Dilan Dane, a successful entrepreneur, sold his first company, a search engine called Scoopler to Google in 2011. He was a successful entrepreneur with a lot of money and time. He knew he needed to invest some of his money in himself.
“I wanted to get myself really ready for the rest of my career on a deep, emotional level,”He said.
It wasn’t executive coaching he was after. An MBA. Dane, however, travelled almost 5,000 miles from San Francisco to the Sacred Valley of Peru in order to participate in an ayahuasca ceremony. He had heard from friends—fellow startup founders— that the Amazonian psychedelic plant medicine was positively transformative.
Dane stated that he grew-up in a dysfunctional Sri Lankan family, against the backdrop civil war that began shortly after he was born and continued until his emigration to America. “I had a tremendous amount of childhood trauma. I was very much still suffering from this baggage from my past.”
This baggage led to depression, crippling anxiety, and suicidal thoughts as an adult. Friends from the startup world suggested Ayahuasca as a way to overcome all this.
Dane was part of a growing trend among his peers since the moment he sipped his first psychedelic brew in 2013. “Psychedelics are absolutely exploding in the startup community,”He said. “So many founders are doing it. It used to be a bit more under the radar, but now more of them are doing so openly.”
Many of those who’ve tried other psychedelics in addition to ayahuasca say the Amazonian plant is a more intense hallucinogenic than any other. Some people find that the psychedelic experience helps them overcome obstacles that prevent them from becoming successful business leaders and entrepreneurs.
How ayahuasca works
Pronounced i-ya-was-ka, the bitter, dark brown brew is made up of two plants both native to the Amazon—the Banisteriopsis caapi The vine and its leaves Psychotria viridis shrub.
MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) are active ingredients in antidepressants. They are essential for activating the vine. The leaves contain the psychedelic chemical DMT (N,N-dimethyltryptamine). When combined, they form a potent drink that alters a user’s sense of time, and induces hallucinations and feelings of euphoria. It can also cause nausea, vomiting and dizziness.
DMT is a Schedule I Controlled Substance. This includes heroin and LSD as well as ecstasy. But the Religious Freedom Restoration Act allows for the use of ayahuasca in some churches because the plant medicine has roots in indigenous Amazonian religions—some of which have U.S. outposts.
The Amazon Basin natives have used medicinal distillation in religious ceremonies for thousands upon thousands of years, including those from Brazil and Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Peru, and Colombia.
Ayahuasca ceremonies were first introduced in the U.S. and Europe in the 1990s and 2000s. These ceremonies were very popular with Westerners who wanted to experience a psychedelic trip, a spiritual experience, and healing. Some evidence suggests that ethnobotanicals can be used to treat depression, addiction, and other mental disorders.
While many people turn to it as a treatment for depression, it’s dangerous to mix it with other antidepressants, including MAOIs, SSRIs, and the herbal St. John’s wort. Mixing these medications can result in serious side effects. Reputable retreats ask potential participants about their medications and advise them on which ones aren’t safe to mix with the plant medicine.
It doesn’t matter if entrepreneurs are looking for a specific benefit, or just a unique experience, ayahuasca may appeal to them.
“Startup founders are antiauthoritarian. We shirk the traditional career path, go off on our own, and do something that everyone tells us is crazy,”Dylan Beynon is a three-time founder of a startup. MindbloomThe company offers home therapy with Ketamine, a hallucinogenic anesthetic that can be used to treat depression. “To go and do something like an underground ayahuasca ceremony, you have to be a bit antiauthoritarian. You’re doing something that’s off the beaten path.”
Leaders in healing business
It could be the positive effects on their mental health that keep them returning to ayahuasca.
Research has shown that entrepreneurs are very susceptible to past trauma. A study was published in 2022. Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences Research has shown that early exposures to hardship in the earliest years of life increase risk tolerance and increase the likelihood that an individual will be an entrepreneur.
“I think a lot of startup founders come from some sort of brokenness,”Dane said. “They feel the need to prove themselves in some way.”
Some Research findsAyahuasca assisted therapy for trauma, in which a person consumes ayahuasca and then rehashes the experience with a therapist later, can accelerate their progress towards healing. “brokenness.”It’s a benefit for patients “cut to the chase,”So to speak.
“Often the dynamic in the business world is that those who are the most competitive, the most driven, are the people who are the most disconnected from their inner world, their own emotional state of being,”Jonathan de Potter, who left a high-ranking corporate position in order to launch, stated: Behold RetreatsThe company offers retreats at ayahuasca to leaders, executives, entrepreneurs. “I had significant childhood trauma that went unresolved and suppressed. I was disconnected from it.”
