Dishing it out with love

The first day of journalism school the teacher told us a long, detailed story about a couple of tourists that had gone missing during a hike. Our assignment was to write a short article based on what she had told us.

I thought I did pretty well. I had all the most important facts, the length was good and I had managed to make it interesting. Then along came my teacher. She skimmed through it, pulled out a red marker and went wild.
– This is irrelevant, she said and crossed things out. The wording is off, she said and circled several sentences. This is in the wrong place, she said and quickly sent arrows flying across the paper.

When I got the paper back there was more red than white or black on it. The article that I thought was a minor masterpiece had to be rewritten in full to even pass. But despite the harsh treatment I never felt bad, simply because there are different ways of dishing out critique. When there is no ill intention behind red marks, no ego trying to step on you, then it is easier to accept.

● ● ●

When coaching people I occasionally find myself in a similar situation. I can see the person trying to wriggle out of what is uncomfortable, but I’ll bring them back over and over. They might need to have that which is uncomfortable shoved in their face or even need a good telling off, so I give it to them.

And it is the same – they don’t break down or get upset, even if I am harsh, simply because there is no ill will behind my words. There is only love. The words are often not even mine, but channelled from their own higher selves. I might sit there and laugh out loud at them or even tease them, but there is no ill will. That makes all the difference.

Photo: Orange-024 by John Mayer on Flickr

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In the gateway

The metaphors we use often help us unlock new understandings, but it is important to also be aware of the barriers they can place on how we understand things. If I for example say that the human body is like a machine then that might be a great way of gaining new perspectives on how my body works. But if I cling to the metaphor I might forget all the ways in which my body doesn’t work like a machine. Some people go as far as confusing what they are talking about with the metaphor, so they end up thinking that their body IS a machine.

There is a theory called “gateway drug theory” that links use of lighter drugs to the use of heavier drugs later on. The theory is based on the very simple metaphor of a gateway or door. Once you try something it opens up the door to something else. One reason that the theory is so popular is that it is very easy to understand and communicate, because people have a general understanding that something comes first and then other things follow.

Gateway drugs

Most people I hear arguing along the lines of “gateway drugs” are talking about cannabis as a gateway drug that leads on to heavier drugs. There are definitely people who get introduced to other drugs by using cannabis first, but I think cannabis is not the best example of a gateway drug.

There is little inherent to cannabis to lure people to try other substances. It is possible to use cannabis to try to escape or dampen reality, so if one is looking for that experience cannabis might lead you further in exploring drugs such as opiates, alcohol and amphetamine. It is also possible to use cannabis to explore ones inner working, so people who seek tools to heal and grow might go on to try psychedelics.

But in itself cannabis isn’t a plant which urges you to try other plants or substances. One major reason that people go from cannabis to other illegal plants or substances is that they are often in contact with dealers who offer more than cannabis. In that case it isn’t really the cannabis which is the gateway, but rather the person selling or the criminal setting.

There are other drugs which are much more fitting to describe as gateway drugs and the three most common are ALCOHOL, NICOTINE and PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION. These are often used as an escape from reality, so people who are looking for such an outlet can be attracted to other substances that do the same.

The two legal substances ALCOHOL and NICOTINE have a similar aura to them which often expresses itself as I DON’T GIVE A SHIT. People who drink are commonly much more aggressively risk taking and self-destructive than people who use cannabis and people who try illegal substances are often drunk the first times they do so. Smokers and drinkers alike are already in the habit of poisoning themselves, so the step to other harmful substances is shorter. Since alcohol and nicotine effectively shut us down it is less likely that heavy drinkers and nicotine addicts turn to psychedelics, other than to heal from substance abuse. To stay in their own energy they will rather go to amphetamines, opiates and prescription medications.

This is of course why the concept of gateway drugs often implodes, because the people who most fiercely adopt the theory are often unwilling to link it to legal substances which are much more common gateway drugs than cannabis has ever been.

Light and heavy drugs

It should be noted when talking about the gateway from light to heavy drugs that alcohol is a heavy drug. Since alcohol is legal we often think of it as light, if we think of it as a drug at all. But the fact of the matter is that alcohol is one of the heaviest drugs out there, in many ways comparable to heroin. Nicotine is likewise a much heavier drug than we give it credit for. It has an extreme addictive potential, which is also comparable to heroin.

