Ayahuasca #4: Poison

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In the throes of the medicine once again, I dry heave over and over and over, my stomach in knots, my mind spinning. No matter what I do I can’t seem to rid myself of some terrible energy deep in my body and psyche. I spend the night in a haze – nauseous, sick, and lost – trying to clear it all out of my system.

Unlike all the other nights with the medicine, I barely remember anything. I feel no urge to write anything down. My mind is a daze – apart from one simple idea:

Judgment and comparison are poison. Literally, poison. They infect my thoughts and being like a parasite. It is impossible to live from my highest or truest self while operating from a place of judgment and comparison.

Every time I compare myself to someone else, I hurt myself. Every time I judge or label someone else as “good” or “bad”, I hurt myself and do them a disservice, failing to see them as the complex, layered soul they are. My obsessive need to place these labels of “good”, “bad”, “better”, “worse” on myself and others is always, always, always ultimately about my own shame and feelings of worthlessness. These labels are weapons I employ to protect myself from sharp painful feelings. But ultimately these labels, this mindset, just ensure that the pain stays with me at a low-level, always operating on me insidiously just below the surface.

As I sit here writing, I feel I haven’t really explained why and how judgment and comparison are poison. There are a few connecting dots that I haven’t been able to articulate or rationalize. But whatever happened to me that night did not produce a rationale explanation for me that I can tie up with a neat boy. No, it seared this insight into me as a felt experience in my bones, like an emotional memory that exists before and beyond any rational thought process, that you can feel in your gut.

The last thing I remember from that night, a new mantra: I am not good. I am not bad. I belong. I am enough.

From that place, I have no need to condemn or diminish someone, no need to judge myself as lacking compared with someone I admire, no need to justify or quantify my own value to myself by showing how I excel where others fail. From that place, I can accept the world around me as it is and myself as I am.

In doing so, I finally breathe out decades of anxiety, stress, and  self-imposed burdens and expectations. I breathe in peace and possibility. I see the whole world in an entirely new light, with the freshest eyes and clearest mind in my life.



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Peter Schulte

Peter Schulte is the founder and editor of Kindling. Peter is also Senior Digital Engagement Associate for the Pacific Institute and the UN Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate, connecting businesses to sustainable water practices. Peter holds a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from University of California, Berkeley, and an M.B.A. in Sustainable Systems from Pinchot University. He lives in Bellingham, WA, USA with his wife, son, and cat.

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