May 2015

Ayahuasca Mamancuna

I came into the ceremony with intention of putting away the noise and regaining clarity.

It was a much needed meditation.

There were 15 of us in a comfortable studio space in Lower East Side of Manhattan. The shaman, facing us as a beautiful multi-panel window was symmetrically behind his back. The lights went off and his ceremony began.

He performed traditional songs, called icaros, whistling, making unique sounds and gestures as each of us came to visit his post. We were presented with his special brew. It had a woodsy taste that I actually enjoyed.

Back on my mat, I relaxed and enjoyed the sounds. I laughed to myself “that’s my jam” as I realized that it only took moments for me to fall in love with each song he performed.

As some time passed, you could hear people begin to feel the brew. Sounds of nauseousness and angst began around the room. Serious internal struggles were taking place. It was clear that these people had a lot they needed to let go.. and they did.

The man on a mat next to mine became possessed by the demons within, as a 4 year long torment was coming to surface. This was his first ceremony and he was in for a special purge. Throwing up profusely he proceeded to lose control of his body. The shaman came to help with what resembled an exorcism.

The brew kicked in for me as well. A feeling of discomfort was present for a bit of time as my mind and body felt perplexed. I am fortunate not to have any traumatic experiences in my life that would require a purge, so I turned my focus on understanding the big picture, clarifying my present and visualizing my future. The path showed up so clearly that I had a challenging time containing my excitement. My body was grooving non-stop as I enjoyed every moment of the shaman’s night-long performance.

My key moment of enlightenment was realizing what was truly impacting me. It was not the brew, but rather two things; love and music. I had to break it down.

Love is the most powerful energy. The strongest bond. Yet, I often felt that loving everyone came at the expense of self. To correct that, love for others must be in good balance with love for self. Keeping the Ratio of Love equal to ONE, allows unlimited love.

The resonating rhythm of the songs and the frequencies in sound. I surrounded myself with talented musicians, even took part in events with names that spell out a clear message … I Feel the Ebb and Flow, a Resonating Momentum that I am Addicted to. Yet until that moment, I did not see it clearly. Music is the universal communication that binds us all. Danny Teneglia was right all along — Music is the answer.

I look forward to further exploring these concepts as the journey progresses.

For now, I danced all night on my mat with a big smile on my face. A great start.

Ayahuasca Mamancuna

One

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Heroes

May 9th is a very special day in the history of the world. It marked 70 years since the victory against the Nazis. The war was started by big oppressive egos who took advantage of people’s hardships. Manipulating a feeling of superiority for the purpose of uniting hate.

This war required heroes to join forces and sacrifice their lives. I am proud to say three of my grandparents were such heroes. Semyon and Liliya’s front-line serendipitous love-story is worthy of a novel. Semyon fully lost his leg, becoming an amputate 23 days before the end of the war. Yafim was wounded on two occasions, with one piece of shrapnel wedged near his heart all his life. Their stories of hardships have always put in perspective true meaning of sacrifice and perseverance. Liliya took care of Semyon and they raised my mother and her sister to be the top students in the USSR, as he became one of the most respected and admired community leaders and educators in his city. Yafim went on to live a modest, working life with a hobby developing and building innovative wind turbine models which he struggled to patent in the USSR. He and and his wife Sofa raised my father to be one of the most well-rounded people that I know.

Grandma Liliya is my last remaining link to that war. Unfortunately age has taken it’s toll and being unable to open her eyes, she lives in a seemingly permanent dream-state. Several days ago, I was able to bring her back to life to ask her a few more questions about what inspired her and Semyon during their battle against Fascism and in life under USSR’s attempt at Communism. Her response was priceless:

“What things are called don’t matter. People deserve to live in a free world where they can make their own decisions. People should love each other and do acts of kindness for each other. Everyone deserves to be happy.”

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The world will see many more devastating wars. People who come to power based on greed and ego will continue to manipulate and cause damage to the planet and to countless human lives. Yet, no matter the circumstances, the human spirit of love and freedom will never be broken. There will always be heroes who live and fight for that cause.

Cannabis — My Exit Drug

For almost 15 years I was taking anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications. Taking Gabapentin 4 times per day and Paxil once per day, I consumed roughly 30 pounds of these perception medications over the years. Skipping a dose felt as if I drank 5 RedBulls or that all hope is lost. Neither anxiety nor depression have been easy to control, given the circumstances and risk-filled path that I have chosen to take in my journey of life.
Exactly one year ago, while embedded with a Medical Marijuana Radio Station in Denver for a week, I was exposed to countless heartfelt stories of Cannabis saving people’s lives. I felt empowered to do what previously felt impossible.. I stopped the prescription medications. I replaced my dependence on these prescription drugs with a moderate yet constant intake of Cannabis and meditation.
Now, a year later, I am proud to let go of my dependence on Cannabis. I am enjoying life without the help of THC.
In the near future, there will be abundant availability of non-psychoactive Cannabinoids and they will be a part of healthy nutrition rather than a drug. Until then, my Cannabis intake is reserved for responsible use on special occasions.
Cannabis prohibitionists have long labeled Cannabis as a gateway drug. I am happy to prove that Cannabis is an exit drug.

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One.