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How to Discover Your Higher Truths as a Leader with Jonathan de Potter

Apr 01, 2022

Can plant medicine help leaders develop deeper levels of consciousness and awareness? Jonathan de Potter certainly believes so. Jonathan is the creator and host of the plant medicine retreat - Behold Retreats

Before talking with Jonathan, I knew of two leaders (both owners of multi-million dollar businesses) who took part in plant medicine ceremonies and had the most profound, and positive, experience.
Why plant medicine? Jonathan believes that plant medicine has proven to be effective in addressing common mental health challenges (anxiety, depression, addictive disorders, PTSD, amongst others), as well as improving well-being and performance in healthy individuals, benefiting from improvements in cognition, mood, behaviour, brain function, and social connectedness.

It was eye-opening to sit down and talk to Jonathan about what he does, why he does it and what he believes it will bring to the world in terms of leadership and living a more conscious life. If you haven't already, please check out the podcast episode here.

In the episode, Jonathan and I go deep and talk about the spiritual side of leadership, and how plant medicine can be a valuable tool for leadership development. 

Full Transcript

The following is the full transcript of this weeks episode of the Lead On Purpose Podcast with James Laughlin.



Jonathan de Potter, James Laughlin 


James Laughlin 00:00 

Welcome to lead on purpose. I'm James Laughlin, former seven-time world champion musician, and now an executive coach to global leaders and high performers. In every episode, I bring you an inspiring leader or expert to help you lead your life and business on purpose. Thanks for taking the time to connect today on investing in yourself. Enjoy the show. 

James Laughlin 07:42 

Do you put CEOs and plant medicine in the same sentence? Well, I'm going to urge you to listen and check this one out. plant medicine. So ayahuasca, psilocybin, there are lots of others, but they are becoming prevalent in the leadership sphere. Believe it or not, I personally haven't tried it. But many of my friends and clients who are running companies, their film directors, have gone off and done these ceremonies and had incredible insights. So, in today's show, I'm incredibly excited to welcome Jonathan de potter who runs Behold Retreats. So, sit back and listen and hear why plant medicine could be something for leaders to consider in the future. 


James Laughlin 08:43 

Jonathan, a massive welcome to the life on purpose podcast. 


Jonathan de Potter 08:48 

Thank you, James. It's a pleasure to be here. 


James Laughlin 08:51 

That's so good to connect. Look, I wanted to explain to the listeners first. So, for those who are listening, we've never spent a lot of time on the podcast talking about the spiritual side of life and leadership. And I feel it's so important. I'm starting to really delve into that side of things myself. And Jonathan and I connected recently, and he's doing some incredible things with plant medicine. And I know you might be thinking, Oh, yep, plant medicines for hippies. It's for these people that are living this free life. Guys, I can tell you know, I know CEOs of top Fortune 500 companies who've done Ayahuasca I know people that go and do lots of plant medicine, who are running companies and athletes, and that are experimenting with that as well. So, Jonathan, I'd love to ask you where did your passion for plant medicine begin? 



Jonathan de Potter 09:41 

Well, there James, because for me, you know, my journey began about five years ago and I was blessed to be leading, you know, a reasonably large team in you know, top tier management consulting and strategy consulting firm. And I just found that I guess I'd reached a stage there. I was working in Hong Kong working pretty long hours, you know, kind of the typical 7 am to late nights, sort of five days a week, some work on the weekends, work hard play hard sort of a lifestyle. And after about five years in that hamster wheel, I guess I kind of got to a place in my career and in my life where I just wasn't feeling incremental joy from, you know, the next client, the next deal, the next promotion the next thing, and, and I just remember looking myself in the mirror one day and thinking is this it? you know, I was an atheist at the time, despite having been raised by pretty open-minded and spiritual parents, like I wasn't a believer, and you could not have convinced me through any rational means that, that there was something greater that was out there for me or for us, collectively. And so, at that point in time, I just looked myself in the mirror and I said, there's, there's got to be something else. I don't know what it is, I don't know where it's going to come from. But I'm going to take a year off. And I don't know how I'm going to spend the time that I know there's going to be a vacuum. And in that vacuum, the right things will come to the fore. And so, I took a year off, and I spent most of that year traveling through South America. 


James Laughlin 11:08 

That's amazing. And when you got to South America, and you left all of your work behind all of your baggage behind, what was your first introduction to plant medicine? 


Jonathan de Potter 11:21 

Yeah, it's actually something I hadn't mentioned before. But I actually did have a bit of a spiritual opening, before I got to the plant medicine retreats, I was hiking in the south of Argentina, in Patagonia, amazing mountains, beautiful crystal-clear lakes, and just got to, I was hiking on a super gray cloudy morning, I got up at 4:30 in the morning to be the first up the mountain. And it was just it was miserably cold. And about two hours into the walk, like, you know, the sky opened up and there was a massive rainbow in the mountains just made themselves, you know, available. And there's this beautiful river. And it was just like this incredible moment as kind of almost like a spiritual awakening that actually preceded my attendance of the plant medicine retreat. So that was kind of a bit of an opening, but I didn't quite understand what was happening and just a pretty profound and emotional experience. And then about three months later, some friends came and joined me, and we participated in an Ayahuasca retreat in Peru. And that was easily the most eye-opening, spiritual opening, and honestly, speaking, quite terrifying experience of my life, you know, I wasn't well prepared for the experience, I didn't really understand what I was getting myself into. I don't think I had my intentions quite right, in terms of the preparation. And unfortunately, I wasn't really well integrated following the route tree itself. So, while I had, you know, some profound insights, and some, you know, some real-life downloads, if you will, I can't say that from the first retreat, I was able to really make improvements to the quality of life, unfortunately. 


James Laughlin 13:01 

Yeah, and I think that's obviously something that a lot of people I would chat about, we talk about plant medicine, we talk about, okay, if you're going to get into what's your biggest fear, and a lot of people would say, Look, my mind is my money, you know, so I'm running a business or I'm in the corporate world, if I lose my mind, then I lose my ability to earn income. So that's probably the number one fear that I would think of personally, and others might think, also, you know, when you went into it yourself, was that was there any of that kind of vernacular going on in your own head thinking, wow, what's the risk here? For me? 


Jonathan de Potter 13:35 

You know, not initially, but the mind and maybe the soul on a subconscious level, as the day crept closer and closer, you could definitely begin to feel a different sort of anxiety than I had ever felt before. And so intuitively, there was an understanding that something big was coming. But that being said, you know, I think I think it's fair, I think, the quote that comes to mind, as you were saying, that is that the mind is, is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master. And the reality is that most of us in the modern paradigm, have come to over-identify ourselves with our minds. So, we think of the mind as self. And that in of itself is a prison of its own making. And I was a very mind-identified person, you know, probably pretty patterns in the way that I approached life just because of the complexity that I was managing. And, you know, in consulting, there's a certain set of tools and practices and methods of communications that are pretty well rewarded in terms of, you know, what leads to success in terms of sales, in terms of team management, client management, all of those sorts of things. And so, you become, you know, a bit of a machine in relation to how you're operating in order to, you know, to grow the business in order to deliver the projects, all of those sorts of things. And so, I was certainly very mind-identified. Now, so losing my mind, as such didn't really come to my mind. But at the same time, I totally identify with fear that some people may have that, hey, what's going to happen to my mind? Because, you know, to a great extent, I think most of us are blessed to be successful as a large part as a result of, you know, the way that our mind works. So, we don't want to lose the beautiful function of our minds. And I don't think that that's, generally speaking, we can go into the safety aspect later. That doesn't happen through this work. And in fact, it deepens our intuition, it deepens our sense of understanding what's right, and why, you know, sometimes one of the ways that I sometimes articulate this is, you know, in the past, there might have been work to be done, where there was, you know, detailed options analysis and discounted cash flows to try and determine what the right answer is. But if you can, you know, tap into your intuition, which is more of a felt knowledge versus a thinking knowledge, you'll be able to string together four or five sentences that will surprise you that can subvert doing all of that hard work and all of that analysis, and you just intuitively know the right answer and be like, Oh, wow, we've just saved weeks of work, because we don't actually have to go and do that, because the answer is quite clear, because it's coming from a different place. 


James Laughlin 16:09 

See, that's amazing. That's exactly what I want to get to, like, as a leader, a lot of leaders in the corporate world, or even in the organized team sport, often are thinking quite linear. And it's quiet, you know, there's a transactional way of thinking, whereas this is actually getting them out of their head and into their heart. And nowadays, when you look at the big company, so I'm here in New Zealand, so you know, companies like Air New Zealand and wellbeing is such a huge aspect of what they're focusing on. And that's obviously like the tip of the iceberg. But when the leaders, the CEOs, and the leadership team can think about deepening their consciousness and understanding spirituality, obviously, that's going to change the whole structure of the company, the way they interact with it with their employees. So, when you came from corporate, and you thought, okay, goodbye to that for now, and you came into the plant-based world. Talk to me about your first couple of days, your first like, experience, what was going through your head? 



