Ayahuasca for Leaders: Crafting Powerful Group Healing Containers


Episode 251

Brandon Evans

In this episode of The Psychedelic Podcast, host Paul F. Austin welcomes Brandon Evans, founder of 1heart Journeys, to discuss the transformative power of plant medicine and the importance of community in healing. Brandon shares his journey from tech entrepreneur to leading retreats. He discusses the importance of experience design at 1heart's retreats.

Paul and Brandon explore managing group dynamics, supporting first-time ayahuasca drinkers, and the unique healing environment of Costa Rica. Brandon also reflects on fatherhood and his vision for 1heart's future, focusing on lasting community and personal transformation.

For our listeners: 1heart is offering a free room upgrade when you submit your application for a retreat by June 30, 2024. See their upcoming retreats at 1heart.com


Brandon Evans is the Founder and Chief Elevation Officer of 1heart. Before 1heart, his path of building large tech companies in New York led him to financial success but lacked greater meaning, fulfillment, and joy. When his article “Lost on Purpose” unexpectedly went viral, Brandon was called to serve all those with similar stories reaching out for support.

Brandon founded 1heart to create new paths for leaders seeking more fulfilling and purpose-driven lives. By elevating the consciousness of powerful leaders, their contributions create greater positive impact, harmony, and balance in the world.

In its 6th year, 1heart's 8-week Living Beyond Program, which includes a 1-week retreat with ayahuasca in Costa Rica, has served nearly 1,000 leaders. 1heart is known for its deeply integrated and holistic offering and inspiring community. 1heart combines top facilitators across modern and ancient modalities to support physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being via a highly curated, best-in-class program.

Brandon lives in Costa Rica with his wife Jeanette and their recently born daughter Spirit. Individually and together, they lead retreats and create experiences that support others in creating lives fully aligned with their soul's calling.

Podcast Highlights

  • Brandon's entrepreneurial journey and the creation of 1heart Journeys
  • Expanding 1heart Journeys and adapting to COVID-19
  • The impacts of experience design in a psychedelic retreat
  • Ensuring harmony and cohesion in group healing containers
  • Accommodating first time ayahuasca drinkers, and navigating language and cultural barriers
  • How Brandon’s own journey has evolved running 1heart and becoming a father`
  • The appeal of Costa Rica for running a retreat and starting a family
  • 1heart success stories: leaders, artists, entrepreneurs, and more
  • Brandon’s future vision for 1heart Journeys

These show links may contain affiliate links. Third Wave receives a small percentage of the product price if you purchase through the above affiliate links.

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Podcast Transcript

0:00:00.3 Paul F. Austin: Hey, listeners, welcome back to The Psychedelic Podcast by Third Wave, connecting you to the leaders and pioneers of the psychedelic renaissance. This is your host, Paul F. Austin and today I am speaking with Brandon Evans, founder of 1heart Journeys.


0:00:14.2 Brandon Evans: We have a lot of people that are in transition in some areas of their life, whether that's wanting to leave a long-term corporate job that they've built over 20 years, exited founders who have had the financial success and have no idea how to spend the next 50 years of their life. And just seeing so many of them just find that and find it a lot quicker than they could have possibly imagined.


0:00:42.6 Paul F. Austin: Welcome to The Psychedelic Podcast by Third Wave, audio mycelium connecting you to the luminaries and thought leaders of the psychedelic renaissance. We bring you illuminating conversations with scientists, therapists, entrepreneurs, coaches, doctors, and shamanic practitioners. Exploring how we can best use psychedelic medicine to accelerate personal healing, peak performance, and collective transformation.

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0:05:03.1 Paul F. Austin: Hey, listeners, this is Paul F. Austin, founder and CEO at Third Wave and welcome back to the show. Today we're diving into how ayahuasca, when experienced in an intentional group setting, can transform leaders and visionaries into more heart centered and fulfilled versions of themselves. Joining us to explore this is Brandon Evans, the founder of 1heart Journeys. Before 1heart, Brandon's path of building large tech companies in New York led him to financial success but lacked greater meaning, fulfillment, and joy. When his article Lost on Purpose unexpectedly went viral, Brandon was called to serve all those with similar stories reaching out for support. Brandon founded 1heart to create new paths for leaders seeking more fulfilling and purpose driven lives. By elevating the consciousness of powerful leaders, their contributions create greater positive impact, harmony, and balance in the world.

0:05:51.3 Paul F. Austin: 1heart's eight week Living Beyond program currently in its sixth year includes a week long retreat with ayahuasca in Costa Rica and has served nearly 1000 leaders. 1heart is known for its deeply integrated and holistic offering along with its inspiring community. They combine top facilitators across modern and ancient modalities to support physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being through a highly curated and best in class program. Brandon lives in Costa Rica with his wife Jeanette and their recently born daughter Spirit. Individually and together, they lead retreats and experiences that support others in creating lives fully aligned with their soul's calling. In our conversation together, Brandon shares his inspiring journey from being a tech entrepreneur to organizing ayahuasca retreats at 1heart.

0:06:37.2 Paul F. Austin: We explore the unexpected ways that Brandon's background in his previous career would come to influence the beautiful and meticulous design of 1heart's retreat. And we also get into some of the ways that Brandon and his team create cohesive and transformative experiences for leaders. Before we dive into our conversation, just a quick reminder to follow The psychedelic podcast on your favorite app or like and subscribe on YouTube. You can also join our community at community.thethirdwave.co. And one more thing for any listeners interested in booking a retreat at 1heart, they're offering a free room upgrade. So when you apply, just let them know that you were sent by Paul Austin or Third Wave to get a free room upgrade that's worth $1000. All right, let's get into my conversation today with Brandon Evans. Brandon, it's great to have you on the podcast. Thanks for joining.

