February 2, 2013
My strength is low, my vigor gone, and my libido shot. I sleep at least ten hours each night and never feel rested. I’m working as the vice president of an advertising agency and the co-founder of a separate start-up in the gaming industry, but I’m just going through the motions. The only things I look forward to are my next workout and falling asleep. I’m training athletically ten to fourteen times each week—something I once found joy in, but now borders on addiction. I enjoy seeing friends, but it takes enormous effort. My zest for living is on the verge of disappearing, and if I can’t start feeling like myself again within two years, I’m going to put a bullet in my brain.
What you’ve just read is the first page from Ayahuasca: An Executive’s Enlightenment, a story that chronicles my journey down to Peru to trek through the Amazon jungle and partake in three shamanistic ceremonies with the psychedelic plant medicine known as Ayahuasca.
Below, I’ll share with you an excerpt that begins on December 31, 2013, shortly after I had drunk my glass of Ayahuasca during the first ceremony. But first – to give you a bit of context – I ventured into the jungle with an open mind and a healthy skepticism. At that time in my life, I considered myself philosophical and explorative, but the term “spiritual” didn’t resonate with me. I was well versed in psychedelics like psilocybin mushrooms and LSD, but when listening to shamans speak about an intelligent female plant spirit called “Mother Ayahuasca”, I thought they were talking in metaphor. While I followed the Ayahuasca diet by avoiding salt, spices, red meat, pork, alcohol, drugs, sex and orgasm, I was skeptical of the reasons for adopting such a protocol. I had studied nutrition extensively and had been practicing healthy eating for nearly a decade, so I struggled to understand the need to eliminate things like sea salt, which are beneficial for health and performance. The shamans’ explanation – that following this diet would help me better connect with Mother Ayahuasca – was difficult to wrap my head around, but if I was going to travel to a different continent to partake in a ceremony, I was willing to practice the local customs.
The following excerpt takes place after a week of trekking through the Amazon. We’re inside a beautiful wooden and circular structure called a maloca and it’s pitch black. There are three shamans, two facilitators and eight guests, each sitting or lying down on mattresses positioned around the inside wall of the maloca, in a circular fashion. I’ve drunk my Ayahuasca and have been reflecting on my experience of the year 2013 meditatively and chronologically for the past thirty minutes before I recognize that:
The time is fast approaching to fully engage with the maternal root of the rainforest. A fire rises and fills the right side of my body, the nausea mounting.
Instinctively, I say in my head, Mother Ayahuasca, will you please wait a few more minutes as I reflect upon the rest of my year? It’s as though
I’m broadcasting the thought telepathically.
I feel a presence, almost like a voice, respond, Yes, my child. Take your time and let me know when you’re ready, and the fire recedes back
down the right side of my body.
Holy shit, I’m talking with a plant…
I quickly and intensively reflect on my startup I Wager That, the cryptocurrency mining operation I’m a part of, my dearest friends, family and Christmas, then off to Peru where I’m warmly embraced by Dan, Tatyana, Jon, Guy, and our jungle leader, Victor. I think about my exploration, grounding, and integration with the Amazon River and rainforest, and I can feel that the integration is about to become more deeply rooted.
December 31, 2013 is the most peaceful day of my life, and instinctively, I communicate: Mamma Ayahuasca, I am ready. I am ready to be shown whatever you would like and need to show me. I am open to any and all things, and I hope to learn from you, and I hope that you can learn from me. I welcome our collaboration, and I welcome you into me. My intentions are two-fold:
1.) To gain clarity on my business and career path: I Wager That is not yet where I had hoped it would be. Does this lack of success represent a fear I need to overcome—do I need to push harder? Or, is it an intuition I should listen to that suggests that I Wager That is not my right path?
2.) To gain deeper insight into my body: to learn how to recalibrate certain movement patterns so as to heal the neuromuscular pathways that sometimes manifest as discomfort in the left side of my body.
With eyes closed, I sit cross-legged in a meditative pose, keeping the energy at a lower, less nauseating center, and I wonder if I’ll vomit. I feel a series of warm visuals caress my third eye, my mind, my body, and my soul. Deep in the right side of my perceptual field and emerging from a distance, I see green and purple beams of light that remind me of Aurora Borealis. Like the Northern Lights, the beams flutter and wave as they slowly and lovingly reach toward me.
I open my eyes and transition into the physical world. The feeling of the beams persists at a slightly lower intensity, while my vision of them dampens to about one-fifth of what I can see with eyes shut. I turn my head to the left and can no longer see the beams. I turn my head back to the right, let my eyelids drop, and the visualizations return with the same rhythm as before, a little further on than where I had last seen them. These loving beams continue whether I consciously engage with them or not, the same way a cloud floats through the sky, independently of a viewer’s gaze.
Everything that I’m seeing is objective.
The beams flow, waving and warm, and aim at my left shoulder. My concern for involuntary vomiting ceases. The beams turn my body so that I lie down on my left side and curl up in a position close to fetal. A warm blanket of green and purple Northern Lights envelops me as Mamma Ayahuasca shows me I’m safe.
There is nothing to worry about, my child. Relax, I will take care of you and everything will be all right, she communicates.
This is love, and this is maternity.