Jonathan de Potter 17:07 

Just so I understand. So, as I was going back into the corporate world, after my experience? 


James Laughlin 17:12 

No, the initial experience of going from corporate into plant-based, like when you arrived, and you're in whether it's in the jungle, or whether it's in South America, what was your first like reaction? 


Jonathan de Potter 17:22 

Yeah. So we were in a, we were, we went to the, you know, the best retreat center that we could find. And so, it was a really, it was a really beautiful location outside of Cusco in Peru, in the Sacred Valley, which is, you know, it's a magical place, a really magical place, and a great place to do some hiking in the mountains. So, you know, arrived there with two friends, and we had a day to settle in and kind of get comfortable with the place beautiful property, you know, surrounded by fruit trees, huge mountain peaks, and in both directions, and, you know, so it was a really good place to get grounded and get prepared. So, you know, the first night that we had ceremonies, it was, as I shared, it was overwhelming. So around 7 pm, we go into the ceremonial area, do some preparatory kind of rituals, and then it did step into the ceremony, you drink the medicine, and within, you know, somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes, it begins to take effect. And so, for me, you know, the visual started, and it was, it was incredibly beautiful, you know, more beautiful than anything I'd ever seen, right? It's the first visual that I had was actually a kind of, you know, six-dimensional version of Buddha that was red, orange, and yellow and moving. And it was just incredible. I just could not believe what I was seeing in front of me. And then as you know, as things intensified, then it became, you know, a little bit more challenging, you know, when these medicines are doing two things to our neurology, there's, there's a lot happening in mind, body, heart, and spirit, right. It's trying to harmonize to a single vibration our mind, body, heart, and spirit that particularly within the brain, to the things that are taking places that number one, it's neurogenetic, so it's actually growing new brain cells. And number two, it's, it's increasing neuroplasticity, and kind of reconnecting parts of the brain that don't normally exchange information. So, taking a bit of a step back, there's great research that's been done by the National Science Foundation that shows that your typical person has between 12,000 and 60,000 thoughts per day, a ton of thoughts. Most people only think about I, me, my. So, that's egoic thoughts. Most people are thinking the same thoughts. So, 95% of thoughts are repetitive, according to this research. And 85% of those thoughts are negative. So, we're thinking a lot. We're thinking only about ourselves. We're thinking the same things and mostly bad things. And that is so engrained for most people when they hear that statistic. They think, oh, that's so sad for those people not recognizing that to some extent that that applies to them, actually. And so, you know, these medicines, they amplify our sensitivity, right. And so, as the brain is being reconnected, there are often traumatic experiences that have been compartmentalized away from our everyday waking consciousness. Maybe that happened in early childhood, you know, I would say 90 - 95% of our clients uncover early, you know, early life trauma that they didn't know about until it was kind of that part of the brain was reconnected as such. And so, as these powerful experiences come back to the fore, then, you know, often there's a relationship between things that are manifesting in your present-day life, you know, people ask, Well, why would I want to go uncover that? Well, those things are manifesting in our everyday life. Rather, it's limiting us from living our true purpose, whether it's, you know, keeping us stuck in, in patterns of thinking or patterns of behavior that are not in our highest interest, whether it's, you know, emotional, anger, frustration, never feeling good enough, all of those sorts of things, you know, so those traumas do play out in terms of how we are currently living our lives. And so, as these things are just reconnected, and as we are, provided this opportunity to process and release these traumas, then we can get some really deep healing and improvements to our quality of consciousness and ultimately, quality of life. 


James Laughlin 21:21 

That's really powerful. I am, you know, I think about things that we are compartmentalizing, and whether that's maybe the loss of a loved one, it's maybe a separation that was terrible is maybe some childhood trauma, as you're saying, and we put it away, we park it away, but like, it's safer to park it away. And for me to park it away, and kind of like myself. And, you know, for me to live with myself, I'm going to drink excessive amounts of alcohol, or I'm just going to have two or three quiet ones a day, or I'm going to smoke or vape or marijuana, or I'm going to work obsessively to distract myself, or I'm going to have lots of promiscuity and have lots of different relationships. And they're kind of covered all, right? So, it's interesting that a lot of people and I would say that it's a generalization, but I do think a lot of people normalize those activities I just described to cope. Yet. When they think of, say, ayahuasca, there's like there's Oh, wow, that's scary. I can't do that, right? Which is kind of really crazy. So, let's chat a bit about the science of how it works. So, I guess, first of all, I know that there's not just one type of plant medicine, you've got ayahuasca, which a lot of people know, are getting familiarized with that term, but there are a few different ones. So, let's maybe start with that. What are a few of the most common plant medicines? 


Jonathan de Potter 22:48 

Yeah, sure. So, there are actually quite a few out there. The ones that we most commonly work with are number one psilocybin, which is also known as, you know, the magic mushrooms. Number two ayahuasca, which obviously, we've been talking about, just now, is the combination typically of two plants, but often, you know, there's as many Ayahuasca traditions as you can shake a stick out. So, there are many permutations of the medicine itself. So, it's not too similar to the mushrooms, I suppose in that sense. It's not, you know, one size fits all. And then the third that we also worked with, which is even four to six times more powerful than Ayahuasca is Bufo, also known as the god molecule. And that is an incredibly powerful, powerful, non-dual experience. So, we could talk about that one a little bit as well. Now, psilocybin 


James Laughlin 23:36 

Sorry, that Bufo one that's a toad or a frog of some description, right? 


Jonathan de Potter 23:38 

Yeah, that's also known as the toad. That's right.  


James Laughlin 23:43 

Yeah, sorry to interrupt. So, let's go back to psilocybin because I haven't had much awareness or knowledge around that at all. 


Jonathan de Potter 23:48 

Yeah, yeah. So, you know, I think psilocybin for people who, let's just say have a higher a higher-than-average amount of anxiety in relation to exploring one of these experiences, I think psilocybin is a beautiful place to start, the reason being that it's not quite so demanding upon the physical body. Ayahuasca, by contrast, is strong in terms of its detoxification. So, anyone who's looking for physical healing, you know, often, you know, I will guide them, generally speaking in the direction of ayahuasca, because it does a lot on the physical body. For people who are, you know, perhaps not willing to dive fully into a very intensive experience, psilocybin is a beautiful place to start. The ceremonies between both are similar, you know, typically between four to six hours in length, so not a short experience by any stretch of the imagination. Psilocybin ceremonies tend to happen, you know, late afternoon at most of the retreats, whereas Ayahuasca makes us quite photosensitive, so the ceremonies tend to be at night or overnight. Now, you know, I think you know, psilocybin, we have evidence of use virtually across every continent over time. Whereas Ayahuasca is mostly you know, it originates in Central and South America. And so, it's got more of a, I would say, I guess a tribal or shamanic Association, although that is changing. And there's a lot more kind of contemporary experiences that are out there these days, you know, one of our, one of our practitioners, he's been doing this work for 30 years now. He's incredible. He grows, he's an ethnobotanist, he's an author, so passionate about this work. And he said, look, Jonathan, you know, Ayahuasca is just two plants, that when they come together with the right intention, they can really help people, anything that's above that is just human beings, kind of projecting their own ego and stuff and culture and traditions on top of that, and I really love that because I think, you know, there's, there's a lot of kind of judgment about what's right and what's wrong in relation to this ecosystem. And, and just to hear that from him, you know, from someone who's really apprenticed under the ancient traditions, and you know, his, his own Maestro and mentor is 102 years old, and still facilitating medicine ceremonies now. So, it was a great perspective that I really kind of enjoyed, so I like to share that. And then the third, which is really just, it's this medicine is coming fast. It's, you know, the toad is really picking up in terms of its popularity. And there are a few reasons I believe for that. One is I think there's a natural human tendency to gravitate towards the two more powerful experiences, just, generally speaking, you know, how many people want to climb Everest versus the local foothill. And, and two it's not as challenging from a physical perspective. So even though it is typically recognized as four to six, more times more powerful, it's actually easier in some respects, because the small self, the ego itself, doesn't actually have much of a chance to hold on, through a breakthrough experience. So, you're moved very rapidly, you know, you smoke the medicine, within 10 seconds, reality itself kind of breaks apart in front of you. And you can in during a breakthrough experience, you can experience you know, complete non-duality, oneness with the universe. So, there is no subject-object, there is no more space, there is no more time. It's just experiencing, you know, a very high state of consciousness. And, and that's, that's a pretty profound experience. And, you know, it opens us up emotionally as well. The other distinction that I would make between say, 5-Meo-DMT, and ayahuasca and psilocybin is that with ayahuasca and psilocybin, what tends to happen is that we have more experiences, which relate to our story, right? So, reconciliation of the past, oh, you know, this happened. And that's why that happened and releasing, you know, some of the memories that come back, and all of those sorts of things, whereas with 5-Meo-DMT, it doesn't tend to be so much about the story, it's just showing you that you're actually one with the universe. So, it still opens up all of the lower-level emotions to be able to process and release, it's just that, you know, half you won't necessarily be able to tell a linear story, in when your friend asks you about the experience, you'll just be like, I don't know where to start. 


