Revelations from my Ayahuasca Retreat
The other day while I was meditating, I observed my breath. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. After a few moments, my mind began racing, chasing thoughts like a dog after cars. My thoughts wandered to the list of things that I had going on that day, to the regrets that I had about spending too much money on my fur coat for Burning Man, and how we humans were ruining our planet. When I realized that the mind had wandered, I brought it back, reeling it in like a fishing line, back to the present. The present is the only reality that is real. The sensation of my hands on my legs, the sound of the breeze outside my window, the sun’s rays lightly coating my eyelids. That is what is real. All else is a myth, stories that I have made up about my connection to myself, the people around me, this world.
A few months ago after I returned from the Ayahuasca retreat, I never felt more in touch with the collective conscious. I turned off my phone and left it in a drawer at my desk, and I quit my job to seek spiritual enlightenment. I haven’t found it yet, but by changing my diet to one consisting solely of vegetables and fruit, I have extricated all the toxins from my body so that my body can function and serve me as it was designed to. This is also when I began my microdosing regimen. My daily routine involves waking up, drinking maté that I bought from a shaman in Peru, turning on my 10 minutes of Headspace, and doing a small dosage of LSD. This dosage isn’t as much as I would normally do before a rave or on the Playa, but it’s enough to alter my perception and provide me inspiration for my day’s work.
Though I’m not working these days, I bought a set of watercolors and have taken up a painting hobby. The LSD has inspired a series of paintings of trees. My favorite is the Redwood tree, which I could draw for days. When I got back from the Ayahuasca retreat in Peru, I had this strong sense that humans and trees were not all that different, we were all one. One wood. I had this revelation after I threw up on my trip that we are all connected, my suffering is the suffering of a child in Africa, and his suffering is that of a panda being hunted in China. The panda eats from the bamboo tree, which gives it life, and the tree feeds from the rains that fall, the sun that shines, and those elements are the same across the entire world. I wondered if we could all just love each other then our differences would matter less. If we could just wake up from our slumber to look at our hands and see that my neighbor is an extension of me.
I am thinking of moving to this Ashram in India, where I can cultivate my spiritual practice. This world is steeped in capitalism and consumption in such unhealthy ways that I can’t continue to partake in these rituals. Every time that I buy a pack of cigarettes or drop off my laundry to be washed, I am sickened by how I am contributing to the strengthening of these power structures that transactionalize human interaction and commoditize the world around us. I can feel these practices closing my heart chakra. When I told my therapist that I quit my job and was moving to India, she voiced sadness about not seeing me at Burning Man this year, but I assured her that I would fly back for the event. I can’t miss the Playa and Black Rock City. It’s one of the most unique places in this world.
Every year that I go to Burning Man, I want to bring back the experience to the default world. People are so open there, so full of life, and it’s incredible how instead of shaking hands as a greeting, people hug. I met this woman there last year at sunrise of the last day after the Temple burning, and she offered me a gift. Of course she asked for my consent, which I consented. Then, she told me to close my eyes, and she put this unknown substance into my mouth. I swallowed it, and she spit in my mouth so that I could wash the substance down. I asked her what it was, and she told me that it was a surprise. And a surprise it was!
We danced until I lost track of time. At one point, I could no longer feel my face, and I had this thought that the girl, who was no longer there, was a part of my dream, a messenger from another world that came to show me something. I woke up in my bed that day and couldn’t be sure whether or not the prior evening had really happened. I go back and forth.
I don’t know what I’ll do at the Ashram. People ask me whether I’m going to “find myself,” but I don’t believe that one ever “finds” himself. It’s a constant search, a process, like observing one’s reality and breath. I’m not sure what I am seeking but the escape from my current culture will be cathartic, a form of therapy. American politics have become toxic. I turn on the news, and I hear about the Republicans and the Democrats duking it out. I read headlines about immigrant families being separated at the border and school shootings that happen daily. The air is heavy in the United States. The air is like a thick summer heatwave that has put people to sleep here. We are under a capitalistic spell of materialism, dehumanization, and politicization that is suffocating every person caught in its grasp. I’ve got to get out before it gets me too.
I’ve been trying to convince all my friends to quit their jobs and come with me, but many of them have said that their companies are about to IPO or that they haven’t fully vested, but they’ll pack their things, sell their possessions, and join me as soon as they do. Imagine having a utopia somewhere away from this crazy place, where we can grow vegetables in a garden, walk around barefoot so that we can touch the earth with every step, nibble on cacao in the morning to make us glow, play music by the fire, and forget all our concerns. I would call the community “Mindful-ville,” because the goal is to always engage with the present, to be mindful of every action, every thought, and to translate all of that into the now.
Before arriving at Mindful-ville, everyone would have to change their name as a symbol of shedding their old skin, like a snake, and their transformation into something new. In India, I’ll give this oasis some more thought. I may need to go back to my former investors to ask them to fund this project. I’ll tell them that it’s a “social enterprise,” a venture that will have an impact on the world. We can create intellectual property around the values that we create at Mindful-ville. I’m sure the investors wouldn’t mind visiting this experiment in the woods as an escape from the rat race they deal with every day. I think it’s a good idea.
But then again, who knows how I’ll feel when I get to that point in the future? The best that I can do for this Universe is inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, body scan, then back to the breath. At least, that’s what Headspace tells me.