BEING HEALED: FINDING RESONANCE WITH AYAHUASCA
Seeking healing in the Amazon with the potent jungle medicine, ayahuasca is becoming an increasingly popular undertaking for Westerners. Some are hoping for assistance with issues concerning their physical and mental health; some are looking for spiritual fulfilment. Many report living in state that feels somehow incomplete; and they identify a culture that encourages individuation and independence as causal. In this presentation, I will discuss some ideas that have emerged from the year I spent living at the Temple of the Way of Light near Iquitos, Peru carrying out anthropological research. I will explore the state of disconnection and dissonance that participants in my research reported between their lived state of being and that which they perceived to be possible: the state of being healed. While Western medicine tends to focus on quantitative measures to ascertain the state of a person’s health—blood pressure, heart rate, hormonal levels, etc.—I will instead investigate the quality of living in a state of wellness. I will consider the functions of ayahuasca with a specific focus on purification and resonance, exploring the ways that these might affect the relationship of the self to the Self, and by extension, the Self in the world.
DENA SHARROCK is completing a PhD in Anthropology at The University of Newcastle, NSW. She has a keen interest in exploring the concepts of ‘health’ and ‘wellbeing’, with a particular focus on what it means to live in a state that is ‘healed’. Dena carried out ethnographic fieldwork at the Temple of the Way of Light, in the Amazon Jungle near Iquitos in Peru for 12 months. Based on the data she collected from speaking to hundreds of participants in ayahuasca ceremonies, she is exploring the journey of the embodied Self from a state of dis-ease to one of wellbeing. In studying the experience of healing through the altered states of consciousness and purgative effects of ayahuasca, she strives to develop deeper understandings of the kinds of practices that can be embraced on a daily basis to encourage living at our full—and highest—potential.