Part 2 of the personal story of Andres and how he understood the need for integration support. The retreat came to an end as fast as it started, and I found myself back in my apartment in Neukölln, Berlin. For you guys who may not know Berlin, this is not exactly known to be a chilled and relaxed neighbourhood. On the contrary, it is a vibrant and cosmopolitan place where cultures melt and excitement waits on every corner.
Normally I love this place but after this weekend, I couldn’t bring myself to leave my house. Nevertheless, I had to work and I pushed myself out of the security of my walls. The following ten-minute walk to Hermannplatz and the bus commute to my office were one of the toughest things I’ve experienced. The big city life seemed to be hard, full of pain and anger that overwhelmed me and I started to cry. Only the high volume of my headphones kept me going.
Things were about to get even weirder. The next morning, I woke up to find a big scratch on my table, done with what seemed to key… I almost freaked out, what was that? Who did it? Was I sleepwalking? So many questions – I decided to call in sick and stay home. Again I was lucky enough that the Guide was available for a call. He calmed me down and little by little I relaxed and started coming back to life.
The “afterglow” lasted for a month or so – I was all love and happiness but gradually I lost it and the intention to return settled in my mind. Looking for more answers, I landed again in the same ceremony room four months later.
The setting was the same – same people, same place, same medicine – but I soon learned that this is not how Aya works. My experience was what I can only describe as a huge amount of confusion and purging. This time no visions nor messages came to me. I was fairly disappointed when I came back to Berlin (later on I learned the value of this kind of experience, but that’s material for another story).
The following week a good friend of mine came to me and mentioned how his therapist was helping him to cope with some issues. This was great synchronicity – at that moment I knew I had to reach out to her.
And that, kids, that’s how I met my therapist 😀 I know, bad joke.
“Finally, I see how much I was overestimating, both of my own capacity and of the capacity of the medicines to bring up all the change needed.”
Don’t get me wrong, I still fully believe that Aya and later Mushrooms have been pivotal experiences in my life, and I fully believe that it’s on us to heal and that no guru/guide can bring us the holy grail. But it was only when I found a therapist who had an understanding and experience around these powerful medicines that I was able to change my thinking from “more is better” to understanding the value of daily work, preparation, and integration of those experiences.
This is a really summarized way of describing it. In my previous understanding, if you have a problem you talk with a friend. Now I realize that even the most loving friend, partner, or family member with the highest will to help won’t be able to provide professional and knowledgeable advice, hold the space, and work with you in different aspects. Loving people in our life have their role (and it’s a huge one) but having an outsider helping you go through things you never realized were happening is a whole different world.
Since then I have had other psychedelic experiences; some more challenging, some more benign. I have learned to always prepare and be ready to do the work AFTER, to actually bring meaningful change into my life (not without missteps, stay tuned…).
In this Psychedelic Renaissance, the word Integration is on every corner, and everyone is talking wholeheartedly about it. It seems pretty clear that we westerners have lost the tribal support so common in the traditional setting, that we come back to our small apartments in our crowded cities with not many understanding people to share with. Several projects and initiatives coming from a lot of inspiring people have been launched, trying to help people like you or me contain and integrate these experiences. Coaches all around the world from different approaches and disciplines are stepping up. Sharing circles are being created. More and more information is being shared
“This is how the Psychedelics-Integration idea was born. I wanted to help and I realized that the best way of doing this was to offer a community resource, a platform where people can find trusted coaches and clear information to support them on their journey.”
The reality is that while the mainstream media makes huge echoes of the Psychedelics Renaissance and the clinical trials keep bringing positive outcomes, a lot of people are looking for answers. These people may feel attracted to trying these medicines on underground retreats. Underground retreats usually do not have the resources to maintain a proper follow-up nor strict preparation for the people having the experience, and therefore we feel it’s a needed resource to have a “go-to” place where information is clear and help is available for everyone.
Thanks for being part of our growing community! You are not alone in your journey.