A friend and I were talking last night about ego dissolution (something we've both experienced). I was telling him about this recent Vox article that shares the author's first-hand account of an ayahuasca trip at Rythmia, a luxury "life advancement" resort in Costa Rica.
What really struck me about his tale is how he describes what he felt like on the fourth and final night (after drinking the most potent of all the brews):
I watch my entire life unfold as though it were projected on a movie screen. But it wasn't my whole life; it was every lie, every counterfeit pose, every missed opportunity to say or do something true, every false act and ingratiating gesture, every pathetic attempt to be seen in a certain light…
The experience made me aware of how often we all do this. We do it at home, at work, at the grocery store, at the gym. Most interactions are either transactional or performative. No one wants to make eye contact, and most of the time people freak out if you really try. We're too self-conscious to listen. We're thinking about what we'll say next or how we're being perceived.
All the posturing destroys any chance for a genuine connection.
That passage reminds me a bit of what I experienced when I had an ego death a couple of years ago. My experience (which was not gained through ayahuasca, by the way) showed me the motives behind the people in my life, both past and present, and if they were with me or not. I was able to see this clearly for the first time, probably ever, and it was truly eye-opening. It has made me pickier about who I spend my time with and who I will take on as clients (and how much I will charge).
As my friend and I were talking, he told me about this December 2017 video from Vsauce's series, Mind Field. In it, host Michael Stevens travels to Peru to take his own ayahuasca journey. There are at least three great things about his account: 1) he brings along Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris of Imperial College London's Head of Psychedelic Research to measure the effects of the medicinal brew on his brain, 2) he's able to articulate his (often intense) experience clearly, and 3) the cameras are rolling while he's under the influence.
He says, "I'd always been frustrated by the difficulty people had describing what it feels like to have a psychedelic experience and now I know why. It's a different state of mind and trying to describe it is like trying to describe anger to someone who has never felt it. Or what colors are like to a blind person."
It's a little over 30 minutes, but a great watch. It's on YouTube Red which means it's a pay-to-view series. If you don't subscribe to YouTube Red (I don't), you should be able to view the video with a free trial. Of course, there's always the issue of trying to view it in another country and there's nothing I can do about that.
Lastly, in this video interview, Stevens talks more about his experience in the jungle and why it was hard recording such a personal act. Good stuff!