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Listening to Ayahuasca : New Hope to Depression. Addiction, PTSD, and Anxiety - Rachel Harris

Listening to Ayahuasca

New Hope to Depression. Addiction, PTSD, and Anxiety

Paperback Published: 15th March 2017
ISBN: 9781608684021
Number Of Pages: 320

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Used for over 8000 years as a medicine in the Amazon rainforest, ayahuasca is a powerful psychedelic with a fully formed shamanic cosmology. Central to the indigenous belief system is the plant teacher, Grandmother Ayahuasca, who communicates with people both during and after ceremonies. DMT (Dimethyltryptamine), the active ingredient in ayahuasca, is illegal in this country, listed on Schedule 1 as a dangerous drug with high potential for abuse and no medical benefits.

Despite the legal risks and the unfortunate fact that ayahuasca is a powerful purgative as well as a powerful psychedelic, there are increasing numbers of people in Western countries who have experienced the medicine. This fast-growing group of people is highly educated, mature and sophisticated, often dubbed cultural creatives. Some have suffered with intractable psychiatric illnesses who, failing to find relief from Western medicine, are seeking new hope with ayahuasca. Others are psychospiritual explorers who have learned about the benefits of ayahuasca, are connected enough to the subculture to find a safe opportunity to take it and are willing to run the risk of an exotic, illegal experience.

Listening to Ayahuasca: New Hope for Depression, Addictions, PTSD, and Anxiety explores how ayahuasca is being used in a Western, psychospiritual context. The underground ayahuasca community, with a level of sophistication far beyond most therapists, knows that this medicine can have an almost immediate anti-depressant effect. They know from personal experience that ayahuasca offers hope for those suffering from intractable depression, addictions, PTSD, death anxiety, and other suffering.

Seemingly miraculous accounts of healing of psychiatric symptoms have appeared in the mainstream media, notably ?Hell and Back" (2006) by Kira Salak, published in National Geographic Adventure ? an article that according to the magazine's editor-in-chief ?received ?20 times the reader response mail' than any other article the magazine has published since its inception." Some of this onslaught of interest is due to the fact that Salak enthusiastically described the immediate antidepressant benefits of ayahuasca.

Listening to Ayahuasca is based on Rachel Harris's original research, the largest study of ayahuasca use in North America, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. The research questionnaire was sixteen pages long with extensive open-ended questions that people answered at great length. Respondents often wrote Harris personal letters because they wanted to share even more. There is an unusual amount of enthusiasm for ayahuasca and for research about its potential benefits, not like the psychedelic drug craze of the sixties, but a mature appreciation for the healing powers of this medicine.

As a research scientist Harris wanted to know: What happens in the days and weeks following the ceremony? Do people find relief from psychiatric symptoms and does that relief last? Do people change their attitudes and behaviors and do they maintain these changes? Do ayahuasca infused insights generalize into daily life? Do transcendent experiences with ayahuasca translate into a more spiritual life? People in the ayahuasca community acknowledge the importance of integration following a ceremony but very little is known about facilitating such a therapeutic process.

As a therapist, Harris brings the reader into her office for an intimate glimpse into how people are using ayahuasca as part of their psychological healing and spiritual development. Her experience of working with people using ayahuasca is that the medicine is like a rocket boost along the psychospiritual path, helping people to heal from childhood and traumatic events as well as to explore spiritual states of being. Harris tells her own stories of ayahuasca ceremonies: suffering with nausea and vomiting, rising to ecstatic heights, surviving a bad trip, receiving advice from Grandmother Ayahuasca to do the research and struggling with questions about the reality of spirit realms.

People in her research study describe a great lifting of depression along with improvement in their close relationships. They report eating healthier diets and reducing their alcohol intake. These results describe central issues in psychotherapy: mood, addictions, personal relationships and self-care.

In contrast to these findings, therapists have had a poor track record trying to motivate people to improve their diets and other health behaviors.

The most intriguing finding from the research was that 75% of the people said, ?Yes" to the question: ?Do you feel that you have a personal relationship with the spirit of ayahuasca?" People wrote paragraphs, enthusiastically sharing their personal experiences with this mysterious plant teacher. The author confesses that she also has a personal relationship with Grandmother Ayahuasca that continues to mystify her and for which she has no explanation.

Through the author's wide-ranging original research, as well as her personal experiences, Listening to Ayahuasca provides a balanced view into how this ancient medicine is being used to alleviate modern ills and open up pathways to spiritual realms.

