My Ayahuasca Experience — A Heavenly Hell
The first dose has been taken.
Before I jump into the story I want to provide some context of my life and previous experiences — Throughout the last three years I have been seriously practicing meditation. I have completed three Vipassana Meditation courses, twice as a student and once as a volunteer, helping the other meditators.
To prepare for Ayahuasca I decided to meditate 2x a day for an hour at a time for the entire week leading up to the trip. I had also been on a vegetarian diet, no weed or cigarettes, and no caffeine (all things recommended before/during Vipassana as well). I wanted to treat this Ayahuasca experience as an extension of Vipassana. I wanted to treat the experience as a 10 hour meditation session.
In the tradition of Vipassana by S.N. Goenka, you spend the first 1/3 of your time paying attention to your respiration. This means you focus on the breath>mind wanders>realize your mind has wandered>bring attention back to the breath.
The next 2/3 of your time is spent in concentration on the sensations of the body. Scanning the body for feelings, both pleasant and unpleasant. This can be tingling, itching, vibrating, pain, coolness, heat, whatever your body is feeling.
We were scheduled to take up to three doses throughout the course of the next 7 hours. In line with Vipassana, I decided I would spend the first dose with focus on my respiration, and then after the 2nd dose focus my attention on bodily sensation.
After taking my dose I sat down on a pair of stairs in the far back of the forest and began to meditate.
At first I didn’t feel anything too much. Maybe just a little bit stoned. I continued to focus all of my energy on my breath, calming my nerves as I waited for the unknown and mysterious effects of Ayahuasca to kick in.
After around 30 minutes or so I began to lightly feel the effects. It became hard to sit crossed legged. My body felt heavy and it was difficult to maintain my focus. I decided to go lay down.
As I laid down I continued to focus on my respiration. I could start to see the beginnings of some visuals. Wisps of rainbows coming through my vision. Faint, like a strand of hair. Just barely noticeable.
I also remember a while light towards the top of my head. It was so bright that I thought someone was shining a light at me. I opened my eyes to see that there was nothing there.
As I opened my eyes the entire canopy of trees above me was a giant fractal. An intense black and white geometrical pattern broken into triangles and diamonds.
The trip has officially started.
I closed my eyes again, determined to focus on my breath and try not get lost in thought. A fruitless attempt.
As I observed my breath, I reminded myself to stay present. Then I thought about “presents”, gifts. The present moment is truly a present, a gift. A treasure. Something to be cherished.
Unfortunately, most of us are so lost in thought that we’re not truly present. We don’t see the gift that is life. Instead of living in and appreciating the present moment, we are constantly reflecting on past events, or projecting into the future for what we need to do next. If we do try to remain present, it’s a fleeting experience.
As much as I wanted to merely focus on my breath, my mind was running wild. It was difficult to concentrate. My mind kept oscillating around the idea of the present moment.
Suddenly I became very excited. I realized that I could spend time here trying to pay attention to my breath, or lost in though, or, I could go EXPERIENCE the present moment.
I decided to go for a walk.
Prior to the experience people had expressed to me that it would be difficult to walk, but I found it strangely easy. Even pleasant. I had a rhythm to my steps. I felt fluid. Like I was a walking manifestation of Tai-Chi movements. Let’s call it “Troy-Chi” to have some fun ;)
I took my shoes off to walk barefoot. I wanted to connect with the earth. Feel it underneath my feet, and get into my body. While I did this I found it easier to connect with my breath as well. Walking seemed to help me remain present with my respiration.
So I continued to walk, following a path that would lead me out of the camp that we were in.
I began to think about the “Law of Impermanence” in Buddhism. This essentially refers to the fact that every moment, every experience, every feeling — is not permanent. It is fleeting. It is here one second, gone the next. Constantly arising and passing.
I became acutely aware of my breath. Grateful for my breath. I began to see each and every breath as a gift. Aware that no two breaths are the same. No breath in, or breath out, will ever be the same as the one I had just experienced.
I was grateful for the fact that my feet allow me to stand. That my legs allow me to move. That my body can stand upright and take me from place to place as needed. Aware that no two steps are ever the same. Each step we take in life is unique, different from the ones before it, or the steps we are yet to take.
The taste of the air was palpable. Delicious. The ground under my feet was delectable.
Then I remembered a book I recently read, called Zorba the Greek. In this book there is a character named Zorba who absolutely loves women of all shapes and sizes. He has a rant at one point in the book that really resonated with me.
I can’t find the exact quote, but it was something along the lines of, “all women want to be is observed, appreciated, and admired. All women want to be appreciated for their beauty. To be gaped at in awe and told that they are beautiful. To have someone experience their beauty.”
Suddenly I realized that this was mother nature. All mother nature wants is to be observed, appreciated and admired. She’s just like any other woman. She wants you to gape in awe at her beauty. To be present with her, instead of wrapped in thought. To give her all of your attention and appreciation.
I felt a rush of feelings overwhelm my body as I appreciated the beauty of mother nature. Gratitude filled every orafice of my body as I thanked this beautiful mother of a universe for giving birth to me. For giving me the opportunity to experience this mystical beauty she has to offer.
While all of this was going on I had moved myself through the forest and made it to the path outside of the camp. Standing there gaping in awe at the trees around me, the music from camp was still audible.
Still relishing the present moment, focusing on my breath, the music began to take over. My body began to flow back and forth, side to side. I started to dance. I danced a “Troy-Chi” flow of movements that would seem strange at best if you were to see me doing it.
I spent what felt like 30 minutes or so dancing by myself in the woods. By this point I was having some colorful visions as well, so I could literally see my dancing manifesting as visions. As I moved, colors moved with me. Hairlike rainbows flowing with my movements. It was a lot of fun! :P
Eventually I made my way back to the camp and found myself a seat in the back of the woods on the same stone stairs. I decided to smoke a cigarette.
At this point, despite the fact I was clearly tripping, I was ready for more.
