The Worst Night of My Life

The Worst Night of My Life

Disclaimer: Ayahuasca is illegal in America. People have died from using it. I am not a doctor nor was I ever able to do well in Chemistry class and this article is NOT an endorsement to do any illegal drug. Please do your own research and be safe in whatever choices you make.

I was running through backroads shirtless, shoeless and just passed by the gates of Auschwitz on my right.

WTF is going on. I have completely lost myself trapped inside some sick fucking video game. Everything was pixelated, I didn’t know who I was and couldn’t see farther than an inch in front of myself.

Hunching over I was exhausted, wanted it all to end and was waiting for someone to come help me. No one was coming. I was alone. All I could do was help myself. That was the point.

Fast forward a few hours in the night I was crying uncontrollably realizing I don’t love myself.

Ayahuasca completely changed my life.

There’s moments in the subsequent days I’m not sure it actually happened, was it all a dream and what the hell just happened.

What is Ayahuasca? Why is it getting more popular? Why did I do it? What’s the experience really like? How can you explain the unexplainable?

I first heard about a bunch of white people going to Peru and doing Aya as we’ll now refer to her (it’s feminine most people call it) about 5 years ago. It just seemed really far to go and do drugs when I can conveniently do them at a home.

What you’ve probably heard is that you take a drug, sit in some tent and then proceed to puke and have a horrible night for the next few hours. This did NOT sound like something appealing.

But 6 months ago a closer friend and me were having lunch and he seemed like a changed man. Happier, almost glowing. He said it was 100% from this Ayahuasca experience he just had recently.

He didn’t really say what happened at the ceremony for himself but he realized that his true calling was to work on a book, visions he needed to spend more time with his parents and continue working on his female relationships.

This is coming from a guy who has been in a low place for the past 3 years. He said it was all from Ayahuasca.

It definitely caught my attention and as this year has progressed it has not felt right. Something’s been off for myself. My work, my relationship with my girlfriend and just my lens of the world. I’ve thought a lot about dying and how there’s nothing left in the world I wanted to do. I hadn’t thought about the future to any extent in a long long time. I wanted it to get better.

I signed up for the next Ayahuasca ceremony. Little did I know what I signed up for.

Ahead of the event I thought about what kind of outcome I was hoping for.

For me it was clarity on the future: my life, my relationship and work.

Ha, no big deal there. Sounds like pretty easy questions to solve.

For the next 3 months I forgot about it. The month leading up to it I started to read more articles like this one and then started talking with others about it.

Whatever you imagine about taking and experience Ayahuasca it’s nothing like you can even fathom. I totally took it lightly. A few people started saying we should do calls about it.

One guy who I always see as a total bad-ass was telling me over a breakfast burrito how it made him realize he needed to be more sensitive in general and be there more for his friends. Nothing I’d EVER expect from him in the 5 years of our friendship.

Another very busy friend who normally spends 15 minutes at most with me spent 1.5 hours and multiple conversations preparing me for the experience.

Mind you, these are not hippy dippy people. These are super successful people who are always looking for self-improvement. Something weird is going on.

Why do these guys care so much? I didn’t really get it.

To prepare there were 3 things they told me:

  1. What to bring
  2. How to get the most out of it
  3. Setting your intentions for the experience

What to bring:

  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Hot n cold
  • Sandals
  • Blankets. Pillows
  • Eye mask
  • Water
  • Chapstick
  • Snacks
  • Shampoo.
  • Headlamps.

How to get most out of it:

        1- In and through

No matter go into what you are fearing or experience. Don’t run or fight it. It’s there to teach you something.

        2- What can I learn from this?        

Whether you have a amazing or negative experience it is there to teach you something.

        3- Learn how to relax no matter what. Breathe through

It gets intense. Very intense as you can tell from the beginning of my story. Breathe. Just breathe. It’ll bring you back to self and the moment. Remember you are human.

        4- You’ll get what you need not what you want.

I heard this multiple times. I thought I got it but didn’t really understand this till later.

Note

Loved this sign. Thought about it a lot during my experience.

Setting your intentions for the experience. What do you really want to get out the event?

1- Are you trying to deal with PTSD? Sexual Molestation?

2- Do you want to understand love or consciousness.

3- Like myself, do you want clarity on the future?

There’s no wrong answers.

Before I even get into actually arriving I want to clarify 2 things you are questioning:

1- The Shaman must be a total hippy who grew up in a commune.  Wrong

Now when you think Shaman I think Indian guy who’s got long hair, baggy + dirty clothes, smokes a ton of weed and only talks about the chakras. That was the opposite of the “Shaman” that I had for my experience.

Zach Poitra was a former investment banker making a lot of money who after trying Ayahuasca in 2009 quit everything, moved to Peru and started studying the medicine. It changed his life and he wanted to help make those changes for others.

2- The Shamans are drug addicts and it’s a weekend of partying for everyone. False

It is medicine. What is medicine? It is something that makes you better and I 100% believe Aya does that for people.

If you want to party this is NOT the drug you should ever take. It’s not fun. It’s not easy. There’s a ton of puking. There’s a lot of crying. There’s many challenging times and without proper supervision I would highly discourage anyone from doing it.

