It is with excitement and gratitude that I sit down to write about my experiences at Centro Munay. The center’s special people and setting has contributed enormously to my well-being and personal growth. I just got back a week ago from my third dieta, which was both powerful and challenging, and I am keen to try and explain to you why specifically I appreciate this place so much.
Full disclosure: My wife and I presently work with Munay managing the website and talking to folks who are interested in attending dietas, performing safety background checks, answering their questions, and acting as intermediaries with Don Jose Campos. I hope you will see and feel that my intention is not to benefit financially, but rather to point you to the safest places I know for deep work. My perspective and trust for Munay has been informed by attending three dietas, and discussing the place with hundreds of people before and after their experiences.
Co-founder of TYPM
Centro Munay is located in the Amazon rainforest of Peru, about three hours from the small city of Pucallpa. The way these dietas work is that you fly into Pucallpa, spend a night at Don Jose’s comfortable guest house, and then you go into the jungle together for ten nights, with five ayahuasca ceremonies every second day. You are also served another plant medicine concoction every morning. At the end of the dieta, the group travels back to Pucallpa and spends another night at the guest house, before flying home the next day.
For me there are always nerves and concerns in the days leading up to the dieta, as I consider the things that I want to work on in myself, and the unknown doors that the medicine will open, aware that I will soon be facing challenges, triggers and purging of all kinds. However when I start meeting with my dieta companions in the Lima airport, and we get picked up by Don Jose in Pucallpa, with a big smile on his face, I start to feel really comfortable and at ease.
This feeling of comfort and safety only grows as we arrive to the guest house, and witness the way his staff behave and communicate, with patience and kindness. It’s a really wholesome, kind atmosphere where the integrity and humility is almost palpable. Don Jose’s sister Rosa does the cooking at the guest house, preparing tasty meals, sauces, juices and teas with a big smile on her face. A big tray of fruit is put out for the guests to enjoy.
The tambos are really cozy and comfortable. They contain a bed with a hanging sheet around it, a desk, some basic furniture, a hammock, and the entire structure is covered in mosquito netting, preventing bugs from entering.
In my last dieta, we were a group of twelve people from a half dozen different countries, and it was delightful to begin getting to know each other. As tends to frequently be the case, we left the dieta as lifelong friends.
On the first day in Pucallpa, we visited the local markets in the afternoon, picking up things like Palo Santo, mapachos, agua florida, rattles, hand-stiched Shipibo shirts, and other items that we knew we would enjoy having with us during the dieta. That night, we had a wonderful dinner together, and Don Jose spoke to us about the upcoming experience.
The next morning, we set out early for the three hour drive into the jungle. This was during the month of November, and the weather was a pleasant mix of sun and some bouts of rain. Conversations flowed in the van as we got to know each other and shared about our lives and our intentions for attending the event.
I felt like I was coming home as we arrived to the jungle, and I got settled in my tambo (wooden jungle hut). The tambos are really cozy and comfortable. They contain a bed with a hanging sheet around it, a desk, some basic furniture, a hammock, and the entire structure is covered in mosquito netting, preventing bugs from entering. You are given numerous candles, a lighter, a big jug of filtered water, and a bucket. Every day the staff brings you fresh “Guayusa” leaves, which become soapy when you scrunch them up, and with which you can bathe in the river.
Being immersed in this natural jungle setting creates the conditions where we are able to go very deep with the medicine work.
There are three main ingredients that I think makes the experiences at Munay so special and uniquely powerful. The first one is the setting. All around the jungle is palpating with life. There are mighty trees, ferns, vines, neon frogs, interesting mushrooms, and remarkable bird sounds. At night you hear the powerful hum of crickets, the calling of bullfrogs, and you can see countless fireflies navigating the darkness. You are in the Amazon rainforest, the lungs of the earth, and as the days go by and you begin to relax and decompress from your hectic regular life rhythms, bathing in the river and embracing a simpler more natural lifestyle, you get increasingly comfortable and calm, and you truly feel held by Mother Nature in all her wild beauty. Remarkably, in this part of the lower Amazon, there are almost no mosquitos. Being immersed in this natural jungle setting creates the conditions where we are able to go very deep with the medicine work.
A large maloca, or common area where the ayahuasca ceremonies are held.
