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Why psychedelics are illegal

Many people crudely think that all illegal drugs are illegal because they are physically dangerous to the user. That is not the case. Different substances have been made illegal at different times and for different reasons.

Some substances are rightly illegal because they are physically dangerous. Heroin, crack and GHB are examples of dangerous substances that pose a very real risk to the user. Ironically though the two most dangerous drugs – alcohol and tobacco – are not illegal.

Other substances are however illegal for very different reasons. Two reasons are very prominent: because they are perceived as dangerous to the status quo and to target and persecute specific groups.

Just the other day I was asked why psychedelics are illegal. They are obviously extremely useful medicines and also very safe when used correctly. Well, there are several reasons for them being illegal and most of them have nothing to do with health, but let us begin with the health issue.

Psychedelics are commonly non-toxic and pose no physical threat even at extreme doses. Most of these substances are not even possible to overdose to the degree that they would be life threatening. But there is one real health risk and that is to the user’s mental health. Psychedelics have the unique capacity of unlocking the doors of the unconscious mind. They can release what has been carefully locked away and repressed. This is of course what makes them such powerful therapeutic tools, but if the person isn’t open to taking care of what comes up the experience can be quite traumatic. The same goes for other kinds of therapy, meditation and contemplation. If you aren’t ready to meet what you have repressed you shouldn’t do or take anything that will uncover what you have buried.

nixon_militaryBut besides this, what were the perceived dangers that made psychedelics illegal? To grasp this one must look at the historical setting. Where did the push to criminalize come from and what is the backdrop? To understand this we need to go back to the USA in the mid 1960’s. Government at all levels were in a cold war state of mind trying to root out possible dissidents within. The Vietnam war had dragged on for ten years, US involvement was sharply rising, as was the death toll. It was a time for hardliners and hawks. JFK had been murdered and the much less diplomatic Lyndon B Johnson took his place. He was then followed by one of the fathers of the War on Drugs – Richard Nixon.

At the same time a very vocal and at times even revolutionary opposition was forming at home. There were many different movements with many different objectives, but when talking about psychedelics the hippies are of course at the focal point. What were they up to? They protested, burnt draft cards, let their hair grow, dressed strangely and promoted free sex, just to name a few things. In the eyes of a person like Nixon, and there were many like him at the time, they were trouble makers who were upsetting the status quo. They were anti-establishment peacemongerers and as such perceived as threatening by the establishment.

At the very core of that opposition was the experimentation with drugs and the one that has forever been associated with the hippie movement is of course the psychedelic LSD. So what was it about LSD that sparked this opposition and backlash towards the establishment? I think the ethnobotanist psychonaut Terence McKenna was spot on when he said that “they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behaviour and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.”

Photo: DaveHippie by studio muscle on Flickr
Photo: DaveHippie by studio muscle on Flickr

What LSD did was to awaken people from their cultural programming and indoctrination and let them see the world with other eyes. When they did so they could not accept what they had been taught, so they rebelled. They rebelled against violence, militarism and domination and instead sought “peace, love and understanding”.

On a side note both the CIA the American military had experimented heavily with LSD before it found its way to the hippies. One notable side effect was that quite a few soldiers that had been given it laid down their guns and refused to pick them up again.

For a person like Nixon this was all extremely threatening. To him America was losing its youth to a drug culture that was in direct opposition to the establishment. And he certainly had a point. If you want people to follow orders, be aggressive towards one another, go to war and kill people you will not want to give them LSD, because they will start thinking for themselves, refuse to follow orders and will refuse violence.

LSD was not made illegal because it is physically harmful to the person taking it. It was made illegal because it makes people question authority and social injustices and prompts them to do something about it. LSD and psychedelics threatened and still threatens the fabric of domination culture by showing people that another world is possible.

While many believe that our drug laws are there to protect us we have in fact inherited most of them from a time when domination culture was scared of losing control. Our drug laws are in many cases in place to hinder mind expansion and rebellion against the violent domination culture and the status quo, and most certainly so when it comes to psychedelics.

This is a pattern of dominance which is repeating itself.

Today the political establishment are the ones oppressing and persecuting the users of psychedelics. Yesterday it was the church. The brutal persecution of witches, witchdoctors, healers, shamans and anyone seeking other modalities of healing or other ways of reaching the divine was the church’s version of the War on Drugs. The vocabulary surrounding it all was different but still quite similar. Instead of safety and health concerns the church would talk about being in contact with or possessed by the devil or evil spirits.