My girlfriend was going to join but in talking with Shaman (you have to do a pre-retreat call) it became abundantly clear the experience was for me, not her. She backed out.

We argued a good amount and I frankly left to figure out our future which now I realize was scary AF for her.

The week leading up to the retreat you are not supposed to eat red meat, pork, alcohol, no caffeine, no cheese and no sex.

The day before they encourage you to do a floatation tank or a massage. In my normal manner I scheduled back to back meetings, calls and fortunately got 1 massage in. I was not going in relaxed =/

This experience better be great, giving up all the things I love. But the day of the event I realized after giving all those things up for a week how amazing my body was feeling. Already I was getting something out of this, treat my body right and I’ll feel better.

The time had come, my bags were packed and it was time to head to the retreat.

En route to the retreat I was using the Headspace meditation app and trying to relax. I had no idea what to really expect. Frankly, I think I took it way too lightly. I imagined the experience would be closest to an acid trip with some friends in a big ass room. I was TOTALLY WRONG. It’s like thinking diet coke tastes the same as coke, it doesn’t!

With the friends that I went with a few interesting things came up as we arrived to our retreat.

        1- Everyone had different intentions. I wanted future while another guy asked about consciousness, another didn’t have any intention while another dude wanted to get a girlfriend.

        2- “Lose his edge.” One guy said his brother would never do it cause he didn’t want to lose his edge. This stuck with me. Shit, I want to be aggressive, look whats it gotten me so far in life. I don’t want to go all soft either from this.

        3- I was nervous. There were times a week before I was uncertain about what would happen. This gave me confidence I was doing the right thing. A lot of growth I’ve realized doesn’t come from doing the same thing over. It comes from doing something new or beyond what we’ve usually done. The nervousness was a compass saying there’s something challenging I was afraid that would likely help me grow as a person.

——

Day 1 – “How do you explain the unexplained?”

The ceremony started at 8pm.

You walk into this room and there are mats on the ground, black buckets in front of them and a roll of toilet paper. Everything will be used during the ceremony.

The room started filling up and I didn’t know what to expect.

Now I am not a woo woo person so some things right away set off my “new age” shit detector.

  • They call it a ceremony. To me a ceremony is like graduating high school or the academy award.
  • There’s a ton of rocks for helping keep away evil energy.
  • There’s chairs covered in animal fur and a lot of instruments surrounding the “stage” or main area that the Shaman and his assistants sit.

It takes about an hour before we take the medicine. I was calling it a drug still at this point.

We get an orientation about the night…

You can’t touch anyone else.

Please don’t sing, only the shamans sing.

Refrain from leaving the room except for using the restroom.

Stay on your mat.

Most people were comfortable sweatpants and a shirt. On your mat you most likely have a blanket and a pillow. On the side you put your sweater and headlamp if you ever need to find anything.

One of the assistants burns sage and walks it around the room. (Okay, this is getting weird.)

Then the next 30 minutes we do breathing exercises. Breathe in through your lower (some weird word) and out through your head chakra or something.

Finally they say you’ll come to the front, put the ayahuasca that’s in a shot glass to your chest, set your intention, drink it and go sit back down. Score, it’s drug using time. I can’t wait (or so I thought).

Before they give people their shots the shaman sing prayers into the black sludge that is ayahuasca. The songs are in some weird spanish sounding language and are quite pleasant. Then they take sips of some bottle and blow into the bottle to get out of the evil spirits. The blowing sounds like WHISH. Which. Okay, weird AF but I’m here with my friends and open minded.

I go to the front and my intention was to help figure out the future.  You put the black cup to your heart while you say your intention. Then you throw back the shot. It tastes like burnt raisins. I enjoyed it.

Then I go lay down on my mat.

They start a mantra that goes like:

I am happy.

I am healthy.

I am free from suffering.

I am free from mental anxiety.

I am safe.

Let me pass through this world with ease.

We repeat that 5 times and after 3 minutes nothing much is happening.

They start singing at the front which I didn’t expect.

They turn off all the lights, pitch black. Right away I start hearing some puking and a few tears. I’m not feeling shit. Maybe they have a weak dose.

I am twiddling my feet to their music and thinking a few things.

Echad. Another person there said this to me. Just think about one. God. Yourself. So I am repeating that word.

I’m also saying “in and through,” breathe.

“What can I learn from this.”

They ask everyone either to sit and face the center of the room or lay down facing the center of the room. I’m laying on my back looking at the ceiling and to the door. I-kept-looking-at-the-door.

The music is playing and it’s Native American sounding music you’d imagine at a ceremony.

…Then all of a sudden I started getting extremely warm. My hands were on my heart and I kept tapping my finger to help pace my chest. It was racing, I was overheating. What’s happening?

I threw away all the blankets and pads I was using. I ripped my shirt off. It was just me, the mat and pillow. It was HOT.

Tried to breathe but the heat was getting a bit much and I called out for help. One of the assistants came over right away. Mind you that THEY also take the medicine at the same time. I assumed so that they could be safe they wouldn’t be doing the “drug” so they could safely help all ~20 people who were doing ayahuasca in the room.

