RFS' Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
theanimal
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Re: RFS' Journal

Post by theanimal »

Hey RFS, getting ready to head south? Where'd you decide on?

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RFS
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Re: RFS' Journal

Post by RFS »

Hey theanimal, thanks for reaching out!

When the ayahausca retreat was canceled, I came to the sullen realization that I'm simply not, as we would say in the south, JACKED about going to South America. I'm jacked for the ayahausca, but the thought of living in South America just doesn't get me fired up. I learned from a rather harrowing internship in Sweden that your quality of life isn't determined by where you are, but what you're doing.

When I think about what gets me fired up, I imagine insanely low cash outflows (house-hacking, bike-riding, trying to grow/hunt as much food as possible, etc), getting my capital to produce income, and becoming entrenched in a local community. Going somewhere, staying there, and building a little paradise, if you will.

I'm hiking the Wind River Range High Route with some friends in August, then I'm going to an ayahausca retreat in September. There will be a 3-4 week period in between the hiking and the ayahausca retreat, so an adventure may be in store for then. After the retreat, the plan is to move to Greenville SC.

In other news, let me tell you about some of the books I've read:

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less From Each Other, by Sherry Turkle.
- Her other book, Reclaiming Conversation, changed my life. This book is equally insightful.

The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Globetrotter: The true story about a frantic, 140 day long, around-the-world trip to train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu , by Christian Graugart.
- A great book about the BJJ lifestyle. I could see Graugart right here on the ERE forums, too. If you head to the BJJGlobetrotters website, there's a free PDF of the book.


Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology
, by Adam Alter
- The better I am with technology, the better my life seems to be. This book will teach you a lot about how primitive your brain is, and how tech company Ph.D's exploit it to keep you hooked.

The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield
- There's a reason why Joe Rogan gives this book out.

Star Wars: Heir to The Empire, by Timothy Zahn.
- This is book 1 in the original trilogy that Timothy Zahn wrote back in the 90s. It's high-grade literary crack.

Professor In The Cage: Why Men Fight, and Why We Like to Watch, by Jonathan Gottschall
- This was fascinating. It helped me understand why I love the UFC and Jiu Jitsu so much.

Rafa: Biography of Rafael Nadal, by Rafael Nadal & John Carlin
- I am not interested in tennis at all, but I picked this book up because of the quotation on the back cover:

"During a match, you are in a permanent battle to fight back your everyday vulnerabilities, bottle up your human feelings. The more bottled up they are, the greater your chances of winning, so long as you've trained as hard as you play and the gap in talent is not too wide between you and your rival.

The gap in talent with Federer existed, but it was not impossibly wide. It was narrow enough, even on his favorite surface in the tournament he played best, for me to know that if I silenced the doubts and fears, and exaggerated hopes, inside my head better than he did, I could beat him. You have to cage yourself in protective armor, turn yourself into a bloodless warrior. It's a kind of self-hypnosis, a game you play, with deadly seriousness, to disguise your own weaknesses from yourself, as well as from your rival."

"Hell yes," I thought. "This is going to provide me with some valuable insight into the mind of a true champion." And it did! It has helped my jiu jitsu game immensely, and I loved learning about this dude in general. He's one of the world's most famous athletes, but he lives in a wing of his childhood home, eschews the media, and has an incredibly supportive and healthy family dynamic. Also, his personality seems similar to mine (from what I read, he seems extremely orderly and high in trait neuroticism, as am I), so it was interesting to read about how he approaches his game and training to suit his personality. I loved this book.

Boomerang: Stories from the New Third World, by Michael Lewis
- Seriously, I think Michael Lewis is the greatest American writer of all time. If this man wrote a book about the history of the stapler, I'm sure it would be amazing, because he tells the story through people (the key to all good writing.) Boomerang is about the debt crisis , and how it played out in (and consequently affected) Iceland, Greece, Ireland, Germany, and California (lol.) There's also a neat profile at the beginning of an obscure hedge fund manager in Dallas that figured out what was happening and managed to profit.

The Sleep Revolution, by Ariana Huffington
- 10/10. Being disciplined about sleep will change your life!