I giggle and sigh, and I wonder whether this will be the extent of my first experience. If so, that’s fine by me. Just to have felt this warm and subtle embrace would be a wonderful and sufficient introduction. I think I might fall asleep…
Erjomenes [a shaman] begins to sing a powerful, melodic, and strange sound, not entirely pleasant, but far from unpleasant. Orange and yellow spots, triangles, and other shapes enter the left side of my perceptual field. The shapes move with the shaman’s sound, emanating from his mouth and gently expanding rightward across my perceptual field. The colorful shapes seem to be forming a cloud-like entity.
Mamma is a portal allowing me to see and enter a new dimension.
Progressively, this new dimension takes the place of what was previously the empty space between my neck and the fifteen-meter tall ceiling of the maloca dome.
A second shaman’s voice (Ricardo’s, I believe) enters the dimension with red, purple, and green patterns. Ricardo’s shapes dance to the rhythm of his song as they expand across my perceptual field before interacting with Erjomenes’ orange and yellow shapes, combining to give the cloud-like entity more depth. Ersilia’s song then fills the air with a full spectrum of sound and more colors than I’ve ever seen before—colors I didn’t know exist, colors beyond the rainbow. All the shapes and sounds blend and fuse, and everything is untraditionally harmonious to my Western perspective. I giggle at the funny sounds and think about rolling onto my back.
Turning, I open my arms and heart as I feel Mamma Ayahuasca release me into this new dimension, a place I have never seen before. The purple and green beams of light gently sever from my body like an umbilical cord being cut, but she remains around me, in case I need support. Supportive, but not suffocating, the mark of a wonderful and loving mother.
I giggle some more and begin to hum to the sights, sounds, and feelings that fill this space and time, and still lying on my back, I start to dance, bobbing my head, shaking my legs, moving my torso, and gently pumping my arms. I feel like a five-year old skipping down the street. This is joy. Pure, unadulterated joy.
Three beings present themselves in my right perceptual field. Three small black humanoid beings cloaked with grey hoods and outlined by sharp and vibrant orange, pink and yellow lines.
What the… ?
A bright orange line floats in the foreground between my head and body. A yellow line floats in the upper distance, while pink lines fill the background in an indistinct manner. The beings are female and about three feet tall. The one in front slowly reveals herself to me, opens her cloak, and sends me love. I wonder if Linnea [my girlfriend back home in Toronto] would be upset by this encounter before recognizing that the being’s expression of love is friendly, warm, protective, and maternal, not sexual.
The colors expand, all different colors flower and line my perceptual energy field amongst the loving darkness. I open my eyes to see whether this dimension is a hallucination. With eyes open, the visual of the dimension weakens softly while the energy remains present and accessible. I realize the dimension is not a hallucination, but ever-present.
By opening and closing my eyes, I can toggle between the physical reality and this new dimension; two dimensions that intersect harmoniously, but with a degree of separateness, like the way the air meets the ocean’s surface. This space is unfamiliar to my conscious memories, but somehow familiar to my being, as though I’ve been here before. But, I can’t place my finger on when.
I engage with the physical reality as I watch Sid light a mapacho. I look around the room and feel everyone’s energy.
While I am on an individual quest, we are all interacting to engage with this space. The new dimension is differently present with my eyes open, and the film title Eyes Wide Shut resonates with me.
I close my eyelids to immerse myself in the new dimension some more. The three female beings show me more love as I hear Jon vomit beside me. I telepathically ask whether he’s all right and I’m assured that he’s just fine. I look at the female humanoids, and questioning what my eyes show me, I turn my eyes away and to the left, trying to test the spirits’ existence. After thirty seconds spent looking away, the three spirits float over to the left side of my perceptual field, in front of my eyes and I feel them ask, “Hey,
don’t you want to know us? Aren’t you interested in what we have to share?”
Hmm, I guess I’m interested in interacting with the beings of another dimension presenting themselves to me, I joke with myself.
I consider the communication that takes place in this dimension and realize that when the Ayahuasca or the spirits share an idea, they do so beyond words. Language is unnecessary and idea exchange requires no interpretation. The impartation is direct, nothing lost in translation.
I notice my own mind shifting between linguistic articulation of the experience and an articulation beyond words. I imagine trying to explain the feeling of falling in love to a friend. Unless he has experienced falling in love, my words will never do the experience justice. I then imagine being able to deposit my experience of falling in love into my friend’s mind and into the fibers of his being. The latter is what communication is like in this dimension.
Caressing my soul, the three humanoid spirits shift further leftward and a new series of spirit species appear in the foreground.
I feel a sense of incompleteness and long for the humanoids, but receive assurance that they are always here for me.
The new spirits are each a series of six or seven worm-like tubes stacked on top of one another. They remind me of the inside of mitochondria, as depicted in my high school biology textbooks. I call them mitos. Unlike the humanoids, who remain floating in the background, the mitos have white eyes and glow with different colors: blue to black, yellow to black, red to black. With each colorful glow, my visual of the mitos’ eyes succumbs to their soft, bright luminosity, like the sun shining behind a friend’s face and blotting out her eyes. When the spirits fade to black, their bright white eyes become more apparent.
Then, the mitos turn brown and I see there are dozens of them. They grow and swell. Normally, I would describe them as disgusting, but in this moment, I see how beautiful they are and that they have a relationship with the brewing diarrhea I become conscious of in my large intestine. Eventually, I’ll need to expel the diarrhea, yet I have full control of when that eventuality will occur. Now is not the time. I’m enjoying this new dimension too much to leave for the washroom.
My perceptual energy field becomes kaleidoscopic, but with less mirroring and more infinite in direction and potentiality. It is a kaleidoscope a blind man could see.