The first dose was a lot like my experiences on mushrooms. Colorful, giddy, filled with emotion and gratitude. But nothing earth shattering. Nothing of the blast-off -into-space things I had read about when looking into Ayahuasca.
I was ready for the next dose.
I could see that my friend was sitting up again, and I walked over and asked him for some water. I had a pretty nasty taste in my mouth between the Ayahuasca (herbal tabasco soup), and the cigarette I had been smoking, so I wanted to rinse out my mouth.
As I asked him for the water, the ceremony organizers made their call for the 2nd round of Ayahuasca.
The water could wait, it was time to dive deeper into the rabbit hole.
As I walked up to take my next dose they asked me, “Do you want a deeper experience?”
To that I replied with certainty, “Sim”
With that my 2nd dose of Ayahuasca was officially in my system.
I returned to my stairs in the back of the forest, which had now become my preferred meditation spot. It was time to begin the Vipassana body scans.
Before I begin this next part it’s important that I express a hunch I’ve had ever since delving into the world of meditation and DMT.
My theories on Meditation and DMT:
For those who might not know, DMT is a fascinating psychedelic. Why? Because it’s the only endogenous psychedelic known to man. This means that our body produces it on it’s own. Most notably, we produce it when we’re born and when we die (and during near death experiences). It’s also theorized that there might be a correlation between dream states as well.
Unlike psilocybin, LSD, mescaline, or other psychedelics that must be ingested, DMT is produced naturally by the human brain. AND not only the human brain, but every animal on the planet. Every living thing produces DMT, from a blade of grass to cows to monkeys to humans. Other than DNA, it is the common link that binds all living beings together.
If you look up common experiences of DMT, people report, quite literally, blasting off into outer space. They enter into a realm of fractal images, intense colors and geometrical patterns. All the while “energy beings”, for lack of a better description, guide them throughout this process telling them to try not to be overwhelmed and to take in the experience.
This picture by Alex Grey is a pretty accurate image of what the DMT world looks like (and all of his other artwork as well).
Just to further simplify — DMT is a psychedelic naturally produced by your brain that is secreted when you are born and when you die, or when your body thinks it’s about to die. AND it’s a common link between every living thing on the planet.
If this isn’t fascinating enough, when people take this magical substance they report dying and going to a heaven like place of fractal geometry. That white light at the end of the tunnel when you die? Some believe that’s the DMT kicking in (BTW note my earlier experience about the white light while I was meditating after the first dose).
I’m not sure about you, but this shit has always fascinated me for these reasons.
Now onto meditation -
I have always believed that meditation is the vessel to navigating the world of DMT. In the same way that experienced buddhist monks can learn to control their heartbeat, I believed that you could learn how to flip the DMT switch in the brain and blast off into unknown parts of the galaxy.
While others believe that space travel happens externally via spaceships, I believed that the universe lies within, and in order to explore the universe you need to learn how to navigate the world of DMT.
Trouble is, the DMT world is so overwhelmingly powerful that if you don’t have the proper tools to navigate it, you can’t stay there very long OR you need to ingest DMT so that you can break the barriers and blast off anyway.
In meditation a common theme is equanimity AKA the ability to keep your composure during overwhelmingly pleasant and unpleasant experiences.
The measure of one’s progress in meditation is the ability to remain equanimous through these overwhelming experiences. If you can keep your cool while these things are happening, you will notice yourself shatter through plateaus and reach new levels of understanding and insight.
As we make progress in meditation we can experience some truly interesting things. Unfortunately, these “peak experiences” are a double edged sword. They are the low hanging fruit of reactions. Small tests to see if we have embodied the lessons of equanimity and not react with craving or aversion.
For example, it’s possible to have a life altering experience during meditation — but the problem is that we chase after that experience again. We seek to replicate it. Then if it doesn’t happen again, we become frustrated.
Similarly this also applies to unpleasant experiences. We avoid them. Rather than sitting with our problems, we try to suppress them. Or, we get wrapped up in the emotions that are associated with these problems. We get lost in thoughts surrounding our problems, magnifying them.
Thus, throughout the process of meditation we develop equanimity by learning to keep our composure while dealing with both pleasant and unpleasant experiences. Over time, the deeper our concentration becomes, we can learn to dwell in deeper levels of meditation without losing our cool.
Having said all of this, I believed that meditation teaches you the tools for how to navigate the DMT world. If you learn how to navigate this world properly through maintaining equanimity, you break the cycle of reincarnation. (See the movie “Enter the Void” for an example of this theory in action OR read The Tibetan Book of the Dead).
And so, this was the wild theories I brought with me into my experience….
Back to the second dose:
I returned to my stairs in the back of the forest, which had now become my preferred meditation spot. It was time to begin the Vipassana body scans.
Meditation jargon aside, a body scan simply entails focusing on a part of the body and paying attention to feelings. To try this on your own, close your eyes and focus your attention on your hands. You will probably feel some tingling or vibrating, maybe moisture or heat, maybe the touch of your palms against the back of the other hand or against your legs. When you practice Vipassana body scans, you systematically go through each part of the body, examining the feelings you have in each part.
I began scanning through my body slowly, making sure to focus intently on each individual part of my body. Around 30 minutes in I was on scanning my shoulders when it really began to kick in.
My body began vibrating, my heart started beating out of my chest, and it became increasingly difficult to focus on only one part of my body at a time. The white lights began to swarm around me and visuals started to take over.
I remembered my lessons from Vipassana. Maintain awareness of breath. Maintain awareness of bodily sensations. Maintain equanimity.
I sat up straight and took a deep breath. As I breathed in, I felt like I began to rise out of my body. My neck elongated. I felt like I was rising above the forest as I left my body on the ground.
All the while music was playing in the background. As I continued to focus, intense geometrical patterns began to emerge. I swirled upwards in a whirlwind of music, color, and fractal images.
My mind and body were a kite, being sucked up by the wind, rising to new heights in a kaleidoscope wind tunnel.