James Laughlin 28:13 

I love it. It's so, so fascinating. And, you know, I think about coaching service and a high-performance leadership coach. So, there's a process or a journey, I take a client through, right, and part of that is, it starts with helping them to detach. So, some clients, if they're really, you know, highly engaged, we're trying to disengage them a little bit from their thoughts. And that will be through meditation or breathwork. So, with the process that you take a client through, what's the preparation? Like? Does the preparation start when they arrive with you, or just the preparation actually begins prior? 


Jonathan de Potter 28:48 

Yeah, so there's, there are two ways that we guide clients. The first is a seven-week process, more holistic approach, the thing that I wish was there for me, when I started along with this, you know, that's ultimately the motivation behind this, behind the business is to try to provide people high-quality experiences and a smoother path than I had over the years. And we can go more into that a bit later. And the second is just doing a retreat. So, it was interesting, because when, when we set ourselves up this way, I had expected that most of the people that would do the seven-week approach would be first-timers, and those that had kind of done it before would gravitate more towards the retreats. But actually, we're finding that the majority of our clients actually want that more holistic approach, and a more holistic approach. And the way that I see this work now is it's 80% mental and emotional work, which is what sets up the 20% with plant medicine to be as powerful and as transformative as it is, you know, the reality is that we all have mental and emotional blind spots that are keeping us from our true selves from reaching a higher state of consciousness. And so, if we already knew what they were and we knew how to release them, then we would have done so you know, and so I think that the combination of working with you know, someone like yourself, like A high-performance coach, leadership coach, a therapist depending upon where the person is at, in order to help them see how their own patterns of thinking and their own patterns of behavior are helping are keeping them from their future self. So, what we really do with clients is we help them go deep on, okay, who is this future self? You know, maybe you don't have all of the pieces at your disposal at the moment, because you have some questions about what's, what's next for you in life. But you still have a pretty good idea, right? What are the things that gave you great joy earlier in life? What are the moments that you felt really aligned with your values? All of those sorts of things that we can kind of begin to piece together a picture of, okay, when you're at your best, what did that look like? And so, we help clients get clear on that future self. And then and then getting detailed about what life is going to be like when that future self is realized. And I genuinely believe that any one of us can be whatever it is that we want to be. And medicine, these medicines really respond to intentionality. So, if we anchor we, the very core of our being to that, that belief in that future self, then the medicine is able to show us usually the things that we need to be willing to release in order to bring that reality to bear for ourselves. So, number one, we help them get clear on future self. The second piece is, as I shared before surfacing, and releasing the patterns of mind and emotions, that are keeping from future self, so the patterns of mind, you know, as I shared before, these are, these are substances, medicines that are very powerful in the brain. But if we don't know the patterns of mind that we're trying to rewire, it's very difficult to do so. Right. So, for most of us, we have patterns of mind that have been entrenched over decades. And most of us as a result of you know, you said it before, we live in a very linear fashion. And so, as we've tried to cope with growing complexity, as we've progressed through life, we've become more patterns. In our thinking, we're trying to actually meet the complexity on its terms, which is just a sustainable way to live to be, particularly as we're at this juncture of our evolution, right, I think all of us can see in the 18, in 18 months past the VUCA, the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and the ambiguity, it's just gone through the roof. And so, trying to meet the complexity on its terms is just impossible these days. So, we have to find a different way to cope. And so, once we understand the patterns of mind that we need to release, then we can begin to work with that ahead of the medicine begin to release them spot them more commonly. And then once we get that, that works with the medicine, then we have a much higher chance of actually being able to rewire those neural pathways. And that's what that's the outcome that we're looking for, you know, we're trying to replace negativity with mind with the positivity of mind as the default, not as something that you go, oh, yeah, you know, I could have done that a little bit better later, we want that to be the default. So that's the mental stuff, then the emotional stuff. So, we've all got many, many patterns, sorry, many layers of shame, guilt, grief, fear, envy, anger, apathy, pride, those are all emotions that many of us have, we all have in stock in our physical body, energetic body. And so we teach the tools for emotional processing, so that as these as we begin to work with the medicine before, but also, especially during the work with the medicine, as these dissonant energies are coming up to the surface, that we are actually able to release them that we don't contract away from the experience, because, you know, it's the places that we don't want to look where all the gold is hidden. And so, the medicine can help us, you know, show us where the where that gold is. But unless we actually are ready for that emotionally, and we've got the tools to let it go, then it's likely that we'll contract away from the experience and not be able to actually get the benefits that are available through this work. So that's the process into the lead-up, then we work with the medicine, we can go deeper into that. And then and then post-retreat, it's really about anchoring. You know, okay, what's going to be different. You've got this clarity of this future self, you've got some powerful downloads, insights, guidance, maybe you understand more about what your purpose is going to be, you've had some healing, you've dropped some emotions, you see some patterns of mind. Now bringing that all back down together and anchoring that back into reality, so that we can get that those improvements to the quality of life, and sustained elevation in consciousness. You know, one of the things I say to our clients is, it's entirely possible to have years of profound psychedelic experiences, where you land back at the level of consciousness where you've just bypassed your mental and emotional blind spots, like oh, wow, you know, I understand universal love. And then you know, next week you're back at work and you're flipping off the guy in traffic. 


Jonathan de Potter 34:33 

Which part of universal love didn't stick for you? So, that's a little bit about our process. And yeah, we take the conversation from here as you see fit. 


James Laughlin 34:41 

That's brilliant. No, Jonathan, that's fantastic. Because some of the listeners here will have done events they may have gone to a Tony Robbins event or something like that. And big change big transformation during those three or four days, but then integration, the reintegration back into normal life. Five, six weeks later, they're back into the regular habits. But as you said, it's so interesting because neuroscience has been doing a lot of study through Dr. Joe Dispenza. And really understanding his approach to quantum physics and neuroscience and meditation and healing. And he said exactly the same thing. He called it exactly the same study in that by the time you're 35 years old 95% of what you think do and react are all patterns' habits, there, you're thinking the same thing, doing the same thing. So you've only got this 5% window, and it's about trying to expand that and go, Okay, I want to reprogram some of that 95% I don't want to be thinking negative, I don't want to reach for a beer on a Monday night to deal with the shitty day had, you know, so I'm fascinated that this process can help people to get into those issues, face their fears, not shy away, as you're saying prep for it. And then afterward, actually, reintegrate actually be able to go, okay, I can take all of that discovery, that healing, and bring it into my life and bring it into my work. I think that's really, really powerful. So, for you, you will go, we'll kind of break bring it back a little bit, you've got South America, you went to your first experience, you kind of alluded that, hey, my experience wasn't maybe the best experience. And let's talk a little bit about what happened in your experiences and how that's motivated you to say, I want to do this better for other people. 




Jonathan de Potter 36:26 

Yeah, and I'm going to build on something you said there, and then relate it to myself. And I think, you know, in essence, there's, there's fear and there's love, right? And for most people, when they really take the time and energy to inquire what's motivating them, you will ultimately come to a place of fear, like, oh, I'm not going to have enough or I'm not going to be enough, or I'm not good enough. And so and so that's the switch, right? You're making, you know, operating from a place of fear to operating from a place of love. And I genuinely believe that each and every one of us on this planet have amazing gifts to give and that we're all naturally givers. We're not takers, we're givers. But when we're taking, we're living from a place of fear that we need to take because we're fearful. But we're living from a place of love than we're giving. And that's a very different paradigm. And I think, you know, that's the evolution in consciousness that I think is next for us, individually and collectively. And so and so yeah, for me, very powerful experience, a lot of downloads, a lot of insights, I was shown. One of the more powerful and humbling experiences that I had on that first retreat was being shown that I was the only thing that was in my own way. And I remember asking at the time was like, Yeah, but okay, that's a nice message. But like, surely there are other things that are in my way, as well. And I came back doubly strong was like, no, no, this is the most humbling and empowering thing at the same time. And I felt it every cell of my body, it was just like, no, no, no, you are the only thing in your way. And it's like, wow, that's, that's an incredible message. And so, so I came out of that, you know, feeling, you know, for the first few days really excited about life, and then it just kind of it drifted out, it wasn't there for me. And so, you know, we really do need help to anchor that right to make it clear for ourselves, what's going to be different, what's going to be better for us. And so and so at the end of the retreat, I remember, they handed us like a one piece of paper, I thought we should probably try meditation. And that was, and that was kind of the end of it. And so, you know, for me, it's like atheist before, you know, Now, question mark, like, I think the universe has been turned pretty upside down. You know, before I was, you know, probably not as, as aware of some of the impacts that I was having upon people both good and bad. And I was given a lot of profound, you know, insights and downloads, and then this whole thing around empowerment, whereas, you know, I think I used to be, you know, I was one of those people that probably externalized quite a bit in terms of like, well, this is this way because of this, and actually, what we come to recognize through this work is that the problem isn't the problem, or the perception of the problem isn't the problem, it's the perception, that is fundamentally the problem. And that applies to all things I know, we all want to like, look at problems on the outside and, and use them in order to, I guess, argue or to back the rationale for where we are. But those were the kind of messages that I got, and yet still life returned to normal, all the habits, all the thinking, all that kind of came back. And so I think it's, it's super important that as and when people explore these experiences, that they get some guidance for the mental and emotional work and they have someone to help them hold themselves accountable, to really actually implement some more sustainable changes because, you know, just going to Peru for another plant medicine retreat, which is the pattern that I was on, you know, many, many plant medicine retreats, I was on that pattern for years, and still not integrating well, and intuitively I knew this, but I didn't know what I was missing. I didn't know that mental and emotional work was required, and I didn't know much about the energetic stuff either, which is another rabbit hole that we can get into a little bit as well. 




