By Chere Di Boscio
Once upon a time, David Walton was a typical British executive who worked at senior levels for several blue chip companies, won large complex bids and delivered multi-discipline programs. But then one day, the father of three woke up one morning and had an overwhelming feeling of becoming ‘one with the universe’. Since that experience, he left his job, his marriage and his country in order to deeply explore consciousness through meditation, hypnosis, Reiki and plant medicines. He is particularly guided by Ayahuasca, which, he believes, is more a spirit that resides within a plant than a plant medicine alone.
Today, David is a trained NLP Master Practitioner and Usui Reiki Master Trainer, as well as something of an expert in plant medicines Ayahuasca and San Pedro. He is the owner of Munay Medicine, a luxury plant medicine retreat nestled in the heart of the Sacred Valley, Peru.
Here, in this exclusive interview, we ask the ayahuasca master about this mystical plant, the experiences it can bring, and why he changed his life to spread the word
Wow – ‘Master of Ayahuasca’ is a pretty lofty title. Who gave you that?
I don’t call myself a Master of Ayahuaca; a Peruvian psychic gave me that title in front of three other people and it stuck. The psychic told me that Aya speaks through me – I already knew this. One example of many I could provide was a man named Ahmad, who was suffering from a a rather complex issue he’d had for 37 years. I was trying to heal him with Wachuma, but one morning soon after, I awoke at 3am with the distincitve smell of Aya in my nostrils and the taste taste in my mouth. I knew it was her – the spirit within Ayahuasca. She told me how to improve the technique I had applied to Ahmad, and I followed that advice. The results were astounding, and Ahmad wrote this review of his experience afterwards. The spirit of Ayahuasca has spoken to me several times to explain things and point me in the right direction. These messages only last a few seconds, but unpacking them takes considerably longer. Aya has a wonderful sense of humour, she is witty and sometimes delivers ‘tough love’, though.
Don’t you think only the Shipibo (natives of the Amazon who have traditionally cooked and used Ayahuasca) should be the only ones to administer it?
I do have a great deal of respect for the Shipibo and their traditions, and I am grateful to them for bringing Ayahuasca to the world. However, I believe there are many masters and they are not limited to the Amazon. Ayahuasca is simply one way to achieve higher states of consciousness. Aya can indeed open the door to these higher states, but she does not have an exclusive licence – intensive meditation can take us there too, for example. Whilst the Shipibo have extensive rituals around taking Aya, I personally believe the key is to clear your energies, drop your baggage and be prepared to let go; she will do the rest.
What was your first experience like?
This is a difficult question to answer, as words cannot express the ‘knowing’ of an expansion of awareness. We all believe ourselves to be aware; I certainly did through my time as a member at the Buddhist Society. I thought of myself as reasonably knowledgeable about consciousness, but how wrong I was. The simplest thing I can say is that it was if all my life I had being seeing the world in monochrome, and now it was highly saturated HD colour. I’d set my intention to be shown “life, the universe and everything” and I was shown exactly that. It was over eight hours of enlightenment. I must point out here that I now understand that this first experience was somewhat unique; people don’t usually experience all that I did on their first encounter with Mother Ayahuasca. She has since shown me that she had created all my previous spiritual experiences and she was expecting me.
Why have you dedicated your life to helping others with their Ayahuasca journeys?
I didn’t decide to do it; it’s more like it was decided for me. I first tried Aya in Europe after marriage collapsed, and then spent 10 days in Peru taking the medicine there. It was in that country where Ayahuasca told me “you’ve come home, this is where you live”. I took this seriously, returned home, sold everything and ended up in Cusco.
In Cusco I initially questioned my own sanity: why oh why had I done this? However, within two months I was asked to join an existing retreat; I had nothing else to do so I did. Circumstances being what circumstances are, things changed and within six months I was running it. I knew nothing about running retreats, but bit-by-bit things fell into place. The right people just appeared and Mother Ayahuasca told me she was helping; that everything was exactly as it was meant to be.
What I didn’t ever think about was, ‘what’s in this for me, why am I doing it?’ I just followed my intuition and instincts. It has though become more obvious over time – it’s people. Seeing the change in people and what they say to me on departure. Often I’m in tears; you really cannot put a value on that, it’s more rewarding than anything I have ever done commercially.
Is there anyone you’d recommend not to take it?
At Munay Medicine, we have a Booking Form that asks questions about their medical history. There are prescription drugs that react badly to Ayahuasca. Often they can be stopped during the retreat but that is the first thing I’d mention. It is not recommended that people with psychosis or heart disease take psychedelic medicines.
We also have a minimum age limit of 25, though we do make exceptions, as everyone can benefit from Ayahuasca. However, our target is for those who are looking to discover more about themselves, and it’s usually when people are a bit older that they truly start to understand who they are and what they need to change in their lives to be all they can be.