These were hands down the most intense visuals I have ever experienced in my life. It felt like my brain was divided into two hemispheres, and on one side I had a completely different set of fractal geometry than the other. Two independently immensely infinite geometrical fractals. Each more beautiful than the other.
To say that this was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen would be an understatement. It was incomprehensible beauty. The type that leaves you flabbergasted in awe. A truly “what the fuck” moment. Each second impermanent and passing seamlessly into the next. Infinite complexities and rearrangements of patterns of the most bright, vibrant colors I’ve ever seen.
As I rose through the forest it became increasingly intense. But I had intense focus as well. I was tapped in.
When things got overwhelming, I would get nauseous like I was about to throw up. When this happened I would breathe deeply and get through it. With each deep breath I further connected with my body and nausea evaporated.
It felt as if each deep breath brought me up another 10 feet, then 50 feet, then 100 feet, then 1000…and when I would get to the end of the breath I would settle there for a bit. If it was too intense and I lost track of my breath, I would fall back down. Only with maintenance of my breath was I able to remain at each height.
It was as if you take a deep breath, rise 10–15 feet, take five normal breaths to even yourself out, and then another deep breath, rise up 50 feet, take 10 deep breaths to even yourself out, and so on…
If I lost focus while trying to even out after the deep breath, I fell back down again.
If you have ever scuba dived, I think you’ll be able to understand the sensation I’m talking about.
When you scuba dive you breathe out to go down, equalize (pop your ears), and then chill at that level for a little bit while your body gets used to that depth of the ocean. Then, once your body has become acclimated, you can go deeper again, and then once again pause.
Similarly when coming back up to the surface of the water it’s the same principles at work. Rise up a little bit, chill at that depth while your body gets acclimated, and then go back up a little bit again. Step by step until you reach the surface of the water. If you go too quick, your lungs will explode (literally), so it’s important you maintain your cool while rising back up to the top.
My experience rising up from the depths of the ocean is the best way to describe the sensation that I felt. Take a breath, maintain focus on my body sensation, and then once I was cool calm and composed, take another breath and go to new heights.
It became a game. I had a spaceship, and I was learning how to fly it.
Then I suddenly became aware of eyes staring at me in every direction. I realized that I had an audience. A team of coaches guiding me along. Observing me. At first I didn’t notice them because I was too focused on not losing my equanimity. But then I became aware of them. Or it. Or everything.
This image by Alex Grey is similar to what I saw (notice all of the eyes)..
I still can’t really wrap my head around what it was that was communicating with me, and how it was communicating.
It didn’t speak to me, per-se. It wasn’t talking in English. Or any language for that matter. It was communicating to me through vibrations. Through bodily sensation. Only by focusing on my respiration and sensation was I able to feel the messages that they were sending me.
As vibrations became intense, I would focus to maintain equanimity. I realized they were testing me. They were trying to see how far I could take myself. How far I could let my spaceship fly.
It was like an audience that laughed at me whenever I fell back down to reality. Mocking me in a sense, but also curious to see what I could accomplish. Like watching a child try to climb a rope who keeps sliding down, but nonetheless proud when you see them make it to the top and overcome their struggle.
They wanted to see if I could make it to the top of the rope. And I did.
I got to the top. I broke through the plane of earth. I broke into the realm of the universe. Suddenly it was quiet, peaceful, serene. The colors and visions calmed down. It was like looking at the top of ocean water. Simply flowing peacefully.
And this lasted for MAYBE five seconds.
It was like being at the bottom of a swimming pool or ocean. You finally rise to the top, get your head out of the water, take a breath of fresh air, and by the time you gasp that air and get one solid look around, BOOM, you’re plunging back under water once again, grasping for a glimpse of more of what you just saw.
Eventually after around 10 songs or so (or what felt like it), I came back down to reality. I could no longer maintain my focus, and I couldn’t reach the same heights.
It was like a piece of paper falling to the ground. Every now and then being brought up to a higher level by a gust of wind, but still falling nonetheless.
Gracefully, I landed back on the ground. I came back to reality. I was suddenly sober. I felt like the visions were over. The intense geometrical patterns were no more.
Only now my mind was racing. Trying to piece together what the fuck I had just experienced. Trying to understand the mechanisms that allowed me to briefly traverse this magical mystery land of wonder and awe.
No longer able to focus, I decided it was time to get up and go for a walk.
I walked through the camp in a daze, legs wobbly and difficult to walk, but I somehow felt graceful also as long as I didn’t rush.
I thought of the book “Dune”, in which they say “walk without rhythm and you won’t attract the worm.” I had a strange rhythm where as long as I walked abnormally, I could walk perfectly normal.
Eventually I arrived at the stone road on the outside of the campsite. I began walking on the stones. I settled on one, stood there, and closed my eyes.
Once again, as I focused on my breath, I began to rise into the forest. The stone I was standing upon became a pillar that rose above the others. Suddenly I was on a column overlooking stones below.
I maintained my focus like this for some time until I was distracted by someone walking nearby. This time I didn’t rise very high, I was moreso just chilling at around 25 feet above the other stones, hovering there in awareness.
I then decided it was time to go back to the campsite, but this time I wanted to sit by the fire. I found another set of stairs directly behind the fire and sat there in my meditating posture. I closed my eyes and zoned in on the music.
This time, despite not rising above the fire like my previous experiences, I began having intense visuals once again. Similar to the ones before, but this time magnified by the light from the fire radiating through my eyelids as they were shut. This time the patterns were similar, but much brighter because of the fire nearby. It was beautiful.
Unfortunately, at this point my mind was beginning to feel tired. I was struggling to maintain my focus. I felt like I was slowly drained of my energy. Slowly the visions calmed down and they felt more like what I was experiencing during the first dose.
Then next thing I know, I lost my focus, my mind wandered, and I was suddenly sober.
Suddenly the doors to the DMT world were shut. Closed off no matter how hard I tried to focus on my breath and bodily sensations. Game over.
I tried to keep knocking on the doors of the DMT world, but they ignored me.
The informed me that I had learned my lessons. They gave me the message they needed to. My playtime was over. They closed the doors on me.
