Why induce psychedelic states? An element of our minds is that we have a very hard time processing and moving on from addiction, trauma, anxiety, stress, depression, etc. We easily get stuck in cyclical thinking not because that is the grand accumulation of what we’ve learned but because we have trodden the path so many times that we don’t know where else to walk. Other pathways have very slowly become non-existent, too hard to navigate or even think about, and the path we see most often in our minds eye is the one we’re always on so it’s easy to stay on it. Familiarity can breed a false sense of security and comfort. How does one trail blaze a new path? How does one remember where an old path was when it’s been so long since traveled on? Our thoughts and neural/brain pathways are no different than trails we see out in the forest. It takes more effort and time to embark on the things we haven’t always done. It makes it an easy thought to not go there because of this; it’s a waste of time, hard to comprehend vs the ease of a reaction way of being and doing. When we get used to something it leads us to doing more of the same. We’ve trained our minds in the same way we’ve trained our bodies with the same workout that we do over and over again at the gym. One or a few strong muscles does not necessarily mean we are healthy or good at what we do. It can be extremely unbalanced where other areas are neglected and can often mean we know the ins and outs of performing in a certain one way. Ease of routine is often at the core of ill health.
It is becoming ever more apparent that left to our own devices most of us create these cyclical patterns in our lives. Childhood was an all over the place experience and one most likely expressed themselves often (whether on purpose or not) and experimented with a huge array of gusto and zeal for trying out all sorts of things. The teens was an intense time dealing with hormones and establishing a bar for what it felt like to feel ups and downs, intensity, boredom, excitement, love, etc. As we aged we re-confirmed everything we learned from intense moments in time. We were getting somewhere or we at least thought we were. Obviously people experience all sorts of different things at different stages of life and there’s no one standard of experience for childhood through adult years. The point is that it is easy to get into linear thinking about what it all is amounting to as we progress onwards to adults. How could we be led to think otherwise given our culture, our commercials, our families, politics, laws, religions, sports, movies, etc. What is at the end of this linear process for many of us is total neurosis and thoughts about if this is really all it’s cracked up to. Some experience the standard expectations of life but most go through some turmoil about how things didn’t pan out how they thought. They are left with these thoughts and no escape in a culture that does not easily allow or accept individuals to redefine themselves. Bitterness can easily come about and feeding our addictions, our traumas, our depressions, anxiety’s and whatever else, seem to be where we go most easily when we possibly don’t fit into the mold of the expectations of what we’re doing and how we’re suppose to be acting (or even if we do!). The material and visual and rational world can only give you so much. A brain only composed of such and left to its own narrow devices will not do what’s in the best interest of the body and mind. It will do what’s easiest. This is the human condition for a large percentage of us. How can we transform into something else and go in various directions when the linear path doesn’t cater to that value, or rather, that it’s not supposed to happen after our teens? We live in a society influenced by Christian religious values and these cultural norms are such that transcendence/transformation is largely only acceptable at death. Until then deal with it, feel guilty, sinful, be rational, toughen up, make better decisions, make more money, and fight the urge to transcend in any sort of spiritual way that’ll cause others to look at you’re a hippy. Just calm down and think it through. What you can’t see has no meaning, unless it’s blind faith in the afterlife. What would Jesus do? The ironic thing is that Jesus probably stood for pretty much the opposite of what he is known for standing for today. Jesus the visionary and rebel and thought provoker is a model to all. Jesus the modern day symbol is the bane of our existence.
Psychedelics are a tool for people to use to get out of the patterns that can easily cause neurotic diseases on the mind? The old pathways of experience come flashing back or are re-created much in the same way as we see and wonder and are in awe at the perspectives and innocence of a child. The insecurities, addictions, traumas, self-limiting aspects of our lives that came from linear thinking seem approachable or even like they don’t make much sense anymore. They seem less important and the weightlessness of this realization feels ideal. We re-find our true connection to ourselves, to others, to our communities, and are more courageous in believing and living the life that there is more to it all than the laws, the culture, the tribalism, the way things have commonly been for so many of those around us. We are free to run with our ego and all that we thought we were held limited by. We are free to express. We are free to go at it how we see fit. It is a transcendental experience. A re-birth.
Common tools that induce psychedelics states are substances such as LSD (acid), psilocybin ingredient in naturally grown magic mushrooms, MDMA (molly/ecstasy), peyote and mescaline from cactus, ayahuasca, ibogaine, holotropic breathwork, among many other things. Most recently, the last one on that last has intrigued me the most. Holotropic breathwork is a breathing pattern that can create transformation/transcendental experiences. It is not a physical drug substance like the rest but it is a substance in the sense that one breaths heavily for three hours and takes in excessive amounts of oxygen. It opens pathways and puts things front and center and can allow for positively dramatic therapeutic change.