Witch BurningWhile they might well have believed their own story, just as many do with the story of domineering culture of today, it was ultimately based in a fear of losing control over people. As many, perhaps even most, who work with psychedelics will attest to, psychedelics are often a door to the divine. They break down the limitations of our cultural programming. When it comes to the church there has often been an idea that certain people should act as intermediaries for the rest of us, thus the control over the contact with the divine and the divine will has been hijacked by priests and such. What psychedelics often do in that case is give the user his/her own personal contact with the divine, making the intermediary superfluous. For someone who wants to maintain control over other people this is of course extremely threatening and also provocative to the point where the church would be willing to kill people.

One needs to remember that the greatest threat to the church is that each and every one of us would be able to have our own contact with the divine. If we did have that contact the church would soon be redundant, at least as an interpreter of God’s will,  so it lies in the interest of the individual career makers within and also in the organisations themselves to see to it that people do not have their own contact with the divine.

And that is of course the pattern of domineering that is repeating itself today. A lot of people, organisations and companies stand to lose a lot of money and power when psychedelics are let free. It is in their interest to keep them illegal. If you could solve addiction, PTSD, depression and such with one or a few psychedelic trips the medical and pharmaceutical industry would take a huge dive. If people would stop tolerating violence that would mean the end of the military and the industries that profit from war. If each and every one would be given the tools for connecting with the divine themselves the world religions would lose their strangle hold on the minds of people.

It is in the interest of anyone who wants to dominate someone else that psychedelics are kept illegal and are continually persecuted.

That is why psychedelics are illegal.

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Payback for having been Hans

After 13 years of intensive drinking I finally sobered up. Five years later I was at a friend’s place when some of her friends dropped by. They were close to wasted but not quite yet and of course the one that was the most drunk stumbled over to collapse next to me. He had close to no control over his body and spilt beer all around.
– Hi, I’m Hansch, he said and offered me his beer drenched hand.
– Yes, I know. We have met several times before, I answered.
– We have? he asked sincerely surprised.
– I have even been to your apartment.

– Do you want schome beer, he asked apologetically and spilt some beer on me.
– No thanks. I don’t drink.
– What? Don’t drink?
– Alcohol is a poison. I don’t want it in my life.
The rest of the people knew very well why I had quit and were quite amused at our conversation.
– Oh no, alcohol is good, Hans explained. You become fun and schoscial. You feel good when you drink. You schould try it schometime. You’d like it. Here, have schome of mine.
Generously he offered me his beer before not so graciously dropping it in my lap.
– Oh no, I’m schorry, he said as he fumbled for the can in my lap.
He got hold of the bottom of the can and managed to pour the rest of the beer all over my legs.

Even if I was irritated to be beer drenched I couldn’t really be angry because it was so obviously beer karma. I had been fumbly Hans so many times towards other people that I had it coming.

Photo: Drunk singing by Leonid Mamchenkov on Flickr

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10 questions about drugs

1. Which is the most common rape drug?

2. Which drug is associated with the most violence?

3. Which drug kills most people?

4. What kind of drugs are responsible for the most overdose deaths?

5. Name two drugs that have never killed anyone.

6. Name two drugs that have no or very little addictive properties.

7. Name two drugs that break addiction.

8. Name two drugs that are used to cure depression, trauma and abuse.

9. Which drugs are legal?

10. Which drugs are the most illegal?

 

You’ll find the correct answers below the picture.

Photo: Drug questions by Ano Lobb on Flickr.
Photo: Drug questions by Ano Lobb on Flickr

 

There are obviously legal, country and time specific variations to these answers, but this is the general picture.

1. Which is the most common rape drug?
Alcohol is the most common rape drug. Many think that they need to be wary of people who want to spike their drinks with other drugs, but in the overwhelming majority of cases it is the alcoholic drink itself that is the rape drug. Victims and offenders are often drunk and even when there are other drugs in the mix, alcohol is almost always the main drug.

2. Which drug is associated with the most violence?
Alcohol is involved in most cases of violence. 70 to 90 percent of all violence (wars excluded) is directly linked to alcohol. This is as true for domestic violence as it is for violent encounters between strangers. There are a few other drugs (mainly ego enhancing and consciousness decreasing drugs) that are also associated with violence, but even in cases when other drugs are present alcohol is usually the main drug.

