Is it cheating to use psychedelics in the pursuit of personal and spiritual growth?
Plant teachers and psychedelic medicines are part of an especially powerful spiritual path that only few can handle. They aren’t for everyone, just as tantra or vipassana meditation isn’t for everyone. It is a genuine path of healing and spiritual growth that has been around for longer than any religion we have today and that has at some point in time been part of the practice of all of them. They are at the very core of the mystical experience that once upon a time gave birth to religions, although those religions have since fundamentally perverted the insights given. Psychedelics are the tools of healers, shamans, witches, visionaries, psychonauts, spiritual explorers and messengers. They are tools of change and enlightenment, of love and transcendence. They are catalysts of evolution and reconnect people to the source.
When you have decided to change something in your life you will often be challenged. For example, if you have promised yourself not to eat sugar for a month one of your friends will most certainly show up with your favourite sugary snack that same afternoon. This is a test of your determination.
On the other hand life has a way of naturally unfolding when you are in the flow of things. Then there is no effort. You receive exactly what you need without having to force things. If you need to force it, then you are not in the flow and that is not the right way.
Figuring out which is true and applicable in a certain situation can however be confusing at times. Is the hardship that I am enduring a test of my determination or is it a sign saying “don’t go down this road”?
Photo: Gæt en smartphone – Del 2 by Jacob Bøtter on Flickr
Before you consider working with visionary plants or other psychedelic medicines it is helpful to ask yourself why you want to do so. Your purpose for using a plant or substance is very important for the outcome and you will want to create an environment for your experience that matches your purpose.
I have identified four reasons for using substances, but there are certainly many more.
Recreational use Many use plants or substances simply to have fun and explore. They take it at a party or for an adventure with friends. The altered states that psychedelics provide are often very pleasant and uplifting, and at the same time often feel very meaningful. Some plants and substances fit well in a social context, while others do not.
Medicinal use Visionary plants and psychedelics are powerful tools for healing emotionally and mentally, but sometimes also physically. They often bring clarity to the situation and give tools, which is a starting point for working with one’s self-healing. It is also common for them to lower mental barriers or defences you might have towards dealing with a situation. This makes them powerful tools for deep therapeutic work where breakthrough experiences are common, but working in that way takes courage, safety and it is advisable to have an experienced person by your side.
Spiritual use Visionary plants have been used in spiritual practice for many thousands of years and all over the globe. The plants themselves have spirits that communicate with us and are often respectfully referred to as teachers. Working from a spiritual understanding opens up possibilities to such things as being in contact with the spirit world, receiving messages from the other side or other entities, extracting intruding entities, working with past life issues, and so on. Here it is equally important to have courage, work in a safe environment and to have an experienced person by your side. For someone who works with visionary plants and psychedelics at this level there is often no strict division between medicinal use and spiritual use, since the spiritual work has healing effects.
AbUse Abuse is important to be aware about, but it is uncommon that people abuse visionary plants or certain psychedelics. They are well renowned for being anti-addictive and often break abusive cycles, which make them excellent for treating and even curing addiction.
Am I ready?
Why are you considering visionary plants or psychedelic medicines? Many who consciously seek such paths feel stuck in one way or another. They come looking for healing and insight and a way to get unstuck. In some cases people are so intrigued by the medicine that they forget to ask themselves if they actually need it. They can often do more good for themselves by simple means of working out, eating healthier, taking up a meditation practice, doing yoga, making other life style choices and such.
Visionary plants and psychedelics are very powerful tools for working with personal and spiritual development and should be treated with respect. They should not be confused with drugs. To work with visionary plants or psychedelics you need to be mentally prepared to meet whatever comes up. If you know that you are not prepared to see and work through that which you have stored away sub-consciously, you should definitely not use these tools.
If you on the other hand are committed to healing and growing and want to gain access to knowledge so that you can help yourself, then visionary plants and psychedelics might be the closest thing to a miracle that you can find.
There might be medical reasons for you not to use certain plants or substances. Check reliable sources for what might be relevant to you. Your shaman, guide or therapist should be able to help you out. In countries where such medicines are legal it might also be good also to ask your medical doctor.
It is not uncommon to be asked to hold a diet or do other lifestyle changes before or after working with visionary plants and psychedelics. If you do a one day fast before it is mainly to prepare your body and make the effect more powerful, but if you are asked to do a longer diet the diet is often also part of your healing.