0:07:30.7 Brandon Evans: Thanks for being here, brother. Good to be here.

0:07:35.0 Paul F. Austin: So we first met towards the end of 2018. You had hosted your first experience with 1heart Journeys in Costa Rica, and you were prepping for the second one, which was really starting to to ignite 1heart as a group and organization. And I ended up attending that second retreat, J2 at Kinkara on New Year's 2018-2019. And it was a week of incredible transformation, three ayahuasca ceremonies, including one day ceremony with Tom, who was a magical, magical healer, conundero, facilitator, as he calls himself, the bartender. And really had my life transformed from that point forward. I look at that as really a massive inflection point on both my path as an entrepreneur and my own deeper inner work. My heart was totally open, bone open from that. And just as importantly, the relationships that formed from that experience were incredibly impactful as I continued to grow and develop Third Wave.

0:08:49.8 Paul F. Austin: So this feels like it's a conversation that's a long time coming. And what I'm excited to unpack is like, first starting off with your story and just so the listeners have a little bit more context about your background and who you are and how you came into this work. But I also feel like what you've created with 1heart, you're now getting ready for your 23rd journey. There have probably been over 700 people who have gone through the 1heart experience. A lot of those people have had their lives transformed in magical ways. And in particular, the community of entrepreneurs, very successful creatives, founders, leaders, entrepreneurs that you brought together makes for a really magical space. So I'd love to see how we weave throughout those aspects. And let's start with your own path. Several years ago, you wrote a piece, which we'll link to in the show notes on Medium about your path. And I'd love for you to take us into why you chose to write that piece and why you chose to start 1heart from the get go. Yeah.

0:10:04.0 Brandon Evans: Well, that piece was actually the pivotal moment, but I'll take us a little bit before that. Kind of a few years before I wrote that piece, I was a successful entrepreneur, had done about 15 years in New York, close to 15 years in New York, building a couple really large fairly large companies, I had exited one of them. As we were exiting that I spun off another company raised a bunch of money from West Coast prominent West Coast VCs, no break, just jumping right into it 60, 80 hours a week, basically that that entire time, doing that life. And that was really what what defined me. And after raising after kind of building that second company up to about 100 employees in a few years, raising about 20 million, I my investors came to me and were looking for me to raise a bunch more money. And it was in that moment that my heart really sank. And I just knew at that moment that I didn't have it in me, that this wasn't my path anymore. Obviously, there'd been some signs, there'd been some some some struggles leading up to that.

0:11:12.6 Brandon Evans: But that was really the moment where I really just felt it. And around the same time I was newly engaged and about to get married, I was living in New York, had some financial success, had done a lot of the things that by all means of how our society often defines it, was successful, and checked all the boxes. And I started looking around and and just feeling into it and just realized I wasn't feeling fulfilled, I didn't have that joy. I didn't have that connection, something big was missing. And I had no idea what it was, I had no idea where to even look for it. At the time, I mean, I've always been like, spiritually curious, I had studied Kabbalah for five years at the center there read lots of books, intellectualize it all, it all made sense to me. However, I wasn't really able to operationalize it, because I didn't really, it was an intellectual exercise, that wasn't coming from, from my heart or able to really tap into that deeper intuition, that deeper knowing that deeper truth.

0:12:19.1 Brandon Evans: And around that time, I was introduced to ayahuasca for the first time, my first experience was probably about the opposite of what we offer on 1heart. Luckily, it was a competent shaman from Peru. However, it was like a yoga studio in Brooklyn, I Ubered there, Ubered back was actually pulled over on the way back in my Uber, the guy was driving the wrong way, got out had to walk the rest of the way home. So integration was a little muddled, to say the least. However, it was enough, I saw enough to just start connecting into something deeper and realizing there was something bigger there. And that really set me off on a path. And really what accelerated that was I was fired, eventually I was fired from the startup I founded. After refusing to raise the money probably a handful of times our lead VC brought me in a room and said we really think we need to go another direction. And that was the first real failure of my life.

0:13:24.9 Brandon Evans: I really felt it in that way. I'd never been fired. I had never been broken up with it was just like, I just never really felt that level of failure, I kind of just been always been working towards something, even though that something wasn't panning out in the ways that I had hoped it would. And so from that, I ended up leaving, obviously, leaving the leaving the work, leaving New York, leaving that marriage, and just found myself in a very different place. I had never taken really any vacation, went and traveled for some months in Southeast Asia, yoga, meditation, retreats, coaching, coaching certification programs, really just got deep in the work, more plant medicine. And really started seeing some shifts and some changes and started to be open to different possibilities, different awarenesses.

0:14:18.2 Brandon Evans: And then when I got back, and after after a bit of this journey, a few years, I wrote that article Lost on Purpose. And I originally wrote it because I didn't know how to even tell the people around me who I was anymore, including my parents and friends, I just, they saw me as this fast talking, fast moving New Yorker, startup guy, and I didn't really know how to be something else with them. And so I wrote this article, I struggled to publish it. It was the first personal article I'd written, I had no followers on Medium at the time, it's a long article, I think about 25 minute read. And it was my 40th birthday. And I decided, if not now, when and so I actually posted it on my 40th birthday. Unexpectedly, it went pretty viral, like tens of thousands of readers had people commenting, writing me. And it was very similar messages, which was, this is my story, too. And people really looking for direction and feeling inspired.

