– Homage to the sacred (albeit difficult) Dieta healing process –
Many of us come to Shipibo plant medicine when we’re no longer able to ignore the inner sense of unease that has plagued our ability to feel truly happy for years or even decades. We finally come to see that ‘stuffing’ our emotions and pain is never going to allow us to be free from this ever re-emerging sense of malaise, and somehow we know it’s time. No matter how challenging it might be, we feel we are ready to start confronting the truth of what has passed in our lives. To revisit and heal whatever has hurt and burdened us so we can achieve resolution and freedom from its weight.
The wisdom and the power of the master healing plants is self-evident. We sense it, we can practically smell it – the depth of healing that might be possible, and that we’ve been unable to find elsewhere. We hear the beauty and majesty in the sacred songs of the maestros, and we can literally feel the existence of true realms of light and well-being on the other side of that veil of pain that we’ve suffered behind, just waiting for our spirit to strike out towards them.
And so we commit. The Shipibo teachers tell us we need to prepare our bodies and minds well, and adhere to the strict discipline as we enter the time-honored practice of Master Plant Dieta. That this is the way to gain the gifts of real healing from nature’s greatest teachers. Meanwhile, the facilitators alert us to how challenging it might be. That there will be hills and valleys of self-knowing and reflection, perhaps painful to traverse, and that at some point we might feel like giving up.
But we think to ourselves “I can do this. I’m ready. I have the discipline. I have the courage. The moment has come.”
Bright-eyed and hopeful, we open the Dieta and embark on that elusive journey of communing with a plant spirit. We concentrate, but without concentrating too hard, mind. We lean our inner ear forward, trying to open ourselves, hoping to hear a voice from the other side imparting her wisdom and healing knowledge to us, while trying to relax our minds and receive rather than overly forcing the process. And we think we can perhaps already sense the spirit whispering to us, guiding our dreams, showing us the way. We want to hear more.”
And slowly but surely the connection with the plant develops and grows. As our discipline stays true and our practice of solitude and prayer develops, we may begin to dream curious dreams, or feel something shifting inside our body. New insights arise, our thoughts and reflections go to places we haven’t considered for years, or to entirely new angles of perception. We feel movement in our emotional state, but nothing too crazy for the moment. It’s promising, it’s good.
Time passes. And it’s slow, you know? There’s other work to be done. So, our focus drifts a little. We spend a bit more time on the computer, or engaging with friends, attending to life’s various priorities. Of course, we keep drinking our Dieta plant. We still watch what we eat. We smoke our mapacho and say our prayers each morning and night. And we sometimes wonder, “Is this working? Is the diet ok? Am I doing it right?” But we know we need to wait, “be patient" as they say. So we continue on.
The weeks pass, perhaps months.
And then one day, when we’ve pretty much forgotten the warnings of how difficult Dieta can be, something uncomfortable starts to appear, an intensity of some sort of energy begins to mushroom inside or around us. At first we’re not sure exactly what this is. It feels like what?…frustration?…sadness? We ask ourselves, “Is this to do with my relationship with my partner? Is it my financial situation, my living arrangement, my loneliness? Perhaps it’s the people around me?”
We try shifting and rearranging things. But nope, the feeling doesn’t go away. It just builds, and starts to push up against us. “What is this?…overwhelm? …despair?” We feel a wall inching its way towards us. “Yikes, is that a wall of desperation?” We squirm, “wait a minute, this doesn’t actually feel ok. My god, wait, that’s not a wall – that looks like a freaking mountain! Is my heart about to be crushed? Can my mind really take this? What the heck is this? It’s too much! Beyond what I imagined. I’m not even sure it’s got anything to do with me. It’s probably other people,” or so we muse.
And of course, now we want to escape. We don’t want to know what this wretched discomfort is any more. We just want it to go away. We want it to get out and release us from its god-awful chokehold. We don’t really remember what they said about how Dieta can get tough. “I’ll just call my facilitator,” we think. “Maybe get the maestros to close my diet? I made a good effort. Surely that’s enough time? I must get back to my normal functioning self, naturally.”
Well, folks. This is it.
Right here is the moment. The big test of the diet, and of you.
Believe it or not, this is the moment of opportunity. This most difficult, torturously uncomfortable, desperate moment of ‘darkness’ that happens as the diet matures. And perhaps it’s not just a moment, perhaps it’s weeks of aggravation, or even months.
But this is the crucial point where you have the opportunity to truly start to see yourself, to see what you are carrying, and to learn how it is that You unconsciously deal with it. You have the chance to begin to understand how this horrible energy lives inside of you, and has lived inside of you for probably most of your years, laying in the foundation of your being, affecting your feelings, thoughts and decisions without you being fully aware, and contaminating your life.
And you have the opportunity to consider change. How funny it is that we easily forget Dieta is intended to provoke a process of transformation – death and renewal. Or perhaps we didn’t fully comprehend what that might involve. Uncomfortable as it may be, here in this excruciating period of Dieta-induced self-confrontation we have an opportunity to examine what must be surrendered in the ‘construct’ of ourself, in order to allow us to be free. What control must be given up? What judgement foregone? What fear handed over into the hands of God? What bitterness, anger, resentment, irritation, and blame washed away into the waves of time? And in its place, what peace may be invited in? What faith and confidence rediscovered? What buddings of love, understanding and reconciliation nurtured within us?
And we have the opportunity to allow the plants to keep going with their cleaning work. For that is in fact what is happening. Having opened your doors to their healing tendrils, and tended to their growth through your daily Dieta practice, the plants are growing their roots and digging deep down into the space of your inner garden. They are pushing their clean, green, light energy into your being and expelling all the ugly, mucky, gruesome pain and suffering that has polluted your soil for way too long. And the process can be awful. It can be a massive test of your courage, your commitment, your willingness, your will.
Your job in this moment? Patience. Breathe. Observe. Pray, and pray some more. Keep on praying. Even when it’s not working, and you can’t find any light within, keep praying.
By all means, seek support from those who know the way, who’ve walked it before you and can share their story, can give you encouragement and clarity about what’s going on and hold a light to your path. Remember, a sick or weak sapling depends on strong nurturing from the surrounding elder trees to make it through the vulnerable time of recovery and restoration. Go to your maestros, receive treatment to help put the diet in order, for they know all too well what it is to traverse these seemingly impassable mountains. And keep tending to your plant.
But keep going. I implore you my friends, keep going. Return to your patient focus and prayer, and step sure and true towards the finish line. It won’t be forever. The muck will be cleared away, little by little. There is a natural lifecycle to dieta. Everything that is being unearthed will be cleansed and cleared by the songs of the masters and by the wise, wise, and believe it or not, loving touch of the teacher plants as they reach within you for the light.
Your inner being is a sacred garden. Your birthright is to see it restored to true harmony – glorious, lush, flowering, perfume-filled, dancing, liberated harmony.
After 15 years of working with these master plants in the way of the Shipibo tradition I know these things to be true. The correct way with the master plants and the correct master healers can help you achieve it.
At Caya Shobo we have both. I hope to see you there soon.
Learn more about upcoming Dieta Retreats at Caya Shobo.