It should be noted that the most popular visionary plants and psychedelic medicines are physically very safe to work with. Practically nobody dies from them. The potential risks are rather at the mental level, where people who are not willing to change can have very challenging and even terrifying experiences. The problem in that case is not the medicine, but the person’s unwillingness to work with what comes up. Such risks are greatly reduced when working under guidance with a therapeutic or spiritual intention.
There is a general caution when it comes to people who suffer from severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia. The fear is that the plants or substances might trigger the person to become even more sick. There are however other ways of understanding those illnesses. If the illness for example actually is a parasitic energy attached to the person, then visionary plants can be ideal to work with under the guidance of a shaman or such.
The clearer your intention, the easier it will often be for you to find answers, simply because it will focus you in that direction. Some intentions are very precise, such as finding the answer to a specific question. Other intentions can be very broad, but still not vague. Saying “Give me what I need and the strength to handle it” for example.
The mere fact that you are setting a conscious intention sends out the signal that you are open for receiving and working with yourself, which will make it easier to receive and work with yourself. Not setting an intention sends out an unconscious garbled signal possibly inviting things that you are not ready to work with.
I do however have the feeling that the plants consciously don’t give me what I want, but what I need. If my intention is in line with what is best for me, then the answers will be very clear. If my intentions are off, then they won’t be answered. If that happens it is important to be open to listen for what is really best for me.
Promise to yourself
One part to the intention and mental preparation that I find most helpful is to consciously and solemnly promise yourself to deal with whatever comes up. However challenging, hard or nasty it is, you will be courageous, face it and work through it. Having promised yourself to do so, you will be less likely to try to avoid unpleasant challenges, and meeting them head on you will surely solve them.
Set & setting
The concept of set and setting is a great tool for understanding some of the basic steps that lead you to have a certain experience.
Set, as in mindset Where are you mentally and emotionally right now? What is going on inside you? What is going on in your life? Your experience will in one way or another reflect what is going on with you and what you need in life right now. To be safe you should be in a mindset where you are prepared and capable to handle the challenges you face.
Someone who is unstable and unwilling to face themselves and make changes in their life should not take visionary plants or psychedelics. If one for example uncovers disturbing hidden memories and then tries to suppress them again, there is a risk of re-traumatizing oneself. The same mechanism that can make it a miracle plant or substance for some, can make it a hellish nightmare for others. When we use visionary plants and psychedelics we often delve into the subconscious and find new things to bring to the conscious level. From the conscious level we can then begin working with it in order to heal and grow. One needs to be ready to take that ride.
Setting Is simply the surroundings. Who are you with? Where are you? Do you feel safe? My best experiences have been by myself, with one other person or with a small group of friends that I like and feel safe with. It has always been understood that we take care of each other if anything happens. And above all, they have taken place in nature.
In your mind, place yourself in different places and with different people and feel the vibe of them and how well that reflects what you want to accomplish. A garden. A national park. In a cabin by a lake. In an art studio. At a rave party. In a pub. In a hospital. In a car. On a boat. In a ceremony. With a shaman. With friends. With bullies. With drunks. With your parents. In a messy dorm room. On a tropical beach. In a hut in the rainforest.
There are so many variations and some of them are obviously bad. Make yours good. Reports of bad trips almost always begin with the person not knowing about or ignoring to create the right set and setting.
Navigating the psychedelic experience
Go with the flow
The very best way to meet that which is challenging or even frightening is by accepting and diving right into it. Meet your fears head on by accepting and working through that which scares you. When you do so you will eventually resolve whatever is bothering you and come out on the other side, wiser and free of it. As long as you try to avoid whatever it is you will still in some way be trapped by it. Distracting yourself won’t solve your problem, but only add stress to it.
Unfortunately many are so used to avoiding discomfort that it seems counter-intuitive to face what is troubling you. Instead of meeting the discomfort it is common now-a-days to put a lid on things, distract ourselves or even sedate ourselves. That attitude can be very harmful when we work with plants or psychedelics, since they work in the opposite direction by raising our awareness and pointing us to the real issue.
While there are those who warn people to get in contact with their subconscious, that is the whole point of the exercise with visionary plants and psychedelics. So when you are faced by something, however awful it might seem, your best response is to accept it and go with the flow. Work through it and come out on the other side.
