My Journey & Origins of Cultural Detox
I felt depressed, disconnected, lost and confused – completely uninspired to form a life out of highschool.
I wanted to understand why I am here – what is the meaning of life – so I could purposefully use this existence that I had been given.
I didnt see anybody who was happy. I didnt see any avenues within the culture that I was inspired to pursue. I saw confusion, destruction and pointlessness all around me.
I was talking with a friend one day and she told me about a molecule that is released in the brain in large quantities at the time of death. I figured that if there is a meaning to life then it would be apparent at the time of death. I learned there is a tea that is ceremonially used to release this molecule and so I began to explore.
I first purchased the ingredients to make this tea myself. I cooked them all day on the stove, and added extra ingredients like lemon that were supposed to help extract the potency from the plants. I camped in the woods and drank the tea. There I purged and dreamily fell asleep with little psycho-active effects.
After that experience I was doing further research and I came across a CD of recordings from a healer who works with the tea. On this ebay page there was a person’s contact – so I reached out to that person to see if I could go to where this tea was worked with.
I organized with the person who had recorded and released that CD and went down to Peru fresh out of highschool to live with a healer and his family – first for 7 weeks then shortly after that initial visit for several months.
My experience there transformed me and opened a path that had been completely unavailable to me before.
I felt excited to return to the USA, with a new sense of purpose and freedom. I felt excited to share and serve goodness in whatever form it takes. However I quickly found that this enthusiasm didnt have many outlets and even my closest friends and family werent seemingly interested. I was expected to return to the daily grind and fit into the society that I had seen as broken.
I found myself being driven to my first meditation retreat by the same person who facilitated my way to the jungle (who also has since started one of the highest integrity and world renown centers for plant medicine in the Amazon).
That retreat was one of the most challenging experiences of my life. Sitting for 10+ hours a day, with nothing at all to do but pay attention to whats happening inside. But during the 10 days of that retreat I experienced a peace that I hadnt before – a peace that was so natural yet so elusive in modern society. That dip into pure peace inspired me to go deeper and aroused a sincere desire to train my mind so I could do what I am here to do.
I spent what became years serving and meditating constantly at centers, monasteries and then as an ordained Buddhist Monk. I went deeper and deeper into the Buddhist tradition, to unravel the conditioned state I had come to see as myself. During this time I met the most sincere people who to this day I still consider my closest friends.
My life was simple, my focus was single pointed, and peace was my reality… But there was something incomplete. I could have stayed comfortably at my monastery – but I was shaken by a friend to continue on my path, to keep moving guided by my heart.
I read a book series called the Ringing Cedars at the monastery, which inspired me towards sustainable living – a concept that I hadn’t been familiar with before. I saw the possibility of being a “householder” rather than a monastic, if I could live harmoniously upon the Earth.
So I disrobed and pursued the possibility of starting community with a group of friends. The community was called the Playful Heart Center, a place of healing and communion with life through lightness and play. This project dissolved as the group members’ lives lead in different directions – and synchronicity guided me to an intentional community that was living many of the ideals that we had been visioning.
The Possibility Alliance was (is) an electricity and petroleum free, gift-economy based, experiential learning / living community that hosts thousands of guests each year, providing 90% of all food requirements from the land and 50 mile radius – all while operating on less than $2000 a year budget. ***I was so close to living here many times throughout the years, however it has continued to remain a beacon of possibility for me on my journey***
With a newfound direction and clarity of Radical Simplicity and Earth Conscious living – I returned to live with family and implement what I had learned, living into my ideals. I had intended to return to the Amazon to explore living there but met two teachers that put that idea on the backburner.
I began to study with a teacher who worked with the plants and upheld the spirit of Native American traditions with true reverence. While simultaneously started studying and training with a teacher from Russia who brought Siberian Shamanism and ancient wisdom for modern times. I became completely devoted to the school and was directed to lead classes and workshops. I learned many practicalities of organizing, marketing, and facilitating day long intensives and multi-day events. I traveled around the world, studying with teachers or great caliber and strength – people who were living with such purpose that each moment was consciously directed in service.
