I’m on my third year living in Salt Lake City, Utah and I can say I’ve never felt so much in love with a place before. There was a time in San Francisco in my twenties that will forever stay in my heart and I will always love SF but with the coming of so much affluence and wealth that city largely caters to the rich, cut-throat, withholding, privileged and un-artistic who think they are simply artistic because they have money or just simply live in SF. Don’t get me wrong I still know amazing, worldly people there and it can definitely still be a hotbed for such things but over the last 15 years or so it seems to have taken a nose dive for authenticity and opportunity for the more average person to flourish. Other than familiarity, it wasn’t realistic and, although it may come as a big surprise to Californians, there are other places to live that are just as good and affordable where one can find inner peace, security, entertainment, authenticity, art and stimulated consciousness, hippies, etc. Affordability, jobs, and excessive nature go a long way in living a good life in Utah even despite the state’s overall conservative Mormon culture. The overall conservative culture gives Salt Lake progressives its meaning and drive and it is SO charismatic and attractive and stimulating. Salt Lake is a vintage spot for what progressive culture looks like today. I can’t help but feel that the true hippy, the true burner, the rawness of life, flourishes in a place like Utah. So, yes Californians, the world is bigger than your state and you clearly are not the sole beacon of edgy and authentic liberal light anymore.
I ventured out to the San Rafael Swell near Moab in Utah a few weekends ago and took in a tremendous amount of the wonderful desert. Utah’s desert is a mysterious place and the landscape of the swell reminded me a lot of the California coastline I grew up with. One could really see how the ocean used to reside in these parts as it left its mark for the thousands upon thousands of years it was here. We went canyoneering in the Ding and Dang and Little Wild horse canyons which is basically crawling into the mountain using the waterways that were formed over the millennium. It was wonderful to witness the power play of the elements in how the power and consistency of the water carved its way through the mountainous Earth formations. Traveling through these crevices felt like I was venturing deep under sea level. There were moments where the only way over the water was in using your hands and feet on each wall traversing sideways slowly through a narrow. Having days filled with such activity and then retiring to the desert floor to camp was as wonderful of a nature outing as I’ve ever had. Eco therapy and interacting with nature is a real, uplifting thing. I felt wonderful rushes of positive energy through my exertions and observations while navigating these sacred sites. And the wonderful part about all of this is that this is just one spot out of like 10,000 spots in Utah that one could venture to. I wonder what will become of Utah as the word gets out that Utah is one of the most magical places in the world.
On the last day in the dessert I partook in an LSD medicinal ceremony. The amount being a mega dose of around 300 micrograms (about 3 to 4 average hits). My partner and guide was experienced so I felt very confident in the setting, along with setting my intentions for the experience. There had been a lot trauma I had experienced lately with almost dying from a motorcycle accident, and I was also going through some hardships with some relationships with people that I wanted to process. I was ready to take that on and commit to whatever it was that was going to come out in me and allow the processing to flow. For the first few hours I laid down with my guide. It was about midafternoon and I was under a beautiful high cliff that was supplying shade to our experience. Off in the other direction was the vast desert and the avenues of swells and beyond that were beautiful mountains. I couldn’t have asked for a better setting.
As the hours went by I participated in a variety of practices that really helped my processing. I laid down at one point and looked up at the cliffs. They were all melting and the idea and vision of a three-dimensional world was gone as everything in my sight felt like it was just on display for me to see melt. The greens and reds created halos around bushes and trees and everything was being shown to me in dramatic fashion and energy would spiral beautifully around objects I would stare at. Nothing seemed real but everything seemed more real than it ever had before. Simply writing about it here is impossible to convey as the paradoxical and opposite nature and quick thinking of what I was experiencing is meant to be experienced vs told to people. It is impossible to follow all your thoughts or your visuals or anything and once surrendered to the un-control of the moment a super stimulating, relaxation flows in. Everything that mattered before seems to not matter during. There’s too much to process, which is the point, and a feeling of content overwhelms one as it is now okay to not try to control your experience or demand your experience. This is also one of the major takeaways from these experiences; to stop trying to grit your teeth and control your life. There is another way. Less is more. Our cultural norms and what we’ve learned all along could be what is holding our brains back.
