Among many inquiries on the healing properties of Ayahausca, we are very often asked if Ayahuasca can cure eating disorders like bulimia, anorexia, binge eating, obesity etc. Since we have had many guests battling with these vicious circles, the only thing we can confidently say is that the source of all eating disorders has nothing to do with food and one must go deep withing their subconscious mind to put some light on the usually unavailable chambers in which such patterns dwell. We have had many guests that successfully realized the nature of their destructive behaviors and were able to get well after their retreat. Some stopped purging, some lost weight and adopted healthier lifestyles, some simply accepted their bodies as they are and learned to be gentle to themselves. One of Pachamama guests that was battling bulimia for most of her life decided to share her story, hoping that some of you might recognize yourself in her sincere words and seek healing in the only place where true healing can be found, within yourself. Below is the testimonial from one of our guests that came to Pachamama as her last resort:
***I write this testimonial because I feel it is my duty to share my story. Eating disorders affect many people (in fact the statistics say one in four people are affected by some eating disorder), however, few are ready to admit and seek help as the nature of this type of diseases is rather sensitive and creates strong feelings of shame. Usually, people who are trapped in these destructive behaviors are empaths, sensitive by nature, very self-judgmental and perfectionists and their relationship with food is similar to how heroin addicts feel toward heroin. With no exaggeration – those who have experienced it on their skin will understand. However, unlike heroin, food is being constantly offered to you, not only it is legal but is an integral part of almost every aspect of life and is necessary for one’s survival which just makes all the disorders more bizarre and harder to overcome. Before coming to Pachamama, I had been battling with bulimia, anorexia, being obsessed by food, binge eating and periods of obesity, all working against me, sometimes together sometimes exchanging one for another. I would say that bulimia took the worst toll on my health as I was practicing it for over 15 years, however, the periods when I was not purging I would usually found myself in the rays of some other disorder and being obsessed with my food intake or shifting into anorexia as a safe harbor that would keep me away from purging. To all of you that are battling with the same, I will not go into the depths of my life before Ayahausca as I am sure you are all well familiar. I just want to mention a few things as I want you to know that you are not alone and you are understood. I want to mention 15 years (some say best years of one’s life) being stolen from me, by me. I want to mention all the holidays that I missed as I dreaded the food that was a big part of them. My physical health was as visibly destroyed as my psyche and the vicious circle was something that I did not know how to break. I tried everything that there is healing wise, I tried hypnosis, reiki, self-help books, affirmations, meditations, psychotherapy, but none with any long lasting success and before you know it, I was back in food hell. I realised that I am trying to solve a problem of my mind, with that very mind that created it and that I am just running in circles and no work is being done. I was just deceiving myself as nothing seemed to work. After losing all my hopes and making peace with the fact that this is just how it is for me and I will never recover, I started to figure out how to live my life accepting my disease and instead of fighting it, I integrated it in my life. That period was a period of profound darkness that penetrated my entire being as for the first time there was no more hope and I accepted sickness as part of my personality and every day life. And now comes the fun part: Until somehow and someday (a very lucky day) I came across an Ayahuasca video online and immediately felt a strong call and for the first time in many years, felt hope. I read all there is on the subject, watched all the videos and I already knew that I will meet this plant no matter what. My self-destructive patterns continued but this time I somehow felt that whatever is waiting for me in the jungles of Peru, will be an end to my suffering. I knew that only something “hard-core” that will go beyond my mind can help me get out of this hell. It took me about a year to save enough money (country where I live is not really saving friendly, some even might say third world and to convert our currency into enough dollars to get me going was hard work) but I was on a mission – to save my bare life and nothing could discourage me. All I wanted was to be at peace with food and be healthy again and I knew this was my last resort so not trying was not an option. The moment I had enough means to book a flight and a retreat, I was booked for a very long flight and a life changing journey. On the way to Pachamama temple, my worst fears were not that I will be a woman flying alone, malaria, dengue – it was the sharing circle, private consultations, having to throw up in a bucket in front of a whole group of strangers (I have seen enough videos to learn about the famous purge) and Shipibo lunch. With many deceiving lies and manipulations that only addicts can develop, I managed to keep my disease hidden from close ones as I felt that would destroy my family and friendships (even though it was destroying it anyway on much deeper levels) so my disorders were only mine to bear. Sharing it with strangers at sharing circles and even worse – private consultations with facilitators and Shamans was the worst nightmare! I always felt there was something noble and brave about people fighting leukemia or brain tumor, what noble there is in eating food and then throwing it up! Whose sympathy can I have? And how am I going to share this with indigenous healers whose culture has been struggling for decades to provide food to their families! And I knew that honesty at consultations is detrimental for the success of my retreat. With Shipibo lunch – I am sure you already understand. I saw photos online of the traditional Shipibo feast at the end of the retreat and my only fear was – will I be able to keep it down, and what excuse to make to stay in bed while others are celebrating food. Very soon, all those fears showed to be only projections of my mind as I was wrong in every way. There was a “good vibe” and a human connection with the rest of my group already the first day of the retreat and I felt we were all in the same boat. All just looking for healing with Ayahausca, most as last resort. People were open and sincere and even though I did not fully open at the first introduction, I was able to say what was the reason of my arrival. The private consultations were even more of a relief as Maestros seemed to have full understanding – as well as facilitators who shared their own addictive patterns and had zero judgement. They were healthy people and knowing that they were also battling with heavy addictions and other self-harm patterns gave me even more hope and faith in Ayahausca and I naturally opened up the whole Pandora