a ceo in the jungle

one man’s crusade to heal

Our story begins in the same place where traditional healer Dr. Todd Pesek’s companies began: deep in the rainforest. As he lay in the dark beneath the canopy of the forest, ideas began to take shape. “I used to get up at night to fill my water bottle in the river. The moonlight kind of comes through the rainforest canopy and brings these light patterns to the forest floor that you don’t really see during the day,” he explains.

“So I would sit there in the dark and look at these patterns, and think to myself, ”˜A Mayan man must have sat here, just like this, looking at these same splashes of light many years ago.’ I thought of how we are connected, to each other and to his forest. I began to realize that learning from each other was a necessity. If we are all one, we have a responsibility to each other and to the earth.”

Those first weeks in the forest gave root to the companies that Dr. Pesek now runs from his hometown in Ohio. The first is his green herbal and wellness adventure company, Earth Healers, and the second is its sistercompany, the non-profit Naturaleza, founded to help preserve these natural places and their indigenous cultures.

The goal of the two companies is to bring the message and benefits of healing across the gaps of culture, in order to attain true wellness. “This is done,” he explains, “as we give back to these natural places where we discover how to live in harmony with nature and heal ourselves.” He is adamant about the link between the environment, such as that lush, green rainforest, and the health of the people he treats. “There is no human health without environmental health. As we destroy the environment, we eliminate the balance of true healing.” This is what he is working tirelessly to prevent.

In order to do this, Dr. Pesek calls upon his childhood roots in Appalachian traditional healing. He combines this with his medical degree and the knowledge of traditional healers in the places he has visited in his travels: Belize, Guatemala, Peru, India, Japan and more. “I learn from their worldview. I instantly identified with these healers. We connected right away. I hold them in the highest regard. Their wisdom and knowledge can help shape a sustainable future if people would listen and learn from their traditions.”

As his company provides products and services, Dr. Pesek is able to generate funds to help keep age-old tradition viable in indigenous communities. “Poverty is a disgusting thing. They should not have to choose between it and sustainability, the way they have been able to live for generations.” He is trying to make economic sense of preservation through medicinal plants and the inherent value of sustainable tradition.

Pesek looks more like an explorer than a CEO: dressed in cut off khaki shorts, he is lean and tanned with long hair and a quiet grace. He starts each day outside with a quiet meditation. “It helps me ground myself,” he explains. “I connect with our Earth Mother every morning to remember why I do this…” He trails off and looks around his vast back yard, toward his small organic vegetable patch. “It reminds me that she needs us.”

Dr. Pesek heard these same words several years ago from a person essential to his success, his mentor, the late Moneco Sho. He met Moneco in Belize in 1999, and the two established a father-son relationship as Moneco tried to help him realize this connection with nature.

Pesek grins at the recollection. “Moneco was always smiling. He would point off into the distance with his chin and smile. ”˜You see that?’ he’d say, ”˜You see that? Listen with your being.’ And he would point things out. I used to look for specifics, kind of staring off where he was nodding. But I realized he was talking about everything around us. I honestly used to really wonder what he was talking about…but then, I got it. We were lying in a dried river bed, huge cliffs on each side, next to a cave with a spring flowing inside. It was hot, and we were just lying there looking up at the canopy.

There were howler monkeys jumping in the trees above us; we could hear their ominous roaring…We started talking about healing plants, and he looked at me and said, ”˜So you see…’ and I did. Then he told me, simply, ”˜She needs us.’ I knew then that Earth Healers and Naturaleza were going to become a reality. They had to.

“I just remember that smile,” Dr. Pesek continued. “He was sharing what he knew, what he loved..”

As yogis, we try to “listen with our being” as well. Dr. Pesek explains what this means to him. “You know how you get used to the noises around you? It’s background noise. You tune it out. We have to, it’s a coping mechanism. We are so used to living this way, we can’t listen to our environment. Away from that, your senses unfurl like a flower. Eventually you tune into nature and you can recognize and see. Moneco was asking me to ”˜see that.’”

Dr. Pesek wants us to see that it’s essential to let these messages in. By connecting our health with our spirituality and our environment, we can attain true wellness. “This is about healing. My message is to connect with your world. We are not separate from our environment. Know this and live well.”

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