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Trippy Healing

Trippy Healing
Sensi Magazine
by Robyn Lawrence

“I spent four hellish nights in the rainforest, wrestling with anger and despair about my father dying before I was born—deep, pre-language demons I thought I’d dealt with in the Landmark Forum, with God knows how many therapists.”

I KEEP A PHOTO OF MYSELF FROM THE REALLY BAD YEAR, WHEN I LEFT THE JOB I THOUGHT DEFINED ME AND BROKE UP WITH THE MAN I’D PLANNED TO MARRY. I’M WEARING A SLEEVELESS DRESS NO ADULT WHO WEIGHS 93 POUNDS SHOULD BE WEARING, WITH MY UNDERNOURISHED LIMBS AND OVERSIZED HEAD. I MAKE MYSELF LOOK AT THE PHOTO ONCE IN A WHILE BECAUSE I don’t want to forget. MY LIFE ONCE FELT SO BLEAK THAT I DIDN’T WANT TO BE HERE. I COULDN’T KILL MYSELF BECAUSE I LOVE MY CHILDREN, BUT I THOUGHT ABOUT IT ALL THE TIME. I STARVED MYSELF AND TOLD PEOPLE MY NEW RETIREMENT PLAN WAS TO DIE YOUNG.

Right around that time, private ayahuasca ceremonies were becoming a thing from Laurel Canyon to Park Slope, so I went to one in a multimillion-dollar house in the Boulder foothills with a Jewish shaman who played new age music on a boom box. I had read everything I could get my hands on about this ancient medicine made from sacred Amazonian plants—not all that much at the time, and a lot of it pretty terrifying—and I waited with more than a little trepidation for the big bang that would fix me. When the mood wasn’t right and nothing happened, I was disappointed and then bored, listening to the guy next to me groan and sob and watching the guy across from me paint pictures in the air with his hands. I snuck into the garage to vape.

I took that experience as another sign of what a hopeless, crusty loser I had become. Not even drinking this legendary brew could bring back my appetite for food, for life. I figured this ayahuasca thing was just more bullshit, a hallucinogenic Landmark Forum for entitled people who have exhausted their therapists’ patience.

I was wrong, of course, as Cosmic Sister founder Zoe Helene, a seasoned journeyer who drinks ayahuasca only in Peru, where it’s legal and revered, would prove. Helene awarded me one of the first Cosmic Sister Plant Spirit grants so I could travel to the Nihue Rao healing center outside of Iquitos and experience traditional ayahuasca ceremonies with shamans where Mama Aya lives. I spent four hellish nights in the rainforest, wrestling with anger and despair about my father dying before I was born—deep, pre-language demons I thought I’d dealt with in the Landmark Forum, with God knows how many therapists...

August 2018