James Laughlin 40:06 

That's brilliant. And as you're saying that I'm thinking about it. So, a distinction for anybody that's listening and say micro-dosing versus plant medicine, like the can we talk about that? The clear distinctions between, say using, I think what they use MDMA, and LSD and I don't really know my drugs, as you can probably tell, but what's the difference between micro-dosing and plant medicine? 


Jonathan de Potter 40:36 

Yeah, so the key difference is in dosage, right. So, you know, generally speaking, when people are talking about micro-dosing, it's usually either psilocybin or LSD. The other people are micro-dosing other things as well. But those are the two I think, that are most common. Some people report great results, other people not so much. Personally speaking, I haven't had many results from micro-dosing. But when you kind of going on a plant medicine retreat, we're talking more about macro dosing, right, we're talking about, you know, a larger amount of, of the medicine for the experience. So yeah, I've certainly seen some signs. There's some kind of conflicting science out there at the moment, but there's a lot more research, which is, which is obviously being done, you know, the psychedelic science has just exploded in the last three years in particular, in terms of the quantum of research that's being done, and it's super exciting, you know, they're proving you won't believe the vast variety of things that they're doing, right. So, some of this is to do with the micro-dosing, which, again, some conflicting research, they're looking at autoimmune disorders. For, you know, larger dosage. They're looking at, obviously, all the, you know, the ailments of, shall I say, lower levels of consciousness, depression, anxiety, OCD, anxiety, depression, all of those sorts of things. They're looking at a stroke, believe it or not, acute stroke victims as they're being loaded into the, as they're being loaded into the ambulance to actually give them a sub-perceptual dose to increase neuroplasticity. So, to you know, improve their chances of staying alive. We've now got some recent science that shows if you're a fan of Joe Dispenza, very similar benefits in terms of epigenetic expression. So, plant medicine can really accelerate the process of improving our individual genetic expression. We've only had the first paper there. So it's the first understanding of the relationship between plant medicine and epigenetics, and I think the research there is going to yield a ton of results because I don't know you may have heard, there's something called the stoned ape theory, which says that it's not that these medicines do interesting things to our brains, it's that our brains are as interesting as they are in no small part as a result of plant medicine. So that we may have actually co-evolved alongside these plants. And, you know, that was considered a crazy theory 50 years ago, now, it's reached general acceptance within the academic, you know, the psychedelic research community. So going a little bit off track, but coming back to macro dosing and macro dosing, that's, that's kind of fundamentally the distinction, micro-dosing tends to be at home, although some people do go on micro-dosing retreats, or get guidance from that. And macro dosing or, you know, retreat settings tend to be higher amounts of medicine. 


James Laughlin 43:26 

And that's, that's probably something to talk about, as well, because there might be some people going, ah, you know, I can't go to the retreat, or it's not legal in my country, I'm just going to try it at home. But let's just chat about what the experience is going to be like. If you did at home with a few Google searches, and you don't do the prep work, what's the experience and the potential risks going to be? 


Jonathan de Potter 43:48 

Yeah, so if for anyone who is considering that path, I would still encourage them to first speak to a qualified therapist in order to go through some sort of a safety screening, right, these medicines do have a contraindication to going physical as well as with prescription medications. So, it's very important that people go through high-quality safety screening ahead of exploring these medicines. Now, in terms of, you know, doing it at home, you know, casually the thing that I encourage people to think about, you know, recognizing my conflict of interest, I'm a retreats guy. But it is the unpredictability of experience, you know, we really do benefit from having someone there who is there for us mentally, emotionally, energetically, in order to facilitate us through one of these experiences. So, you know, there are more kind of underground practitioners that are these days, but most of our clients are people, you know, like, like I imagine your clients are, are people who would rather, you know, travel to a place where it's legal and work with people who really know what they're doing. Because again, the mind is what's on the line here, right. And so as powerful things are coming to the surface, we really do benefit from some contextualization. And people who have preferably worked for this in this field for decades, to be able to help us make sense of some of the things that were experienced. Because these can be, you know, pretty reality shattering in terms of, you know, things that we see feel, experience, you know, you can have experiences where time and space, you know, crunches into itself, and, you know, you begin to question reality itself. And so, guidance is helpful. 


James Laughlin 45:42 

Yeah, I'm with you on that, like, if I ever get to the point where I'm going to do it, I would want to be doing it with someone who has done it 1000 times and has overseen it and, you know, has is really well respected in the industry, I think that's really important. When it comes to any type of medicine, I'm glad you brought up as well about their prescription drugs. So, if someone's on, let's say, antidepressants, or something like that, they would need to be coming off that kind of stuff before they go to a retreat, I imagine. 


Jonathan de Potter 46:08 

Yeah, that's exactly right. So, these medicines don't play nice with most of prescription medications. And so typically, three weeks, sometimes longer, is longer as better. People need to be completely off any prescription medications because it's almost like the two worlds coming together. You know, there's a lot of actual convergence in relation to this road, whether we talk about, you know, the science and the spirituality, you know, the strongest predictor of a positive outcome from the psychedelic science is whether or not the individual has had a full-blown mystical experience, right. So that's the out-of-mind out-of-body experience. We also see the, you know, the more holistic world, they're kind of alternative New Age healing, coming together with the psychedelic science. So that's another kind of the point of convergence. And then we see, you know, mind, body, heart, and spirit being harmonized within the physical, or our being, if you will. And so, I think this, this, this work in this research really represents a point of convergence. And, and it seems like there are things like, like, now, I can't even have a single drink, to be honest, I'm just too sensitive. And it will you know, knock me out of whack for two or three days, even if I have a single drink, like, I used to go and have 10, and not think much about it the next day at seven o'clock at work, you know? 



James Laughlin 47:28 

I love it. And that's quite interesting. Personally, I have about a year and a half ago, I committed as a bit of a personal challenge to one year, no beer, and essentially one year no alcohol. And for an Irish guy, that's a pretty big commitment. So, I did it for fun, and it for a personal challenge got to the end of the year felt amazing. And so, I have no desire to go back. And I just haven't, it's been great. So, I imagine once you have an experience that's spiritual and as deep as what people have when they're at the retreat, you're going back to those old fixes of alcohol must have a profound impact at a cellular level. 


Jonathan de Potter 48:05 

Yeah, and you know, what tends to happen for a lot of people is that their ongoing spiritual development becomes a priority for them, right. And it's not to say that you need, you know, more and more and more plant medicine in order to facilitate that, but the work fundamentally is about further attuning ourselves and further developing our sensitivities in order to be able to further attune ourselves. And so, something like alcohol, while it was a helpful solution, for me in the past, is now it's not, it's disconnecting me from my intuition, it's disconnecting me from my empathy. It's disconnecting me from myself, ultimately. And so, you know, the way that I kind of look at this, in many regards, is that our brain is actually an antenna, right? And so, the quality of the calibration of the antenna is a reflection of our thoughts. So over time, as we continue this work, the quantum of thoughts really reduces like, you know, I don't really get thought unless I'm asking for them actively. And the quality of thoughts over time is going up. And so that's you know, it's, it's you can use as the TV channel analogy, right? It's, you know, on one channel is Mickey Mouse, we understand that Mickey Mouse isn't actually there on the TV screen, it's being the signals being modulated, and then projected onto the screen. That's how I believe consciousness to work. And, you know, there's a lot of science now that's coming out. There's a great CIA paper actually, that articulates exactly this. So, it's that the thoughts that we're having is a reflection of our consciousness, it's a reflection of the calibration of our antenna. And so, the pineal gland, which is the seat of the soul, for many of us, it's calcified as a result of a bad diet as a result of fluoride in the water. I know that sounds like a crazy conspiracy theory, but it's on WebMD. Like if you want to deepen your spiritual connection, the first thing you need to do is decalcify your body's pineal gland. And so, you know, there are very practical steps that we can make in order to calibrate our intent, whether it's meditation, breath, work, plant medicine, improving diet, exercise, all of those sorts of things are going to return the brain to a more harmonious and natural state, that's going to be what allows you to deepen your connection with the collective consciousness. And then you're going to be able to further attune your understanding, you know, every minute, every microsecond, the universe is sending us messages about opportunities for the elevation of consciousness. Now, whether or not we recognize those, whether or not we see those is entirely up to us, right. So, when you see friends, or when you've had periods in your life, where, you know, you've just, you're just encountering the same challenge over and over and over again, the universe is trying to help you see something, and whether or not you see it is ultimately up to you. And, you know, but it's, it can be one of the worst, I've had periods in my life where it's like, I feel like I'm on loop here because I'm just getting the same punch in the face from the universe over and over again. And at the time, you know, wasn't able to see what the message was what I needed to abstract away from and see differently, so that I could really kind of rise above that challenge and move on to the next one that the universe might have in store for me. 