There were moments, perhaps excessively long moments, of deep eye gazing. I would look into the eyes of my partner and be able to really contemplate the essence of who they were. I was looking critically into the soul through the gateway of the eyes and it’s wonderful what one sees. Deep eye gazing is by itself a profound enlightening experience but couple that with the LSD in this situation and it was utterly fascinating and mind blowing to be taking somebodies energy into your own. You could see every thought and infatuation and insecurity and confidence of the other through even the gentlest of movement or the subtleness eye motion, and then you would see yourself and wonder how you looked and what you were showcasing and how what one is feeling is no different than what yourself are feeling. Your own observational thoughts on others quickly can turn into observational thoughts on you. You can look into another’s eyes and look back at your own and a certain oneness emerges. We are all conscious beings that basically experience life similarly. It was beautiful to look into the soul of another and into the bone structure that will persist as decaying remains into the mountains for thousands of years. The mountain melts into us and us into each other and everything is easily seen as one entity. It doesn’t make you feel quite as alone. It doesn’t make you feel quite as separate from nature as you can see the energy constantly swirling around you during the experience. It makes you feel as ultimately connected as possible to everything that is going on around you, and even to things that are not around you. Everything has a consciousness and we can travel wherever we want to and nothing is more advanced or less than anything else. What an overpowering, connective, meaningful feeling!
The first few hours are definitely the “tripping” part of the experience. There might be purging like throwing up or peeing and you can easily feel like it is too much as massive stimulation is moving through you. Keeping breath is essential and knowing beforehand you are in a safe, secure space with wonderful people, and all your water and day pack essentials are in a backpack next to you in one place is key. Without this prep it can easily turn into a dangerous and uncomfortable and paranoid affair. You will not be functioning normally and super stimulated and trying to fight against it or control your thoughts absolutely will most definitely produce an unnecessary “bad” trip. Sometimes, I do like to walk while in this first few hours of “trip” state as moving makes me feel comfortable and once again it is vital you prep out somewhat where you will walk beforehand. Making decisions not previously thought about before while in this “trip” state can really be troublesome. We didn’t really prep out a walk beforehand so we just stayed put on our blanket under the shady cliffs. It was new for me to stay in one spot as I am easily the move around type. Examining each other, examining the landscape, examining ourselves was an amazing experience. I couldn’t stop starring at my legs and being amazed that my calves and muscles and blood had formed in a necessary way to allow me to be mobile and walk around without my vital fluids from spilling all over the place. We are all just bags of water that have learned how to walk around, haha! And why were my legs allowed to be soooo hairy and nothing thought of it while my female partner’s were not allowed? Not something I would normally have thought outrageous in my daily life but critical thoughts about equality and whatnot are not in short supply. How long must it have taken for my body to be finely tuned enough to allow me to do what I was doing today?! How have other beings tripped like this before? It can’t be helped that the experience feels like a rite of passage through the connection that comes from all that is around you and all that has come before and been a part of the mind expansion collective consciousness.
During these first few hours every thought that is thought seems of absolute magnitude. It all seems so important and so meaningful and you’re thinking about things in ways you feel like you never have before, or it’s been very long since you have. The glee and joy and fascination of a child seems to come back to you. You find everything interesting. You find everything motivating. You want to uncover and figure out everything. You have raw powerful energy. Your brain is literally on display. What makes you human and a part of nature is being defined to you and it is the most fascinating thing ever. You feel grateful for the experience. How have you forgotten about such things? How have you ever veered from these magical insights and thoughts? How could you not have motivation and empowerment for everything you see all the time? The world is such a wonderful place. Laughing takes over as it seems like some weird joke you play on yourself for somehow not experiencing life as it can be. Tears come. First with laughter as it seems funny and ironic, and the giggles take over and you feel like you’re in fifth grade again and you can’t stop laughing with that funny friend in a classroom where the teacher is trying to get you to be quiet. Then different tears come. Ones of regret that somehow you forgot about the beauties of what made you human. That somehow that beauty turned into boredom, impatience, and ego, and were led to value other things that were socialized into you. You get mad at commercials, mad at society, mad at your parents, mad at your friends, mad at your education, mad at all the things that formed you in ways that you might not totally agree with. But then it all melts away just like the cliffs were doing above me. You did in fact turn into a dynamic person no matter what “despite” you think you worked through or over. Maybe the “despite” actually is what led you being a better you. It all continues to melt into your being at who you are and giving patience and forgiveness to yourself and others and realizing you are a person that has an array of emotions and whims and that you are trying to be the best you can be, and most whom you interact with, and entities that influence over you, were also mostly trying to be the best they could be as well. We are all just trying to thrive. If nothing else, this whole experience was a jolt thrown at me to remind myself that I am continually in a process at becoming more thoroughly the person I want to be. It was an enormously uplifting experience of highs and lows which ultimately was challenging and led to an overall accomplished high. Teachers come in many forms. Thinking LSD is not a teacher because it is a substance and how can a substance be a teacher seems completely ludicrous after experiencing it.
