Discover more from Loic's letter - Exploring the Mysterious
Learning to go slow with Pajé Puttany Yawanawà
In my past as an entrepreneur I learned to go fast and been taught by top Silicon Valley investors that “speed is the ultimate competitive weapon”. Nothing you build that “does not scale” and can reach “mass market” is worth doing or interesting for investors.
For the last three years I have switched my interest and time to my spiritual path. I have had many different experiences as you can read in the previous link and now decided to fully dedicate myself to learning the Amazon tribe Yawanawà spirituality. I will write more about this. I have immediately felt home in their village and their teachings are authentic and resonate the most for me. Instead of “shopping around” learning bits and pieces with different techniques and guides I have decided to go all the way with their trainings.
Their most important teaching is to “go slow”.
“The turtle is the animal that lives the longest in the forest. Go as slow as you can.”
Meditation and the vipassana retreats I have done immediately come to mind. It’s all about slowing the flow of your mind, setting your to-do list, calls and meetings aside and giving yourself time to see the space between two thoughts, eventually being able to stay longer in that space.
Puttany, the most respected woman Pagé (master, teacher, healer, shaman… they don’t like that last term at all) of the Yawanawà and likely the Amazon forest is spending time teaching me personally despite the needs of her own personal training in the forest and the responsibility she has as the head of her tribe. I feel immensely grateful for her teachings and love, especially as she is a woman and I feel like my growth is accelerated by her strong feminine force, that of a mother but also an extremely powerful and “tough but fair” discipline. I have also been lucky to see many of these rare powerful women in action at the “moondance”, the “Abuelas”.
When I arrived at my second dieta (one month in the forest mostly alone in intense spiritual work) she said:
To welcome spiritual teachings in your life you need to make space in your home. Your home is your mind. As you tidy-up your physical home, you need to tidy-up your mind. Set aside everything else you have in it. Teachings can only come if there is space for them.
I have closed my to-do lists, stopped going on-line, checking emails, seeing anyone or “doing” anything. Like in meditation retreats, I set aside even books or kindle. It was not easy and it is a luxury being able to do that in the “doing” society we live in. The only things I kept with me was my guitar a notebook, a pen and an iPad offline with all the videos of the indigenous songs I wanted to learn.
Singing and playing guitar are at the center of the Yawanawà spirituality. It's how I connected with their culture first, moved by the force of their songs and seeing for the first time in my life synesthesia, which I keep seeing now when I sing myself. Making music even at the beginner stage I am at makes me deeply happy immediately. No wonder why music or dancing are so important for many spiritualities such as buddhism (mantras) or sufism. I highly recommend the book “The Mysticism of sound and music”.
You cannot learn to sing or play guitar fast. As when you meditate, you have to focus deeply. You can play music using a partition and repeating like a robot or you can “play from your heart”. The teaching is to shut down your mind entirely and “feel your own intuition”, hear your voice, feel the guitar strings create sound waves and their effect on your body and soul.
As I write this, I am listening to the Yawanawà song I love the most singing it with another woman teaching me to sing, Nawá. You can hear us sing another song here. I still have so much to learn and improve but the feeling of happiness is already here and keeps me going.
Singing is not valued as it should in our culture and education. It is not important and people make fun of it, why bother singing when you could be focusing on your career or build a company instead? The answer for me is that it makes me much happier.
Back to speed and scaling, I am doing deep work on myself. I am not doing it for anyone else than myself at this stage. It has already improved the way I behave, speak and relate to others as well as how I see the world so it is probably good in general, but it’s a work I do for myself.
Spending time in nature with trees and animals is teaching me to listen and being more sensitive to everything. I can now feel the impact of the food I put in my body. If I eat too much I feel it, I stopped drinking entirely as I now dislike what it does to me. Nobody could teach me that, it is by slowing down and listening to my own body that I learned.
Puttany taught me to listen to animals. She told me she learned a song from Cicadas and I have incredible visions when she sings it. I have no idea how her voice and a song mimicking the sound of an animal can impact me so much but it definitely makes more curious to hear and sing.
You can only hear the details and how your own body reacts to music and songs if you go extremely slow and all your senses focus on your own sensations. Your mind has to shut down entirely and the flow of ideas has to stop. It is exactly what you learn in meditation and once you have that space you can start to see “magic”. I am starting to see and hear “magic” in nature in every single plant or animal. I can spend hours watching butterflies and receiving ideas and feelings from the stunning art on their wings. Only slowing down entirely could allow that.
If you do not slow down, you won’t see. You’re missing the teachings of nature.
My entrepreneur mind always wants to kick back in full force. This happiness feeling and connection to nature should spread in the world - I think suddenly. How could we forget that much this connection? How can we build huge cities with no heart and limit nature to plants in our living room or gardens? How could we forget to preserve forests and their immense wealth and knowledge? The indigenous are the guardians of this connection and can teach us so much.
“Help improve the world” - is the goal of many of my successful friends. They always want to do it “at scale” and it is great, I respect it. I did, too. Problem is you can’t solve depression at scale. Anti depressant medication won’t fix it even if they are massively prescribed. You can’t change how people think at scale.
I have learned by myself with the constant care and time of my teachers one-on-one. It’s the most luxurious possession I have now, the time my teachers spend with me teaching me to learn from nature. You cannot learn that raising millions of dollars to reach millions of people with a startup. I just had to pause entirely (and had the luxury to being able to do it - I am aware of it).
Spirituality does not scale. Working on yourself does not scale. I feel it is perfectly fine the way it is. What might scale is inspiration to do the work, pause and start going inside.
I have two newsletters, this one where I write about once a month and another one where I write more frequently and shorter notes directly on my phone.