How One Patient Told Me to F*** Off: On Medicine and Ayahuasca

How One Patient Told Me to F*** Off: On Medicine and Ayahuasca Barefoot Rehabilitation Clinic

12 Jun How One Patient Told Me to F*** Off: On Medicine and Ayahuasca

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Author’s Note: This is very difficult for me to write. I expect the post to trigger you.  You’ll have opinions + judgements. I have fear over what you’ll think + concern that it’ll affect my livelihood.  However, my heart’s call to connect + share with you over-rides those demons.  My intent is to heal.  And I continue to write …

On June 2, 2016, I received an email.

Three words.

“F*** Off Chris”.

My heart dropped.

What Happened?!

Out of respect for all of the parties involved, I don’t want to share the exact details.

Someone I had responsibility for displayed behaviors that dramatically affected my friend’s life.  The friend, the patient, who sent me the above email.  One of the first patients I ever had, someone close to my heart.

At the time that the ongoing incident occurred, I remember thinking that each person’s path is each person’s path.  The universe teaches us lessons to overcome pains, to face + slay our demons, and to come out the other side. Light saber in hand + ready to take on the empire.  All of us, Jedis.

My friend didn’t see it this way.

Over the years, we’d email every few months to say hello + to discuss how life was going.  I looked up + still look up to this individual.  He is soft-spoken, with a heart of gold, + always willing to hear me with whatever was going on in my life.

Until my opportunity to have an impact passed.  Then, he stopped responding to me.

Still, every few months, I reached out.

Until I got that email from him.

A Glimpse Into My Own Hurts + Pains: On Landmark

In the Landmark Forum, I learned that I can drop my old ways of being that no longer served me.

  • I no longer had to go through life scared of relationships + divorce just because my parents’ relationship didn’t work out.
  • I no longer needed to act so unconventionally just to buffer myself from other people’s judgements.
  • I didn’t have to do everything myself, never trusting anyone + running myself into the ground by only depending on myself.

Integrity became a way of life for me.  My words + actions conveyed what I stood for with a knife’s precision.

With my past out of the way, I took Landmark’s Advanced Course.

Concepts of one’s self were discussed.

  • There’s me, limited by the consciousness held inside my body.
  • There’s my family, my blood + genes.
  • There’s my community, the people I know, see, say “hi”, and wave to.
  • There are my people’s networks, those that my community love + care about.
  • There’s the county, state, and country.
  • There’s the human race.
  • There’s the world + the universe.

In these concepts of my self, I saw that the greater my integrity is, the more I am responsible for what happens in this world.

Now, I had an intellectual concept where I saw that whether Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton became president, it wasn’t America’s problem.

It was my problem.

Medicine for My Soul: On Ayahuasca

My friend’s email came to me on June 2.

I’d been struggling with hurt from that email.

His hurt that he experiences every day. My hurt based on guilt.

On Wednesday, June 8, 2016, I participated in a medicine ceremony in the great, majestic mountains of northern New Jersey.

If you’re not familiar with plant medicines, below is a two-minute trailer on the documentary, Sacred Science.  You can watch the entire 75-minute documentary on Youtube.

Led by a heart-centered energy healer + shaman who is a therapist in North Jersey (reach out to us if you feel called to pursue healing with him), a group of five of us drank the grandmother plant, ayahuasca tea, to heal our whole selves, body, mind, and spirit.   They call her “the grandmother plant” because they say she gives people whatever they need to see in the same way a grandmother would.  Whether it’s words of acknowledgement + encouragement for a good way of being or if it’s punishment for doing something wrong so that you don’t do that thing again.

The first 45 minutes consisted of us sitting around the fire, talking small-talk.

Then, I notice my girlfriend Katie, almost standing in the fire.  I see a smile wash over her face as she’s glancing out into the forest.  She looks at me.  Looks back at the forest.  Kinesthetically willing me to see what she sees.

I look.  The forest is alive!  Vibrating.  Waving its limbs and leaves as if it say, “I’m always here for you and you are never, ever alone.”

5 minutes later, and I’m falling in complete darkness.  Into the abyss.

I stand near the fire.  It’s not warm enough.

I go lay under the tarp as rain gently taps above.  Now, I’m only falling faster.

I stumble off 50 yards away, thinking I should purge.  I attempt to, only to find I don’t have anything to let go of.

Back to the fire, I can’t escape the reality of me falling, alone, lost, + in chaos.

