Meditation after 3 months in the Amazon Forest
I have just spent three intense months offline, isolated in a little hut in the Amazon Forest about 30 minutes walk from the Yawanawà “Sacred Village”. Under the supervision of Chiefs Putanny and Nixiwaka I spent about a year in the jungle - over the last 4 years and completed 7 “dietas”. I am back from the first phase of the Muka dieta which is one year. I still have nine months to go but will continue in the world. I have to observe many rules during this period which I will come back to later.
As I landed in the North of Ibiza in an isolated home where I will spend the summer (no clubs there, just nature) I thought it was a good occasion to start writing here again. I wrote 4 full notebooks of dreams and notes during my isolation there.
My intention is to focus on what I learned and the benefits of this work on myself.
The Chief told me “anything you do during this dieta is very important because you will do it all your life, so time to get good habits”.
Meditation is not part of the tribe’s practice, they prefer praying, singing and playing music almost all day long, which is obviously a form of meditation but as I have some experience in vipassana meditation 10-day retreats I decided to practice daily.
I started an hour meditation every morning as I woke up, around 4 in the morning every day. I was mostly alone in the jungle and it’s winter in Brazil, the sunset is around 5pm and the dieta includes very little food and movements (two green bananas and a glass of water a day the first 3 weeks!) so I went to sleep at 8pm every day unless there was a ceremony, then I would go generally at midnight.
My body got used to waking-up with the birds and the sunrise so no matter at what time I would go to bed I would wake-up at 4am. I learned the beauty of waking-up with the birds singing in my dreams and this was one of the most beautiful experience of my whole stay there.
The “sacred village” is very remote in the Amazon (8-hour boat ride on the Gregorio river from the nearest road) and is a natural reserve. There are all kinds of animals and hundreds of parrots. I learned that parrots are always in couple, they are partners for life, very few animals are this way, they are always together and it was a delight to watch them fly in pairs with their stunning green and red feathers. They would land right next to my hut every morning or circle around and sing, as if they were coming to wake me up with the other animals.
They soon entered my dreams, I remember my most beautiful dream was listening to them and turning into a parrot flying with them myself. Away from my iPhone and any civilization I quickly started to not only have about 3 to 5 dreams a night but also being entirely lucid in my dreams and taking pages and pages of notes every morning.
Dreaming with animals was not only the best experience but also the most profound, I felt at one point I could even understand them. One night I came back from the village in the dark of the new moon and felt I was guided by a bird singing where I should turn on my path in the forest. Dreams and reality quickly mixed and I also started having dreams while I was awake while I was lucid (somehow awake) while sleeping.
Alan Watts says
“meditate as you wish, the posture apart from your back straight doesn’t matter so much, do not take it so seriously but meditate daily”.
“if you meditate one to two hours a day for at least 90 days you will have profound experiences and change your life”
Finally, Jack Kornfield that I had the pleasure to sit with in California says
“meditate as if your life depended on it”
I am today at about 50 days uninterrupted except for the long travel back days of one to two hours a day. Even though I did several retreats I never kept that pace for more than a month as it feels it’s “so much” and it’s… hard.
I took it as a must, as if my life depended on it. On close to no food it was really difficult to keep the posture so I leaned my back on a wall at the beginning then finally could stay straight up without the wall.
The first two weeks were really hard as my mind -deprived from any distraction- was racing from a thought to another which is totally normal. Also normal is finding one hour very long and wanting to stop all the time. I did not and practiced my will to “at least do this daily no matter what” and for at least 90 days.
After two weeks my mind calmed down, my strength increased and I did not see an hour pass. The effects were the most impressive after a month as I added a meditation before going to bed. I slept much better, had better dreams and was very calm. My strength and resistance also increased as during meditation you practice them all the time. Not stopping, letting thoughts go, resisting the urge to do something else are all training or “sharpening our own tools” that are very precious in any moment of our life. For example if I get triggered by something or someone I also let it go generally very fast and “go through it”.
After 30-40 days I started seeing often very interesting visuals that were sometimes distracting, I also had incredible insights on things I should do in my life or solutions to issues I had not seen before. I also started to have “out of body” experiences where I would see myself meditating but… from the outside.
After 30 days the habit of an hour minimum quickly formed and now it seems I cannot live without it, like taking a shower or brushing my teeth, I meditate no matter what and intend to keep this pace.
I obviously highly recommend it, you could start with an app like Calm or Headspace, go to a retreat and start with only 10-20 minutes daily however I found that for myself the benefits come only if I meditate more than 40 minutes, when it precisely starts becoming difficult or boring.
I find now a place within myself that is always calm and safe, I can always get back to it.
Feel free to comment or ask questions, I am hoping this newsletter becomes a conversation and will write often about my experience in the jungle and more important, its benefits.