He came over and I got on all fours. I’m like, it’s hot. Dude I am overheating. I need to get some air. He tried to fan me with his fan made of bird feathers. It wasn’t working so I got up and made a b-line for the door.

Outside felt better but my head was lost. What the FUCK is this feeling? I can’t breathe. I paced around the gravel outside. Whew. Breathe. In and through. I kept repeating but it wasn’t helping.

An assistant found me outside cause my headlamp was on and said it was safer for me to go back inside. I remember apologizing a lot and that I just needed to cool down a lot. Things were starting to get pixelated. He said it’s better to be inside.

Reluctantly I walked extremely slowly back inside the room to my mat. My head and heart was racing. Fuck I am going to die.

My thoughts turned to anger to my friends who said this was a good experience. FUCK YOU GUYS I’m screaming inside. You are partially conscious but partially not sure what the heck is happening.

If you get in a bad space you can call out for help. I did it again and they come over to do a ventiada. Yes more hippy sounding words but it means they come over and breathe on to your head, say a prayer and try to take away the evil spirits.

The assistant started this and I said get the fuck off me and ran back outside. It was too much.

I turned my light off outside and was so angry. I WILL NEVER do this again. I have to get out of here. I am out of my mind. Someone I know lives close by, it’s safer there and I have to make it there. He will help me if I get there. These ceremony people are the devil and their faces looked very scary when he tried to help me.

I paced around and made it to the main gravel road. Shirtless and shoeless I felt like a beast. I started running.

Running. Running. Running.

The trees looked like I was in one of those first person shooter games. All pixelated and confusing. My headlamp looked like a vector and hardly any light was coming out. I ran and ran.

On my right I came across the gates of Holocaust. I couldn’t tell who I was. I ran and never saw the road I needed. FUCK.

So I started running back to where the retreat was. but NO.. I wouldn’t be stopped so I tried running again away from the retreat to get to safety….

Running and running and running.

Finally I hunched over. I was exhausted. I wanted to cry. I wanted it to end.

I wasn’t in my own head or body. I didn’t even exist. I know it doesn’t make sense but all I had was my vision. I remember my legs, they were covered in dirt but the rest of my mind was somewhere else.

I wanted someone to save me. No one came. No one was coming. I had to help myself.

I was waving my light everywhere hoping someone would see me. We were in the middle of nowhere.

I did think what if a cop or someone picked me up. DUI or something. I was completely belligerent. How insane  would this be?

Reluctantly I had some conscious to head back to the retreat and try to cool down in my cabin. There was A/C!

I swear I saw lights on my way back but there weren’t any.

FORTUNATELY I found the familiar driveway and made my way to my cabin.

While walking back I remember feeling like my father. Raged. Uncaged and wild. There was a house and I knew someone was home so I walked to the door but was smart enough to know it would be bad to get their help…. So I kept stumbling around the retreat.

I found the first bed bunk and crashed. My head was racing, pounding, my heart and chest pounding. Hot. Racing. What is going on? I want it to STOP. End. Please have this end.

I remember thinking I haven’t been this fucked up in a long time, maybe ever.

Laying down made me feel worse so I paced my room and then walked outside and flashed my light. I didn’t want to detract from everyone else experience in the group and hopefully someone could see me so they wouldn’t worry.

Someone came into the room, he identified himself. I didn’t really have any body functions but let him know it was me.

Shortly after the main shaman walked in the room. He said, you’re pretty fucked up huh. Yea. I just need to calm down I said.

He said let’s go take cold shower. He helped me up and walked me to the outdoor shower.

Immediately I removed my clothes in front of him. His first response was, “oh god” and chuckled. I thought to myself how this is first time I’ve been comfortable and fuck it getting naked in front of someone else. Yay, I’m learning things but I’m still OUT OF MY FUCKING MIND. The cold shower helps a bit and I walk naked to the room.

He helps me get on the bed and lays me on the bed. He had a red light to help him see and I kept thinking he was the fucking devil. His face was looking old and not like I remember. He put my head on a pillow and started wishing to suck out the evil spirits on my head. Then he rubbed my head to get me to a good space. I wasn’t having it. Stop Zach. Stop. I just need to cool down. I’m tripping too hard.

He waited a bit and said ok…. not in a mean or mad way but then he said he has to go back to the ceremony. I was fine with it while I tried to regain who the fuck I was.

After an hour or so. You lose complete track of time I cooled down. I was in my boxers looking at the top of the bunk bed.

Whew…..Whew……Whew.

Wtf is this experience.

Not sure what calling happened but I was calmed down and knew I had to go back to the room.

Felt ashamed to go back and didn’t want to detract from anyone else’s experience. You couldn’t say bless you for sneezes or anything. Only could deal with yourself. I was scared. I was ashamed. I didn’t want to do it but I was more conscious and felt safe. Earlier I wanted to be as far away from the room as possible. Saying I will NEVER do this again. It made me think about my Tony Robbins experience where I left after a few hours. Here I was doing it again….

On the way back to the ceremony room I heard a woman singing. It was perfect and safe. It drew me back and I walked into the room and down on my mat.

Whew…Whew….Whew. Breathing. Calm down..

Tapping on my finger Echad (means one in Hebrew). It’s okay.

