Insights From a Plant Medicine Journey – Steve Pavlina
I had a fascinating weekend of plant medicine journeying that involved taking several different substances: kanna, white lily, psilocybin (mushrooms), and ayahuasca… mostly the latter two. I had only done ayahuasca before (3 years ago for 4 nights in a row in Costa Rica). I shared the insights from that previous experience here: Lessons From Ayahuasca. In this post I’ll share my experience of this recent journey while it’s still fresh in mind and heart. If you’re short on time and only want to skim the insights instead of reading the details about what it was like, feel free to scroll down to the section labeled “Insights.”
This was gentler than the aya experiences 3 years ago – smaller quantities but a very layered effect. It was hard to separate what effects were created by which substances. I recognized some of the familiar aya effects like the colorful, animating visuals when I closed my eyes, but the experience also had elements that were different, and it all sort of blended together. This was the first time I’ve done psilocybin, but I don’t know how to separate out its effects from everything else.
In Costa Rica it was very much an inward journey, and we didn’t interact much with each other during the 4 nights of aya ceremonies, although we processed our experiences in group sessions together each morning afterwards. For that experience we drank aya tea, but this time we had some chewable edibles of psilocybin and aya blended together.
The Costa Rica experience had about 40 people doing the ceremonies together, and I knew 12-15 of them of them beforehand. This time there were just 8 of us, 9 if you count the facilitator. I so much preferred the smaller group size, which made it feel way more intimate and aligned.
This journey was a lovely and very loving social experience with most of us all hanging out in the same room together, sharing intimate stories, and enjoying tons of cuddling. I felt completely at home with that kind of energy… so yummy. Cuddling with two women together is among my favorite things in life, so even without the substances, that would have put me in the bliss zone.
In Costa Rica, even though they advised us to try to stay inside with the group energy, that usually felt too intense and chaotic to me – and too stifling with all the smells. I preferred spending most of my time outside, walking barefoot on the grass or lying on a hammock looking up at the moon and stars. I needed the fresh air, and it was so soothing to just be around plants and not in the middle of so many people.
But for this experience, even though we were welcome to spend time going off on our own, I wanted just the opposite. I didn’t wander off to have any sort of solo experience, such as listening to music with headphones. I think most other people did a bit of solo processing at some point, perhaps for at least 20 minutes. I just wanted to revel in the presence of the people there, especially being in physical contact with them. Everyone was emanating such smooth and loving energy, and I just wanted to be immersed in that as much as possible. Even when we weren’t saying anything, it was so peaceful and present.
It was a very holographic experience too. I felt very sensitive to the energy of everyone in the room, like we all merged together spiritually, but it didn’t feel so far out that I was lost in intense visuals. Only two people had to do a bit of purging early on, and I felt noticeably better when they did. Everything people shared seemed to connect energetically on some level, often eerily so, as if we all had many parallel elements in our life stories.
It was also fun conversing with people during the experience. I remember asking these questions:
- What do you wish people saw in you that they normally don’t see?
- What is something you’ve never shared publicly before (that you’re willing to share here… and assuming a cone of silence outside of this space)?
- What is it like being a woman (to some of the women in the group)?
It was fun listening to people’s answers because sometimes they kept getting distracted and mentally wandering off in all sorts of directions, but all of it was fascinating to me. It was amazing how deeply and easily we floated through a variety of meaningful topics, yet in a mostly chill and relaxed way. There were a lot of laughs along the way too.
Time seemed to pass very slowly too. When I saw that it was 11pm, I said, “Wow… it’s only 11?” And when it was 1am, I felt like it should have been at least 4am.
I remember looking at some people closest to me while we talked and cuddled and seeing animated colors and patterns overlayed upon their faces. There were some patches that looked like glowing colors that shifted over time, and there were animated trails of paisley-like patterns flowing around their faces too. It wasn’t super intense, but it was beautiful to look at. I wonder if that was just a hallucination effect or if it was some perception linked to perceiving people’s energy fields – maybe that’s just a matter of perspective.
We had the option to eat something at night to slow down the effects, and I think everyone else ate (maybe around midnight), but I wasn’t hungry, despite not having eaten anything since noon. I wanted to remain in a fasting state and allow the effects to stick around longer. So I didn’t eat anything till breakfast the next day.
As the effects slowly began to dissipate, I stayed up till 3:30am immersed in conversation with a couple of people. Then as we finally decided we ought to call it a night, and I still wasn’t sleepy, I closed my eyes and enjoyed the colorful animated visuals for about 30 minutes. I held different thoughts in mind and observed how they effected the patterns I saw. I remember testing thoughts like: I feel loved, I feel loving, and I am love. Each of them created different patterns, with the “I am love” pattern being the most colorful and animated.
I finally fell asleep around 4am, and I woke up at 6am and felt wide awake. I remained on my back for another hour, still enjoying some of the lingering effects and finally got up around 7:00.
I did some journaling about the experience, and then we had breakfast together and did a few hours of group processing.
I only knew one friend there initially (who invited me), but by the end it felt like everyone was a close friend. Most of us had mutual friends in common, so it was also like we were part of the same social web anyway.
