Inner Reflections
January 22, 2024

Welcome to the Jungle Pt. 1

Over the last several months I have had the pleasure and privilege of traveling to and through a variety of amazing lands along the west. From the coastlines of northern California, to the deserts of Sedona, Arizona. Some firsts have included completing my first multiple-day backpacking trip, as well as experiencing the week-long extravaganza that is Burning Man, which I will soon be sharing more about in detail.

One of many things is for certain, the lense in which my soul has been peering through has shifted. A shift that I am eternally grateful for. If I had to encapsulate what that shift feels like with words, I would say there’s been a heightened sense of awareness, specifically with the five senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell) and the five common Koshas (annamayakosha, pranamayakosha, manomayakosha, vijnanamayakosha, and anandamayakosha).

I will begin by sharing about my re-entry into modern civilization, beginning with my final morning in the village of Mutum, in the territory of the Yawanawá (in Acre, Brazil). The morning had really begun the evening prior. The group I had traveled with, along with Matsini, the leader of Mutum, his wife Mashivahu, his sister Hushahu, and many of Matsisni’s daughters, were celebrating our final evening together and the closing of our month-long Dieta. 

We opened the ceremony Sunday evening in the big Shuhu (temple) around the fire, underneath the clearly brightened Milky Way, with many beautiful words and songs shared and sung. The ceremony did not close until just past sunrise Monday morning, which is to say sleep was not in abundance that evening, though smiles and thought-provoking conversations were. After long hugs and beautiful exchanges of words were shared amongst the group and members of the village, myself as well as four others were beginning to board the riverboats to embark on the journey home. 

From the time that I took my seat on the boat, to the time that I walked through my front door was about 52 hours in total. A seven-hour boat ride to the nearest town, an eight-hour taxi ride (the bumpiest road I have ever ridden) to the nearest city (which was topped off by my first shower in over a month), followed by a four-hour flight from Rio Branco to Sao Paolo, an eight-hour flight from Sao Paolo to Miami, and lastly a five-hour flight from Miami to LAX. I share that for the sake of the reader having a greater understanding of just how far removed some Indigenous people are from regular society. Some, undoubtedly, much further and deeper in the jungle than I was. Some, never having contact with anyone in the outside world to this day.

I had never before been that far ‘off-the-grid’ for that amount of time. A total of five and a half weeks in the village Mutum, and about 10 hours aways from the nearest bars of cellphone reception. What a relief. But, a relief for some may feel very unappealing and maybe even scary for others. 

I have been asked many times If I was ever afraid of getting eaten or bitten, or stung by something that could kill me or harm me. I would be a madman if I were never afraid of getting bitten by a venomous snake or mauled by a jaguar. Fight or flight! 

I got to feel that sympathetic nervous system stimulation in one of the most ancient ways, and yes, it was indeed scary at times. Especially coming face-to-face with a venomous snake coiled up, or bush-whacking through the jungle in the middle of the night hunting carrying flashlights and headlamps with some of the tribe, and walking through the murky river chest-deep holding a rifle overhead fishing and hunting knowing that there are electric eels and stingrays lurking in the waters. 

Pardon my language, but damn right I was scared at times. Though, I did not allow my mind to go down that rabbit hole of fear and trusted fully that I was being divinely guided and protected. I am fully aware of the law of attraction. The vibrations we put out are what we magnetize back towards ourselves. Feeling fear and senses of threat can literally save our lives, and on the other end of the spectrum can literally shorten our lives and imprison us. The choice is ours and where our attention goes, energy flows. 

Being as far removed as I was for as long as I was, I began noticing and feeling rather quickly how calm, quiet, relaxed, and unpolluted all of my senses were becoming. No noise or air pollution. There was not the constant sound and smell of cars passing by, honking, no fire truck or police car sirens, no airplanes overhead. No light pollution. There were no city, street, or store lights. No electricity in the jungle. No media and advertisement pollution. No billboards along the river. No constant stimulation of commercials, televisions, phones ringing, notifications pinging, or social media. No Amazon Prime in the Amazon. 