0:15:21.3 Brandon Evans: I had people that said they like printed out the article and like handed it to people and just people are really just inspired and felt like it was something new that they hadn't kind of a different type of voice or different type of something. And from that, was what really inspired me to start 1heart and to really take, I was fortunate to be part of some really cool programs and learnings and assemble a lot of stuff and just really took a lot of that and pulled it together and said I've spent years on this, a lot of money on this, how can we bring this into, at that time, a one week experience, now it's an eight week experience. I think after the one you went on, we launched our full program, which is an eight week program with two weeks before, five weeks after of integration, and just really saw a different way.

0:16:11.6 Brandon Evans: I think at the time, I saw psychedelics mainly being used, deep depression, addiction, maybe people that were really far along in the spiritual path already, but didn't see a lot of people like me venturing in there, didn't see leaders and highly analytical type A minds really branching out in that space and just thought wow, what an opportunity if these people start to wake up and what they create in the world becomes that much more heart centered, more aligned. And yeah, and that journey too, as you know, was a just, yeah, I mean, we have amazing people on every journey and that group was just so special and just brought together so many people that, yeah, as you mentioned, still close with today, have supported 1heart and in so many ways have done so much of their own work in similar spaces, as you and Gerard and Keith and many of these people have gone on to do. So yeah, just at that moment, just realized it was meant to be like a side thing I did and just realized that this was it and really focused in on it from that point forward.

0:17:25.4 Paul F. Austin: Fantastic. So I wanna track it a little bit, just timing wise so folks have a sense of I mentioned the second journey that you put on was New Year's 2018, 2019. When was that first journey? When did 1heart actually officially launch their first experience?

0:17:39.9 Brandon Evans: I think it was about nine months. It was in March. So yeah, the March prior.

0:17:43.5 Paul F. Austin: March 2018. Okay.

0:17:46.0 Brandon Evans: And that one we had done at another retreat center. It kind of leveraged their program a bit. We're kind of learning and just really learned all the things that were missing, all the things we wanted, how to create this experience. And so journey two was the first at Kinkara, which is where we are still now. Super magical place. We're actually the first retreat there. And then it was also really the first of this type of program, which I hadn't seen prior, which is just really the custom workshops, the modalities, the way that everything is just kind of integrated and flows and builds on each other. And then as I mentioned, journey three, we added on what is a huge part of our program now, which is the weeks before and after.

0:18:29.1 Paul F. Austin: Yeah. And what's cool about that point in time, just to draw some parallels here, in March 2018, April 2018, we launched Synthesis, the legal psilocybin retreat center in the Netherlands. So we both had launched these retreat companies right before Michael Pollan's book came out, How to Change Your Mind. And I think there was then in the wake of that book being published, it felt like for the next two, three years, there was this massive uptake of interest, particularly from this people who were not just looking for depression and addiction, but really looking for greater exploration, as you said, leadership, creativity, I think what's so central to 1heart are the human relationships and the curation of the individuals who are coming into that space has been so key for your success.

0:19:25.9 Paul F. Austin: Now, Synthesis like 1heart, when COVID hit in 2020, there was a major reckoning, you chose to go in a different direction than what Synthesis did at that time, and I'd love just to bring us a little bit deeper into March 2020. You've done, I think, at that point, five or six journeys, you had had a journey in February 2020, right before that. How did you adapt to that? How did you respond to the shutting down of everything, what was even going on for you internally as a CEO of a retreat company, knowing that, damn, I don't know if I'll be able to host a retreat or when that next retreat might be.

0:20:08.6 Brandon Evans: Yeah, taking me back to that time. Yeah, I guess. Fortunately, we had done those five retreats 'cause it was enough of a sample set to just know how meaningful what we were doing was, and for me to kinda have that locked in is like, how can I not move forward with this and where we're at. So I kinda had that mindset. Fortunately, this has been a labor of love and passion and not a financial one, and so fortunately, I was able to make it through that. I think we were off for about nine months, and we did some retreats in Mexico at that time, 'cause Costa Rica was shut down and it was pretty cool, actually. The first one I remember we did back from COVID one, we were getting even more interest, which was at some level surprising.

0:21:01.7 Paul F. Austin: You felt so isolated like, what are you gonna do the next one? I wanna get out of my house. I wanna...

0:21:07.9 Brandon Evans: Yeah, and I think COVID was a big wake-up call and a part of a lot of people's journey and just, hey, something's not right here. And I remember that journey in that everyone seemed so much more calm coming in, they'd already done some work, and they were already in this place, and so that was an interesting time, I remember just really feeling, well, these people are really ready for this. And ready to take this on. And so, yeah, we had really no problem filling journeys through that time once we got up back up and running, and I think maybe in some ways catapulted some of the growth as well.

0:21:46.6 Paul F. Austin: Fantastic, and so since that point in time, you're now about to enter your 23rd journey, you've done it at various centers, but I think you've committed to or connected with a couple of centers in particular that you're hosting these retreat experiences and I'd really love to go into retreat design because there's a lot of folks who listen to this who are entrepreneurs who are running retreats, or interested in running retreats themselves, or maybe they're practitioners or facilitators at retreats. So bring us a little bit into the vision of, how is it that you imagine experience design, did you have a background in experience design? Why and how did you choose to sort of design 1heart the way that you did, bring us a little bit deeper into the nuts and bolts of the actual experience itself.