Somewhat frustrated I went to go lie down, trying to piece together what had just happened.
As I laid down things slowly came into focus. My thinking mind came back and I began to analyze the lessons of what I had learned.
For one, I had learned that my sneaking suspicions around meditation and DMT were correct. In order to navigate the DMT world you need three (technically four) things to power your spaceship.
1) Breath — this is the fuel for the spaceship in order to allow it to fly.
2) Awareness of bodily sensations and feelings — The is the spaceship itself — NOT to be confused with the body itself. The body is simply a vessel. The feelings that lie within are the true spaceship. BUT by taking care of the body and deeply connecting with it, we deepen our connection to the body, thus improving the quality of our spaceship.
But I knew that there was a third piece to the puzzle. It wasn’t just these two. There was another part of the equation that I was missing. Something else I wasn’t seeing.
I took heed to the lessons that Ayahuasca was trying to teach me, and went back to meditation, focusing on my breath and bodily sensations. Vipassana was leading me in the right direction, and I believed that if I continued to focus my attention in the right way I would yield the benefits I was looking for.
I laid there on my mattress and concentrated on my bodily sensations again. My legs felt very strong vibrations so I focused there. I began having intense visuals of what looked like white stampeding geometric horses that were each of my legs, galloping through the universe….but that’s not important.
Eventually I lost my focus again and then came back to reality. And that’s when it hit me, the third piece of the puzzle for how to navigate the DMT world. Sitting in front of me all along from my lessons of Vipassana meditation, but I hadn’t yet connected the dots.
3) Concentration/Equanimity — The hardest part of all three — The ability to not only remain focused when experiences are overwhelmingly strong, but also not lose your composure. Every time I came back to reality, it was because the experience simply became too strong. I couldn’t maintain my focus on the awareness of breath and bodily sensations because the visuals were so intense. Thus, I would fall back to a level of earth where I COULD maintain my equanimity.
I tried to lay there for some time, further analyzing, but the same messages of breath, bodily sensations, and equanimity were circling around my mind. It made sense. It felt right.
On one hand I felt great because the universe communicated the message to me that I was looking for. But on the other hand I was somewhat frustrated. It was so simple, but so so so difficult. Could that really be all that it is? Just breath, sensation, and equanimity?
Yes. It’s that simple.
Unfortunately, those three things are probably the hardest things on the planet to master. There are no shortcuts, no tricks, no hacks…just good old fashioned hard work through the repetition of practice.
Somehow, I wasn’t satisfied with this. I wanted something more.
I felt like a curious puppy who was in the middle of a game of fetch, only to have my owner immediately leave and shut the door. I felt like someone took me on a spaceship exploring the magical mysteries of the universe, and then kicked me out of the car and said “if you want to see this again, go meditate more”…and then I fell back down from space.
UGH. God dammit, I just want to take ONE more ride!
I reminded myself of Kvothe from the book “The Name of the Wind”. So eager to study. I had caught a glimpse of true magic, and I wanted more. I was impatient. I didn’t want to wait to learn my lessons, I wanted them now.
Unfortunately, they had already given me my message. They shut the door on me and told me to go study. Told me I learned too quickly, and while others would sit here and enjoy their trip, I had to now sit here and train. Train my mind. Train the connection to my body.
So I went back to meditating just like an obedient puppy. Struggling to focus, I started thinking about all of the people in my life who could benefit from the technique. I started thinking about how I would explain what I had just learned to my friends and family.
And then the visions came back. I started downloading the intelligence of the universe as these “energy beings” started to coach me again.
They told me that the three lessons of how to guide your spaceship was my message to give to the world.
They told me that the world is lost in thought. Mindlessly moving through the motions of life, disconnected from the breath and the body.
They told me that these three tools will help them escape from their suffering and live a truly happy existence. Escape from their delusions of happiness and experience a more profound existence.
They told me that thoughts are distractions. Thinking is the drug we’re all addicted to without being aware of it.
They intentionally supply us with endless thinking because it’s what keeps us grounded here. It’s what keeps us from adventuring to the true depths of space.
In order to move to the next level of evolution, the true skill we need to learn is how to pause. How to stop thinking and instead connect with the breath. How to notice when we’re wrapped up and tangled in thoughts, and use the breath as a tool to connect with the body and feel sensations associated with our thoughts and actions.
Thoughts are the tests that they throw at us to see if we can learn to connect with the breath and body. If you take the bait of thinking, you’re not ready to graduate to the next level. If you can learn to pause and connect with the body, you are moving in the right direction.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Thoughts do have a purpose — but only to a certain extent. Thoughts are necessary in order to reach important conclusions. BUT thoughts also have the possibility of running wild.
Thoughts are meant to lead you to the destination, but along the way you need to drop them off and continue to move along without them. It’s extra baggage you no longer need.
If you can’t move past the realm of thought, you’re not ready to explore the deeper experiences that the universe has to offer.
This was their next message. To find all of my friends and family that are lost in the realm of thought. Who haven’t yet taken this step of moving from thoughts to respiration, and then from respiration to sensation. To teach them this message.
They also told me that most people will resist this message. Most people aren’t willing to let go of thinking, mindless or directed. Some are so attached they believe it to be inherent to their existence…especially the ones in the realm of “directed” thought.
Mindless thought is being in a day-dreaming like phase. Your mind is occupied by the random chattering of the mind, with no real importance.
Directed thought is consciously choosing a topic that you want to think about. This one is the most addictive of the two, because it creates ego. It creates a narrative of identity that we cling to.
Directed thought seems productive in our daily lives…and it is…but only to a certain extent. It’s the people who can’t let go of directed thought that go insane. The ones who never find their breath, and spend their days convinced they are thinking the right thoughts, but moving farther and farther from the destination without knowing it.
The only tool we have is the breath. Everyone on the planet, regardless of intelligence, all have the capacity to focus on their breath. It has nothing to do with gender, race, nationality, or intelligence. We all have the capacity, young and old, beautiful and ugly, smart and stupid, to focus on our breath and become more aware of our bodily sensations.