Mortality, by Christopher Hitchens
- A sobering as hell read, with the wit of Hitchens.

Star Wars: Allegiance, by Timothy Zahn.
- Top shelf fiction, as always.

@WRC- My man, thank you again for all the helpful information!

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RFS
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Re: RFS' Journal

Post by RFS »

AUGUST 2021 UPDATE

I hiked the Wind River Range this month. Well, actually, it was so intense that I partly hiked it.

We encountered New York Pass, which is 11,000 feet up in the air, and passable only by scaling a "ridge" along the side with a steep incline and sliding rocks. At one point, a large boulder barreled down and missed my friend by about a foot. It felt genuinely dangerous, and there were more eyebrow-raising passes on the way, so we hopped on the Continental Divide Trail from there.

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All in all, it was 6 days out in the woods. The longest I had ever backpacked before was 2 days, so this was a huge jump for me.

Interestingly, this trip was also the longest period of my life with 0 inputs apart from conversation. I kept my phone off the entire time, and I didn't even look at a book. I brought my e-reader, but we hiked 10-15 miles a day from dawn to dusk, and by the time I got to camp each day, I was so damn tired that I couldn't even read a page. I also didn't hear any music for the duration of this period.

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When I got back to civilization, I didn't notice a mindset change until 2-3 days in. I had read The Nature Fix after seeing it in Western Red Cedar's journal, and one of the takeaways is that there are measurable physiological benefits to being out in nature.

I know everyone intuits this, but it was neat to see research backing this up. Your resting heart rate and blood pressure, for example, lower after a bout in the woods (unless your body isn't used to it, in which case it would stress you out.) What's interesting, too, is that it's proportional to the amount of time you spend in nature- the bigger the dose, the bigger the effects.

This was a great pre-hiking read, because I feel like my brain just received new software that greatly optimizes calmness. Even though nothing externally in my life has changed, I feel dramatically more able to think clearly, be less reactive, appreciate modernity, and thus better enjoy life. I'm not sure how much of this was from moving for 8-10 hours a day with a 40 pound pack, limiting my external inputs, or being around friends (I went with 4 other people, who are all total chads, and by that, I mean men who have reached esteemed positions based on competence and virtue, but are still total bros). I think, though, that all those elements create a concoction to radically change the brain.

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Since the benefits of this trip were too pronounced to ignore, I'd like to go on an extended backcountry trip at least once a year now. I go to a trail near my house fairly often, but I think it would be good to head on more weekend excursions now, too (as Florence Williams, the author of The Nature Fix, recommends.)

So, that was that. I am headed to the ayahausca retreat on September 23rd, god willing, and from there the plan is to settle in Greenville. Since I know nobody in the city, I need to land some type of income-generating activity that helps me meet people in the community. I've accumulated a ton of career capital as a teacher, but I would like to avoid working in public schools moving forward (too much John Taylor Gatto.)

In Charles Hugh Smith's book, "Get a Job, Build a Real Career, and Defy A Bewildering Economy" he emphasizes that it is stupid to think about "the economy" as a single entity. Rather, it is more realistic, and ultimately more pragmatic when it comes to generating a livelihood, to think about "the economy" as a series of mini-economies- some that are rapidly growing, and some that are rapidly contracting.

With remote learning, critical race theory, and other craziness embedded in public school these days, I think that private schools, homeschooling co-ops, and alternative education options are going to explode as an industry. I have been thinking of how to capitalize on this change, but my mindset towards work has also shifted. Now, I find myself thinking "what skills can I learn, and what people can I meet?"

When I was in college, I asked a guy on the board for my school if he'd go to lunch with me. This lead to all types of things- a job at his company, admission into a competitive student organization, and other trappings that come from providing value to a person with an orbit of wealth, power, and connections around them, which made a big impression on me. So now, I'm thinking less about working at a specific place, and more about finding a person I would like to meet and learn from.

