Tag Archives: therapy

Why doctors should not be the first to meet patients with mental issues

Mental health problems often have their root cause in stress, trauma, abuse, addiction, and such. When we do not take care of unpleasant or challenging parts of life we eventually become ill. Sometimes it takes on physical expressions such as pain, but often it takes on mental expressions such as anxiety or depression. The only way I know of to actually recover from such states is to work with one’s personal development, to solve one’s life issues.

Efexor by mikael altemark on Flickr
Efexor by mikael altemark on Flickr

The problem with antidepressants is that they tend to put a lid on the symptoms without addressing the cause. I suppose the Swedish healthcare system hopes that a therapist will take over from there, but that contact often seems to be poor or non-existent. Therefore we today find ourselves in the situation that we are casually mass medicating the people with antidepressants without proper therapeutic backing, which means that many are getting medical help to put a lid on things, but are not getting the therapeutic support they need to actually solve the underlying problem. For many the antidepressants effectively lower the willingness to work with themselves, which sabotages their recovery. In addition there are all the terrible side effects reported, covering pretty much everything from apathy and obliterated sexual drive to suicide attempts.

I am not saying that such drugs have no raison d’être. They can be very helpful, especially in emergency situations. But before taking such drastic measures as to expose someone to medications with potentially lethal side effects, there are many other things you might try first.

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Self help

There is a great lack of awareness about how one can help oneself and others suffering from mental illness. Our educational system is so obsessed with measurable subject knowledge that it has very much neglected the truly important life lessons. Life skills should be a major school subject and include such things as how to take care of oneself, how to heal and evolve. A knowledgeable population can do far more for its recovery and well-being than the healthcare system can ever hope to do.

Lifestyle changes

In time depressed people program themselves to feel bad. It is often manifested in how they eat, dress, what the listen to, what routines they have, and more. Many find themselves in bad relationships, they are unhappy with their job or just generally miserable. Life coaches, nutritionists or Ayurveda doctors could be helpful to break negative patterns and focus on good goals.

Movement

Mental illness is reflected in the body. In the beginning only in the energy system, but over time it will become more physical. Movement is generally good because it gets the body’s energy flowing. Two traditions that are particularly good at working with our body and energy flow are yoga and chi gong. Dancing is also a great therapeutic tool.

Body therapy

Many feel alienated from their bodies and need much more body contact than they get, or allow themselves to receive. There are plenty of body therapies that may be helpful, such as medical massage, tactile massage, tantric massage, healing and courses in body awareness.

Meditation

While in a meditative state we release tensions and stress while also finding inner silence. In that silence it is often easy to find answers to why one feels bad and what needs to be done about it. In order to work therapeutically with meditation it is important to be prepared to take care of the stuff that it turns up. There are many more related practices in the alternative field, such as regressions, dancing, drum journeys and nature contact.

Talking

It is good to have a wise person to talk to when needed. Someone who can listen, reflect, challenge, inspire and help us find the answers ourselves. There are many people trying to do just that under such titles as psychologist, therapist, counselor, life coach, priest, witch and shaman. Other titles are less formal, such as a best friend or mother. It may be a tough journey to get out of a depression and it is good to have the support of someone.

Traditional medicine
Bushy Park 10-08-12 - 15 by Garry Knight on Flickr
Bushy Park 10-08-12 – 15 by Garry Knight on Flickr

There is much in nature that can be helpful in curing depression. St John’s Wort is for example an excellent way of naturally raising the serotonin levels. 2-3 cups of St John’s Wort tea for a few weeks makes a noticeable difference. The old Indian health system Ayurveda is also particularly interesting, because it works with food as medicine. The underlying idea is that disease is an imbalance in our body, which can be balanced with the right food. When it comes to the link between health and food, which have a strong correlation, your average Ayurveda doctor generally knows significantly more than both Western doctors and nutritionists.

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It is worrisome that doctors are the first to meet these patients. Doctors are specialized in medicine and therefore see medical solutions to the problems they encounter in humans. A therapist could, for example, meet a patient and see a person who needs to work with her bad self-confidence and make a plan for how to do so. A doctor on the other hand will listen to the patient’s symptoms and then turn to their library of drugs to find one that matches the symptoms.

In a way one can of course say that doctors are just doing their job. They are experts in medicine. When I look at it from the outside, I see a profession which lacks self-awareness. When it comes to really solving problems such as depression the doctor is a novice. If you want to help other people it is incredibly important to understand ones tools and their limitations. A person who has a broken leg should for example not be treated with healing and a change of diet. That person needs an emergency room doctor. A person who will treat a fracture with healing alone is probably somewhat of a charlatan, but is probably mostly clueless to their own limitations.

Stop, Collaborate and Listen by Mark on Flickr
Stop, Collaborate and Listen by Mark on Flickr

In my eyes a doctor who will medicate someone with antidepressants without further thought falls into the same category of dangerously ignorant people who should be called quacks. Medicines such as antidepressants are in no way a reasonable first response to someone feeling bad. Antidepressants are a disproportionate response, and when one adds that the medication lacks a proper therapeutic connection to the tools that the patient wants to work with, it shows a profound ignorance on the doctor’s side.

To summarize what I have written – it is currently the wrong profession that has the first contact with the patient, which often sabotages recovery. Antidepressants are the wrong tool to use, it is regularly used way too early and the connection to other therapy is at best patchy.

If we actually want to have a healthier population, this is a system error that needs to be addressed.