Gateway experiences

The metaphor of the gateway can be valid, but I don’t feel that it is correctly applied. It isn’t the drug which is the gateway – it is the user’s history.

Who becomes an addict? Who faces issues of substance abuse?

There are root causes to these things. People who are traumatized, who have been bullied or neglected, people who have been abused, used and hurt. People who have never felt loved, who have low self-esteem, who have a history of mental illness. These are the people who stand the greatest chance of ending up in addiction and substance abuse.

It didn’t start with the drug. It started long before with the person being mistreated and the following drug use, if it is destructive, is mainly self-medication or a try to flee from the situation. With that understanding a “gateway experience theory” would be much more true, since it shows what really opened up the door in the first place.

This is however quite provocative for many, because that gives an explanation that focuses in on all the things that have hurt that person in the first place. That opens up the understanding that other people have traumatized the person, which is very uncomfortable for many to own up to. It is often easier to focus on the person with a drug problem, rather than the many ways that primary others and society as a whole has traumatized that person.

Gateway people

So let’s follow that line of reasoning. Who are the “gateway people”?

Some would have you think that the gateway people are others. They are the bad company that the person just happened to run into, or such. That is seldom true. The most common gateway people are our parents and other significant others. Addiction is often passed on to one’s children and that addiction can look very different in the parent compared to the child. The parent might be a work-o-holic or sex-o-holic, while the child might become an alcoholic or drug user.

But we don’t only pass on our addictions. We pass on our insecurities, emotional blocks and instabilities, our frustrations and angers. All of these are what people later go on to abuse drugs to avoid facing.

As you can imagine this is also problematic if you as a parent are looking for someone else to blame. In that case it is so much simpler to focus on the one thing that it doesn’t look as if you have anything to do with – THE DRUG.

The gateway reexamined

The gateway is a good metaphor, but applying it only to a drug misses the point by a mile. One major problem to the “gateway drug theory” is that it has the word “drug” in there. So many other factors are more important than which plant or substance one uses first. Gateway experiences and people are much more important.

The metaphor also misses the point because it is linear; you are in one room and then simply cross over into another. Addiction and substance abuse is seldom that easy. B doesn’t always follow A, because it gets mixed up with C, gets triggered by H and also leads to X. Thinking that there is a direct link between, for example, smoking cannabis and later on shooting heroin, is so overly simplified that it becomes nonsense. Unfortunately many people can’t make sense of all this, so they are easily seduced by simple nonsense, but it is nonsense none the less.

Another drawback to the gateway drug reasoning is that the metaphor has us looking away from where the problems are being created. If we let ourselves confront the actual problems we would be obligated to solve them, which is hard for individuals and society alike. So we keep avoiding the actual problem and keep pointing fingers away from ourselves. Seeing the drug as the gateway is just another way of laying blame outside ourselves, when the true solution lies within.

Photo: Gateway by Georgie Pauwels on Flickr

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The perfect answer

There are times when the right words just jump out of your mouth at the right moment.

Like the time I worked as a teacher and sat in the teachers lunch room eating my vegetarian alternative. The colleague with a sausage on his plate looked at my food and with disgust in his voice said:
– Oh, you’re one of those.
– One of those what?
– Vegetarians, he said overly emphasizing the word.
I glanced over at his plate and without hesitation replied:
– Yes, I don’t really fancy ground up cows muzzles and horses cocks.
Oddly enough several of them lost their appetite then and there.

Photo: Lots of Sausages by Wesley Fryer on Flickr

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Different feelings of love

When doing readings I have often been asked ”Does s/he love me?”.

This might seem like a straight forward question, but it has a dimension to it that many people often don’t think about. There is no fixed definition of love. We might both say that we love each other, but the feeling we are describing as love might be very different, to the point where they are not even compatible.

Someone who is emotionally evolved might be well equipped to feel, express and receive love. They might be able to distinguish between different kinds of love and be able to love at different levels of their being. A person who on the other hand is emotionally crippled will not be able to do so. For that person love might actually mean something along the lines of “I don’t want to hurt you” or “I’m happy that the apartment isn’t empty when I come home from work”. But for the emotionally crippled person that might genuinely feel like love. That is what love is to them.

But for the person asking me “Does s/he love me?”, that might not at all be what they have in mind. Being someone to come home to might not cut it.

