Many people are happy, but they aren’t fulfilled. At 26, I was precisely this: a successful advertising executive who was looking for something more. And so I travelled to Peru in the hopes of finding clarity and purpose.
In December 2013, alongside two of my best friends, I arrived to Iquitos, Peru before venturing into the jungle with wonderful guides and people who would become lifelong amigos. We explored the Amazon River and rainforest, encountering snakes, spiders, pink dolphins, and monkeys. We played soccer with locals on an unkempt field. We boated under starry night skies in search of caiman alligators and were soaked by torrential downpours that flooded our rubber boots. Each night, we slept in a rustic lodge, and each morning, we were woken by the symphony of the rainforest.
After a week of connecting with the jungle, I felt more at peace than ever before. And, on New Year’s Eve, we arrived at the grounds of Nihue Rao where we would partake in three Ayahuasca ceremonies over the course of four days.
For those unfamiliar, Ayahuasca, often referred to as “Mother Ayahuasca,” is a psychedelic and medicinal beverage brewed from the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and, in my case, chacruna leaves containing dimethyltryptamine (DMT).
Amazonian Peruvians have been using the brew for millennia for divinatory and healing purposes and to treat conditions ranging from depression to cancer. With the brew’s ability to provide clarity about life and our universe to its drinkers, many have called it “thirty years worth of psychotherapy in a cup.”
According to shamans, plants have a double function: they can be used medicinally to treat various illnesses, or as plant teachers. Ayahuasca is said to have a female spirit, and a specific diet of no salt, spices, red meat, pork, alcohol, drugs, or sex should be practiced for a week or two leading up to ceremony.
While I was skeptical of a plant having a female spirit and of the need to modify my diet, I remained open-minded enough to respect the folklore and practice the customs. Wow, am I happy I did! To my surprise, Ayahuasca is the most intelligent entity I’ve interacted with, and my experiences with her were profound. As strange as it might seem, I traveled to different dimensions and engaged with beings that reside there.
With each ceremony, I had an intention. During the first ceremony, I aimed to clarify my business path. Beyond working at my ad agency, I was the co-founder of a startup that was stuck at a standstill. Was the sticking point a fear I needed to overcome, or an intuition that the startup wasn’t right for me? The Ayahuasca introduced me to realms I was previously unaware of, and taught me that I needed to let go of the business I helped start. Instead, she showed me that I needed to act on my lifelong desire to write a book, and here it is: http://goo.gl/kVEumb (the story takes you through my Ayahuasca experience in full detail, and will inspire you to unlock your potential and find enlightenment).
With my ego questioning whether the decision to let go of the startup and focus on writing was financially sound, I entered the second ceremony intending to rid my doubt and solidify my path. In return, the Ayahuasca took me down a long and difficult road that tested my patience and involved a great deal of purging. The bulk of the six-hour experience was dark and exhausting, but after learning that I need to follow my passions, a sun began beaming light through thick trees and I dozed off to sleep.
On the final night, my intention was one of expressing gratitude to the Ayahuasca, the shamans, my friends, and the universe as a whole. In exchange, I tapped into cosmic wisdom and saw the interconnectedness and love in all things. Ayahuasca deepened my bond with nature, purged my fears, and connected me with a higher power.
I left Peru with an undeniable clarity, peace, and the resolve to pursue my passions. I internalized the notion that nothing is impossible, that reality is malleable, and that I should work to make the biggest positive impact on our world that I possibly can. Beyond the book, I’ve become a partner in a clean energy startup whose mission is to evolve humanity onto clean energy and heal our planet—something I couldn’t be more excited about.
Now, I’m not suggesting that everyone visit the jungle to drink Ayahuasca. The medicine isn’t for everybody, and each person’s path is different. What I am suggesting is that if you allow yourself to recognize and follow your passions, you will improve our world and be well on your way to enlightenment.
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