Photo: Electronic Shaman by Surian Soosay on Flickr

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Small, small dreams

– What did you dream of becoming or doing when you were a teenager?

I thought back of what I expected from life and dreamed of, and eventually came to the conclusion that my expectations were not only way off, but that they were also set far too low.

My great desire for a long period was to be a journalist and work at the same newspaper as my mother. I eventually became a journalist and worked at several newspapers, but never at the one where my mother worked. After a few years I felt I was done. I had learnt what I was there for.

Then began a journey of personal and spiritual development.

I recovered from addiction.
I healed and got to know my true essence.
I got in touch with the spirit world and my children.

I found transition points between realities.
Got to know angels.
Explored my psyche and universe.

It is sometimes said that a psychedelic trip can be the same as ten years of therapy in one evening. I’m nowhere close to being finished, but I have by now had many lifetimes of therapy and in contact with others I can really notice the difference.

I connected upwards, downward, inside and out.
I ran to face my fears and to challenge my traumas.
Did found both the guru and the shaman in me.

My teenage dreams seem so small now. Journalist at a newspaper. So simple.

I am an explorer. I move between realities, times and levels of awareness. I am a father who takes care of his children. I am an expression of the highest divine. I am Daniel.

But I still wonder what I should be or do when I grow up.

Photo: Close Up of the Human Eye by Hugo A Quintero G on Flickr

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First LSA trip with a client

Anders notes

When I came to Daniel in the middle of the day I did not felt very good. I had some anxiety which I had for about a week. Now I was in my low state, I felt afraid that I would meet terrible feelings during the session, think that Daniel was my enemy and run off. I had a lot of expectations and some fears. Among other things I thought that I would revisit terrible traumas from my childhood, get stuck in them and go home with even more pain. It turned out that none of those fears or thoughts would come true!

We drank tea and talked for a few hours, among other things about safety, and the anxiety disappeared. Daniel did a tarot reading regarding the dose, and a little about what to expect of the trip, which was inspiring! We used nine seeds each. We prepared the session by crushing the seeds and making cold tea from the crumbs. We sat on a pillow on the floor and invited the entities we wanted help and support from during the session. Daniel did a shamanic purification ceremony with smoke from a special type of wood. (Palo Santo)

We drank our tea and it tasted quite ok. After only 15 minutes I started to feel the effect – I felt somewhat dizzy/sluggish, drowsy and a bit cozy. After a while Daniel thought it was time to meditate with the substance, so we lay down and closed our eyes. I felt curious and also afraid of the new, unknown and “dangerous”, but that soon passed and I slept some.

After a few hours it was time to venture out into the forest. I felt that my body was very sluggish and that I was sleepy. As soon as I got the opportunity I sat down and rested. We dressed in our warmest clothes and went out. I felt a little afraid that I would look drugged or sound drugged when I talked. I worried that the neighbors might see and hear us, but there was no danger and everything went well. I felt so tired that it took much effort for me to walk. Finally we sat down by a sheep pasture.

Daniel asked me to lie down and bury my hands in the grass to make contact with the earth, and then to hand over all that which I no longer needed or which no longer benefited me to the earth. I spoke loudly, and Daniel walked a little further to give me space. The tiredness disappeared. I did as he said, and it felt ok, but I was not 100 percent there. After a while I was absorbed by a thought: I did not want to remain in my relationship! I felt really scared that it might be true and that I would need to break up!

I went to Daniel and told him about my thought, and was very surprised to immediately be given confirmation that I need to make this tough decision in order to be true to myself, develop and feel good. Of course I could make other choices, such as choosing security and convenience, and they were in no way inferior, but they would not lead me to where I really want to go. What I realized later was that Daniel was channeling my higher self. His voice was quite different, and the answers he gave to my questions were so confident and calm, and I noticed that I actually already had all the answers.

As soon as I felt convinced that it was “right” for me to leave my relationship the next terrifying thought appeared: would I have to give up my main occupation? I was aware that it is a bit destructive for me, but it is also very rewarding and what would I do instead? With the same confidence Daniel affirmed my fear and I realized once again that I already had the answer within, but did not dare listen and follow my conviction. Both of these things seemed enormously frightening and painful to me, but I felt that there was no other way for me if I want to get closer to myself, find my strength and create my own life.

There were many questions and I got good answers to everything except that which was too much in the details. Even though I felt terrified to have to tell my girlfriend, employer and everyone else about my decisions, which to some must seem absolutely crazy, I was relieved to finally dare to trust my inner voice. I even laughed several times when I realized how true it was, and how I had tricked myself in different ways! Daniel’s explanations were so obvious, and I felt very fascinated by our conversation. I also felt very present and in safe hands.

When I eventually ran out of questions we went for a walk in the woods, to finally get back inside. I thought it was nice, but I felt the drowsiness coming back, even if the effect of the seeds was much weaker than a few hours earlier. I was assigned to write down everything I was grateful for with my girlfriend, and once I got started I was no longer disturbed by the otherwise rather heavy fatigue. I wrote several pages of things that I am grateful for, and it felt incredibly sad that I would leave a woman who has done so much for me, and who I love. There were doubts, but I realized why I have to leave her. There are things that I have to learn, process, and I cannot do so while I’m with her. What happens later in life remains un-written.

We once again laid down and went on channeling. I was very present and focused. I noted that I really had not had any hallucinations or distorted perception of time or similar effects throughout the session. I understand that sessions with psychedelics can be very different, but this was certainly not what I had expected!