0:22:35.1 Brandon Evans: Yeah, I actually had quite the background, I didn't realize it at the time, and everything really set me up so perfectly, in many ways, it seems like the opposite end of the spectrum, I actually... I ran liquor brands and I threw parties at the Playboy Mansion, I ran concert tours, had huge parties itself by Southwest launching my tech companies, that were pretty legendary in their own right. I felt really powerful, we were top three places to work in New York, both my companies, and so build really strong cultures. So yeah, on one hand, it was like, so alcohol is kind of the antithesis in some ways of overdue and kind of depressing the senses and keeping people where they're at versus open opening things up. And yeah, it really built... And I had also set up a community called Miami Made in Miami as soon as I moved there, so I was without even realizing at the time community builder or event producer, and that all really helped. And I think the other thing that helped is like when I'm...

0:23:41.7 Brandon Evans: I naturally, when I'm doing other experiences, I'm observing, and so I had been part of some powerful experiences and I was able to take a little cues from different things and say, okay, well, this hasn't been used in this way, and you pull this from here and this from here, and I think that was really what allowed that to happen, I think the fact that I wasn't... I had enough of a perspective away from the retreat world and this space to create something really different, I think I had only been on maybe one similar type, I'd been on a men's retreat, and then and a retreat in Cambodia a meditation and yoga retreat.

0:24:25.1 Brandon Evans: I think those were the main two retreats I've been on, I had been some other programs and seminars and things like that as well, so I think that perspective of just the newness of it and then having all these tangential experiences to pull from, really set up what I think is our experience.

0:24:46.2 Paul F. Austin: Well, you're also what I would call a fact finder, so Kolbe is a sort of strengths finder test that a lot of corporate or tech founders will take and CEOs tend to be more on like what they call the quick start, getting things going. Not too interested in the details, and my sense is what really differentiated you as a CEO in tech, but then also coming into the psychedelic space is that you have a very, very keen eye for detail to the tiniest things, and I think that capacity is not all that present, especially in the plant medicine space, people tend to be a little... There's a gap between the vision and the execution, and so I think having that, a capacity to be so grounded and practical and detail-oriented, I noticed that and observed that being at the 1heart Journeys as well.

0:25:38.4 Brandon Evans: Yeah, a lot of big vision people in this space, people that know what they wanna create, but yeah, there's so many... And even the details, it's literally every detail down to how we set up our container and every little...

0:25:55.3 Paul F. Austin: Or the specific songs in the playlist, I remember talking with someone, they were like, yeah, Brandon sat down and shows every song in this playlist and ran it through, and I was like, I respect that, I can appreciate that.

0:26:03.2 Brandon Evans: Yeah. Every song in our playlist, we play in and out of music, in every workshop we use music on all of our virtual things, there's a lot of elements, yeah, most would probably not even notice, however, cohesively really really create that experience. And I think the other big aspect which you touched a bit on, for us it's always been community, and the way we lean on the importance of that from the start.

0:26:30.7 Brandon Evans: One thing I like to share now is, 'cause I really don't think it comes up enough in how people talk about plant medicine, there's a lot of this like, Oh you need this type of indigenous ceremony, you need this, this, and this. And I think one thing that's left out is this work has always been done in community until we've kind of westernized it, this work was done in indigenous communities, people sat with their community, they lived with her community, they integrate... Life was an integration, and we kind of took that aspect out and people can go down to Peru and pop back and they're back in their other life and where do they go, what do they do? Or they pop into a ceremony in Brooklyn or Topanga or what have you, and so that's been just a critical element for us in our experience, we hear it time and time again, I would say at least a handful of people said this on the last journey, but they're like, this would be the most profound experience in my life, even without the medicine, just the people, they need, the interactions they have, the way they're treated, the way they treat others.

0:27:30.0 Brandon Evans: People just don't get that opportunity, they don't get the opportunity to see people for who they are, to be seen for who they are, to feel fully accepted, to see what it's like to be reverent and be intentional with our actions each day. And so a lot of it is just like, yeah, these practices, there's so much more around the medicine that likely gets conveyed when you're in a tribe, been living that way. But I think in many cases, especially with language barriers and everything else is just not captured, and so that's a huge part of what we're trying to recreate for people.

0:28:08.9 Brandon Evans: So I have a question, so we have our practitioner training program for coaches, practitioners facilitators, we do a six-day intensive in Costa Rica, and my observation with a lot of these folks is, it brings in what I might call strong personalities, it brings in people who are very powerful. It brings in folks who really know what they want, it brings in people who... They're not meek necessarily, they're not... They're here to live large and 1heart does that equally so, if not, to a greater degree, and I'm just curious, what have you found to be an effective way to manage and navigate that energy, especially with having a lot of, let's say, folks who are new to plant medicine, there could be certain things around ego, there could be certain things around triggers, there could be certain things around... With deep Ayahuasca work, it's not all rainbows and butterflies, as we know, there could be shadow, there can be other stuff that comes up, so what have you learned in terms of navigating that, managing that, holding space for that, curating for that. Just be curious to hear your thoughts.

