YARINDIN - The Proposal
Yarindin is the story of a group of veterans ravaged by war who journey to South America guided by American medical professionals and traditional native shamans for initiation into the indigenous medicine of the Amazon. The warriors’ prayer is to be released from the nightmare of war and have their bodies, minds and souls restored.
Yarindin is a feature length documentary of combat, love and the healing journey. It is dangerous passages through the Amazon jungle. It is the drama of a band of brothers and sisters who fought together on the fields of battle and now fight to heal together in the fields of the soul, blessed by the beauty of nature and the healing magic of indigenous medicine.
In the Hollywood blockbuster Avatar, a soldier ravaged by the trauma of war travels to a distant planet and is restored by communing with the highly spiritual native culture that lives in harmony with nature. Is this sci-fi tale more than a fantasy? Is it possible that a cure for the psychic wounds of war can be found through our connection to nature and the wisdom traditions of indigenous cultures?
The scars of war run deep. Healing is tough, and for some, the horror never ends. Veterans may leave the battlefield and return home to their loved ones, but the wrath of war rages on inside their minds and bodies. Psychologists call this crippling syndrome Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD haunts the vet by day and by night – visions and nightmares of friends lost, enemies killed, horrors witnessed, atrocities sustained and dutifully committed, and the ongoing fear that serious injury or death lurks around every corner.
These warriors cry out for healing and release from unbearable pain. But sadly, due to the complexity of treating PTSD, many never fully recover. Western medicine and traditional psychology simply doesn’t have the tools yet.
The New England Journal of Medicine stated in 2003 that 1 in 6 veterans of the war in Iraq (1) are afflicted. Applying those numbers to veterans in the Vietnam War, the Korean War and WW2, how many of our brothers, our sisters, our sons and daughters, our fathers and mothers, our uncles and grandparents carry this wound? How does it affect their children? What is the toll on society?
In Israel, a promising medical study successfully used the chemical MDMA to treat war vets suffering from PTSD. But long before scientists synthesized entheogens in the lab (literally: medicines that “create the divine within”) the shamans in South America wielded the knowledge and wisdom of the ancients, using natural entheogens derived from sacred plants to bring about healing. Doctors and therapists from the United States are now working with the indigenous Peruvian healers, discovering how to bring these healing methods to Westerners who seek relief from PTSD in a way that works with our culture, blending therapies, music and spiritual practices from around the world.
PTSD occurs when the past bubbles into and affects the present. A soldier who was in battle can flash back to the emotional content of the battle and re-experience it in the safety of the present, making the present seem as dangerous as the battleground. Terror imprints in the brain and the nervous system in a way that is considered indelible. In response to stimulus that can be as simple as the noise of an overhead helicopter or the look in a strangers face, the terror of the past is re-awakened and the victim of the terror is paralyzed in the terror that really only exists in their memory.
One of the main ideas in shamanic healing is that healing can only occur in the present; that bringing all of a person's parts into the exact moment of the present is by it's simple nature not only healing but transformative.
This is Yarindin, the exact moment of now, an ancient word heard in healing ceremonies throughout the Amazon. Now is when the medicine exists, now is when the miracle exists, now is when the healing exists, now is when transformation exists. Now. Only Now. Yarindin.
Yarindin has a 3-part dramatic structure:
Part 1: Hearts in Darkness
Part 2: Initiation in the Jungle
Part 3: Coming Home
Part 1 - Hearts in Darkness
Meet Dr. Richard Grossman, an American Doctor of Oriental Medicine practicing in Los Angeles. Fueled by his hunger for authentic healing, Dr. Grossman underwent his own initiation into the indigenous rainforest shamanic tradition, which inspired him to become a sound healer. Meet Steve Lovold, a Gulf War combat veteran suffering from PTSD. After years of psychotherapy, pharmaceuticals, substance abuse and prison, Steve found his greatest source of healing was participation in plant medicine ceremonies. Steve’s healing journey is the inspiration for this project. Together with Dr. Dominique Bressi, Clinical Psychologist specializing in PTSD and Complex Trauma, they will put out the call for the veterans who they will take to Peru.
We witness the intake interviews and learn about PTSD, get excited about the possibilities and the dangers of this astonishing adventure. It is our first encounter with the healing warriors, so we learn what daily life is really like for these wounded souls. We watch as they are given the hope that their nightmare could end if they are willing to travel to the rainforests of Peru and drink herbal teas in sacred ceremony. Who will believe in the possibility of a spiritual cure? Will the audience believe it? We allow for the skeptics to speak their minds. Who will choose to go? And who will be accepted into the program?
