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Psychedelics

Yes, I really did include a card for psychedelics. I know this won’t be for everyone. You can induce altered states with breath work. I highly recommend checking that out if plant medicines aren’t desirable or obtainable in your situation or if you need a shorter trip. Shamanic breath can work in as little as an hour.

You may already be experienced, in which case, I need not do more than suggest that you follow your own judgement if it turns up the card. Perhaps your day just took a very interesting turn. Otherwise, read on.

I wish we didn’t lump together so many different substances under the scary label of illegal drugs. Heroine has about as much to do with ayahuasca as Doritos does to papaya. Psychedelics show real healing power backed by the latest science and it’s a crime that research on them was stifled in the 1960’s after the moral panic over the counter-culture revolution.

As a child of the 80’s I was indoctrinated with Nancy Reagan’s Just Say No campaign that painted all drugs with the same brush. I was quite shocked to learn that psychedelics were in many ways much less harmful than a night of binge drinking. They do the opposite of alcohol. Reality becomes extra sharply focused. You have extra ability to move your body and learn new physical skills that require manual dexterity like juggling.

Psychedelics work by disrupting some of the signal cleaning and prediction ability of the brain. Under normal waking consciousness, that brain does a ton of processing to make sense of whatever environment you’re in. If you’re in a super market, the visual system is able to more quickly and with less effort complete the task of buying two jars of tahini and some vegan cheese because it’s been to many supermarkets before. Not only do you know which item you’re looking for, your visual system can more efficiently make sense of the incoming raw visual data because it narrows the set of things to recognize to the stuff that’s likely to be in a supermarket. That is to say, it’s easier to recognize a jar of peanut butter in a supermarket than it is in a dentist’s office.

When you’re on psychedelics that level of optimization doesn’t function as well. You could misunderstand the raw sense of data. Instead of accurately seeing it as a peanut butter jar, you might see Mr. Peanut as your childhood baby doll.

I don’t believe much is random. Whatever hallucinations arise come from memories within. Perhaps you hadn’t thought of that baby doll in years. Explore the memories to see how they connect to whatever is happening now. I find there’s nearly always some connection to the seemingly random memories that come up and whatever issue I’m currently stuck on.

Psychedelics help parts of the brain wire directly together instead of having to route through your default node network, the air traffic controller of the brain. This facilitates a knowing that’s beyond normal consciousness’s understanding. Tripping can make statement like “love is all we need” go from trite to life-changingly profound. Psychedelics give you a knowing in your bones. It’s one thing to intellectually know you’re safe, special and surrounded by people who love you. It’s quite another for that truth to penetrate to the core of your being.

Setting a therapeutic intention will make all the difference, even if it’s as vague as “please help me heal whatever needs healing.”

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