“How can I be more spiritual?” - experiences and some pointers

I am getting this question a many friends recently. We all have a different idea of what “spiritual” means. Anyone can start working more on oneself with very simple practices like meditation.

I decided to write here a few pointers with what helped me. I am a student again and I am curious, discovering the knowledge that crossed my path. The world offers so many ways to work on myself. I am still figuring what works best for me and I keep an open mind. I am learning totally differently and fascinated with ancestral knowledge and practices trying to avoid the lies.

I took the above photo with the Yawanawas in Brazil, posted with permission of Tawahu one of my guides you can see here opening a ceremony at the Akasha retreat center.

Each person is different. My path started really with my divorce 8 years ago and never stopped since then. For others it can be a deep sense of lack of happiness, an illness, a work “burn-out”, a spiritual partner or simply the need to reconnect with yourself...

It has been deeply transforming. I made mistakes and learned a lot along the way. It has changed me for sure and I never felt as healthy as today.

Meditation
That is more difficult than it seems. The most difficult is to actually do it on a daily basis. I highly recommend a 10 day vipassana course which taught me how to do it by myself but you can also start with an app such as Calm or find a meditation group or teacher. I also did a few meditation retreats (some work with Soren Gordhamer of Wisdom 2.0, John Kabat-Zinn and Jack Kornfield), and now a daily meditation practice. I try to get an hour of continuous meditation every day.

Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Breathwork
I can’t say much as I have not done enough, but I want to get deeper.

I highly recommend Kundalini Yoga which I practiced at the Kundalini center of San Francisco and always loved it. I did a few powerful breathwork practices too, I also want to explore more.

Qi Gong
I have always been intrigued by Chinese people doing it in parks in San Francisco. I have started to practice a bit and found it was making me feel really good. I am contemplating one day going to the “Five Immortals Temple” to learn some Taoism, Chinese medicine and Qi Gong when things reopen.

Journaling
As I wrote on my post on morning pages I see journaling as self therapy. Writing whatever comes to mind first thing in the morning is a view into your subconscious and a precious memory of how you felt in the past. It always gave me great learnings about myself.

I have been writing a journal for about 7 years of “morning pages” journaling almost every morning. Now it’s a mix of my personal journal and this newsletter. Writing everyday in private or public has become very important for me.

Fasting
Used in many spiritual traditions I experimented fasting regularly. Longest was 7 days with just water and also 3 days with no water which was obviously very hard. Whenever my body feels out of balance or I ate too much, I do a 3 day fast.

Diet
What you eat and drink are so important. In my dieta in the Amazon forest the diet is no alcohol, no sugar including fruits, no salt and no red meat (or no meat at all). Also very little food and no food after lunch time. Vipassana was 100% vegan with also no food after lunch time which is great for meditation and dreams. I don’t diet or go vegetarian and no alcohol all the time but held 7 months with no alcohol and now only have a glass of wine or two occasionally.

Therapy
There are things I feel I cannot tell anyone, even friends or family. The experience working with a good therapist can bring knowledge you had no idea you have. The work of MAPS combining therapy and psychedelics is very interesting to follow (I have not tried though, I prefer going to the forest).

I have stopped since I went to the forest as I seem to be able to find the answers in myself but it did help me a lot.

Plant medicine
While it might not be for everyone, it has been the most profound experience in my life. I did a few retreats at Akasha (photo above) and then spent months in the Amazon forest with the Yawanawa and Ashaninka tribes.

If some of you are adventurous enough to try plant medicine and the Amazon Forest seems too much I highly recommend the Akasha Retreat center near Rio that I visited a few times. They have restarted retreats in January 2021. It is safe, close to a major city, perfectly legal and with the same guides as in the forest, where they live.

Vision Quest

This is another of the most powerful experiences I have had. I did a vision quest with the Lakota Tribe in South Dakota. It involves fasting, no water, no sleep on top of a hill with nothing else than a few clothes. Nothing got in my mouth.

The Moon Dance

This is an ancestral Maya tradition for women only. I had the privilege of being “man support” of a Moon Dance with 160 women (post, video).

Studying and following written, audio and video courses with modern and past spiritual teachers

Spirituality
The Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle I recommend conscious manifestation and I followed his course on sounds true which has really good video courses
Becoming Nobody - Ram Dass I recommend the audio book and the documentary movie and all the Ram Dass work
The books of Jack Kornfield, a lamp in the Darkness
The Way to the Superior Man - David Deida
Out of your Mind - Alan Watts and all Alan Watts recordings
The Hero’s Journey - Joseph Campbell
The I Ching or Book of Changes - Brian Browne Walker
The Way of Tarot - Alejandro Jodorowsky

Dreams
Dream Yoga and Dreams of light, Andrew Holecek

Music
The Mysticism of Sound and Music

Plant Medicine
When Plants Dream - Daniel Pinchbeck
How to Change your Mind - Michael Pollan

Movies
The Way of the Psychonaut (psychedelics, therapy and science)
The Holy Mountain, El Topo, Jodorowsky’s Dune from the amazing Alejandro Jodoroswky

I will keep updating this. Please feel free to recommend your own pointers in the comments below.