After the first few hours the “trip” slows down a bit into a somewhat more manageable, and possibly less nauseous experience. The initial struggle is over and now you’re used to your space and presence and you can roll into the next many hours with an ease that it is all going to be alright, and whatever you were experiencing before, in the medicinal experience that made you have such struggle, has now melted away and new insight and positivity and overall flow is permitted. Giving permission to ourselves to feel certain things is often at the base of our troubles and LSD and psychedelics can help enormously with melting that obstacle away. You feel incredibly close to those around you and nature and the connection is an unstoppable force. You can walk around and feel more capable of wandering and wondering about things a bit easier. The desert seems full of life, the rocks around you are incredibly interesting and the visuals are even more beautiful. You can see the wind and breeze and energy flowing around everything. You can communicate with trees and ants, and rolling around and feeling the nature feels like one of the most meaningful things you’ve ever done. The setting sun comes across like the most beautiful process you’ve ever witnessed and the magnitude of what’s happening with the Earth and its relationship with the sun and moon and everything else is mind popping and wonderful and the miracle and sophistication of it all creates a peace and a joy that everything is beautiful as it is. The mystery and randomness of it all is the beauty. There is an appreciation for the Earth, God internally and externally or whatever you want to call it, and the summation and effort at life of all things. Appreciation and gratitude is off the charts!
As the sun was going down, building a campfire seemed like a must! In my “normal” state I like fires but I don’t know how to build one so I don’t think I would have, or I probably would have hated learning or found it tiring. It’s hard in “normal” life to have motivation for things you don’t already know how to do, and that usually gets tougher to overcome as one gets older. On LSD or other psychedelics, that infatuation and learning process is the driving force. Like a child, in how I mentioned earlier, you WANT to learn. It is so fascinating to you and there is little impatience as the process and comradery vs the far off unimportant result is somehow what it is all about. Results almost seem boring as that means you have to stop the learning process for a moment. The fire I learned to make that night is something I’ll remember forever. I felt the fire. It was alive. I knew how to give it breath. I knew how to not squash it. I learned the difference between a hot fire and a big fire. I learned the difference between allowing the fire to persist pleasantly and efficiently vs when my ego got involved. I have built fires since and I am amazed at how quickly I learned a skill in one evening vs a lifetime of not really getting it for how a fire should be allowed to flourish.
On such a big psychedelic dose, and even on far smaller ones, you can’t hide from yourself and you can’t hide from others. My partner and guide and I went through various conversations that in “normal” life would lead to walls being put up or hiding behind insecurity or vulnerability, or blasting out in defense, etc. During certain conversations, whatever you are feeling gets magnified and the wall that’s normally there has melted away and raw emotion presents itself. This is wonderful medicinal for a multitude of reasons. One being that for yourself you can witness spectacularly how something is flowing within you. With no filter, it can be a shock to see how alive something is inside of you. It can be a shock to realize how much something is actually affecting you and how much effort it would have taken in your life to squash a feeling and hide it away. As tears of strife and unpleasantness begin to flow out of me it is certainly obvious as to what is going on. That obviousness is what we are going for and the feeling afterwards as we fully allow it all to flow through us is of utmost relief. It finally came out and since then it has seemed rather harmless when I’ve confronted similar feelings that normally would have been suppressed before this experience. You forget how nonchalantly it is for us to put up walls. It happens without us knowing. It WILL happen without a doubt in all our lives and such medicinal therapy as LSD helps immensely with this. Stable mental health is obviously important and our culture, our world, suffers from instability, and one can’t help but think that something like LSD could help an outrageous amount of people feel confident, balanced, stable, safe, expressed, empathetic, knowledgeable about themselves, among many other things, in their lives.
The other benefit to this emotional processing was for my partner and others close to me to witness. When one puts up walls in their life the other doesn’t know the severity of what is going on inside that person. They don’t know the history, they don’t know the raw emotion, and it is harder for them to have empathy. Expressing and having others express in front of me was a grand info sharing and info gathering about the other. Somehow it didn’t matter what the content was but just that it was having a dramatic effect on the person. When one sees this, an intimate shared experience results and it’s through such experiences that we grow closer to each other and the world. When we don’t have such experiences it is easy to write people off and dehumanize them, and can easily promote treating others bad. We grow from being vulnerable. Vulnerable power is what will make you and others you share it with the most empowered people around. The world is truly your oyster when you can share safe, non-judgmental spaces and communicate and be vulnerable with others. Talk about a relationship enhancer. There will be a day when something like LSD will be prescribed for relational therapy of all kinds.
