Part Three (Mexico)
We landed in the city of Oaxaca, Mexico on September 9th, 2021 . It was my first time traveling out of Costa Rica since I’d landed in October 2020. I left Arizona on August 8th of 2020, my previous home of thirty years, made a pit stop to visit with my teacher and mentor in the UK, fill up on the life-force and inspiration of that connection, before making my way to Costa Rica. And an adventure this previous year had certainly been.
Before I continue onward I wish to acknowledge my teacher, Steve Harrison and his beautiful family in the UK. This tribe - Steve, his wife Sarah, their three daughters, and the Sangha of yogis they’ve gathered - remain firmly rooted in my heart. I was blessed to meet and spend time with Steve in 2016 after I had met him during a long period of travel, introspection and healing when I was deep in my study and practice of yoga. I had not had much experience with plant medicine at this point nor had any thoughts of it. As well, music was barely developing for me. I was a strict yogi - meditating and performing various advanced inner practices for many hours each day. Steve gave me the precious gift of the inner source - the capacity and tools to self-generate and enlighten oneself through yoga. He remains to this day a teacher, mentor, friend and brother and I offer him my respect for the way he has guided me on my path. I feel this is especially important to make mention before I proceed, as in my writing now I will begin to dive into the world of plant medicine and how I ended up as a space-holder and musician on a mushroom retreat in Mexico.
The segue of the topic from yoga to the world of plant medicine is shamanism. Shamanism, and shamanic practices, are words and phrases that are becoming more and more common place as the world opens up more to the use of therapies that include plant medicine, such as psychedelic assisted psychotherapy and other “alternative” healing modalities. I feel that it is important to acknowledge what shamanism is, from my understanding and perspective, and how I have come to the conclusion that shamanism is the bridge between the yoga world and the plant medicine world.
Shamanism is the practice of interacting and building a relationship with the unseen forces of our reality. This can look like many different things. In Western occultism we may call this Magick. The Eastern spiritual scientists did not use these words, but did acknowledge the existence of “energy” and “forces” that we unseen, but felt. When it comes to healing work - any healing work, as I understand it - it involves going into the subconscious mind and processing hidden or repressed memories. These are the memories which are causing fear and disease in our bodies, as in the shamanic traditions that I’ve studied, they see that there are four bodies - physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual - and that all four are interconnected and influence each other. I need not provide proof of this in this particular essay as there is plenty of evidence should one decide for themselves to see. The basic premise to accept is that thoughts and emotions influence the body, and vice versa. In many spiritual traditions (not only shamanism, which is being used in this context) if the thoughts and emotions go unregulated and unprocessed this can lead to sickness. And, according to the shamans, sickness does not necessarily only mean sickness of the body, but sickness of the mental body, feeling body, and spiritual body. What this means that we lose our connection to the natural world and are no longer “in tune” with the harmonious rhythm of things. Essentially, we become “disharmonic” which leads to as sorts of ailments. A shamanic healer’s work is to bring a person back into balance with their natural self, and thus the nature of All. This is a basic and straightforward conceptualization that I feel is sufficient to give the reader enough context to further our discussion.
In yoga, they called the residue of past experiences “karma”, which is literally the law of cause-and-effect. It is due to this law that the lessons of life are made possible. If I make “x” action and I get “y” result, then it may be possible to learn how to improve my actions to get better results. Not just for my own life, but for the lives of others. Ultimately, all of our actions ripple outward into the universe and affect everything. The goal of human life may be said to learn how to make every choice from the highest and best standpoint, so that we are living in the highest service to All. In yoga, this goal is the result of a series of purification processes where the yogi goes through various stage to cleanse the layers of their body and the elements that make up these bodies so that they are no longer “contaminated” by the impurities of conditioning. One of the primary types of conditioning is known by the modern practitioner as “trauma”, which is what happens inside of us and inside our nervous system in response to life experiences. A simple way to look at this is when a life experience goes undigested , such as when something terrible happens and we are unable to come to peace with it, this leaves a residue or imprint on our nervous system which embeds itself into the subconscious mind. Our subconscious mind will then “vibrate” at a different frequency, meaning the radio station of our thoughts is now perceiving the world differently. To consolidate this theory into a more practical understanding, we can look at the studies done on individuals who were severely traumatized in their childhood due to abuse. A study involving different groups of children - one traumatized and the other not - were shown different groups of images and asked to predict or tell the story of the images. Despite the fact that the images were benign (a mechanic working underneath a car,
people ice skating) traumatized group ubiquitously told a story of violence and accidents happening. The un-traumatized group told stories that were relatively happy in comparison. The point I making here is that this is one recent scientific study published demonstrating the effect of trauma on the perceptions of the brain.
To understand that we are perceiving the world NOT as it is but as our subconscious mind filters it to be (based on our prejudices, karmas, traumas, etc) is a very important point to make. In yoga, the goal is to clear these subconscious perceptions (the practice of doing so is called sadhana) so that our mind perceives clearly. When we fail to do this, we continue to organize our actions based on faulty perceptions. This is when we find ourselves repeating the past, and why the concepts centered around “healing work” are becoming more mainstream. Humanity is waking up to realize that the mystical and spiritual traditions (such as yoga, and shamanism) are not some voodoo, woo woo, hokey pokey nonsense, but are rooted in long standing generationally refined scientific methods of removing the hidden illnesses of the human mind. When we look at the various ancient modalities of our ancestors we can see that healing work has been made to be an important part of our culture for as long as we can remember. There is a reason that we can find evidence of the sacred healing arts in nearly every culture, and it is because our ancestors knew the value of healing work in order to create new futures. We carry the legacy of their path and it is what draws our curiosity. For me, the fascination of the mystical and the scientific is what keep me deeply interested. I continue to discover the overlaps and parallels amongst our ancient wisdom traditions and modern science. Hence, this particular discussion of yoga and shamanism!
This curiosity and quest to understand the healing path led me to travel to India in 2016 in search of a Yoga teacher. It was there that I met Steve.
It led me to live in Costa Rica in 2020.
It was there that I discovered Ayahuasca.
This curiosity also led me to the mountains of Mexico in 2021, where magick mushrooms are legal. It was there that I met the Maliollin family, the Abuelo Manuel and Abuela Guadalupe.
Abuelo Manuel and I
It was here, in the mountains of Mexico, that I received the blessing from this traditional family of shamans and healers. It was here that I learned about the medicine path, and the real depth and powerful abilities held by those who walk it with integrity and authenticity. It was here that I underwent my own two day process of inner work, complete with a ceremony of ingesting the sacred mushroom. It was here that I was able to dive deep into my pain and into the alchemical transformative process of healing and growth and becoming and being.
Will I be able to integrate the teaching of this journey?
Stay tuned for part four....