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Lessons from Peak Experiences

About 10 years ago I paddled my white-water kayak onto a wave at “Steamer Lane” in Santa Cruz, California, on a day when the size of the of the waves at the famed surf spot made the front page of the local newspaper. I didn’t know the waves were huge. I just happened to be paddling up the coast and decided to join the surfers, and by chance and accident, I caught a whopper. “Oh, my god!” I gasped as I my kayak was lifted by power immeasurable, and in the next few seconds I understood why some people devote their lives to catching big waves.Six months ago I inhaled a vaporized form of the neurotransmitter 5-MeO-DMT because a friend of mine said the stuff was appropriately named somadhi (Sanscrit for “enlightenment”). Within seconds my sense of self disappeared, and for about 10 minutes, I experienced infinite bliss and what corresponded to what I have read about enlightenment — and I understood why some people devote their lives to finding that state of being.About 20 years ago, I was on assignment for a travel magazine, drinking my way through the Parisian haunts of Ernest Hemingway, when I ended up at …

About the Author

Stephen Kiesling

Stephen Kiesling is a former Olympic rower, co-creator of the Nike Cross Training System, and editor at large of Spirituality & Health. A 35th anniversary edition of The Shell Game: Reflections on Rowing and the Pursuit of Excellence has just been published.

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