My Journey of Personal Growth and Spiritual Ascension

Daniel Hannah
15 min readDec 9, 2023

It’s not easy to sum up a lifetime worth of growth into a single article, but here I want to share my story that’s riddled with profound lessons, incredible adventures, and unfathomable challenges.

It has not been an easy road, but my life is unrecognizable to what it once was. From my beliefs, perceptions, understandings, vibration, to how I communicate with people and interact with the world around me.

But it really sneaks up on you. You don’t realize how deep you go into the personal growth journey because you’re so committed to it. It’s not until you look back and gain some perspective, that you realize reality is a very different place.

There’s so much beauty. So much mystery. And there’s always another layer to peel off. So many that the search for deeper meaning eventually loses all meaning.

But regardless, the journey only becomes more profound.

Spiritual awakening is born from pain

Me as a young lad, 2013

During my adolescence, I was a miserable kid. I had some major issues learning which resultantly led to depression.

I always felt alone. I had no social skills, so friends were few and far between, and mostly, I just had no idea what was going on.

After the years ticked by and I struggled to learn the basics, it became more apparent that there was an issue.

This feeling of separation kept growing. I was consumed by this darkness and the worst part is that I had no idea what to do. I felt truly helpless.

My spiritual awakening

First time leaving the country to travel solo, 2016

During my late teens, I made an ultimatum. Either I find a way out of this pit, or I’m going to leave this planet. In an attempt to figure out what was going on, this led me to a couple game changers.

1: I discovered the concept of personal development, and realized that all this stuff could be learned.

2: I started experimenting with psychedelics, which really challenged my depression and help me perceive my reality in a different way.

I remember the ‘Ah ha!’ moment when I first discovered personal development. It just made so much sense. It was a light I had been looking for.

I thought, wait, I don’t always have to be like this? I can change? I can become cool? I can become the person necessary to have a good dating life, to become more intelligent, and to live the life I actually want?

This opened up a world of possibility for me.

Over the following years, I would work hard on myself, starting with my social skills. Inevitably, this led to learning other things, and suddenly I was in a love affair with personal development.

During these years I was also taking psychedelics a lot by myself with the intention of learning. I continued going deeper and deeper into these experiences until one experience broke the roof.

I experienced a kundalini awakening, fell unconscious after believing I was having a heart attack (absolutely the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced), and an hour or two later I was reborn in the truest sense of the word.

I won’t go into detail about the experience here, but I’ll link an article about that experience below if you want to have a read:

The Rebirth

Suddenly I was a different person. I remembered the old me, but he was well and truly gone. It was like my consciousness had been blown open, and suddenly everything made sense.

What was more interesting is that hours ago I was an atheist, but waking up I had no doubt in my mind that there’s so much more than what meets the eye.

That experience erased my trauma, my struggles, and all I felt was unconditional love for a couple weeks following the experience.

You need to assess your highest values

In Florianopolis, Brazil with my exchange semester friends, 2016

Most people go a similar direction in life. They finish school, go to college or the workforce, develop and invest in their skills to grow financially, make more money, get a nice house, find a nice partner, and develop roots in society.

And that can be great!

There’s a lot of value in having your own spot in the world, having community, having certainty of when the next check comes in.

It’s secure. It’s comfortable. And there’s so much love and joy in raising a family, connecting more deeply with the community, having a dog, growing roots.

I understand why people go down that route. But I couldn’t see myself doing it anymore.

A new chapter of my life had begun, and it was one of exploration, celebration for life.

I wanted to continue expanding myself in the quickest way possible. I wanted to explore what the world had to offer.

So I started by moving to Brazil.

I had saved up some money while living with my parents, working, and studying at university. I was 23 at the time, and had an opportunity to do an exchange program in Brazil towards the end of my degree.

First time leaving the country by myself, getting a 1-way ticket to a country where I know nothing about the culture, or language.

I was nervous, but the excitement outweighed it.

I spent 5 months studying in Curitiba and traveling throughout Brazil, then another 7 months backpacking Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina.

During this time, I dabbled with shamanic culture, doing Ayahuasca and San Pedro ceremonies deep in the Amazon, and high in the Andes. You can learn more about this medicine in this link.

I started to experience so much more than I ever thought I would. The divine healing. Powerful energies, interdimensional entities.

I once never believed in this stuff. But my experiences kept showing me that there’s SO much out there that we don’t understand.

I’m not saying it was all sunshine and rainbows. It was definitely difficult, it still is sometimes. I’m human, I still have my tough spots. But that’s the thing, they’re just spots.

I have learned how to tackle them head on, heal them when they arise, and keep my emotional body clean — to continue living the life that I find fulfilling.

My journey of healing led me to explore my reality

At Cape Schank, Victoria, Australia, 2017

Upon arriving back in Australia a year after departure, it was great to reconnect with family and friends.

I got a job bartending while I completed my last semester of university. Life was more or less the same as before I left, but I had a new appreciation for life.

