bitterly. But I had been suffering from a deep depression for 4 years at this point and having exhausted all conventional forms of treatment, I had moved beyond the point where I cared where the help I needed came from. If there was some profound truth to be found in this overused statement I was determined to discover it. I had begun to work with energy not long before this, which led me to explore shamanism (the origins of energy work my research revealed). All of my preconceived notions about life had long since fallen away and I was surprisingly open as a result. I was single-mindedly determined to end my depression. This seemingly trite message came in response to my request for help after making what was deemed a connection with my spiritual helper in a shamanic workshop. The message was delivered into my mind in such a powerfully direct way that I was compelled to respond with “How do I access what I need?” “Show me how”. The answer to this is the guided work I’m doing today.
At the time that I received this message I was ‘sick’. I now realize that it was actually a healing. I had been severely congested for years. I had lung issues after the birth of my son and although I had an operation, my lungs continued to be sluggish and my sedentary lifestyle didn’t help. Being exhausted all of the time (and depressed) didn’t lend itself to an active lifestyle. This ‘sickness’ came in the form of pneumonia and I had a temperature of 104 degrees at times. I recovered fully and after evacuating much of the mucus that had been weighing me down for so long I took the first long and deep breath I had taken in years. Things were beginning to change for me. Not long after this I came across information on an obscure African plant medicine called “Iboga” which was renowned for addressing issues like depression among many other things.
My involvement with plant medicines changed everything for me and I still work with them today. These particular healing tools are not for everyone but many of us who have been lucky enough to be called to experience them know why they’re called ‘teacher plants’. The lessons that come out of these experiences often have to do with changing things about ourselves. If we heed these lessons, they can change our lives for the better. Having emerged from depression I’m now learning about the many other things inside I must emerge from to achieve my goals. Through some intensive work, I’ve begun to navigate this inner world that contains the key to my well-being. Previously, I had been heavily focusing on external factors when really, I needed to understand what was happening inside of me. Inner work is not visible or easily recognized by the outside world but the results definitely are. It can be a solitary endeavour at times but that is by necessity to avoid the kinds of distractions that can reinforce all of the things I’m working to change within me.
This is why altered states are so important to this kind of learning for me. It takes me beyond this world of distractions and set perceptions to one where messages and lessons can be delivered in a more effective way. Dream work can be like this too and although there are times when things are very murky indeed, there are other times when messages come through my dreams with startling directness and clarity. We all go into an altered state every night and it is integral to our health to do so. It is an optimum time for healing and not only physical healing. I think it’s important to explore the extraordinary healing that’s possible during the many hours we spend in this altered state every night.
All of the work I have done and continue to do is based on my agreement or intention to engage in it. All of it begins with this small exertion of free will. It can be a very powerful thing. None of this was possible for me until I was willing to entertain the possibility of it. Just doing this can open the door to life changing experiences that defy description at times. I have learned more about myself in this way than I could have from any other source. It’s an important endeavour that I had neglected for most of my life. Now it’s transforming my life in a way that for the first time in a long time, reflects who I really am.
I remember people always remarking to me that I was ‘in my head’ a lot and this statement carried with it some negative connotations. I understood this at the time because it meant that I wasn’t engaging with those around me and that created a sort of distance. Who knew that ultimately, this would become a strength that would help me engage so much better with those around me? I have been working with plant medicines (Iboga, Ayahusca, Peyote & more) for some time now and although the immediate results of taking these medicines is pronounced and inspiring, I know that it’s just the beginning of the work that needs to be done to bring about lasting change. All of the healing work I’ve done has required me to engage with my mind in new ways. One of the things I learned to do was to take note of the nature of thoughts that occupied my mind. One by one I became aware of different kinds of harmful intrusions. One was ‘The Bully’ which was something I needed to address head on so that it no longer imposed upon my thoughts and ultimately affected my outlook. The word ‘outlook’ pretty much says it all in terms of how these kinds of thoughts affect your reality. The outlook is the lens through which you see the world and getting rid of intrusions in your mind can improve your life enormously.
Another form of intrusion I dealt with was an invasive form of panic. It’s not like an all out panic attack. I had those in the past and they are long gone. I think that the panic attacks happened to let me know that there was a lot of deeper work I needed to do to become healthy. It was a messenger and instead of receiving the message, I did what a lot of people do. I treated the message as a disease in itself rather than the symptom of a greater issue I needed to address. Ultimately, I had to endure a long and painful depression to bring me to a place where I was able to face the many issues that had been making themselves known to me in various ways (illnesses and other physical and psychological conditions). Now I have the tools to address these issues and the work is intensive. When I feel an emotional or physical discomfort, I know that it’s a message and that I have to take time out to discover what’s behind it. Not long ago it was a slight but persistent panic. It was very subtle so I had been diligently ignoring it in favour of getting other daily tasks done. This is a long standing habit – to ignore pain or discomfort whether it’s physical or emotional. Most of us do this and it’s understandable. I had to acknowledge this slightly panicked state, which was brought to my attention, and then make time to deal with it. When you realize the degree to which something like this impacts your daily experience and know that there’s a chance to address it, you have all the incentive you need.
As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, sometimes film is used to illustrate lessons and provide me with messages. This time, it was used to show me the many experiences I’ve had in my life that helped to construct this state of fear and panic. The sense of panic had a charge – a potency – and to release it, I had to acknowledge its origins. Sometimes this can be difficult to do but the stories that accompany this healing have the power to reach right inside of me and expose something deeply ingrained. Once I acknowledge this deeper reality and release the charge it has, sometimes through some tears, I’m able to then let it go. This panic had become a fixture in my mind no longer attached to old events and I would attach it to just about everything. In this way it became a constant part of my reality and I expended a great deal of energy to support it. Given that this was my everyday experience, I became so used to it that I didn’t even realize it was happening but felt the impact of it constantly. Once this was brought to my attention and I agreed to deal with it, the process of healing commenced. It takes time and commitment to do this but it’s well worth the investment. I often question this while it’s underway, while I’m watching movies thinking: “Can this possibly be good for me?” “Does this really constitute work?” I do this time and again despite the consistently positive results I’ve been getting from exactly this type of work. This questioning mind of mine is also constantly at work. But I have managed to not engage too much with this questioning side so that the other important work can continue.
Sometimes I think I allow the questioning to continue so that I can still remain connected to those who find this extraordinary work baffling. There are times I find it baffling too but I move on from this baffled state into a state of wonder.. a much more enjoyable state indeed. I’m still very attached to the world of thinking which can be helpful to a point but then it can become a barrier of intellectualizing. Perhaps it’s a unique form of intrusion in itself. I’ve found myself moving beyond the questioning so many times to a sensing, which leads to a deeper place of knowing – a much more peaceful place. It’s a profound state that needs no justification. It doesn’t pay homage to the endless struggle of the mind – the intellectual callisthenics we often think necessary to achieve knowledge. I’m now taking action within the mind itself and ordering it according to what serves me. It seems to me now that much of this intellectual wrangling is for its own sake. It wants to be acknowledged for the act itself – the thinking rather than the result – the result in this case being the evidence of thinking. This impressive tail chasing is a familiar scenario. When the result of these efforts of the mind is a knowing that can’t be evidenced by logic but by reality – by a healthy and peaceful state of being that can be experienced – I think it’s pretty clear which one will better serve me. It makes sense!