This diagram gives you a hint at how many deaths are attributed to different drugs in the UK 2011. It is however misleading since the tobacco part of the diagram only shows England, while the other circles include all of the UK. In other words, the tobacco circle should be far much bigger than it is in this picture.
This diagram shows you how many deaths were attributed to different drugs in the UK 2011. The very large circle represent deaths due to tobacco and the next biggest one is alcohol. In third place we find opiates and opiate substitutes, which are mostly found in legal medications. In fourth place are legal anti-depressants and in fifth are legal benzodiazepines. In other words, all the big killer drugs except for heroin are legal.

3. Which drug kills most people?
Tobacco is by far the most lethal drug. Tobacco kills more people than all other legal and illegal drugs combined. Alcohol is the second most deadly drug and in third place we find prescription medications. Science is having a hard time putting these in relation to each other, but estimates are that tobacco takes somewhere between two and fifteen times as many lives as alcohol.

4. What kind of drugs are responsible for the most overdose deaths?
Pharmaceutical drugs/prescription medicines are the most commonly overdosed with a deadly outcome. One reason is of course the availability but another very important reason is that medications often are highly toxic.

5. Name two drugs that have never killed anyone.
LSD, cannabis and magic mushrooms are a few non-lethal drugs, but there are certainly more. The doses needed to die from them are simply so ridiculously high that it is physically impossible to consume such quantities of cannabis or mushrooms. In the case of LSD it is probably possible to take that much, but you would need to take thousands of doses and as far as I know that still hasn’t happened. It is of course possible to die in an accident or such while on these drugs, but even so these are not drugs that typically make users accident prone. Science rather suggests that people using these drugs are usually more careful and considerate.

6. Name two drugs that have no or very little addictive properties.

Photo: Hícuri by Mierdamian Rondana on Flickr
Photo: Hícuri by Mierdamian Rondana on Flickr

Psychedelics generally have strong anti-addictive properties and are therefore fantastic for breaking addiction. Some such drugs are LSD, magic mushrooms (psilocybin), San Pedro/Peyote (mescaline), Ayahuasca, DMT, Iboga (ibogaine) and Salvia Divinorum. Another thing that several of the psychedelics have in common is that the user’s tolerance towards them increases rapidly, so even if a user would want to use it several days in a row it would quickly become meaningless to do so because the effects would vanish.

7. Name two drugs that break addiction.
LSD, magic mushrooms and Iboga are all well known in the treatment of addicts, but psychedelics of all kinds can be helpful. Before being made illegal LSD was among other things used to cure alcoholism. AA co-founder Bill Wilson was an advocate of using it specifically to treat cynical alcoholics by giving them a spiritual experience. Ironically LSD had a higher success rate of curing alcoholics than AA or any other program has ever had.

8. Name two drugs that are used to cure depression, trauma and abuse.
Again, psychedelics are fantastic tools for curing depression, trauma and abuse, especially LSD, magic mushrooms, Ayahuasca and San Pedro/Peyote. They make the user more aware of his/her situation and give insights and experiences that help the user deal with past trauma. Within a spiritual context the plants are especially helpful since they actually speak to the user in a way that an isolated substance cannot do.

Western chemical based medicine often uses medications such as anti-depressants but these medicines most often only put a lid on things and sedate the person. These medicines are also highly addictive and toxic, which makes them very dangerous in comparison.

9. Which drugs are legal?
Alcohol and tobacco are legal, although you need to be of a certain age to buy them. Prescription medications are legal as long as you have a prescription.

10. Which drugs are the most illegal?

Contrary to what many think today's drug laws are not based on science but on politics. For example, did you know that the push to make cannabis illegal was mostly based on racism?
Contrary to what many think today’s drug laws are not based on science but on politics. For example, did you know that the push to make cannabis illegal was greatly based on racism?

Class A drugs are defined as drugs that are especially harmful, have a high abuse potential and that have no medical value. Among these you will find heroin, crack, cocaine, cannabis, LSD, magic mushrooms and mescaline. Which class a drug is placed in is however a political decision, not a scientific one. From a strictly scientific point of view this classification is utterly absurd. Heroin and crack would definitely fall within the definition of a class A drug, but so would the legal drugs alcohol and tobacco since they obviously are extremely addictive, harmful and lack all medical value. The psychedelics and cannabis on the other hand are proven to have huge medical value and do very little harm, so they would be stricken if the list was based on science. It appears however that drug policies are among the least scientifically based policies today.