I agree with everything it taught me. It felt like a culmination of all of my learnings and studies throughout these last few years of practice. It felt like confirmation that I was doing something right.
Now I felt ready for my third dose…but I didn’t know when that dose would be coming next. I decided to go for another walk.
While walking I began thinking about how powerful a third dose would be. I felt afraid of it’s power. I became nauseous and started dry heaving. I knew what I had to do, but I was still a worried nonetheless. I passed it by focusing on my breath and walking around.
Eventually I went back to the fire and spent the next hour or so waiting in impatience, trying to meditate but unable to focus. Oscillating between trying to sit and meditate, and walking around. I felt very indecisive and frustrated. I felt like I wanted to go back to the DMT world, but it had already passed. My window had already closed.
My only ability to get back there was to take a third dose, so I just had to sit there and wait impatiently.
When they finally called for the third dose, I was literally the first person in line. Ready and eager to dive into the world of DMT again.
After taking the third dose I went back to the same stairs that had become my home throughout the trip. I settled in and began meditating, focusing on scanning for feelings in different parts of my body Vipassana style.
Once again, around thirty minutes in the visions began. I felt myself being pulled into a tunnel. This time instead of going up, I was going in. But it was darker, less colorful. Black and white fractal images, if anything, grey and black.
Eventually I hit what felt like a barrier. No matter how much I focused on my feelings and breath, I couldn’t move forwards. There was a wall in my way, blocking my path in every direction.
I tried to remain equanimous and push through, but some of my earlier impatience and frustration was still circling around inside of me.
Eventually I realized that it wasn’t a wall, as much as a door that wouldn’t open. I was knocking on the doors of the DMT world, and they wouldn’t let me back in.
Then it seemed like the same beings from before began communicating with me, but from behind the door. They were still able to talk to me, but I was no longer WITH them. They were behind the door, looking through the eyehole at me, speaking but unwilling to open the door.
The conversation went something like this…
Dude you’re back again? We already gave you your lesson. We don’t have anything left to teach you for now. Go practice. Go train using the tools that we gave you.
But I have been! I feel re-energized and ready to go back in. It’s how I got all the way to this door! I’ve been focused on my meditation. Patiently observing my breath and sensations of the body. I’m not being greedy, I just want to fly my spaceship again. I know that there’s more to learn!
(Suddenly the vibrations in my body took a different tone. I became nauseous. I could feel the vibes flip from friendly to sinister.)
(In a now sinister tone) Ok, you want to learn more? We got you. To teach you a lesson about impatience, we’re going to show you something you wish you didn’t know. We’ll give you a gift and a curse for you to go sit with for a while.
And then I died….Well, not quite.
You’re already dead, but you just don’t know it…and by the way…you’re in hell. So is everyone else around you. Everyone you know is dead and they don’t know it. Unaware that they are living in hell.
What if your idea of heaven was actually hell? What if we made hell so amazing that you never wanted to leave? What if hell were the most beautiful place you have ever seen? Full of amazing food and drink, sex with beautiful women, natural beauty to leave you in awe, and a never-ending supply of intoxicants to keep you entertained!
That’s how we designed it. We made hell amazing so that you never realized you’re there!
More importantly, we made it this way to test human beings. Your life is actually training for when you die. We made your earthly existence a giant classroom. If you catch on to the signs we send you, you can make progress and slowly graduate from one level to the next. The more tests you pass, the more progress you make in the path to becoming one of us. If you work hard you can graduate to our level and break the cycle of reincarnation.
Remember what we told you before about thoughts? We tried to put it delicately for you but you didn’t learn.
Thoughts are hell. Thinking is hell. The only way to escape from hell is through respiration, awareness of bodily sensations, and equanimity.
OR, you can choose to stay here in hell. It’s quite pleasant in fact. You can eat, drink, smoke, fuck, and live “life” to the fullest. Most would say it’s heaven! HA! Sweet irony.
We made hell heaven just to trick you into thinking that you’re alive. Haha! Isn’t that funny!? Silly humans. You think you’re so smart but so few of you wise up to the games that we play. But I guess that’s how we designed. It IS rather entertaining watching all of you stumble your way through hell. How you create your own hell. We left you in paradise yet still you CHOOSE to suffer! HAHA!
Trapped in the narrative of the mind, attached to your desires and avoiding your discomfort. Making hell unpleasant when we designed it to be as awesome as possible!
Well, there you have it. You’re already dead and you’re already living in hell. The only way to get out is by training yourself in respiration, awareness of bodily sensations, and equanimity. But we already taught you this before. We don’t like repeating ourselves. Anyway, If you do this for long enough, maybe you can break the cycle of reincarnation and graduate to the next level before you die. Or you can just chill here and enjoy hell. Your call.
Oh and by the way, the next time you come knocking at our door, you better have been training. If you come back and you haven’t been practicing what we taught you, you’ll have heaven to pay *giggles*, we couldn’t resist the pun.
Now get out of here and go try to enjoy whatever lingering effects you have in your system. Or go meditate and practice. We don’t care. Peace.
And just like that, I was once again sober. But this time I was frustrated. Discouraged. Confused. Irritated.
Could this really be true? Am I really living in hell? The way that they described it, it actually made a lot of sense. It’s aligned with the buddhist teachings I’ve read so much about. That life is suffering. That we create our own hell here on earth. That we’re wrapped up in thoughts and desires. I just never thought of it as hell before. I never thought about it in the context of death.
The more I thought about it though, the more it made sense. The more that the inconvenient truth shone it’s light on me.
Hell is living in the world of thoughts. Living in the world of reacting to emotions. Living in a world that is a reaction to external stimuli.
Heaven lies in the breath. Heaven lies in awareness of bodily sensation. Heaven lies in mindful presence. Or at least these are the tools one must use to create a heaven in hell. These are the tools one can use to escape from hell permanently.
I felt discouraged. I knew I’m not properly trained to live in heaven. I’ve taken some classes in it (aka meditation), but living there full time? Shit, that’s some hard work.