I slept very little that night, and I felt alone with my big challenges. The thoughts whirled around and I was afraid to be perceived as strange by my parents, relatives, friends, colleagues and so on. How can I leave a woman who is so amazing in every possible way, and how can I leave a job that is so fun, desirable and income generating?

I’ve actually done this once before, about 15 years ago. I left my wife and my job at the same time, because it did not feel right in the heart. It was incredibly hard at the time, and it took time to get back on my feet again, but with hindsight I don’t regret it the slightest. Imagine that I would make the same mistake again! Obviously I have not learnt to fully believe in my inner voice yet.

In the morning Daniel was talking as himself again. We talked for a while, ate breakfast, and did a tarot reading, among other things, to gain perspective on what had happened and what will happen, what my biggest problem is (lack of intuition) and how to solve it. Daniel recommended me not to seek other therapies or therapists right now, since it would not benefit me and my development. Most likely I would not take more trips with him in the near future, because I had enough to do with the insights that the session had given me. We thanked each other and with that this amazing, transformative and almost surreal trip was over.

It baffles me that so much could happen in just one session! Now begins the process of taking care of the external reality and manifesting all that the session taught me!

The Woods by Boudewijn Berends on Flickr
The Woods by Boudewijn Berends on Flickr

Daniels notes

As usual I talk to my client (Anders) about how we best manage difficult situations on psychedelics and how we interact to make the situation as safe as possible. We are working with Hawaiian Baby Woodrose and together we decide on a dose of nine seeds.

To avoid the heavy body load that I experienced when I chewed the seeds we crush and make tea of them, putting the pulverized seeds in teabags and letting them soak in cold water for 30 minutes. That process is supposed to extract the active substance, but leave some substances that are heavy on the body. The water became murky green.

After having purified ourselves, we created a sacred place and called in the four archangels Ishmael, Raphael, Gabriel and Michael, as well as friendly nature spirits. Then we drank the tea.

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00:15  The effect comes very quickly. I feel a slight nausea.

00:35  We lay down to meditate with the seeds. I ask the plant several times to reveal itself to me, but it is evasive. The only thing I can see is a mask that looks to be African or West Indian. The plant asks me to lay in different positions for it to work through my entire body.

02:15  A very short purge (vomit) and then a very creative flow.

02:30  Anders remains in meditation, but asks where I am. He says it would have been easy to just be cozy and continue to lie down, which is one reason why we set an intention and decided that we would go out before taking the trip. This is obviously something that applies throughout life. If you have no intention it is easy to lapse into passivity. He comes along even though he isn’t really keen on it.

approx. 04:00  We are in the woods and I have told Anders to lie down, bury his hands in the grass and let go of anything he no longer wants to mother earth. I lie and do the same some 20 meters away, to give him privacy so he can speak loudly. After 5-10 minutes, he asks if he can come over to me. He has a question.

I connect and begin channeling answers to him. Initially it isn’t entirely clear from where the messages are coming, but they are to the point and obviously correct. After finding that it is neither plant, nature, angels or I speaking, I reach the conclusion that it is his higher self that is speaking through me.

In addition to the answers his higher self emphasizes two things that go together. One is that everything in his life is based on his own free will. He has the power to choose what kind of life he wants to create and live. The second, which is a natural consequence, is that it is his own choice if he wants to do as his higher self advises. His higher self advises him to end his relationship, his job and move out to the woods, but points out that the advice is based on what is best for his healing and growth. He can make the choice to rather emphasize such things as security and convenience, and those choices would in no way be better or worse than any other choice. They are just different choices that lead to different life paths.

approx. 06-08: 00  We go home and I ask Anders to write down the things he has to be grateful for with his girlfriend. Then we continue channeling, but unlike the situation in the woods, I am now passing along equal parts from his higher self and of my own knowledge. The effect is still strong.

10:15  We go to bed. The effect is still very noticeable.

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In conclusion it is much easier for the body to absorb the LSA when you first make cold tea of the seeds. However, it does seem to take away a little of the effect. I guess that nine crushed seeds is the equal of seven chewed seeds.

I can see that LSA has a therapeutic and shamanic potential, but I do not understand why it is hiding from me. I do not feel that it is the plant itself that helps the work, but rather it is my ability to use the psychedelic state which makes LSA a useful substance.

Photo: The woods by Boudewijn Berends on Flickr

Thanks to Azarius for sponsring me with the seeds:
Azarius_general_728x90_ENAzarius bannerYou can also visit Azarius new Swedish website here.

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Notes from my first journey on Hawaiian Baby Woodrose seeds

Hawaiian Baby Woodrose seeds, which contain LSA.

Preparations

I am trying the seeds on my own, but I have told friends what I am doing. I don’t have my children for five days, or any other appointments, so I have plenty of time to land comfortably afterwards.

The night before I have slept very well. At 14:00 o’clock I eat four sandwiches and two eggs. After consulting my tarot cards I decide to begin my journey at 21:00. As I do so I put on a watch and set it to 12, so that I always know how much time has passed. The times noted in the journey are hours and minutes after I have eaten the seeds. I always have my phone in my pocket, in case I need to get in contact with someone.

I open a sacred space and invite archangel Ishmael, archangel Gabriel and my friend in spirit, Walter. I also invite all beneficial energies to work with me, especially Mother Earth.

