Stepping into the fire
Part III

February 19 2014

I will step into the fire. The fire of self-discovery.
This fire will not burn me, it will only burn what I am not.*

* An altered quote by Mooji

I’m heading for a weekend of work with mother Ayahuasca. On this occasion I want to share a text with you, that is a good introduction if you want to understand how the medicine does it’s magic.

Health in the body
Peace in the spirit
Love in the heart


Our natural human state is joyful, harmonious and peaceful however most people are not living in this state much of the time. Deeply unconscious and long-suppressed fears, anger and negative emotions drive our life causing us typically to ‘try to feel good’ yet these desires for happiness are typically mechanisms from our inner pain through our ego to repress the pain that we are carrying. Our minds are masters in masking the inner pain through a multitude of mechanisms that we develop in our formative years. We learn to mask, suppress, control, sedate, escape, and to ‘defend’ ourselves against the painful experiences that have been imprinted upon us. Life can often seem unfair. These defense mechanisms stay with us for life unless we find ways to look underneath them at their cause – a negative residual energy that manifests as an emotional blockage.

The majority of people carry negative energies that have come from core painful events (either acute or developmental traumas) that occurred between 0 to 7 years old. On a basic level, this is the period of developing the emotional body, which comes before developing the mental body (7 to 14 years old). When we work with ayahuasca, we are typically taken back to reflect upon (either emotionally, mentally or physically in some cases), integrate and then release these negative memories, emotions and their energetic counterpart. Working with ayahuasca is like ‘bunging jumping’ into your inner abyss – you will always come back but often it is difficult to fall into and face the darkness within. This is the process of becoming whole – seeing the whole of yourself – both light and dark. It is normal to struggle during deep healing / cleansing experiences – we are accessing the causal events (and their memories / emotional charges) before you developed the mental capacity with which to form a concept of the experience.

Therefore when healing these energies and the subsequent emotional blockages the mind becomes confused, can’t comprehend, and attempts to find ways out of the healing (running, suppressing, blaming, controlling, sedating, denying, avoiding, resisting, attacking, etc). True emotional healing and development requires us to face our shadow, to surrender to the healing process, to go in, to be with the darkness that is within in order to integrate then release it. It takes courage to go through this process. Through releasing suppressed emotions, this is the gateway to transformation. We cannot integrate childhood pain by blaming, running, suppressing, etc.

The mind is what actually always gets in the way of healing emotional blockages. Our thoughts are what we often need to temporarily surrender when we are going through deep emotional healing. When there are blockages in the system, then these give rise to charges. These charges are typically from our childhoods which give us “heat” (hot under the collar, blowing steam, etc) in situations that trigger our unresolved childhood difficulties. Our childhood unconsciously and perpetually leaks into our adult life. Working with ayahuasca takes us back to our childhood emotions to integrate and clear them in order to change the quality of our experience in our adult life – breaking away from the patterns and pain from our childhood.

Pain and discomfort are words we often use to describe an energetic condition within our emotional body. This energetic condition contains unintegrated charges which we perceive physically, emotional and mentally as uncomfortable. Mentally it feels wrong, unpleasant, unproductive, against us, harmful and unnatural, etc. Due to our conditioned mental and physical perception of this emotional condition, our automatic reaction to it is usually founded on fear, and therefore fueled by resistance. Our childhoods typically teach us to run from this. This is a mechanized and old defense system that no longer benefits us as we move forwards in our adult life. When we truly desire deep healing we need to be able to purposefully face this unintegrated childhood pain in order to integrate and release it. When working with ayahuasca we need courage to face and “be” with whatever is surfacing and the medicine / the healers will then help us to release it. It takes determination, strength and will power to face our inner shadow.

Unless we reach back to our childhood to rescue the stranded aspects of our child self that still carries pain and integrate these charges, we will typically always be charged by this pain throughout our lives. When we do rescue these unintegrated aspects of our childhood, our present adult self is released from the charged emotions that plague us with perpetual manifestations of physical, emotional and mental discomfort. Our adult self is no longer driven by the pain of our childhood and is able then to return to authenticity and presence. When our child self comes to peace, so do we. This also develops (self) empowerment.

Therefore an attitude of surrender is strongly advised to enter into any deep emotional and spiritual development (not only working with ayauasca). One does need to be ready, to truly desire healing and to be willing to “plunge into your inner storm.” Surrender doesn’t mean to ‘give up’ – it means surrender to the process and hence ‘don’t give up’. In any deep healing process there will be a need to surrender at some point. It is a process of taking responsibility for our own healing and improving our own well-being. We can help significantly although healing needs to be a ‘two way street’ between the healer / medicine and the participant.


The mind prefers familiarity which is why patterns, programs, etc are so hard to diffuse. We can’t heal by using our minds trying to understand, analyze, and comprehend our emotional issues. Mental intellect gets in the way of emotional healing. We need to work at a deeper level – directly through our emotions into our energy body. The mind often during the process doesn’t approve of change and appears to discourage us from our healing. This process therefore also develops our emotional intelligence. In order to truly reach our potential, we need to bring all aspects of ourselves into balance – physical, mental, emotional and vibrational. We will never achieve our highest potential and true happiness by only using the mind.

