The healing power of ayahuasca

Michael Costuros is an "executive coach" in California's Marin County (birthplace of the hot tub) who every year takes a group of entrepreneurs to South America on a trip within a trip. Each spends $10,000 to hopefully leverage "the healing power of ayahuasca," Costuros says. From Chris Colin's feature in California Sunday:


Chris Hunter, co-founder of the company behind the alcoholic energy drink Four Loko, signed on in hopes that it would help him navigate some sticky professional relationships. Jesse Krieger, publisher of Lifestyle Entre­preneurs Press, wished for insight into growth strategies. Other participants included the founder of a financial technology company, the scion of a footwear empire, and a firearms executive looking for a pivot. Under the guidance of Costuros and a local shaman, they would participate in a San Pedro ceremony — San Pedro is another powerful plant-based psychedelic — followed by two separate ayahuasca ceremonies....


The participants — all men this year — spent their first day traveling to the retreat center, getting situated, and enjoying massages. At 8 a.m. the next day, they assembled in a small, open-air structure. Following an initial cleansing ceremony, they drank their first batch of medicine (fermented wheatgrass and dirt is how Krieger described the taste) and lay down on thin mats under a thatched roof. There they’d remain for ten hours.


The first 60 minutes of the ayahuasca ceremony felt like two weeks for (AirHelp CEO Henrik) Zillmer. Uncontrollable vomiting and feverish shivering aside, he was unable to move and watched helplessly as his mind departed his body and descended into a vast black hole. A witness to his own death, he stepped into something that wasn’t life at all. He felt both nowhere and everywhere on a strange grid connecting all plants, animals, stars, and human beings.

“There were visions,” said Hunter, the Four Loko guy. “I literally saw the world through other people’s eyes — my wife, my dad, my mom — and that crossed over into business aspects. At one point, I felt myself step into a leadership role that had almost been waiting there for me.”


"Visionaries" (California Sunday)


illustration by Brian Rea; animation by Pablo Delcan