The Presence Process

During one of my Ayahuasca sessions in Peru I was instructed to start “The Presence Process” right away. I had bought the book before I took the trip as I had read about it on the website for the organization I visited in Peru. I had the book with me on this trip but had yet to read it and of course, Ayahuasca knew this along with all kinds of intimate details of my life. Most people who do Ayahuasca can tell you that this plant spirit reveals things that make it very clear that it has in-depth knowledge of who you are and it can be surprising at times how completely it understands you – often more than you understand yourself which is why it can be an extremely insightful experience to connect with this spirit. I had the intention of changing my life completely according to the revelations of these spiritual experiences so that I may live a more meaningful, authentic and powerful life. After reading the substantial intro to the book “The Presence Process” (almost half the book) I embarked upon a remarkable healing journey and realizing the powerful tools it had to offer, I knew why it had been recommended to me.

It’s a very difficult process and many times during it I had been desperate to find some kind of support beyond the book. I looked for some feedback about it online and it was only after I finished the process (or the main part anyway) that I found some questions and answers on the portal that was somewhat along the lines of what I had been seeking. However, I realized in retrospect that if I didn’t find it when I was looking, I wasn’t meant to. I’m beginning to have a lot more faith in these kinds of things in my life as I am now being guided in so many ways that I can’t fail to see that most if not everything in life has a rhythm and is a result of some part of who I am and where I’m at. In fact, Ayahuasca responded to my curiosity about the nature of reality by stating that my reality was a result of my ‘state’. And ever since, this spiritual presence that has remained with me has been guiding me in ways to help me change my state for the better. Some of these changes are painful and this process is a powerful vehicle that facilitates these crucial changes.

During the process I experienced a great deal of emotional upheaval. I began to realize that this was (and still is) a sort of emotional detox. It’s helpful to remember this while experiencing it because it can be confusing and discouraging. We all associate healing with good feelings but when we feel bad, we immediately think that something must be wrong. We often have this reaction when we’re feeling physically sick but again, there can be symptoms of detox that facilitate healing that are quite uncomfortable. I remember a couple of years ago having pneumonia at Christmas time. I had a fever of 104 and needless to say, I was quite seriously ill. I purged a great amount of mucous (my apologies for the graphic description) and afterwards, my chest and lungs felt better than they had felt in years. I could breathe much more easily and felt so much stronger for it. I realized then that my body was actually healing me. I think this happens far more often than any of us realize.

On an emotional level, it becomes very difficult to keep a steady view of this necessary part of healing and I still marvel at how often I am taken off guard by it when these bouts of emotional detox occur. Although I have completed the process, I am still undergoing the healing process in a more relaxed manner so to speak. When the need arises, I am able to put the tools I learned in this process to work and of course the need does arise often enough for me to know that in order to fulfill my intention, I must do a lot more healing and in so doing, continue to change my ‘state’. I often still balk at these feelings when they overcome me and once I catch myself in this familiar reaction, I realize that I must accept these feelings or I won’t be able to integrate them and therefore overcome the way they affect my life (and my reality). I can’t pretend that I always react well. It has been a huge learning curve to respond to these emotions differently than I have done for so many years but I am determined to do better each time – or to try anyway. One way or another, with a great deal of help from my guiding spirits or this ‘presence’ I’ve felt since I returned from Peru, I have managed to make progress.

It has been and continues to be a tremendous challenge and an empowering experience. I’m not sure what other people’s experience of this process is but I know that I’m just so grateful for the guidance I received during it and continue to receive. I would be interested in hearing about other people’s experiences and whether or not they felt a presence working with them. I want to make it clear that I’m not in a position to guide or advise anyone else because I know how unique everyone’s situation is, and from what I can gather, this process is about working one on one with presence itself to sort out these very personal issues. Having said this, I also know that sometimes it can be helpful just to share experiences and give and receive support when going through such a challenging process. My process was and continues to be fully guided and I was given some very specific instructions while going through this experience. I continue to be guided and although I may still get confused at times and feel doubt, I know that my life is immeasurably richer in every way due to the guidance I receive. I can only hope that others find their own way of seeking internal guidance, as I believe that this is the way that our world will truly change for the better.

Post Script: The source for Q&A provided by the author of The Presence Process that I found after the fact can be accessed now through this link: http://presenceprocessquestions.blogspot.ca/2009/07/i-have-done-presence-process-twice-but.html

Waking up..