When suppressed emotions are either a) triggered or b) being released, we feel them and they bring symptoms of our internal issues into our minds. Our thoughts are then a symptom. We are not our mental struggles – they are an effect of the emotional blockages within. They make us feel uncomfortable, angry, sad, panicked, judgmental, blameful, etc although the way to deal with this is by facing them, not running from them. A classic externalization and usually first consequence of these emotional charges is drama. Drama is reactive projection – whether physical, emotional or mental. When we face drama in our life, it is typically a warning sign to show us to look within and not blame the person or circumstance that is triggering us on the outside. Working with ayahuasca is very similar – it is a mirror. When we are healing emotional blockages, residual negative energies, etc, by starting to release these negative energies the participant can sometimes manifest physical, emotional or mental experiences that mirror what is being released internally.

In addition when working with the medicine, we can often receive ‘visions’ whilst in ceremony that seem to be external issues, people, spirits, etc attempting to affect us although most often, these visions are a projection of our internal issues. Our minds cannot interpret the reflection of the pain, negative energy and difficult emotions that the medicine is mirroring / showing us exist within, so our mind then projects the inner experience into a vision that puts the blame or reason outside of ourselves. During our experience with the medicine, we are often taken to a place of reflecting our childhood – typically emotionally and mentally. Projecting is the behavior that we often adopt when reacting to difficult childhood memories that an external circumstance causes us to reflect upon. Instead of realising that it is triggering something within and from our past, we externalize the pain and unconsciously blame the situation or person who is triggering us. When these suppressed memories / emotions are being cleaned by the medicine, we can often be “triggered” externally. The ongoing circumstances in our life and surroundings are essentially a reflection of our inner landscape. We reflect our inner landscape in our outer life. When we change our inner landscape, then our outer landscape changes too. We see the world through our own eyes. When the energies have been cleaned from our systems, our visions change and we no longer project the pain of our inner landscape out into a vision that shows us our ‘inner demons’.

By working on our suppressed emotions we are slowly able to move from being reactive (behavior that stems from our inner pain that is directed into the world in an attempt to defend ourselves or attack another) in our life towards responsive (a conscious choice to contain and constructively internalize the triggered emotion, take responsibility and not project outwards to others). We begin to not blame or judge others for any dramas that ensue in our life and acknowledge the reflection of our unconscious memories and unintegrated emotional charges.

When we dive into the unintegrated blockages it may appear that our experience is worsening, but this is required. A reflection of the blockages is then projected on the screen of the world. Our experience appears to deteriorate into increasing discomfort and strangeness. However the turbulence we experience is necessary and beneficial in the end. Going through these experiences are authentic signs of progress and evolution. We need to trust the process. Only by going into, through and out of these uncomfortable experiences can we come to the place of knowing and wisdom – which ultimately resides in the heart, not the head. Our experience becomes our teacher. The shadow defines the Light. We need to learn through firsthand experience not to fear and resist the inevitable discomfort that arises from emotional processing, and not to react to emotional processing by behaving like the world is ending. Embracing the discomfort is required and is the way to consciously ride and tame our inner dragons.


Authentic growth cannot be achieved without going through this process. It cannot be bypassed. It cannot be achieved through mental and physical activities attempting to ‘fix’ the symptoms. The medicine will often take us to the limits of our ability to resist discomfort. The pain can sometimes be on the edge of too much to bear. However, core / causal healing and authentic growth are achieved when we are out of our comfort zone – that is where the magic happens. Consciously engaging with emotional pain and discomfort is the alchemy of transformation. Consciously dying to old aspects of ourselves is a process that is followed by re-birth. It is important to not judge our healing experience by how ‘good’ we feel as we move through it – it will always be uncomfortable. It is not supposed to be ‘easy’. The pain and discomforts (shadows) are the dragons / inner demons that guard the gates to liberation. They restrict those who are not yet ready. They function as an invitation and a deterrent. The storm exists within and is reflected without. Diving into this storm is a rite of passage.

Respectful and experienced administration of plant medicines and ceremonies are tools and allies on the journey of self-awakening. They instigate and accelerate the healing process significantly during ceremony although need to be combined with a lifelong personal commitment and specific practices that enable us to return to embodying our ‘true self’. This is a journey backwards that is through, not around or bypassing, all aspects of our self – physical, mental, emotional returning to the vibrational. Plant medicines initiate a pathway to awareness; a journey and process that unfolds over a considerable amount of time returning back to presence and unlocking the inner knowledge and wisdom of our hearts. It is necessary to access and adjust the emotional core of our experience in order to initiate authentic transformation in the mental and physical. Our main emotional issues are both an obstruction for a peaceful life and the potential gateway to realizing who we really are. Restoring harmony to the quality of our life experience lies in personal emotional development. It is a long and challenging path. However, this journey is fundamentally an adventure of self-discovery that takes us through our pain – through our shadow. Our shadow is exposed by ayahuasca; it is amplified in and outside of ceremony for us to also face. When you take responsibility for your thoughts, feelings and behaviors, you take your power back. There is no coming to consciousness without pain.

They key to transformation is within us, plant (spirit) medicines can support us considerably on our journey towards our reawakening – they can accelerate the process – but they cannot take us through the final gateway to true re-awakening. They guide us up the steps and show us the door. They initiate a process within us that unravels and unfolds over a considerable period of time, provided we are ready, willing and able to face ‘all’ that is unconscious and unintegrated within ourselves – our shadow. Ayahuasca works to bring our shadow to the surface and can be a key ally in supporting us to identify, integrate and release our shadow aspects but we also need to take part in the process.

Note: for more information about emotional development, integration and processing, we highly “The Presence Process” by Michael Brown. The Presence Process mirrors the understandings and lessons that we learn through working with plant medicines over long periods of time. Much of the content above has been inspired and adopted from this book.

Matthew Watherston from the Temple of the way of light