Main photo: fififififiesta! by Adriano Agulló on Flickr

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Naysha: A Guide to Diets

What is a diet and what is the purpose?

Diets are part of the triangular base of shamanism. For shamans who use master plants to heal the diets is the most important part. Through the diets the shamans get their knowledge and healing powers. If we compare it with university studies we can say that the diets are the different courses that one takes.

When you do a diet you make an ally for life, according to the shaman Jungle Svonni. These allies help out in the shamans work in the ceremonies. The shaman works with the energy of plants that s/he has dieted and not with her/his own power. In that way they can keep their energy strong and in balance. Otherwise each ceremony would weaken the shaman, but instead it is the opposite. More diets, more energy and better work.

When you do a diet you create a contract with the spirit of what you will diet. Note that some shamans specialize in using one or more specific plants, which they have dieted for long periods of time or in succession. We do not always connect or feel a connection with the spirit of what we are dieting. As in normal life we are more compatible with some people than with others, and it is the same with the plant spirits. We are compatible with certain plant spirits but not with all. With time you will recognize which plant spirits connects with you better.

In his article Withdrawals or allowances Dr. Rosa Giove tells us that:

“Diets are temporary retreats in the mountains, usually ten days in isolation, with ritualized ingestion of so-called ‘plant teachers’ under a certain diet and very strict physical and psychological management.

A space in contact with nature, dedicated to the physical and energetic purification, to remove substances that block sensitivity is thus created. This favours the production dream, remembrance of past situations and not metabolized deep introspection; in short, the encounter with the ‘inner teacher.’

We opened an inner door that allows us to contact our being deep, but at the same time makes us vulnerable. By Therefore, energy measures are stringent protection for both ‘dietador’ m person doing the diet, and the person who treats you.”

Kinds of diets

In my experience there are two types of diets:

Learning Diets. All diets are about learning, but the degree of learning depends on the effort we put into each diet and the connection you get with the spirit of what we are dieting. The more restrictions you have in your diet, the more benefits you will get from it.

Healing Diets. All diets are for healing, but there are specific diets to cure specific diseases or problems. A person who performs a healing diet can vary the level of restrictions depending on the severity of the illness. The restrictions will depend on what the shaman recommends, but the basic rules do not change. The only thing that varies in this case is the food and that depends on the body. A person who is old or physically very weak may have a little more to eat, but always without SALT.

What to diet

You can basically diet everything, because everything that comes from our mother earth has a spirit. So it depends on what you want to achieve with the diet. Do you want to learn, cleanse or heal?

Photo: perfectly imperfect by Bùi Linh Ngân on Flickr
Photo: perfectly imperfect by Bùi Linh Ngân on Flickr

In the end you will achieve all, but to what degree will also depend on your intention and your needs. For example a person that wants to heal a specific disease such as diabetes will just do a healing diet for the diabetes. The plant spirit won’t be teaching much, but will be working with the body and the energy during the entire diet.

Usually you look at the characteristics of what you will go to diet. In the Amazon the shaman’s training consists in doing plant diets and that is what is offered in the Amazonian shamanic market. Therefore, knowing the characteristic of the plant is recommended before starting a diet. A shaman knows the plant by investigating it through diets, by working with the spirit in ceremonies or by dreams where it is shown how to use every part of the plant.

A common way to investigate a plant in addition to the diet is to cook a leaf, stem or root with Ayahuasca. The Ayahuasca will make the contact with the spirit more visual. When you start a diet you will drink it as a tea or eat a specific part of the plant, such as the bark, root, leaves or flowers. Each part has a different energy, a different function and purpose.

Diet rules

If you look at the meaning of the word diet, one understands that it refers to the “restriction of something”. What are these restrictions in a shamans diet?

Alcohol
Alcohol consumption, for obvious reasons, is not allowed while one performs a diet.

Sex
Sex or masturbation is not allowed for simple reasons. At the moment of orgasm you release your energies or you catch energies from your partner. When we are on diet we want the energy that is contained in the plant or crystal that we are dieting to become a part of us. If we have an orgasm we will lose the energy that we have accumulated.