Acceptance is an important step
The first step in working with change is to bring awareness to the situation. We need to become aware that change is needed, but to be able to change we also need to accept how things are right now. It doesn’t mean that we need to approve of how things are, be ok with them, or anything like it. It just means that you need to accept the current situation as it really is in order to change it. Otherwise your actions will at best be misdirected, and at worst harmful for your growth.
Being aware and having accepted what is leads you on to be able to work with your change. The actual change might be quick like turning on a switch, or it might take much hard work. When you have worked through it all it is important also to acknowledge it by being grateful. Those who forget to be grateful often forget what they have to be grateful for.
One major aspect of plant teachers and psychedelics is to help us in that process. They help us bring awareness and often also show us how we need to change, but for the healing and growing to take place we need to accept how things are and put in the necessary work to change ourselves.
Changing the variables of setting
When you feel bad during a journey it can be because you actually have something that you need to deal with. In that case, accept it and dive right in. There are however times when people feel bad without being able to locate why. When the discomfort isn’t caused by something internal, it is caused by something external. When it is external simple changes in your environment can very quickly make you feel better. You can for example try this:
change your body position
look at your bodily needs. Do you need to go to the bathroom, drink something or are you hot/cold?
change the music, turn it off/on
change the lighting
change what you’re doing
change rooms or go outside/inside
Any one of these variables and many more like them can affect your wellbeing without you even noticing it. By deliberately changing them you can figure out where the problem lies. The setting you have chosen has its own map of possibilities that can be changed to change the way you feel, for good and bad.
Change is the only constant
Nothing lasts forever. The effects of the plant or substance that you have taken will eventually fade away. Whatever you are experiencing right now will soon be no more than a memory. This can be comforting to remember when things are especially challenging. If someone is having a hard time and needs comforting, remind them that this too will pass.
You should plan your journey so that this information is never needed, but if you really need to land from the experience you should eat. We raise our vibration when we work with visionary plants and psychedelics, so by eating we lower ourselves again. Food is earth and helps you find roots, but it can be quite a challenge to eat in that state since even a watermelon might taste like soil. Eating to land is a safe and natural way of landing, but it takes time and you will still feel some effects. It is also possible to cut the energy of some plants with lemon or chilli. I would definitely not recommend alcohol or other drugs or medicines to come down.
Calling the police/ambulance
A few people get the knee-jerk reaction to call the police if things get scary. In most cases it is a really bad idea to ask help from the police, since they really have no idea what they are dealing with. Their training does not include how to take care of tripping people and that insensitivity can be quite disrupting or even traumatizing. But of course, if there is a real emergency where the police or ambulance is needed – call them.
A spiritual perspective
The traditions that have worked with these visionary plants for many millennia are spiritual. They take into account such things as other realities, spirits, intrusive energies and past lives. The plants themselves are entities that can be communicated with and they are often honourably referred to as teachers. The plant teachers are naturally occurring and among others include San Pedro, Peyote, psilocybin mushrooms and Ayahuasca. These all have powerful entities connected to them who often heal and teach us things.
Chemical substances such as LSD do not have entities attached to them. LSD can give many of the same effects by unleashing the persons own potential, but without the support of a plant entity, what comes out of it is left up to the person who has taken the substance.
These traditions also work with the understanding that people have an energetic body where blockages can lead to physical illness later on.
Respecting the substance and yourself
If one understands that the plants are actually powerful entities who help us work with ourselves, it goes without saying that one should meet them in a respectful manner. In traditional settings that is reflected in the ceremony, but respectful should not be confused with tradition or ceremony. Being respectful means being of good intention, willing to better yourself and treating the plant as the teacher and helper that it is. Respectful is making the effort to integrate the insights you have gained. Respect can be seen in how we prepare ourselves for meeting the plant, in what setting we choose, what clothes we wear and how we treat and help those we journey with.
There are certainly many ways of being disrespectful, but some of the more common are using the plant as a drug, using it with bad intentions and mixing it with other plants or substances. If you want to mix the plant with something else, then first ask its permission.
Navigating alternative realities
Visionary plants and psychedelics open doors to realities that are often hidden to us. To put it plainly – there are such things as spirits, angels and demons. Many sicknesses, especially mental ones, are actually caused by parasitic energies.
Some people have a natural instinct on to how to handle other realities, while others can feel very lost and vulnerable. If you have no knowledge of how to navigate such realities it is good to have a guide who does.