FINANCE

YTD Spending: $17k (!!!)
- This is the year of the Roman Emperor, life-style speaking. $3k of this money went to a surgery and $2k to ayahausca, but the rest is me getting $8 bags of organic cashews at Aldi and owning a car. I also got some sweet gear- like barefoot shoes that don't look stupid, a capsule wardrobe of merino wool clothing, and hiking gear. Otherwise, my ongoing monthly expenses are less than $1k/mo. There are transitional neighborhoods in Greenville that are along the bike trail, 1 mile to the jiu jitsu gym, and 3 miles from downtown, where much of the business activity is located, so I am confident that my monthly expenses will continue to be less than $1k/mo upon relocating.

YTD Income: $25k
Net Worth: $206k
- I used to be almost 100% short-term t bonds, but have been slowly shifting my allocation. I'm now 65% cash/short term t-bonds, 15% equities, 10% crypto, and 10% gold. I know my timeline, as a 27 year-old, is the best thing going for me in terms of a set-it-and-forget-it indexing investing strategy supplemented with house hacking. I have been dollar-cost averaging $2k a month into equities, which feels stupid with P/E ratios so high, but I don't see the Fed ever significantly raising interest rates again.

This sucks, but I think there is no end-game in terms of normalizing interest rates/the economy. There is simply too much debt, and too little capital backstopping it, for the Fed to normalize rates. They will do everything they can to prop up the financial system, I think, including negative interest rates. Inflation will ramp up more than it already is, and we will increasingly become more like Brazil, where there are a bunch of struggling people at the bottom that live in divided-up McMansions, struggling to make ends meet, while there is a caste of people connected to Fed money- tech workers, eds and meds, government workers, etc., who will still do well (comparatively.)

I hope I'm wrong, but after all, has this not been the route we've taken since 2008? I think there are certainly external events that could trigger a market crash, like an oil price spike, or a new series of lockdowns if the COVID situation devolves into anything like John Michael Greer's hypothesis about what is happening. But those are ifs. I think, the way things are going, that we have a centralized economy that will continue to be increasingly disconnected from reality and further divide our society.

BOOKS READ

The Nature Fix, by Florence Williams


Toxin, Toxout

- Fascinating. I am definitely getting a sauna when I have my own place!

Lords of Finance, by Liaquat Ahmed
- I read this after seeing it recommended on Radigan Carter's website, and I highly recommend it. I'll let him do the talking:
I think anyone who wants to be responsible for their own investment portfolio should read Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World.

This book provides unmatched clarity how central bankers and politicians think during times of volatility.

Their main concerns are understandably national, societal, and economic continuity first and foremost. When weighed against those concerns, individual investors always understandably lose in the balance on the other side of the scales. Understanding this truth was the start of knowing why I need to be responsible for my own investment portfolio, and ready for a variety of potential futures in our changing world.
For more on this, see his post World War 1 to Bitcoin

Gates of Fire, by Steven Pressfield
- I read a thread on the ERE forums about one of Steven Pressfields books, The War of Art, and one of the commenters said that the thesis of the book could be distilled down to "love the misery," which I think is a over-simplification (dear reader, if I misrepresented your words, I deeply apologize!) I think the main idea of this book is that being a pro- someone who always shows up, day after day, come hell or high water, is not only how you actually finish your projects, but how you create artistic masterpieces.

The divine muse likes when we consistently bust our asses, and it is when we have shown enough discipline over a period of time that she flies down on our shoulder and whispers the highest-level creative ideas into our head. If you decide to read The War of Art, I would suggest reading Gates of Fire after, because it is genuinely a masterpiece. One of the best fictional books I have ever read, by far, and there are oodles of hardcore, high-level truths in the pages. This book was, not sure if it still is, required reading for officers in one of the US military branches.

mountainFrugal
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Re: RFS' Journal

Post by mountainFrugal »

The Winds are on my list of must do! Your post is further confirmation bias! Cool shots in such an epic rocky landscape.

I have read The War of Art. It was a great kick in the ass. I will check out his other book you mentioned.

Western Red Cedar
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Re: RFS' Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

That looks like an amazing trip. I'm glad you enjoyed The Nature Fix and it provided some food for thought out in the backcountry. I'd highly recommend trying to fit in at least a couple shorter trips every year if your schedule allows it. Getting out overnight in the wilderness is an amazing experience and we are blessed with an abundance of options in the US.