Place
When one is on a diet it is recommended to stay away from the city, because our body is in an open state, which helps us to be receptive to the energies. Therefore the place will influence the outcome of our diet. You must be isolated or surrounded by those who are helping you with the diet, like the shaman or other people on diets. How isolated you need to be also depends on the plant that you are dieting. Some plant spirits can be more demanding than others, just like people.

Food
This point is very important because nowadays, especially in the city of Iquitos, various centers have no idea of the importance and the reasons behind the food that should be served during a diet. When you are on diet, you want to create the least amount of distractions in your body so that the spirit of the plant can work on you. The food should generally contain little nutrition or energy. It is usually recommended to eat rice and lentils once a day, since everything you eat will compete with the spirit of the plant that you are dieting. For example, if you eat a carrot, the carrot has lots of “personality”, which will compete with the plant spirit that you are dieting. This does not mean that you cannot eat a carrot. You can, but the benefits from your diet will decrease. If you eat vegetables in your diet your learning might decrease by 40 percent.

Chilis by Adam Baker on Flickr.
Chilis by Adam Baker on Flickr.

Chili
In Peru the shaman will normally close a diet or post diet with chili, since it cuts energies. Chili also has a hot energy, which can give you a headache while on diet. The only exception to this case is when one is dieting chili, but that is a very special diet and not very common due to its degree of difficulty. Then it is usually consumed as powder up the nose and it is mainly for protection.

Salt
Salt is one of the most powerful sources of energy for our body. Therefore it is a big interference for plant or crystal. Since we don’t want the energies to compete, salt is generally used to end the diet. It is a signal to the body that the diet is over. When you stop eating salt before starting a diet you are also opening your body to energies around you. It’s important that you eat salt before ceremonies or your body will feel weak. Also nowadays we are eating far too much salt. The amount of salt that we need is only 2 grams a day. It is also good to keep in mind that salt sometimes comes with additives such as Fluoride, which is a poison.

Touching
As I mentioned, when you’re on a diet, you are in a receptive mode, or one might say that your WIFI is switched on. Therefore it is important that the diet is done in a secluded place in nature, not only because of the importance of creating a safe place and being in contact with nature, but also not to expose yourself to other people’s energies. It is highly recommend not to have any physical contact with people. Remember that our skin can absorb everything, not only creams or water, but also energy. Handshakes and hugs are not allowed during a diet. The only contact you may have is with the shaman. Usually the shaman asks the patient to hold his/her hands as if to receive something and then blows smoke for healing, cleaning or to provide energy.

Electronics
You should not use any electronic apparatus during a diet, so forgot about your laptop or your mobile. The signals that electronics emit are not good for you during a diet. They can make you feel sick or give you headaches. Using your cell phone to communicate with the rest out the world while you are on a diet is not good, especially if you receive bad news. You need peace, not problems.

Note
Every shaman has their own specific rules about diets. These are kind of general rules. Some shamans are stricter and won’t even allow people to read books, but I think that is to exaggerate. You won’t be with your diet energy 24 hours a day, so you can have moments when you distract the mind. Just make sure that you read something nice.

If you have taken the decision to start a diet, you must finish. You have made a promise to yourself and might very well get sick if you don’t keep it. I will talk more about that in another post.

How to start a diet

Before giving a diet the shaman will first do an Ayahuasca ceremony with the person for the following reasons:

  1. To clean the energies and the body of the person who will do the diet. Obstacles are removed to be able to work with the spirit of the plant.
  2. Ajo Sacha
    Ajo Sacha

    To identify the plant that the person will diet. In the ceremony the shaman calls the spirits of different plants to see which is best suited to the diet that the person will start. The most common diet for those starting shamanic training is Ajo Sacha. It is a very popular plant because of its effectiveness to clean energy.

  3. The shaman also sets the time the person must do their diet. Diets generally have an average minimum duration of 3 days, which are usually fastings (just with water). 7, 10 and 15 days are the normal times of diets, but if you want to specialize in the use of a plant then diets are longer or repeated several times. It could be 30 days, three months or a year. After you have done several diets you will feel in advance how long to make your diets.
  4. The diet starts early in the morning the day after the ceremony by drinking tea or eating bark, roots, flowers or leaves of the plant that the shaman saw during the Ayahuasca ceremony. You will drink this tea for the first 3 days of the diet. You can also drink it throughout the diet, but it depends on the shaman and whether the diet is for learning or healing. In diets for learning it is enough to drink the tea the first 3 days. For healing diets the tea plant is taken during all the diet.