What can people do to ensure they are prepared for such a journey?
Really there is not a lot of preparation required. Cutting down, eliminating if possible, coffee, chocolate and animal fats for a day or two before travel, longer if possible. A reduction in dairy is also recommended. Don’t panic, though, if a cheese sandwich is offered on the plane.
Does each brew differ?
The simple answer is yes. It’s like any form of cooking, no matter how closely you follow the recipe the end product is not always the same. There are also variables in the plants so it really is impossible to guarantee identical batches. Our Ayahuasca comes from a trusted source; we personally know the expert here in Peru who brews it and I cannot over emphasise how important this is. We brew our own San Pedro, and on request I will demonstrate how this is done. We test each batch of medicine on ourselves first as this helps with calibration. We obviously take care the doses given – everyone is different, hence there really is no generic dose. We start at a low dose and work from there. Safety is our number one priority, it is pointless blowing someone’s mind; we want people to embrace the experience and above all recognise the real benefits.
How would you describe the Ayahuasca experience?
Wow that’s a question and a half, a bit like being asked to describe what it’s like to be alive. The first thing I’d say is ‘life changing’. I know this through my own experience and from the feedback we get from clients. Ayahuasca opens our awareness and changes the ground rules that have been the foundations of our understandings and behaviours. This enables people to become more comfortable within their own skin, more comfortable with their true self.
As all the great gurus and mystics throughout time have said ‘know thyself’ and really that is all Ayahuasca helps you do.
How important is it to do a ceremony beforehand?
This is where we get a little more esoteric as what I’m about to say isn’t easily understood or accepted by western society. Firstly the place, setting and energies around an Ayahuasca ceremony are highly important. Secondly, the energies within ourselves have to right.
Those that think that Ayahuasca is just DMT are sadly mistaken, Ayahuasca is so much more when the subtle energies of the setting and the energies of the participant are right. So first I’ll talk about the place we take Ayahuasca, the Maloka.
The Maloka is cleaned energetically before every ceremony. Ayahuasca taught me how to do this, oddly in an old Church in Warrington, England, but that is another story. Ayahuasca also told me not to teach it to others unless the pre-work is right – the energies being cleaned can be caught in the cleaner (me!).
At the beginning of an Ayahuasca ceremony we work on the energies of the clients. This is a simple meditation and it’s based on Andean Cosmology. The meditation is on our website as it helps people re-connect with the medicines when they leave us. This is an important point to emphasise – we don’t use a shaman, as we want people to have a direct and personal relationship with the plants which can continue when they leave us. We provide the clean space and prepare the clients. We are always at hand if needed, but seldom are.
Are there any downsides to Ayahuasca?
In my mind, no. That said people can have a dark experience and interpret it wrongly. A dark experience, such as seeing snakes and serpents whirling in front of you, can obviously create an uneasy feeling. I’ve had these and sadly wasn’t told how to deal with them. I now understand that dark experiences are the best learning opportunity we can have and I’d say having one is good, provided you deal with it properly.
A dark experience is just something from our past that needs to be dealt with. This doesn’t mean we have to relive that experience, understand what it was or why we had it. It’s just there, a bit like a hole that has to be filled in. All we have to do is fill that hole with love. It really is as simple as that. Offer the snakes and serpents love, bring them into your heart, accept them, and hey presto, they dissolve. Ayahuasca is pure unconditional love, how can there be a downside?
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’d suggest care when selecting a retreat, especially women travelling alone. There is a lot of competition for these retreats, and because they’ve become profitable, there are some people out there just in it for the money.
For example, I was speaking to a couple in a local town (Pizac) a few days ago who’d been offered four ceremonies in seven days. This is a tough call and something we’d not recommend as it takes time to integrate the experience. Jumping into another experience before the integration of a previous one can be very difficult. It is not quantity people need but time to discover what the experience was all about. We work with clients to help them discover exactly that.
I’d also like to mention San Pedro (Wachuma), which, in my opinion is the most underrated of plant medicines. San Pedro works in the here and now and connects people to nature. It enables grounding that is a fundamental part of the overall plant experience. In Andean Cosmology, San Pedro connects us to our Etheric field and it is the Etheric field that forms the physical body. San Pedro enables us to dispense with energies no longer serving us and consequently is a wonderful healer, especially for emotional pain.
I believe we are unique in offering San Pedro before taking Ayahuasca. It is the grounding of San Pedro that enables a higher connection in the Astral plane. As multidimensional beings, we are both physical and spiritual; we sit right in the middle of the physical and the Astral plane. Unless sufficiently grounded, you’ll not get high enough to get the benefits of Ayahuasca. Not surprisingly, Ayahuasca taught me this; she works hand in hand with San Pedro.
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