James Laughlin 51:17 

I can relate like 100% Jonathan, like, not so long ago, I felt this tension in my solar plexus. I was like, I just can't find the answer. I want to find the answer to this, like, where am I headed? What am I doing? Who am I, I just couldn't figure it out? I was getting so much like so tense about it, I thought I need to remove myself. So, it's interesting. We talk about the pineal gland or the pineal gland. So, my understanding is that it helps in the production of serotonin and melatonin, is that correct? Yeah, that's right. And it's connected to the optic nerve. 


Jonathan de Potter 51:50 

Yes, indeed. And it's also the precursor, those are the two precursors, we believe, for DMT Dimethyltryptamine, which is the underlying molecule within ayahuasca, so we naturally produce endogenous DMT. So, we can produce it ourselves. So, if you go into a darkness retreat, for example, that's what's happening, it's turning. Because we're cut off from the light, then I don't know the exact science behind it. But basically, the serotonin or the melatonin is turned into DMT. And we can have very powerful visionary experiences, even in the absence of no outside influence. 


James Laughlin 52:27 

Yeah, it's quite powerful. I just was watching someone demonstrate how to like to stimulate or re-activate the pineal gland. And it's through this incredible diaphragmatic breathing. Yeah, it's phenomenal. So that's definitely that's interesting that you brought that up, and how that connects in as well. That's phenomenal. 



Jonathan de Potter 52:44 

Yeah, and, you know, the, I've done some of those exercises before as well. And what I found in my friend group was that those who had, who had done some plant medicine, which I think can try to find the right analogy, it's like, blow out the cobwebs a little bit on the system, right, and kind of get everything mostly moving in some of the right ways. Those that had done some of that work, or had a strong meditation practice, we're able to get a lot out of that, that exercise that you're describing in terms of stimulating endogenous DMT. Whereas those that were kind of just, you know, coming at it from, from a low base, you know, no meditation practice, no previous medicine experience, they couldn't quite get the pieces humming together if that makes sense. 


James Laughlin 53:29 

Yeah, absolutely. And it's interesting that meditation when you look at studies around leaders, that meditation is becoming more of a commonplace thing for top leaders. So, on a meditation front, do you have any practices that you do that you would like to share? Anything that you work for you from like a regular meditative practice? 


Jonathan de Potter 53:50 

Yeah, yeah. My journey with meditation, and it's still evolving, has been an interesting one. I think one of the things that I've seen in and learned from mentors and people who've guided me is that meditation can become a little bit of a trap in itself. Because I think some people when they're well guided by people who have attained really high states of consciousness, I think meditation can be a great path. There's a sort of harmonization that's taking place here, which I think is important, which is when you've got someone who is, you know, a self-realized teacher, that people who are learning from that person are actually harmonizing up to their higher vibration, up to their higher level of consciousness. And so, you know, when you hear about these people going to seek a guru or a teacher, you know, spiritual mentor, etc. That's a little bit of what's happening. There are, you know, two frequencies, the lower frequency always harmonizes up to the higher frequency. And I think that's a bit of a physics analogy for what's happening on the planet at the moment. There's a lot of harmonization that's, that's needing to take place. And so the meditation I think can often keep people a little bit stuck, if I'm, to be honest, and I think that's where something some other modalities, whether it's breathwork, or it could be even something like sprinting, or you know, plant medicine work can actually help to kind of break out of some of the patterns because there's certainly I know, there are some people out there who've meditated seriously, for 20 or 30 years and are actually still stuck, you know, waiting for that big breakthrough that big mystical experiences, despite 20 or 30 years of like, super dedicated practice. And this is where I think some of the magic of the plants comes in, because it just, it removes the barriers, right, and it relaxes and releases parts of the brain that are the ego in particular, that are so tightly held that it can just be it can be challenging to get there without plant medicine. So, you know, for me I am, there are a few different ways that I meditate. Sometimes it's just, you know, typical silent meditation 20 or 30 minutes, typically in the morning, other times, I find it helpful to try to embody more advanced spiritual teachings, right. So, there are plenty of great spiritual teachings out there. So, you actually focus your meditation, on bringing down those spiritual teachings and embodying them. You know, a lot of this work is really about bringing down the wisdom into your energetic and physical body. So that it becomes part of your being versus something that you academically understand, right? I would almost make the distinction between wisdom and intelligence, wisdom is embodied intelligence is some stuff that you stuck in your mind. If that, if that makes sense. And so that's, that, for me, tends to be more productive for me than the silent meditation these days. And then there's also you know, the other one is manifestation meditations, those can be very powerful as well. And, you know, that that is that I think relates well to what we were talking about before in terms of attunement, right. So, the, the better attuned we are, the better able, we are to manifest those things into our experience, that we're looking to do to, you know, give more love more and improve, you know, quality of individual experience, there's always some ego there, you know, 


James Laughlin 57:08 

100%. And when you think of ego, let's think, whether it's a leader of a company, or the leader of a family, like a parent, what is ego? And how can it either hinder us or help us?  


Jonathan de Potter 57:23 

That's a great question. You know, I think, I think it's, it's worth, regarding the ego, for the many benefits that it has, right, I guess, I guess, starting all the way back. We, I mentioned before that, I believe that we're all kind of individualization of potentialized individualization, of, of a single collective consciousness. Now, as consciousness was, is expanding itself, there was or is a desire to experience individual existence, if that makes sense. So, to break away from the whole in order to experience the illusion of the separate self. And so, this work is fundamentally about, you know, relaxing that illusion, removing the barrier between self, the inner world, and the outer world, the analogy I sometimes give is like, you know, those balloons that kids play with at the fair, and you twist off a little piece, so the universe is the whole balloon, we've twisted off a little piece. And now we think of that as ourselves as our ego. And so, this work is about you know, is about untwisting, that that piece, so that we can rejoin the whole. Now, that takes time and energy. And so, plant medicine is powerful, you know, for example, 5-MeO-DMT, the toad as I mentioned before, that's a very quick path to understanding that you're actually part of the whole, but then the real work starts after the experience where we've had a light shone on the possibility of consciousness in what we truly are. But then it's all work to begin to walk the path that we've been shown to actually be able to approach and ultimately realize that state in that understanding, without the support of plant medicine, and so when we talk about ego, you know, that that desire for separate existence is, is I think, where, where it all started. And then there's also self-preservation, playing a fundamental role, right, is we're born into this world, we're ignorant. We need to compete for resources for attention, for love. And so, the ego comes online, you know, something like 18 months, is it set right? Maybe it's earlier than that. But I think that I can remember it's two or three months or 18 months, it's one of those two, the ego comes online and begins to make itself known and, and have you know, very specific demands of this world. So, it's present self-preservation without ego, we wouldn’t be surviving, that's for sure. So, it's necessary. And I think the game of life, the opportunity that each of us has, is to come out of that ignorance that we're mourning too, you know, to face the challenges that we ultimately face through childhood through adolescence through early adulthood. And to begin to discover ourselves, the inner world, not just the outer world, but to discover our inner world, overcome, grow, and ultimately begin to, you know, first build our ego. And then and then hopefully, if we're lucky get to a place in life where we can actually begin to reduce our ego. And you know, I think one of the ways that I think this is more the ego is most evident is when you pair grandchild with a grandparent, right where the grandchild is, is existing predominantly for themselves entirely for themselves. And the grandparent is also living for the grandchild entirely. And so, it's the perfect match. 


James Laughlin 1:00:50 

I've never thought of that, but it's so true. 


Jonathan de Potter 1:00:52 

It's like I exist for me, and you exist. For me, this is perfect. And parents are like, well, I exist for me too. 


James Laughlin 1:00:58 

A little bit of balance here, I love it. You talk about consciousness and, and oneness. So, for someone I put my hand up, you know, I'm just starting to really think about it's been the last three or four years thinking about spirituality and, and connecting with a higher source for someone who's very linear thinking and isn't connected to any of that kind of thinking, what is consciousness? Or what is oneness? 


