Paranoid Delusional Panic Attacks, Self Love and Shamanism – My Week With a Healer of Healers.

During my Ayahuasca retreat a few months back, I bunked with a lovely young woman named Eliza.  She described herself as a Medicine Woman who ran a retreat in Colorado.   The entire weekend I stayed relatively close to her because I felt comforted by her presence, but I didn’t think much about her beyond that.

In the weeks that followed, as I integrated the Aya experience into my life, Eliza continued to visit me in my dreams.  I knew I needed to reach out.  Once we had the opportunity to chat about what she does “for a living”, I signed up for a week of one-on-one healing/training at her retreat in Nederland, Colorado.  As I understand it, she is a healer of healers, a plant medicine woman, a shaman, a psychic, and everything that falls in between.

Last week I spent a full week at her retreat, Rise & Shine, Love.  I am however, going to state that before I even left for Colorado, the energy around me was in chaos.  The day before leaving, someone swiped my favorite Ray Ban sunglasses while I was shopping and later that day, I was the object of some pretty bad road rage.   In my experience, this means that I had quite the resistance to whatever work was about to occur between myself and Eliza.

After spending my first night at a hostel downtown and roaming around the streets of Denver, I arrived on her property the following day.  I felt a little panic on the drive up, not being a huge fan of cliff-side driving as well as always being the driver of my family outings, but I shrugged this reaction off.   However, when I began to unpack my belongings and settle in, something came over me that I have never experienced  in my life.  My head and shoulders grew hot, my heart raced and my breathing increased.  I knew that something very very bad was about to happen, I was with someone who was trying to swindle money out of me and I needed to leave IMMEDIATELY.  This was the first genuine bout of delusional paranoid thinking, coupled with a panic attack, I have ever experienced.  I started texting my friends and my husband, seeking someone to rescue me and talk me off the ledge I was standing on.  I felt I needed to leave the property immediately or that I might die.  The whole event maybe happened in a window of 20 minutes.

Once I connected with my breath, spoke to my husband and slipped into a light meditation (and let’s face it, had a damn good cry), I realized that these thoughts were not real.  I was creating them to avoid the Work that I had come here to do.

This was only the first episode throughout the week – I had two more, but each one became less intense and easier to identify.  I have a new found curiosity and empathy for people who have these attacks regularly and hope that in the future it can be something I  help people work through.

Throughout the week, the theme was self-love.  This act of loving myself properly has forever changed my life.  Here are some things we worked with:

  • Rituals that I would practice before bed and upon waking.  This included things like breathing exercises, self massage, tongue scraping and herbal tea.
  • Eliza taught me how to move my body and encouraged dancing and play activities – a great way to connect to with my playful side or inner child, which I had long since repressed.
  • I spent several hours naked in the sun, hammock, pool and performing self massage.  I had shed a layer of shame that most of us harbor about our body and ourselves.   This work has since enhanced my sex life with the hubby – it’s unreal.
  • Eating only fresh organic foods and herbs.
  • Guided Meditation.
  • Energy Healing.
  • Watsu with Eliza and massage performed by Integrative Bodywork by Galadrial.    

Later in the week I experience my first mushroom ceremony.  I was so grateful to find that it was similar to a mild Ayahuasca journey, with a lot of emotional release and overwhelming sense of love and connected-ness.  I hope to work more professionally with this plant medicine in the future.

To wrap up the trip, I was given the opportunity to see Nahko and Medicine for the People for the first time in Vail, Colorado.  This show was absolutely amazing and exactly what I needed to conclude my trip.   I highly recommend going to see them if you haven’t already!

The biggest takeaway from this retreat for me was that, without doing the Work on myself, I will never be able to effectively help others or be the healer that I know I am to be.   I will have trouble moving forward on my life path.  Without clearing out the stuff you have inside you, it is hard to be open to what is right here and available to you.  It is hard to see situations and others clearly or at least to see them without looking through the shit-colored glasses of your own struggles.

I will continue to take this beautiful experience and apply it to my every day life.   I do also want to encourage others to let go of some of their fear and think about their own self-love state and practice.  Life is so much more full and joyous when you clear out the cobwebs for a better view.

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Wait, I DID drive across the United States!

There has been no one life experience that compares to my drive from Connecticut to California… In the VW Golf… with my two 100 pound dogs.  I did not think it was possible, even for my crazy multi-personality self, to experience quite so many emotions in such a short period of time!