I just went through all these crazy experiences, but it’s like time had stopped for the people back home. I felt I couldn’t really connect with anyone anymore. I had gone through so much, learned so much, and was filled with inspiration, but there was a general disconnect from the people around me.

There was an eerie sense of alienation, which led me to continue traveling. But money was scarce, so I decided to do a TESOL course in Vietnam, and find a job as an English teacher.

I spent about two and a half years in Vietnam, traveling around the country, living in 4 cities, and visiting neighboring countries.

Sure, there were hardships. But when I look back on it, I only remember the good times, and how happy that experience made me.

Living a nomadic life isn’t easy, but as with anything, you get better at it. The hardship got easier to endure, while the good life came through more regularly.

By learning to heal from my experiences and work with them to create a new perception of myself and my reality, my life was mostly filled with joy.

And at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.

Sometimes you just need to change it up

At the airport in Melbourne, Australia leaving to Vietnam, 2018

Don’t be afraid to embrace change. If you never change up your life situation, you’re not going to explore different possibilities which can improve your life.

I know it’s difficult, especially when you get in routine. There is uncertainty, there is fear.

But it’s so worth it — jumping into the deep end and exploring new things. It fills you with a sense of adventure because you’re pushing yourself and constantly doing something new with your life. You’re making it interesting, more eventful, and that brings a lot of satisfaction.

Remember, every struggle only builds you a little more. If you make healing a priority and you’re constantly working on yourself, there’s no saying how good it can get.

Cultivate a mindset that you’re always growing

Walking along Da Nang Beach, Vietnam, 2021

In Vietnam, I was living a good life. I was living on the beachside in Da Nang with my girlfriend of a year and a half at the time. But I was so curious about plant medicines that I wanted to head back to Latin America to learn more about it.

As Vietnam started to lock down heavily due to the pandemic, where I lost my job due to the company closing, I decided it was time to move on with my life.

There came a difficult decision to leave my beautiful girlfriend. This world of shamanic healing consumed me, and I knew it was a journey I had to embark on alone.

Keep your eyes open for opportunities for growth

If you’re always looking for opportunities of growth and self-expansion, this drive will outweigh the pain that is part of your journey of levelling up.

The way that I’ve learnt to go through some heavy shit and come out the other side is by embracing it. That’s why the growth mentality is so important.

Acknowledge that you will struggle, it’s a natural part of growing, and sometimes it will be really tough.

But as long as you value growth so highly that you believe it’s worth going through the lows to learn, the lows becomes a whole lot easier to deal with.

There is so much beauty in growth, that it should really be the focal point of your life. How you navigate your life with that knowledge is really up to you, but the desire needs to be there.

The next step of the adventure

In Hobbitenang, Guatemala, October 2021

I flew to Mexico city.

I was feeling sad having left my girlfriend at the time. I had anticipated this for a while now, but it didn’t numb the sting any less.

Had I made a bad decision?

Had I just given up something good that I shouldn’t have?

Is this whole following my calling thing a mistake?

I didn’t know.

I continued having great adventures and experiences, they never stopped really, but there was also a lot of time alone.

A lot of time to really stare deeply into my shadow, because for the most part, I was alone.

No matter how connected you are, yourself is always there.

Sometimes it will feel like you’re regressing, but that’s perfectly normal. We go up, we go down. We have painful lessons, things will hurt us.

But we also hold onto so much that we don’t need to. We let our shadows define us without acknowledging that they’re actually here to serve.

Make shadow work a lifestyle, not an act

Shadow work and healing should be a pillar of your lifestyle, not just an act when you’re feeling low. You need to create a good relationship with your shadows to live a healthy, integrated life.

You need to face the things that hurt you. The trauma from your childhood. The lack of abundance in your life. The feelings of isolation, meaninglessness, the heartbreak.

Every time this pain comes, see it as another lesson. You will get through to the other side, and it will be temporary.

So have that faith.

Do the work, and you will keep leveling up.

Just make sure you’re present with those painful moments, listen to that inner voice, and put it into practice.

Follow the path that feels right for you, and don’t give up!

At Tropicana hostel, Antigua, Guatemala, December 2021

I spent the next 8 months backpacking and volunteering in hostels in Mexico and Guatemala.

Pursuing my passion and interest in both traveling and exploring shamanic traditions, I had lined up a volunteering position at an ayahuasca center in Ecuador.

Volunteering in this sacred space is something that had been on my mind for a long time, to not only deepen my knowledge of these wise teacher plants, but to give back too.

When I was in Guatemala and accepted the opportunity in Ecuador, the country made entry near impossible for me due to the vaccine mandates they were implementing due to the pandemic.

So I assessed my options, and got a job at a yacht club in the British Virgin Islands. Sounds pretty cool right? nope! Vaccine mandates. Couldn’t get in.

Then I turned to the United States. I didn’t really want to go there, but seeing I have a duel citizenship, and my US passport was about a week away from expiration, this was probably the sensible decision.

I booked a flight to Austin, Texas with a plan to find some work, save some money over a year or so, then head to Ecuador when things open up again.