It dawned on me that all of my training has been how to live in hell. How to become comfortable with discomfort. How to live a positive life and be optimistic. But they are all merely coping mechanisms to master living in hell. All training that is meant to lead me in the direction of opting out entirely.
As a species we have trained ourselves how to live in hell. In fact, we’ve become quite good at it. Unfortunately, we haven’t trained ourselves how to live in heaven. It’s quite uncomfortable, which is why it shatters our perception of heaven.
If you want to live in heaven, it requires a lot of work. You can get in, but there are some strict requirements. Simple ones (breath, bodily awareness, and equanimity), but challenging work nonetheless. Avoiding intoxicants. Living a clean life. Essentially the life of a buddhist monk.
Hell on the other hand is easy to get into. Come one come all! Come enjoy the rides! Drink, smoke, fuck your brains out and eat until you have a heart attack!
You escape hell when you stop creating problems for yourself. When you stop the vicious cycle of thinking and train yourself to be present in the moment.
We oscillate between heaven and hell on a daily basis. You’re already dead and in hell, but in any given moment you can also choose to be alive and live in heaven. This is the conundrum that they give us to play with and figure out as our grand test of life.
You can tap into heaven any day, any time, without drugs or alcohol, just by maintaining awareness of your breath. At first you’ll probably only be on the surface of heaven, but over time you can learn to consistently dive more deeply into it’s magical wonder of embrace.
But once again remember, our idea of heaven isn’t what we think it is. Heaven is uncomfortable. It’s hard work. It’s like trying to go on a 10k run if you’ve never run a day in your life.
These cosmic beings leave toys on earth for us to play with. Have you ever seen a baby play with a random object it found on the floor? That’s how they look at us. They see our obsessions with thinking, drugs, and alcohol as the toys we foolishly play with. All the while laughing at us in the same way we laugh at a baby smacking a toy truck into the floor.
People live their lives afraid of dying, afraid of hell. In doing so, they never actually live. They never realize that hell is actually awesome. We fail to see that heaven is obtainable in the here and now if you can learn to escape the distractions of external reality and look within. On the contrary, heaven is hard work. Heaven will take you a lifetime of consistent effort. For the vast majority, lifetimes, plural. Thousands of them.
Most of us never realize we’re already at the bottom, so we truly have nothing to lose! You can fuck up as much as you want, because you’re already in hell!
Think about how this would change your idea of risk. If you’re already dead and in hell, why not go pursue that career that seemed foolish? Why not write that book? Why not go chase after fairies and climb mountains and live in blissful ignorance?! Why not take risks that puts your “life” on the line?!
Life is LITERALLY a video game. If you die you get another life. But it’s just not the same story. Every time you hit the reset button, you’re now suddenly in a different game. The challenges will be the same, the lessons you need to learn will be the same, but they will come in a different form.
These are the thoughts that flooded my brain for the next few hours while I alternated between lying on the floor and walking around.
Eventually I became restless and couldn’t lie down anymore. I decided to go for a walk again.
I came out of the campsite and started walking along the stone path again, contemplating the same thoughts from before. I started thinking about the buddhist path. The path of sobriety, the path of abstinence, the path of constant discipline and practice.
The path that these beings were telling me to walk. The path that I was reluctant to take steps upon. The path that I wasn’t ready to fully embrace.
I have more living to do, more foolish fun that I want to experience. More parties, more intoxicants, and more women. But I knew that these came with a cost.
Every time I thought about these things I became nauseous. The plant was communicating with me that although I want it, my body was slowly becoming allergic to it.
I thought about how difficult the path is to walk, how truly challenging it is to embrace that way of life. You think running a business is hard? Try living in silent solitude, abstaining from sex, drugs, and hedonistic pleasure 24/7.
Yeah, it’s hell. But god damn is hell awesome! Hell is a beautiful place to live and I want to experience more of it!
Alas, every time I thought about hedonistically enjoying life, I became nauseous. Every time I started meditating, I felt blissful. I understood the message that they were trying to tell me.
Suddenly while walking along the path I stepped on a thorn. I thought about the obstacles in the path that lie along the way. How there will always be thorns in the road that we might step on. As I bent down to pick the thorn out of my foot, I sat down.
I looked up above me and I was in the middle of the only opening in the forest that allowed me to see the moon. I gaped in wonder and laughed to myself at how I wouldn’t have ever noticed this opportunity to look at the moon had I not stepped on a thorn (ironic?! The challenges we face in life often cause us to take a pause, and in doing so correct course).
The moon was beautiful. As I looked up, giant streaks of light started branching out in every direction. Slowly surrounding me. The moon turned into a flower of white light. The halo around it formed into intense geometrical patterns.
I simply laid on the ground and witnessed the beauty in awe. I started laughing to myself. I thought to myself “I’ve died and went to hell!” I laughed even harder at the irony of my jokes.
I laid there for a while just enjoying the moon. I relished it while contemplating the ironic beauty of hell. Giggling to myself at how funny the joke is and how serious I am about life.
Eventually I stood up and started walking back to camp. Again, I was overwhelmed with indecision as to the predicament I had been presented with. The message ayahuasca had given me is that I need to spend as much time as possible on the path of meditation and internal exploration, and slowly moving myself towards a life of sobriety. But at the same time I didn’t feel ready yet to embrace the lifestyle it was asking of me.
In that moment I thought to myself, “fuck it, hell is awesome and I’m going to enjoy the fuck out of it while I can. I’m going to have sex with as many beautiful brazilian women as I can, drink and smoke and live life to the fullest.”
As soon as I finished that thought I immediately started vomiting. It felt like the plant bitch slapped me and said “watch yourself homie. You take that path and there’s a price to pay.”
Given that I had overcome all of my previous nausea and didn’t throw up once, and prior to that moment, I took heed to their warning. I was getting cocky, and they were letting me know it.
“Watch yourself homie.”