– Does he love me?
– Well, it depends on what you mean. He might feel quite strongly that he loves you, but it might not qualify as love in your book.
– What?
– His concept of love might be different to yours. What he calls love, you might not call love.
– It’s a simple yes or no question.
– I agree that it is a question with a simple answer, but yes or no depends on perspective. He seems to feel that he loves you, but it doesn’t seem to be what you would call love.
– But love is love.
– No, love can be different for different people.

For me this is all very simple, but some do get terribly frustrated when this comes up. I don’t know where they got the idea that love is a well-defined constant or that it is a yes or no question with only one possible answer. I hope you understand the difference, because I don’t really know how I can express it any simpler.

Photo: Love in Milan by 西文 Simon on Flickr

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Letting go with help of fire

A simple cleansing technique that can be varied in many different ways, depending on your intention.

  1. Take a stick or piece of wood.
  2. Speak your intention to let go and focus what you want to get rid of into the wood. It is also common to clean yourself by brushing your energy field with the piece of wood.
  3. Burn the stick or piece of wood and let go. You can do this in silence, by focusing inward and feeling the tensions release, or you can accompany it out with song, dance or such.
  4. Be rid of it.

Cleansing with fire can of course also be done with other things that can burn, so if you have something that represents what you want to rid yourself of that can be very good to use instead of a stick.

To do a bigger material clense the simple way:

  1. Throw all the stuff you no longer want on the bonfire.
  2. Good riddance.
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Pain and suffering don’t need to go hand in hand

We will experience pain in life. It is inevitable.

How we choose to meet that pain is on the other hand a choice. Many choose to suffer and many also think that suffering is the natural outcome of pain. It is not. To suffer is a choice and as such we have often learnt it.

I realized this a few years back when my life was and needed to be in turmoil. I needed to face pain. When I understood that I did not also need to choose to suffer I could take much more pain that I would have been able to otherwise. Since I didn’t have to deal with the distraction of my suffering ego I could see the pain in sober light and deal with it.

When you disconnect the two you will see that your suffering is of your own making and the pain itself is often manageable. And just as you choose to suffer, you can also choose differently.

Photo: Do you need to Love by Alexandra Bellink on Flickr

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Mixing psychedelics and cannabis

Two of my all-time favourite psychonauts, Timothy Leary and Terence McKenna, were keen on mixing cannabis with psychedelics. While I agree with them on very much, that is one point where I don’t.

I have often mixed them and if you are mainly looking for the wackiness of the psychedelic experience they certainly fit well together. Cannabis jump starts the psychedelics, which understandably makes smoking a favourite past time for psychonauts that don’t want to land from the experience. Instead of a controlled landing they will smoke joint after joint to keep in the buzz.

While in the middle of the trip I find that cannabis very much confuses the situation. It twists things around and makes for trippy effects, but you lose clarity and direction and it severely reduces your ability to communicate with yourself, the plant, the spirit world and others.

If you are working with master plants you should also keep in mind that the spirit of the two plants might not want to meet at all. In fact, they might be quite offended by being ignorantly forced together. If you want to use both, then you should introduce them and ask permission before you mix them. If you have a strong connection and respect for both plants it might work out very well, but most people who mix them seem to be quite clueless and don’t take the time to ask the plants what they want.

While I don’t want to say how other people should conduct their business, I am surprised when I hear about retreats with master plants where guides and participants smoke cannabis. For me that seems as out of place in that setting as if they had served alcohol and pork. I would have a hard time trusting such organisers.

Photo: Lighting Joint by Heath Alseike on Flickr

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Reconstruction under way

I have seen this coming for some time, but I have been too comfortable in my routines to actually do it. Now I have reached the point where I really need to do it, in order to be able to do other things.

This blog has been bi-lingual from the start – Swedish and English. English is my mother tounge, but having lived in Sweden since I was a child my Swedish is better. I had two reasons to start blogging in English. One was to reach readers outside Sweden, which this blog has really done. The other was to improve my English, which I have also done.

But there has been one definitive down side to blogging bi-lingual and that is the translation work. It is really boring, sucks energy out of me and slows me down considerably. I often have posts lying around waiting to be translated.

The past month I have looked at possibilities to open up new social channels and I am super excited to do so, but I need time. So now, long over due, I am going to do what I should already have done. I am switching over to English.

It will take some time to get everything in place, so give me some patience and a week or so. When I’m done with that I’ll show you the new stuff I’ve been fiddling around with. I think you’ll like it.

Photo: Wayne National Forest Solar Panel Construction by Wayne National Forest on Flickr

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