box to complete strangers (that did not feel like strangers at all) and felt a huge relief! That set me of well for the beginning of my journey. I had trust in Shamans, I had trust in my facilitators and was comfortable within the group. I felt that there was no place for judgement in Pachamama temple and they were very dedicated to keeping it a “real” place of healing. Any behavior from anyone that was outside this idea, was cut in its roots. We were all the same, facilitators, guests, volunteers. All lost and looking for healing, looking for help and for many of us, Ayahuasca was our last hope. And so it began, the journey after which nothing was ever the same…I will not go into the depth of my ceremonies as no words can ever describe what I saw and how I felt. But I can share the main message from Ayahuasca. So obviously, I took my first cup and following the advice of facilitators, my intention to the brew was as follows: “Please liberate me from the hell of my eating disorders”. What followed was the most important night of my life, the date I still celebrate as my “second birthday”. The journey started quite hellish, I could not expect anything else. I saw how destructive I was to my body, how every single cell in my body loved me and wanted to me be healthy, but I was destroying them (and thus myself) with self-hatred. I saw what happens inside my body when I bend to throw up food that I just ate. I saw my body having such a superior intelligence and getting used to what I was doing to it for 15 years, only to protect my existence and keep me alive. I clearly got to know the intelligence within me that loved me and took care of me like a mother takes care of her new-born baby. I saw my body as my mother, in deep sorrow with what I am doing to it, but still loving me and going into all sorts of adaptation and defense mechanisms just to keep me alive. (I often wondered how it is possible that I am still up and going, working, and functioning “normally” with all the harm that I have done to myself). And so I filled my bucket with what they call “the purge”. And this was the first purging in 15 years that felt as healing, and not “helling”. And let me tell you that in these moments of release, I could not care less who is listening and watching me purge. After throwing up in silence for a decade and a half, it is still paradoxical (almost funny) that purging out loud was the most liberating feeling! So long story short, I was fully conscious of the harm I have been doing to myself. Then followed the part where Ayahuasca showed me the epicenter of this behavior. Childhood was quite rough, and my family could not afford much. There were no vacations, beaches or fancy clothing and toys. Food was pretty much the only luxury. My parents both felt guilt for not being able to afford a better life, so they compensated all their guilt with food. Whenever it was rough, I would be given some nice food to comfort me. These little treats became my best friends and only comfort whenever it was hard and soon enough, I mistook love for food. So in my child brain Food = Love. So when I grew up and there was no mother to prepare some love for me, whenever I felt I don’t deserve any love – I would swallow some of it and then throw it all up. Perfect punishment for not being smart enough, beautiful enough, successful enough and just not being enough! Or I would not give myself any love and thus fast for days. So Mother Ayahausca made sure to put a big flashlight on my subconscious brain that was still a little child seeking for some love. And the last part of my ceremony, Ayahauasca was just giving me love. Lots and lots of love. She showed me how beautiful my body was and how smart I am and what a precious gift life is and what it means to have a temple in this body, how it feels to be healthy, to be young and alive, free from any self-harming patterns. So after going through first two parts of the journey which were least to say hard and just crying a waterfall of tears, she wrapped it all up with a feeling of love that never left me since. I only want to also mention that my feelings and visions were only a small part of the journey and the Shamans with their healing songs did most of the work. And so, my recovery happened then and there. That warm night in the jungle of Peru, surrounded by strangers and indigenous people wearing strange clothes and singing even stranger songs. That was my first Ayahausca ceremony and it was nothing short of a miracle. I woke up the following morning and felt healthier than I have felt in years. And the rest of the ceremonies were just completing the puzzle of my life-changing journey. Ayahausca taught me self-love and I strongly believe (dare to say I know) that everything in our lives that is out of balance is because we do not love ourselves enough. Our hearts are inexhaustible generators of love, as long as we allow them to, and love heals everything. Without loving ourselves, we cannot love others either and love is the answer to all out troubles. I somehow knew this in theory, but theory is just empty words, and having a direct experience of what love actually feels, is a whole new dimension. You can read about being in love from all the books in the world, but unless you have actually fallen in love and experienced those butterflies in your stomach, it will be nothing more than just dry words on paper. Only once you have bathed in the vast pool of Ayahuasca love will you know what I am writing about. And that is when healing happens, that is when miracles happen. When you EXPERIENCE the love you are reading about. I went home after my retreat and never threw up another meal. It took some time for my body to recover and start normally digesting food, but I was gentle with myself, listened to what my body is telling me and allowed my recovery to happen. I can now proudly say that I just eat and is just food and I never have any destructive thoughts when it comes to my relationship with food. And that Shipibo lunch – was the best meal of my life!
I took time to write this testimonial as I am well aware of how many people dwell in the same vicious circles, yet fail to find a cure. So if you recognize yourself in these words, know that you are not alone, and know that there is a way to heal. Please do not look for excuses and wait for years to give yourself the right to heal. There is nothing more important then your well being and you should not waste another day in indecisiveness. If money is a problem, borrow it the same you would borrow if you had a brain tumor and needed an urgent surgery. If it is your work, there will always be work, but there will be nothing if there is no you. If it is fears, there is nothing to fear, all that will die on this journey is the part of you that is hurting you. Allow yourself to heal, give yourself a chance to live!
To all of you that read my story, thank you for taking time, I hope it will raise awareness and remove the stigma from eating disorders and give you more understanding for those suffering from it. And for all of you that feel the lines of this story as your own, please make the ending of this story also your own. All I can wish for you is a very soon encounter with mother Ayahausca, encounter with yourself. May we all enjoy the gift of healthy and happy life. Sending love to you all!