I walked back to camp oscillating between happiness and frustration. Wavering between enjoying the fact that hell is a beautiful existence, and frustration at how much work I had ahead of me.
I walked back to where I had my makeshift bed. Directly next to where I was sitting there was a candle. I sat down in meditation, closed my eyes, and let the light from the candle penetrate my eyelids and give me some pleasant visuals.
I thought to myself, “ok, we’ve learned a lot in this journey so far. What else haven’t you contemplated yet?”
“Ahhhh. Love. Relationships. Having children. Let’s dive into that.”
Suddenly I saw a vision of my life divided in two. One of the path of solitude. The other with a wife and children. One of me meditating and reaching the final goal, another of me having a family.
Once again they were giving me a choice. Telling me that I couldn’t have both at the same time.
Or could I? Maybe I just wasn’t able to see far enough into the future. Maybe I didn’t have the ability to envision myself taking both routes simultaneously. Or maybe they were telling me both routes need to be done together. That meditation and the path of working on myself will help me to have a family.
I quickly realized I wouldn’t get the answer to that in tonights session. This was a lesson to be explored at a later time.
Shortly after this, my mind started thinking about sex. Suddenly visions started to take hold. I was in a factory. A donut factory. A conveyor belt of donuts flowing towards me of all shapes and sizes. Different colors and frostings. Or were they donuts? Yes, they were. Donuts of ass and titties. Glazed donuts shaped like big booties. Titty donuts. All different shapes and sizes and colors. Each one more delicious than the next.
I started laughing to myself. “Jesus you have a deranged mind!” Here I am trying to think about having a wife and children, and my mind is giving me visions of ass and titty donuts!
Then I started to feel utterly alone. Alienated. In all honesty, it’s a feeling that I had for the last few months or so, even when I was back home. A feeling that people couldn’t understand the context of my life. A feeling of being disconnected from others.
I was now given this information that everyone else who just took Ayahuasca with me is at a different stage than I am. That they are still in the realm of thought, while I have moved on. I wondered if others had the same realization as I did. I felt envious that people are able to live in the bliss of ignorance, while I had the veil lifted off of my eyes. Now utterly and inconveniently aware of the truth I wish I didn’t know, and no one to share it with.
I thought about how we’re all prisoners, trapped in this beautiful hell of an existence. All sharing a common struggle. All dealing with our own demons, hardships, and problems, both self created and externally imposed upon us. All fighting to overcome our individual problems in life.
I suddenly felt overwhelmed with compassion and empathy. I felt connected to everything around me. I realized that the common bond between all of us is struggle and suffering.
We all have our problems we’re dealing with. It’s not about what stage we’re at in life, it’s about helping each other to deal with whatever demons we’re facing. It doesn’t matter if you’re old or young, experienced or inexperienced, high or low IQ, what bonds us together is the fact that life is struggle. Life is hardship. It’s our responsibility to choose how we respond to that suffering that determines if we live in heaven or hell on a daily basis.
As someone who had taken some good steps on the path and had a healthy relationship with suffering, it was my responsibility to help other people work through their problems. This is how I would connect with everyone. And there’s no one in the world you can’t connect with, because everyone has a problem to share. Life is perfect for no one.
And with that I felt at peace again. Still somewhat frustrated from my earlier realizations and discouraged at how much work I had to do, but moreso because I was exhausted. Mentally, physically, and emotionally. It felt like lying in bed awake at night, unable to go to sleep. No longer quite tripping, but also not quite normal. No longer having intense visuals, but still seeing things not quite right.
I laid there like this for what felt like an hour or so. Eventually the sun started to rise, while the moon was still in the sky. To my left I could see the moon, and to my right i could see the sunlight starting to filter through the forest. I oscillated between the two, having fun and enjoying whatever visuals I had leftover from the trip. I had a childish smile on my face.
At one point I noticed my buddy Adam walk over and stretch, shaking off his own cobwebs from the experience. I lifted up my head with a big smile and waved at him. He gave me a great smile in return. It felt good to have a friend nearby who I could smile at. Especially the friend who brought me to Brazil and gave me this wonderful opportunity to experience not only Ayahuasca, but Brazil on the whole.
Then he came over to me with a tree bark/incense that is meant to cleanse your negative energy. He wanted to pass it over my body. I sprang up quicker than a jack in the box and sat there like an excited puppy wagging my tail in excitement. He did his little ceremony and I felt that my trip was over. It was time to wake up and stretch out.
I sat there on my mat and did some yoga/stretching. Then I stood up and did some more. Then I did some Wim Hoff breathing to wake myself back up and connect with my breath. Everyone around me slowly began waking up as well.
Eventually once everyone was awake we all sat by the fire and shared our individual stories of the experience. Everyone spoke in Portuguese so it was tough to understand what they said, and to be honest I zoned out for most of it, lost in thought. Eventually I just started to meditate again.
Once everyone was finished we gathered around in a circle and joined our hands. We said a few OM’s together, happily danced in a circle, and just like that, the experience was finished.
Piecing it all together:
Ever since the experience I’m still trying to connect all of the dots. Still dealing with how to come to grips with my realizations and implement them into my daily life. Slowly becoming more lighthearted and embracing the lessons I’ve learned while still living life with a smile.
The morning after I felt strange. My mind was still circling with the thoughts from the previous night. Struggling to figure out how to communicate this strange message I had received. Questioning if I’ve went insane. Questioning if I should become a buddhist monk and spend the next few years deep in meditation. Questioning all of the hard work I have that lies in front of me.
As time has passed though I feel like I’m slowly returning to myself. I had some amazing takeaways, and now the time has come to put these lessons in action.
I have a deeper appreciation for meditation, especially Vipassana. It’s amazing to see how the lessons taught in a 10-day Vipassana course are identical to what “beings” from the fractal world of DMT were telling me. I have a much deeper appreciation for paying attention to my breath and observing bodily sensations.
My meditation has been better too. I think it’s because I truly see the value in it now. I have always appreciated meditation and seen its benefits, but now I have a true enjoyment for the practice.
