by Dr. Alberto Villoldo: Some people go to great lengths and expense in search of spiritual bliss — and are often disappointed…
Shamans know that the secret to spiritual bliss is within easy reach of everyone, and the only thing that is required is having a healthy, upgraded brain.
Deep within the center of the brain is a small pine cone-shaped endocrine gland, called pineal gland, where the methylation of serotonin takes place. Also known as the “feel good” or “happiness” hormone, serotonin is chemically analogous to DMT, “the spirit molecule.”
DMT is not just found in the human brain, but in nature — most plants and animals have it. DMT is also a component of hallucinogens traditionally used by indigenous people of the Americas, including ayahuasca, a psychedelic concoction brewed up by Amazon healers as an aid to visioning and healing.
Today, DMT is a doorway for seekers in the Western world who are venturing into spiritual territory that was once the exclusive domain of shamans and other native psychonauts. “DMT can . . . really open up the layers of your ego,” explains Mitch Schultz, director of the documentary DMT: The Spirit Molecule, about psychiatrist Rick Strassman’s pioneering research on DMT and spiritual experience. “Pulling back those layers of the ego, you start to get a sense of that perfect awareness of your being. And to me that is more real than real, if you will. More real than this hallucination that we’re living in on a daily basis.”
Clearly, DMT plays an important role in attaining the states of consciousness associated with One Spirit Medicine. I believe that nature designed the brain to allow serotonin to be turned into DMT by the pineal gland, granting us access to higher consciousness and direct perception of our interconnectedness with all creation.
A healthy brain is essential, however, because a damaged brain triggers an overactive fight-or-flight response and the release of cortisol and adrenaline. The brain cannot manufacture fear and stress molecules and bliss molecules at the same time. It’s either one or the other.
When the fight-or-flight system is quiet, the alchemical laboratory in the pineal gland begins to assemble endogenous psychedelics that flood the brain, creating states of joy, bliss, and communion.
A diet rich in phytonutrients (plant nutrients) not only helps us repair and prime the brain, but also creates extraordinary states of health. These superfoods are loaded with genetic modifiers that switch on more than 500 genes that create health and switch off more than 200 genes that create disease. Phytonutrients restore our neurochemical balance, allowing us to begin treating ourselves and our loved ones according to our best intentions.
A conscious commitment to a stress-free lifestyle is also essential for optimal brain health. Meditating, immersing ourselves fully in a pleasurable activity, or simply spending time in nature can be great stress relievers. Whenever we feel overwhelmed, we can stop and take a few deep breaths.
This exchange of the toxic for the nourishing, of the deadly for the life-giving, is essential to recovering our health and attaining optimal well-being.
All of us will die someday; however, we don’t have to experience the slide to death prematurely. We can master our fear of death so that our lives are not dictated by dread and we are not constantly responding as if a jungle beast were poised to pounce on us at any minute. We can return to a balanced, calm, relaxed state, switching on our parasympathetic nervous system so the pineal gland can produce the spirit molecules, and be graceful jaguars, savoring our newly discovered visceral wisdom about the infinite nature of life.