As so often it is really only fear itself that you have to worry about. If you feel that you need protection, then you should absolutely call it in. If you feel that you don’t need protection, then most likely you are fine without it.
Integrate the experience, live the insight
Plants and substances are tools that will show you what you are doing wrong and what you need to do in order to get un-stuck, heal and so on. They will usually not heal you, but will rather leave that work for you to do. What you do following the ceremony is therefore of utmost importance. To heal you need to properly integrate and live the insights that you have found. As long as you do so you are still on your way.
If you on the other hand go back home and don’t bother taking care of the insights you have gained, then you will quickly find yourself in the same misery again. It might even be worse, because you have become conscious about what you should do. In that case you stagnate and stand still. A person who comes back for the same answers over and over is probably not genuinely interested in evolving, but is rather seeking thrills. If you come back for the same answers you will soon find that the plants get fed up with you, in the same way that any therapist would if you kept coming back with the exact same issue. If they do get angry with you, your journeys will rapidly become increasingly uncomfortable.
Some people are very able to work with themselves after the experience, while others need the support of others. When doing such journeying with friends one has a support group in each other, but if one takes help of a shaman or therapist for the experience it isn’t always obvious where you can get the support you need afterwards.
To make positive changes in your life you need to focus on integration. If it is all about the experience and not about the integration, you will find yourself going nowhere.
How all of this applies to life in general
If you take a step back and exclude all plants and substances from this text you will notice that most of what I have written is applicable to life in general. Let me take a few examples.
Setting Depressed people often unconsciously program themselves to be miserable. Everything around them is carefully rigged to keep their mood down. They are in a setting which is poison to them. If they applied the same technique of changing variables in their surroundings they could often solve their situation without medication. But instead of changing the music, changing clothes, relationships or jobs, many people medicate themselves. By doing so they are in many cases actually sedating themselves in order to continue functioning in an environment that is harmful to them.
Go with the flow Our society is obsessed with avoiding the uncomfortable, at the cost of never actually solving it. Instead of facing the discomfort we sedate or distract ourselves from problems. If people in general were given the tools and courage to face their pain, sorrow, shame, anxiety and whatever else is bothering them, we would see far more healing at the mental and emotional level than doctors, therapist, shamans and medications can ever hope to give us.
Integration is the key People are full of bright ideas and answers, but they are all quite pointless if you do not let them live. Insights that aren’t translated into action are only insights in theory. For them to have importance in your life you must do something with them.
A last note
Much of this text deals with the issue of challenging experiences with visionary plants and psychedelics, but I need to add that most of my experiences with psychedelic medicine have been joyful, marvellous, beautiful and eye-opening. There is so much love and wonder and I function so much better because of my experiences. So even if I believe in being prepared for challenges, leave the door wide open for your journey to be something totally other than challenging, because most of the time it will be.
There will come a day when all that is left of this moment is a memory. With time that memory will fade because you will have learnt the lessons and moved on. Your situation may feel disgusting right now, but there is one thing in life that is truly constant and that is that it is always changing. In all aspects, big and small, it always changes. Where you are today, you will not be tomorrow. What hurts now will not always hurt. When life is really dreadful, when you got the wind knocked out of you – then remember this. There will come a day when all that is left of this is a memory, if even that.
Photo: Be careful getting outta that… by DaMongMan on Flickr
In the gospel of Tomas, Jesus says “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” That quote has been very inspiring to me, because the truth is so very apparent. When we try to hide things we are ashamed of, we are actually holding onto those most toxic moments of our lives, thus hurting ourselves.
I use my writing as a tool for healing. When I find something that I feel that some part of me desperately wants to keep secret, I write about it. Then I often find myself doubting if I should really reveal that which I feel ashamed of. That feeling is the final sign that I need to let go, so I publish. Every time I manage to bring something out into the open and release it, a weight is lifted from my shoulders. I walk a little lighter, a little taller and breathe a little deeper.
Some might think that I do so because I am an exhibitionist thrill seeker. To be quite honest it often scares and even sickens me to reveal myself. My ego is many times violently opposed and tries to get me off the idea of being truthful and transparent. But I push forward anyway, because when I release something it eventually looses all power over me and I heal.
This blog mostly covers the last 10-15 years of my life. My life has changed dramatically during that time, which has led me on a path of spiritual and self discovery. From having been an atheist drunk I have woken up to realize that I am a shaman, a healer and teacher. I have opened up contact to the spirit world and work with angels. I’m a natural at working with psychedelics and often have clear sight. Most of the time I’m not learning things in the area of spirituality and shamanism, I’m just remembering them from the many past lives I have spent doing the same things.