Jonathan de Potter 1:01:26 

Yeah, so I guess, when we think of consciousness, the way that I think of consciousness now is that everything in the universe is consciousness. And you know, at an atomic level, we understand that even a lump of steel is vibrating, right? And so, consciousness is the core element of everything. And quantum physics is beginning to point in this direction, you know, the unified theory. We've had mystics telling us this for ages, there's the CIA paper that I will share with you after because I think it's worth linking to, it's a great read, it's a fascinating read. So we've got, you know, sources converging, that tells us that consciousness is kind of the unified theory, if you will, and so this is experientially possible, you know, not on your first retreat, but it's experienced experientially possible for each of us to kind of get there for ourselves and understand that the nature of reality, and so when we speak about consciousness, it's a vibration, right? Vibration is the core of what the material world is made of. And then, you know, this consciousness is being split into light into matter into ourselves, and everything that is in existence, and it continues to expand endlessly in all directions. So, it's not like there's good or bad, there's just polarity. And consciousness wants to continue to expand itself in all directions. And so that's why, you know, we see a lot of things that we like, we see a lot of things that perhaps we don't like, but just recognizing that its consciousness-expanding itself allows for a different perspective on those things that perhaps we might not be so in tune with if that makes sense. So that's one of the ways that I think about consciousness. The other way that I think about it is the relationships- sorry what I meant to say was the degree to which we know ourselves is another way to look at consciousness, right. And so, when we talk about the layers of emotions, when we talk about the trauma, when we talk about over-identification with the mind, when we talk about our own identity, when we talk about the societal programming, these are all things that have kind of crept into our being, but they're not actually who and what we are. And so, as we peel away those layers of those things, then we can see what we truly are. And it's much more exciting than, you know, the meat skeleton as it were. And so that's another way to think about consciousness. The third way that I like to think about consciousness, is the relationship between the inner world in the outer world, and the degree to which we understand that those things are actually one and the same. And so, you know, I think we live in a paradigm where most of us are prioritizing the things in the outside world because that's what we believe to be reality. But actually, we can see that that's not reality. Reality is, is much deeper than that, but we're not going to see that through looking at we're only going to see that through looking in. And so, once we understand that time and space aren't real, then we can engage in the game of life, under, you know, very different terms, much more with much more joy, much more patience, much more empathy, courage, you know, these are all leadership skills. And so and so when we talk about, you know, who doesn't want to have a higher view of things, you know, knowledge is power, in the most beautiful way. And so, when we have a higher view of things, and we're able to see, you know, the trauma that's playing out in one of our team members in relation to something that may not be as beautiful as we might like, then we can actually approach that from a loving perspective as opposed to, hey, you're being unreasonable and angry. And so that allows for a much different dynamic. So, you know, we're always excited to guide leaders because we know that the elevation of consciousness, I don't believe is going to follow any sort of linear trajectory. As we get to more leaders as people recognize and improve themselves, then they're bringing that into their daily lives with their families, they're bringing that into their professional networks of bringing that into their team. And so that elevation of consciousness is happening at a rapid tick at the moment. And I think plant medicine is, as far as I know, it's the most powerful tool to accelerate that process, which is what I think makes it so exciting. 


James Laughlin 1:05:35 

Yeah, it's incredible. It says, seriously incredible, I think the more I listen to what you're saying, is, plant medicine is like a vehicle. It's the vehicle, and it helps you get to that point. So, we can all get to that point. And some of us may or may not get there. But this is a vehicle that can actually you could jump aboard, and let's go on access. It's interesting, I've got a friend in LA, and he's a film producer. And he also has an inc 5000 company that he's an incredible guy. And he said, James, I went and did ayahuasca, I said, how did it go? Man, it was mind-blowing, it changed my whole view of the world. And this guy, like, from a corporate standpoint, or a business number, he's incredibly successful, he rubbed shoulders with superstar celebrities, but he is so grounded, he is so in love with the world with people with society, it's quite amazing. And I firmly believe that ayahuasca and plant medicine has helped someone like him to really connect with consciousness. And for someone like that, who I really look up to and aspire to. Wow, you know, if he's walking the walk, and he's doing great in all aspects of his life, plus he's embraced this plant medicine, there's something there, you know, it's intriguing. 


Jonathan de Potter 1:06:52 

It really is. And I think, you know, the shift, individual and collective is from 40, which is the identification with the mind to the five D, which is returning the mind to its rightful place in the hierarchy of self and being able to connect with the higher self in a much deeper way. And there's no end to that, you know, people talk about spiritual attainment, or enlightenment or something like that. It's an endless process, you know, I'm blessed to be guided by healers and spiritual mentors that are so much further down this, this rabbit hole in terms of their understanding of the universe, and what is and they've, you know, many of them have run out of teachers, and they're still learning. So, it's there just seemed to be this endless opportunity to just deepen our self-understanding. And as a result of that, our contributions. And so, it's exciting when we hear stories like that, where people have had, you know, significant improvements to the quality of life, you know, again, coming back to my story, I didn't know what I was missing, I didn't believe in spirituality, I didn't think that there was something there for me. And the moment that I recognized that it was like, ah, okay, this is what we are here for, we are here to spiritually evolve. And so, you know, when we hear about, you know, the wisdom traditions talking about reincarnation, and karma, I believe in that stuff. 100% now, and you could not have convinced me before, you know, I was very much down that Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, all of those sorts of kind of, you know, more atheistic and deterministic styles of thinking, and now it's like, oh, wow, we're here for spiritual evolution. And so, you know, we can all connect to our true purpose, we're not a random permutation of evolution, not a single one of us, we're here with divine purpose, we can connect with that. And then we can bring that with our unique strengths and skills and love and courage and empathy, and make that, you know, bring that out into the world in a way that is giving as opposed to taking and that's a shift that I think we can all get pretty excited about. 


James Laughlin 1:08:55 

Oh, incredibly, yeah, absolutely. When you look at what's going on in the world, and the divisiveness that we see when we choose to watch media or whatever, this is incredible an opportunity for us to bring it back together. Now thinking about plant medicine, its origins, you know, the tribal people who originated with this plant medicine. Is there respect and acknowledgment from those ancient tribes? And the people that are still saying South America did? Do they feel that it's, it's good that say, Caucasians in the Western world, are embracing it, and, you know, commercializing it, is there respect and it's all good in that regard? 


Jonathan de Potter 1:09:41 

Yeah, this is opening Pandora's box now. I'm glad you asked. I'm glad you asked. It's an important question. I think it's worth framing this in a couple of different ways before diving in. And I think the first thing to say is that I think clearly there was a sustained effort to wipe out plant medicine traditions across the world by colonialist forces. And so, it's not a coincidence that these ancient wisdom traditions have reemerged from places high in the Andes, or deep in the Amazon that was more difficult to reach. The second dynamic that I think is important to share is that they're even within these, you know, indigenous communities, there are very different views on this subject. And there are hundreds, if not 1000s of medicine, traditions, and many, many different ways to practice these medicines. And I think at the moment, you know, most people who are doing this work from the Western world, have apprenticed under indigenous traditions, whether that's in the Amazon, or in the Andes, Central American, central South America. So there, there is kind of a lot of, you know, if we take maybe some of the Gaelic traditions, there's very strong evidence, some of the Viking traditions, you know, very strong evidence, Buddhist traditions, even as well, in terms of plant medicine traditions that have been discovered, you know, evidence that has been discovered, but the understanding on a more fundamental level is missing. And so a lot of you know, these, these people have traveled from around the world, to go spend time with the people who still have the ancient wisdom, to develop their own understanding, and now they're traveling back to their places of origin, and trying to connect back with their own medicines of their lands, and bring those medicine bring back to life, those medicine traditions that have been wiped out during the witch trials, or, you know, whatever local version of that took place, across the globe. And so, you know, I think it is sensitive, it's a this is a super sensitive subject, and you will meet as many opinions as possible and judgments, and probably more than there are people that are working in this in this ecosystem. But I think, you know, I don't think there's a right way and a wrong way, quote, unquote, in relation to how this work is performed. I think I believe in evolution in the evolution of consciousness, and that the things that work well will continue to come to the fore, and the things that are not as beneficial to mankind will continue to kind of reduction in their prevalence, I suppose. And I think the other dynamic to recognize is that there are people who have moved out of their own indigenous tribes in order to participate in this market, if you may describe it as such, and there are those who have chosen to stay with their tribes, and to continue to contribute first and foremost, and predominantly, to their own communities. And so, there's, there's, you know, to oversimplify, there's those who have stayed with there are communities, there's those who have, you know, indigenous peoples who have decided to, perhaps, you know, leave their communities and, or serve medicine outside of their community context, or even traveled the world in order to facilitate medicine experiences. And then there are those who are, you know, from the West and are trying to pick up their skills and develop their skills. And so you'll find that there are very many different ways of facilitating medicine, and pros and cons that exist across the vast variety of experiences, you know, immersed with local tribes, traveling with the kind of traveling shamans, if you may describe them as such, or in a more contemporary setting, that may or may not have a grounding within a particular tradition, you know, whether that's from the Amazon or the Andes. So, I don't know if that even begins to answer your question. But a few of the ways I like to think about it.  


James Laughlin 1:13:37 

Yeah, it's really helpful. Because it's such a, it's such a new realm for me, and I'm just trying to think you know, where it started. And I feel it's really interesting. And it makes sense what you just said, it really does. So, let's get down to your brand as well and talk about what it is you do. And so, Behold Retreats, and where are you guys based? 