Immediately sighed, thinking THANK GOD my girlfriend didn’t do this. I protected her from doing it.

This is when things got fucking hard.

The music in the room was gorgeous. Instruments and sounds from a woman….

My mind started racing with everything going on and I literally don’t know where the thoughts came from but they did….

I miss my dad. Wondered if it was like him tonight. An uncaged animal. Running.

This came to me right away. And then I sat up.

I cried, lightly. Then the fucking hard. A lot.

It was just like him, wreaking havoc on others. It made me realize that how I was so difficult and wild earlier tonight was how others in my life must feel interacting with me. They just tried to help, that’s all them, the shamans, my co-workers and girlfriend are doing and I can be so tiring for them.

I blow up a lot of things. Make it tiring for others. Need to focus on building together instead of destroying.

The music picks up and starts getting more intense while you are in there. It’s like it knows what you need.

My thoughts then raced to just being loved. And how the whole experience was just myself. No one else. I have to face it myself. Make my own decisions. Help myself. Go help yourself.

Then I thought more of my dad and how he’s not here to love me so I have to love myself. And I am not loving myself. I am running away from things.

Running from here. Running from Austin to Los Angeles. Running from one work project to the next. I was avoiding of dealing with myself.

And doing all these things to just distract myself from having to deal with myself.

Past years or months I’m not facing me. Looking everywhere but myself. I had all I ever needed. Started with all the mats and blankets and needing my place somewhere. Then I got rid of them. It was only me on the mat. Anyplace is fine and I have more than enough. Don’t have to keep running.

That’s what it was. Just loving me for me.

Felt like I was crying as a kid all over again. In fetal position on my side like I did as a kid. Crying for his love. His attention. Realized I still miss him and want that validation. Don’t want him to be gone. Wondered when am I a man. Love myself.

My dad passed and I was scared of other things leaving so I pushed them away.

I imagined my girlfriend and how she’s been so strong and her reaching out for me. Wanting me. I’m pushing her away. Sabotaging it.

[Kept saying “Echad.” Left hand on heart. Right hand above. Tap the finger once. Echad. One.]

I wanted Ly to take care of me at that moment. So badly. I knew she would. Then I was scared she wouldn’t love me for me. Or she wouldn’t take care of me. Like when I told her the massage girl tried to touch my penis. She got upset with me. I cried now cause I just wanted her to accept me for me.

And now realizing the experience was always for me. Not her. She’s been clear. Reflected how I’ve felt so dull and temporary for such a long time.

Like her parents leaving Vietnam and she’s in distant new place and this guy who’s not taking care of her. At all. She just wants me present. Just hanging out. I fantasize about laying on a beach, talking, doing nothing. I missed our mushy nights and imagined banging her from behind. How we haven’t been connected and it’s me being so callous for so long. I admired her strength and felt so sorry. I cried. We live next to a beach and I reflected how recently I walk along it in a cloud. Not appreciating how amazing and great life is.

And I behave like my dad. Giving gifts instead of giving the time I wanted. And she’s just asking for it….

Love Ly beyond what I can imagine.  Have to share with her myself, the history of my dad, my fears, give her words of affirmation and quality attention. Consistently. Make time for us to enjoy each other’s company without distraction.

Made me realize you need help of others at times. It’s a good thing.  They are strong and can help you. Like Adam Gilbert who’s blanket I was now using to cover myself.

I was excited for future. For our Austin house. Thought of it.

Didn’t think of mom or brother. Which was strange to me…

Then thought of Norm (step-dad) and how I resented him for taking my dads place. Which I didn’t even realize was a block and he’s always been there for me. He’s now taking the physical place of my dad. In a good way. I will change it. He’ll be called dad.

You have to realize you are unsure how the medicine and the music and the experience are triggering these thoughts. I can’t explain it. I was just bent over crying, sniffling, using all my tissues while thinking about all these things.

Grabbed for flash light but realized I had everything I need. Just me. I have everything I need. I’ve had it all along and I’m looking outside vs appreciating all the greatness I already have. Stop trying to distract and avoid dealing with myself. Loving myself.

So hard to face yourself. To cry openly. To acknowledge. Is it dulling? Maybe. Is it a realistic vision of yourself? Hell yes.

With loving myself it doesn’t matter where I live. It matters I’m with someone who won’t leave me and appreciate me for me.

Thought about with my podcast, where I come across as needy since I need them cause I’m not happy with me. Instead of loving myself and coming from that place when working with people to be on it.

Looking around the room I felt sad and gave love for everyone else hoping they get what they want and the journey they are facing. Cried again.  Everyone’s going through things. We ignore that.

I judge so much. Every person before it started I had assumptions about. It does Nothing for me. More it’s I’m insecure with myself.

It’s so much clearer and not at the same time.  Came into this way too light. Kicked my ass. Fuck 2 more days I thought to myself. :O

Lately, I want it fast and over. No appreciation for longer deeper relationships. Work. Skills. Mastery.

I did recall during thinking fucking white people. All on the floor in some random building, doing drugs and using this as new age shit to help themselves. And how my friend Neville would be teasing me about this : )

Reflected on how the whole time I kept looking at the door and for my escape plan. Looking to get out. Didn’t deal w the challenge. Whish

The lights gently fade on and the first nights ceremony begins its closing procedure. Holy shit, that was just night 1?!?