As the night wears on the LSD takes on another feel (yes, it lasts 10-12 hours!). An extreme stimulated clarity emerges which can easily last well into the next day or weeks or months later, and when it wanes can be easily tapped into again by something like microdosing (extremely small doses of psychedelics to bring back that familiar feeling of all that you learned and experienced on your trip). Words and thoughts seem to come forth so clearly and everything seems to make sense. It is suddenly obvious what holds you back and gets you into ruts and brings you out of your best, most creative, powerful self. If you’re a photographer, for example, you will absolutely feel at one with your camera and excel in this moment. If you’re reading a book you will fully be able to dive into the story and characters and will undoubtedly understand vehemently everything going on. If you are just around people chatting you will have amazing, reciprocated conversation with great points and lasting feelings and things will stick and you will be proud and heightened from your connection. Your brain has reset itself optimally from its stimulatory workout and now the task at hand is in figuring out how to remember how to take better care of yourself to promote such positivity.
As the night desert critters started to emerge we thought it safe to get up off the desert floor. Playing with scorpions is not advised and next to the heat, if there’s anything else that will kill you out there, it’s the night desert floor. Our campsite was alive with desert activity so we tried out our new toy which is a mattress on top of a roof rack and just gazed up at the stars for the next many hours. The conversations that emerged were perhaps what you would expect with talking about the universe, looking at the constellations, seeing satellites, and wondering what the dang hell was going on everywhere in our version and beyond of whatever existence entails. Shooting stars are all over the place and as the milky way moves across the sky it is easy to feel like the stars in the sky represent a sort of floor that seems to be revolving with us in circular fashion. Looking off into the horizon, it seems like there could be a road that just eventually leads up and around over us. As the early am hours approach the body is tired but the mind is still wildly awake. Things are clear and you may think you’re falling asleep but then someone will say something or you’ll see a shooting star and a whole new conversation sparks that is wildly stimulating and meaningful. Eventually one does dose off, and with sleeping outside, waking up to a sunrise is the most refreshing thing of all time even if you only got a few hours of sleep. When the sun peaks over the mountains you know it is time to get up as it will be unbearably hot in a few hours. Being subject to the patterns and natural cycle of the Earth seems incredibly comforting. The next day comes and the clarity continues and you feel as alive as you’ve ever felt. There is no hangover to doing psychedelics, but rather, the opposite for most people. The joy in the natural cycle of the passing of days is felt. The Earth keeps putting forth it’s best effort, and being along for that ride, within nature, is part of the natural existence of things. You feel like you belong. You feel like you are playing your part. May my jaw one day be found in this swell and pondered over by people who are trying to figure out for themselves the nature of existence, their joys, their sorrows, and how stimulating their brains in whatever future medicinal ceremonies can be extremely helpful and ultimately very human.
This experience was characterized and made wonderful by a lot of different entities that came together rather perfectly. The company I was with was perfect. The nature we were in was perfect. The LSD medicine was clean and perfect as well. The prep involved was ideal. Any one or two of these things could have led to a magical time and an extremely medicinal experience but all of them together was truly transformative. I really felt like I transcended into something new and it’s why I wanted to process much of this in writing so that I can read about it from time to time to refresh my memory, and also, to highlight to others the safer practices I catered to, to really go after a positive mental health experience. Doing such ceremonies won’t “cure” me but it will help me in remembering what stimulates me and that I am very human and I will dive into behavior I would deem unhealthy again and that’s ok. Rather these experiences will give me tools to feel the flow and acceptance for when things are not going as well. It is easy to be functioning in a positive place but being ok to be in a not so positive one is where truth and insight and acceptance lies.
We all could use a little brain workout stimulation from time to time. Why would we not work out our brains and provide for it a similar level of stimulation and health that we would encourage for all our other muscles in our body? Our psyches need it. Our humanness needs it. It is too hard to go through life expecting you’ll be perfect and not partaking in practices that can really help you even if you’ve deemed them wrong or weak. Who do we think we are adhering to what we’ve learned? Is there a point where what we’ve learned could actually impede us from learning more in general? The type of strict, puritan, capitalistic morality that our country was founded on doesn’t work for most people. Know when you’re operating on your sense of morals of what you’ve learned while becoming an adult vs what you might have taken on if you were a child. Child mentality does have its wisdom attached to it in much the same way as something like Zen Beginner’s Mind. We are on the verge of a positive mental health revolution with the types of medicines that are emerging or re-emerging in our culture whether it be psychedelics or being in nature with eco-therapy or whatever does it for you. It is hard to not look forward to what we are advancing towards in this world. It is happening and more people are going outside their boxes, their cultural comfort zones, and the common socialized cultural trances that so often keep us down and unstimulated, and as a result of challenging ourselves, are becoming better for taking on such a journey. Whether it is the best of times or the worst of times, it is exciting times full of raging potential and brain stimulation if you’re willing to take it on. The world will bring you down if you take it on as is but if you become one with it, it will motivate and create expansion in you. Dedicate yourself to something that reminds you of the happy child you were and the positive life stimulation for how you want to be living.