Be sure to read part 1, if you have not already.
After experiencing the Huachuma Water Mesada and enjoying one of the best days of my life, I was really looking forward to what was still to come. The Earth Mesada was next. This ceremony celebrated Pachamama, our Mother Earth. Don Howard told us to not only think about mother earth, throughout the day, but to also celebrate our real mothers as well.
We were told the strength of the Huachuma (San Pedro Cactus) would increase with each ceremony. After drinking the medicine, I was excited to see how far the medicine would take me this time. Once again, we hopped in the boats for our next adventure. During the boat journey, I looked up and saw the faces of both of my mothers in the sky. My birth mother, Sue and my fathers wife, Tina.
In that moment I felt so grateful that I not only have two amazing parents, but that I have four. I started thinking about both my father’s wife, Tina and my mother’s husband, Steve. They may not have come into my life early enough to have raised me as a child, but I am very grateful to have had them join my family.
They are both beautiful people and I am so thankful for how happy they’ve made my birth parents. I may not have had the opportunity to learn from them as a young child, but I wish to make up for this, by learning from them and getting to know them better, now that I have grown into a man.
The boats pulled up to the shore and we disembarked. I decided that, since this was Earth Mesada, I would take off my shoes and walk bare foot, to connect better with mother earth. In front of us was a large set of steps, leading up to the top of the hill.
Without waiting for instruction, we started making our way to the top, where we found a path, leading off into the distance. We were not told where we were, nor were we given any directions at all. We just started walking down the path, without any idea of where we were heading.
The strength of the medicine, this time, was undeniably much stronger than the previous ceremony. My senses were extraordinarily enhanced. I could look down at the ground and see each individual ant clearly, crawling through the blades of grass. I could put my fingers together and feel the ridges of my finger prints. I could hear people talking a mile down the road and hear bugs flying around off in the distance. My mind was completely clear and my heart was open. It was incredible.
Eventually we arrived at what looked like a music school. There were several children out in the grass, with their instruments. This was where we stopped for our first snack break. As I observed the band playing their music, I first thought that they were performing for us and that this was all set up in advance. However, I am pretty sure now that this was just their normal band practice and that they had no idea who we were at all.
As I sat in the grass, watching the band, ants started crawling all over my bare feet. The ants in the Amazon all either bite or sting, but I let them crawl on me anyways. I felt really connected with them. In my last post, I wrote about how I felt like we are all connected and that we are one. I now felt the same way about everything on mother earth, including the ants on my feet.
Eventually, it was time to get up to start walking again and our journey continued. It felt like we were walking on a magical path that had no end. As we made our way down the road, the scenery around us continued to change. It seemed like, every few minutes, we were in a completely different world.
I was having so much fun. I felt so much confidence. I was overflowing with energy. I felt like I could walk forever, without ever getting tired. I was mesmerized by the beauty that was all around me. What I was seeing was blowing my mind.
I realized that no matter which direction I looked, it was not possible for me to not see beauty. I looked up at the sky and got lost in the beauty of the clouds. I looked to my right and then to my left and my vision was filled with the beauty of nature. Behind me I could see the beautiful people whom I was sharing this journey with.
I admired the details of the beautiful path that I was walking on. I looked ahead and felt excited, knowing that where I was going was just as beautiful as what I was leaving behind. Then I looked inside of myself and saw something very special. I saw the beauty within me.
Although Huachuma had enhanced my senses, it was not showing me anything that was not always there. It was allowing me to see the world more clearly, but the beauty that I was seeing that day, would have been there regardless. I just may have overlooked some of it. Beauty is always around us. We just sometimes miss it.
I remember telling myself, “Don’t miss a moment. Enjoy every second.” Not just in that present moment, but in all present moments to come. Not just while working with Huachuma, but in every day life as well. I thought about how it’s so important to appreciate every moment that we spend with the people we love. Life is too short to do otherwise. We can never know for sure how long they will be around and we can never know for sure which day will be our last. Every moment wasted is a moment we can never have back.