It is important to mention that diets usually are performed by taking one plant at a time. No two plants are mixed in a diet unless it is for healing the body or to heal a disease. In some Ayahuasca centres there are diets with up to 100 plants in one diet, but that is outright crazy. The only thing you get from these diets is CONFUSION. As we mentioned before, plants are not compatible with all energies. Also some plants are not compatible with each other, either for chemical or energetic reasons. Please, if someone offers you such diets – run!

Crystal diets

The crystal diets follow the same rules as the plant diets. This is how you prepare for a crystal diet:

  1. Clean your crystal. You can use fire or leave it over night in a glass of water touching the earth.
  2. Next day put the crystal in a glass of fresh water and leave it there all day and night. If you don´t have a plant ceremony to cleanse before you start your diet, then you try to water fast all that day. Drink plenty of water.
  3. The next day you drink the water from the glass. To continue dieting you pour fresh water into the glass with the crystal, leave it over night and drink it next day. You do so for as long as you want to diet it.

Remember that before you start the diet you must tell yourself and the crystal energy how long you want to diet it – 3 ,5,7 days – and then you must do it. During the diet you eat once a day, usually rice and lentils without salt and not too much. Just one portion.

NOTE: Before you do a crystal or stone diet, check if the stone or crystal has any kind of toxic metal in it. You will find plenty of information about it through Google.

How to close a diet

A diet ends at mid day. If you decide to do a 3 day diet, for example, then you close the diet around middle day on the third day.

You cut an onion and mix it with lemon juice and salt. If you don’t like onions you can use garlic. You make a salad with the onions, lemon juice and salt and then eat it .This will send a signal to your body that the diet is over.
.
Some shamans likes to close the diet with chilli. I don’t like to close my diet like that because chilli is too strong for the spirit. For me it is too hot.

Post diet

The post diet helps the spirit of what you were dieting to root firmly in your energy field. If you think in terms of making a new friend the post diet will help you make the relation stronger.

So how does it work?

You will continue to follow certain rules for a period of time. The post diet starts as soon as you have ended your diet.

aya diet 2 by Paul Hessell on Flickr
Photo: aya diet 2 by Paul Hessell on Flickr

In the post diet you can eat normally again, but you must avoid pork, chilli, refined sugar, lactose and alcohol. You must also avoid sex and masturbation, in order to help the energy of what you were dieting to grow roots. You don’t want to celebrate having finished your diet by having sex and drinking alcohol. Remember that your body and spirit just went through a very powerful and special experience.

How long should the post diet last?

Normally you can choose the number of days but remember that the longer your post diet is, the more benefits you will get from it. So for example if you were dieting for 15 days, then you should post diet for at least 7 days.

I normally end my post diet by eating chilli but that isn’t a rule. At the moment you eat pork, have sex or drink alcohol your post diet is over.

Now you can begin to appreciate how hard the shamanic training is. I have been dieting almost one and a half year, doing diets of different lengths and resting 3 days in between.

If you start different diets with only a few days between them, then you can have one post diet for them. For example if you do 7 days, then you rest 3 days, and start another 7 days diet , your post diet when you finish the second diet will be enough to cover the first diet also.

Love and gratitude

Naysha Silva Romero

Photo: BUTTERFLY by whologwhy on Flickr

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A New Year resolution to be true to

You can only control what you are aware of.
What you aren’t aware of controls you.

 

We often find ourselves being pushed around by such things like old habits that we are unaware of, past programming that is no longer relevant or blockages that we have managed to forget about. The only way we can change these old patterns is by first becoming aware of them. That is why raising awareness is at the very core of handling any change you need to do in your life. It is at the very beginning of the process and nothing can be done without it.

If you need to raise your awareness in order to work with change it therefore goes without saying that you should avoid drugs and medicines that numb you and lower your awareness. Common drugs that should be avoided are alcohol, opiates and pharmaceutical antidepressants. Caffeine, nicotine and cannabis are also numbing when used on a daily or close to daily basis. Junk food and sugar are also really bad for awareness.

Things that will raise your awareness include meditation, exercise, mindful sex, good food cooked from scratch, herbs, hugs and playing. This is of course also why psychedelic medicines are such powerful agents of change, because they drastically raise our awareness.