Dose

One of Azarius customers recommends that you take no more than three seeds the first time, but Azarius also write that a normal trip is four to eight seeds. Erowid places three seeds as a threshold or light dose, a common dose as five to eight seeds and a strong dose as seven to twelve seeds.

I am use to high dose sessions and very familiar with working with psychedelics, so after consulting my tarot cards I decide on a dose of nine seeds. I sing for and plant the tenth seed.

I would not recommend such an initial dose for beginners or intermediate users.

The journey

00:05   As with all psychedelics so far I can feel the energy as soon as I take the seeds in my mouth. They are quite hard and I chew them thoroughly.

00:40   The effect is really coming on and I lay down in bed to meditate with the seeds. It tells me how to place my body, but not much more. It doesn’t present itself, as mushrooms do for me. I have no closed eye visuals.

02:30   The seeds have worked through my entire body and also my face, which is new to me. I have a short purge (vomit).

02:40   The body load is very heavy and quite crippling. It lacks the clarity of LSD. I must focus to remain conscious.

Note to self: I must find ways to lessen the body load.

03:00   I need to remind myself not to compare the seeds to LSD, to let them be what they are in their own right. I have no problems operating things like my phone, but I do have a serious problem getting off the floor. No thoughts are buzzing.

03:20   Toilet break. It feels good to stand up, but I am being pulled to lay down.

Note to self: where I am now is not a good therapeutic dose. Too strong, since I am having to focus on being conscious.

03:30   I have beginning heartburn. I eat one Novaluzid, seven almonds and drink a glass of water. Even though the dose is excessive, I am fully able to monitor myself and I am aware of my bodily needs.

03:45   The experience is calming down slightly. I can move around a little more.

04:20   It is not good to lie on my stomach, since it lures me to become unconscious (unconscious as un-aware, not as in falling asleep). I lie on my back and practice a surrendering meditation. The dose is too strong to allow me to do this effectively, since I am putting more effort in to keeping aware and focused, than on surrendering. I do have brief breakthroughs though.

A friend checks in to see how I’m doing.

04:35   Significant increase of body load.

I go outside and notice that it is a full moon. I feel a strong activation of my left side of my body, lie down on the grass and bury my hands in it to strengthen the connection to mother Earth. I begin thanking her, saying things like “Thank you for cleansing me, thank you for taking care of all the rubbish I have, thank you for cleaning me”. I do so for approximately five minutes and then all of a sudden, as if my prayer of thankfulness has been heard, I instead begin saying “I’m thankful that I am cleansing myself, I’m thankful that I get rid of all my rubbish, I’m thankful that I clean myself”, which goes on for another five minutes. Mother Earth helps me and empowers me, but she also works through me as I work with myself. I feel grateful and happy, blessed, as I stand up with a big smile on my face and begin walking to the forest.

On my way I begin singing my first icaros (shaman song). “Hey. You’re ok. You’ll be fine. Just breathe.” I sing it with full heart and as I’m walking along a fence I become aware of something walking next to me. As I look through the fence there is a white sheep there. I put my hand through the fence to pat it and end up standing there cuddling and talking with it for a good ten minutes. I have grown up with sheep, but I have never seen one act this way. It is like a really affectionate cat rubbing it’s head against my hands.

Roar by Sarah Laval on Flickr.
Roar by Sarah Laval on Flickr.

I say goodbye, walk another 50 meters and feel the need to purge once more. I throw up violently and then lie down on the ground. As I lie there panting I thank mother Earth for receiving and transforming that which I no longer need. I feel a great release, especially in the throat area. A growl grows within and I soon find myself growling with immense power and joy as I connect to my inner lion. After having growled and sung and thanked mother Earth for a good 30 minutes I get to my feet feeling deeply relieved. I rub my medicine bag in the dirt before I continue walking along the forest path in the dark of the night.

As I continue to sing my first ikaros, my second icaros soon arrives. It seems very fitting, seeing that I am walking in the forest. “I am a walking tree, you are a walking tree :ǁ Feet on the earth, head in the sky. Our hearts join together, the two to one to meet :ǁ Bringing the light down, to the darkest ground. Releasing the dark side, into the light. :ǁ” The forest very much enjoys my presence and my song.

I get slightly lost and wander around the dark forest laughing about it all, but never have the urge to get my flashlight out or check the map in my phone.

07:15   Home again. Still very intense, but also very manageable. I have a cup of tea, feel happy and free. I begin working on cleansing unwanted energies from my life.

09:00   Still very strong. I feel a need to begin landing, since I am tired and hungry.

10:15   The experience is still going strong when I eat a baked potato and go to bed afterwards. No problem going to sleep.

19:20   I have slept for a little more than 8 hours. I am still a little spaced out, but more than that I feel relaxed, comfortable and content. I feel much lighter and grateful to have released whatever was in my throat. I am grateful for the guidance from mother Earth, for having connected with my two ikaros and for the strong connection to my inner lion.

After another night’s sleep I am back to normal, but still very happy and content. I seem to be dreaming more vividly after the experience.

In conclusion

Keeping in mind that this is my very first trip on seeds containing LSA I would say that the experience was very rewarding. Nine seeds is a strong dose with a lot of body load, but also great potential for solo shamanic work, or work with other shamans. For working therapeutically I would lower the dose somewhat, at least for the therapist, so that it wouldn’t be a challenge to keep focus.

I didn’t feel that the experience was as clear as LSD or as mystical as mushrooms, but it was certainly a psychedelic experience that can be used both for spiritual/shamanic and therapeutic work. I wasn’t able to have clear communication with the seeds, but will continue trying in future sessions. There seems to be a connection to earth and nature.