Waking up is different now. I used to try to clear my head when I was waking up. I tried to orient myself to the day ahead and to the physical world around me. Now I do just the opposite. I try to hang onto that twilight state as long as possible and glean what I can from the dream world I haven’t quite left behind me. It is in this twilight state that I am often able to connect more fully with a form of wisdom that is not normally accessible in our world. This is now the guiding wisdom in my life and I am committed to following it as faithfully as possible. Following conventional wisdom only led me into despair so there is no turning back.

Just over 3 years ago I began to emerge from a very deep depression that I had endured for 4 years of my life. The word depression doesn’t really convey the kind of experience you have when it takes you over. During that time it was a torment to be alive and in the end, after pursuing as many of the mainstream solutions as I could stand (most made things far worse for me), I was ready to do just about anything to relieve my suffering. I then discovered ‘energy healing’. I found it remarkable that energy could flow through me and move my body in a way that began to heal me without interference from my mind. I felt a change in me and had to know more about energy healing and where it originated. I bought a book on the subject and it became apparent that energy healing had its roots in shamanism.

I looked up the Foundation for Shamanic Studies and found a workshop that I decided to attend. It was out of town but not too far and I was somehow confident that it would make a big difference in my life despite the fact that I knew so little about it. It seems to me now looking back that it must have been at that point that my intuition had finally kicked in. Either that or I wisely began to follow it instead of ignoring it in favour of other people’s opinions of what was best for me or what I needed. Shamanism was a mystery to me but the word was familiar so I knew that I must have heard something about it before. Since then I recalled that years before while taking a 3rd year university course called Philosophy of Psychology, I had read material that included a story about a psychologist who went into an indigenous community with the intention of exposing the shaman as a charlatan. Instead the psychologist was won over by the experience. I hadn’t recalled this until recently so when I entered this workshop, I really had nothing to go on but my experience of energy healing and my conviction that this was where I needed to be.

I went into this experience with an openness that was fueled by my desire to heal. All of my previously held ideas and judgements about spirituality fell by the wayside like so many other preconceived notions that had been lost while I sank deeper into depression. I had been deconstructed in a way by depression and that would ultimately become an important aspect of my recovery. The workshop provided all participants with various methods used to connect with ‘spirits’ but the main one was to ‘journey’ into the spirit world. This was achieved by laying blindfolded and listening to what they called sonic drumming which was a monotonous drum beat intended to bring the participants into an altered state of consciousness. I had never been able to meditate so this experience was a frustrating one for me initially. I tried all of the techniques that were recommended and wasn’t able to experience what everyone else did in each session. Many people described entering a beautiful and magical place and interacting with spirits in various forms. Hearing these stories made me feel more frustrated than ever. Finally, when it came time to use these journeying sessions to perform a task for other participants, I simply had to tell our instructor that I was unable to do so. He agreed to journey on my behalf and perform this task for me. The task was to connect me with my ‘helping spirit’. Once this task was completed, with very little effort on my part, I was told what form the spirit took – an animal – and was given one more opportunity to ‘journey’. This time, I had visions while my eyes were closed, and they were relevant to the concerns I had in my life at that time. The visions were very short lived and later, I was tempted to believe that I had imagined it all. Writing this now, I remember a friend who had previously told me that she had visions. I remember thinking “why does she do this?” “for attention maybe?”. I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t consider for a moment that she really did have these visions. It was outside of my experience, so I dismissed it out of hand looking for other reasons why she might tell such a story. I’m now becoming well acquainted with the concept of a cosmic joke. There are often valuable lessons to be had in these cosmic jokes and if we can learn to fully appreciate this we can benefit from these ‘jokes’ immensely.

I didn’t really know what to make of the whole shamanic experience afterwards. All I wanted was to feel better and after the workshop was over, I did. I was able to visit my father in hospital where he had resided for 6 months in extended care after an accident that caused him a severe brain injury. I wasn’t able to do this before. In fact, I wasn’t able to do much of anything really so this was a huge step forward. It was just one step on a long road but at last I felt like progress was possible and that things could really change for me. I began to test out my ability to communicate with this ‘spirit’. I did so by asking questions of it before I went to sleep. I began to have visions sometimes that responded to these questions while I was in that twilight state just before sleep (and sometimes afterwards). I didn’t really consider the fact that I was about to enter an altered state of consciousness when going to sleep. I did this before sleep initially because it was sort of like a prayer and that was my only frame of reference to spirituality whatsoever. It was a surprise to me that I found myself involved in anything spiritual given my previous negative experiences associated with religion but I had been suffering so deeply that I was willing to do anything to relieve it.