I have also found several great gurus along the way. It is clear to me that everyone and everything has the potential of being a great teacher, if I only approach them/it with that understanding. So many people have helped me remember who I am and have added to my knowledge. I am truly grateful. Three teachers have been especially prominent – my two children and my wife.
This journey is most interesting and rewarding, even in the parts that have been filled with hardship. It has left my head filled with insights and learning experiences that I now feel an overwhelming need to document in order to bring structure into what I know. I am releasing my first book shortly and I have the feeling that there are a couple more waiting to be written, where much of the material on this blog will reappear.
So far I have worked very much on my own or with a small circle of friends. Lately I have been feeling a longing to expand and find new friends also outside Sweden. I hope that my openness attracts other people who are on similar paths of self exploration, and it seems to.
I am also happy to share what I have learnt with others.
Social commentary and a push for change
There is so much that is properly screwed up in this society that I cannot help myself from commenting on some of it. Especially when it comes to drug laws I find today’s system utterly offensive, but politics in common are a mess. So I can’t help getting involved from time to time.
What this blog isn’t about
This blog is not about having many readers, pleasing people, earning money, making a name for myself, satisfying my ego or hurting anyone. If any of that was a priority, this would have been a very different blog.
Once upon a time I saw oppressive structures everywhere. I felt restricted, bullied and forced. By chance that feeling fit very well with my life as an alcoholic, which I lived back then. As an alcoholic it was always very convenient to have someone else to blame for my shortcomings and failures. I was angry and it was nice to know that it was someone else’s fault that I had no job, felt bad about myself or simply didn’t get things done. When I studied at university, I was a strong supporter of all theories that confirmed what I believed – that it was someone else’s fault.
Then came my awakening which made me stop drinking from one day to the next. The essence of that awakening was that everything begins within me. The ultimate power over my life lies in me and it is up to me to create that life. With that understanding I chose to remodel my life. I freed myself from alcohol abuse and began a journey of personal and spiritual development. I chose to heal and grow. Every single step on that path was taken with the conscious knowledge that I create my own life.
The past few months have not been comfortable for me. I have gone back to university and now I have once again been drowned in theories about the structures that oppress and bind us, but this time they feel like a lower vibration. Of course, I understand that there are actual oppressive structures, but it has also become clear to me that many, if not most, who embrace such theories ultimately do so to be angry, to have someone to blame or to be able to rest in their victim role. Even I started searching for ways that I am a victim and I managed so well that I soon understood how I was the most oppressed person in the room.
But there was something gigantic and for me very important missing – that which enables personal growth and recovery. Low feelings of oppression, anger and victimhood can certainly be channeled into action, but for many they mostly seem to be paralyzing. And let me clarify this and say that I do not see, for example, going to a demonstration or rally as an active action. In order to develop as a person or to heal, such seemingly active actions can on the contrary be very passive and even dulling, since they do not force us to question our roles or assumptions.
All this was very uncomfortable to me, because on the one hand I realize that there is a truth to this with structures, but on the other hand I know even stronger that all power in my life comes from within and this realization gives me the power to heal and grow.
Then came my third introduction to sociology in this lifetime and once again I had to wrestle Marx and the other guys. More specifically I became interested in the concepts of alienation and commodity fetishism. When we create something and put our heart into it, it can be felt that it has a soul. We have imbued it with our own energy and in many cases the process of making it has also developed us as human beings, even if it might only be technically. When the production moves into a factory, the process is fragmented and workers only perform a part of the whole, the soul is lost and the product is disconnected from those who created it. In short we become alienated from what we have produced. The item becomes a simple gadget without a soul, something outside of ourselves that has very little to do with us.
Then I found the sentence which released me from my discomfort. “The same dynamics characterize all sectors of […] society: people start to believe that social structures have their own life […]”. (Ritzer 2013, p. 231 – translated from Swedish) People create structures, but since we alienate ourselves from them we begin imagining that they are separate from us. When we want to change them we therefore approach them as something external to us. We attack them from the outside as something that needs to be solved or even fought.
Had we not been alienated from the social structures, we would have recognized them as reflections of our inner selves, which would have led us to seek the solution within ourselves. When we begin the process of reclaiming power over what we create, we soon see the truth that has been present throughout my journey – all power originates from within.