Jonathan de Potter 1:13:57 

So, we've got a global team, most of our retreats take place in Costa Rica, Mexico, the Netherlands, and Portugal. And we'll be reopening in Peru shortly. So, we've got, you know, a global team in terms of a management team. And then obviously, we have individual facilitators, practitioners, shamans, healers, within each of those, each of those locations. 


James Laughlin 1:14:20 

Brilliant. And for someone to become part of your team say on the spiritual the shamanic side. How do they pass your like tasks, though? How do they meet your standards of what experience you want to give your client? 


Jonathan de Potter 1:14:35 

Yeah, it's a great question. So, there's kind of theirs the rational response and then there's the spiritual response. So, from a rational perspective, there's simply no replacement for experience, right? We really want to be working with people with a decade-plus preferably decades of experience in terms of facilitating and guiding medicine work because there's just there's no replacement for that. You know, one of our facilitators in Costa Rica, he's been doing this work for 30 years, and he, you know, knock on wood, he's never had something go wrong with any of his clients. And I think a large part of that is because he's seen it all at this point. So, he instinctively and intuitively knows if this, if this person is going to have a really bad experience, he's able to tap into that even ahead of the head of the experience itself. And so that's, you know, a large part of what we're looking for, we're looking for, you know, how long have they been doing this work? How seriously did they take safety screening, even before we turn up? So, we've kind of standardized one of the things that we think we bring to the table is high quality, safety screening, and standardization of that safety screening, because a lot of these individual retreat centers, you know, they're really heartfelt people. But this is a bit of a wild west in relation to how this work is being done. So, anyone can do whatever it is that they want to do. So, they don't want to do a safety screening. They don't have to, right. And so, there's no, there's no standardization as such. And actually, one of our therapists, as she was developing our protocols, she actually identified that most of the retreat centers had two made-up medicines on their, on their country indicated medicine list. So, someone had clearly just made up two individual medicines and stuck them on their own safety screening. And somehow that had propagated out across all the other medicine retreat centers because she says these, she had checked all of you know, Harvard's literature, etc., etc. She's super well connected. And she was like, these medicines don't exist, the only two places these medicines exist is in an Ayahuasca retreat safety screening. I thought that was hilarious. And it's understandable, right? These are, these are kind of mom-and-pop retreat centers that are doing the work from the heart, and they don't have the time and the energy to keep up with the latest list of contraindicated medicines with Ayahuasca, right. So, there's there certainly a requirement there to keep a high quality of safe screening. So that's something else that we look for before we came along, you know, what were they doing in terms of safety in terms of protocols, all of those sorts of things, their philosophy of the work is also important, you know, whether or not they, yeah, whether or not they're doing the work through to a high standard, ultimately, and so we have a pretty structured approach in terms of what we're looking for in relation to that. And then the spiritual aspect is the level of consciousness. So um, you know, what is the level of consciousness that the practitioner themselves have reached. And so, we're blessed to have, you know, very in tune spiritual people that are able to tap into the energetic field of others and, and to see where they're at. And that's not something that I can do, but I'm very happy to know that that's a tool that is available, because as we spoke about before, ultimately, what's taking place is that harmonization, and so the higher the level of consciousness, you know, a practitioner has reached, the more likely the more quickly that someone is going to raise over the, say, the course of a seven day or 10-day retreat while they're there on location. 


James Laughlin 1:18:03 

Brilliant. And if you think of some of your clients that have come through, do you have a client in mind where you're like, hey, this is a pretty cool experience that they had, this is an example of a case study, you could say they came, they were from this background they went through, and this is what they come out and realize at the end. 


Jonathan de Potter 1:18:20 

Yeah, two that immediately come to mind. The first is the cybersecurity IT tech CEO. And, you know, the message I got back from him once he was back from the retreat is, this has been more amazing than I ever could have possibly imagined. I've cleared 50 years’ worth of shit in 10 days. Wow. It's just like, I was like, oh, you know, you know, often. We spoke about this a little bit before, you know, often people who are the most successful are the most traumatized. And, you know, in Malcolm Gladwell, his book, we talked about this quickly, you know, in outliers, he talks about how people who make it to the NHL will bear within a three-month window, because they were just more physically developed at age five when they started playing hockey relative to the people who were four and a half or four. And so that that belief in themselves that was so firmly established at age five has just propagated over time. And I believe this to also be true in relation to people who are seeking success or seeking power. You know, the people who if you think about what's sitting behind someone who wants to have power over others, it's not necessarily such a pretty thing. Like, why would you want to have power over someone else? Like I look at that now I'm like, well, that's kind of weird energy. And so, we're being led, I think, collectively, we're being led by the people who've been most traumatized. The people who are most disconnected from themselves and so as a result of that, need external validation because it's not felt to be its there's the harmony within is missing. And so, they're looking for the external signals in order to be made to feel whole to be made to feel good enough. And that's, that's, that's an endless hamster wheel. You cannot win that game. I don't think, you know, when Elon Musk has he you know, Empire on Mars, I don't think he'll be happy. I think he'll be looking for the next thing. 


James Laughlin 1:20:12 

Yeah. Never-ending, right.  


Jonathan de Potter 1:20:15 

Yeah, so that's, that's the first story. The second one that came to mind is the senior director from one of the big tech company platforms that we all know and love and spend too much time sometimes desk rolling on rare occasions, and, and, you know, pretty spiritual guy, you know, strong meditation practice. And he went on retreat, and just had ceremony after a ceremony was just the most profound experience. And so, we spent hours on the phone, afterward, just talking about the nature of the universe and consciousness, and he had gone so incredibly far, just in one week, I was blown away how far he had been able to go. And that was because he had, I think, a foundation in meditation. 

And, you know, he was, you know, your typical actor, your kind of typical Indian success story, you know, immigrated into the US, as part of a consulting firm, you know, rose up the ranks of the ladder in the consulting firm, and then was invited across into the tech company at quite a high level. And, you know, had really just an amazing, incredible success story. And then now, he was just fascinated by consciousness and spirituality, and just dedicating much more of his time and energy. And he was just in the midst of a transition, from a US role to a global role. So it's beautiful and exciting to know that we're, you know, we're getting to those types of people, and then they're going back into these environments that are high stress, you know, maybe reflecting honestly, a lower level of consciousness at times, and being able to bring that energy into these environments into these platforms, because it's not like, you know, people say, Oh, you got to unplug from the Matrix, man. It's like, No, we're all in this together. Like, we all want to evolve this beautifully together in a way that's going to be to everyone's benefit, not just, you know, for the few. 


James Laughlin 1:21:58 

That's so powerful. And I feel it that's so important that you brought that to the table because I feel like you know, a lot of leaders in the corporate and even in the sporting world, they kind of push back on this stuff they push back on, that's all-crazy stuff. Like the science doesn't back it up that’s too scary. I don't know. But when you hear of people who are truly leading at a global level in their tech, for example, tech company, and they're opening up to it, and they're getting great results. To me, that's like they're leading the way for everyone else to consider it as something we should put on our agenda. 


Jonathan de Potter 1:22:34 

Yeah, it is, you know, it's funny, because that's, that's exactly it. And we get sometimes get the odd you know, 20-page email from someone judging us for targeting leaders? Because it's like, oh, well, you're just targeting them because they pay money. You know, it's like, well, actually, no, that's not it. The motivation is exactly what you said, you know, the leaders represent a point of leverage, just as coaches do, just as plant medicine does, right. So, people who are in leadership positions have an incredible opportunity to influence the world, coaches have an incredible opportunity to influence leaders in their influence in the world. And medicine is connecting us to our inherent divinity, it's removing all the nonsense out of the way. So that we can see for ourselves for what we truly are and rise above what can often feel like just overwhelming complexity and chaos and recognize divine order is at play here. And that we can all just, you know, take a little bit of a step back a deep breath, smile, and live with a little bit more love, peace, and joy. As you know, the evolution of consciousness continues to unfold. 


James Laughlin 1:23:39 

That's so important. Leaders need to hear that and the leaders that are listening to this right now, I want you to think about that, you know, you as a leader, have such an opportunity to inspire people to lead people to influence the future for your communities, for you for your companies. And this is an opportunity that, to me, is truly an opportunity for them to explore a whole other side of their life, and of consciousness itself. So, it's, I can think of some of my clients already, I'm like, well, this is an interesting topic, they're going to be forwarded this episode, and I'm going to encourage them to listen to it. Because I think there are a few that can really benefit from considering plant medicine. 


