First off, the disclaimer:
– There is no teacher, modality or drug that can fix your distorted perceptions or behaviors. They may be the water in the bucket or the rag in your hand, but only you can wipe yourself clean. The teachers and their teachings are just there to remind you of the truth you already are. Ultimately, it’s your choice and your responsibility to do the work. No person or medicine is coming to save you from yourself. As the shaman of my ceremony says, “The magic is in you, not the medicine,” so if this post inspires you to try breathwork or do a mushroom journey don’t show up expecting the breath or the mushrooms to do something for you. Arrive instead with an intention of what you hope to co-create and commit to doing work on the backside of your journey. A plant medicine ceremony isn’t something that happens to you, it’s a tool you work with to build something new.
– Find a guide you trust and know the contraindications of the medicine before going in. Take ownership of your own safety. Your choice is your responsibility, so choose wisely.
– Try breathwork before doing plant medicine. It has similar affects and outcomes… and it will definitely help prepare you for a psychedelic experience.
– I can’t tell you what you’ll find in a medicine journey, but below is a bit of what I found in mine.
1. You’re opening a door that’s normally closed.
When your ego dissolves, humility takes center stage – which sounds great, but the party gets weird fast when nobody’s watching the front door! Humility will let absolutely anyone in, which is why we normally keep him in the back. So be prepared for some unexpected guests, especially if you haven’t done a bunch of inner work. Anything you’ve repressed is coming to the surface. The good news is that the medicine, the guides and your breath will help you through it.
2. Keep breathing.
Going deeper and deeper the only reliable anchor I had to this world, our reality and my existence, was my breath. My breath was there even as my body and mind were washed away. I’d have been lost without it. It was the one thing that let me know I still existed. The yogis say the only thing you know for sure, that you can say without story or distortion is, “I Am,” and I’d say the breath is the physical manifestation of this truth. The heart and even the lungs can be swapped out for someone else’s, but your breath will always be your own. It’s our link between our mind & body and it connects us to something greater. What that is can’t be named, but I’m sure it exists.
3. Mortality is the least of our problems.
I’m epileptic, so I’ve always been scared of taking mushrooms fearing they’d trigger a seizure – which feels like a near death experience every time I have one. Going under I’m uncertain I’ll return, which makes it somewhat terrifying. So for me, committing to this experience was a test of faith… especially after having a seizure just two-weeks prior to the journey. Apparently the universe wanted to plant the seed of fear at the most fertile time. So, as I tipped the glass back and chugged the medicine down I knew I’d be facing my own mortality. It was in that “fuck it all” moment that my practice of surrender began. There was no going back, everything was out of my control and the only sensible path forward was one of acceptance. I arrived on my mat that evening with the intention to practice non-resistance – and the journey became an epic eight-hour test. Every heightened sensation, warped perception, challenging thought and deep emotion was an opportunity to freak out or let go and I chose the latter every time…. right up until I approached somewhere mysterious that I can’t explain. Four-hours in I was so deep I could no longer hear the world around me. The visions had stopped. The darkness became all consuming. There was nothing left, only stillness. I sat on the precipice of slipping away, perhaps to the place we all come from and go in the end… and I freaked. Bolting upright I took off my eye mask and reentered a wildly distorted version of reality, just happy to be alive. Moments later my emotional journey began, which wasn’t any easier. It was less scary, but far more painful and enlightening. Turns out, in the end my morality was harder to face than my mortality.
4. Forgiveness is natural.
It’s ok to hold people accountable for the harm they’ve done to you, but in the end you have no choice but to forgive – not because it’s the right thing to do, but because you’re so tired of struggling and exhausted from fighting that you just don’t fucking care anymore. You come to know that your burdens of anger, hurt, shame, fear, regret and failure aren’t worth the pain they cause you or anyone else. Even if you feel someone was wrong or is wrong, there’s no part of you left that needs to be right – so forgiveness becomes natural. The only thing you want is ALL the best for every living being on earth, because you are now living from your Highest Self. You aren’t just feeling love, you are love. Compassion is now your default and nothing else matters. You’re now viewing the world, everyone you know, everyone you’ve ever known and everyone you’ll never know through the bright light of love… and it’s profoundly beautiful.
5. Right and wrong is a self-limiting construct.
Everything can be true at once. You can see that your feelings and their feelings are equally true and valid – without anyone needing to be right. This means you can fundamentally disagree and still respect and love someone, because the overriding sentiment is one of acceptance, which of course is the basis for unconditional love. I’ve spent my entire life wishing and fighting for fairness, equality and balance – all of which cease to exist in the absence of right and wrong. All your reasons, stories and resentments vanish when viewed in the mirror of understanding.