I saw it as a detour, another unexpected leg of my journey.

It was daunting. I only had a couple thousand in savings, and I was moving to a developed country again, with no plans for accommodation, no network, and I’m not traveling. I had to find work straight away, as the cost of living was not cheap at all.

I started off couch surfing, and someone lent me a couch for a couple weeks until I found a job and place to live.

It did get stressful as money was going quickly, and there was no closure knowing that things would work out.

So I went to as many restaurants and bars as I could, but for the first couple weeks, I didn’t have any success getting a job. I was running very low on cash, and low on hope.

To diffuse my stress, I created a backup plan. I still had a few months on my Australian passport. I would head back to Mexico city and work out what to do from there if I didn’t get something within the next few days — considering the cost of living is much cheaper, which buys me time to figure out a plan and start making an income again.

After accepting the reality of the situation, both a job and an offer to live in a shared house came through right at about the same time, and I found myself in a new lifestyle working at bars and restaurants for the next year.

Surrender to life when things don’t go to plan

Sitting at home in Austin, TX, March 2022

Things don’t always go to plan.

When we try to have too much control over our lives, we’re usually taught a stark lesson that there are powers out there that are so much stronger than us.

If you try to fight them, you end up exhausting yourself.

We naturally resist things when they go wrong. The dysfunction builds, and we start getting so stressed because it’s so hard to let go and accept your life situation for what it is.

But it can be hard to give up that sense of control, your ego latches to that identity. You want thing to go a certain way, but then sometimes you feel more unaligned then ever.

Life doesn’t take you where you want to go. It takes you where you need to go, to learn what you need to learn.

And the quickest way through that pain is to surrender to it, feel it, and experience it.

Sometimes the journey of growth makes us feel like we’re off track, even though we’re really not. All in its divine timing.

You are exactly where you need to be

Fredricksberg, Texas, US, June 2022

There were many rough spots during my time in the US. This was mostly because I didn’t have a vehicle or license, no valid passports, and not much at all really.

It was hard to get around without a vehicle, and it became pretty draining commuting all day, working full time in a bar, working on my side projects, networking and fitting in a social life.

Back in routine, I wasn’t thriving. I was barely saving enough to sustain myself. I was burnt out, and having issues getting ID — which adds a whole other level of complication to things.

I felt stuck, back in the grind, gridlocked moving forward.

So I said, what can I do in my situation that will break me out of this struggle?

That’s when I started looking outwards, going to entrepreneurship networking events, connecting with the spiritual community, and trying new things.

That’s where I dated a successful entrepreneur for a while, and had some very spiritually talented friends who were staples for me — also going through a similar journey of healing.

It was then, that I realized I was exactly where I needed to be.

I didn’t anticipate coming here, but I believe it was for a reason: Which was to connect with the people I did, and experience that lifestyle of working in a unfulfilling career path, making enough to live day by day, to revolve life around work — to learn that I have outgrown it.

Back on track

Gaia Sagrada Shamanic Healing Center, Ecuador, January 2023

Eventually the stars aligned, my passport was renewed, and I just had enough money to head over to Ecuador to start this volunteering position.

As soon as I got there, life transformed dramatically. It was everything I had hoped for, and so much more.

After a few months, I was offered a full time position where I got paid to live at the manage the shamanic healing center, help the gusts, and assist the shamans in ceremonies.

I participated in many ceremonies, and my learning curve was steep.

During the six months that I was there, I built some deep friendships with the shamans.

I was also dating a beautiful Shuar woman (from a tribe in the amazon), and felt more connected to my purpose than ever, and learnt so much about life in the Amazon.

But there came a time that me visa was about to expire. Due to the way things work in Ecuador, I had to be outside the country for 6 months before I was allowed back in as a tourist again.

I didn’t have enough money to apply for a two year visa, so I decided it was the right time to go back to Australia.

It had been 5 years since I had been home. 5 years since I had seen any family or friends. It was time.

The voyage back home

Towerhill, VIC, Australia, September 2023

So I constructed a plan. Head back to Australia. Work for 6 months to make some money while also working on my business, and return to Ecuador to continue on with my job.

I had some beautiful moments with the founder of the community and the shamans. We agreed that I would come back to continue my work at the shamanic healing center in about 6 months.

A shaman who I became very close with told me that when I return, he could help me extend my visa and buy land. I will be doing my first vision quest upon returning, which is the start of the Red Road: The training to hold medicine ceremonies.

Mid August 2023, I arrived back in Australia. It was a beautiful moment seeing everyone again. Everyone’s lives have moved on. Things have changed. Things felt different.

But it didn’t take me long to get back into the swing of things.

Currently I’m about half way through my time in Australia. I’m just working as a barista and taking some clients on the side. I spend a lot of time writing, and I’m certainly still integrating all the experiences I’ve had over these years.

But I’m ready to return to Latin America. I’m ready to continue my path. My life has been a journey, but I couldn’t be more proud of what it has become.