Ayahuasca: Limbic Revisioning and Spiritual Healing

Here's a sneak preview from a new book by our friend Travis Bodick.

All plants have spirits, and when we connect to those spirits, we unlock the fantastic power within them. For thousands of years, people have worked with plant medicines and entheogens to find guidance, healing, and answers to life's questions - and with this book, you are now ready to join them. The Plant Remedy is Travis's newest work, detailing essential elements to work with plant medicines safely and to contact the spirits of plants for guidance and healing.

Drawing inspiration from many traditional sources, including Amazonian and Andean Curanderismo practice, Travis takes this information a step further by adding his own eclectic and modernized perspective to these ancient medicines. This guide is based directly on the author's personal practice with plant medicines and offers information that can help you to contact the spirits of the plants for healing and guidance in your own life. This book is a must have for anyone interested in plant spirits and plant medicines!

“The cure of the part should not be attempted without treatment of the whole. No attempt should

be made to cure the body without the Soul... the great error of our day is that physicians separate

the heart from the mind and the mind from the body.” ~ Socrates

Why work with these plants? There are many reasons to work with these plants, but healing

seems to play a central role. Especially in shamanic style practices, many people work with the

plant spirits to help the sick. The physically sick, the mentally sick, the emotionally sick, AND the

spiritually sick.

In the practice of curanderismo, and in most shamanic style practices, illness is seen as usually

having a spiritual cause. For example, chronic pain, cancer, weight gain, baldness, diabetes –

these are usually thought of as physical problems, but in a shamanic perspective this might not be

the case. The shaman or healer might instead point to a lack of connection with spirit guides, or

point to intrusive energy in the client, or repressed emotions and memories. The intrusive energy

would be a spiritual cause, which is then manifested as physical symptoms like chronic pain,

cancer, or anything else.

In my experience, pain and dysfunction often arise, or at least are made worse by people resisting

themselves. Your body can regulate itself much better when relaxed – chi moves more freely,

muscles don’t cramp, cells receive nutrients and expel waste more efficiently, and nerves and

organs work more effectively (for a scientific example, compare function of the parasympathetic

nervous system to the sympathetic nervous system – the first excelling in healthy cell functioning,

while the second excels at fight or flight and survival situations. If you stay in fight or flight mode

too long, your body becomes rigid and unhealthy leading to illness caused by “stress”). If you

have something within yourself that you do not want to acknowledge (repressed emotion or

memory, health dysfunction, mental confusion or need to make decisions ect), your body can

create a response to any repression that occurs. Ignoring problems allows them to grow.

For example, you may have a lot of anger you refuse to let go of. You might hold this anger in

your stomach, which could lead to abdominal clenching. That clenching can then lead to fascial

and muscular restrictions which become more and more habitual. Those restrictions may lead to

mis­positioned organs, restricted chi, upset stomach and digestion, ulcers and so on. Or instead

of anger, maybe repressing something builds stress which leads you to clench your jaw, which

becomes a TMJ disorder, and leads to headaches and neck pain. Maybe this pain even disrupts

healthy body and cell functioning enough through inflammation and oxygen depletion that cells

reproduce incorrectly and cause other issues like cancer.

Or maybe resisting the self just impairs immune and energetic functioning enough that when

some negative energy or a “bad wind” comes by, you aren’t prepared to maintain healthy

boundaries and relationship to this energy, and the energy becomes an intrusion which could

cause harm. This intrusion could lead to the same issues as above, and often looks for areas

where this type of dysfunction is already occurring to take advantage of.

This takes on a deeper level too, because the body is incredibly inter­related. As your body builds

resistance to itself, your brain develops and shifts to fit it’s most common uses. There is a

phenomena called Hebbian Learning which states that “neural nets which fire together wire

together, and those that do not fire together, do not wire together.” Basically, this means that

neural pathways which are used often build stronger connections which make them easier to use

in the future, and neural nets which do not get used often start to breakdown and disappear.