Industry Reviews

"Finally, finally, finally -- an ayahuasca book I can recommend without reservation."
-- James Fadiman, PhD, author of The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide

"An excellent book on the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca; clearly written and well researched, it is an important addition to the literature on the subject."
-- Jeremy Narby, PhD, author of The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge

"Rachel Harris brings...the perspective of an astute observer, the rigor of a scientist, the compassion of a therapist, and the insight that only a participant can offer. Anyone contemplating an ayahuasca experience, or who counsels such a person, would be well advised to first consult this profound and important book."
-- Philip Goldberg, author of American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation -- How Indian Spirituality Changed the West

"Rachel Harris has produced a uniquely brave study of ayahuasca use and users, through the experiences of others and, most significantly, her own explorations."
-- Diana Slattery, PhD, author of Xenolinguistics: Psychedelics, Language, and the Evolution of Consciousness

"At once accessible and well informed, this work represents a much-needed guidepost for health professionals who may encounter ayahuasca users in their practice, as well as for spiritual seekers with an interest in entheogens."
-- Albert Garcia-Romeu, PhD, Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine


"An excellent book on the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca; clearly written and well researched, it is an important addition to the literature on the subject."

-- Jeremy Narby, PhD, author of The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge

"Finally, finally, finally -- an ayahuasca book I can recommend without reservation. Rachel Harris focuses not on the journey (giant snakes, dismemberment, insights, purging, etc.) but on what eventually matters far more: the ongoing and robust aftereffects in people 's lives. Harris is a skilled psychotherapist and a serious ayahuasca user, and her credibility in both worlds makes her own story, interwoven with those of the many people she interviewed, informative and discerning."

-- James Fadiman, PhD, microdose researcher and author of The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys

"A fascinating and provocative compilation of riveting testimonies of individuals who experienced miraculous healing by drinking the psychedelic medicine ayahuasca. Inspired by her own amazing transformation, Harris was driven to research ayahuasca and document her findings. Readers will be inspired by the numerous accounts of how ayahuasca succeeded where Western medicine has failed many of the ailing people described here. . . . Though research on ayahuasca is still slim, the numerous life-changing revelations that Harris's contributors describe will be illuminating for those curious about this mystical medicine."

-- Publishers Weekly

"Anyone considering visiting Grandmother Ayahuasca for the first time needs to read this book before making a decision. Harris is not an advocate, and her book is not a polemic; however, it seems clear that this plant medicine has the power to transform some people's lives in ways that seem to be filled with the magic and mystery so sadly missing from our overly civilized world."

-- Stanley Krippner, PhD, Alan Watts Professor of Psychology at Saybrook University, coauthor of Personal Mythology, and coeditor of Varieties of Anomalous Experience

"Rachel Harris has produced a uniquely brave study of ayahuasca use and users, through the experiences of others and, most significantly, her own explorations. She never dodges the big questions (Who or what is the guiding intelligence experienced?) or comes up with static answers. Instead, she moves through the mysterious process of self-encounter, sharing a string of hard-won insights into how ayahuasca can work its magic to relieve human suffering."

-- Diana Slattery, PhD, founding board member of Women's Visionary Congress and author of Xenolinguistics: Psychedelics, Language, and the Evolution of Consciousness

"In Harris we have a guide we can trust: someone who for years has actively immersed herself in a wide variety of ritual ayahuasca contexts; who has thought long and hard about the shadow side of taking ayahuasca; and who does not let the all-too-human aspects of the ayahuasca experience undermine her willingness to underscore the potentially life-changing therapeutic potential of this powerful substance. With humor, care, and (it must be said) wisdom, Harris invites us to join her as she walks, eyes wide open, into the enchanted and wondrously thought-provoking world of Grandmother Ayahuasca."

-- G. William Barnard, professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University and author of Exploring Unseen Worlds: William James and the Philosophy of Mysticism

"If you are interested in any aspect of psychedelics, I emphatically recommend Listening to Ayahuasca. Writing with a long history both as a participant in healing ceremonies and as a very skilled therapist, Harris shows a deep awareness of this long-revered plant medicine 's potential in helping patients not only heal difficult psychological problems but also, with proper guidance, integrate the experience into fuller emotional and spiritual dimensions."

-- George Douvris, author of Crossing Karma Zones

"Rachel Harris delivers a refreshingly honest, balanced account of the complex literature concerning ayahuasca, discussing potential risks alongside purported benefits and allowing room for the sometimes extraordinary and mysterious experiences reported by initiates. At once accessible and well informed, this work represents a much-needed guidepost for health professionals who may encounter ayahuasca users in their practice, as well as for spiritual seekers with an interest in entheogens."

-- Albert Garcia-Romeu, PhD, Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

"Rachel Harris brings . . . the perspective of an astute observer, the rigor of a scientist, the compassion of a therapist, and the insight that only a participant can offer. Anyone contemplating an ayahuasca experience, or who counsels such a person, would be well advised to first consult this profound and important book."