It was good that I drank more water before the second purge, or it would have been very painful.

I recommend a much lower dose for beginners and intermediate users, at least without a proper guide present. Also one should set aside the next day for integrating the experience and make sure to get enough sleep.

Photo: The Full Moon of Glen Ellyn by Jim Larrison on Flickr

Thank you Azarius for sponsoring me with the seeds:
Azarius bannerYou can also visit Azarius new Swedish website here.
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What is psychedelic therapy?

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/)

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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.

Finally I work with a very simple four step process in all personal and spiritual development. It is my own, discovered with the help of psychedelics, but I see the same basic structure in various systems. (http://wilby.nu/four-steps-to-personal-and-spiritual-growth/)

1. Become conscious.

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.

Photo: Hands of light by Tomas Sobek on Flickr

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Daniel tries legal psychedelics

Press Release 2014-12-31:

In 2015 the Swedish/English blogger and shaman Daniel Wilby will try legal drugs to investigate their therapeutic and spiritual potential.
– It is my hope to be able to offer legal psychedelic therapy and healing in the near future, he explains.

Nine years ago he himself recovered from long-term alcohol abuse and a deep depression when he came in contact with the illegal psychedelic substance LSD. Since then he has worked intensely to learn how to use psychedelics for healing and growing, both for himself and with others.
– I see the criminalization of psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin mushrooms as a violation of every person’s inherent right to heal and practice their spiritual beliefs. For me, these substances saved my life and I can never be grateful enough for the help I received through them.

Daniel works in the shamanic tradition, but has also recently begun studying social work at the university of Malmö with the hope of being able to work with legal psychedelic therapy in the future.
– At first I imagined that I would have to open a center abroad to bring clients to, but this fall we had a big discussion in Sweden about the harmful yet legal Spice blends. That made me think of all these substances that are not yet classified as illegal. I want to examine them to see if there are some that are good to work with in the same manner as I have previously worked with LSD and mushrooms.

The Internet-based smartshop Azarius in Holland sponsors Daniel with products from their selection, and he will continuously report his and others’ experiences on his blog.
– Two things have been particularly important when we have selected which substances to try. The first is that the substance must be safe. There cannot be the slightest risk for my health. The second is that the substance must be legal in Sweden.

Psychedelic plants have in shamanic traditions been used for many thousands of years to heal and help people grow, and to get in contact with the spirit world. During a short period leading up to the 1960s, they were used extensively in Western therapeutic contexts and generally showed great results, but all such research was suppressed when the war on drugs began.
– The reason that psychedelics were banned in the 1960s was not that they were dangerous, but because they were perceived as subversive. Suddenly people let their hair grow, they listened to strange music and refused to go to war. For militaristic-minded nations who expected a certain conformity and obedience, this was very scary. Compared to other drugs and medications psychedelics are very safe, but as with anything you obviously need to know what you are doing.
– In a therapeutic context psychedelics allow us to quickly go very deep. They strip away unnecessary walls and help us to dive into the subconscious, which means that we can often go further in one single psychedelic session than you would in months or even several years of regular therapy.

Photo: Daniel Wilby by Jamin Pirnia

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A better tomorrow with drugs

Today’s repressive drug laws are at a dead end. The war on drugs harms society and citizens in a multitude of ways, of which I listed some in yesterdays blog post. Ironically it also prevents effective treatments for such things as addiction. But where can we go from here? Let’s imagine that all substances are legal. How can we organize the community to limit the damage and help addicts?

Legalizing all drugs would of course not mean that you could buy them next to the sweets at your local supermarket. And everything doesn’t just fall into place because they come under government control. There would probably need to be a combination of solutions, some of which already exist and others that don’t. Here are some possible parts to such a system.

State control.

hug me by jo marshall on Flickr
hug me by jo marshall on Flickr

In the current situation the entire drug trade is a black economy that is largely controlled by criminal organizations. If all substances were legalized they would become part of the regular economy, where it becomes possible to set up rules for manufacturing and quality control products. The substances would be provided with a table of content, just like any other commodity. The goods may additionally be provided with other labels, such as organic and fair trade.

Those working in the trade would have the same rights as other workers, would have the support of existing labor laws, would have the right to organize themselves into unions and would become tax payers.

Sales could take place within established models, such as the state control (pharmacies/tobacco sales) or as a state monopoly (in Sweden all alcohol is sold by the state run Systembolaget). Age limits could be imposed on substances and they could also be differentiated, so that one would have to be older to purchase some of the more potent compounds.

Taxing substances.

When drugs come under government control it is possible to steer people away from more harmful substances by levying heavier taxes on them. It’s would be easy to see which substances are economically costly for society and adjust the taxes accordingly.

Possibility to withdraw the right to use certain substances.

People should be able to lose their right to use certain substances if they commit crimes or harm themselves or others when they use them. I think it is strange that those who repeatedly get into fights drunk, drive intoxicated or get wasted on the verge of dying, still have the right to buy as much liquor as they can pay for.

When one shows that they aren’t able to handle a certain substance, it should be possible to revoke that person’s right to do so, in the same manner that one can lose ones driving license or license to practice medicine.

The possibility to exclude oneself from certain substances.