0:29:12.7 Brandon Evans: Yeah, that's a big one. And yeah and we see certainly, each journey is so different, and there's some that like... I gotta judge them on the ego spectrum sometimes, and sometimes you kind of see some people like, okay, this is someone we're gonna have to watch out for a little bit, but I think one, just having these 22 journeys under our belt, there's so much learning, if you're open to it, and there's so many times we have to like, okay, well, that happened even on this last journey, and this is how we're gonna course correct and just be constantly open to that, and sometimes things go sideways or the other way, but it's constantly moving in the right direction. We keep a strong container.

0:29:56.5 Brandon Evans: And the way we describe the container, 'cause I think people don't like rules and having to follow things, however I like to say it's like when you go to someone's house and they ask you to take your shoes off, you may not do that in your home, but in this space, how can we all honor that and really getting people in this mindset... This collective mindset, and part of that starts the two weeks before and people feel really connected in with each other, and that certainly helps. So I think really getting people bought into the container in a way that doesn't feel authoritarian. I think another thing we do on our journey is, there's no strong leader or a guru or anything like that, our team really splits responsibilities quite evenly and presentations, and I really do my best to be in the background when I'm not presenting or doing something, and so I think really not making it about a particular person or making it feel like someone's coming down on them, and how can we all be a collective together? I know one thing Keith had shared that we use a lot too, is asking everyone, how can you all be a host to this experience, how can you all contribute to each other's experience? 'Cause we do.

0:31:11.9 Brandon Evans: Yeah, it's powerful leaders. Many of these people are back home running big companies or leaders in their communities, what have you, and so how do we let them step into that while also keeping the schedule, keeping the highest path of growth for everyone throughout the experience, and so it's just a balance...

0:31:33.3 Paul F. Austin: And keeping a great safe space for everyone, 'cause I've also noticed as I've learned how to navigate this myself, one toxic person can ruin an entire container, and so managing that, mitigating for that screening beforehand, so that is avoided from the first place. There's something really special about coming together as a group, and so I've also, like you said, taking shoes off before you go in to someone's home, it's like as the facilitator, you're not only responsible for that individual, you're really responsible for the coherence and harmony of that greater collective and that requires a subsuming, an ability to drop the ego for everyone so they can be part of something greater than themselves, and that I think really drives true connection.

0:32:20.5 Brandon Evans: Yeah, and I do the interviews myself. For everyone that comes in. I think one of my gifts, the thing my investors just always speak to is my ability to hire people and identify just amazing people, and so I feel like that sense has really, really supported in the people that we brought through about 80% come through referrals so that helps a lot, 'cause the people that are on the journeys really know who are the people that should be there. I would say about 70%, 80% are first time Ayahuasca drinkers.

0:32:52.4 Paul F. Austin: How is that? Navigating that, handling that, what are maybe some additional challenges or opportunities with so many new people who are in ceremony together?

0:33:05.7 Brandon Evans: Yeah, certainly with the first ceremony it can bring some challenges, we're blessed with some stellar medicine teams that can support that, and we also have a really large 1heart staff, so we have about 10 people total in every journey, so one, just all those people setting an example being about a quarter or so of the group, that really sets a great example as far as first-timers, the weeks before we have... We send a 25-page guide when people sign up, there's a lot of really useful readings and exercises and things coming in, we do a lot to just prepare people in those couple of weeks before connecting them in with some virtual calls we have, which I don't think we had actually, when you were there, but now we have elevation leaders and groups, so we break the group into four smaller groups and we have alumni come back to lead those that are really great examples and often on some sort of path themselves in personal growth.

0:34:06.7 Brandon Evans: And so we have... Those smaller groups really helps, they have lunches together, they have calls before, calls after, and that really supports a lot of things as well, and then our content in the first couple of days leading into the first ceremony, just really preparing a lot of people around things like surrender and things I wish I would have known going into that first ceremony and just really supporting people with a little bit of what they're gonna experience, obviously, you can't really ever get close to what the actual experience is, but giving people tools with the breath, with things that will come up and how to manage that and we do, it's not just in talks, but we actually have some pretty visceral engaging exercises that get people into some of those states and start to feel into that.

0:35:03.1 Brandon Evans: Yeah. And I think a lot of it too, is just that people feel like even just upon arriving, they feel part of the community, they feel connected, and that safety really allows people to open up to a degree where landing in Peru and heading off to some retreat center and sitting in your first ceremony. It's gonna be a little bit different. I think people really already feel comforted and know that the way that we're holding the space, trust us, see the staff around them, see the care and the love with each of us.

0:35:39.1 Paul F. Austin: Well there's something to be said, I'm glad you brought that up. About having it in Costa Rica, I did my first dieta about a year ago, and I ended up doing it at a center called Brave Earth, which is where we host, or have hosted our intensives for practitioner training, and they brought in these three Shipibo Elders, women, Jenez, Laura and Lila. And what was so great about it is it was still deep medicine work, we were in the jungle, but the Costa Rican jungle is much more feminine compared to the Amazonian jungle, there's no bugs that are gonna crawl up every which way. You don't really have to have a mosquito net, necessarily. So there was a way in which I was still immersed in nature, I was still working with Ayahuasca, with Shipibo elders, and the additional level of comfort was invaluable in the process of healing and really letting go, and I sense something similar with your experiences, it's enough of a change from everyday life, but it's not so intense that people can't actually fully drop in and surrender to that full transformative experience.