Neurological research suggests that ayahuasca acts on certain receptors in the brain that both unlock repressed memories—common in those who suffer from PTSD—and eliminate the fear around those memories. This allows people to face past traumas without feeling retraumatized.
De Potter stated that he was able to release his trauma after a few retreats using ayahuasca. “I felt 30 or 40 pounds lighter immediately.”
Uncovering deeper truths
Ayahuasca’s effects may feel like “talk therapy on steroids”Because hallucinations can reveal deeper truths about one’s life, life, or general life. Often called ayahuasca “teachings,”These visions can help make you a better leader.
Zaharo Tesekouras was drinking ayahuasca in Oregon, when she saw a grandmother holding a rag doll with thorns. Tsekouras was certain the rag doll belonged her. The old woman asked Tsekouras. Why would you do this to yourself? These thoughts are about you. Why do you think you’re not enough?
“I understood this was a lesson about self-love and the false beliefs we have about ourselves,”Tsekouras is the chief staff member to Spruce’s CEO.
But it wasn’t all wise grandmothers and self-love for Tsekouras. The first night she tried this magical brew, she had no hallucinations. She sat on her mat and shook before she awoke. “My entire body was convulsing. An outsider looking at me would have thought I was having a seizure.”
Seizures could be a side effect of ayahuasca. Tsekouras considers these convulsions a compliment. She said it was her body’s way of “making room for the gifts, intuition, or knowledge I would receive on the following nights. It was a way of opening my heart and cleaning house.”
Michael Costuros had hoped that ayahuasca could help him recover from severe burnout years after he started his first startup.
“My biggest fear was that I would realize that I shouldn’t be doing this job—like I had outgrown it and needed to move on, but that felt like throwing away eight years of work,”He said.
Instead, his first ayahuasca retreat taught him everything that was holding him back. Costuros recalled sitting on a pad in Peru’s dark temple, trying to obey the primary instruction of the Shamans: Surrender. Frustrated, he felt he’d surrendered all he could and couldn’t let go any more.
Then, a voice identified as ayahuasca offered Costuros the opportunity to show him what was preventing Costuros’ surrender. He was led on a tour along the fence surrounding a ranch. He stopped at each fencepost to reflect on any beliefs or experiences that were holding him back. He found himself in a corset-like and tight-fitting jumpsuit. To get rid of the barrier, he wore a different jumpsuit to each fence post.
“I would unzip the jumpsuit and step out of it and get bigger. I just kept unzipping. I must have let go of hundreds of them—childhood limitations, the self-doubt and impostor syndrome of a first-time CEO—and with each one there was more life force, joy, and freedom.”Costuros now available Entrepreneurs Awakening, which offers ayahuasca assisted executive training.
Entrepreneurs and founders can eliminate these barriers “energetic blockages,” de Potter says, it may eliminate what’s standing in the way of achieving their vision for the company.
Solving “people problems”
After his first retreat, Costuros was able transform his relationship to his CEO. “We were always at odds before, but now I could empathize with the challenge and incredible responsibility that my CEO had taken on and my attitude was ‘How can I help?’”
De Potter says the impact on interpersonal relationships is one of ayahuasca’s greatest benefits for business leaders. “A lot of executives are spending their time and energy on helping their teams with emotional regulation,” de Potter said. “You can’t talk about next month’s targets if your team is not in a state to engage in that.”
Research on business leadership shows that when leaders can regulate their own negative emotional responses, they can better identify their team’s needs and provide them the encouragement or motivation they need.
A Small 2019 StudyIn PsychopharmacologyAfter taking ayahuasca, people showed an improvement in their emotional regulation. This means they were less likely react negatively to trigger situations and to make poor judgments.
Many founders and CEOs report improved interpersonal relationships after ayahuasca.
“People problems are the trickiest, most challenging problems in companies,” Mindbloom’s Beynon said.
Beynon had experienced many problems in his life before he tried ayahuasca. The visions he experienced on the psychedelic journey reminded him of the importance of both his professional and personal relationships.
“It fundamentally transformed how I related to others in the world nearly overnight,”He said.
Dane explains how people can return from ayahuasca retreats with more empathy. “I felt this oneness. I felt connected to everyone and everything. I felt a lot of love for all the people in my life.”
Many entrepreneurs have reported that ayahuasca has helped them overcome traumas, burnout, depression, anger, and increased compassion.
“I went back feeling a sense of purpose, more committed to the mission of the company, knowing on a deeper level why this work was meaningful to me and that this is how I want to make the world a better place.”