Down to Earth

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filming Zac Efron at the Mishana communityThe first person I met was Dylan.  He happened to be walking from the center when I arrived.  I recognized him and greeted him.  He was so friendly. It was a beautiful day in the Mishana community, and a film crew was there working on the Netflix series Down to Earth with Zac Efron. I checked in with my staff for a minute, put my things down and headed over to Alicia’s hut for a meeting with the producers. We were going to discuss what would be filmed during the shoot.

I met the producers and the stars, Darin Olien and Zac Efron. Everyone was really cool.  They were all laid back and kind hearted people. Zac sat next to me in the meeting, which was more like a lunch in a jungle hut in the middle of the Amazon rainforest. One of the first things he said to me was to ask if I had a mapacho, which of course I did. I spoke to the producers a bit about the schedule and what I had in mind for activities to film. I needed to explain a few things about our work at the Ayahuasca Foundation and some of the terminology, but once we were on the same page, it flowed naturally. Zac asked if we offered plant dietas at the center. I was surprised he knew about them and proceeded to tell him about Noya Rao. He was genuinely interested.

Darin Olien receives a smoke bath filming Down to Earth at the Ayahuasca FoundationAt one point I suggested to the production team that we could hold an ayahuasca ceremony that night, but they didn’t feel it was what they wanted. So, we settled on giving Zac and Darin vapor baths and smoke baths, which are both powerful treatments. They went off and shot some other footage with Tarek, along with Wagner and Roger from the Mishana community. I hung out with some of the crew and talked a bit more about plant medicine. At some point, several members of the crew were just hanging out in hammocks at our center and I had a chance to talk with Zac for a while.  We talked about the healing process and how ayahuasca empowers our natural healing abilities. I was really impressed with how much he already knew about it. Just like the name of the series implies, he was really down to Earth.

Shooting the scenes at our center went really smoothly, and Darin and I connected very well.  He had a passion for plants and had drank ayahuasca and our energies resonated immediately. Both Zac and Darin were just incredibly easy to get along with. The director was also really cool. Of course, I wish they would’ve stayed at our center for an entire retreat, but it was just a short visit to get the shots and finish the series.  Their visit to our center was one of the last scenes they shot. Something pretty remarkable happened during their visit, though.

One of the shots was Darin and Zac doing smoke baths. I knew it would make for a great shot, but I also know that smoke baths are a great way to cleanse the energetic system and Zac even mentioned that he felt better after the treatments that day.  He knew about working with intention and he actually took the opportunity of receiving the treatments to address aspects of his health he wanted to improve. But Darin had something happening that was truly transformational, because while he was receiving his smoke bath, purifying his energy field through fire and smoke, his home in Malibu was literally burning to the ground. Fires in California were raging at the time of filming, and he knew before heading into the jungle they were headed for his neighborhood, but he didn’t have phone connection out in the jungle, and didn’t find out until he returned to Iquitos that during his visit to our center, during the purification treatment with smoke, his house had burned to ashes.

I reconnected with him later and we talked about that experience in a conversation on his new podcast. It was beyond coincidental, and helped him to view the destruction of everything he owned as a form of purification, a new beginning. He was able to interpret the situation in a positive lights, and he attributed that optimism in part to the help the vapor and smoke baths provided. It was such a great thing to hear. The filming was more than just a demonstration, it was a true healing treatment. I hope that one day Zac and Darin will return to Peru to visit our center again, but without any cameras. It would be a pleasure to see them again and go through a healing process together with them. I wish them and the entire crew blessings of health and happiness. We, at the Ayahuasca Foundation and the MIshana community, are grateful for the opportunity to show a large audience who we are and what we do. It was a super cool experience for us all.


The Ayahuasca Foundation is currently hosting research on the treatment of childhood trauma, depression, anxiety, and chronic pain, as well as a concurrent study on epigenetic changes potentiated by treatment with ayahuasca and plant medicine in its native setting. If you are interested in learning more about this research please visit the research section of the site and if you would like to donate to the funding of this research please visit our donation page.  Thanks!