It is probably even more powerful when you aren't consuming any media (books, music, etc...). This was one of the rules at my Vipassana silent meditation retreat. It allows your mind to untangle from external thought/stimulus and travel to some interesting places.

I tend to bring a book with me because I'm out solo a lot of the time. But, it's really powerful to just be still and observe your environment. I've found the combination of nature, drinking heaps of fresh water, getting a good physical workout, eating relatively well on the trail, and a digital detox to be transformative after only a couple days. Backpacking is one of the few outlets that allow me to completely unwind.

(Also - I've never hear the term "Chads" but can totally relate as I have quite a few long-term friendships and often hang out with this crowd. I'll have to add it to my vocabulary.)

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RFS
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Re: RFS' Journal

Post by RFS »

SEPTEMBER 2021 UPDATE

The ayahausca was one of the most transformative experiences of my life. Let me tell you what happened during the first ceremony:

When it was my turn to drink, I was pretty damn nervous. My last psychedelic experience was 8 years ago, when I took a tab of acid I thought was LSD. It turned out to be a chemical called NBOMe, which has killed people via overdose. At the peak, it felt like a machine was pulling my blood vessels so taut that they would rip. I feared for my life like I never had before.

I suffered from terrible anxiety afterwards, too. I was in college at the time, and I remember, quite suddenly, feeling overwhelmed by panic in a lecture hall. My body seized up, accompanied with the sensation that I was going to vomit everywhere, and like I needed to retreat to a "safe" place immediately. This went on 2-3 times a week, and I wondered if I had permanently damaged my brain. These feelings dissipated after 3 months, but I still thought about it every day.

I knew this experience was deeply lodged in my psyche, and the thought of potentially reliving it again was terrifying. The night before, I took solace in the idea that the shaman, who reads your energy to determine how much medicine you need, would feel my nervousness and give me a small dose. But when I got up to drink, she took one look at me and filled the cup up to the brim.

I drank, went back to my section (you take ayahausca in a circle with your retreat mates), and sat silently. The ceremony is silent at first, then when the shaman feels that the medicine is beginning to work, she and her 2 assistants play instruments and sing in order to properly guide the spirits.

The music started about 45 minutes later. After the first song, the shaman said “if you feel the call for more medicine, come on up.” I knew, right then and there, that I needed more. But there was serious resistance from my ego. As I wrestled with these thoughts, I saw one of my retreat mates go up for more. She had cried earlier in the day when discussing her intention for drinking ayahausca, and I knew that she had deep psychological issues to face, too. She gave me strength in that moment, so I followed her to get my second cup.

The medicine started kicking in, and sure enough, that NBOMe floated right up to the forefront of my consciousness. I felt the fear, but as soon as that happened, I heard my father's voice and felt his energy right next to me. I can't remember exactly what he said, but it was something along the lines of "surrender and trust, my son." That's all he said, and then he was gone. I also felt my grandmother and my grandfather in that moment, but they chose not to say anything.

I realized that my brain had programmed the experience of the NBOMe in a peculiar way. Because I had voluntarily taken it, and because I had brought such a traumatic experience upon myself, my mind had interpreted this to mean that I couldn't trust myself. And since I couldn't trust, I had forgotten how to surrender and let go.

As soon as I processed all of this information, which occurred in the blink of an eye, I focused on trusting that the medicine was a force for good, and that it would never hurt me. I focused on trusting the shaman, her assistants, and the people around me. I focused on trusting that I would be OK, even in the face of things I couldn't control. Then, for the first time in almost a decade, I let go. The negative emotion instantly disappeared. I knew it was gone forever.

At this point, the shaman reminded us that if you felt the call to drink more, then to get more. I heard a raspy, south american-grandma voice whisper “more.... More!”, and I knew what needed to happen. The medicine was so strong that I couldn't stand up, but I felt the spirit literally push on my back and lift my body up. I somehow got the 3rd dose. A couple of minutes went by, and I knew I still needed more. It really wasn't me, though, that was aware of this. It was the spirit of mother ayahausca working through me. I literally crawled over for the fourth cup.