Before Ayahuasca I looked at meditation as a chore. I know it’s benefits so I do it, but don’t really enjoy it. It’s like going for a run. I know that it’s good for me, but I hate running. I do it for the benefits, although the practice itself is boring and unpleasant.
Similarly, I’ve never really enjoyed the act of meditating. I enjoy how I feel afterwards, and I enjoy seeing the benefits it has on my life…but the act of meditating sucks. The constant monkey mind and pain of sitting cross legged for 30 minutes to an hour straight, all for MAYBE one minute of stillness and peace and quiet in the mind. I can see why so few people develop a consistent routine.
However, ever since Ayahuasca I now look forward to my meditation. I treat every breath as a gift, unique in its own way. I’m more focused. Rather than waiting for the timer on the clock to run out, I relish the hour that I have given for myself. It’s my vacation from hell.
Heaven is here every moment of every day, and all we need is our breath to access it. Every time I focus on my breath, I’m living in heaven. Every time I’m mindful of the present moment, I’m in heaven. I’m cultivating the ability to create a heaven from within hell.
I see respiration as an escape from the hell that is thinking. I can create space here and now in any moment. I’ve always known that I could do this, but the DESIRE to focus on my breath throughout the day wasn’t really there. Now I not only see the value, but I WANT to do it. It feels wonderful. Like I’m giving myself a hug.
Now, I’m finding my breath everywhere I go, and in everything I do. When I’m chopping vegetables I’m watching my breath and feeling my body. When I pour myself a cup of coffee, when I walk down the stairs, when I’m answering my emails. When I’m talking to people.
Like I said I’ve always known I could do this, but now I have the desire. Now I want to do it all the time of every day. Now I want to spread my message with people. I want to encourage others to see the beauty in spending time with their breath. To feel the intimate relationship they can build with themselves by connecting with the body.
By the way, I know that when i say the word “hell” it can sound quite gloomy, but it’s actually the opposite for me now. Whenever I say hell I giggle to myself. I understand the joke that is hell. The false perception I had of it. It’s a word with strong connotation and emotion attached to it, which is why it’s become so fun to play around with. It’s like a dark humor ironic pun that I can’t get enough of.
“Ah this food tastes like hell!”, “I’m going to hell for a little while, I’ll be back in a few hours” (when I go to do something that I enjoy). “Dude, your life sounds like a living hell! (when someone tells me that something good happened to them). I find it oddly satisfying.
What is also most interesting is that this discovery is directly in-line with what is taught in Buddhism. As you reach new stages in the path to enlightenment (try to think of them as train stations along the way you must pass through), they sound incredibly desolate and depressing.
Don’t believe me? Check it out -
- Knowledge to distinguish mental and physical states (namarupa pariccheda nana).
- Knowledge of the cause-and-effect relationship between mental and physical states (paccaya pariggaha nana).
- Knowledge of mental and physical processes as impermanent, unsatisfactory and nonself (sammasana nana).
- Knowledge of arising and passing away (udayabbaya nana).
- Knowledge of the dissolution of formations (bhanga nana).
- Knowledge of the fearful nature of mental and physical states (bhaya nana).
- Knowledge of mental and physical states as unsatisfactory (adinava nana).
- Knowledge of disenchantment (nibbida nana).
- Knowledge of the desire to abandon the worldly state (muncitukamayata nana).
- Knowledge which investigates the path to deliverance and instills a decision to practice further (patisankha nana).
- Knowledge which regards mental and physical states with equanimity (sankharupekha nana).
- Knowledge which conforms to the Four Noble Truths (anuloma nana).
- Knowledge of deliverance from the worldly condition (gotrabhu nana).
- Knowledge by which defilements are abandoned and are overcome by destruction (magga nana).
- Knowledge which realizes the fruit of the path and has nibbana as object (phala nana).
- Knowledge which reviews the defilements still remaining (paccavekkhana nana).
Take a look at stages 6–9 — In a lot of ways this is what I just described throughout my Ayahuasca experience in my description of “hell”. That mental and physical states dissolve away and are distractions, disenchantment and discouragement/frustration I was experiencing, and then the desire to leave the worldly state (hell), in order to reach what I was referring to as heaven.
Then even more interesting, take a look at #10 — Instilling a decision to practice further. Since returning I am more disciplined and have a stronger desire to continue my practice.
So much of my time was spent deliberating how much hard work it would be to practice meditation. How I felt frustrated and discouraged at the long path that lie in front of me. And then upon my return not only the will to further practice, but the DESIRE to continue my practice.
And then #11…equanimity — the third piece to the puzzle that is the primary key to keeping your spaceship afloat in the world of DMT.
I wish I could say that this is just a strange coincidence. I wish I could say that I knew this before I went in and this is why it influenced my experience. But I didn’t know these states until I looked them up today.
Maybe it’s foolish, but I feel that Ayahuasca brought me through stages 5–9 during my trip. Throughout my meditation I had already experienced 1–4 during my time practicing vipassana. These four insights have been something I’ve given a great deal of thought to. Something I pay close attention to in my daily life.
Now it feels like steps 5–9 are past me, and I’m ready for 10/11. Part of me (most of me) feels foolishly arrogant saying this. Naive. But these are states that are EXPERIENCED, and I do feel that I have experienced these first 9 stages. And I will probably continue to experience all of them, over time gradually understanding them more deeply. Despite having an intellectual understanding of these 9 steps, in all likelihood I’m still on #1. I’m still a baby in the cosmic universe, merely getting ahead of myself in my childlike enthusiasm to navigate the inner workings of myself.
I know that path that lies in front of me. I’m ready to take the lessons I’ve learned from Vipassana and Ayahuasca, implement them into my life, and put one foot in front of the other as I train to become the best version of myself that I can possibly become 😃
I have more thoughts on this subject, but for now I’m going to stop here. I feel good about what I just dumped out of my mind, and I’m excited for the insights to come. I hope yu enjoyed reading about my experience just as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Peace out, I’m going to go enjoy hell for a while 😀