Dubbed The Real Life Limitless Drug, the naturally occurring psychoactive compound known as psilocybin, is rapidly gaining mainstream popularity, perhaps somewhat reminiscent of the rise of psychedelics during the peace-loving 1960’s.
In particular the Personal Development Industry has seen an upsurge in ritual implementation of psychedelics as a way of raising awareness and elevating consciousness.
If you’re doubtful of the safety and efficacy of these drugs, you are not alone. Anyone born after the 60s has grown to know psychedelics as dangerous, addictive and potentially life-destroying. It seems though, that we may not have been told the entire truth.
As the new Netflix series ‘How To Change Your Mind’ explains, the demonisation of psychedelics supposedly had less to do with the alleged associated dangers, and more to do with the threat they posed to the establishment, in particular to the public support and inscription of troops for the Vietnam War. It was President Nixon’s infamous ‘War On Drugs’, that fueled a negative narrative around psychedelics, due at least partially to waning interest of the American public, in continuing the war.
In a recent interview on Rich Conversations, I delved into this fascinating topic with my close friend, walking encyclopedia of all things magical and phenomenal, Alexander James:
“There were two decades of breakthrough research on LSD, Mushrooms, and MDMA working with veterans with PTSD, with alcoholics… seen in psychiatry as the next groundbreaking breakthrough in mental health with little to no side effects and a level of results unlike anything else.”
According to the growing number of advocates within industries synonymous with creativity, personal and spiritual growth, when taken in the correct dosages, in the right setting, and with the right mindset, these compounds have the power to deconstruct the ego, free us from blockages that may be holding us back, and allow us to propel ourselves forward to uncover the heights of our own human potential.
“The thing about psychedelics is that they deprogram; they help to show you your societal conditioning, and your political conditioning, and your religious conditioning, and make those things very clear to you so you have a choice. So many of us have been programmed so deeply to just have these beliefs that aren’t even questioned. When you begin to deprogram yourself, you start to question things, and why things are the way they are.”
As with so many things in life, answers are often found in nature, and within ourselves, as we are also part of nature - you might even say that we are nature.
“What’s interesting is that we have receptors for these chemicals in our bodies. If you look at the Endocannabinoid System within the human body - as in cannabis - we actually have specific receptors and an entire system within our bodies to receive these chemicals. We naturally produce cannabinoids. It’s a harmonizing and balancing system. The thing we think of as ‘Runners High’, is actually related less to serotonin and dopamine, and more to endocannabinoids than any other thing, because exercise will stimulate your system to combat imbalances, inflammation etc.”
Your curiosity is likely already piqued and if you’re wondering: ‘OK Shannon, all of this sounds incredible! So how do I get started on my psychedelic journey and do it safely?’
Here are 3 places to begin:
1. Get informed: education is free and available globally, whether it be podcasts, individuals and groups that lead workshops or virtual training sessions, get yourself in the room.
2. Human to human connection: knowing that the ‘set and setting’ are both critical pieces to the potency of your experience in deepening your connection with self, others and the world, sit with those who have sat with the medicine. Ask questions and begin to explore your own mind to become familiar with what may be exposed on your journey, once you start.
3. Start slow and tune in: they say ‘the medicines will call you, and only when you are ready to receive them’. Allow yourself to open your mind, get curious and ask questions, drop any armored views you may be holding and choose to move at a cadence that feels safe. Allow the world of which we know so little, to call you.
Whether the outcome of psychedelics are beneficial or harmful, entirely depends on how they are connected with and used. As a human being you have the right to explore the edges of your own consciousness and the consciousness of The Universe. Start slow, allow yourself to be called, and when the timing is right (because that is exactly how our world works - on divine timing), know that through becoming informed and inspired by what is possible through plant medicines, you will indeed be more than ready.
As Dr Stanislav Grof said: “Psychedelics are to the study of the mind what the microscope is to biology and the telescope is to astronomy.” And it feels like we’re just getting started.
This is PART ONE of a series on exploring the world of Psychedelics. Do subscribe to immerse yourself in more information, connection and inspiration. And tune into RICH Conversations to hear this conversation with Alexander James.