Once again humankinds less sympathetic traits shine through. We have the tendency to seek scapegoats outside ourselves. We want the problem to be somewhere else, with someone else or in something else. When we place blame we do so by pointing away from ourselves, but as the saying goes, three fingers are pointing back at us.
If you want to help others, start by helping yourself.
If you want to heal the world, heal yourself and you will heal everything around you.
If you want to destroy racism, begin by healing the racist within. When you do so, your whole appearance will shift so dramatically that you will plant love in the heart of others.
It all starts with you.
You are the Alpha and the Omega.
You are the universe expressing itself as a human.
When you change yourself, everything else changes.
Photo: Sam’s Organic Universe by Nicolas Raymond on Flickr
These last days I have had several people ask me how one works therapeutically with psychedelics.
First off – how one works depends on what tools one has to work with. Doing therapy with psychedelics doesn’t have to differ that much from doing it without. The therapist has access to the same basic equipment, so if you are working with a psychologist they will weave in psychology. If you are working with a yoga teacher, they will use yoga. If you are working with a coach, they will coach you. The term psychedelic therapy is simply an abbreviation for psychedelic ASSISTED therapy, or therapy with help of psychedelics.
Psychedelics can help in that process in many ways, for example by:
∙ lowering defence mechanisms
∙ opening up memories and doors of perception that can otherwise be hard to open
∙ giving the therapist clear sight
In my experience the psychedelics will also from time to time give me novel new techniques, as in the case when mushrooms taught me trauma release exercises. (http://wilby.nu/the-gift-of-healing/)
● ● ●
Personally I mainly take a shamanistic and coaching approach and I work with such things as coaching conversation, meditation, healing, angels, and channelling. I work intuitively, so except for a few initial preparations, sessions may vary greatly.
It is my firm belief that psychedelic plants are entities which I can have a conversation with and that teach me things – they are plant teachers. Thus it goes without saying that one should approach them with respect. That doesn’t mean to be without humour, get caught up in ceremony or speak in a bombastic manner. It means not to be stupid. Don’t mix the plant with other plants/substances without asking permission, don’t use it in settings that are not good and don’t give it to people that you know shouldn’t have it. (http://wilby.nu/the-sea-cow-that-taught-me-a-lesson/)
I begin by opening a sacred space where I invite the specific energies and angels that I wish to have support from. I ask them to keep us safe and I set the intention for the trip. After having ingested the plant I meditate with it. This was something that the mushroom taught me to do, and by doing so I have gotten to know the many different personalities of different mushrooms. When I meditate with mushrooms I simply ask them to work with my body, to heal me and also, when possible, to show me what they are doing. Some of my most powerful experiences and insights have come during such meditations and it is also a wonderful way to early on integrate the plant into my body. When we distract ourselves by running around and fiddling with stuff, we don’t get the full effect. The meditation on mushrooms usually lasts for 20-30 minutes, but I don’t set a timer. The plant tells me when it’s time to move on. (http://wilby.nu/mushroom-meditation/)
Then comes “the trip”. As I said earlier, I work intuitively, so I can’t really give you a worksheet on it. One trip might be all about locating and diving into an old trauma or a block in the energy system. Another might be about getting guidance from ones higher self, or getting in contact with nature. Or it might be all of it, or none of it. Most of the time I don’t do much at all. I’m just there, holding the space, having fun together with the person, answering questions, looking after the person. I always have the essentials along – water, flashlights and such. What I’m doing, more than holding space, is looking for the right moment to present itself. All of a sudden a memory might be triggered, a sensation be felt or a communication opened. Then I dive in and do what I can, but always in collaboration with the person I’m supporting, because in the end it is always the client who will have to do the actual work.
My experience is that it isn’t actually “the trip” that is the trip. The hours when we feel confused, stumbling around in the woods, laughing and crying – that is not the trip. The trip is taking all the insights that the experience has opened up and applying them in your own life. Integration and hard work afterwards is the key, otherwise it’s just thrill seeking. (http://wilby.nu/the-trip/)
Supporting the person to continue working with him/herself can be as important as the experience with the plant. If one doesn’t integrate and work with oneself between sessions the plants will, in time, be pretty pissed off if you continue coming back for the same advice. That is one reason why many people have delightful and meaningful early trips, but with time have much harder and scarier trips. They aren’t integrating what the plants are teaching them.
