I had my first glass of Ayahuasca in 2013. I clearly remember the moment when I took that decision, as it was a moment of pure despair. A feeling of guilt that had held it’s grip on me ever since my mother died in 2009 had brought me into a deep depression. On one of those dark days, overwhelmed by my grief, I suddenly had a clear vision of a book, that for some reason I needed to get hold of straightaway. This particular book had been standing in our bookshelf untouched for over 2 years, bought by Eelke after reading about a medicine plant called Ayahuasca. Being a strong believer in the path of yoga and meditation that I was on as a yoga teacher, and an even stronger opponent of everything that had to do with ‘drugs’, I simply couldn’t get myself to read it. Until that particular day. I remember searching everywhere, unable to find the book that had been there all along. Not being able to find it, I took refuge in the Internet, where I started to read about the medicine. Shortly afterwards I phoned Eelke to say that I was ready, as if he had been waiting all along. Ayahuasca had called me.
My first encounter with Ayahuasca, and the many that followed, have always felt like coming home to something I have known all along. It is as if the medicine had always been inside of me, waiting until I heard her call. Perhaps this description sounds less strange when I say that what Ayahuasca did was to bring me into contact with my Self again. Not the little individual self that I had learned to identify myself with, but the Higher Self that I like to call my soul: the Self that is one with the source.
The incredible snowball effect of positive changes that this has put in motion is hard to describe. Soon after my first Ayahuasca ceremony I was invited to become part of the team of the Sacred Voyage, a beautiful tribe of people that organize Ayahuasca ceremonies in the Netherlands. I followed the intense training they give to their facilitators, and learned a lot from facilitating hundreds of people in their Ayahuasca journey.
And of course it wasn’t only Ayahuasca that changed my life for the good. In the last four years I have dedicated my life completely to the ongoing process of Self Inquiry, in which I have followed (and still follow) several courses that have helped me on my way. Important sources of inspiration to me are the work of Byron Katie; Self Inquiry of Mooji; non-violent communication of Marshall Rosenberg; Past Reality Integration of Ingeborg Bosch, and the method of Free Self Expression by Erica Nap. My greatest inspiration however I find in nature. A ceremony that so beautifully symbolizes nature’s strength and beauty to me is the Inipi ceremony. I am thankful for Henk Waltman for teaching me everything I needed to know in order to facilitate this ceremony myself. I also want to thank all of my other teachers, and the many, many mirrors that I find on my path every day in the form of my family and friends, for the light that they are constantly awakening inside of me.
While writing this introduction of who I am, I realize the tendency to start with the day that I drank my first glass of Ayahuasca, just as Cora did. This makes me aware that also for me there’s a life before and a life after connecting with this medicine plant.
I used to see myself as an inspirator, a motivator. Before Ayahuasca, I’ve used this talent in trying to save mother earth from all harm I thought we were inflicting on her and yes, I had the biggest majority of scientists behind me so I knew what was right and what was wrong. I saw it as my personal quest to be the most sustainable man living in a western society. I tried to inspire everyone around me with my own example and I was especially very hard on myself in all the fields where I failed to do so. Everyday I felt the hypocrisy that I saw as a personal burden and I became more and more cynical about the state of this planet and everything living on it.
Ayahuasca opened my eyes for how judgmental I had become towards myself and everybody around me. The vision that I had built up about sustainability turned out to be a mask of how much I truly hated and rejected parts of myself and how this reflected to others. And it wasn’t sustainability only, these judgments had a grip on me on all aspects of my life. I had trained myself so well in knowing from others what was right and wrong that I completely lost the connection with what I wanted and what made me happy.
From here I started a new road of self discovery. With training, among which several particularly for men. But also with more body related work such as Tai Chi and Yoga. I became team member of the sacred voyage which provided me a save bedding for deeper healing, personal growth and experience in working with the medicine plants.
All these changes made me realize more and more that my job as a teacher and researcher in sustainable energy didn’t fit me anymore. It was time for take-off and that’s when the real rollercoaster ride started. Leaving our normal life, house, family and friends gave me the opportunity to really step out of my comfort zone. Both the challenges as the pleasures related to this new life forged me into the person I am now. One of those privileged human beings who is awakening more and more onto this beautiful planet. Eager to set up the safe space where you and I can learn from each other.