On his popular podcast, London Real, where he interviews business leaders and wellness innovators, host Brian Rose is known for opening up about himself in unexpected and revealing ways. But the former banker took this openness to another level by filming three ayahuasca journeys he participated in at Soltara, a retreat center in the heart of the Costa Rican rainforest, and the difficult weeks he had integrating these ceremonies following his return home.
That feature-length documentary, Reconnect, was recently released online for free viewing. Rose discussed the movie with Lucid News by email.
The movie starts with a call from Dennis McKenna inviting you to join him at an ayahuasca retreat in Costa Rica. What was your first thought and why did you decide to take him up on it?
As shown in the movie, my first reaction was that “Dennis is clearly insane.” I run a large broadcasting and education company and the idea of just leaving for a week to go to the jungle and perturb my mental state just wasn’t on my radar.
But at the same time I knew that something in my life was just not right, that I was becoming a product of my ego, and that I needed to reconnect with myself, with nature, and with humanity.
In the movie you explain that you had tried ayahuasca several years before. What were the differences between the two experiences?
I first tried Ayahuasca in 2012 and did three ceremonies and then stopped. This time my life had changed so significantly and I got to reflect on my positive changes and my negative ones. Also the dose of my second ceremony in Costa Rica was very high, and was the most profound experience of my entire life.
You started filming the moment Dennis called you. The movie presents the entire adventure, unvarnished. It’s a brave, vulnerable portrayal of what you went through. What made you want to document and share this with so many people?
Well we call it London “Real” for a reason, the show is always unedited, unscripted, and uncensored. So I owe my audience the same treatment of my own life. The whole journey for me was very emotional and painful. I cried every time I watched the film for about four months, which was almost every day.
How important would you say is the role of the ceremony leader in an ayahuasca journey, and what are they doing for you?
It’s important for you to trust that someone competent is holding the space, and the Shipibo shamans at Soltara did this very well. In my super-intense second ceremony I felt the male shaman was communicating with me telepathically, pushing me harder and harder and harder, but also telling me I would make it. Afterwards when I thanked him he had no knowledge of this, but it helped me get through my ceremony.
You’ve done a number of podcasts with leading figures from the psychedelic therapy world, like Robin Carhart-Harris and David Nutt. How would you describe the difference between psychedelic therapy and the kind of ceremony you did with an indigenous shaman?
The therapy sessions they do are very scientific, but they also have great therapists present that guide the patients through the experience. Both are very useful and I’m glad that both are options for people wanting this experience.
When you got back from Costa Rica, it seemed you had to talk about your journey with everybody, including your podcast guests Joe Dispenza, Jordan Peterson and Graham Hancock — who are all in the movie. What did you feel you needed to share with them?
After the ceremonies you do want to express your feelings and what you have seen, but most of the time the rest of the world is not ready to understand your new perspective, so it can be very alienating. This is a strong theme of the movie. However talking to these great visionaries also helped me process what I had seen and learned, and demonstrably changed my ultimate outcome by helping me understand my relationships with my children, my wife, and my parents.
More entrepreneurs and professionals are having life-changing experiences with plant medicine. How do you see this exploration as part of an entrepreneurial path?
I think it applies to all humans, but entrepreneurs do have a lot of personal pressures that get tested and pushed by their choice of occupation, so “knowing thyself” is even more crucial for their success.
You’ve talked publicly about your history of addiction to drugs and alcohol. Many recovering addicts won’t go near psychedelics, afraid that it would lead to a relapse. What was your experience?
I recovered from both heroin and alcohol addictions without the help of AA or any other group, so I don’t live in a state of fear of relapse, which thankfully allows me to keep the door open to the incredible healing powers of plant medicines. Unfortunately some of my mentors in my movie Ironmind are AA devotees, and therefore will never explore plant medicines because they believe they might relapse. This is a real shame.
Any plans to take ayahuasca again?
No! But I also realise that I must. I am probably due to go back within the next 18 months, but it’s always such a challenging journey for me that it needs to be done intelligently. I have many responsibilities to my friends, family, and the global community that cannot be interrupted.