As long as you are unaware that you have a problem, you cannot work with it. The first step is becoming aware. When you become aware of a problem area – explore it as fully as you can. I find that psychedelics are wonderful at helping us do this, since they really shove it in your face.
2. Accept it.
Many who become aware that they have a problem will immediately try to hide from it or force it down into the sub-conscious again. If you do not accept the problem, you cannot work with it. You must accept the situation. It doesn’t mean that you think it’s good, that it is where you want to be or anything like that. It just means that you need to accept where you are and the way things are at this moment in time. When you do so you can start working with yourself.
3. Make changes.
This for me is a very intuitive step. When I have become aware and accepted the way things are right now, life will show me ways to move forward. One needs to be open to all the different ways that life does so. It might tell me to begin a meditation practice, help out at an animal shelter, be more loving in close relationships or work on forgiveness. You will be shown what you need to move forward.
4. Be grateful.
This is truly a sign that one has done the full cycle. When one can look back on all the hurt and suffering with gratefulness, then one has learnt the lesson contained within the experience. Being grateful is also the best way to say thank you to life, for all the support you have been given.
A short answer to a very big question.
Feel free to ask questions.
When you decide to change you will almost always be challenged. The mechanism is simple. There is something within you which want to remain oblivious and which does not want to change. It sees change as a threat, which is quite logical since change means that you will sacrifice some part of yourself.
In the very beginning of the process of change there is often a moment of lucidity where it is very clear why you need to change. You are awoken from unawareness, sober up and at least momentarily see things clearly. You manage to regain focus, promise yourself to change and begin working on yourself.
But then comes that which wants everything to remain as it has been and it hinders you in several ways. It invites forgetfulness back and clouds our vision. If we allow it we will soon no longer see things clearly and we will forget why we even felt the need to change in the first place. It will trick us to lose focus by distracting us. “Sure, this is all very important, but you ought to do this first” the deceptive voice whispers and serves up a smorgasbord of other things to focus on. It frightens us by explaining what a disaster it would be if we really changed. It might even convince us that it will literally be the end of us.
Once you see clearly, hold on to that vision. Stay focused and remind yourself why you need to change. Stay focused and do not let yourself be distracted by everything else that you are suddenly bombarded with. Go straight into the fear. You might be scared, but fear is an illusion. Be focused on the change you need to do. Be focused on the promise you have given to yourself.
Many of us dwell on negative thoughts, which program us to think negatively. We think bad things of ourselves, of others, take the blame or feel shame.
Here is an exercise you can do to start working with your negative thoughts.
Get a small notebook and decide for how long you will do the exercise (1-3 weeks can be a good start).
Each time you think a new negative thought, write down its essence in a few words (e.g. “I’m ugly”, “I have nothing of value to give” or “X is a shit”). Leave some space after each thought.
Each time you think that thought, put a mark by it, so that you begin to count how often you are thinking a specific thought.
Group the marks every morning, so that you can see how many times you were thinking a specific negative thought yesterday.
You will soon notice that some of the thoughts are related. Group them in different ways and see what happens. What clusters do you find? Where do thoughts overlap? Do any of them have the same origin?
By doing so, you examine and raise your awareness about your negative thought patterns. Being aware of them is the first step to freeing yourself from them. Step 6 is to accept these thoughts and number 7 is to find ways to free yourself. These two steps can often be done simultaneously with the exercise.
It is common that we lift things from our subconscious to our conscious when we are tripping. When we become conscious of something unpleasant and become aware of how we, for example, hurt ourselves, we need to choose how to handle that insight. I have identified three ways that I have handled them.
I ignore and repress it down into my subconscious again. This leads to the pressure increasing considerably. I know what is right, but I choose to ignore it. This will eventually lead to an explosion or collapse.
I convince myself that my bad choices are logically and right. I find rational excuses for why I should continue to violate myself or allow others to violate me, and tell myself that it is actually good. Again, I know in my heart what is right, but I ignore it. This increases the pressure in the same way as when trying to repress and eventually leads to an explosion or collapse.
I accept and am grateful for the insight that I have received and make changes in my life that are in line with it. My growth and development continues.
Many “bad trips” are due to the person not being open to making the changes that the insights require of them. Therefore psychedelics can often be quite traumatic for people who want to continue turning a blind eye and fleeing from themselves.
Photo: The Sun and The Moon by David Goehring on Flickr