0:36:39.5 Brandon Evans: Yeah and the language too. I did my last... I did dieta last year, my last dieta in with the Shipibo in Peru, and basically could not communicate at all, and so I've obviously done enough medicine and mainly in my hut by myself anyway, however, yeah, just thinking about that for a first time experience, it was a little different and there was a lot, even with all I've gone through that I was wanting to get from the experience as far as more communication and wisdom and teachings and things that I didn't really receive there, but I think for a dieta that's fine, 'cause we were kinda on your own, but yeah, when you're getting introduced to this medicine, there's a lot of teaching and just having some comforts can really support us. And just opening a bit more.

0:37:34.6 Paul F. Austin: One thing we emphasize in our training program is walking the walk, that we as facilitators, retreat owners, coaches, practitioners, that we really have to lead with our own work, and that by leading with our own work creates the space and the capacity for us to support others and clearly, you've committed to that, and you've been working with plant medicine probably for eight to nine years now in that intentional way, and I'm just curious, as you've gotten deeper, especially with doing dietas, as you've got deeper into facilitating for 1heart, how has your own path and process deepened, how has Ayahuasca help to continue to be an ally? We heard the initial story with being lost on purpose, but as you've gone deeper into that over the last four or five years, and also maybe how that aligns with you stepping into this new role as a father. Because you were recently I would say within the last couple years you had a child and then I would imagine that's been also a huge shift for you.

0:38:31.7 Brandon Evans: Yeah. There's a lot there. Yeah I mean the lessons definitely don't stop coming and perhaps they come even stronger when you're leading others. I think for me actually I mean the ceremonies are powerful but a lot of it a lot of the learnings are also between ceremonies and the work. I feel like I'm shot out of each journey. And then there's like things we're dealing with from the last journey or how we're working with guests coming out or team coming out or different situations and so. The integration has been thick [chuckle] has been powerful in that I think the medicine for me I mean how I've always looked at it it's an alignment tool and a truth serum.

0:39:16.4 Brandon Evans: And so it's just continually showing me my alignment and my truth. And I would say even before the medicine I wasn't someone that liked to be too far out of my truth in alignment. However like it's really hard and near impossible. I think to do this work and to have that discord. And so it's really keeping me in that space. There's a lot of moments where you question, can you keep doing it? Can you hold this space? It's a lot of energy. And then each journey we go on just the beauty that's bestowed the people that we meet the ways that their lives are changed kind of just re-energizes that time and time again.

0:40:05.5 Brandon Evans: And as a father wow. [chuckle] I think one huge lesson is presence. I'm actually refer I'm actually I ask people to call me B now which are my initials. And they say you teach and work on what I guess what is most present in your life. And so for me it's been like learning just learning the being and the presence. And I think being a father is the greatest teacher of that. I mean you're there all my daughter wants is my attention, my eyes, my smile. And that lesson I think the medicine I think helped me set that up for sure. And get to a space where yeah. I mean I can't imagine like yeah having had a child during my New York working days and the amount of hours I was working and where my mind constantly was.

0:41:03.8 Brandon Evans: So being able to shift those gears and just really try to be in deeper presence is a huge I think a huge thing that's coming from me with with fatherhood for sure. And then there's a lot of just, a lot of what keeps me going is also her and the things I wanna do in this world. Just seeing like [chuckle] we got some things to work on in this world. And you could maybe if it was just you, you could be like okay I'll take this one off and I only got a another X number of years. And when you really start thinking about this child and what is gonna be available to her and the people she'll be around and the world you wanna build for her that's definitely far and away the motivation that keeps me in alignment and what I wanna be doing and why I'm doing it.

0:42:01.7 Paul F. Austin: Yeah. I mean my own personal opinion on this is I think it's unfortunate how many men in our generation are not interested in having kids and also women. But I hear it a lot with entrepreneurial men who might be around my age. I'm in my I'm 33 at this point in time and I love that rooting that you've just communicated. When we have children when we choose to continue that path there's something that I think clicks and happens similar to when we work with psychedelics or drink ayahuasca where it's like this isn't about me. This really is about something way greater than myself. And that I think makes all the difference on the path of devotion or commitment to a mission that is particularly challenging. Because as you and I both know building in the psychedelic space well seemingly sexy from the outside has a lot of challenges when you're actually doing it.

0:43:04.8 Paul F. Austin: It could be the legal policy it could be now like personalities and folks who are involved. It could be around founders or co-founders. There's so much that can happen in this emerging space. And I think partly it's because people just bring their full selves. There's no separation between personal and professional anymore. And when that happens, that can be much more challenging. So I love the rooting and like yeah it's and it was never about you with 1heart. That's not what I'm saying. But now there's an even deeper rooting and lens of why you're doing what you're doing through 1heart which I think is beautiful for your daughter and for if you do have any other kids beyond that for those children as well.

0:43:44.3 Brandon Evans: Yeah. And for we've had a lot of 1heart babies since as well. And their children I'm close with several of the parents who have similar age children and just yeah seeing that come up and seeing what they're looking for with their children and many of them moving to Costa Rica or just really looking for deeper community deeper connection the kids to be rooted in nature and some of the really taking us back. I mean what is more important than community and nature and yet those are kind of afterthoughts in many of our lives in the big cities. So.

0:44:16.2 Paul F. Austin: And that leads into the next question I wanted to ask you which is you lived in New York for 15 years you relocated to Miami mid lap but probably about 10 years ago nine 10 years ago or so correct me if I'm...