It took me quite a while to realize that there may have been a purpose to the suffering after all. I know that I wouldn’t have pursued any of this if I hadn’t been so desperate to relieve my suffering. I have little doubt now that I was meant to have these experiences but unfortunately a little goes a long way. While working on my doubt I continue to have extraordinary experiences. I often call them “incredible” and then I think on the meaning of that word. Things we find overwhelmingly positive we often refer to as ‘incredible’ and things we find to be negative, we often refer to as ‘reality’. Our language itself seems to be skewed in favor of legitimizing the negative over the positive. Up until now, I was mostly focused on getting better and that’s all that mattered. It’s still really all that matters but when conveying this experience to others, the issue of credibility does come up although it’s rarely addressed head on. I think it will be an interesting experience to explore what we consider to be credible and how we measure credibility. My way of exploring is through discovering the meaning. Others explore scientifically. There are many ways to explore and I believe that we all have our own ways and means and this is a reflection of how beautifully unique we all are. Given the experiences I’ve had, I believe that our uniqueness has value and that there is great potential for harmony among all of these unique avenues of inquiry and exploration.

The questions I put to this spiritual presence initially were all related to physical and emotional issues that I was suffering from at the time. I often got answers in the form of words or images. Sometimes I wouldn’t get words or images but would soon stumble across a remedy or opportunity of one sort or another and eventually I realized that this was in fact the answer or response to my question. One of those answers was Iboga. It is an entheogen, or plant medicine as they are often called. Sometimes they are also called visionary or teacher plants. All good names I think. Iboga is in fact a tree and it’s the bark of this tree that is ingested in the shamanic ceremony. When you ingest it, your state of consciousness is altered and you are able to ask questions of the spirit that inhabits the plant or in this case, tree. When experiencing Iboga you often have visions that make you an observer of your own life experience. These visions are often designed to allow the observers to see certain behaviours that do not serve them. I had these kinds of visions and they had an enduring impact on me. If I was in my regular state of mind at the time of having them, it would have been a painful experience (the images were not flattering) but I wasn’t and the normal reaction was suspended long enough to allow me to see and fully realize the truth of these images. It’s not an easy thing but very powerful. There are many other experiences to be had with Iboga and there is the potential to answer a vast range of questions not only about oneself but about the world, the universe and everything as they say.

Every experience with Iboga is unique to the individual who ingests it. Everyone who participates in an Iboga ceremony is encouraged to make a list of questions to ask. One of the most important questions that I had for Iboga was “What is my purpose?”. It was such an important question for me that I think I would have done all of it just to answer this one question. The response came in the form of two microphones that landed in front of me. The first was a round, universal microphone and the second was an oblong one. I was so astonished that I didn’t respond right away. It took me a while to digest this. Thankfully, I had some time to consider all of it before my next Iboga experience. During my next experience I decided to ask “How do I use my voice to serve my purpose?”. The answer came with the same microphones. The first universal one landed in front of me accompanied by the word “Speak”. The second microphone landed as well accompanied by the word “Sing”.

It has taken me a while to officially speak as I had to make some huge life changes when I returned home from my Iboga experience. Since then, I have continued on my journey to discover more about these healing plants and about myself and the world around me. The journey so far has taken me to Costa Rica (initially to do Iboga), to Mexico to experience Peyote and then to Peru to experience Ayahuasca. It was confirmed in Peru that I am to use my voice to speak about these experiences and the dialogue that I had with Ayahuasca has not ended. It continues daily and although there are shifting identities of the spiritual presence I’m in contact with (sometimes Ayahuasca, other times Iboga and my ‘higher self’ among others), there has been a presence with me ever since that experience in Peru. During one of my ceremonies I was told “we will stay with you..” and it seems that “they” were true to their words.