So do you want a tip for a New Year resolution that will help you immensely and that you can always find new ways of being true to? Promise yourself to be more aware this coming year. Instead of focusing in on one specific, such as exercise, see the bigger picture. It all comes down to awareness and you can become more aware in so many different ways. Give yourself a bigger promise this year, and at the same time make it one that you can keep.

Make 2016 all about awareness.

Photo: amber us by Shannon Kringen on Flickr

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Brothers of the Drink

In Pakistan it is forbidden to drink alcohol. There are however some exceptions. If you are a non-muslim tourist you can buy alcohol to drink in your hotel room, if you promise to only drink it in your room and not to come out until you are completely sober.

– Do you drink whiskey? he asked me in a hushed tone of voice.
I remember him as a young guy, perhaps 22, on a dusty village street outside Lahore. He wore white clothes and a happy face.
– Well, I’m not so keen on whiskey, but vodka, beer and wine, I answered.
– I knew it! he whispered ecstatically. Me too! Me too! I also drink!
– Ehm, ok.
– We are like brothers. You and me, forever. I love you! Can’t we take a picture of us both? We who drink.
I still smile at the thought of that picture.

To get a different perspective on things – travel. How we do things at home is only one way of doing them.

Photo: Daniel holding pants by Calle Godani

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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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Looking for sympathy in all the wrong places

My friend threw a party with people from all stages of his life. Parents, siblings, childhood friends and study mates. Quite a few from his times abroad flew in.

Alcohol was the weekend’s main drug but since it was quite a continental party there was a lot of cannabis being smoked also. It wasn’t a problem until his mother found his little brother in an intimate circle behind the barn. She was horrified, disgusted, appalled and shocked. She was disappointed and angry and sad. As the anxious mother she is, she went around and complained to anyone who would listen. Unfortunately she didn’t get the sympathy she sought.

First she went to my friend.
– Oh, do not worry, mom. It’s no big deal.
– What? How can you say that? Don’t you realize how serious it is?
– It isn’t that dangerous. Let it be. Talk to him tomorrow.
Angrily she went in search of a more understanding person.

– It’s awful, she said to me. I caught him smoking marijuana behind the house.
– It’s better than him getting totally wasted on alcohol.
– What?
– He won’t get up to a lot of shit and although his brain might function a little slower in the morning, he won’t have a mass extinction of brain cells to deal with.
– You watch it, young man! If I hear anything more from you I’ll call your parents, she abruptly ended the conversation and hurried off to find a better person.

She found an Italian girl who wasn’t all that good at English.
– I found him smoking pot behind the house, she explained.
– You want smoke?
– I am so worried.
– I can roll. How strong you want? asked the girl and brought out a big bag of weed.

Photo: I sat on da joint by Alaska Carter on Flickr

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Mårten on the subject of time and how it can break

These are notes from a channelled conversation with a spirit contact named Mårten. In it he discusses time, trauma and identity. This is a rough translation from Swedish.

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– Trauma changes time, there becomes a gap in it. Strong traumas fracture our experience of time. When something happens in a place that time is carved into it. In a place with many traumas, such as Auschwitz, time is fragmented and chaotic. It still is. Time has not moved on, which means you can go there and experience it again.

– It is the same for people. Time can break for them. For someone traumatized by losing someone, for example, time can become so fragmented that the experience could just as well have happened 7 seconds ago, as 7 years ago. A person like that breaks every day.

– Thus both a place and a person can get stuck in a certain time.

Identity and time

– Time is linked to the identity we create in the life we ​​live now. In our basic state that time does not exist, it is only now. When we are through meditation work our way down to our basic state we come to now, which also brings great security. In the ego, identity, we create time. It is with the help of the time we then create memories, what we’ve been through and what we dream about.

– Our memory teaches us the basic, practical social things. Therefore we need time, in order to learn and create our selves. We build our dreams on what we have experienced.

– When it works you go from one time to the next, but when there is a trauma time is fractured. Small images are spread and shattered. If that happens you can get stuck or move on without the image. It is the image of one’s self or expectations for the situation.

Fragmented time

– People with traumas have fragmented time. This may occur in many ways, for example by assault, accidents, vulnerable situations, lost love, alcohol and drug addiction, psychoses, neuroses, depression and apathy.

