What a trip. Literally and figuratively. I recently adventured to Peru with friend, teacher, and business partner Fabian Piorkowsky. We met in October 2015 and have been working together ever since, both spiritually and professionally. Fabian is unlike anyone I’ve ever met – brilliant, present, compassionate, kind, energetic, open minded and experimental, with a unique and sharp sense of humor. His brain is like a sponge inside of a steel trap. You tell him things and he takes them in and remembers. And his energy is like a little boy excited about everything as if he’s seeing it for the first time.One practice Fabian specializes in is plant ceremony – or working with sacred medicinal plants to achieve spiritual and health benefits. I remember the first time I sat in a ceremony with Fabian. I asked him, “Have you ever had a really dark, bad trip?” and he replied “No, never.” At the time I had been experiencing very difficult trips, so I asked, “Then how can you relate to people who do?” He didn’t reply to the question. I thought I had him stumped. And then he said something that seemed off subject, “I would rather trust people and get burned than to not trust at all.” This was exactly what I needed to hear. Initially it made no sense to me in context, but later it revealed to make perfect sense. That’s Fabian. A man with a sixth sense. An empath with a knack for biochemistry.Peru was a last minute decision. This was to be Fabian’s final retreat and I didn’t want to miss it. But I almost didn’t go.
Just under a week before our departure I was sitting at a cafe with a friend I had met through BE Society meditation a few years prior, enthusiastically expressing that I finally felt 100% confident that I’m where I’m meant to be; I was here to work with plant medicine, to build a plant medicine sanctuary and to travel the world learning about indigenous cultures and practices.
Soon after, just days before Peru, I participated in a ceremony in Santa Monica hosted by a separate group. In short it was a very difficult and at times negative experience which took me to the edge of sanity. At one point I fully renounced plant medicine and vowed to meditate daily until achieving enlightenment. At that moment I felt I would never do mind or body altering substances ever again, including herbal supplements, never mind Ayahuasca, San Pedro and Iboga, which is what we had lined up for Peru. After meditating alone for 48 hours straight in an attempt to re-ground myself, I reached out to my friend Sibyl who talked me off the ledge and encouraged me to contact Fabian and re-consider the trip to Peru.
I called Fabian and asked him if I could come to Peru and not partake in plant medicine. He of course welcomed me and my current state without judgment and full of love.
I felt divided between renouncing plant medicine and wanting to go to Peru. I didn’t want to betray my recent feelings and my vow. Looking for a sign I thought of my friend Ashley who holds psychedelic integration circles, but then quickly forgot her in the midst of running errands. Despite my doubts I went through the motions of preparing for my trip. That evening as I left Erewhon market with snacks for the flight, I stepped into the parking lot and there was Ashley. I briefly explained my fears and asked for her advice. She encouraged me to go, to trust my initial intention to step outside my comfort zone and not be swayed by this traumatic journey.
The next day as Fabian and I boarded the plane to Peru and took our seats a wave of insight hit me. Moving to India with little savings and few belongings? Renouncing the world and becoming a monk? Meditating in an Ashram in India for the rest of my life? These are actually the things I know I can do – that I am most familiar and comfortable with. However, growing a multimillion dollar global organization, which I’m in the process of doing? Now THAT would be truly scary! The insight came in a flash, I saw I was keeping myself small and hidden, and in an instant I knew my intention for this trip to Peru. To expand.
We arrived in Cusco, an ancient mecca of spirituality. The vibration of this Incan city was palpable. After two days there I cried, expressing a need to get out of the city and into nature. “It’s working” said Fabian in response to my tears. And pointed to a hummingbird to shift my attention to the beauty around us.
After 3 days of buildup it was finally time for our first night of Ayahuasca. My fear was too high to soothe. I just had to face it. I ingested the serving, smaller than the rest. I felt nothing. I ingested a little more. Nothing. Under the recommendation of Fabian’s assistant Christine, I finally surrendered and decided to just go to sleep. With numerous ceremonies ahead of us, I felt I could take it easy the first night. But the minute I surrendered to sleep, I felt her. She gradually presented herself. Mama Aya. It was a gentle journey. Just as things began to build up she would back off. We were rebuilding trust. I woke up the next day relieved.
Soon thereafter it was time to take San Pedro. Fortunately it was made in the locals tradition, located on the milder end of the spectrum. Overcoming my fear I swallowed it in one large gulp. I spent the first 3 hours of the day attached to the Incan birthing rock and then lounged happily in the grass and explored the local archeological sights. More trust was re-built.
Later, Aya Night 2 and I didn’t feel anything. Then San Pedro 2 was Fabian’s San Pedro which was much more intense. It was monumental. My heart was cracked open and my mind was blown but in the best of ways, and this time I felt grounded, connected, expanded and exhausted. Appropriately this was followed by Iboga which was so subtle I wouldn’t have thought I took anything except my dreams were incredibly vivid. My body started experiencing flu symptoms as we continued on through the sacred valley to Machu Picchu.
I have found that plant ceremony can bring insights much later, and meditating on top of Machu Picchu gave me the opportunity to integrate what I had learned. It also gave me incredible perspective and insight into human potential, including my own. We returned to the mountain of Cusco and had a free evening.
The next day a few of us took San Pedro which turned into a professional brain storm! All the masculine energy and work talk had me spinning. I couldn’t wait for the mother Aya that we would be taking that evening. That night, under a full moon I took the most profound medicinal journey ever. It was deep, expansive, connected, loving, soulful, humorous, insightful, powerful, illuminating, joyful and even fun! The next day was our final San Pedro. I drank only a microdose to balance and the next morning off Fabian and I went to the airport.
I learned a lot from my experience, but here are some key takeaways.
One does not need to renounce the world and become a yogi to reach enlightenment. There is no one path to enlightenment. The path I am on, the path you are on, from where we each stand, is that path we are meant to take.
Plant medicine is here as an acceleration tool and guide to our growth and healing. It will not make me enlightened but it will help shine light on the obstacles. It will also heal physically by clearing blockages and in other mysterious ways.
Meditation is another tool – brilliant, powerful, complete in itself. Its daily practice is essential. There are as many meditation techniques as there are plant species and I am to keep on developing and expanding my practice.
Addiction can be masked in all shapes and forms whether it be drugs, food, TV, a person, yoga, work, being busy, running, animals and even plant medicine.
It’s important to notice what helps me be present and connected. When I calm my mind I hear my heart.
It’s important to notice what scares me. Facing my fears connects me to untapped courage, strength and adventure.
There are integrative ways to combine the East and West, North and South practices. At the moment I’m learning how to balance my meditation practice from the East, my medicine practice from the South, with my grounding practice of being on earth in the West and my ascension practice to the North.
Moderation is key. Microdose. Small amounts can have the desired effect.
Practice. Practice. Practice.
There is no magic pill. We have to do the work. And the work can be FUN.
Everything is energy and vibration.
It’s all about the vibes.
There is no such thing as bad and wrong or good and right. Question anyone when using those words. Including myself.
It’s time to do the work. I’m taking the rest of the year to integrate. I’m finally learning what that word means. I never understood it until now. If it’s meant to be, I may go to South Africa with Fabian for a 10 day medicine retreat in November. But for now, it’s about the practice, and about building a global organization for global healing. No more hiding. No more playing small. No renouncing the world. Not this lifetime. Here for you all to see.
Thank you Welcome Earth for providing this platform to share.
With Gratitude, this is dedicated to my grandmother.