Only the sounds of the animals, the wind blowing through the trees, the rain passing through from time to time, guitar strings, and ancient songs of prayers and protection. Only the smells of the dense jungle and warm brewed tea. Only the lights coming from the moon and the stars, the flashlights and the headlamps, and the fires burning alongside the Shuhu throughout the ceremonial gatherings.

Every moment that I was getting closer to home, closer to Los Angeles, and closer to the reality of society that I had known my whole life, I became more aware of the many external stimuli that were yearning for my attention and trying their best, as they are designed so well to do, to infiltrate my senses and my conscious and subconscious mind. Buy this! Try this! Watch this! Listening to me! Look at me with my bright colors and big bold letters! Hurry hurry! Right now! Now! NOW!

As soon as I got off that boat it began. I entered the taxi and for the next eight-hours was back in a sympathetic state, and not because there was a snake at my feet or a jaguar sitting next to me. The drive was a constant back and forth between immediate acceleration, quick jagged turns, slamming on the brakes, potholes galore, and radio waves that were non-stop. Eight hours non-stop, no exaggeration. Welcome back to ‘reality.’ I was immediately confronted and tested. It was as if God were like, ‘So you think you’re calm, peaceful, evolved, and can handle anything now? OK! Here you go buddy!” It was actually quite comical. 

I have walked through many airports in my life, many taxi rides, many highways ridden, many nights in hotels and hours traveling. So what was different this time around? A heightened awareness. I have been numb to most everything that I have mentioned above, in regards to the diversity of pollution. And, if you live in a major or smaller city, chances are you have been too. 

Every day of my existence that has passed, I have become more and more desensitized to the many conveniences, privileges, and stimulations of living in this first-world country. Many blessings and many curses. Until my return, I had never really noticed how blatantly companies and corporations are vying for our attention. Whether it is billboards, commercials, or Instagram ads it is constant. 

How have I adapted since returning? By paying less and less attention. Not looking at advertisements on the sides of the roads. Not scrolling down on my Instagram feed or watching anyone’s stories (Please do not take it personal. Though, if you do, I would recommend reading The Five Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz). I do not own a television, never have and never will. I am very selective about the music, podcast, and audiobooks I listen to, as well as the videos, shows, documentaries, and movies I watch from time to time. I keep the screens dim and mute any advertisements. I am very particular about the food I consume and how I consume it. I am very particular about the water and beverages I consume and how I consume them. No alcohol anymore. I do make an exception for the occasional Mezcal in the appropriate set and setting. Personally, I view Mezcal for exactly what I believe it is, a plant medicine. Something to be consumed with respect. Com muito respeito as they say in the jungle.

These are some of the ways that I have noticed the shift. These are a few of the ways I have been integrating and adapting since being back. I would like to share one more description of how this shift has felt. As I have reflected over the past several months, this articulation of felt sense has made much sense to my mind. My hope is that it does to yours as well, especially if you are a musician. I felt as if I was a guitar. A guitar that, through the day-to-day stresses of being played for years, traveling to and from, weathering various conditions and natural wear and tear, had become more and more out of tune. Only to have landed in the most ancient guitar shop to be re-tuned daily over the course of a month and a half by some of the wisest guitar elders who have dedicated their whole lives to tuning and harmonizing to the most finite degrees. Every single string, every single chord, every single note, and every single fret, and so on. Of course, wear and tear will continue to happen as it naturally does, though the wisdom woven in and threaded through by hands of the elders, the shamans, the songs, the prayers, the jungle, and the medicinal plants will always maintain and remain. My hope is that the reader has begun to understand the why’s and how’s this shifting of the lense has occured after a trip deep into the womb of the beautiful Amazonian jungle.

To be continued…

 If you haven’t already, make sure to check our Mychal’s Alchemy series which was influenced by his amazing travels!

By Mychal