40+30 Tutorial by bark on Flickr
40+30 Tutorial by bark on Flickr

Many people are very aware of which substances they should not take. For example I know many who say they have no problem drinking beer, but go berserk if they drink hard liquor. It’s the same with all substances. What is pure bliss for one, can be hell for another. What one is able to take a couple of times a year without developing a craving for, another becomes addicted to after just a few doses.

But then again, many people know perfectly well what substances are dangerous for them. It could be made easy for them to take responsibility with the choice to voluntarily waive the right to use certain substances. They could also be able to set limits for themselves, by specifying how much of a substance they may purchase during a certain time period.

Many addicts will arrive at the point where they want to break free from their habit. During a certain period the window of change is open. The problem is often that they relapse because the substance will continue to be available to them. If they can exclude themselves from the right to buy certain substances, such as if an alcoholic does not allow him/herself to buy liquor, it would effectively help in the recovery process.

Licenses to handle certain substances.

With some particularly heavy drugs such as heroin, it would be possible to introduce a license allowing an educated person to handle the substance. For most substances it would probably be enough with basic education in school and a little everyday common sense, but with substances that carry serious consequences, it is important to be sure that those who use them have proper knowledge about risks and safety. The education for such a license may contain things like responsible management, how to use in a safe manner to prevent spread of infection, and how to deal with accidental overdoses. Such a license may be revoked if the person is irresponsible and for example sells substances to other people or uses them in an unsafe manner.

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In addition to the distribution itself – what can we do to get control of the situation regarding different substances?

Universal education in dealing with drugs and addiction.

I often wonder how drug education in schools can be allowed to be so absolutely worthless. The “education” is basically designed solely to scare people not to try anything. As a teenager I was an exchange student in the United States and the school that I went to worked in exactly the same way when it came to sex education. There was no information about STDs, contraception or sex. The whole message was only “you should not have sex until you get married”, and it was really crammed down the teenagers throats. It is a dangerous kind of indoctrination that creates ignorant and bigoted citizens, while increasing the actual risks.

Instead we should have a proper drug education, which includes such themes as:
∙ What is an altered state of mind and how you can you work with it?
∙ How to use drugs safely.
∙ What to do if you or someone else feels bad under the influence.
∙ How to manage an overdose.
∙ How to identify and get rid of substance abuse.

Use tax revenues for addiction treatment and prevention.

Libby hugging Tomoko by Loren Kerns on Flickr
Libby hugging Tomoko by Loren Kerns on Flickr

A legalization would generate tax revenue that I think primarily should go to addiction treatment and prevention. Even more money is now being spent on hunting, harassing and punishing people.

If we add a substantial part of those resources to create good addiction treatment, we will soon have the best addiction treatment the world has ever seen. Health care should be accessible and able to quickly help addicts who express a desire to receive care. Addiction is a disease and addicts should be treated as patients, not criminals.

There will always be addicts, but it is my firm belief that the addiction is to be found in the person – not in substance. People flee into abuse because they are fleeing from themselves, from the traumas they try to forget or from situations that are unbearable. Good prevention work builds on this understanding and aims to help people face themselves, help them process past trauma and to make their lives bearable. It helps them to stop fleeing and encourages them to take responsibility for their own lives. Much of today’s preventive work lacks this basic understanding.

Make substances available for scientific research, therapists, health care workers and healers.

There are many substances that are currently incorrectly classified as drugs with no medical value. This applies above all to psychedelics that are proven to be extremely effective in curing such things as addiction, depression, post-traumatic stress, empathy disorders and death anxiety. There are lots of stories about absolutely miraculous healing taking place with these substances, and they are at the same time very safe when used correctly.

Another substance that is being discussed greatly right now is cannabis and not only in its mind-altering form, but also as tinctures without the mind-altering properties. It is used with good results for such things as chronic pain, fibromyalgia, depression and end of life care. There seems to be some evidence that it also has cancer fighting properties.

These substances need to be made available to those who need the help and for the professionals who are working on this – from therapists, to regular health care workers, and also in alternative treatments. Today there are plenty of alternative therapists and traditional healers such as shamans, who have the knowledge and who have been passing it on for thousands of years. Here are exciting cross over’s to be made, when traditional methods of healing meet western medicine. Such work is already taking place. To fully take advantage of this scientific research needs to get started as soon as possible.

Making up for abuse committed by the state.

While the intention has probably been good, many people have been abused and badly treated under the current legislation. The current drug laws have stigmatized people, forced them into alienation, punished them, led people into a criminal lifestyle, actively withheld health care for sick addicts and has also led to many unnecessary deaths.

There is a need for redress and reconciliation. The very least the government should do is to apologize for the abuse that occurred under the current legislation.

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This blog post has been inspired by, among other things:
∙ A challenge from a friend who is a politician to show how legalization could work.
∙ The TEDx talk by James Leitzel that does just that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_Px4nYbJoQ
∙ Organisations and initiatives such as Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (http://www.maps.org/) and Transform (http://www.tdpf.org.uk/).

Main photo: Love by Nicola Romagna on Flickr

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“Why this need to be intoxicated?”

Why do people feel the need to be intoxicated?

● ● ●

This is a question that I sometimes get from people who do not understand why others want to get involved with “drugs”. The question itself is revealing, because it is obvious that the person has alcohol as a reference, which limits their understanding of other substances. It is rarely clear in everyday conversation that “drugs” can have other uses than intoxication.

Intoxication is only one of several states that alcohol and drugs are used to achieve. To broaden the subject, I would rather use the phrase mind altered states. Why do people want to achieve altered states of mind? By changing the words I hope that it will be clearer that substances may have more to them than only intoxication.