To close the ceremony everyone comes to the front mesa (“alter”) and the Shamans do a  Ventiada on you. They then sing to you and then come to you and breathe on your head and do arm waving with sounds. I know I know. It sounds weird as fuck. They do the whishing sound here too. But at that moment I felt the prayers and strength and pride for me facing my fear and having courage. Funny cause I pushed this away at the beginning of the night.

Then after it was all over — Zach (shaman) came over and hugged me. I cried in his embrace.

Opened Topo Chico’s for people. Remember rubbing the Topo Chico on my head and cheeks, never had that ice coldness felt so refreshing. I was having trouble opening the bottles…Then used other side of bottle opener, stupid life lesson since one side didn’t work. There’s a way.

Room reminded me kindergarten where no judgment or status and how much opportunities there are for growth. Put the ice cold bottle down. Wasn’t really hungry like others. Drank. Felt hydrating.

The Shaman commented on the cords of my shorts. Made me think there’s always more to life and the experience. What a night. Fucking cords (my sweat shorts had cords). Is everything a lesson?

What was interesting was the Shaman’s reaction. It wasn’t mad. He said he’s seen way worse and he’s there to help me on my journey. Not judge it. I appreciated that.

Felt like I shed the pain and cloudiness of weeks in one night. Can’t run from the issues.

After we left, went over to make sure Billy is ok. Hard not to help others, especially during the experience. You are forced to help yourself first. Found his cabin. Debated checking since he was having his own reflection time. I don’t empathize enough. I haven’t cried like this since elementary school. I just knocked to make sure he’s ok. He was and said thanks.

Note to self: I need to get way better at buying snacks for myself!!! Go to the store. Not always better delivery. Stop being so fucking cheap.

Then I brushed my teeth and pushups. Some things don’t change. Same nightly activity for 15 years.

When I was outside I was so adamant about never doing this again. I’m scared to fucking do it tonight again. I was ready to leave but I stayed and faced it. Had to do it in my own way.

I’ll do it later tonight. Much much smaller dose.

If I had to summarize the night in one word: Self-Love

Toilet paper

Toilet paper ready for the first night. By night 3, it was all gone.

———

Day 2 – Scared

Intention: Be safe.

I was so traumatized from the night before I planned on going super light tonight.

This night wasn’t as eventful and I needed that.

For context of what you do during the day it’s not much. The ceremony goes from 8pm-4am or so. You talk for an hour then wake up around 10am for breakfast, do a group circle to discuss what you experienced from 11-2pm, then lunch then you nap / rest / journal until the next ceremony.

One thing I liked is reducing judgment or opinions on everyone’s experiences. When we hear people tell us things we immediately respond with advice on what they are saying. Or if someone is fat or driving an Uber or whatever, we immediately assume a bunch of shit about them. Okay, you’re perfect. I’m speaking for myself. It was a nice time of reflection NOT to do that at all. Not saying I’ll never judge again but I’m more aware of it and that’s all a reflection on myself.

The Shaman is very “real.” He does have spiritual songs, uses special liquid to remove negative energies and has certain protecting rocks. But the guy is also very human about the experience. One lady was telling her story and he used jokes about Def Leppard and pour some sugar on me. It made me listen more to his suggestions. He’s done these ceremonies over 1500 times. That means he’s been tripping balls for over 5 years. He even said if you want to have fun, go take acid and go to a park. This is not for the faint of heart. Very real.

Random notes before the 2nd ceremony started:

  1. Embracing the pain is good. Don’t fight it or run away from it. Go in and through it. Best way to deal and solve it.
  2. Judgment is your own insecurity. Self-explanatory.
  3. You have everything you need. Run into yourself.
  4. Read Book: After ecstasy do the laundry

Of things I’ve LOVED this year Bo Jackson’s BoBikesBama.com and SumoRide.com are the main things. Do more of them next year. Maybe in low income areas of people + places I want to help:

Mac Miller World Tour

  • Pittsburgh (Mac + Wiz)
  • Chicago (Chance)
  • Akron (Lebron)
  • Austin (Lance / Noah)
  • Los Angeles (Kendrick Lamar)
  • Detroit (Mike Posner / Big Sean)

I was VERY scared going into night 2. I did not want a repeat of the night before. Many times the shaman’s said if you feel like you are dying during the ceremony, then die. Yea, I basically went beyond dying last night and am good for a decaf version of tonight.

So Night 2 begins…

I took 2 — 1/4 shots.  Less than 1/2 what I took the night before.

Tonight was VERY different. It was relaxed. I didn’t lose myself at all. Was scared to go where I went the night before.

Didn’t really have any BREAKTHROUGHS but had some flashes.

Really enjoyed listening to the women sing tonight. They all take turns and sometimes they do it in unison.

Hippies always talk about feminine energy…But it was nice tonight, like mother earth. There were a few moments I felt like was in the earth (note we are in 1-inch padded mat so you kind of are) or I was floating.

I didn’t lose my mind and mostly was reflecting on everything going on.

