Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Yang, again

This is a lot like the last journey, so I'll keep it brief:

An hour or two in, as my attention shifts from the ayahuasca gurgling in my belly to a certain tightness in my heart, I remember that the last time this happened the next thing that happened was turning into my partner for a spell; I prepare myself for the estrogen influx. My heart does open. There is a wash of love. But check it out: this time nothing curvy. In fact it's totally masculine, with about a zillion exclamation points afterwards. My body is suffused with an energy of loving support and strength. I feel like I could build a city on my heart, that I could wrap my arms around everything dear to me and keep it safe and protected. My heart opens, fearlessly with warmth and strength flowing out of it, to light up the world. Suddenly the term 'lionhearted' makes a great deal of sense. It's not as sweet and pleasure-filled as the super feminine energy, but it does have the huge advantage of actually feeling like me—but better, like a higher version of myself, the man who I am when I am clear, who I most aspire to be.

It's cool for all the reasons you might imagine, but it's also a huge relief. A lot of my ayahuasca experiences thus far had really been about becoming more comfortable with my feminine energy, a theme that was echoed in my romantic relationship as well. On the one hand it opened up a lot of worlds and gave me a lot of insight into myself. On the other hand, the extreme extension of this path seemed a little freaky - was I about to grow a vulva and start to like Lifetime movies? So it was very reassuring that after digging around in the pink side of the sandbox, I found myself back on the blue side, to see that all the toys were still there and still fun, and that they had been given that cosmic profundity that had first visited me in the feminine guise. Medicine makes things a lot more intense and having spent so much time in the intense feminine made regular masculine seem a little lackluster, so it was very balancing to come back to a similarly intense masculine. A little trickier too. Amplifying the feminine usually works out ok; it can get a little weird - too catty, too chatty, too indecisive, but generally it's really not that bad; too motherly, too sexy, too nourishing, too loving, too communicative? We'll live. Granted there are certainly other unhealthy elements of the feminine that become messy if amplified but there is a pretty broad path on the healthy end of things.

Amplifying the masculine is a much dicier proposition. The basic masculine virtues, strength, clarity, decisiveness, are every bit as necessary as the feminine virtues. But, as the boys in IT would say, they don't necessarily scale well. The very solidity of masculinity, which is its core and its beauty, also makes it difficult to expand it gracefully. (We'll just skip the obvious joke here.) Feminine energy, being soft and yielding, can more easily increase without bumping into things around it. Masculine energy is harder and more decisive, so it can easily become unyielding, insistent, closed. And of course there's that will to action which is so necessary to the whole equation, which becomes a healthy amount of aggression with a little amplification and easily becomes a monster when it really gets turned up. It's not that things can't be extremely masculine and extremely good, but at least in the culture we live, the path for doing so seems much more precarious and far more rarely traveled.

Which is why this journey seemed so great: because it was about feeling all this great roaring masculine stuff in my center and then having it radiate out of my heart, under the gentle and compassionate guidance of love. Because I felt strong like a lion, I could be gentle like a kitten, without being afraid of being attacked. And because I could be gentle like a kitten, I could be strong like a lion, without being afraid I was attacking.

I like it.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Stranger Than Hallucinations

'You won't get that hungry, there's a lot of plant energy here.'

Is what Cyan said when I mentioned that for some strange reason I hadn't been that hungry for the day or two I'd first been at his house.

'Whatever, Hippy"

Is pretty much what I thought; death and taxes are only relative truths - just ask a hindu and good accountant. But my appetite has been an overwhelming certainty my whole life. I have a memory from when I was about seven of eating breakfast at some pancake house where the record was 16 pancakes. The adults I was with made me stop at 14, but to this day I can tell you: there was room for more; at an age when I had not yet learned long division. Sometimes people who are watching their weight seem envious, because all this food doesn't make my gigantic, but in a lot of ways it's just a hassle. I'm a fussy fucking eater and honestly a cheapskate, so I wind up cooking for myself quite a bit and putting enough of the calories I want into my body is practically a full time job. I often travel around with a half a loaf of bread and small collection of apples and carrots to make it through the afternoon. Time and time again I realize that what I think is the beginning of spiraling bout of depression or the demise of a love affair is just low blood sugar. Food and lots of it, is pretty big part of my life. So to hear someone say that 'plant energy' had superseded my need for calories, seemed I don't know, questionable. Kinda like Bear Sterns balance sheet circa 2007.

But not as strange as what he was to say to me a few mornings later - which was that I should come with him to get procaine treatment. It was early. For me at least - the whole up with sun part of spiritual growth has always been a hard sell for me - and my groggy head could only remember hearing of procaine once; as far as I knew it was some kind of cheap synthetic cocaine that dealers used to water down their high priced product. He told me that actually it was a lightly processed product of 'the highly medicinal coca plant' that had remarkable healing properties. I pressed him for more details or a more scientific explanation of the process, but neither were forth coming. The term neural therapy came up, and something to do with the flow of energy and that kind of thing. Just like every other alternative healing modality. But with less details. It was far from convincing.

