Homework: Lessons from church/hospital/school this weekend

I shared my understanding this weekend with my fellow pilgrims that the goal of the medicine was to feel its effects for as much and as long as possible while you are not taking it.

I realized for myself that the purpose of the medicine is to have the heart changing perspective shift while under its direct influence. Then when you are reintegrating, which can start immediately at the conclusion of the ceremony and go anywhere as long as well, until the end of your life, you can reenter that same state by remembering what you experienced and trigger that medicine memory and reenter that feeling that you had the first time.

While not under the direct influence of the medicine the power of the recollection can be even more powerful than the first time because of the emotional harmonic resonance. This is what happened to me today in yoga class.

On the night of the Day of the Dead our maestro was working hard all night long with his continuous stream of music and love. He was like a world class runner and his torch was the fire of love and he was running it around like a baton sharing it with anyone and everyone who needed it never tiring and never falling or failing even when we did.

The entire time he was working and walking or moving or drumming and always singing or telling stories and of course attending to us. He had been conducting the symphony of the congregation and our cathedral was massive and full of uncontainable light and he asked us all to contemplate our parents and grandparents and all ancestors dead or alive. He asked us to try and visualize those we had lost and I felt really sad in my heart because I couldn’t even do that with my sister Leila Jane since she died when I was 9 months old and she not even two.

She was someone I was contemplating earlier in the evening. I had thought about what our reunion would be like since this was after all the day of the dead. Once in the float tank this scared me but tonight there was no fear. I saw that and it was me and my sister hugging. My cup was definitely overfilled and my heart opened up, but when I couldn’t visualize her later it really hurt that I didn’t even know who she was or what she was, but I let that feeling go.

Tonight at yoga when our teacher directed us to dedicate our practice to a specific intention or even person my thoughts immediately went to my sister. I dedicated my practice to her and well maybe the extra six pounds I lost through this last process, on top of the 15 from last time, helped but I went places in yoga class I had never been and never seen before.

Crying deep tears of gratitude throughout I was able to focus on her perspective since I was fortunate to be able to live an adult life and express my body in so many ways that she had never been able to. Then I began to have empathy for her loss, her lack of getting to be a sister to me, and having her own life, not just the other way around which was far as I had ever the courage to go with my ego in charge to protect me against the pain of having to hurt for her too on top of my own loss.

I realized in a beautiful moment of truth that I could share my entire life with her in the next phase and that was the greatest motivation to try and be the best person that I can possibly be so I’ll have the most kick ass story to share with her sitting on a bench in eternity. She will have been able to come along for the entire crazy ride.

I realized I could connect with her when I hugged another human being. When I reenacted that future vision of our final reunion, my memory of her could be there with us. I could celebrate her that way. As much as I wanted. That was pretty frickin cool!

Back to the trip report. The medicine was gentle yet still somehow so powerful. When I felt the moon rise and the tide of my ego complained about the lack of visuals and action movie theatrics, Mother Ayahuasca directs my attention to the crystal in the center of the altar. It was the most beautiful red and orange energy. The face was with eyes closed like the smiling Buddha. She had a simple crown. She had many tentacles that came down flowing with electromagnetic grace like as many snakes flowing off her body, or who knows maybe it was even a connection to my sister. The point is not whether either are literally true, the point is how it makes you feel! Whatever the representation, it is necessarily symbolic anyway so that it can be accessed later.

This is not religion in the way the term has come to mean. It is shamanic healing using plant medicine to go out and meet the Divine together in communion and fellowship. It helps to have a wisdom path to be the container for your flame so life doesn’t blow it out of course. Trust in God but tie up your camel.

Our human ancestors where all shamanistic healers for thousands of years. Without it we never would have made it this far. We needed religion once we got farming and civilization after the last planet altering climate shift occurred after the last Ice Age.  The healing nor the need for it ever went away, protected by teachers all around the world and finally and ultimately in the New World in the lungs of the planet. The source of the breath of mother earth. Now we can reintegrate those two pathways along our human development since we still need the healing more than ever. Without it the planet will not survive.

In this time of worldwide transition and consciousness shifting the need for integrating everything is necessary to successfully evolve together on a planetary level. It’s pretty binary folks. We either all make it or none of us do. Old World, New World, West and East. Feminine, Masculine. Immanence, Transcendence. All of it has to be integrated.

It’s not to be overlooked in human history that the last time the climate shifted we evolved a whole new perspective and became who we are today 12 thousand years later. We have one shot at this except since the latest shift is of our own creation it is on us to do the individual work to evolve ourselves out of this mess. That’s what the plants are telling us.

It’s not about giving up what you believe in or your identity, that’s what the ego tells you. Instead it’s about putting your faith in to action by making your self medicine to others and to yourself. Especially yourself.

Then as Jesus taught we can say that you should judge a tree by its fruit not the ingredients of the tree or what the tree believes or what the religion of the tree is. The final judgment is the tasting of the fruit by others in creation. That is its full measure.

O Creator and Master Gardener I pray that you make my fruit sweet and tasty and that it is good medicine.

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About Ian Benouis

Ian Benouis is a West Point graduate, former Blackhawk helicopter pilot, US Army officer and combat veteran who participated in Operation Just Cause in the Republic of Panama. This operation was the largest combat operation in US history focused directly on the War on Drugs. He was a pilot-in-command and his aviation brigade flew more night vision goggle hours than any unit in the military except for the Task Force 160 Special Operations which his unit was ultimately rolled up into when the Fort Ord, California military base was shut down. Ian grew up in Hawaii in the 1970’s where cannabis was decriminalized and fully integrated in to the culture. He has been healing himself of trauma for over 25 years with sacred plants, a spiritual practice, and being a student and practitioner of ethnobotany. Ian was a pharmaceutical representative for Pfizer after he got out of the Army witnessing firsthand the meteoric rise of the SSRI’s and synthetic opioids in the early 1990’s. He is a casualty of the drug war having been busted for a friend’s cannabis while in law school. Ian is an intellectual property attorney who has been working in the corporate world for over 20 years in the primary roles of VP of Sales and Marketing and General Counsel. He is a political activist in the cannabis and natural plant medicine space nationally and locally in Texas. Ian was previously the Chairman of the Board for a public policy foundation in Texas for over seven years. Ian was featured in the Spike Jonze produced episode Stoned Vets on Weediquette the cannabis focused series on Viceland on HBO with a number of other veterans protesting the VA’s policy on medical cannabis and trying to end the veteran suicide epidemic. In 2016 Ian organized a trip for six veterans with PTSD to Peru in May for a 10-day plant diet including ayahuasca and other plant medicines with three Shipibo shaman brothers that are third generation plant medicine healers. Ian also took some of the same veterans to Mexico for treatment with iboga and 5-Meo-DMT. This experience was captured on video and was released as a documentary on March 2017 entitled Soldiers of the Vine. He is member of the team working on the movie From Shock to Awe a feature-length documentary that will chronicle the journeys of military veterans as they seek relief from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with the help of ayahuasca, MDMA and cannabis.