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” It opened me up to a whole realm of empathy and care for other people “

My parents divorced when I was six and a half years old, and soon after I moved to California with my mom and two of my siblings. From that point on, I grew up only seeing my dad once every summer, and my mom raised four kids single-handedly, often working 60 hours a week just to provide for us. Looking back, being raised in a broken family  left deep trauma in me and my siblings, and there was a necessity for me to become a fiercely independent person. It put me on a path of always questioning and constantly seeking truth. In college, I began to have powerful experiences through raves, but it wasn’t until after college that I attended my first transformational art and music festival and experienced a more mature and heart-centered way of connecting. I met a friend who told me about an ayahuasca community, and I was in shock at the synchronicity: I was already aware of the plant and wanted to work with it one day, but never made conscious plans for how to have that experience. I expressed enthusiasm and great interest, of course, and I’ve experienced many powerful transformations in my life since the day I started working with ayahuasca. I’ve healed many of my internal traumas, including my unconscious anger and resentment towards my parents. I was able to process, heal, cleanse, release, and forgive. I started having this vision, not through dreams or the medicine, but more like a seed that was planted in my consciousness. The vision was of my mom and my dad hugging and healing with my  three older siblings and I standing around them in a circle, watching them heal all the trauma that’s

kept them upset with one another for all these years. I remember calling my mom and telling her about my vision, and she said, “Wow, you know what son? I think you’re right, I think it’s time, and I’m open to that happening.” I visited my dad in Texas soon after that and shared my vision with him as well. At first he was offensive towards my mom and blamed her for everything, and we had a small argument. The next morning I walked down the stairs and he greeted me with a cup of coffee, put his hand on my shoulder, and said, “You’re right. It would be selfish of me not to be open to such things happening, because I get that it’s not just about me, it’s about the whole family.” Later that year we serendipitously were all in the same area, and my parents were open to finally meeting after all that time. Over the next two and a half hours, a lot of tears were shed. The dust that had been swept under the rug was finally looked at and cleaned up. Everyone got to express how much it meant to have my parents together. Everyone was crying. At the end of it all I found myself standing by my mom and my dad as they were they were hugging with tears streaming down their faces. That profound moment not only has completely transformed my personal relationship with my family, but also brought massive healing to my entire family. Working with the medicine deeply opened me up to a whole realm of empathy, learning how to live from my heart, and learning how to care for other people. 

Interviewer: Kirill Ignatieff (founder of 22STORIES)

Photography: 22PORTRAITS

Story editor:  Seema Seraj


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Project Description

Ayahuasca is a psychoactive medicinal mixture of plants used for healing purposes in a ceremonial setting. The next morning after each ceremony a “Sharing Circle” takes place where all participants share their spiritual journey from the night prior.  The stories that come out of those sharingcircles are very profound and life-changing, but only very few have access to them. This project is about sharing those stories with a broader audience and help people understand the power and the benefit of the medicine and it’s community.