Those going to Peru will be selected from the interviews. We’ll meet each of the healing warriors in the USA, and experience their lives in a day in the life format. We learn their stories: the battles they fought; the defeats they endured; the victories they celebrated; the wounds that won’t heal. They are like the Fisher King, who bleeds ceaselessly from a wound in his groin until Perceval brings him the Holy Grail and he is cured and his kingdom restored.
How do they live with this terror? Can they handle marriages, families, jobs? What is their view of the world? How do their loved ones and friends see them?
Part 2 - Initiation in the Jungle
The doctors and warriors answer Peru’s call: they fly from the USA to Lima, then venture into the Amazon - land of shamans, tears and laughter, song and prayer - to experience spiritual initiation in a magical forest of mystery and music. Meet Herbert Quinteros, third generation shaman and musician, a master practitioner of one of the most powerful medicines on earth: Ayahuasca.
Ayahuasca is an herbal mixture South American shamans have brewed since before the start of recorded history. The Inca’s drank it to receive visions in the royal court. The healers use it in a sacred ceremony designed to call upon the spirit and wisdom of the medicine. They receive songs that heal, called icaros - music known to uplift consciousness, open the heart, and free the mind from all that causes diseases and blocks the flow of love. Through this deep jungle sound therapy, the medicine Ayahuasca dances through the body, mind, heart, and soul pushing out the darkness. Her requirement: surrender. Her mantra: trust and forgive. Her gift: redemption, rebirth, sanctification… on a cellular level.
In circles led by Dr. Grossman and Dr. Bressi, the veterans share their deepest fears and prayers beneath the jungle canopy. Then there are the tensions of the trip, the interpersonal dramas that arise on a journey like this. Private conversations between the warriors and the healers are taped so we get deep insight into and experience of what they are going through. Having been in the trenches together, where their courage mounted in the form of will, singular purpose in fighting for what they believed and fighting because it was asked of them, now they gather together praying for the courage to yield; to yield control, to yield to the unknown, brought to their knees in the reaching for faith that there is a grace, outside of themselves but revealed within, that might relieve their tormented and anguished souls, to yield to the medicine: Ayahuasca.
Then into the sacred ceremonies led by Herbert and Richard. Their hearts are of love and their music is beautiful, grounded in the jungle and in the spirit of the sacred medicine. As the healing warriors descend into the depths of their malaise to face the shadows and demons they must, the shamans hold the space for these wounded souls to find their way back to wholeness.
The heart of the rainforest sings through healers whose prayers may restore broken spirits and traumatized minds. It offers hope to those who suffer the ravages of war, or relentless terror from any source. And like Avatar, it brings the promise of a healing connection to the beauty and magic of nature, which restores the soul.
We inter-cut journal entries and images that the vets create on their journey (art therapy and artists renditions), going back in time with animation, stock footage and music to the events which shaped their destinies. The story of their healing is the stuff of which legends are made.
The warriors marinate in the spiritual wisdom of the native peoples of Peru. The astonishing and deadly beauty of the Amazon: the wildlife, the flowers, the river and the people.
After one month in the jungle, many of the demons have been released. The warriors have received deep healing and now they are ready for the light. The healing warriors will return to the USA, saying tearful goodbyes to their new friends and healers in Peru. But will they all be ready? Will they have experienced relief, freedom? How will they integrate their new healing? If they have deeply changed, how will the folks back home be with their new way of being
They fly out of Lima airport and return to the USA, then fan out across the country.
Part 3 - Coming Home
What does it mean to “come home?" Was the month that the warriors and their guides spent in transformation and healing real or was it simply a long and very difficult vacation in an exotic local? Have the healing experiences, the sweat, tears and mosquito bites made changes in the hearts and minds of the warriors that will translate into their lives?
These questions must be asked and answered for without changes to the day to day lives of the warriors, nothing that they went though really mattered.
In this last section, we will follow the warriors as Dr. Grossman and Dr. Bressi continue working with the veterans for 6 months after their initiation in Peru. In addition, each warrior will return with a small camera and be asked to create a video journal of their re-entry. Realizations. How will their loved ones and friends relate to them? Will the day to day interactions, the old terrors, the trigger events cause the warriors to regress into old patterns, or will the healing have a real and permanent effect on their lives? We believe it will, and we believe that showing this can and will have profound effects on how PTSD will be treated in the future.
This is the story, the journey that is Yarindin.