As the day went on, the strength of the medicine continued to increase, which is what happens when working with Huachuma. We eventually reached a bridge, crossing over a stream, which is where we took another break. There were people down below. There were woman washing clothes and children playing in the steam.
Immediately, I knew that I wanted to be in the water. Without asking permission, I left the group and made my way down the short hill, to the bank of the stream. I stepped into the water and felt the softness of mother earth below my feet. It felt so good.
We weren’t done walking yet. The path continued on, with no end in site. The words, “The journey is the destination,” came to my mind. I had been experiencing this principle all day long. I was walking down a path, with no particular destination in mind and enjoying every moment of it. I think it’s a shame that we sometimes become so focused on reaching our goals that we forget to enjoy the journey. Or even worse, when we view the journey towards a goal as an inconvenience or obstacle.
I thought about the previous three years of my life. When I was still operating my business, I remember giving so much importance to the big goals that I set each year. I also remember how it felt to hit these goals. It felt nice and it was great to hit my goals and I am very proud of what I accomplished. However, the actual moments in which I achieved my goals were never the moments that were most important to me. It was the journey that I had to take, in pursuit of my goals, that I am most grateful for.
It was on this journey that I grew into the person I am today. The journey was where I created countless memories with the amazing people whom I met along the way, many of whom I consider my best friends today. It was on the journey that I found the things that I truly wanted. In a previous post, reflecting on my first few years as an entrepreneur, I say, “It’s the friendships I made, the good times I had and the people I had the opportunity to help that I will never forget.”
Why should we wait until we achieve our goal or “reach our destination” before we allow ourselves to be happy? We have a choice every moment of every day to be happy and enjoy life. I say we should take it.
We never did find an end to the path. Not long after leaving the bridge, we were told that it was time to turn around and return to the boats. It didn’t matter to me that we never arrived at any specific destination. What mattered to me was that I enjoyed the journey and I became a better person along the way.
The boat ride back to the lodge was one of the highlights of the retreat for me. We witnessed the most beautiful sunset. What I saw, literally took my breath away. My photo does not do it justice, at all. All I could do was lean against the side of the boat and stare out toward the horizon.
At one point, I remember looking out at the beautiful sunset to my left and then turning to my right and seeing a big ugly cargo ship, completely blocking my view of nature. I interpreted this as a message from mother earth. She was showing me how much beauty is in this world and what will happen to it, if us humans don’t change our ways. I felt that she was showing me how beautiful planet earth really is, so that I would understand that it’s something worth fighting to preserve.
It wasn’t until we arrived back at the lodge that I noticed how sore my feet were. I’d been walking barefoot, on a concrete path all day. Similar to the evening of the first ceremony, we made our way into the maloca. I sat and reflected on how great it felt to live life, feeling completely confident. To not care about what anyone else was thinking about me. To be grounded in who I am and why I am here. To live with a clear mind and an open heart.
To close out the ceremony, we each had an opportunity to step up to the front of the mesa and snort a tobacco snuff. This was meant to provide us, momentarily, with even more clarity. As soon as the liquid entered my nostrils, I felt an intense burning sensation in my nose and all the way up into the front of my head. My eyes started watering immediately.
I was then supposed to stand in front of the mesa, completely still and focused, to hopefully see something that I wasn’t able to see before. I stood there, looking straight ahead and through my tears, it seemed like the mesa was shaking slightly. I thought I could see energy radiating from the mesa and the objects on it.
I found myself sitting out on the dock, looking out over the river and up at the stars, late into the night. Smoking a mapacho and appreciating life, I reflected on all that I had experienced that day. This was another day that I will never forget. At that point, I found it hard to imagine how the medicine could possibly provide an even more powerful experience in our upcoming, final ceremony. As you will discover in my next post, it definitely did just that.
The concluding chapter of my retreat, the Air Mesada, is coming soon… Follow my blog so you don’t miss it. Enter your e-mail in the side bar now and never miss another post!