Katie is now back under the tarp.  “Sit down” I said to her as she immediately sits criss-cross-apple sauce.  I put my body on top of her legs like she’s cuddling a puppy.  She lays over the top of me with her torso and covers us both in a blanket.

Immediately, I notice that Mother Earth had caught me, supporting me in the universal, ever-expanding darkness. To ensure my safety, the shaman’s small dog, Falcor, come peaks under the covers.  With his nose an inch away from mine, he stares at me for a moment, saying “You OK Chris? You know you’re OK Chris, right?  I got you.”  Then, he went out from under the covers and sat on my face for the rest of the ceremony, providing security in the same way that the Mother’s Womb covers the growing fetus on all sides with warmth.

Mother Earth really, never was, not holding me.  I was never alone.  The falling was a manifestation of what my ego does.  Putting me into Chris’s head, stuffing me in this individual body, pitting me against you + him + her in a zero-sum game that there is no way for any of us to win.

Because it’s a fake game.  An illusion.  Like living in the matrix.

The intellectual concepts that I’ve been reading for years: “The Secret”, manifestation, magic, creating possibilities, Landmark’s curriculum.  In an instant, they became experienced truth. Reality.  Showing me that you are me + I am you.  I am the world.  I am the universe.

These words are inadequate to describe reality + there’s no way for me to point at + show you this view, like I would if we were looking at the view of Nature’s most beautiful scenery.

All I can do is:

  • Put my hand out.
  • Ask you to take my hand.
  • Walk together into the scary place that seems so dark, but is actually, completely f***ing liberating to the point where even death is actually a rebirth.

There ceremony was June 8.  I write this on June 12.  I can still see the beauty of this world.  It hasn’t left me.

This was ONE healing ceremony.  I want the emphasize what one occurrence with the grandmother can do.

A Brief Lesson in Impacting People

One of my spiritual teachers, W, told me that people who want to transform the world cannot curse.

Previously, I had defined my own use of cursing not in a negative connotation, but as a word to deliver the impact of importance.  For example, “That beach day was f***ing awesome!”

“I understand your definition of cursing.  However, some people are triggered by cursing.  Once you trigger someone, you lose the opportunity, in that moment, to affect + change that person, our people.” ~W

Nelson Mandela apparently felt anger and hatred while imprisoned during the anti-apartheid revolution.  When liberated from prison, he didn’t express anger, choosing to express love + peace to connect with the people who he wanted to change.

I imagine Ghandi had negative emotions + feelings when his people were violent towards each other.  But Ghandi chose the path of ahimsa, or non-violence, to win the opportunity to affect them in ways that do not perpetuate the cycle.

W’s teaching of ahimsa and not-triggering conveyed to me what I did wrong to warrant “F*** Off Chris”.

My lack of action to communicate integrity between all parties was actually violent. It was standing for a lack of integrity that allowed hurt to occur between people, pushing everyone further apart instead of bringing everyone closer together.  My behavior was metaphorically cursing, triggering my friend to not trust me, causing a chasm in love between us all.  I had the opportunity to be a peacemaker and conduit of love by standing for what is right, + I blew it.

Words To My Dear Friend

My friend, I hope you come upon this writing some day.

I’m sorry.

My lack of actions on your behalf are not OK.  I see how I behaved in a way that didn’t allow me to serve you.  I didn’t see us as one + I even hurt myself because of it.

Because of my past behaviors, I promise to have greater integrity in the world from this day on.  I promise to do what I can for the world, all people + all animals.  And when I break that promise, I will restore my integrity by acknowledging where + when I’ve done wrong in attempt to complete my past.  So I can impact as many people who are suffering as possible in the future.

I love you.

To my other friends, family, and patients reading this.

I love you too. At the deepest level, there is no separation between you and I. I would do whatever was in my power to be there for you.

The Barefoot logo has always meant to me, that people can thrive, expressing flourishing body language (like in this Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy), when we don’t fight Nature. Because in Nature are the rules + laws that define what we can create.  We all know that if we want an apple tree, we have to plant apple seeds.  Then, we water, cultivate, and nurture those seeds til they sprout. And we continue to do so until that sprout grows, providing leaves, and eventually, the fruit.