A few notes were how much I appreciated the clean eating and being healthy. How the past week my body has really appreciated it. No coffee, etc.. Makes me feel better. More energy. Less fussy.  For future less alcohol, more fruit, less beef.

Judgment is hard to spell (is there an e or not?) and hard not to do but good to work on it.

One vision I had was this machine or dark area and I was putting my ex’s in boxes in their places. Not like I ignored them but thank them for the chapters in my life and opening me for this next chapter.

Being on the floor I thought of my nephew cause kids are on the floor and giving him more attention.

Reflected on giving my girlfriend more love so she feels safe. What women say or are angry about is generally never what they are really mad about. Have to really be aware of that.

Thought how girls love flowers and candles. Do more of that at home.

Kevin (one of the assistants) came over and acknowledged forgetting to do something he promised with me. A ventiada if you’re curious. They can do them at times during the ceremony. It made me feel recognized and heard. Grew up a lot with a dad who didn’t often follow through.

Started considering ready for a child not out of boredom but next challenge in my life.

Imagined Ly at the alter. Was Nice. Kinda looked like princess Lea but in a Vietnamese dress.

Thought about being 60 and how my kid would be 20. That’s still young. Hope I look good.

When do people start being adults?

Had nice hug with another guy at the retreat towards end of ceremony. We don’t do those enough.

Rain came down super hard which was fitting and many of us were thinking about dancing in the rain. Made me think about being a kid and how the layers of our life just keep adding on top of us. Covering up all the fun.

I walked outside and enjoyed being in the rain for a bit. Had some great memories of paper boats and letting them run down the streets.

Things I want to do for myself:

  • Trust myself
  • Not sweat it
  • Help fix the situation
  • Explore
  • Not sweat it and just be
  • Make time just for myself
  • Take more time to appreciate everything I DO have
  • There’s more than enough.
  • There’s a solution. Always.

More sleep is always better.

Thought about getting older, balding and what it must feel for my mom to see that. Her youngest child. And how I wear a hat. Just general thoughts about death and aging.

Don’t need to always fill up my schedule.

I wasn’t disappointed with tonight but felt like I did it with training wheels on. It is what I needed. It was a safe time for reflection and clarity.

Does everything come back to how we were raised?

Got asked the question what amount of money to NOT start a business? I liked that.

Need to take care of my relationship/ / that is stability so I can take care of other things.

Thought about making money and how fuck… Can’t really remember but I have more than enough but wanted to prove to my dad I can do it. Never really got acknowledged. More here but wasn’t as strong.

Yea as you can read through it was a lot of random glimpses into things I haven’t really thought about or recognized in awhile.

Drawing

My drawing while taking the medicine.

——

Day 3 – Family

Intention: What do I need to face? What do I need to let go?

Going into day I am NOT as scared since I took it too safe the night before. I have questions about what I want to face / let go.

Got anxious as fuck cause I know was “going back in.” All day leading into it. What is this going to teach me?

The ceremony begins:

To begin, I moved my mat closer to the Shaman. After having such a shitty first time, I thought being in a new position would bring new ideas. Sometimes in life it’s good to change things up to see how it affects the experience.

I started with repeating a mantra of I am safe and rubbing my finger and thumbs. Then touching my earrings. This helped ground me and remind me I’m human. Which I truly didn’t think I was the first night.

I am safe. I am safe. Then out of nowhere from taking about 3/4 a regular shot of ayahuasca. (The first day was full shot.) I added in the mantra “I am ready.”

I am safe, I am ready. I am safe, I am ready. I am safe, I am ready.

Then

In and through. In and through. In and through.

Repeated that for awhile.

As it got started there was a scream and a lot of commotion. I had no idea what it was. Found out later a girl got stung by a scorpion. No big deal one of the assistants went over and sucked out the negative energy. Size of a golf ball and spit it out. All cured.

I was sitting up on my mat while it started and for a good hour in the darkness just enjoyed the music.

Then it hit me.

Whoa. I am fucked up. It’s overwhelming and intense.

You see geometric shapes everywhere.  You are kinda conscious but not at the same time.

It is very weird how the medicine and songs come together to activate your brain. I highly doubt just taking the Ayahuasca by itself would be as effective. There was a brief moment of fear and considered running for the door but I breathed through it. Face it.

Then I saw the door and smiled to myself how far I’ve come that I want to be in this room. I’m not running. I’m facing and staying.

Noticed how when men were singing I wanted to sit up and be at attention.

It was the complete opposite with the women. I felt safe to lay down.

Right away in the beginning when my brain was all over the place, my mom came to look over me. It was weird af.

A grey light shine down on me and protected me. Ly was with her and they were both shielding and loving me. It gave me strength.

Imagined my mom being young and loving something. Her being scared and her taking care of us. Laid down when women in front were singing and let them all sooth me and create a stable foundation. Nurturing me. I know, it’s weird but I’m tripping balls. Realized I need that foundation for me to do greatness in my life.

There was an ocean wave, maybe it was about Los Angeles?

I have everything.

You have to realize my mind is saying what do I need to let go and what should I face….

but the medicine and yes at this point I’m like this shit is MEDICINE. It’s really helping me. There’s NO way I would have these thoughts or realizations any other way.

