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High in the Amazon - Aurianna Joy's quest for peace in the jungle

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Get a degree, find a job, build a family, and then eventually die. That is what most of us do, or get stuck with. We run and rush following rhythms set by others, and forget what we’re here for.

“We forget there’s much more than just the hussle and bustle of making money and driving a big car,” says Aurianna Joy, 25, rays spilling through a window on the luscious land of sunshine, Florida.

Aurianna Joy during her time in the Amazon

Born and bred in the beautiful American Pacific Northwest, Aurianna is a woman with an unusual take on the way things work.

Being diagnosed with the common - but often underestimated - illness of Chronic Lyme Disease, Aurianna battled with depression and feeble health throughout most of her school years.

But in August 2013, aged 22, she took a leap of faith straight into the unknown. She travelled to the Amazon jungle in Peru to work with an ancient sacred plant medicine known as Ayahuasca and underwent a life-changing journey.

She visited shamanic centres, initially seeking medical healing and then returning to learn how to heal others.

Curious and persistent, Aurianna took part in tribal rituals for several months, consuming the potent medicinal hallucinogenic almost seventy times. This brew of Dimethyltryptamine-containing plants is also known as the teacher drug, as it is said to reveal realities humans cannot experience when lucid therefore provide enlightenment.

Indigenous tribes have used this concoction in meditation for centuries so the Peruvian government has recently legally accepted it as a method to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and psychological deficiencies.

“What Ayahuasca does is it allows you to see yourself from the outside in, and better understand the reality you belong to.”

Aurianna explains that her different experiences with the drug allowed her to take on both positive and negative aspects of her past life and her present state. These intense rituals revolved around the capability of facing emotions and sitting with them, allowinga journey to discover and explore personal fears and unprocessed trauma.

Aurianna highlights the greatest wisdom she has acquired as, “Everything is energy, everything is unconditional love and there is so much more than what we are now accustomed to. Life is the ritual, we should embrace our emotions.”

The Ayahuasca trip is often referred to as a form of rebirth and awakening. Aurianna emphasises that it is more of a form of remembering rather than awakening.

“It’s not like we’ve been asleep all this time and we suddenly just wake up. It’s like we’ve forgotten what it’s like to love unconditionally and exist in harmony with nature and the spiritual world. Society has accumulated all these layers upon us that we just forget what it’s like.”

She supports her claims by bringing examples of children and how they seem to perceive invisible friends or experience encounters with spirits but adults are quick to dismiss such as fantasies.

Being in the jungle was a learning experience also when not in ritual.

She recounts it was initially very hard to cope with being alone and completely primitive, but it was refreshing to rise with the sun and sleep with the darkness, completely in sync with nature and the rhythm of life.

“I was scared, so many times. But it is part of the process and the growth.”

The tribal lifestyle is inevitably demanding, draining and tiring, whether it’s the bugs or the scorching heat and humidity. Aurianna was often very physically weak. In fact, once having completed her shamanic training, she did not accept the job at the healing centre understanding everything was starting to wear on her.

The ever-smiling Aurianna explains she’s always been interested in the aspects of healing minds and how that works, “When I was a kid I wanted to be a neuro-surgeon!”. However, the traditional route didn’t seem quite right for her when, half way through college, she finally understood there was something pulling her towards a more natural and spiritual form of healing. Since “it didn’t feel authentic, it felt external”. She dropped out of school and started a nomadic lifestyle to escape her haunting past.

Now a certified healer, she can navigate several levels of shamanic knowledge.

She cares to underline there’s a deep difference between the two terms curing and healing.

Curing is more of a practical medical term, if you are cured, you achieve complete well-being after undergoing treatment, and you overcome physical pain. Healing is something much deeper, it is something that allows a person to be at peace, to be serene, even when they are still physically unwell.”

Throughout her time, she kept records of her cathartic experiences by producing videos and writing blog posts. Now that she’s back in the American realm of opportunities, she has set up a business throughout which she provides counselling thanks to natural cures.

With her lifestyle blog, theholisticexplorer.com, she discusses her breakthroughs: “While initially I was just concentrating on myself, my journey and my growth, now I have come to the turning point where I am completely committed to helping others.”

Even though, to start off, her family wasn’t too supportive of the choice of abandoning her studies, they are now fully on board with her project. Her proud mother uses any excuse to convince others her daughter will be famous one day.

Aurianna’s partner is described as “her biggest cheerleader” and thanks to him she believes she acquired greater understanding of what love constitutes. Consequently, they are partners even when they aren’t together, even when they go their own way or when they don’t even like each other. They define themselves as “co-pilots” in one-another’s life.

“He’s almost got used to the new look” she continues, giggling and passing her hand over her just clean shaved head.

“I’ve been getting a massive response. Women are more open towards me, they don’t feel intimidated, and they see I’m putting myself out there. Men, on the other hand, think I am sick or almost feel sorry for me.”

But she adds that was the whole point of the experiment, she wanted to see who she was without the refuge of long blonde locks and a delicate appearance.

Even though we were chatting over a Skype call, Aurianna was heartwarmingly honest and open. When asked if she now feels she belongs and where she is headed next, Aurianna candidly tears up and pauses for long.

“That is a great question. Yes, I think I finally do feel like I belong. For too long I told myself a story that I didn’t belong here, that I wasn’t going to make it, but now I finally think I can do it. To be honest though, I do not know where I am going next. I am just going to explore my life unapologetically.”

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