The idea behind VisionQuest is to help facilitate the desire to transform one’s life through receiving a deeper insight into what is holding one back or what is necessary for moving to the next level. Shamanic journeying is a different way of gaining knowledge and wisdom than what is generally accepted here in the West, where we brainstorm, think about things, and get ideas. With the shamanic journey, or shamanic consciousness, we have a first-person, direct encounter with the living essence behind the wisdom itself by way of direct revelation.
The term “vision” is used to describe an actual living experience as opposed to a thought. Because our imaginations work in different ways, we may have a flash of insight that appears as a vision, or it may appear as more of a feeling, or a profound sense of knowing—but it’s bigger than just a thought. It encompasses our entire being and transcends it. This has a transformative capacity; it is one of the main elements of the shamanic journey.
Psychedelic shamanism is more popular today than it has been for some time. When I first got into meditation, it was easy for me to be critical towards people using “entheogens,” a term used to describe substances conceived as helping one experience a oneness with God. I saw a lot of people mistakenly assume that if they just did enough of these psychedelics, they would get enlightened, but that’s not generally how it works.
Very interesting research has been done in this field, however, and I have a new appreciation for shamanism, a new appreciation for the idea of being able to enter into resonance with the plant spirits and being able to commune with their wisdom. I think there is something of a genuine spiritual, transformative potential here. However, actually taking the substance itself in its gross form may not be the best way to do this.
At iAwake Technologies, we extract the energetic signature of a plant substance, capture it in digital form, and amplify it, in order to produce biofield formulations that actually carry the “spirit” of the plant, you might say. This gives us the really exciting opportunity to commune with the actual spirit of the plant, devoid of any of the gross aspects of the plant that can often be very disturbing to consciousness. With the biofield technology, it’s much easier to tap into the essence of the plant with grace, over much longer periods of time, in a way that allows our consciousness to integrate the wisdom there, because we can play the biofield technology as often as we want, anytime we want. This will not necessarily have the same hallucinogenic effects that ingesting the substance will, but the essence is there. It’s a much more subtle experience.The spiritual consciousness enhancing effect can often be quite profound.
An Italian doctor, Dr. Massimo Citro, for example, has developed his own means of capturing the energetic signature of medications in a hydro-alcoholic solution. He has found in his research that when such solutions are administered to patients, they tend to experience all the benefits and none of the negative side effects of the medications (except in the case of patients with schizophrenia, who tend to experience some of the negative side effects for about 30 days before they finally wane).
Ayahuasca, psilocybin, and similar substances have a great capacity to trigger very powerful serotonergic actions within the brain, thereby exerting a positive effect on mood. In some European chronicled research, they have been successful in treating depression using psilocybin. Ayahuasca has also been used to successfully treat depression. It seems to have the effect of sensitizing receptors in the brain so that they become much more sensitive to serotonin, thereby requiring much less of this important mood-supporting neurotransmitter to be present in the brain in order to experience its benefits. This uplifting of the mood can take place during the hallucinogenic trip, but is often most pronounced afterward.
One of the recurring themes that I have seen with the use of these types of substances, and in shamanism in general, is that they often elicit an encounter with one’s own shadow. Anyone who has ever used these types of substances is probably aware that, at times, we may experience what have been called “bad trips.” I have come to the understanding that there really is no such thing as a bad trip; the only bad trips are the ones that we resist. I have found that every trip, even the ones that show us the darker sides of ourselves or the world around us (which is really just a reflection of us), is an attempt to allow our shadow to come out, so that we may become friends with it and actually embrace it in compassion. When we do that, when we surrender to the fear instead of resisting it, we have the experience of actually embracing the shadow, integrating it, and realizing it is really just a part of us. Then there may come a profound, world-shattering showering of love, where we realize that even the most despicable of souls is loved unconditionally. There is something very liberating in this.
When we look at the different shamanic traditions throughout history, we usually see the theme that in order to become a shaman, one must first die. In some of the shamanism that people are familiar with here in the United States, it is more a matter of going on a nice journey to an enchanted underworld where you meet your power animal. There is, of course, merit and validity to this idea. However, in my experience, the deeper, more transformative aspects of shamanism center around the universal pattern of confronting one’s own shadow in the underworld and undergoing a death followed by a rebirth.
So, this is the inspiration for VisionQuest. It is powerful enough that depending on where you are in your journey, you could really get a strong sense of your shadow that comes right up in your face. The key is to not just witness it, as is often stated in spiritual circles—you have to do more than that, because it’s quite possible to subtly withdraw and witness your shadow while unconsciously resisting it at the same time.
I like to use the term “diving in.” It is inclusive of witnessing, but the difference is that you’re diving into the root of the energetic charge–the hidden attachment and/or aversion–behind the shadow. When you keep diving into the epicenter from which this energetic charge is emanating, with consciousness and ultimately with profound compassion and openness, you reach the deepest essence of every fear, every repulsion, every attachment and aversion that we secretly carry around within ourselves, which lie at the root of the shadow itself.
All we really have to do is just dive right into the center of it as if it were a wellspring of repressed energy, allow it to be there, and embrace it, cultivating an attitude of welcoming and even gratitude at being able to come face to face in consciousness and compassion with the root of the shadow, which so often stays hidden from us because we’re ignoring it. Just dive, and dive, and dive ever so gently, and at some point, the energy will seem to intensify, because instead of moving away from the wellspring of the shadow, as we so often habitually do, you’ll actually be descending compassionately and consciously into the heart of the shadow itself.
But, here’s the key: when you find that you are no longer resisting; when you get to the point where the energy simply feels intense, but no longer feels painful because you’re not resisting it anymore; when you just say “yes” to it and welcome it, invite it, and lovingly dive into the very root–the very core–of it without trying to manipulate it, control it, or change it; when you become deeply intimate with it, it eventually dissipates, leaving clarity and freedom in its wake. This is the transformative capacity that I see within VisionQuest.
Eric Thompson is a co-founder of iAwake Technologies, LLC and was its Chief Technology Officer. Although no longer with iAwake Technologies, his contributions have been immense. Eric is also an inventor, researcher, and producer, and is considered one of the world’s foremost brainwave entrainment experts. In addition, Eric is a pioneer in the development of biofield entrainment technology, which digitally captures and transmits life-enhancing and beneficial subtle energies to the human biofield via any digital medium, including pictures, audio, and film. By combining this emerging technology with an unconventional, innovative, and original approach to audio brainwave entrainment, Eric strives to make profound spiritual development and emotional freedom more easily accessible to all. He writes and speaks on the intersection between neuroscience, psychology, subtle energy, and spirituality.