By this point, the medicine was extremely intense. I remember hearing the voice of my shaman, but it was entirely in my head. The bottom of my purge bowl rose up, which gave the appearance that I was holding a flat object, rather than something concave. The surface shimmered like a pensieve from Harry Potter, and the most intricate neon green and orange "machinery" appeared on the surface. There was a tunnel in the middle, and at the end of the tunnel was an eye. However, whenever it became aware that I was looking at it, it would look away. It looked very much like this image:

Image

I was surrendering and trusting, though, which helped me peacefully "ride the wave" of the medicine. At this moment, I started thinking about my mother. She had a terrible upbringing- her mother was mentally ill and simply didn't have the capacity to provide her with a sense of unconditional motherly love. My mom gave this to me and my siblings, though, which puzzled me. I couldn't understand how she got it.

As soon as this thought passed through my brain, I looked down and saw a blue orb floating above my sternum. It had a brilliant white light within it. I knew that this light represented the most powerful force in the universe, and that it was infinite. Even in death, it could not be extinguished. It was infinitely divisible, too. There were endless quantities that could be given away.

The medicine told me that this light represented my mother's love. It also told me that God, or whatever name you would give to a divine force, gave this power to my mother. I understood that I could travel to the deepest pits of hell, and no matter how dark life became, that my mother's love would protect and guide me.

The blue orb lit up, and a ray of light shone out over my group. I looked up at the stars, and I understood my mission in life. Live so that as many people as possible can be touched by this love, because it is a gift. My intention for this ceremony was “Show me how to have a better relationship with my mother.” This ceremony took place on her birthday, too. How about that?

I knew that if I surrendered, trusted, and retreated into my mother's love, then I would be OK. My heart opened, and I felt the world's largest download of love hit my system. I noticed a white light wash over my entire body. I remember thinking that I wear a mask so often, and that the world would be better off if I was truly myself. Then that I would have to change my name, because I was no longer me. This morphed into a confusion about the idea of ethnicity, national borders, and ideas we use to separate and classify humans. I couldn't grasp why any of that existed; it made no sense.

My visual field became white light, and I felt myself ascending. I was no longer at the retreat center. I wasn't even within my body anymore. I was just consciousness within this expanse of light. I knew the next step: death. And it was perfect, because I understood that everything in life- the coincidences, the triumphs, the tragedies- it all happens for a reason. We're not supposed to understand why, but it's OK, because the source energy of the universe is love.

As Don Miguel Ruiz says, “Everything is God, and the world is illusion, a dream. The illusion is like smoke, which keeps us from seeing what we are. Everything is made of light and the space in between isn't empty, it is the smoke. We are the same- you and I.” Only my ego would die. My spirit would merge with the divine.

I saw my retreat mates holding up my body and walking it towards a portal. I felt myself drifting into a peaceful sleep, but then I heard a message.

Nope! Now is not the time for your soul to go, bucko. You've got to let other people know about this information.

The white light dissipated, and I was back at the sacred circle. As the ceremony came to a close, I heard one last message: Dark times are coming. But if you can remember to harness your mother's love and find strength in it, you will be OK.

I remembered that I hadn't purged the entire ceremony. As soon as this happened, a memory from a high school football game- a play that I had ruined and thought about every day since 2011- came up. I grabbed my purge bucket and threw up so intensely that my abdominal muscles cramped. They say the purging is your body releasing negative energy attached to a memory, and lo and behold, I knew that all the negative emotion associated with this memory was now gone forever. I let it go.

The ceremony ended, and the floor opened up so you could talk. One of my retreat mates, a man 25 years older than me from the Middle East, came over to sit with me, and we had the most beautiful conversation. I remember him saying “how insane is it that you can think this way, and that you can experience this kind of consciousness, but that before you took this medicine, you weren't even aware of your ignorance?! Dude, this is ILLEGAL in the US!” It reminded me of the cave allegory at the beginning of the ERE book (Jacob, if you are reading this, I felt some serious gratitude for you in that moment, my man!)

