I think it was Aubrey Marcus who first got me interested in psychedelic substances. This was quickly followed by Michael Pollan’s book, How To Change Your Mind. Since then, I have been reading and listening to everything I can find on psychedelics. I was instantly hooked, and intrigued by what almost felt like a calling(!).
During this journey I hope to share with you a few of things:
- My journey and experience which perhaps can be broken down into:
- Building up to the retreat
- The retreat itself
- ‘The aftermath’.
- What the science has shown (unbelievable some of it back in the 1950’s), and is starting to show, on the use of certain psychedelic substances for both improving certain conditions, as well as just to ‘better the well’.
Why Am I Going To Use a Psychedelic?
Those that already know I am doing this, normally have one of two responses:
The first, which generally comes from those with some familiarity with the research, or are familiar with the use of psychedelics for ‘spiritual growth’ is: “awesome!”.
The other response consists of a strange look, followed by something along the lines of “why the hell are you doing that?”
Both are perfectly logical responses!
While this question is important to consider (why am I doing it?), another question came to mind one day, which was “how did I know this was important to me?”. It dawned on me that there was a feeling (I have a tendency to still live in thinking mode, and have to constantly tune in to my feelings – something I feel through experience provides me with a MUCH better guide/compass in how to navigate this roller coaster ride of life).
I felt strong. Dense. Heavy. Solid. Almost like energetically I was a more compact force (weird I know but it’s the best way I can describe it!). I quickly realised that I had felt this ‘compactness’ before. Four times in fact:
- I feel it when I think of my future with Katie, my beautiful wife.
- I felt it when making the decision to invest in my Functional Medicine training ( it wasn’t cheap!)
- I felt it when making the decision to train as a nutritional therapist
- And I felt it when making the decision to become a personal trainer – I was fortunate to know from about 15-16 years of age that I wanted to be a P.T and in the fitness industry.
The feeling obviously comes from a sense of conviction. It is something I intuitively, deep down, know is right for me at this stage in my life.
After all, I have always been interested in self-development. I’ve always been reflective and enjoyed time alone processing my thoughts, and experiences. During my transformational life coach diploma I developed a reputation as a book junkie because I started every sentence with “There’s a book…”. I enjoy reading!
On so many occasions I have felt a deep, strong, need for knowledge, growth, and most importantly to make a difference in the world.
I’ve at the same time felt a little disconnected occassionally, like something has been holding me back from being my true self.
There have been moments, often listening to music or watching a meaningful movie, where I feel this strong wave of emotion come over me, almost like there is an accumulation of emotion that is being needed to be released, and yet I can’t quite achieve it. This has led me to shedding the odd tear, but feeling like I could/need to just cry buckets! In fact it isn’t a wave of emotion that comes over me, it rises up through me, up from my stomach and through my chest and heart. It just won’t quite spill over in to anything more than a tear. I am not sure if it is a fear of showing vulnerability, if there is an unconscious belief around expressing emotion that I am not yet aware of, or if I am just overthinking it(!). I’m totally open to all explanations.
The reason I mention this is because of the idea of ” accumulation of emotion” which I am curious about.
This curiosity wants to see what ‘comes up’ for me during a psychedelic experience, while appreciating nothing can be guaranteed and something might come up only in my 30th trip(!).
Another reason for me wanting to experience psychedelics is related to a word that has been coming up for me recently in journalling: leader. I want to be a leader. I want to lead by example, and, I want to be the best version of myself.
I want to be this for my wife Katie, our future children, for my parents, sister, in-laws, friends and clients. I feel, from what I’ve read, that perhaps psychedelics may be able to facilitate that process. I don’t believe they are essential to achieve this, but I have read many people describe psychedelics as a ‘short cut’ to greater awareness, spirituality, and mystical experiences. While these experiences have been described in long term meditators, tai chi practitioners, and other masters of spiritual practices, why wait?
I meditate 45 minutes every day, I journal, I do yoga, I sit in silence and reflect (quite a lot!) (admittedly on and off at the mo with yoga), and I am starting tai chi in September to continue my development, so note I am not only looking for a quick fix or short cut.
Alex, What Are You Actually Doing?
Well firstly I have applied to take part in any future studies at King’s College London. They are doing studies in healthy volunteers, as well as those with diagnosed conditions (in case you too are interested in taking part in research at KCL, then e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and they will keep you on their database for future trials)
But because there is no known study coming up, I have booked my trip to Synthesis Retreat for September .
Here is Synthesis Retreat:
I will be spending three days there, and I will experience one psychedelic trip (using truffles), with the support of a guide – a person experienced with non-ordinary states of consciousness who helps to mitigate challenges and channel insights.
Not only do I like the idea of having an experienced guide present, but the entire retreat has been designed to create the most positive experience possible. For example you do breath work the morning of the psychedelic trip, and the retreat’s final day centers on the ‘integration workshop’:
Here you will discuss and receive guidance on how to process your experience and integrate it into your life going forward. This will allow you to bring your newfound insights back with you and make concrete, meaningful changes.
So that’s it for now. That’s me. That’s why I’m doing it. I’m excited, slightly nervous, curious, proud, grateful for the opportunity and look forward to sharing the journey.
So have you been to Synthesis, or another retreat? Do you have experience using psychedelic substances? If so, what was your experience like? I’d love to hear from you!
Just in case people are wondering – I have no affiliation with the clinic/retreat. I am just impressed with my interaction thus far and it sounds exactly what I am looking for, for my first experience. And I think many would be interested in a similar method if they have no previous experience with psychedelics. It certainly helps provide some relief to family members, who may feel a little anxious about the idea of their son, brother, husband heading off to take some mind altering drug. Katie is now referring to it as “your mushroom holiday”. ;0)
- The Aubrey Marcus Podcast
- The Paul Chek Podcast: Living 4D
- How To Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan: click here.
- Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy: A Review of a Novel Treatment for Psychiatric Disorders: click here.
- Psilocybin-Induced Decrease in Amygdala Reactivity Correlates with Enhanced Positive Mood in Healthy Volunteers: click here.
- Psilocybin-occasioned mystical-type experience in combination with meditation and other spiritual practices produces enduring positive changes in psychological functioning and in trait measures of prosocial attitudes and behaviors: click here.
- The Significance of the Default Mode Network (DMN) in Neurological and Neuropsychiatric Disorders: A Review: click here.