The beautiful thing about plant medicine and energy work is they meet you right where you are. Sometimes that means meeting you in a place where little everyday events and conversations send you straight into a panicked flight-or-fight mode.
Sometimes it means meeting you in a place of calm where you can expand your consciousness outward and watch how life flows through you and through all the rest of the Universe.
This is a story of how being a trauma survivor has guided me to certain plants and energy work and how this has helped me find some clarity and peace. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is different for everyone.
Only through recent therapy was I able to identify PTSD in myself. Apparently, my enhanced awareness, hypersensitivity to energy/emotions, constant flashes of anxiety and lack of memory are all common to PTSD.
Something shifts for survivors. We stay more alert, learn to read people for safety purposes, and build a tool belt of ways to cope.
Many times we are the sensitive ones who start to see the bigger picture of the Universe sooner. We are the empaths, the healers and the first to want to fix the world because we’ve seen the awful shadow side.
Beyond the use of marijuana to help me sleep and soothe anxiety in college, I never gave much thought to using plant medicine.
I knew I could use some help, so I first turned to meditation, yoga and energy work. Reiki, being the most mainstream form of energy work, was easiest to find and I began going to events and trained up to be a Reiki Master/Teacher.
This taught me the power of healing through channeling energy from an outside source. I could physically feel the heat in my hands. I could feel the emotions and wounds of others. I even began to feel my own energy centers more clearly and could use this healing modality to clear and balanced them.
I was beginning to catch on to the belief that there is so much more than we realize around us. The practice of openness from energy work slowly began helping me experience what trauma I was truly dealing with by showing me where in the body and energy field I was carrying tension or pain.
Eventually, I found myself intrigued by Ayahuasca and the perfect synchronicities fell into place to get me to a beautiful outdoor ceremony. For those hours, I was shown visually what I had been working with energetically and was forced to face my controlling nature.
Each time the chanting began, I knew a wave of nausea and vision was coming for me. Each time I doubled over, I’d have to practice surrendering. I would grab the grass beneath me until my fingers were rooted deep in the Earth in an effort to ground myself, but eventually I began to sink in.
The trees and stars assuring me that the connection is natural. I saw this as me resisting myself, but if trauma teaches you anything, it’s that not having control can be a very dangerous place.
All my work as an energy healer, tarot reader and yoga instructor could not have shown me so profoundly what connection and flow is.
During intense times of triggering or flashbacks from trauma, I find myself going back to nature. I can still feel that connection that takes me back to my calm center where life flows through me and strength comes through vulnerability.
I can feel totally out of control, but still safe. With the experience of Ayahuasca, I’m more able to left go and surrender to whatever life brings with far less resistance and anxiety.
During a sound healing meditation, where there were no substances or plants used, I had an equally powerful experience. This was the lesson of clearing energy, specifically within the body.
It came through a vision of my body set aflame. Then, I tore at my chest in a frenzy until I caught a strong hold of my ribcage and tore it open to expose all the toxic black debris underneath.
While my physical body lay calm on a hammock with crystal bowls and didgeridoos guiding me, I began digging all the black tar-like debris out of my body and threw it into the fire.
It was exhausting. I felt each rip, the weight of each memory, and the sadness and frustration of still carrying this all around.
Slowly, it became less aggressive and the black revealed a light shining from within my body. Alas, I wish I could say this was a one and done experience, however, it seems that though it was healing, the true lesson was in the importance of continually ripping out the old parts of myself that were left to decay and spread darkness.
It’s easy to feel powerless, broken, and forever lost when in the midst of PTSD. It’s easier to give up hope and find ways to escape the anxiety and depression through substance abuse or avoiding any new experiences.
With a little more self-awareness and experiences like these, I began to trust that I am far more than this physical body and this one life story. I began to see the bigger picture where I have no control, yet am powerful and safe.
I know the importance of connection and letting go of old toxic energy to make space for fresh energy that allows me to experience life in a new way.
Maybe I will always identify with PTSD and have to allow myself the patience and compassion it takes to step back and regroup, but now I posses deep undeniable knowing that this all serves a greater purpose and I can truly help myself heal.
Erik Christian Johnson is a full-time blogger, self-development advocate, and full-time network marketing Entrepreneur.