If you ever feel the call to the medicine, I would recommend traveling to a retreat center. I've heard ayahausca described as 10 years of therapy in one night, and that is truly what it is. I was shown structures of my psyche that I didn't know existed, but were affecting me nonetheless, and they were re-wired to give me strength, make me more loving, more compassionate, and more intuitive. I can listen now to my heart and spirit.

The retreat center I went to was Blue Stone Ayahausca in Mexico. Sandra, Ino, and Sharon are amazing. I can't recommend it more.

BOOKS READ

Everything is F*cked: A Book About Hope
, by Mark Manson.
- This man's work is sticky. I am challenged by his ideas, and they stay with me for a long time. What more can I say?

Thrive, by Ariana Huffington
- This book is Ariana's case for everyone to redefine what it means to be successful in today's world. I loved it.

Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah
- I don't like The Daily Show, and I have never seen Trevor Noah's stand up, but this book is beautifully written, entertaining, induced many lol's, and extremely insightful. I learned a lot about South Africa from reading it, too (It was illegal for a mixed-race couple to have children, and I think to even date each other, in apartheid South Africa, thus he was born a crime.)

Ayahausca, by Javier Reguiero
If you are interested in the medicine, I would recommend reading this book. It will tell you everything you need to know, and you will go into your first ceremony with exactly the right frame of mind. I wish I had read it before!

@mountainFrugal- Yes sir! I hope you enjoy it!

@WRC- You total Chad, I appreciate ya!

Western Red Cedar
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Re: RFS' Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

Wow! That sounds like an amazing and transformative experience. Thanks for taking the time to provide a detailed overview.

AxelHeyst
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Re: RFS' Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

Yeah holy moly, thanks for sharing that. I'm going to go call my mom now.

Jiimmy
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Re: RFS' Journal

Post by Jiimmy »

Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed reading that. That’s something I’d like to experience one day.

jacob
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Re: RFS' Journal

Post by jacob »

RFS wrote:
Sun Oct 10, 2021 3:07 pm
BOOKS READ
I'd add https://www.amazon.com/One-Taste-Reflec ... 570625476/

It describes your experience or one similar to it. It's from one of the transpersonal bands but I forget which.

theanimal
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Re: RFS' Journal

Post by theanimal »

Thanks for sharing! Glad to hear it was a positive experience for you. I'd be interested in hearing another report 6 months or so from now and see if your thoughts on the effects are still the same.

Married2aSwabian
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Re: RFS' Journal

Post by Married2aSwabian »

Sounds like an unbelievable experience! I’ve read How to Change your Mind by Michael Pollan and Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe in past year, so have been thinking about (taking) psychedelics again. I’ve not experimented any further in the past 35 years. I always thought psilocybin seemed like a more controlled and enjoyable experience compared with LSD. Is ayahuasca similar to psilocybin?

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RFS
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Re: RFS' Journal

Post by RFS »

@ WRC, AxelHeyst, and Jiimmy- you're very welcome! And Axel, I'm glad you called your Mom :D

@ theanimal- will do! They say the medicine stays with you, which has been the case for me so far. Now that I can surrender and trust, I'm giving (and letting in) so much more love in my life. People respond to it, too, man! They open up and connect with you like never before. My rate of acquaintances-turning-into-friends is up 100x.

They also say you can forget the medicine's teachings over time, though, so I will definitely hit you back with an update soon! Thank you for the idea, I really appreciate that.

@ Jacob- thank you, sir, for the book recommendation! That sounds perfect. It's sadly not available at my library, but I shall put in the inter-library loan request.

@ Married2aSwabian- Wow! I love that both of those books have prodded your interest, even after all this time. As for the similarity between ayahausca and psilocybin, this is just my experience, so take it as you may: I found ayahausca to be significantly more intense.

I'm not sure if this is because ayahausca itself is "stronger" or "more insightful" as a psychedelic than psilocybin. I think the difference is that I took it under the supervision of an excellent shaman. It's hard to comprehend as a Westerner, but these people have skills that change the game. Whatever you do, make sure you're working with a pro (as the "psychedelic retreat" market has grown over the years, sites like retreat guru and AyaAdvisors have helped the kings stand out from the charlatans.)

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