I spent some time thinking about my resistance to the whole thing and realized that in essence, I was writing it off because the explanation I was hearing was incompletely presented, full of holes and therefore highly suspicious. But I turned it over one more time and realized that one thing that was a lot stupider then a bad explanation was not examining something directly if I had the opportunity. The mere fact that I was not at this time being presented with a clear explanation as to how the thing worked didn't mean it didn't work. I didn't seem dangerous, I might as well give it a shot.

Quite literally as it turned out. Procaine as administered with needles - some of them close to a foot long I should add - to the area where it is supposed to facilitate healing. The 'Doctor', I never did ascertain whether he was an actually MD, explained - with limited English mixed with a simple Portuguese that he hoped my even more limited command of his language would be able to comprehend, all of it stapled together by Cyan's polylingual facilities - something that almost made sense: apparently when cells are damaged or scarred, one of the things that goes wrong is that they loose their ability to communicate their needs to the rest of the body, the repair team doesn't know to show. Procaine hands all the freaked out cells a prepaid phone and suddenly they can call for whatever they need. There was a little more of an explanation that has since slipped my mind - I think it had something to do with negative ions and facilitating electrical current, but I can't really be sure.

What I am sure of is that it worked. I have a whole tract of sciatic tension on my right side, for which I've tried a number of things, all of which have helped to very degrees, but this was like winning the lottery. The process was a little freaky - as the needle went in, I could feel muscles, presumably because they were waking for the first time in awhile spasm and contract, moments of numbness, etc… There were a few teeth clenching bits, but things leveled out pretty quickly. By the time I got off the table, I felt like I had a whole new leg. It definitely wasn't perfect, but I'd say the improvements were equal and in addition to the weeks of acupuncture or the months of physical therapy I'd done. I was one happy mother fucker. Gave the guy a big hug and felt myself taking another step further into a universe where all sorts of magical seeming things were possible.

Naturally I googled procaine as soon as the possibility arose. The only thing that told me was that procaine is generic name for the drug more commonly known to Americans as Novocaine. That's right - it's a pain killer. It occurred to me that maybe the guys was a huxster and that things would start to suck again as soon as feeling returned, but that would be a few hours and I was still going strong the next day.

Googling neural therapy was a little more fruitful. Apparently it was developed in the 20's by two Austrian physicians who much to their surprise, cured their sister of horrific and previously incurable migraines the moment they accidentally injected her intravenously with a tiny amount of procaine. The how it works part remains pretty fuzzy:

The practice of neural therapy is based on the belief that energy flows freely through the body of a healthy person. Proponents claim injury, disease, malnutrition, stress, and even scar tissue disrupt this flow, creating energy imbalances called "interference fields." Some proponents of this theory in Germany have stated that 40 percent of all illness and chronic pain may be caused by interference fields in the body.
There are other explanations for how neural therapy works, including the electrical disturbance theory, the restricted lymphatic system theory, and the idea that illness is caused by distortion in the connective tissue of the body. All of these theories assume that any interference in structure, lymphatic flow, or electrical conduction can cause illness. The goal of neural therapy is to correct the interference and heal the illness or symptom. However, even those who practice neural therapy acknowledge that the process is not well understood.

Also fuzzy is why I wasn't very hungry that day or the next or the whole time I was in Brazil. I don't think it was the plant energy because I'm writing this from the almost completely treeless neighborhood of Williamsburg Brooklyn and I still have the appetite of a super model. You could say it has something to do with the heat but I've been in tropicalish whether most of the time since Christmas and before Brazil, still ate like a horse. It might've been the aya, but they day I stopped getting hungry wasn't a day I drank any tea. It could've been Cyan's energetic influence - he was big on the virtues of minimal consumption and the idea of getting your energy from the plants, the stars and the sun. But honestly it's the weirdest thing that happened when I was in Brazil. No matter how strange the aya experiences were, I could still see how they had evolved out of some part of me, or somebody else. This was like some ghost had just come in and flipped a switch.
The day after the procaine, I woke up with an unfamiliar sensation in my lower back. I reached around to see what it was and realized that the weirdness was not feeling the mild muscle spasm that had flanked the right side of my spine for close to half my life. I still don't know how neural therapy works, but considering the results, I'm happy with 'it just does'
There are couple of fairly reasoned links about neurotherapy here:


and more gushing information-cum-advertising here:


Doesn't seem like theres much of it going down in the states, but I'd say that one experience alone was worth the trip to Brazil.