Entrepreneurs Seeking Business Guidance Through Ayahuasca Are Receiving Spiritual Insights Instead
Once a sacred ritual of central and south American people, ayahuasca (aka: yage) has become a popular hack for startup and business success. It has become so common in Silicon Valley that it’s a running joke amongst many who live in the Bay Area.
According to podcast host and Tribe of Mentors author, Tim Ferriss, “ayahuasca is like having a cup of coffee here...I have to avoid people at parties because I don’t want to listen to their latest three-hour saga of kaleidoscopic colors.”
In hubs of entrepreneurial talent, such as Silicon Valley, many are paying a lot of money to “fix” their businesses and generate more profits. While this might seem pretentious or misguided, the real story is how entrepreneurs are finding spiritual guidance and using their powers to do good in the world.
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A Journey of the Soul
Despite growing popularity and awareness, ayahuasca is not new. Archaeological evidence suggests traditional peoples of South America have been using this brew for over 4000 years. The explosion in popularity among entrepreneurial circles started with Joe Rogan and Aubrey Marcus in 2012.
This year Aubrey and Joe’s company, Onnit, generated $28 million in revenue, but that didn’t stop them from spreading the message of ayahuasca with a freely available documentary called Drink the Jungle. Much of Aubrey’s work has been focused on spreading a wider message rather than exclusively growing profits.
I also know this from firsthand experience. My latest ayahuasca journey happened four days after separating from my partner. I was devastated and it made me look closely at who I am and what I’m bringing into the world.
In one vivid journey hiking through the mountains, I had revelations about my purpose, my mission and why I write articles such as this one. By helping people “wake up” through ayahuasca I’ve found a stronger “why.”
While many entrepreneurs still come out of an ayahuasca experience with old habits and patterns intact, the entheogen is providing spiritual guidance to a group of capable individuals seeking to make the world a better place rather than focusing solely on profits.
As many of the successful entrepreneurs have found out, the profits are simply a byproduct of leading a more heart-centered and self-aware life.
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Indigenous Vindication: The New Science of Ayahuasca
Business success and spiritual guidance may sound great, but to analytical entrepreneurs playing by the numbers, it may sound too good to be true. Fortunately, the indigenous people of Central and South America have been espousing benefits of ayahuasca that are now finally proven with modern science.
Many of the spiritual aspects of ayahuasca are correlated with increased processing in the emotional centers of the brain. A study in Frontiers of Neuroscience used brain fMRI scans to show that ayahuasca engaged regions of the brain designated for processing emotions more than anyone could achieve while sober.
Scientists discovered a single dose of ayahuasca could reduce rates of depression by 64 percent. Other studies put the figure as high as 82 percent.
Even the ayahuasca vine with no DMT (the active ingredient that creates hallucinations and is considered illegal in the United States) has powerful alkaloids called harmine and harmaline, which can increase neuron growth and enhance short-term memory.
Scientists have only studied a fraction of the benefits in ayahuasca. With growing popularity, more validation of this traditional brew will come.
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A Safe Container
Despite the validity and potential for ayahuasca, there are cautionary tales for the eager entrepreneur looking to consume the brew. Not least, practicing in the United States could be subject to legal issues.
While specific churches (notably the Santo Daime) have been granted legal permission to use ayahuasca as a holy sacrament in the U.S.A., many people prefer to experience the medicine in Peru or Brazil instead.
The increasing demand for ayahuasca has created a marketplace of unqualified charlatans. Experiences with these people not only provide little insight, but may actually hurt people psychologically.
Whatever shaman you use must be capable of creating a safe space where you can feel comfortable going into the medicine. Comfort with your surroundings, trust in the people around you and safety are all paramount for a spiritually healthy experience. The shaman and the space that they create to “do the work” are more important than the medicine itself.
Even though entrepreneurs are considering ayahuasca a business “hack” to improve success, it is important to do it with intention and care. Not only is it dangerous to buy and use the medicine by itself, but it also provides far less useful results in the real world.
Yet, when done in the right setting and with a capable shaman, it can allow entrepreneurs to find new direction, contribute more to society in a positive way, and find business success as a byproduct of the spiritual guidance.