The author of the article took a trip to Peru and participated in a ceremony that involved ingestion of Ayahausca in a ceremonial setting that lasted several days under the guidance of an experienced Shaman from Peru. Here are some of the quotes from the article describing the experience of the author during the trance state induced by the ingestion of ayahausa
For centuries, Amazonian shamans have used ayahuasca as a window into the soul. The sacrament, they claim, can cure any illness. The author joins in this ancient ritual and finds the worlds within more terrifying—and enlightening—than ever imagined.
Here the author describes her experience using the metaphor of time travel
Now I'm traveling to a realm where I meet my various incarnations from past lives. We are connected to a large wheel; whenever fear energy leaves the top of my head in puffs of dark smoke, it leaves their heads at the same time. Our lives, it seems, are interconnected and dependent. Outside of linear time, all our lifetimes, all our many incarnations, occur simultaneously. "Past life" is really a misnomer; "other life" seems a more accurate way of describing it.
More on the author experience while in trance
All at once, I willed myself to rise. I sailed up through the tunnel of fire, higher and higher until I broke through to a white light. All darkness immediately vanished. My body felt light, at peace. I floated among a beautiful spread of colors and patterns. Slowly my ayahuasca vision faded. I returned to my body, to where I lay in the hut, insects calling from the jungle.
and her recovery from severe depression that she suffered since her childhood
The next morning, I discovered the impossible: The severe depression that had ruled my life since childhood had miraculously vanished.Here the author goes into the differences between the world views of the western analytic thought processes and the ancient mystical symbolic understanding of the Universe:
And this notion of a spiritual experience marks the very juncture where Western science and analytic thought depart on the subject of ayahuasca and where indigenous culture and mysticism come in. Most ayahuasca researchers agree that, curiously, the compound appears to affect people on three different levels—the physical, psychological, and spiritual—complicating efforts to definitively catalog its effects, let alone explain specific therapeutic benefits. Says Ralph Metzner, psychologist, ayahuasca researcher, and editor of the book Sacred Vine of Spirits, "[Healing with ayahuasca] presumes a completely different understanding of illness and medicine than what we are accustomed to in the West. But even from the point of view of Western medicine and psychotherapy it is clear that remarkable physical healings and resolutions of psychological difficulties can occur with this medicine."Here is her final thoughts
Me, I'm ready to go home. I sit up with difficulty, as if waking from decades of sleep. It would be easier for me to call it all a dream, a grand hallucination. Then I could have my old world back, in which I thought I knew what was real and unreal, true and untrue. Now the problem is, I don't know anything.The Shaman practices for inner mental development are designed to show that we can construct a different reality from the same sensory inputs by making our neurons to process the same sensory data differently by influencing the processing abilities of neurons through the use of psychoactive drugs.
These experiments and the scientific experiments with visual illusions where scientists have created pictures that our brain can not process coherently raises a serious issue. That is how much we should actually rely on our senses to find the truth or how much we should really trust the world view constructed based upon our sensory perceptions and experiences.
The physical senses helps us orient ourselves in the world. They helps us navigate through the spatial-temporal space without running into other objects. Also, to identify and avoid dangerous objects. They are definitely an aid without which we can not survive but they also create a phantasm through over active imagination caused by incessant firing of neurons within the brain that do not have any existence in the reality.
This experimentation with Ayahusaca proves that the brain created reality that is also referred to as imagination of minds is a constructed reality and there are several possible constructions of the same reality depending upon how the neurons are conditions or modified to process this sensory input.
In the final analysis it is up to us on how much weight we should assign to this our own brain constructed reality that can very easily be changed by ingesting some psychoactive drug or through other means such as intense religious practices of fasting or meditation involving breathing practices.
Also, no theory of consciousness and mind will be complete unless it provides a satisfactory explanation for the experiences of brain in the altered states.
The article has a small video of the ceremony and the complete article is here
Disclaimer: This article in no way and form is endorsing the use of drugs to achieve altered state of minds. The information provided in this post is for informational purposes only.