It brought my mom in which I had not thought of or really expected.

Then 1/2 through a major block realized — I haven’t had empathy or feelings really since my dad died. I was scared of people leaving me. I haven’t really cried a lot since then either.

The same reason family has never crossed my mind. I’m running. Stop running. Ly is strong. She can handle it. She’s not leaving.  I thought how my mom liked Ly.

Imagined my father drinking beer and looking old + sick on his bed. I teared and sucked in his pain.

Realized I’ve been dull AF and this gave me sharpness to everything.  I’ve been acting out or feels that way.

I noticed my smell at this point. I was stinky, no deodorant and I fucking loved it. All raw, all man. Me.

Somehow in thinking about my dad and love and the music I got to Yoko Ono.

My dad loved Yoko and for some reason I forgave her in that moment for ruining the Beatles. John loved and needed her.

The women singing at the event called me in and calmed me. Floating in the rain and clouds as the woman music was lifting me. I was outside but inside. Some of the songs sounded hebrew, ly ly ly ly….

It felt like the world’s best concert.

This medicine gave me what I needed.

Next I saw a baby coming through a tunnel, assuming it was a vagina.

It clicked on my that my next project is a family.

I’ve been sabotaged that possibility for awhile cause didnt want it to leave me to. Fear.

I am ready….

To be a man

To be a dad

To get married

Imagined how it’s nearly impossible for anyone to understand the scariness of the shapes, how my brain is tripping the fuck out and how these thoughts are coming to.

Then I saw large animals all over the floor, like kids toys.

One song a guy sang (you can’t see anything it’s pitch black) — felt like we were around a campfire and our kids are dancing around it.

Then Kevin played a drum loudly and walked around the room. WAKING everyone the fuck up. I sat up on my knees and I felt like a young warrior being christened. At the same time a flute being played across the room made it feel like a mating ritual was happening between the two people.

Felt like I became a man tonight. I was reborn. Stood up. A warrior.

It’s all sacred and real.

Also realized don’t need help with some things and more I need to do it myself. Stop asking for opinions or bringing on people like my Rich People book, I have to face and do it myself.

I CAN make my own decisions.

Chad (my biz partner) was in my mind this night as he appeared in a circle. I realized I need to help him. He needs my help.

It’s just me and the mat that was there tonight. No one else.

What was blowing my mind as the night was winding down was how all of this was inside of me. The whole time. But I didn’t realize it or face it. Started realizing I understand why all the people who talked to me about it afterwards were so about it. Aubrey Marcus, etc… I got it at that moment.

Towards the end I snuck out briefly and ran to my room to write something down

“I never want to do Ayahuasca again.”

You can’t describe WTF just happened. It was the most empowering and scary moment of my life at the same time. That’s the first words that came to me. It seems counterintuitive since the medicine was so helpful but it scared me so much at that time I couldn’t imagine to do it again.

On my way back to the room I sat and appreciated the stars. Just soaked them in.

I tried Rape (spelling) that’s kinda like legal Native American cocaine (it’s combination of tobacco, ash and mystic shit). I tried a hit and it wakes you the fuck up. It’s insane.

Thought about alcohol, weed and other substances in my life. It felt like they dulled my life. It also felt like its me avoiding feelings and not dealing with them. More running.

During the final ventiada I kneeled while they blow air (whish sound) on my head. Their prayers and song were magnificent. I could literally tell it was filling up my soul.

Then had insane realization during it about why I hate dogs. For the past years I’ve never cared for them and brush them off when they are close. It was my dad and him passing. God noah, get over your dad but this is some subconscious shit I haven’t realized. I can like them!

Over time in night 3 it was scary, it was emotional and then it was beautiful. I noticed I stopped saying I am safe, I am ready. I was in the situation.

Journal

Wanted to use Ayahuasca to get through blocks in my life. I discovered more than I ever imagined.

———

Post-script

Imagined being 80 years old and looking back at how this experience was critical in shaping my life. The medicine as someone said will give you as much as you can handle. And exactly what you need.

This night felt like super advanced meditation where you are reaching peace and deep place within yourself to face hard hard realities. I have no clue how it all works but I’m grateful for the insight.

Haven’t spent so much time talking and thinking in god knows how long. I appreciated that.

I canceled 2 days of meetings for afterwards and wanted to spend time mostly alone. Enjoying myself, liking myself and doing things I want. Got massages and went to a float tank. Lost in thoughts and discussion with my fellow attendees.

Did it all really happen?

Will these takeaways stick?

Would I have gotten these thoughts without this medicine?

I’ve said love before to Ly but didn’t mean that until now. What’s different?

I was me holding me back from myself.

Does everything happen that’s going to happen like the people who become rich / famous?

Is it just embrace it, let go of it all and go all in with stable foundation?

Could it ever be the same again?

Was thinking that the medicine trips you out and a lot of the first parts of taking ayahuasca were hard which tired us out and then let to explore parts of ourselves we’ve never wanted to before.

Other breakthroughs people in our group realized were:

  • how to get over being sexually molested
  • what specific things were holding back a couples relationship
  • if there’s a god
  • what is love
  • what their life’s purpose is

A new friend I made there said it felt like Aya is the matrix, where you plug in any question you have and get the answer.