But let’s still begin with the state of intoxication. Alcohol is the typical example of an intoxicating drug, because it has few other purposes. In small or moderate use it can work well as a social lubricant or as relaxation. At high consumption it is an excellent escape drug, which explains its high potential for abuse. There are a large number of drugs with similar characteristics, or that are at least used in similar ways – as intoxication, social lubricant or as an escape. Opiates, amphetamines, cocaine, some prescription drugs and cannabis, to name a few.

But what other altered states of mind are people who take different substances looking for? Speaking of cannabis, there has long been talk about the plants medicinal properties. Some medicinal properties can certainly be isolated so that you can get the medical effect without the altered state of mind, but in other cases the altered state is strongly linked to the medical effect. Cannabis is used to relieve chronic pain and difficulty coping with stress, to name just a couple of uses.

Another group of substances that is much more mind altering is psychedelics, also called hallucinogens or entheogens. With these I have experienced everything from extreme confusion to total clarity, but I have never felt intoxication to be a valid word for my experiences. From a Western medical perspective, these substances can be used as therapeutic tools. They might give me the opportunity to become aware of and release that which is restricting me, help me heal past trauma, give me insight into who I am, give me a sense of purpose and my place in the world. The question of why I choose to intoxicate myself becomes very strange, because I am working therapeutically with the substance in order to heal and grow. The abuse potential of these substances are remarkably low, since they typically raise your awareness in a manner which makes you want to quit any substance abuse.

Another place where virtually all cultures seek altered states of consciousness is in the spiritual. Some achieve it through prolonged meditation, others in intense dance, through drumming, singing, beating themselves, with yoga, in prayer, in ceremonies, sweat lodges, through sex, separated from the world, or in close, intimate contact with it. One of mankind’s oldest ways to connect with the higher divine is by plants, which is a tradition that we know is more than twice as old as the Bible, and probably many times older yet. There are a few scenarios where it might be relevant to talk about intoxication, but in most spiritual contexts the word intoxication is extremely inappropriate, as the goal is rather to open up to other realities, for example so one can be able to speak with nature, spirits, ancestors, angels and the highest divine.

I understand that I have not given an answer to the original question. I have rather tried to explain that there are several other reasons to take drugs than just to get intoxicated. If we seriously want to answer the question of why people want to get intoxicated, we first need to take a step back and make these distinctions. Otherwise there is the risk that we confuse abuse with use, medical use or spiritual exploration. It is not helpful if we actually want to understand why people get intoxicated.

In conclusion I should probably have a go at answering the actual question. I think of the word intoxication as being connected to the word escape, which in turn connects to the word abuse. Intoxication is a very narrow and limited way to use a substance; a way that suggests that the person is out of balance. People are trying to escape themselves for many reasons, but what these people seem to have in common is that they often lack the tools and/or the driving force to handle the situation differently. People who live their lives in a haze do so because they don’t understand how it could be done differently. To unlock the mechanism that makes people want to escape through intoxication, we first need to identify what the person is trying to escape from and then confront and come to terms with it. When the reason we want to escape is healed, we no longer have the urge to do so.

Main photo: Self portrait – Me and my right hand man by MattysFlicks on Flickr

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Psychedelic therapy to treat depression

Hi Daniel,

I am suffering from depression for 3 years now, and I saw your blog. Do you have any suggestions about using psychedelics to treat depression? I am from Israel and I am 27 years old.

Thanks a lot!
Meir

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Psychedelics are generally absolutely fantastic for working with depression. One reason is that depression usually has your negative thoughts going around in circles. It is hard to see anything else, because you are caught in a negative thought pattern.

It has been explained to me that the way the brain works is that the more times you think a thought, the easier it is to think that though. If one thinks of this as roads in the brain, then a new thought is like walking through a wild forest. After a while that walk becomes a path and when you have thought the same thought many more times that path becomes a road.

Bokeh Experiment 2 by Rachel Elaine on Flickr
Bokeh Experiment 2 by Rachel Elaine on Flickr

After three years of depression those negative thought patterns have become highways in your brain. What psychedelics do is to, at least for a brief moment, open up for totally new connections in the brain. Your thoughts get to walk off into the woods, explore new paths and create other roads.

What is important to remember while working with psychedelics, and I would say that this goes for any serious medicine or therapy, is that you will have to do the work yourself. You don’t take psychedelics and just get better. I can’t rule it out as impossible, since the miraculous impossible always seems to be happening with psychedelics, but I still want to say that you need to be ready to continue working with yourself intensely.

Psychedelics can help you find new paths to explore, but you need to make the effort to keep walking on them until they become the new highways in your brain. That is what you do when you take all the insights, lessons and challenges that you get during the session and apply them in your day to day life.

In my case I needed several doses of LSD over a period of time, and conscious work with reprogramming myself between sessions, to finally get rid of my four year long depression. The LSD showed me new paths and after the first session I managed to stay on that new path for a week before my thoughts fell back into their old patterns. After the second session I managed to walk that new path for two weeks. It took me approximately three months of dedicated work to cure myself completely.

