The Teachings of Our Recent Journeys into the Amazon

The Teachings of Our Recent Journeys into the Amazon

Have you ever experienced going into nature, whether a forest in the mountains or the rainforest, and felt a sense of peace and clarity that is difficult to put into words? It is as if all the different energies that co-create these important places activate an aspect of ourselves that reflects our true essence. This tranquility and clarity is much more difficult to access when we are so distracted by the noise pollution and overstimulation of a busy city life. The jungle has become a very important part of my life to better understand my purpose and role, to get to know who I truly am beyond the identity that I have attached myself in day-to-day life. 

During the month of July and August, I got to spend a lot of time with the Sapara community, who through these last few years have taught me the true meaning of my life. 


The Sapara Wisdom

The Sapara are a nation that reside in the Amazon between the sectors of Ecuador and Peru. They are a nation who are at risk of extinction and only in the recent years have opened themselves to share their wisdom and heart with the rest of the world. Here is part of a declaration they wrote to protect their territory that can help us get to know them better in their views and values:


Kamunguishi Declaration
“A forest home for our continual renewal
A message for a planet in ecological crisis from the Sapara Nation
Inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
We, the Sapara Nation, have, over the generations, lived through a veritable “ecocide.” We have lost a large part of the forest that nourishes our being. 
Moreover, our language is on the verge of extinction and our beloved grandmothers and grandfathers, sisters and brothers, the wise ones who help us connect with naku, the world of the forest, are dying. In the midst of this darkness, we carry on, true to our ancestral mission to defend at all costs this world called naku, in recognition that the forest is a vital source for our people and our planet.
The living world that nourishes and sustains us all is a forest. We are forest. Our task, goal, and destiny as Saparas is to be faithful to the teachings that come from the forest; to live our lives fully by them, and to transmit these so that they can reach the entire planet, with the goal of discovering a new connection with the forest that makes and surrounds us.
This Kamunguishi Declaration is the message we transmit with all our being for the good of the planet. It is a guide for these times of ecological crisis in which we are living today.
The message is simple:
The world is one –nukaki.
The world is forest –naku.
The fragmentation of this world happens when the material part becomes separated from its spiritual foundation. The grave error of the modern epoch consists in forgetting the spiritual part and only focusing on the material, treating the so-called natural world as if it were a mere resource. This separation has had serious consequences for the wellbeing of our planet…”


Our recent experience at Naku: the spiritual home of the Sapara

Manari Ushigua is one of the spiritual and political leaders of the Sapara Nation. When we first walk into Naku, a center for healing and transformation found in the region of Llanchama Cocha in Pastaza, Manari shares with us that the moment we arrive to Naku we are leaving behind the future and now accessing the past. In his view, he sees that the outside world—modern society

—is living in the future: the relationship to modern technology activates us to mostly think about the future and forget to live in the present. The life of the jungle is the essence of the past, where everything comes from. This gives us an opportunity to create the present from the seeds of the past, coming back to who we truly are. 

He also shared a beautiful message about how the trees teach us how to live in community and learn about the Buen Vivir, a concept in many indigenous traditions that can be translated as living well. He shares that when we look at the jungle, there are many different kinds of trees that are living amongst each other. When we look up at the sky and we see the tops of the trees, they’re all different but they are not creating competition amongst each other, instead they support one another and learn to co-exist in a way that supports the whole. We see how this approach is not just supporting their own lives but assisting the lives of all other plants and animals that reside there. This community living allows regenerative life to thrive.


Sharing Cacao with the Sapara community

While at Naku during this time, I got to share three separate Cacao ceremonies. It was really special to share something so dear to my heart with people who are so connected to their heart and the heart of the land. Because the community is already so open and receptive of their body and energy, they were able to drop into the experience in a profound way, very fast. During my last trip to Naku on the New Year, we shared Cacao with the community in a ceremonial way and gave everyone a full ceremonial dose. It wasn’t me who facilitated the ceremony that time around but I was present during the experience and their response was that Cacao was too strong and made many of them have heart palpitations! That is why this time around we wanted to use the Arriba Nacional Cacao native to Ecuador and combine it with a local plant, Chiricaspi, that their bodies and spirits are more used to working with.

Chiricaspi is a plant known scientifically as Brunfelsia grandiflora from the Solanaceae family and is a very important plant for the Sapara nation of the Amazonian region of Ecuador. According to the Sapara tradition, Chiricaspi can be used to treat fevers and can also be taken in the mornings by Sapara to gain strength for a day of haunting or working on the Chakra (a food garden). It can also be used for baths to cleanse the body and energy. According to Manari, the spirit of Chiricaspi is connected to the spirit of time. This combination of Cacao and Chiricaspi really helped them connect. Many shared that they felt a really beautiful feeling around their heart, that they felt a deep sense of bliss and relaxation. It was truly a gift to serve the community who does so much work in protecting such an important part of the world. They protect not only the trees, the waters, the animals, and all the beings that live in the region, but also the important lineage of ancient wisdom.

As many of you may know, research shows that Cacao originated in the Amazon but was then brought up to Mesoamerica through trading. Here, many of the indigenous communities of the region began to connect with Cacao as a spirit used in different rituals. Ceremonies around Cacao came to life. This is why I feel it is so special to share Cacao in the Amazon and provide a space for the original nations of the Amazon to connect with Cacao as a spirit. Combining Cacao with a local plant and an energy that both the land and the people of the land are familiar with creates such a different experience. 


Continuing lessons from Naku

Our journeys at Naku begin by arriving in a plane, leaving behind the noise and overstimulation of city life. We are welcomed by the community, we are cleansed, and are given a Sapara name that is determined by the community to activate the remembering of who we truly are. During the days to follow, there are rituals, ceremonies, dream interpretation, and walks in the jungle to continue purifying our body and spirit. There are many lessons shared from the beings that reside in the jungle (elders, children, animals, the elements, the plants, and the spirits that reside here). Because we are spending the days in the jungle living with the rhythms of nature, the sense of time completely changes and in just 5 days one can truly feel like we have lived a lifetime of experiences that show us a new perspective on life. The biggest teaching that I always walk away with when visiting Naku is remembering again and again how to see the world more and more from the vision of the heart. No longer needing to think my life into existence, instead I live my life from the feeling of love and wellbeing. My senses are much more active, and I can feel and see the world in a whole new way.

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