Realistically, it was not a good idea for me to plan on documenting that trip on a daily basis.  It was far too hectic between having to stop for a doggy pee break every two hours and scrambling to find safe hotels that allowed my fur children each night.  Plus seeing the sights along the way!  I crept in and out of different hotels late at night (usually through a back door) with my dogs, who barked at just about everyone lol.  It was both the most exhausting and the most exciting thing on earth.   I had never left Connecticut without the physical and emotional support of someone else and driving across the country was a huge deal for me.  So I will share a few things about it:

1.  New Mexico is the scariest place on earth.  The vibes were bad, the spontaneous storms were terrifying, I drove through what appeared to be the Manhattan Project,  and I am pretty sure I spent more than 90% of my time in that state on the phone with my best friend seeking comfort.

2.  I never want to see funnel clouds again.  Ever.

3.  Route 666 aka “the devils highway”  is no joke, just don’t drive it.   I witnessed a murder on the side of the road, blood everywhere, and get this- there was no car involved.  Holy. Crap.

4.  Don’t go to Vegas alone, it is a totally depressing experience.  I even stayed at the Bellagio and saw Kobe Bryant.  But.  I wished desperately to have someone to share it with.

5.  The same advice applies to Nevada heading to CA.  Just don’t drive it alone.  People were following me and asking odd and invasive questions every time I stopped off somewhere.  Nevada had similar dark vibes, just like NM.

6.  Death Valley is when things started getting shit-your-pants scary.  The dogs started snapping and snarling at each other, out of nowhere, and I had no cell service for nearly 4 hours.  The roads were similar to the “Heavenly Road to Hana”, but without the beauty or comfort of the jungle.  At least that is how I felt at 2 am when I drove through!

7.  Yosemite and the Sequoia National Park are probably the most beautiful places I have ever seen on the mainland.   When you think of giant redwood trees that you could drive a car through, you’re thinking of Sequoia.

8.  The grand canyon was breathtaking….  But it felt super creepy in every town that surrounded it.  I even drove through tribal lands that had cameras and gates everywhere- even though the road was a public highway.  I felt like I was being watched… think “The Hills Have Eyes” sort of watched.

9.  Graceland was not as glamorous as I thought it would be and I had no idea that it was quite inaccessible?

10.  I am totally ready to make that road trip again.

The total trip took about 10 days.  I went through 9 audio books, some of which I will have to share- because they were awesome.   George Orwell’s 1984; Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened; Tina Fey’s Bossypants; Michael Newton’s Destiny of Souls and Journey of Souls.  All were phenomenal books and Jenny Lawson was a perfect fit for my drive through Tennessee.

Putting my dogs on a plane was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do.  I was a total wreck and wished for someone to tell me they would just be ok.  Well, in all fairness, the baggage claim guy hugged me several times and told me he would escort them to the plane himself.  He was really trying hard to comfort me and I was grateful for it.

Arriving in Honolulu was…well…an incredible mixture of relief, comfort, sadness, and grief.

When I walked out of the airport that day, it only conjured up thoughts of how we had spent the last summer in Hawaii and the happiness (and wholeness) that accompanied it.   I *knew* with a certainty that it was my home and I bawled upon arrival.

 

 

Starting with Maui

So I had a realization last week about the blog, Hawaii, and my website. I came to the conclusion that I had not recapped on my vacation because I was too scared to do so. I knew that if I went back and replayed my time in Maui and on the Big Island, it would make me sad because my heart is very much still there. This hit me after I went out that night to see an old co-worker (and friend) of mine who had just left the law firm we worked for. He left his great paying job with benefits to start his own firm, with no clients, minimal savings, and just took on a part-time bartending job to make up the difference.  It was probably the most inspiring thing I have ever seen.  I saw him that night as a radiant and happy man I had never before met!  And then it hit me.

On my way home, I called my husband and said, “why are we waiting?  Why don’t we just go to Hawaii now?” Not only did he agree, but he then suggested cashing out his retirement in just picking up and going immediately. The next day I gave notice at my job.

I will post more about my upcoming adventure and cross-country drive to California, which I am taking alone with my two dogs, but right now I need to relive my time in Hawaii lol…

We were scheduled to fly out June 18th, the day after my birthday, and decided to spend that night in Manhattan so my best friend could celebrate with me.  We had some amazing Italian food and visited some of the coolest bars I have ever seen. I was having severe flight anxiety weeks before this trip and tiring myself out before the plane ride really helped to alleviate that.

I hate to leave out the details of Manhattan, but I am just too excited to dive into the best part of the story.

The airport and Honolulu was beyond words beautiful.  There were no windows anywhere and the entire terminal was open, with just a roof.  I immediately knew that I was in the right place. We hopped on a commuter flight to Maui, where we shared the cabin with just four other passengers. They were all middle-aged men who are professional golfers, and they had us cracking up the thirty minute flight.

Once we got to Maui we picked up our Jeep Wrangler, something that has always been a dream of mine.  Now we were ready to find our cottage rental!  [Side Note: For this trip I decided that I did not want stay at any hotels, so we went on this website and rented personal dwellings for the entire time on both islands.  By the way, I fully promote and endorse http://www.VRBO.com and suggest that everyone use it]  I will tell you more about our rental later, as it was so breathtaking that it truly deserves it’s own post.