Jonathan de Potter 1:24:16 

You know, and there's, there's two other dynamics that I think that relate to what you've just said, which is the midlife crisis, which is you know, it's a thing. And that's often the point in time in which we need to rebase line we need meaning, right? It's often it's the trauma that's coming back up to the surface that requires resolution and sometimes it's the point in time in which people take up, you know, cycling 200 kilometers a day and step into four different new board positions and really become manic in there, in their attempt to suppress the emotions that are rising to the surface. And the other aspect which I think is a helpful thought exercise. And you know that that Article I think we talked about this before the Top Five Regrets of the Dying, you know, what is it when people get to the end of their life? What is it they really what is it, they wish they did differently, and it's the same messages over and over again and I go back to the article, I must go back to it every quarter or something like that because there's always something new for us to see there? And it's the same thing. You know, it's, I wish I was true to myself. I wish I didn't work so hard. I wish I was able to feel my feelings and express my emotions. And I wish I didn't lose touch with my friends. And I think most leaders, they read that, and they go, oh, man, there's, there's something here for me. Because often we're just so focused on, you know, looking down the tunnel, and all the responsibility that those leaders have, and to be able to anchor back to that and say, hey, let's make sure that I'm not on a path here, that is going to lead me to have these regrets towards the end of my life, because that would be sad. 


James Laughlin 1:25:52 

100%. And so many corporates who are in their 60s and 70s, do have those regrets. And that book for anyone that's listening. The book is The Top Five Regrets of the Dying by the author is Bronnie Ware. She's an amazing author. It's a fantastic book. And, you know, for us to know what the top Regrets of the Dying are that, to me, that's valuable wisdom right there. Because we're all going to be there at one point. And be nice to know how we could shape our decisions today. So that we live with the last regret. 


Jonathan de Potter 1:26:23 

100% 100% And it's, you know, it's, it's an evolution that I think just keeps on giving right as we further attune to the things that bring us joy. That you know, I think it's Joseph Murphy, Joseph Campbell perhaps he's got follow your bliss is kind of his tagline. I think there's such beauty and, and power in that. Because, you know, there are things that bring us energy in this life, and there are things that drain our energy. And those things are different for each and every one of us. And so, the more that we tune into those things that truly bring us energy and bring us bliss, are the things that are going to be the thing that leads to the biggest contribution in life. And so, it doesn't have to be this struggle and toil where you know, you hit the snooze button on your alarm a couple of times before you drag yourself into the next corporate meeting. But just following the bliss, it's not to say that it has to be a revolution, right, you're going to go to the jungle, and you know, have some profound experience. And now you need to quit everything. I don't think that's what it's about. I think it's about bringing those lessons, embodying them, and then further attuning yourself, and that could be, you know, back at Goldman Sachs and, and bringing the evolution of consciousness back into that environment. Or it could be, you know, deciding that actually, there are other things in your life, they bring you greater bliss, and there's no, there's no right or wrong. I think clients often come what is this going to do to me is this, you know because I've got a pretty good life. So, is this going to shake me up? And I always say, hey, we don't know what's coming for you. But we know that. If you're feeling ready, and you're feeling called, and you've got a really deeply held why for exploring this space, then let's do it. 


James Laughlin 1:28:05 

That's brilliant. Yeah, there are no expectations going in. It's fantastic. So, let's talk about going. And so, for anybody that's listening, where can they start their journey with you? 


Jonathan de Potter 1:28:16 

Yeah, so we do things a little bit differently. So, our experiences, our transformations, or retreats are by invitation only. So, there's no book now button on our website, you got to come through and speak to one of our team. So, if anyone who's listening would like to have a chat and see whether we're a good fit, they can come to our website on behold-retreats.com and hit the apply button, you know, you can check out a few of the retreats in the private experiences that we do. That's another thing I should mention is, for me personally, after three and a half years of attending all these five-star group retreats, I made 90% more progress 100% more progress. In a private retreat, where two healers were looking only after me. So, most people, you know, they start in the group experience is a kind of safety and numbers thing going on. And you're like, well, I'll just, you know, start with something that's a bit more economic. But for those people who are, I would say a little bit more discerning and recognize the power of these experiences, I would recommend always going private. But again, there's no right and wrong here. It's just, you know, individual preference. So that's where you can find us for those people that this resonates with that. Let's have a chat. 


James Laughlin 1:29:21 

That's brilliant. And are you on Instagram as well? 


Jonathan de Potter 1:29:24 

Yes, @behold_retreats, not as active there at the moment as we probably should be. But finding that like at the moment, we're just we're doing pretty well in terms of attracting the right clientele so blessed in that regard. 


James Laughlin 1:29:38 

That's great. And referrals are obviously always the best things when people have a good experience there. And they're telling their friends, it's great. You don't have to be pumping out the marketing. 


Jonathan de Potter 1:29:47 

Yeah, I got a question for you, James. So, what do you think would need to be true for you to explore something like this? 


James Laughlin 1:29:54 

You know what I've been thinking about it more and more and I think they are looking at plant medicine as something that does interest me. I think if you had to talk to me a year ago or longer, I would have been a definite nope, not doing it, not risking it. That's dangerous. I can't do that. I've got too much to lose. But actually, the more I explore spirituality, the more all my coaching journey when I'm coaching clients, part of my I feel my personal obligation is to discover different insights about life and spirituality, and of course, leadership, and impart as much as I can with them. So yeah, there's definitely an interest and inkling for me to start looking at plant medicine. And, yeah, it's not a definite no, anymore. 


Jonathan de Potter 1:30:41 

Very interesting. Very interesting. Yeah. And I think I think there's a lot of people like yourself, who are, you know, dedicated to the path of personal development. And, you know, I could not have, like, you, I could not have envisaged myself embarking on such a journey five years ago, to be perfectly honest. But it's, you know, I think as there's more science, as there's more evidence, as we understand more, you know, it's, um, you know, in speaking to some of the psychedelic scientists, it's been interesting to hear them, I will say, they're still taking a deterministic approach to what is nondeterministic work. So, they're hoping that you know, if you take one depression, you know, one person with depression, you take 20 of those, you apply x amount of y medicine, and sit with them, you know, with doing therapy sessions before two after that, you're going to get Z result. And this, this work doesn't work that way. Like it's energetic work, and it's so deep. And so, I think there's a lot to be gained by bringing together the ancient wisdom traditions, the energetic work, and the Western scientific understanding where, you know, more than mental and the emotional and the therapeutic work. And so, it's nice to see, those begin to converge. And I think we're at a super exciting juncture, because as more and more of the science comes out, then we're going to be able to get better at triangulating what actually works versus what doesn't. And some great science that came out recently from I think it was 2700 Ayahuasca ceremonies. And what it showed is, number one, these medicines help us improve our joy for life. Amazing, fantastic. Number two, they help us deepen our spirituality. But number three, and this is the piece that's overlooked, they do not remove feelings of negativity and toxicity. So that's our self-determination in the evolution of consciousness, this is not a silver bullet, you still got to do the work, you can't heal what you won't feel. And so we all got to get down there and deep will deal with that deep dark stuff to be able to reach those higher states. And, and that's where we need help too, to help us see that stuff. And to help us release that stuff. 



James Laughlin 1:32:44 

100%, that makes total sense. And Jonathan, I've got one last question as they ask you. So, if you had a child, or even if you're talking to a younger version of yourself, you're talking to like a nine- or 10-year-old version of yourself? What advice would you give that person to lead a life of purpose? 


Jonathan de Potter 1:33:06 

There are two things that immediately come to mind. The first would be to give primacy to the inner world, rather than the outer world. You know, we have all these senses. We've got this amazing, beautiful world around us food, family, friends, relationships, all these things that lend us to give primacy to the outer world. And so, I think, number one would be giving primacy to the inner world as the opportunity to harmonize mind, body, heart, and spirit, and then manifest things in the outer world as a reflection of what's going on in our inner world. I truly believe that we attract what we are not what we want. So, it's fine. It's beautiful to want things. But then as we want something, we then need to we need to embody the character that can attract that thing. You know, I think, Jim Rohn, I think has that beautiful quote, you know, make a million dollars, not for the million dollars, but who you need to become in order to make the million dollars. And I think that's, that's so beautiful. So that's the first thing that is giving primacy to the inner world. The second thing that I would say is I'm going to steal from Campbell, and say, just follow your bliss. And so, the things that give you energy, the things that give you strength, are going to be the areas where you will be able to contribute so much more than anyone else on the planet. And that is unique to you. So don't be shy to follow that because that's going to be what brings you passion, what brings you purpose, what brings you abundance and I think just like we're all here for a particular reason, there's abundance tied to that for each and every one of us. 


James Laughlin 1:34:46 

That's incredible. You guys heard it here. First, follow your bliss, what a great reminder and it's such a beautiful concept. I love it. Jonathan, I just want to say a heartfelt thank you for taking the time to share this light on this amazing sight of consciousness, and the work that you do is truly incredible. So, I want to say thank you for what you do for the people that get the opportunity to come and work with you and with all of your staff. So, hey, in the near future, I may be venturing over there and connecting with you, who knows. 


Jonathan de Potter 1:35:16 

Beautiful. Well, thank you so much, James. You've asked great questions. I've really enjoyed our conversation. So, thank you and aloha. 


James Laughlin 1:35:22 

Mahalo, thank you so much. 


James Laughlin 1:35:43 

Thanks for tuning in today and investing in your own personal leadership. Please hit that subscribe button. And I'd love it if you leave me a rating and review. I've got some amazing guests lined up for you in the coming weeks. And leaders. It's not time to get out there to lead your life on purpose.