Updated: Jul 7
| This is the 200th story of Our Life Logs |
I was brought into this world in 1984 in a small town in Bulgaria. My parents were rational-minded people who valued thought and logic over feelings and emotions, and were interested in more traditional, Western values. I say this because I grew up with a tendency of curiosity. I wondered why their values did not sit effortlessly with me. I remember spending many hours leafing through my parent’s literature and self-help books, searching for the answers they promised. But as it goes, an unrest seemed to clench my heart, and being so young, I did not know what that feeling even was or why these answers were so important. It was all just curiosity back then.
The older I got, the more curious I became. The small sense of curiosity then grew to a feeling of confinement. I had questions of what was beyond what I saw. My home, my small town, my sense of self, it was all I ever knew, and it was not enough when I began to consider more.
After high school, I moved to a bigger city for college and majored in Archaeology. I went through the program like a zombie, getting by but not taking it in. Instead of writing my thesis in my fourth year, I dropped out. The path forward was foggy, and I didn’t know what was next for me. I found a temporary job working as a tattoo artist at a shop by the sea while I tried to figure out what I wanted to do.
I decided to try finding a better job to make my life stable. In 2008 when I was 24, I moved to another big city where jobs were easier to find and settled into a new life. I chose a career in software because it was a fast-growing industry I knew I could enter and maintain a good-paying job. My work life became stable but it also became very dull. Instead of comfort, I woke each day with discomfort and deep sighs. Yes, I was making enough money to live a life, but I wasn’t happy. I felt a void in my heart, but I couldn’t pinpoint what I needed to fill it with.
As each year passed by, I felt more and more displaced, longing for a fulfilled life but unsure how to achieve it. Suddenly in 2012, I found the light I’d been searching for in a friend. We met up after work one day to catch up, and there was a spring in his step I’d never seen before. There had always been a dullness in his eyes that matched mine. But that day, his eyes were full of life and inspiration. He was a changed man.
I told him, “I don’t know what you did, but I want some of it, too.”
What was his secret? Plant medicine ceremonies and prayer circles. He raved about the power of this unique method, insisting that it had healed parts of him that were broken. Seeing the light in his eyes, I knew this was something I needed in my life. I had been hurting physically, mentally, and emotionally most of my life. It was destiny to see my friend that day, and I implored him to show me how plant medicine worked. I had no idea what to expect, but I was desperate to get rid of the void swallowing up my life.
Before I get into my own experience with plant medicine, I should probably explain what it is. For centuries, plants with healing properties have been used in healing traditions to help people with their ailments. Healing in this sense is not just fixing someone’s digestive system for example, but making sure the relationship in the person’s family and the role they play in society is also healthy. It is seen as one single process-putting all the pieces in alignment. To achieve this, a community of people help form a sacred ceremonial space that secures a safe bubble around the healing process. A person is not just physically healed but emotionally and mentally as well.
There was a peyote ceremony coming up, so my friend happily brought me along to see the magic of plant healing. We walked into an open area where people were perched in a circle. It was an intense setting at first, but everyone was so kind and sincere that the stress I had melted away, and I felt at peace. We prayed and sang together as we allowed the peyote to burn.
I connected with a part of myself that I didn’t even know existed that day and I knew my life would never be the same. For the first time in years, the missing piece was properly filled, so naturally like it was always meant to be filled with plant medicine. From that first ceremony, I was invested in learning more. How could it help me heal? How could it help me become a better person? My brain thirsted for knowledge; I wanted to know everything!
As I fell deeper into the study of plant medicine, I began to understand why my good-paying software job wasn’t satisfying me. I wasn’t the same person who started the job. Plant medicine was changing me, and I was growing like a flower, little by little and more every day. Work was no longer allowing me to express myself in the best way and was not corresponding with what I was becoming. I wanted to escape, but how?
In 2016, I struck up a romantic relationship with a girl from the medicine circle. It was a passionate relationship with lots of attraction for one another, but also a lot of suffering. We allowed our romance to bloom too quickly, and that was what destroyed it in the end. After our breakup, I felt antsy, unable to face the medicine group, so I decided I’d run away to a new country and reconnect with myself through meditation and plant medicine.
I took this opportunity to escape the suffocation of my cubicle life. A friend got me in contact with a plant medicine center in Peru, and without much thought, I took out all my savings, packed my bags, and set out to work at the Peruvian center. I had no idea what I was getting myself into moving across the world to a different culture, but I thought to myself, at least I could start anew.
Peru was beautiful, and I enjoyed experiencing a new place, but, why did the void in my heart still seem to be there? Was it because of the insecure feeling of leaving my job, or the loneliness in a foreign country, or something else?
I realized that I loved plant medicine because of the rich community and support that came along with it, but the version of plant medicine in Peru was different. The community was not an important part of the healing. It was primarily used on an individual level.
The old, familiar loneliness crept back into my body, and yet, I was too afraid to make a change. I didn’t want to go back to Bulgaria, because I felt I hadn’t grown much in Peru. How could I face my plant medicine community back home without anything to show from my trip? So, I stayed, for a year and a half, out of the fear of not becoming a better person yet.
Something inside me clicked one day when I was in prayer. I would find peace if I trusted my spirit. This realization broke me out of my fear. The pressure I had placed on myself was what was holding me back, not the community. I was not accountable to anyone but myself, and that is what Peru had taught me. I knew the only way to continue growing was to let go of that fear. I did, and I returned home in June of 2018.
When I came back to Bulgaria, I realized that my fears were all in my head because the community welcomed me back with open arms. In my time away, the group had matured. I had matured, too. It was a relief to know that I wasn’t expected to show my changes to the group; they could see them in my eyes.
What I’ve learned from my experiences is that you must be brave enough to step out of the security you know to allow yourself to dream. I believe security is just an illusion, and when we accept that as humans, the happier we will be. Plant medicine has changed my life and helped me heal and grow in so many wonderful ways. I believe this method helped me grow as a person and challenge myself. I had to ask myself every day, how can I be better? I also realized how little we need to feel happy. Just feeling the sun on your skin and the air filling your lungs is all it takes sometimes. Having this basic satisfaction that everything is fine has given me confidence to do whatever I want in life. How bad can it get if everything we need is always within our grasp?
This is the story of Stoyan Petrov
Stoyan currently lives in Bulgaria feeling free from his fears. As a child, Stoyan didn’t experience much affection which led to him feeling empty as he grew up and began a job he didn’t care about. After discovering plant medicine and the supportive community that came with it, Stoyan was a changed man and vowed to become a better person through it. He even went to Peru to understand himself better. The void in his life was filled through plant medicine. Since he came back, his savings have sustained him and he is in search of what the universe has in store for him next. When he is not doing something related to plant medicine, Stoyan is spending time with nature by himself. He also enjoys being around the people he loves.
This story first touched our hearts on October 15, 2018.
| Writer: Kristen Petronio | Editors: Adam Savage, MJ |