How can we mend fragmented time in a person?
– It depends. The person has to want to.

– One way is by remembering. A piece of time breaks. The pieces are still there in your backpack. You feel broken. Putting together the pieces begins by remembering how the image was before it was broken. This is not something to do by yourself.

– Go into the difficult things to reach the realization that it is okay that it happened.

Can you bring such time fractures to the next life?
– Yes, as karma.

How does one work with time that has been shattered by alcohol?
– By remembering. It is still there, that what was before the intoxication. There is something about yourself that you do not remember.

I forget who I was during that time. I don’t remember the hardest parts.
– You behaved in a way when you were drunk that you now do not want to remember as a part of you. Compare before and after. What disappeared in-between?

– The biggest key is identifying yourself. Every day and in every situation you decide how and who you want to be. You have to decide all the time, facing each new situation. A large part of our identification is based on how we have been and what we have been through in life. It determines our decisions and how we choose to be today.

Paused and enlarged time

– Sometimes time is broken in a way that it stops right there. We note details that we always remember afterwards. Pause. Then the problem is not to remember, but to get the image to assume the same proportions as the rest. The image stands out from everything else. That is as great a trauma. An equal displacement in the ability to identify.

– It depends on how time was broken, what one has done since, and our attitude.

Remembering and patterns

– There are some keys, but they have so many different variables. To remember has so many different variables. Remembering with the mind can be one tool, but you can also remember with the body or by saying things aloud.

– Then there is the aspect of patterns. We have time to create patterns and logic. We learn order and how to create patterns. This means that trauma of various kinds also create patterns, which often makes it happen again if it has happened once. Maybe that could also be a way to remember, until we actually remember it, until we actually see what is going on.

– The process is the whole thing, our process. Things happen and we get stuck. That’s why we have all these lives and continue to reincarnate, because we didn’t learn. So we bring it along to the next life too.

– It is through our identity and the experience of this life that we can get through the illusion and down to ourselves. See it as our core or essence. On it are various layers. Identity is one layer. That means that whatever we do in life can not damage the core. Any dirt will be on the outside of it.

Energy inward and outward

– Energy that harms, that stems from the illusion that the ring of identity is the self, is directed outward. We create the illusion that we are separate from God.

– Real healing energy can mend the identity ring. Then the energy is directed inwards, towards the core, and then we realize that we are God, that everything is connected, that everything has meaning, that we are complete. When we look for explanations outside of ourselves we direct the energy outward.

How do we direct the energy inward?
– Just do it. When we actually do what we know is right for us. It all ties together. When I know what I need to do I am in contact with the core, and then the energy is directed inwards. When we disconnect the mind, which is a huge process. When we become aware that we are not our thoughts. When we wake up.

– Most people have a little energy inward and little energy outward. Being in contact with ones intuition and feelings makes the energy go inward. The mind switched on, then the energy will go outward. The more energy goes inward, the greater humility the person will have. It becomes a tool. Such a person is aware that she is not the work she performs. She doesn’t identify strongly with such things.

– The essence, our soul – whatever we experience, we cannot damage it. Our identity can be damaged and create a “broken person”, slit personality and other disorders, but inside of that the soul is intact.

– With techniques for getting in contact with oneself so much healing occurs by itself, because that is the nature of energy – to heal.

Hallucinogens as medicine

– Hallucinogens can be excellent tools in this context, but the identity ring cannot be too broken. The identity ring needs to be quite intact, because it is through it that we create the context and intention. If the ring is broken the energy goes outward and becomes harmful.

– How noticeable hallucinogens are depends on how strong your identity ring is. If your ring is full, you are in balance.

Getting stuck in a time

– There is another way for time to break. We talked about 1. gaps, 2. that it is frozen and magnified, and 3. that a piece of time breaks so that it becomes choppy and fragmented. One can also get stuck in a time, often in a sequence. With a longer period of difficult things you can start reliving what is happening. It is repeated for real or it feels like it is being repeated. Outside time continues, but on the inside the same time pattern is repeating itself.

Four time injuries

– The person who has had a time injury needs to identify what kind.

Four time injuries:
● gaps
● frozen and magnified
● broken, shattered, fragmented, choppy
● stuck in a time

– In recovery we need to create a new identity based on the present. The past is no longer relevant.

Photo: Trolley Drain by darkday on Flickr

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