0:44:30.9 Brandon Evans: Yeah like eight you know my life better than me I think. But yeah.

0:44:34.4 Paul F. Austin: 2016 2017.

0:44:37.4 Brandon Evans: I think 2016. I think I moved there in 2016 and I left. I've been here a couple two and a half years.

0:44:42.9 Paul F. Austin: And now you're in Costa Rica. And I'd love to because I think it also aligns with potentially the larger vision of Third Wave. Why is it that you took that leap moved to Costa Rica and chose that location as a place to raise your family?

0:44:57.2 Brandon Evans: Yeah. Well obviously like through the journeys fell in love with it. I think a lot of it that journey too. We almost bought land coming out of there. There was a lot of people really interested. And yeah that land is I think 10 20 X [laughter] didn't pull the trigger there but yeah I think for me it was just how I feel here. I mean for me I remember for the first 13 of the 15 years I couldn't imagine leaving New York. I'm like how when I was moving to Miami I'm like it's gonna be too slow. How do I even deal with this? I can't like walk everywhere. And then I moved to a pretty busy part of Miami and then I moved further out. And and I think yeah part of it is children just seeing like what is it that she needs and what children want. And be able to just run around and have space and be in nature and hopefully be off of social media and not be...

0:45:52.0 Brandon Evans: Bust from activity to activity like how can they actually just be allowed to develop and live and be in ways that will support them as adults in being present and being calm and having some of the these tools that are more challenging for us. And I can only imagine these upcoming generations I grew up just with a TV basically but probably over-watched that I mean I can't imagine if I would've had a phone and social media and just my attention span and where that would've been. So that was a big piece of it. And then I think the other piece is just there's certainly a lot of work to do globally and I'm not like checking out of that in any way. And I think the work we do is a lot of like let's elevate leaders and create for the world.

0:46:41.4 Paul F. Austin: Ripple effect for sure. Massive ripple effect.

0:46:43.9 Brandon Evans: Ripple effect. However I also wanna create the life I see. And for me like to create that community to create the peace and the people around me like kind of doing it on a more blank canvas and having that space to create that and build that myself or really connecting in with other really aligned partners feels a lot more feasible here than it than finding bland and somewhere in the US or what have you and so. I don't know I just identify with a lot of it. I again I love the climate here. I love the beach. I love.

0:47:25.7 Paul F. Austin: Where are you located? In what general area in Costa Rica remind me.

0:47:29.4 Brandon Evans: Right now I'm in Playa Grande which is about a half hour from Tamarindo. May look at moving to another part of Costa Rica in a Nosara area soon as well. But yeah it's it it's kind of a great jumping off point for sure. There's a lot of infrastructure here. It's kind of an easy place to land. We are in a nice community with families and have the beach really close. And so a lot of the elements certainly present for sure.

0:48:01.8 Paul F. Austin: And so as we look to you have about five 10 minutes left of the podcast. I do wanna talk about two more things. One I'd love to hear for folks who have come through 1heart what's what are some of the after effects of going through 1heart. What are, whether it's maybe an individual story or two or just generally speaking how does the experience at 1heart impact the way that these founders, creatives, entrepreneurs then show up in an everyday life beyond that? What are you noticing and observing in that process?

0:48:35.6 Brandon Evans: Yeah I mean there's so many varied examples. Obviously we're all kind of different in what we're looking for. I mean one I can bring up which I 'cause I just mentioned it to you 'cause you're in Joshua Tree but this woman Alex Maceda who's been on a few journeys and Stanford NBA she's, is a high level startup executive at the time I've done a podcast with her so I know she's okay sharing this information. But she had been dealing with depression and different issues in her life and really struggling with that constant enoughness of Silicon Valley or New York or what have you. And that's really where she was at when she came on the journey.

0:49:18.7 Brandon Evans: And one of the things that was really powerful for her and I see happen with a lot of guests is connecting into our creativity. For her she had I don't remember the exact number of years but I think at least 10 plus years had really not done anything with her art and had remembered as a child really enjoying art. And at that time her art was mainly just like black and white drawings. And then after her journey like I mean right after I remember in the integration she was sharing paintings and stuff was just like flowing and it was just colorful abstract artwork to the point where now she's a successful artist and I think still does some work in consulting with startups and does very well with her artwork and is able to open that up.

0:50:11.3 Brandon Evans: I mean we see that happen a lot. People with music and poetry and writing and whether it's your main thing you do or not I think we were all meant to have these creative outlets every single person and blocking those is definitely blocking us in some area of our life like going to work and taking orders or doing something very logical and pragmatic. I mean there's parts of us that we're kind of leaving behind. And that creative expression is a big piece of things that we see on these journeys for sure. We have a lot of people that are in transition in some areas of their life whether that's wanting to leave a long-term corporate job that they've built over 20 years or exited founders who have had the financial success and have no idea how to spend the next 50 years of their life.

0:51:08.2 Brandon Evans: And just seeing so many of them just find that and find it a lot quicker than they could have possibly imagined in the months and year or years coming outta this just really finding stuff that they identified with. And oftentimes even creating financial abundance in ways that they didn't think was possible through things that they're actually passionate about and enjoy doing. People going back and just working with their companies and their clients in just much more heart-centered ways. I mean Keith's a great example of that and just he works with fortune 500 fortune 50 probably like top top companies with their exec teams and working with them on vulnerability and kind of just really creating environments that hopefully are much more conducive for people to be working in.

