A more "gentle" and "compassionate" Aaron Rodgers has opened up about his healing journey on ayahuasca during the offseason as he gets set for his 18th NFL season.
The Green Bay Packers star quarterback and reigning NFL Most Valuable Player spoke to Peter King of NBC Sports for his column on Monday about how taking hallucinogen on two separate trips to Peru has changed his life.
"I came in with an intention of doing a lot of healing of other relationships and bringing in certain people to have conversations with," he said about his trip earlier this year.
"Most of the work was around myself and figuring out what unconditional love of myself looks like of myself. In doing that, allowing me to understand how to unconditionally love other people but first realizing it’s gotta start with myself. I’ve got to be a little more gentle with myself and compassionate and forgiving because I’ve had some negative voices, negative self-talk, for a long time. A lot of healing went on."
Rodgers, 38, said a longtime friend told him about his own ayahuasca journey in 2019, prompting Rodgers to take a three-day trip to Peru in 2020 to ingest the psychoactive brew usually prepared in a tea. He then returned with a different group of people earlier this year and said he experienced a change in himself.
"The most important way was really that self-love part," he said. "I think it’s unlocked a lot of my heart. Being able to fully give my heart to my teammates, my loved ones, relationships because I can fully embrace unconditionally myself. Just didn’t do that for a long time.
"I was very self-critical. When you have so much judgment on yourself it’s easy to transfer that judgment to other people. When you figure out a better way to love yourself, I think you can love people better because you’re not casting the same judgment you cast on yourself on other people. I’m really thankful for that.”
Rodgers shared on the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” released last week how changes within himself have also led him to believe in “the possibility of reconciliation” with his family after years of being estranged from his parents and siblings.
He told King that his intention on his latest journey was to "surrender and open up to the medicine for some healing to come through and some direction on how to kind of go about that."
"The big message was unconditionally loving myself is the key to being able to heal all relationships — with them, past relationships with lovers, whatever it might be…So that gives me a lot of hope in healing at some point," he continued.
Rodgers added that therapy, meditation and changing habits have also contributed to him approaching life with "a little more joy."
The star quarterback also does not have to worry about getting in hot water with the NFL for his ayahuasca use. The league and the NFL Players Association told NBC's Pro Football Talk that ayahuasca is not considered a banned substance or a performance-enhancing drug.
Rodgers is coming off a season in which he was brilliant on the field in winning his second straight MVP award, but drew criticism for saying in the preseason that he was "immunized" and then sharing in November 2021 that he was not vaccinated against COVID-19.