Here are a few links to earlier blog posts that I think might also be helpful:

Reprogramming yourself to become happy
http://wilby.nu/reprogram-yourself-happy/

A model for working with personal and spiritual growth
http://wilby.nu/four-steps-to-personal-and-spiritual-growth/

An exercise to examine negative thoughts
http://wilby.nu/exercise-to-overcome-negative-thoughts/

Some thoughts for someone that wants to try psychedelics
http://wilby.nu/a-starting-point-mail-answered/

Photo: bokeh forest by Asher Isbrucker on Flickr

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Answers to “Substances that hurt us”

I have had some comments and questions about my channeled blog post on how dangerous different substances actually are, so I’d like to answer them here. In the previous post there were two lists. The first was a list of substances that are harmful, while the second was a list of substances that might be harmful dependig on how we use them.

Mushrooms can destroy the kidneys after ONE trip.
Magic mushrooms.
Magic mushrooms.

Magic mushrooms may put a little extra load on the kidneys, which can be felt as a soreness, especially when the mushrooms have been eaten fresh. I have however never found any information that mushrooms would be dangerous, even at very high doses and prolonged use. Had there been cases where people actually got their kidneys damaged, I guess that it would be well documented and thus familiar knowledge among people who work with psychedelics. But I have heard about ignorant drug counselors in Sweden spreading such misinformation.

When I google it while writing this, I still find no evidence of harmed kidneys. What I do find is a Swedish article from Läkartidningen (magazine for the Swedish union of Medical Doctors) which states that “The mushrooms do not contain toxins which harm inner organs. […] The risk of severe medical ill effects while using psilocybe mushrooms is mainly due to physical trauma as a result of uncontrolled behavior. Later, so-called ” flashbacks ” may lead to problems of a psychological nature. Another aspect is the risk of confusion with other mushroom species. Kidney failure has been reported after ingestion of mushrooms that were thought to be hallucinogenic, but in fact contained kidney injuring toxins.”

I dare almost certainly dismiss the claim that psychedelic mushrooms destroys kidney function. That claim seems to be part of the extensive flora of false “facts” that figure in the drug debate.

You rank cocaine as less harmful than amphetamine, while much research has shown that cocaine claims more victims, is more addictive and so on. How is that?

The list presented is channeled from the spirit world. I haven’t put it together. When it comes to amphetamine and cocaine, I have far too little knowledge to be able to say anything about it.

MDMA is included in the category of dangerous substances. What do you think about MDMA´s potential as a therapeutic tool? Dr. Rick Doblin (MAPS) conducts research on this and he is also a user of MDMA. Personally I would put MDMA in the category “dangerous if used incorrectly.”
Ecstacy - helping people to enjoy, be happy and grateful.
Ecstacy – helping people to enjoy, be happy and grateful.

The people at MAPS once showed me a letter written by two parents, where a therapist had done MDMA-assisted therapy on the family when the 30 year old daughter was about to pass away in cancer. The family was locked in utter death panic/anxiety. In the session they all took MDMA together and then they looked through their old photo album, all their old home movies and talked about all the wonderful moments that they had together. MDMA releases serotonin, which among other things makes you very empathetic. After they found the deep connection and gratitude for all they have experienced together, they were able to leave each other in love, instead of being locked in panic. The letter made an extremely deep impression on me and I get all chocked up just writing about it. With that letter still fresh in my memory (I read it in 2006) I of course think it should be legal. It is dreadful when laws prevent such help.

However, shortly after I met a guy who was also around 30. He had used a lot of Ecstacy and had, when I met him, quite recently completed many years of therapy trying to recover from the abuse. He told me that he had four years of his life that were just a mush. He could not distinguish one event from another, one year from another. It was four years lost and it had taken him four more years of therapy to accept that he had lost those four years. Now of course Ecstacy is not the pure substance MDMA , so there is no telling what he actually used, but I think it highlights the other end of the spectrum of that drug.

I definitely see a place for MDMA, but I might also put it on the second list.

Mescaline is a genuine psychedelic substance. Why is it on the second list, among the substances that can harm us if we use them incorrectly? Should it not be included among the substances that put us in touch with the gods?

I know far to little about the substance Mescaline to have a hunch about where it should be placed, but I also reacted when I saw it on the list. One interpretation that I find plausible is this:

In traditional plant medicine you work with one or several plants. In the case of Mescaline the most common plants to work are probably San Pedro or Peyote. These plants are revered as teachers and they are very communicative. There is intelligence there far beyond what we can imagine and it guides, helps and heals us.

When we isolate the molecule Mescaline we strip it of all else it was in relation to. We strip it of the intelligence that was there. This is what modern Western medicine does when it isolates molecules without understanding their functions and then forces them together with other molecules, hoping to solve illness from an intellectual level. Mescaline will still give a genuine psychedelic experience and if you are good at navigating it you can have great breakthroughs. But it will be without a plant teacher there to guide and heal you. Perhaps that difference can be what qualifies it for the second list?

Isn’t cannabis a psychedelic substance? If so, why is it on the second list?
by rafael-castillo on Flickr
by rafael-castillo on Flickr

Cannabis is usually referred to as a semi-psychedelic substance. In my opinion it can have psychedelic properties, but I would not confuse it with true psychedelics. If you have smoked cannabis, I don’t think that you should be under the impression that you have tried psychedelics.

The plant is considered sacred in many spiritual contexts, for example among the Sadhus in India, Sufis of Pakistan and Rastafarians in Jamaica. However, I have never seen it used that way in Sweden. Here I have mostly seen a recreational, or in some cases a medical use.

I have smoked my share of cannabis and feel that it fits very well in the second list, along with sugar and caffeine. It is clearly nowhere near as dangerous as any of the substances on the first list, even when used intensively.

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