Around a year ago I was going through a very mentally demanding, dark, and tough time and was advised by my therapist to start a dream journal. Originally, I was a bit annoyed as I thought this would be just another task I had to do that felt more like a creative writing assignment than anything therapeutic. What were my dreams anyway other than just random images emerging in my sleep? A sort of show that didn’t really have any particular meaning or relevance to anything that I was actually experiencing? I would wake up in the mornings and write down a short summation of what my dreams were and the way they made me feel. Months passed and I never really thought anything of it but I kept at the process.
Over the years, I’ve experimented heavily with psychedelic therapy. The therapy has largely led me in directions of helping ease my anxieties, depressions, and given me new roadmaps into my brain for remembering and re-finding my passions and purposes in life. It’s taken me largely out of the cultural trances of expectation and achievement based norms and given me true power and peace to live my life based on who I authentically am. Psychedelics will be used greatly in all therapeutic settings in years to come as the government continues to stop its prohibition on keeping drugs that actually help people from being researched and used. I spent two months in the jungles of Peru back in May and June where I participated in an extensive therapeutic program for improving my mental health where I drank consistent Ayahuasca and had it in my body every day for about two months. Since then, I haven’t really participated in many psychedelic medicine sessions as I felt complete. However, as time has gone by, medicine gradually wears away and there are moments where one will naturally need to take medicine when it is needed, and I’ve since started a therapeutic program with low dose LSD.
One of the pitfalls of psychedelic therapy after the initial ‘wow’ phase of it re-opening your brain again to the wonders and joy of life, is that it can get confusing. Or perhaps it wasn’t an experience filled with joy but rather dark and tumultuous. Either way, there can easily be an authenticity to the experience where one is allowed to encounter a genuine part of themselves. Where does one go after this initial mind blown-expanding encounter? How does one integrate their experiences or give meaning to them? Your brain is a never-ending outer space (inner space) of experiences, visions, and it is impossible to keep up with it all. Perhaps a mistake I made in the past was starting to eventually give literal meaning to my visions and experiences. If something came up for me I would feverishly try to understand why it came up. Was I still really in love with that person? Should I go back to my old job? Should I travel extensively and be a wandering teacher teaching love? Will I only feel fulfilled if I fulfill all that I experience from these psychedelic experiences which make me feel so alive and full of purpose? There are an infinite number of directions to go in that all feel life affirming. One can get stuck easily on the extremes of each sensation felt. By trying to understand my visions on psychedelics so literally I was getting more depressed, more overwhelmed, more erratic in my mind, and somehow the medicine was starting to have an opposite effect of helping me. It wasn’t all just mind expansion and love and butterflies and remember how you were as a child anymore. It wasn’t all authentic expression of light or dark. The medicine eventually turns and demands more from you. If you don’t have good guidance or good intentions or are constantly searching for just hallucinations or that original pizzazz experience it can get really disappointing, anxious, and misleading no different than if you were just an astronaut mindlessly wandering around outer space. I got to such a place and the guidance I received in the Peru jungle was the guidance I needed to learn. Recently, I had to be reminded again what I learned in the jungle as I ventured again into my own processes with such therapy sessions.
After about six months of keeping my dream journal, I started to notice some pretty significant patterns. When I would have an anxious dream certain people or events were involved. When I had a dream about love the same thing. When I had a dream about feeling comforts and happy, again, similar faces and situations came forth. As I started to keep track of my dreams, it’s like my body noticed and then I started to dream more. Now, it’s pretty common that I dream almost every night. A communication has woken up inside me as a way for my subconscious to talk to myself. I like to refer to it as the universal energy flowing through me. It is me, but it isn’t me, as I feel separate from it. How does the grand mystery of life talk to us? It talks to us through the grand mystery of our subconscious.
When I would interpret my dreams literally it would lead me down a pathway of depression and extremes and erratic-ness. I would make myself think that whatever I dreamed about needed to be pursued or avoided or thought harder or done something about. This led to my mental health being terrible as I tried to give meaning to the literal symbols of what my subconscious was telling me. The subconsciousness is not human and doesn’t operate in the human world. This is the same negative process I went through trying to make sense of my psychedelic therapeutic sessions. Both situations were giving me information in the form of symbols and I was believing literally those symbols and trying to actually apply concrete, real human world actions to the messages that were in my dreams and psychedelic experiences. Doing such is a recipe for going crazy and constant mental health issues.
Your subconscious uses symbols to express itself to you. Symbols that will trigger an emotional response in you as you wake up in an anxious sweat about a dream from a traumatic event you experienced. No time should be spent on whatever the symbol is. It is just a symbol and doesn’t itself mean anything. The time should be spent going beyond the symbol and how it relates to why that feeling had such an emotional effect on you. When did you start to feel that such way in your life as you did in a dream or psychedelic experience? These are the maps that your subconscious is giving you. It is about the deeper layer of connection and whatever that symbol represents. It is about sitting with the infrastructure of how and why that emotional feeling was created, going to the source and attempting to change your life in a consistent, gentle approach towards improvement and not allowing such symbols to produce negative mental health and reactionary emotional turmoil in you anymore. This comes largely through just the simple-ness of having awareness vs any other solution one thinks up in regards to whatever they need to do about whatever situation in their life.
Interestingly enough, as I attempted this process on my own, these places of emotional denseness with my dreams and psychedelic experiences came up less and less. The dreams with certain symbols representing intense feelings like anxiety greatly diminished. Psychedelic experiences are far different for me now as well, as what seemed to be heading into an uncontrollable and anxious direction now seem manageable. The lessons here are never to give face value to really most of what you experience as it is incredibly misleading. Awareness of how and why things have effects on you is the best medicine of all and then maintaining patience sitting with it after that. Sit with intense feelings and remember other times you’ve felt similar ways and the deeper layer of what is it trying to represent. The universe wants to help you. It wants to live through you and improve your being. We think we have solutions to our problems and mental health issues but only from a narrow perspective of the material world and what our culture advertises to us in regard to what is ‘normal’ and human in our culture. It is trying to apply narrow human solutions to the infinite spiritual and subconscious world, and it is often hard to see beyond that. There is a vastness of understanding that goes way beyond this. Our subconscious is trying to be the medium of communication from the universe within and around us. Things like dreams and psychedelics are ways we can understand the world and who we are and why and what we need to do to transcend into different beings. When we get stuck in our minds with literal and materialistic solutions to life, we are human beings having a spiritual experience. When we learn to really tune in to the universe and use our minds to go beyond the mind, beyond our human solutions and symbols to the source of what we know from our innate intelligence, to the source of our subconsciousness and the grand mystery of what the universe is made up, we turn into spiritual beings having a human experience.