A few months ago, last November, I posted an unusual invite to this newsletter, an invitation to spend 4 days in the jungle isolated with no food and no water.
I’m here writing from Bacalar, Mexico. The “Maldives” of Mexico.
Many know the Laguna but less know that there is also a beautiful pristine jungle with many animals and incredible nature.
Twenty five friends joined me and decided to go to the jungle 48 hours ago, they are going through their second night as I write this, exposed to solitude, boredom, animals, darkness, sun… Why are they doing that?
Before sharing a bit of my thoughts about this I would like to say that we just posted our first speakers to our PAUA Paris 2023 event May 12-13 and early bird tickets are available while they last (first 100) we hope you will join us this year again! More about our theme “AI and consciousness” and speakers soon.
The most funny answer to this unusual invitation came from a close friend who joked and told me:
“sounds great, can they stake me down naked to a termite mound too?”.
I get it, there are so many other great things to do than starving surrounded by trees and animals. We could hang by a pool with friends, do kite-surfing or just… work.
25 people entered the vision quest this year.
It is the third year I help organize it with our “Abuelo”. Miguel is a native mexican “person of knowledge” with Maya roots and training that I trust like a brother I did not have, or I had in a different way. I helped him support hundreds of women do their Moondance two years in a row, did my own third vision quest and two Sundances with him as a “Chief”, about to do my third in a few days. Miguel also came to a few trips to the Amazon forest with me and supported me during my own 3 months isolation there.
Here is a photo of Miguel and me enjoying the jungle after we “launched” our friends to start their 4 day isolation. Nothing in their mouth apart from air for 4 days!
We were a handful the first year of our vision quest, about 10 last year and 25 this year. Closer to 30 if we include the “Sundancers”. The Sundance is a supercharged version where we not only dry fast for 4 days but we also dance under the sun and practice some rituals.
Why did 25 people decide to put themselves through such a hard exercice?
Getting out of the “default mode network” what people call “normal”
This is the main reason. We all have habits, conditioning by our education and society. Like a 4 day and night non-stop meditation the vision quest takes us out of all habits and conditioning.
Very few people actually take the time to “pause entirely” with no input coming in (no phone, no book, no watch…), nothing coming out (no notes taking…) and in nature day and night.
The simplest medicine there is, nothing
There are no substances at the vision quest and Sundance.
We do not put anything in our minds or bodies while we do it. The medicine is the simplest that there is, the magic of our body and mind themselves. This medicine is always available.
Vision quest is learning to need and do… nothing.
Stopping any activity. There is nothing to do during the vision quest. Going through entire days and nights “doing nothing” else than watching and meditating is incredible.
Leaving everything and… everyone
When I enter the vision quest or Sundance, I leave everything behind. Family, friends, to-do lists are out of touch (no phone allowed). We are only allowed to go with a few clothes and basic protection (agains mosquitoes and cold). There is nobody to see what we are wearing or doing. The only thing we can see is ourselves and our thoughts.
Introspection and time off for ourselves
It’s like a very long meditation. The only possible interruption are animals, trees moving, the Sun, the Stars (which are amazing here) and rarely some rain.
In our modern societies, we tend to be always on. This is the opportunity to be entirely off to modern tools and social life and stay with our own thoughts or observing nature.
Like in long meditation retreats it is a fantastic process to take a step back from what’s happening in our lives to better see what’s going on from the outside, let the mind clear itself from the always-on flow of ideas and make space for something else to come in.
Finding visions with no substances
It’s called “vision quest” for a reason. Isolation in nature and cutting all external input plus fasting create a very special state which can be very similar to taking psychedelics. I experienced myself many experiences of “visions” or being in a total dream like state.
Nature becomes alive, our senses become extremely receptive and real visions often come in such as what people call “sacred geometry”. It can go all the way to complete spiritual experiences or seeing Buddhist type mandalas such as the wheel of time which I saw once.
If it’s not visual it can be incredible insights on problems we were incapable to solve otherwise exactly as it often happens in dreams. See for example how Mendeleev Invented His Periodic Table in a Dream.
Removing the masks
In society, we wear many masks often without even being able to see them. We often get confused between who we are and the “persona” of the masks.
There is no mask to wear in the jungle and nobody to see the mask. We cannot lie to ourselves or to anyone. Vision quest means being alone with nature in the simplest form.
Pushing our own limits
Of course it’s easier to go kite-surfing or walk on a beach than fasting with no water an no food for four days, restricted into a very small space and exposed to nature, rain, sun and the animals (there are many where we do it in Bacalar, Mexico).
The entire process is “medicine”. Going through fears, difficulties to decide, listening to friends and family telling us it is crazy (no food no water will trigger many people telling you it’s “dangerous” even though this practice is extremely old ) before it happens.
During the process we go through thirst, hunger, incoming flow of thoughts until we manage to control our brains. Strong emotions such as bliss or plain anger to better release it have all happened to me as well as the urge to end it and leave as it’s… hard.
We are unable to wash ourselves or do really anything we can normally do and take for granted (such as drinking a glass of water…).
Pushing our own limits and going through them is the best way to realize the power of our minds and bodies.
The teachings of the “red road” (as this path is called) are available anytime, no matter what life throws at us. It makes us stronger.
Watch these words from one of my red road friends doing his own retreats, Wakia explains very well why we need “modern warriors”. They do not train to go to war or hurt other people, nobody should, they train to be better human beings, protect themselves, protect their families, their communities and eventually nature if they can.
I wrote last year from encountering another “person of knowledge”-
A modern warrior must
-control his thoughts, take decisions instantly (without making plans) like quit drinking
-control his emotions (don't get angry which is a total waste of energy)
-control his words (always be positive and speak good about yourself and others, avoid negative things)
-learn from his mistakes, it's a learning process
-control his actions and do good things for yourself, for others and for mother Earth -doesn't say something is hard, just say it is easy and it will be easy
The warrior always sees the positive and always thinks positive.
Vision Quest is a training to become the warrior of our own mind.
Redefining the notion of time. No watches allowed.
Time is a human construct. Going through 4 days and nights outside in nature redefines entirely the notion of time and changes it forever.
I could go on and on with the benefits of this exercice.
We are inviting friends to experiment the vision quest for themselves every year around the same period, I will post soon the dates for next year.
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Image created by Midjourney with the prompt “a spiritual seeker a vision quest in the jungle at sunset high definition. The person wears very simple clothes and has nothing with him. The person looks like someone "normal" from a city and not indigenous. He is seated alone contemplating the trees. He is surrounded by trees in the forest, everything is beautiful green and there are many animals.”