0:52:04.3 Brandon Evans: If these huge companies that people are spending a large part of their lives in. And if we can elevate the leaders of those and have more thoughtfulness as to how we treat employees and the benefits that they have and the ways that we support them those are huge things. So yeah I mean there's a lot of examples. There are a lot of people that have similar to you. I mean I know you you're already in Third Wave and have built it out quite a bit since then. Gerard who we mentioned earlier and his leaders create Leaders platform. And there's a lot of people that have that are really powerful people in this world helping other leaders helping other people in this space go deeper into their own awareness and consciousness and bring that forth in the world.

0:52:52.8 Paul F. Austin: And so I'd love to end this interview with asking you as the Chief Elevation Officer as the steward of 1heart Journeys over the last five six years. When we when I look at it from the inside you've checked basically every box possible sell retreats sold out highly influential individuals that have been brought in beautiful, aesthetic and incredible ceremonial space. What else Brandon? Like what about the next five years? Like what does that look like from a visionary perspective? What gets you excited and inspired as you continue to build out the vision of 1heart and everything that you've created there?

0:53:36.2 Brandon Evans: Yeah I would say the core things of focus are one like how do we help people beyond these journeys? And we do a lot with our community. We have like 12 local chapters that are run by alumni and we connect people in and other virtual channels. We're starting this month our first community connection virtual experience for 1heart so we can bring everyone together. Christian who's listening in has been championing that. And so I think really just thinking about how can we support people beyond and a big piece of that too is community. I mean a lot of people are like I wanna stay here. I wanna live here [laughter] And so how do we bring that together in a deeper way whether that's a place where we all gather actually have land and gather in space regularly.

0:54:30.2 Brandon Evans: And/or and I think a piece of it too for me is like I think there's a lot of know-how that we have in creating these experiences. And I'm very interested in helping other facilitators helping other retreat leaders create similar models and in the work that they're doing. So that there's more of this out there. I don't know that 1heart is something where we don't necessarily aim to be doing a retreat every week or doing five a year now. Maybe that would get to 10 at some point. But yeah other experiences that bring in different aspects of this and create this level of community and just help bring more of this forward in the world I think are big things. And I guess for me I know the family stuff is coming too as my daughter gets older and like yeah what does this look like for young families and/or families and how do we bring the that together in that way as well.

0:55:29.5 Paul F. Austin: Which is something that you and I know have talked about. And we've we both of us have talked about with many other people is when we look at in a way lifestyle design there's been such an emphasis on individual lifestyle design as entrepreneurs and creatives. And I lived as a I've lived as a digital nomad for so long now and and I think many there's more and more of us who are really thinking collective lifestyle design. What are the new ways in which we wish to live in community? And when I've looked at 1heart I've always thought oh it's such a perfect fit to not only host five, six, seven, eight retreats a year but also what could a long-term community look like that where these people are coming together more often potentially raising families together. And that to me is a huge aspect of the future of entrepreneurship. It's the overlap of community building with transformational work.

0:56:19.7 Brandon Evans: Yeah.

0:56:22.6 Paul F. Austin: And I think the model that you've built through 1heart is a fantastic blueprint for precisely that.

0:56:27.6 Brandon Evans: Yeah. And we need it. I mean especially as just seeing being a father I mean you need you want your daughter around other great people. You wanna have that support. And many of us are likely not living in the places where our parents lived. A lot of us are maybe in different spaces in our growth and what types of things we have around us than where we grew up. And so it's just yeah important for us to find ways to get together and live collectively 'cause it's this life's not meant to be lived on our own.

0:57:00.0 Paul F. Austin: In isolation. Absolutely. Well Brandon Evans chief Elevation Officer of 1heart Journeys, if folks are interested to learn more about 1heart and potentially attend and upcoming retreat. The URL is one as in the number 1 heart, H-E-A-R-T dot com. And I know we have some sort of code but I don't know what it is off the top of my head but I'll we'll drop that in the show notes and just mention Third Wave or mention Paul Austin as a referral. If you're listening to this and you're interested in attending any other places that you wanna point people to Brandon things to check out.

0:57:42.6 Brandon Evans: When they come to the site. We're starting a monthly webinar for people interested in 1heart or just in general learning more about what goes into preparation or participation or selecting a retreat. We're gonna do a monthly webinar. We'll have our team and some alumni on there. So people can ask questions or get more details there. And then obviously we have our Instagram channel 1heartjourneys @1heartjourneys. But yeah our website you really can find everything there.

0:58:13.8 Paul F. Austin: 1heart.com. Brandon Evans thanks for hopping on. It's been a pleasure and an honor to host this interview with you and the podcast.

0:58:23.0 Brandon Evans: You too Paul it's amazing the work you're doing and really glad we get to be partners and connect this way.


0:58:33.0 Paul F. Austin: There you have it folks. I hope you enjoyed my conversation today with Brandon Evans. Again if you're feeling called to join 1heart for a Retreat make your booking this month and mention myself or Third Wave when you apply for a free room upgrade. Remember to follow the link in the description for full show notes, transcripts and all the links mentioned in this conversation. And if you're tuning in on Apple Podcast or Spotify we'd love if you could leave the show a quick rating and review. It really helps others to find the podcast. You can also join Third waves community @community.thirdwave.co for more resources, discussion and support around all things psychedelic. Thanks for tuning into The Psychedelic podcast and we'll see you next week.


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