Because of this, our brains often find it easier to use the stronger neural pathways and keep us in

a habitual frame of mind. Obviously, this can be an effective or detrimental function, depending

on whether or not that habit is healthy for you! The largest implication of this phenomena is that

your brain can restructure itself and change the way you experience life. This has huge


The area that this Hebbian Learning process might have the most noticeable effect on our health

is within the limbic region of the brain. The limbic brain is where we store memories, process

emotions, have dreams and sexual desire, and is also related to our sense of self in the past.

Through the autonomic nervous system, the limbic brain is also connected directly to our tears,

laughter, digestion, vomiting, diarrhea, ect (all the different types of purges ­ sounds like an

Ayahuasca ceremony!). The limbic region is also open­looped, which means that it is regulated

by your relationships to other people, and this region can become damaged from critical

emotional experiences or difficulty coping with stress. Limbic revision is the therapeutic alteration

of personality residing in the human limbic region of the brain – resulting in greater emotional

health, stress coping abilities, and better choice making in relationships. Limbic revision is

basically a fancy way of saying emotional healing – with added insight to the mechanic of how this

healing takes place. Usually, with things like psychotherapy, this process may take many years,

but anecdotally speaking, this process is much, much faster with plant medicines and shamanic


Limbic Revisioning is also connected to epigenetics, so this process works on multiple levels.

Epigenetics are the coding of your genes, not the actual genes themselves, and this is highly

susceptible to internal revision. Environmental toxicity, nutritional stress and psychosocial stress

can effect genetic expression by altering epigenetic physiology, leading to numerous different

diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, mental health problems, and auto­immune diseases.

When doctors research childhood traumas, neglected children, and similar cases, they find that

most of the damage seems to be stored in the epigenetics.

But the shaman doesn’t see this limbic revisioning and epigenetics, or necessarily even know

about the limbic brain. From the shamans perspective, they see what they describe as dark

energy or spirits, and they fix this by “cleaning” the client (I believe this “cleaning” involves limbic

revisioning). If these energies aren’t cleaned, then the client often gets sick or has other

emotional problems. So we come into another idea of allostatic burden and load: our energy

system or stress response system is burdened overtime by accumulated stress. This

accumulated “dark energy” or stress can modify our limbic system or epigenetics, and our system

sometimes becomes over­burdened, resulting in illness. This is largely documented in science as

a potential cause of many health issues, and has long been held as a source of illness within

natural medicine and shamanic healing circles. Short­term stress responses like releasing

adrenaline and cortisol, or putting of problems to be dealt with later, which are helpful in small

doses, can become harmful when they are used too frequently – creating allostatic burden. This

burden can have long lasting effects on the functioning of the autonomic nervous system as well

as the immune system – creating physical disease from emotional causes.

So in light of comparing the shamans perspective with the western medical perspective, it seems

like shamanic ceremonies work through a process of “cleaning” allostatic burdened and

pathologically imprinted epigenetics from our emotional centers (limbic brain). By the way – these

centers just happen to be hard­wired into our tears, yawns, and vomit, which is why crying can be

so healing, and why plant medicines sometimes cause an emotional/physical purge (rapid limbic


This healing is largely based on the idea that your brain can restructure itself and change the way

you experience life. This restructuring is a more western and medical based understanding of

how shamans heal clients by cleaning “negative energies”.

So, if we can return to our more shamanic way of thinking about energy and balance, we find

three main keys to achieving lasting healing, all of which involve changing our emotional and

mental thinking patterns. First, the client must find faith that a cure is possible, and they must

participate in their own healing process (through ceremony and/or real life action). The client

must also find faith that their mind, spirit and other resources are powerful, and can be used as

effective assets for dealing effectively with life’s problems. Lastly, the client must gain awareness

of the forces around them, as well as their relationship to those forces so that continuing good

health is assured. These lessons must be taken to heart for true healing to occur.

Connect with Travis at http://www.soulremedy.org/