A bit scared of sharing this experience publicly since it is so personal and what light it portrays me in. But realized that life is short and this helped me so much and it could possibly help many many others.

I’m scared of doing it again, it was hard that last night. That was not easy to get to those thoughts and 7 hours on any mat is tough.

I feel like it opened me up for a bright and amazing future. Have to start thinking best for family and more quality time with my partner.

Wasn’t expecting to walk away like this, expected you should go do X for your biz and maybe break up with your gf. Boy was I in for a treat….

Nothing is as scary once you go through it. Had no idea I was holding myself back from so much. FULLY leaned in.

Would I have gotten here in other ways? NO WAY.

I could have processed, meditated, therapy for years and don’t think in a weekend I would realize I need to love myself more, I’m ready for a family, I have to let Ayman fully grow, step in and help Chad, have my solid foundation of women (Ly + mom) and focus on the work that matters which is the rich people book, sharing great peoples stories (podcast) and doing my charity bike rides.

How does the medicine (Aya) plus the music work? The shaman even calls it technology. It MAKES NO SENSE how it triggers those things. My previous self would have INSTANTLY dismissed this shit. There has to be science and proof. All that science is man made. And whether its placebo or its plant science that we don’t understand yet. I’m still grateful to have come across it at this time in my life.

Closing my eyes and listening to the music of the night, here’s download link. It brings me right back.

Sunset

Beautiful sunset during one of the days at the experience

——

Post Ayahuasca Integration

At the same time last week I was driving casually to the retreat center. What a week it’s been.

The first day out of it I felt pretty normal. I wasn’t sure if it was a dream or if it all happened. The post trip they call it integration. For sure I cannot look at the world the same again. Almost feels like I have as many questions as I got answers from that experience.

Listening to a bunch of Icaros (songs of retreat) brings me back and washes over me a sense of calm. This has been highly related to my sense of energy. What impacts it positively or negatively. Drake’s “Energy” – song is an anthem for it.

I removed all potentially negative meetings, people or events and spent a lot of not stimulating my brain (no audio books, no email, removed instagram, etc). Spent time walking on the beach and this time it felt like I was seeing it completely different. A bit hard to explain…but I am friendly to the homeless people “good morning” or the ocean and its depth gives me so much hope. Even thought to myself how I’m so glad I’m alive and how I wish there was almost way more time alive to enjoy everything. On day 2 post integration I felt the Zen. Peaceful.

Sometimes I got into discussions with people and instantly it hurt my energy. I am sure you can relate in your next interaction. What drains or upsets or just irks you right away? It was that. Instantly.

Another piece is not having to explain myself. Didn’t realize how common that is. When things happen people want to hear or give you comments about it. A good friend said to use the line, “I’m still processing what happened and not ready to talk about it.” We don’t have to share everything. It’s okay if its just for yourself.

A friend texted me “Takes a lot of courage to face what’s in you.” This couldn’t be more exact. The experience was the MOST real mirror of yourself reflected back at you. No sugar coating. Whether it’s aya the self-reflection is a very powerful for self-improvement. It’s the opposite of dulling. It’s extremely sharpening your sense of self, purpose and power. Aligning.

Last night while I was brushing my teeth I generally don’t look in the mirror. Don’t want to see myself. I forced myself to look. To love myself. To appreciate the wrinkles, the hair, the creases, everything. Relieving. Have to keep looking and going in.

On reflection Aya is a vine. It comes from the tree. It clicked with me how true that is. It’s taking you down to the roots. So much therapy and self-help like Tony Robbins deal with surface level issues. This goes right for the heart. Right for what’s really going on.

A few things have come up this week that have been great:

  • Daily Empowerment. Created daily empowerment which is a note of things I really want to take away from the experience. I’ve been reading it in the morning and it brings me back. Grounds and empowers me.
  • Remove the drains. Not checking the news, email, text messages, Slack or Instagram is so healthy. So much of that is negative, reactive and draining. More I get more energy in creation, deep discussions and the things I’m insanely stoked about. One question a friend said was “if you had 10 million dollars NOT to work on your biz, would you?” I loved it. What’s really important? What’s not?

Had a few conversations that instantly drained me, not saying should avoid hard things or challenges; just be aware the time for handling that.

  • When’s my next booster shot? This was extreme self-therapy. How can I do this regularly? Every 6 months? Not sure therapy will even compare for me in the future. But how can I keep working on myself consistently. Think doing float tanks where all distractions are removed help. Have to put in my calendar or make effort for routine maintenance.
  • Music is a trigger. At the gym it pumps me up and the music from experience is good way to go back to grounding. Back to myself.
  • Share. Interviewed the Shaman and he said a great shaman is someone who doesn’t make you dependent. Wow, love that message.. Also, don’t pressure or tell anyone else to do Aya, just share your message. I debated long if I wanted to be associated with it. The fact I’ll die and it won’t matter, removed having regret from the stigma. I feel compelled to share. It makes me feel good without the need for validation.

A few people asked who should go do this? You’ll know when it’s right.

In and through.