This fit nicely with the intention to go beyond previous limits, which is our intention of the week for the Submersion Social Deep Dive that we’re currently doing. I wouldn’t say that the experience itself was massively transformational – I’ll have to see what the long-term effects are – but I really enjoyed journeying through a mind-expanding and heart-opening way of connecting with people. A bunch of us want to stay in touch, and I would love to have more journeys like this, especially with such open-minded, growth-oriented people.
One thing that was really weird was that shortly before heading over there, I learned that there’d be a cat in the house. I immediately thought, “Oh no,” since I’m allergic to cats. Sure enough, within an hour after arriving (and before we took anything), my eyes began feeling watery, itchy, and puffy, and I figured I’d just have to muddle through. I could handle the red and puffy eyes and runny nose for 24 hours – it would be uncomfortable, but I’d be okay.
However, to my surprise as the substances starting kicking in, the allergy symptoms disappeared completely. The cat came over to me a few times, and I could tell it was no longer going to be a problem. It was like the plant medicine said, “You don’t need that allergy right now.” And I said in response, “Sounds good to me!”
As I lied down on the couch at the end of the night, the cat climbed on top of me, licked my face, and then she camped out on my legs for a while. The allergic reaction only started to mildly come back the next morning as everything was wearing off, but it was still way less than before.
I applied one key lesson I learned from Costa Rica, which was to ask the substances to go easy on me physically. Practicing good intentionality and trust is so important. As the layers began kicking in, I felt flushed, got sweaty palms, and felt some mild nausea and dizziness. My heart rate went from 70 to 90 bpm. I remembered to tell the plant medicine: gentle, gentle, gentle. I welcomed some mental, emotional, and spiritual intensity, but I wanted the physical side to be mild and not feel like my body was resisting it or scared. And that seemed to help. Even as I went to bed, my heart rate was still 85 while lying down, so it definitely got the blood pumping a bit faster. The main physical issue throughout the night though was feeling very thirsty. I kept feeling parched with a dry mouth even as I drank lots and lots of water. That seemed to be a common aspect of the experience.
One time when I went to the bathroom and saw myself in the mirror, I looked very different to myself. I thought… wow I look a lot older, maybe by 10 years. Is that really what I look like? I noticed my gray hair around my sideburns and the crow’s feet on the sides of my eyes. And I saw dark circles under my eyes, even though I didn’t feel sleepy. But then I realized that I was seeing myself more through my heart than my mind. I saw someone who was very happy, fulfilled, and wise – someone who was very pleased with his life journey and had integrated so many lessons and experiences. The “me” in the mirror just kept staring into my eyes and reflecting back so much love, but it didn’t entirely feel like he was the “me” that I’m used to. It was like he was an older me or maybe a deeper part of me or perhaps another me from a different dimension. I looked back at him and held up my hands to him in a heart-shape, and of course he did the same. Then I saw him smile even bigger as if to say, “Keep living the way you’re living and doing what you’re doing because it’s perfect for you.” I haven’t felt that self-love has been an issue for me, and this experience only took about a minute, but it felt very powerful and moving, like I was receiving love from my higher self or spiritual self or something like that.
I feel like all the Subjective Reality practice makes these altered states easier to invite, experience, and flow with. It’s just so wonderful to relate to people – especially people I just met for the first time – on the basis of co-creating beautiful and harmonious experiences. And of course abundant cuddles.
I feel like my love meter is filled up to 200% now.
After the experience, I did some journaling about it the next morning and wanted to see if I could come up with a list of 10 insights from it. Here’s what I wrote:
- Our energy patterns pool and combine. What one person in a room experiences is a parallel experience – energetically – for everyone present. Only the details differ. So relief for one creates relief for all. If you help to create ease for others, you create it for yourself too, and vice versa.
- Cuddle space is so easy to enter when focusing on the joy and peacefulness of it. It’s very easy to offer and accept genuine invites to touch. It’s really beautiful to care for each other through touch.
- It’s a real honor to get to know people behind the scenes when honesty is more important than image. Presenting a false or skewed image to people prevents you from seeing them clearly as well.
- Allergies are just energy patterns, and energy can change.
- Limits and constraints help to sculpt our human experiences, giving some structure and railing to our stories. Even as we encounter limits in one area of life, other areas remain open. Limits can help us feel grounded to some certainty while we explore.
- The baggage we carry may seem silly to others, and it can be helpful for us to see it as silly too sometimes. Silly behaviors are lighter and more flexible than ones we take so seriously.
- A beautiful pathway to connection and intimacy is to be gentle with people. Gentleness invites openness and energy flow. Slow dancing can be easier, yet more intimate, than fast dancing.
- A desire that isn’t manifesting is probably too thin – too mono-dimensional. Add more layers to it. Look at it from the 4D body-mind-heart-spirit angles, and see if you’re really asking for the total package of goodies.
- The more shamelessly you can explore life, the easier it is for life to bring you harmoniously aligned experiences. You have life’s permission to explore and experience.
- Evolving as a human being has more to do with _____ than with _____.
- harmony, victory
- co-creation, success
- experiences, outcomes
- movement, position
- invitation, validation
- curiosity, conclusions
I’m really glad I said yes to this experience because now I get to cherish the memory of it for a long time. I’m grateful that I started getting these kinds of invitations when I was ready for them. I feel very open to more experiences like this.