We attempted to explore the island a little bit, but by that time it was dark and starting to rain.  Not to mention that many of the roads were unpaved and a little tricky in my first time driving a jeep!  With minimal energy to explore the unfamiliar roads, we surrendered for a nap and decided we were instead going to get up early to visit the summit of Mount Haleakala at 4 am.  Since our biological clocks were already turned around, it seems like the perfect time to do that!

It was on our way to the summit and roughly 4:30 in the morning when I encountered the most significant part of the trip, the true first synchronicity of my life. My best friend – who has a name, by the way, it is Dan-  was on his phone arguing with one of his employees after having something go wrong at the office.  I was trying to navigate unfamiliar roads in the dark, with no cell phone service, and trying to tune him out. lol.  I stopped at a small stand called Crater Coffee for my morning dose of caffeine and came across the most pleasant man I have ever met in my life.  I stood there and talked to him for about 20 minutes about the beauty of the island.  Several tourists drove by hastily or stopping to ask “how much further is it?”, but he didn’t seem to mind.  I bought a muffin and a souvenir mug of coffee, which I still keep on my desk at work, but felt compelled to ask him what HIS favorite places were in Maui.  I didn’t want tourist spots; I wanted to see the real beauty and heart of the island.  He took out one of his free souvenir maps and began circling, making notes, and crossing out locations around this cutesy map of Maui.  He even wrote in a few places that weren’t labeled!

I expressed my gratitude and we went on our way to find the most breathtaking sunrise of my life.

–See a picture here! This is the real deal, my friends, and taken with my iPhone camera lol– Image

Shortly after descending the mountain, we looked to this handwritten map provided to me by the man at Crater Coffee, which led to some of the most incredible and unmistakably magical experiences of my life.

 

 

Crater Coffee

Sedona. Whoa!

Sedona. Whoa!

I do have my next blog drafted, believe it or not, and do intend to finally begin my tale about Hawaii lol and my period of temporary enlightenment.. However, my spontaneous trip to Sedona this weekend with my husband yielded many pics worth sharing. Here’s just one! I mean, wow!

Creation of “The Blog”

I had never thought myself to be a “blogger”.  In fact, I did not enjoy the stigma attached to such a person!  My reasons for initially creating this page were quite ironically not in line with the current nature of my thoughts.  However, the story happens to be an excellent foundation and back-story to my recent self realization.

It was Christmas of 2012 and my husband was taking our two children to Texas for the holiday, where his parents reside.  At this point in our marriage, we had two beautiful little girls and a marriage that I had already prepared to end.   The stresses of our home going into foreclosure, completing my college degree while working and volunteering full time, and still fresh decision to put down our recently adopted dog had sent me into a downward spiral of devastation.  During the ten days he was gone, a series of my own terrible decisions regarding alcohol consumption and several “unforeseeable events”, including the demise of our brand new oil furnace, had sent my emotional state to an ultimate low.  I swung violently from missing him to wanting to replace him immediately.  In this miserable and cynical state, I created this blog- with the original purpose of exposing my disgust with the US legal system and government (this will probably never make sense).

By mid January, I felt myself to be in an “unsafe” position, or rather I had a strong feeling that I would take my own life in the coming weeks.  I have been in this position previously, mostly in my adolescent years, but it was difficult for me to admit those thoughts and reach out.  I was ready to end this 15 year struggle with depression, borderline personality, addiction, and all other ailments I had been diagnosed with by some doctor or professional throughout my life.

My husband, being the compassionate and caring man that he is, urged me to call my best friend who could always manage to pull me out of my funk.  I was even urged to fly down to see him in Florida for a weekend off from my life.  After several hours on the phone, contemplating the next flight to Orlando, my best friend tells me, “Nadia, you have always been the type of person who can walk into a room and change the energy of everyone in it.  When you are low, you are bringing down the world around you.  When you are in a positive place, everyone knows it because they can feel it radiating from you”. Or something along those lines….

I am hesitant to share this turning point, but mostly because there is a lot you must understand in order to grasp the significance here.  My best friend and I are very close, despite the physical distance.  He has always told me “how it is” and he never sugar-coats anything.  This is the same type of communicator I am and it is something I respect and find very useful in life.  Also, this observation of his had struck me in an odd way because he was never the type of person to consider energy or “vibes” of a person.

Anyway, he soothed me some more and I decided I could stay at home and suck it up a little while longer.  I was in my last semester of undergrad and was eager to wrap it up and take myself on vacation to Hawaii in celebration of my graduation.   I sat at home that night with a bottle of wine and a family I felt a strong distaste for… Only now, I was starting to change the way I viewed myself.

And so it began.