Being exposed to Stan Grof who popularized holotropic breathwork in our culture was an out of body experience in itself. His lectures and guidance catered to the idea that our consciousness is not from our brain. There is no observable evidence that explains even why or how or if even in fact our own consciousness exists. It is a part of the universe that is flowing through the brain and providing us with a vision of how the universe is developing and also showcasing that the universe is happening just as much within us internally. The ordinary state brain is an incredible reducing valve, far from giving us a full dimension of being. In this sense, we are all divine beings who happen to be having a human experience. We are our own gods, our own temples, our own enlightenment. Holotropic means moving towards wholeness. The wholeness associated with our universe rather than what our brain filters to us in ordinary states. The idea is that there is a cosmic spark of energy which is exactly the same energy that creates the cosmos and makes everything move from the big bang to modern day phenomena, and everything before, in between, and after. Obviously it is a hard thing to put into words but when having a psychedelic experience, it tends to somehow bring about a relatable experience when we let go of our grip of the reality we expect and know from our ordinary brain valve.
Many of the things we fear in our lives have to do with aging, death, and not knowing what will be next. In order to process psychedelic states it is necessary to dive into what it means to be born, to die, to have re-birth. These are not things people normally or willingly talk about, hence why we have issues and fear with death in our culture. Inducing psychedelic states, and for example using holotropic breathwork, creates a space for psycho spiritual death and re-birth. The fear of death somehow becomes mute as dying can easily be seen as being reborn. This can be extremely challenging to our common world view but with the turmoil of processing this information it all can be seen as the same; birth, living, death, re-birth. It’s all one in the same and this feeling is what prevails during psychedelic healing. There is dramatic connection to everything. You are it and it all is you and we all share this collective consciousness with the world and with each other and wonderful feelings can persist into our ordinary lives after a healing session. These feelings are why psychedelic healing is so helpful in battling conditions related to stress, depression, trauma, addictions, connection issues, empathy, absence of love, etc. The connection feelings overwhelm the feelings associated with self medication and feeling like we are separate from everybody and it all in general. It creates re-birth in the experience and an appreciation for all that has come before, around us now, and will come in the future. Such vulnerability. Such meaning. Such Power!
It may be helpful to look at the structure of scientific revolutions in order to understand what has come about and how change occurs and where we are now in our thought process as a culture. The history of science is not the process of gradual accumulation of data and formulation of increasingly accurate theories, instead, it has a cyclical nature with specific stages and characteristics that can even be predicted. It’s like what was mentioned above in regards to always taking the same mental paths. We can often probably predict how are going to feel about something or think about it. We get stuck in ‘normal thinking.’ Acquisition of scientific knowledge is not linear but more of what’s considered ‘normal science’. ‘Normal science’ is problem solving within the conceptual framework of a paradigm. We currently are in an era that is between paradigms; a transitional time. Going towards all levels of our psyche and living it in order to not be held back is where the new paradigm is focused; seen as blasphemous to the old paradigm. The old paradigm in contemporary traditional and western psychology will stop the cosmic unity solutions of the new paradigm. It is an issue of an older generation of thought giving up power to an inevitable power and solution on the horizon. Old power paradigms never go softly into the sunset.
The old power paradigm relies on tranquilizing their way out of a situation and this simply will not work anymore. The client/individual/human being needs to feel an unconditional acceptance by the other human being and common big pharma meds will largely be unnecessary where things like placebo affect, human connection, and psychedelics/plant teachers/holistic health will take over as popular medicinal and overall wellness approaches. In holotropic and psychedelic healing whatever comes forth from the individual client has a charge compared to therapy in ordinary state which can be very narrow in scope and be met with the therapist supplying the charge making decisions and judgments and conclusions. Holotropic states rely on the client/individual who has experiences of transcendence and derives their own meaning from things while being subtly guided by a therapist sitter who is careful not to dictate an agenda over who they are helping and guiding along. It is a process that gives power to the people, the experienced person in their own state deciding their own fate, and takes the gusto out of the controlling nature of the therapist and of the norms of society. The guide therapist is there for a controlled release of freedom and working for sustaining that for the long haul. We are investing in ourselves and creating models of healing that are reliant on our own processes for positive change as opposed to addiction based, reliant on external medicine or people approaches. It is a natural symbiotic relationship, which was around for thousands of years before western civilization and modern scientific thought took control of the process with it’s quick and profit based approaches. We are trading the external fixes of the common era for the internal ones that have always existed. Quite an empowering approach and movement.