The grandmother told me that our Nature is love.  And we are together.  It’s not just an intellectual concept.  It is reality.  Over time, we can plant the seeds of love everywhere around us.  Slowly watering and cultivating those seeds.  Some days, we will forget to water them.  But we will always have the opportunity to come the next day to play by Nature’s rules and make the whole f***ing universe a better place.  Sorry, that was my last curse coming from my old paradigm.  Hopefully, you’re not triggered.

medicine and ayahuasca

Wow, I’m scared to publish this.  And onward.

speechbubblesI’m super curious. What are you thinking right now? Go ahead, you can say what you’d like to say without judgement from me.

If you know of a friend or family member with physical pain, please look at some of our other content. If you know of someone in emotional or spiritual pain, reach out to me and I’ll connect you with “Good ‘Ol Mother Earth Katie who can hold you or our native American shaman friend who owns an up and coming yoga center in North Jersey.

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Dr. Chris Stepien, DC, Full-Body ID Certified, ART Certified, CSCS, and CrossFit Level 1 Certified, fixes your annoying and frustrating pains, even when it's been over 6 months and you've seen 3-5 other doctors or therapists without lasting relief Barefoot Rehab in Denville, NJ. And when you're sad, depressed, or not enjoying life, Dr. Chris wants to hug you. He invites you to reach out, no matter what your concern is. Barefoot Rehab is here to serve you.
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  • Mary Robinson
    Posted at 16:37h, 12 June Reply

    Rather than write what I’m thinking, I’ll write what I’m feeling in my heart and that is gratitude for your willingness to be vulnerable in the world. Because it gives others permission to be vulnerable and ( I don’t know if brene brown wrote this or not) but my experience at imagine has been that when people are vulnerable together it breaks down barriers and makes love grow. And love is the only thing that will heal and transform the world. I only really really got that the other day… When I watched one of those videos on Facebook of a soldier home from war who waited across a gymnasium floor as his son with cerebral palsy walked his first steps towards his dad. The dad patiently waited and let his son struggle towards him and then couldn’t contain himself for his sons last few steps and so took the last two long strides towards his son and scooped him up in his arms and hugged him. That’s when it hit me how much energy is present in love. ( I’m a little slow …

    OK, here is a thought… And that is that you embody the heroes journey and I am grateful to see and experience that in my little part of the world because it inspires me to do the same…. ( that said I know we are all on the heroes journey whether we know it or not and we live it every day whether we know it or not.

    • Dr. Chris
      Posted at 20:17h, 12 June Reply

      Your comments mean a lot to me Mary. Anything I think of Imagine NJ, your wonderful not-for-profit, I’m grateful that these grieving families have you and your creation. I AGREE 100%, that love is the only thing that can (and will) heal the world. We need more heart warriors to spread this message. This must be why I found you in my life.

      And on we go, on the heroes journey, together! Much Love + Gratitude Mary!

  • Marissa Feravolo
    Posted at 17:22h, 12 June Reply

    You are an inspiration, truly. Your willingness to put yourself out there and share with us allows both of us to grow. You have my utmost respect and love.

  • Dr. Chris
    Posted at 20:17h, 12 June Reply

    Marissa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I, for you! Thank you for the support. It tells me I’m on the right path. And I can find the strength to continue to put myself out there. : ) Let’s keep going.

  • Connie Keller
    Posted at 20:20h, 12 June Reply

    Chris, I have always felt from you that are so full of peace and love. It puzzles me why you still seek the qualities that you already have as part of your soul. I also know that because we are human we all have days where the ‘noise’ of life around us causes us to suppress the love and peace inside of each of us. The balance comes when you know how to recover from the ‘noise’ and re=center yourself. Trust your instincts, you already have what you seek.

    As far as your friend….I too have experienced that in much the same way. It hurt and confused me for a long time. I have learned from that instance in my life and people come into your life for many reasons: some come and stay are are life long friends; some come to teach you a life lesson; some for you to teach; some are blessings for a short while……..and that people come into your life as it changes-almost like your life attracts the kind of people that you need in your life as you grow. I believe that healthy people are always growing, learning and changing and that makes our ‘friends’ and the people in our lives change.. Appreciate and love those close to you and allow those who no longer ‘need’ you to move on..
    Keep letting your light shine Chris…….you have more of it than you realize, I am sure of it.

    • Dr. Chris
      Posted at 22:30h, 13 June Reply

      Your words mean a lot Connie. Ha. I appreciate the puzzlement. As I’ve walked my own Hero’s Journey, growth in my emotional and spiritual life has brought freedom. I continue to seek the qualities so I can love more and deeper.

      I like the thought of “re=centering”.