It took me some time to adjust to the inner voice of this presence. My inner voice had not always been so wise and kind and loving. Initially, I was in a state of disbelief but I realized that disbelieving your own experience is far more psychologically unhealthy than trying to understand it. I had a lot of help with understanding it as this voice has guided me faithfully through all of my initial questioning and fears. I had always been a very questioning person. What I found most inviting about the Shamanic workshop that I had attended was that at the very beginning, I was told that it didn’t matter what I believed initially and this was true. It was the experience itself that was the important thing at the time. Ultimately, my beliefs began to change as a result of my experiences. Now I realize that it’s the deeper beliefs about myself that matter more than religious or spiritual beliefs. Spirituality has been a means to help me examine these personal beliefs and to change them for the better which has changed so many other things in my life in a positive and powerful way.

I continue to be guided in just about every aspect of my life and most days are full of lessons, instructions and unexpected twists and turns. This experience was initially so overwhelming that for the longest time, I wasn’t able to write but I made an audio recording of many of the essential lessons I received and I plan to share some of these experiences here and in my upcoming book “Into The Light”. The various healing tools that I used, such as plant medicines, are not for everyone. We are all unique in our needs and in terms of what is appropriate for each of us at each stage of our own life experience. One thing that is universal is the ability to tap into our internal source of wisdom or intuition to discover what we need as individuals. There are many ways that this can be achieved (including meditation for some) and I encourage everyone to find their own way to pursue this form of self-discovery. It is an extraordinary opportunity for healing and growth that is unique to each individual. As it turns out, it is, in fact, all about you.

The Bully

Dream: I am given a writing assignment. The editor at a major literary magazine has given me an assignment to write an article about a gift he plans to give a celebrated author. He tells me that he is giving a particular book to this writer and he wants me to write an article about it. I was given the book and asked to write a certain amount of words and then was left to it. When I turned around the author was right behind me. I set out to find a private place to write and she followed me. The look on her face told me everything I needed to know as to why she was following me. It was a familiar look. It was the look of the bully. I tried to find several places to write in this building and wherever I went there she was. I went to great lengths to find a spot where she would not find me but no matter what I did she managed to find her way there and stood there looking at me pointedly. I tried to write with her there and was unable to do so because she made me so nervous. I went so far as to ask for help from someone at the magazine. I was given the keys to an apartment that was for the exclusive use of the person who granted me the keys. He told me that he went there to write and that it would be a good place for me to do so. I went there and locked the door behind me but when I looked up just before I began to write, there she stood, the author who wouldn’t leave me alone. I had become so distraught that I knew I couldn’t write and of course that was the point of her haunting me. As I continued to try to find a place where I could write undisturbed I thought of the book that was given to me, the book that would be a gift for this author. The book was about a bully and of course I was considering writing about what an appropriate gift this book was for this particular author but it seemed that I would never get a chance to write at all. After several attempts to find a peaceful place to write I finally stopped and looked directly into the eyes of the author who had been so aggressively pursuing me and taunting me this whole time and I realized that I was looking into my own eyes. The author who would not let me alone, who would not leave me in peace to write, this bully was me.

This is a perfect example of an instructive dream. These dreams are given to me to teach me a lesson that I need to learn about myself. Almost every dream I have of this nature is about myself or about my relationship with someone in my life. A dream like this is sending me a very direct message, one that I am intended to act on. I don’t have dreams like this very often. I realized some time ago that when a message is intended to get through to me, I would have no trouble interpreting the dream that was the vehicle for this message. There were times in the past when I struggled over the interpretation of one dream or another but since I was given this inner voice as a guide in my life I was able to receive direction on this matter. So now I will stare down that bully and tell you about the experiences that I am having and have had over the last year or so that have changed the way I look at the world and the way that I experience it. It has changed everything for me and I know that I was meant to share these experiences with you.

I know that we all have an inner voice. Sometimes it becomes apparent to us in the form of intuition, which many of us don’t pay much attention to at all. I know that I didn’t and once I discovered the significance of it, it astonished me that I was able to go so long without tapping into it or even acknowledging it. Having said this, my inner voice was never so prominent and complex as it is today. I had to do many things to bring this about having no idea where it would lead. I’m now writing a book about my journey and sharing some of these experiences on my website. I began this journey as a means to heal myself from depression. This is where my journey led me and I know that these things unfold differently for everyone but I do encourage everyone to find ways to connect with this source of infinite wisdom that is available to all of us. Some do this through meditation and others through shamanism and/or various spiritual practices but it all begins with intention and you can do this independently. If you have the intention to connect directly with your higher self, presence, your spirit guide or whatever word you feel comfortable with, you can begin there and see where it takes you. I don’t think I know of anyone who regretted it and there are millions of lives that have been utterly transformed by it.