I found greater confidence in myself to share and trust in myself as a clear channel for something universal to come through.
Ultimately this school fell apart due to corruption at the highest levels of its hierarchy. With that I was invited to visit the Ashram of the master of Raj Yoga who I had devoted my service towards (who was falsely represented as the head of the school that fell apart).
My short stays at the Ashram helped break me free of the past and once again come into deeper touch with myself – my heart – my purpose…
Back in the USA I found myself present yet completely unknowing of what to do. I felt uninspired to lead or teach (which I had been teaching and traveling full time for years). As a response to a wholehearted prayer one night – I received a facebook message from who is now my teacher in the jungle – but then I hadnt even met her. It had been 7 years since I left the jungle.
Transcript from 2011
hola joven joshua como estas
que bien señor me alegra mucho de saber que usted mantiene su linea en el camino de la medicina
pues tienes que procurar acostumbrarte a vivir en tu nuevo hogar y practicar lo que has aprendido con tu maestro y seguir haciendo lo que siempre haces y preocurar mantener la linea de tu pensamiento si no lo encuentras puedes venir a la selva para seguir un tratamiento y continuar con tu vida con alegria y armonia
hello young joshua how are you
How good – I am very happy to know that you keep your line on the path of medicine
Well, you have to try to get used to living in your new place and practice what you have learned from your teacher and continue doing what you always do and be careful to keep your line of thought – if you cannot find it you can come to the jungle to follow a treatment and continue with your life with joy and harmony
And so it was… I found myself back in the jungle.
It was like coming home. The whole experience allowed me to release and relax back into myself. Going much deeper this time, it had been like the previous visits were preparations and now I was beginning to learn more deeply what I began years before.
I returned to the USA for a few months to prepare to move to the jungle – all before December 21st 2012. When I returned to the jungle synchronicity unfolded in a way that my teacher passed me the medicine to hold ceremony and an incredibly gorgeous piece of land opened up for me to live on.
A small group joined me for a Solstice 2012 retreat and I remained on the land mostly by myself for 9 months. Writing this very superficial summary does not convey an iota of realness of my transformation during that time. I learned directly from the nature all around me, my inner and outer composure settled into harmony with the simplicity of the pristine purity I was surrounded by. In short I was living what I always dreamed possible.
My now wife but then friend – came to join me on the land, where we both drank the nectar of our birthright, the treasure of the paradise of this Earth. Ironically she went back to the USA to find her partner, and I stayed on at the Radiant Heart Center for a number of months before returning to the USA because all financial streams had dried up and I hadn’t been savvy enough to create anything sustainable. Or another way of looking at it could be that the spirit had other plans…
I returned to the USA – where I went to live directly in the woods. It was the smoothest transition back to the states that I ever had. I lived primarily and slept in the woods, but at times would come out and get food and interact with family. The ceremonies I had in the forrest were some of the most profound of my life. The land THIRSTED for ceremony. It YEARNED for the connection and love and awakened celebration of life. There was also plenty of deep healing and trauma work to be done – but thats the blessing of being clean and clear and in ceremony by oneself. The focus can be not on oneself or participants, but on the collective and the Earth herself.
I also continued to work with a teacher who had a community in New York City and slowly began earth / heart centered offering events again. The seasons became cooler and I eventually moved back indoors with family. During this time I really saw my wife and began courting her.
We were supposed to travel to Peru together, but very challenging tests came up for both of us and we didnt end up going together. I went by myself and hosted a small group with my teacher there.
When I returned to the USA I lived in New York City in my other teacher’s community, in some ways that was nice, but other ways it was extremely damaging – just to go from the jungle to New York City was extremely shocking. My main draw was my now wife – who lived there and I wanted to be near her as we continued to get closer and closer.