The second ingredient that makes the medicine work at Munay so powerful, in my view, is the quality of Don Jose’s ayahuasca brew. Quite simply, it is in a class of its own, stronger, deeper and more powerful than any other medicine that I’ve tried elsewhere (And I’ve tried a lot). After 35 years of brewing medicine, he has learned about his favorite vines and Chacruna to use, and he cooks them in a very concentrated way, weaving together his prayers for healing and world peace, adding also a few leaves of Chaurapanga, which creates an extremely powerful alchemy, that is, in my view, very balanced in terms of feminine and masculine energies. The medicine is so strong that it feels exponential, meaning that drinking just a little bit more can bring you to places twice as deep, so it needs to be approached with caution. Don Jose serves it with great care and is always open and sensitive to the preferences of people; you can generally always have as little or as much as you want. I really appreciate this flexibility and that I am given the opportunity to trust my own intuition.
This brings me to the third, and perhaps the most significant element, of why work at Munay is so powerful. Quite simply, it’s because of the way Don Jose is. When I say “the way he is”, I am referring to the way he conducts his life, both inside and outside of the ceremony. He is an extremely kind, caring, humble and patient person, treating his guests as equals, always greeting you with a big smile. With over 35 years experience, and having traveled all around the world and served medicine to people from all different walks of life and from all different cultures, he has seen and lived so much, and this informs his approach, which is constantly evolving.
One of the interesting and unique things about Don Jose is that he continues to work on himself outside of the world of ayahuasca. He studies, learns new things, consults with scientists, attends workshops and seminars, and considers himself a lifelong student. I think that this is very unique among Peruvian curanderos, especially those in their sixties. He leads all kinds of community projects, and always treats his family, friends, neighbors and guests with kindness and respect.
Each night was different, but for each intention that I had the ceremonies, I felt that I was receiving a specific surgery pertaining to that intention.
Don Jose serves Ayahuasca with great care and is always open and sensitive to the preferences of people; you can generally always have as little or as much as you want.
This true humility and loving energy, reflected in the way he chooses to live his life, is felt in the ceremonies, and makes him a very powerful curandero. The sonorous way that he sings will get every molecule in your body vibrating, and the space is energetically protected by his reverberating integrity, so that super deep healing and purging can take place.
If you ask Don Jose what his favorite thing about ayahuasca is, he will tell you that it’s seeing people re-discover confidence in themselves. And one thing that he does, that I have never seen in any other indigenous curanderos, is that he invites his guests to sing. Even people who have never sung before. He opens up that space, and people frequently try singing for the first time in his ceremonies, and the beauty of what comes out is indescribable. People start to discover the music inside of themselves, locked away for their entire lifetime because of stories like “I am bad at singing”, and this creates a remarkable catharsis of authentic expression, which Don Jose knows to be a key to wellbeing, to be able to express yourself from your heart.
With these three ingredients in place, the Munay dietas are opportunities for extremely deep inner work, and my most recent dieta was no exception. I released a lot of angst from my childhood, and gained a lot of clarity about my relationship with my inner child. As I continue to integrate weeks after the experience, more and more information is being revealed to me about how I can lead my life with greater balance and compassion, trusting myself more deeply, and showing up as a more sensitive partner and father.
Part of me longs to write more details about the wonderful people I met, their healing journeys and the breakthroughs they experienced during my most recent dieta, but somehow I feel these details are better kept confidential. I’ve learned that sometimes it is good to err on the side of privacy when recounting the details of a dieta, holding it like a candle in your hands and protecting the flame with great care, because the process is so profound, vulnerable and intimate.
Don Jose Campos has over 35 years of experience, and have traveled all around the world and served medicine to people from all different walks of life and from all different cultures.
Thank you for reading and I hope that my words communicated to you the depth of my gratitude for Centro Munay and the specific ways that I believe it to be special, so that you can consider if it’s the right choice for you. My wife has a saying “The truth is vibrational,” and I encourage you to follow what most resonates for you, now and always.
You are in the Amazon rainforest, the lungs of the earth, and as the days go by and you begin to relax and decompress from your hectic regular life rhythms, bathing in the river and embracing a simpler more natural lifestyle, you get increasingly comfortable and calm, and you truly feel held by Mother Nature in all her wild beauty.