      I only have a light because you lit it Connie. : )

  • How One Patient Told Me to F*** Off: On Medicine and Ayahuasca | Primal Docs
    Posted at 20:36h, 12 June Reply

    […] How One Patient Told Me to F*** Off: On Medicine and Ayahuasca […]

  • Kate Harvie
    Posted at 22:50h, 13 June Reply

    Among the things that uplevel, strengthen,, create, and heal is candor. To share your truth without agenda, to speak completely first from the heart and then from the mind, and to do these without what I call “ishiness” (worry, stress, concern about others’ judgment) is exceptionally courageous.
    And courage, Dr. Chris, is one of the first two attributes I witnessed in you when we met in 2013. The other one, if you’re curious, was (and is) clarity.
    Thank you for stepping out on faith and sharing this with us. Love and Light.

    • Dr. Chris
      Posted at 22:58h, 13 June Reply

      And, another one of my guardian angels speaks up. And I saw your strength Kate. Thank you for being there for me. I’m humbled by you and my other people’s support. Much love.

  • Diane Lettiere
    Posted at 12:53h, 15 June Reply

    You are a sweet and gentle soul. Stay on your path of seeking truth and knowledge . Stay true to the seasonal changes internally and externally. During this Spring season of “anger” it is important to express oneself like a flower opening to the world. You stay healthy by living in harmony with your surroundings. You are not only sweet and gentle, but you are a brave warrior. XXOO

    • Dr. Chris
      Posted at 14:08h, 15 June Reply

      Thank you, as always, for your gentle encouragement Diane. I love being reminded about internal seasonal changes. It’s so true that the weather changes inside my head too. I appreciate you enormously for reaching out through your words Diane.

  • r
    Posted at 12:44h, 13 July Reply

    This is truly an insulting level of self-serving garbage.

    Chris, I don’t know you, but if it took getting high in the woods with a shaman to realize “Hey, I might not have handled that situation in the best way possible,” (possibly the grossest understatement of this decade) it proves how out of touch you are.

    This whole helping people, healing people, loving everyone thing. It’s a schtick, a gimmick, and you’re a joke.
    The only incontrovertible fact that you stated is that your friend had a heart of gold. Dare I say, the operative word there being HAD.

    You saying “My lack of action to communicate integrity” is so unbelievably deformed that quite frankly, it makes my blood boil a bit. What action did you lack? You took action. But I guess describing the action you took doesn’t really fit the narrative of your story does it?

    Let’s dig into that.

    When Katie came to you and said she was leaving your “friend” did you A. Start mentally preparing yourself for how you can help your friend find the lessons, to overcome his pain, to face and slay his demons, and come out on the other side? Everything you “stand for” would suggest that that’s what you would do. That’s what you should do. That’s what any rational human being would and should do. Or B. Did you opportunistically, and predatorily tell Katie that you had feelings for her?

    I guess that doesn’t fit the narrative either, but that in no way qualifies as a “lack of action.”
    And still it took this long for you to recognize that you in any way did anything wrong. Total joke.
    I guess it’s easier to be the person with the schtick and the gimmicks when someone is paying you for your help, but when someone, your “friend” for example, genuinely needs it, it’s a choice between helping a friend or finding a way to selfishly gain from it.

    It’s cool, don’t sweat it. His real friends. His real family. We’ve been doing our best to try to pick up the pieces of your and Katie’s actions (or lack of action to communicate integrity as you like to call it) for the past two and a half years now.

    I just reminded myself. Integrity? You fucking serious with that? You think you have ANY level of integrity? Joke.

    Let’s be clear about something else too. Your opportunity to have an impact THANKFULLY passed. Because you had an impact. You had a MASSIVE impact.

    One last thing, take my friend’s name out of your mouth, and don’t you dare call him your friend. Friends don’t do what you did. Friends don’t hide behind a movement and a load of bullshit to defend their actions for two and a half years. Friends don’t preach about some massive breakthrough (that’s really a half-assed admission of guilt) for all the world to see. You calling him your friend just shows what a turd you are.

    The only truly viable part of this, was the trigger.

    Fuck off Chris.

    • Dr. Chris
      Posted at 13:58h, 13 July Reply

      I appreciate your perspective and comment R. It allows me to see the rippling effect of my actions, which I know, were monumentous. I’m 100% guilty as charged. I sincerely apologize and only hope for as little suffering as possible to everyone involved with your friend.

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