I lived in New York City for 6 months before my wife and I moved out of there. It was a very crazy time. There was noise of every sort 24/7, light 24/7 people awake doing their thing 24/7… I went outside each morning to stand barefoot on a square of earth with a tree (which I now think dogs used to pee on). I would go to the water and just connect with nature – then go back to the hustle and bustle. My nervous system was overwhelmed, my entire sense of self became disorganized. Fortunately there was still a peace and stability that was untouched and that urged me to find a way…
A friend offered me a Yogic Numerology reading and I learned about Kundalini Yoga. The reading was so accurate it inspired me to begin practicing the recommended yoga for my numerology. I found immediate stability and balance, even in the craziness of the city. My wife and I started to practice at the local Kundalini Yoga studio and fell in love with the devotion and the simplicity of such a powerful practice.
I remember saying that if I had to choose, I would choose the Kundalini Yoga path, and so shortly after we left NYC we found ourselves at the Kundalini Yoga Winter Solstice event in Florida with about 700 other yogis. Here we were married (for the 2nd time – our first wedding 20 days earlier).
We returned to my family home and began teaching Kundalini Yoga, building a community for a period that was continued after we left. A friend offered us the opportunity to go to volunteer at a children’s orphanage in Sacred Valley of Peru, and we very very happily accepted.
The Sacred Valley is much colder than the Jungle, its the mountainous area near Machu Picchu. Its a very special place. Andean tradition is very much alive there, and its spirit is found in every aspect of the culture. The people are warm hearted and life is simple. We lived and served at the children’s orphanage for about 9 months. During that time we met an elder there and began studying with him and taking the children to help at his center. We also began working with different medicinal plants of the region, learning about the culture and absorbing everything we could about this wonderful and sacred place.
From the Sacred Valley we traveled back to the Jungle and facilitated a small group, including my brother, with our teacher. It was a really special group and special retreat for everyone. My wife and I were married for the third time in an unforgettable mid-night ceremony. Everyone who participated stayed longer, some for months longer.
We returned to the USA and continued to share what had been alive for us, Kundalini Yoga and ceremony / connection with the Earth. Shortly after returning my wife became pregnant and we began visioning our life in a more grounded way. Where do we want to be living, how will we earn income, etc.
On my birthday, our dear friends came to visit us. We had introduced her to Kundalini Yoga a year and a half before, and now she was living at the Kundalini Yoga Ashram in New Mexico – but was visiting the East Coast. She and her husband told us about a new Kundalini Yoga lifestyle immersion program, that was starting at the Ashram, and that needed directors.
Immediately my wife and I felt an internal Yes. So we wrote to the governing body for that project and got in correspondence then were invited to be directors for that program.
We had two retreats planned for the Sacred Valley and the Jungle, and so we completed those and then flew, with only our backpacks, directly to New Mexico from Peru to start our life there.
I was super inspired about all the possibilities of the community and the program. I was inspired to serve, inspired to organize, inspired to be a part of the movement that I saw happening. I plugged into everything that was happening to learn about every aspect of the Ashram and how it works. I wanted to help organize and help the birthing of what I saw emerging with this program that my wife and I were directing.
A few months after arriving in NM our daughter was born – corresponding with the only time in the program that we didn’t have any participants, so I could be at home during the first 40 days.
After the 40 days momentum started to pick up for the program. People would come and go, we would learn, implement changes, create more structure, and then more people would come. The program evolved so much over that time, and so did my ability to facilitate a group. What we found most impactful for participants and also most attractive, was a 40 day program.
I always saw the program as inseperably linked with the Ashram and all of its function – which was in certain areas a little disfunctional. So a good amount of my energy continuously went into the Ashram and its organization / function. That is the area that I found very challenging to make change / align with what I saw possible. The Ashram at this stage of its incarnation was more like a religious center, or church, than a thriving community. The program that we were directing was the rebirth of the community / ashram living model.
It took years for the Ashram community to embrace the program, and right up until the end there was tremendous resistance for even dignified living quarters for participants. Our salary was minimum and just met expenses (with a credit card as backup for those times when it did not meet basic living expenses) – and some months we just didn’t have enough income to have a full salary. But it was all about the vision, the mission and the service for me – the money was a means to live.
Our family didn’t have too much of a life outside of the Ashram and all the responsibilities day to day of running the program and tending to participants needs and processes.
