#21 ep1.2_Calisthenics, Control, Psychedelics_Rico Mesa

#21 ep1.2_Calisthenics, Control, Psychedelics_Rico Mesa

CLICK HERE to listen to Season 1 Episode 2

I just got off the phone with Rico Mesa, the Colombian-born Dutchman and calisthenics pro. He has been competing in international calisthenics competitions since 2016 and combines a regimen of sleep, diet, readings about consciousness and subconsciousness, plants and herbs to get the most out of his body. Rico and I discussed how we might apply calisthenics techniques for controlling the body to the psychedelic mind.

Rico Mesa at a calisthenics competition in The Netherlands.


Our mutual friend Conor recommended that we speak, that we’d have a good chat. And we did. I learned that breathing is such an important factor for controlling the body and the mind. It’s one of those things that you’ve heard before, that meditation and breathing are good for you. You know it, but you don’t practice it. I fall into that camp. I know lots of things are good for me, but do I do them? Not really, at least not all of them. Since one of my primary research interests is in partially or fully controlling the psychedelic experience, it seems that the controlling or rather grounding ability of breathing on the body is extremely important, more important than I had considered before. My ears perk up when someone keeps repeating something, when they say “I don’t know how else to say it” or “what don’t you understand” or whatever. Rico didn’t say these, but he did elevate his voice once or twice when talking about breathing to emphasize its importance on the body, sober mind, and psychedelic-intoxicated mind. 

I got through most of the questions that I wanted to ask Rico. However, there are a few leftover points from my notes. 

Point 1: I had a question that I didn’t use because I thought it would sound too repetitive in light of previous questions I already asked. For example, this one: In calisthenics it seems that you are literally picking up your own body. How can psychedelic users pick up their own mind, or, carry their mind in some way through the altered experience? 

Point 2: I had an interesting impromptu thought during our conversation. If we compare honing the body in natural ways to do extraordinary things, then we could say that meditation and yoga are natural ways to do the same for the mind. No psychedelics needed. He mentioned how one doesn’t use their whole body in a holistic way during weightlifting compared to calisthenics. As well, I thought how some people say that taking psychedelics is like cheating, to enter and peek into altered states of consciousness that take years, if not decades, to achieve with natural means. If calisthenics is the natural way to achieve ultimate body performance, and meditation is the natural way to achieve ultimate mind performance, then, comparatively speaking, one could argue that taking steroids for weight-lifting is the unnatural way to achieve ultimate body performance and altering one’s mind/consciousness with plant or synthetic psychedelics is the unnatural way to achieve ultimate mind performance. You see what I mean? It’s a very good argument to not take psychedelics. I would counter and say that Rico and other calisthenic pros choose which minerals and vitamins to put into their bodies by way of certain foods, and these foods might be hard to come by, expensive, or needing a particular processing. This is similar to putting a plant-based psychedelic in one’s body. 

I agree that one should take care of oneself, cultivate one’s self, as much as possible with as many means as possible prior to ingesting a psychedelic. Such measures prepare the body and mind to handle what that psychedelic occasions. Of course. But I don’t feel the need to dedicate my entire life to practicing natural ways of getting to the same place. In my opinion, such singular dedication is a Catch 22: if one practices a hermit-like lifestyle and isolates oneself from the world, they are not contributing to the world, they prevent themselves from experiencing all that is possible with their human avatar and within this world. Why are psychedelic users looked upon as cheaters when all they want, or rather all I want, is to have the best of both worlds. Additionally, the meditative will likely have no idea what it is like to have the experience of entering these Other Worlds occasioned by psychedelics (note: meditative and psychedelic Other Worlds might be the same world), going from zero to little training in advance and then rocketing forcefully into them. That is something that only the psychedelic user knows about because the meditative wouldn’t dare to attempt such an endeavor. 

I think a compromise is possible between the meditative and the psychedelic user’s practices. There must be, there is always a viable compromise between two opposites. The psychedelic user can learn from the meditative practitioner ways of calming the mind, dietary recommendations for optimal bodily functionality, how to act accordingly with instead of against nature. The meditative practitioner, likewise, can learn from the psychedelic user things such as “set and setting,” how to be in an altered state in public and at parties (note: I’m speaking of recreational/party use; not my preference but still something that can be learned), and how to conceptualize and apply things learned from the altered experience toward one’s daily life in a very embedded and engaging world. The meditative might also be given a low-to-medium dose of a particular psychedelic halfway through his/her training to know what to look for. Sometimes we don’t know what we’re supposed to experience or look for unless it has happened to us, unless we have some inkling for what to keep an eye out. After smoking natural (i.e. from the Sonoran Desert toad, a.k.a. bufo alvarius) 5-MeO-DMT for the first time, my friend, a practicing meditator, said “That is what they [Buddhist meditators] are looking for. It is that.” Of course, such an experience can rattle the meditators, as Leary and his colleagues found out in the 1960s after giving DMT to a Hindu monk. (See for example: Leary, T. [1966]. Programmed Communication During Experiences With DMT. Psychedelic Review, 8.) The monk was unsure about things for a while after the experience. I suppose it’s like getting stung by a bee for the first time; you’re not sure whether you’re allergic unless you’ve been stung. Same applies to psychedelics or other mind-altering experiences; you’re not sure whether you’ll like them or not or whether you’ll get rattled around or not unless you try them. And if you do try them, use caution, do your homework, and incorporate other practices to train your body, mind, embodied mind beforehand. 

Thanks again Rico for the conversation. Grand rising!



For more information and how to find Rico Mesa: 

LinkedIn: Rico Mesa

Instagram: @barmesa_enki: search for #barmesainstitution, #barmesainstitutions, or #barmesainstitute


Bar Mesa Institutions.
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