6. Parenting matters.
You don’t need plant medicine to resolve your trauma, but it helps. Everything I’ve accessed and processed through the breath came up in my mushroom journey – and the release and reframe were very similar. By reframe I mean the way our stories shift towards love, gratitude and forgiveness. In this journey I learned that my childhood trauma feels largely resolved today, which offers peace of mind – and yet, I was shown that it’s time to address my learned behaviors. While my childhood trauma may have planted the seed of anger, my parents watered the fields generously with their constant irritability and volatility. In turn, their restless discontent came to be my normal state of being – which is something I’m only now coming to understand and own. Knowing this is simultaneously illuminating and scary, because it’s proof that the qualities modeled to us as children become the behaviors we exhibit as adults, for better and worse. If you want to know who you are, look first at how you were raised and what you learned from your parents. Either you’re trying to emulate them or disavow them, but either way you’re subconsciously driven by the patterns they etched in you long ago.
7. Self love isn’t easy.
Self love isn’t easy! This was my primary takeaway, hardest lesson and greatest obstacle. I could hold the entire world in the light of love, so long as it didn’t involve me. I forgave the teenager who sexually abused me. I forgave the guy who raped my best friend. I forgave my father for breaking up our family and separating my sister and I at birth. I felt boundless, infinite, divine love for my ex. I apologized to every woman I ever hurt and sought forgiveness for hurting them. I felt the pain of all my sisters and promised to be a better brother. I bowed at the feet of my parents, thanking them for all they gave me. I merged with the cosmos and became love…. And still, it was nearly impossible to honor my own goodness. I literally had to talk myself into it. I had to intellectually justify my own self-worth, even after 5 fucking grams of sacred truth serum! Ultimately I gave myself permission to love myself and feel worthy, which felt amazing – but the full nature of this block remains a mystery. Abuse, neglect, abandonment, family dysfunction, alcoholism, austere and perfectionistic parenting… in the end it isn’t just one thing that gets us. Our obstacles are the culmination of everything we’ve ever experienced and learned, which is a whole lot to unlearn in just one medicine journey. And yet, I’m certain it’s all possible to unravel and it doesn’t need to take a lifetime to do it. Truth is, you’ll never know whether you actually love yourself until you’re drowning, or at least sinking. The more loss and hardship you suffer, the truer the test. Ask yourself honestly, “How much love would I have for myself if what I covet most disappeared?” Partner, children, family, health, money, career, beauty, status, home, dog, security, possessions. What if one or all of them vanished? True Self Love is when you can be completely alone and exist without internal conflict no matter how difficult or undesirable the situation. Believing you love yourself is easy. Feeling it when life gets hard is another. Every challenge we encounter is an opportunity to move toward or away from our true Self, becoming more whole or fractured in the process. The choice is always ours.
8. Mushrooms won’t help you love anyone less.
You can’t leave behind anyone you truly love. No matter how hard you try, no matter how much time or distance you put between yourself and them, they’re going to be with you forever. Once someone has truly become part of your heart, you’re stuck with them, like it or not, no matter how much it hurts or how much you want to run, hide or deny it. You can push them away, but in doing so you’ll harm yourself greatly, because you’ll be trying to disown a part of yourself, which just creates more pain and internal conflict.
9. It really is all shits and giggles.
I became one with a sea shell, in a bathroom. I was connected to all that exists and will ever exist. We are all made of star dust, no matter the species. I didn’t feel big. I didn’t feel small. I just felt connected… not in a spiritual way, but in a matter of fact way. That sea shell was part of me. We were family. Imagine what that would mean for humanity? To perhaps feel the way a bird does to a tree. When the guides came to check on me I remember saying, “I am one with all. We are all the same,” before laughing hysterically and quipping, “If this isn’t the perfect analogy for my life I don’t know what is. Me, locked in a bathroom with my own shit refusing to come out!” Fucking hell. Life really is a journey.
10. There’s room to grow.
I am not my Highest Self and it’s a standard too high to expect of myself right now. I’d love to BE that person, but I’m just not. Not even close. I know this because the medicine delivered me to my Highest Self and it’s been a long fall back to earth. BUT, healing is about establishing new reference points for growth – and I’ve now experienced the version of myself I’d most like to be. This is the true power of the medicine – not that it shows you your deficiencies and limitations, but that it reintroduces you to your truest Self, the person you were born to be before the world changed you.