Our last full year with the program we experienced the pinnacle of what the program was all about. We had a great group of at one point 15 people, going through an intense process, working with elders from the community, and really committed to their growth and development. That group went through the medicine of what 40 days is about, they met their edge and went beyond, they experienced transformation… What a process! I also spearheaded an Ashram mission / vision forming process that went over 6 weeks, meeting for over 20 hours total… We did a lot of work around what the vision / mission for the ashram was.
Winter was always the tough season, often not able to generate enough money to have my monthly salary. The last winter was no exception to that. I worked day in and day out to figure out a way for the program to be sustainable – to reform the offerings – to refine the curriculum – to engage social media – to revamp the website – to reach out to overarching organizations as possible funding sources
I had a very impactful dream one night, giving me a clear message that shook me to the core… I was going to die. I had an impending sense that my life was coming to an end. I took out life insurance, wrote a will, got things in order… Most importantly I completely stepped out of the context of the moment in my life and imagined what I want, what is most important to me. If I only had 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, 30 years… What is most important and how do I want to be living. Ultimately I wanted to spend time with my family and enjoy each other, enjoy life. Not give all my energy in ways that deplete me and don’t nourish the relationships with the ones dearest to me. I didn’t want to be working all the time, stressing about finances, and living in a way that is so disconnected from the planet. I wanted to be in the jungle, I wanted to raise my family there, I wanted to develop a thriving center that supports the local community too… I wanted to create organizations that serve our planet, preserve land, uplift, empower and unify humanity. And the current model wasn’t fulfilling those deep authentic desires.
A couple months later it was decided for the program to temporarily close – seeing it needed to be reimagined and revamped to be more a seasonal program.
This was one week before my son was born. A week after that COVID came and then locked down New Mexico. My mother, who had planned to come for 6 weeks, stayed 3 months. Our friend came to stay with us and help with our daughter after that.
Now what was initially just 40 days of staying at home with 100% attention on the family, has turned into 8 months. Its been one of the biggest blessings of my life. I’ve gotten to be with my son as he grows, to be completely with my family – to focus my attention on what matters most. Also I’ve gone through a processes of reflection and adaptation – to see what wants to come through me, how I can be serving humanity at this time while financially supporting the needs of my family.
Cultural Detox has been the name for the work I see there is to do – both as individuals and a collective. This work was conceived in the jungle, and further developed over 15 years of concentrated exploration and discovery. Influenced by work with the plants, Buddhism, Yogic traditions, Andean tradition, Siberian Shamanism, Native American traditions, the Maya tradition, modern science / neuroscience and schools of thought. Its a synthesis of ancient and modern wisdom into a practical framework for understanding ourselves and our world and a scientific / systematic methodology for layer by layer uncovering what is at the essence underlying all conditioning of our social / cultural upbringing.
Cultural Detox is a multi-dimensional lens of discernment that reveals the underlying causes of dis-ease and the nature of true health, happiness, and wholeness. The work is the ever evolving synthesis of a lifetime of purposeful study and application / exploration.
I have dedicated my life to understand the nature of dis-ease and wholeness and through the immersion into different traditions or ways of being / seeing – I’ve come to understand more angles whats happening – and gained an ability to relate foundational concepts with a wide diversity of people.
The bigger vision is to fundamentally build – one individual at a time – a universally inclusive culture that replicates the sacred science observed in nature.
- A detoxification process for those who have grown within cultures that are disconnected from nature
- An education process for those who 1) are young and their sense of self is still forming or 2) completed the cultural detoxification process
The Science of Cultural Detox is:
Understanding the nature of dis-ease
Understand the origin of dis-ease
Understanding the cessation of dis-ease and the nature of wholeness
Understanding the path / process of wholeness
- Mindset / Clarity
- Passion / Drive
- Devotion / Discipline
Practically it requires a good deal of sincere study to understand / see the whole picture and then a devotion to the discipline (action born of understanding) to experience the reality of living the sacred science / deconditioning and merging with life itself
We have a multi-dimensional, multi-layered approach to accomplish this tremendous task
Each layer is a different facet of our humanness and each layer focuses on crystallizing a different core value within the psyche and establishing a behavioral matrix that represents that value’s expression in the society / culture / world