-- Philip Goldberg, author of American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation -- How Indian Spirituality Changed the West


"An excellent book on the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca; clearly written and well researched, it is an important addition to the literature on the subject."
-- Jeremy Narby, PhD, author of The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge

"Finally, finally, finally -- an ayahuasca book I can recommend without reservation. Rachel Harris focuses not on the journey (giant snakes, dismemberment, insights, purging, etc.) but on what eventually matters far more: the ongoing and robust aftereffects in people 's lives. Harris is a skilled psychotherapist and a serious ayahuasca user, and her credibility in both worlds makes her own story, interwoven with those of the many people she interviewed, informative and discerning."
-- James Fadiman, PhD, microdose researcher and author of The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys

"A fascinating and provocative compilation of riveting testimonies of individuals who experienced miraculous healing by drinking the psychedelic medicine ayahuasca. Inspired by her own amazing transformation, Harris was driven to research ayahuasca and document her findings. Readers will be inspired by the numerous accounts of how ayahuasca succeeded where Western medicine has failed many of the ailing people described here. . . . Though research on ayahuasca is still slim, the numerous life-changing revelations that Harris's contributors describe will be illuminating for those curious about this mystical medicine."
-- Publishers Weekly

"Anyone considering visiting Grandmother Ayahuasca for the first time needs to read this book before making a decision. Harris is not an advocate, and her book is not a polemic; however, it seems clear that this plant medicine has the power to transform some people's lives in ways that seem to be filled with the magic and mystery so sadly missing from our overly civilized world."
-- Stanley Krippner, PhD, Alan Watts Professor of Psychology at Saybrook University, coauthor of Personal Mythology, and coeditor of Varieties of Anomalous Experience

"Rachel Harris has produced a uniquely brave study of ayahuasca use and users, through the experiences of others and, most significantly, her own explorations. She never dodges the big questions (Who or what is the guiding intelligence experienced?) or comes up with static answers. Instead, she moves through the mysterious process of self-encounter, sharing a string of hard-won insights into how ayahuasca can work its magic to relieve human suffering."
-- Diana Slattery, PhD, founding board member of Women's Visionary Congress and author of Xenolinguistics: Psychedelics, Language, and the Evolution of Consciousness

"Author and psychotherapist Rachel Harris' recent book . . . offers something immeasurably valuable in the field of psychedelic discourse: a sane, responsible, well-informed voice in a chorus replete with fevered egos and third-hand hearsay. . . . Harris writes about her journey with honesty and clarity, offering many observations germane to the experience of therapy for people who are processing similar experiences."
-- David Bey, Erowid.org

"In Harris we have a guide we can trust: someone who for years has actively immersed herself in a wide variety of ritual ayahuasca contexts; who has thought long and hard about the shadow side of taking ayahuasca; and who does not let the all-too-human aspects of the ayahuasca experience undermine her willingness to underscore the potentially life-changing therapeutic potential of this powerful substance. With humor, care, and (it must be said) wisdom, Harris invites us to join her as she walks, eyes wide open, into the enchanted and wondrously thought-provoking world of Grandmother Ayahuasca."
-- G. William Barnard, professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University and author of Exploring Unseen Worlds: William James and the Philosophy of Mysticism

"If you are interested in any aspect of psychedelics, I emphatically recommend Listening to Ayahuasca. Writing with a long history both as a participant in healing ceremonies and as a very skilled therapist, Harris shows a deep awareness of this long-revered plant medicine 's potential in helping patients not only heal difficult psychological problems but also, with proper guidance, integrate the experience into fuller emotional and spiritual dimensions."
-- George Douvris, author of Crossing Karma Zones

"Rachel Harris delivers a refreshingly honest, balanced account of the complex literature concerning ayahuasca, discussing potential risks alongside purported benefits and allowing room for the sometimes extraordinary and mysterious experiences reported by initiates. At once accessible and well informed, this work represents a much-needed guidepost for health professionals who may encounter ayahuasca users in their practice, as well as for spiritual seekers with an interest in entheogens."
-- Albert Garcia-Romeu, PhD, Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

"Rachel Harris brings . . . the perspective of an astute observer, the rigor of a scientist, the compassion of a therapist, and the insight that only a participant can offer. Anyone contemplating an ayahuasca experience, or who counsels such a person, would be well advised to first consult this profound and important book."
-- Philip Goldberg, author of American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation -- How Indian Spirituality Changed the West

." . . in Listening to Ayahuasca I felt that we have at last a publication that reveals the essence of the plant. We also have a publication that carries the core spirit of Grandmother Ayahuasca in a wonderfully warm and uplifting way."
-- Spirituality Today

"Impressively informative, exceptionally well organized and presented, Listening to Ayahuasca is very highly recommended . . ."
-- Midwest Book Review

ISBN: 9781608684021
ISBN-10: 1608684024
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 320
Published: 15th March 2017
Publisher: New World Library
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 21.59 x 13.97  x 1.91
Weight (kg): 0.5

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