Just before dusk, we sauntered into a dimly lit room filled with a lingering smell of incense. It was ethereal. The air was smooth, and filled every cavity in my head. After several deep breaths, I was clean for the experience.
The shamans stood in a cocoon of golden light from a distance. Positive energy was flowing out of the cocoon, transmitting to me gradually. I was momentarily at ease.
The seemingly daunting ritual began with the shamans intoning prayers and pouring the brown liquid into cups for each of us. The drink has an astringent taste, but bearable to consume in one gulp.
So, this is it.
For the next thirty minutes, the room was silent. Time crept by and I only felt emptiness in my mind. No shapes, no colours, just persisting nausea. Then the shaman started singing loudly, with instruments serenading in a soothing rhythm. At that moment, I was overwhelmed by a great tremor.
Waves of images surged rapidly towards me. I visualised perplexing objects, darkness, fear and even death. There were moments I felt like the world was quickly disappearing in front of me. Or maybe it was just me who was fading away. My heart was pounding so hard against my ribcage. With my heart racing, all I could do was curl up into a ball and cold tears started to stream down my face. I was screaming internally, “Stop, please stop!”
After a tough battle, I gained a few seconds of consciousness. That state of mind was short-lived as I was drawn back into the nightmare almost immediately. My paralysed body wracked with an onslaught of sobs and tears. Just when I decided to give up, my stomach contracted violently and I vomited the brown liquid. For the next few minutes, I stayed there retching, helplessly.
Subsequently, my trip was an emotional hurricane. The damages of my past and the triggers which were derived from prolonged guilt. It was as though my unconscious mind was telling me to fix some things in my life. Grief poured out in a flood of uncontrollable tears. I was seeing with my eyes wide shut – my family, friends, and all my loved ones, coupled with continuous flashbacks of my lifetime since I was a child.
Deep in my heart, I felt sorry for not being able to be the daughter they hoped for, not being a committed friend, and longed for answers to my concerns. I was reminded of the moments where my loved ones stood by me when I needed them. Yet, the conflicting visions transited to somewhere else, where I was surround by children and in an unfamiliar context. The deep inexplainable sorrow and internal struggles stirred intense emotions with no other outlets but through my long-lasting sobs.
With every conclusion to my life chapter in my trip, tears welled from deep inside and coursed down my cheeks. I started feeling relieved because I was letting ‘it’ go. I knew the effect was diminishing as my visions became clearer and my mind became lighter. I was cleansed. What was the experience telling me? I am still trying to find out.