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Are Psychedelics Right for You?

Currently in Colorado, due to Proposition 122, working with certain psychedelic medicines is legal for personal use, while The Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) is working on requirements for psychedelic practitioners and clinicians to become licensed and provide this highly therapeutic healing modality in a regulated way. On one hand this may be helpful as a harm reduction method as these medicines do not come without risks. AND… I question how this structure of modernized medicine will interfere with the inherently spiritual nature of these medicines - in particular the plants and the fungi. 

There is a LOT to celebrate. Because of this progressive shift in Oregon and Colorado’s laws around psychedelic substances, it is becoming more known in the mainstream culture that there may be help with our mental health and general feelings of suffering in this ever changing world, and that maybe we have been given a false narrative that these substances are “bad”. I have had experiences so profound with psychedelics, that I had an overwhelming urge of wanting EVERYONE to have this experience - “Put it in the water!!!” I kid, I kid… Seriously, as much as I advocate for and want to share this type of healing with the world, there are contraindications. There are times, places, and people that can cause more harm than healing. 

Many people, including myself, started exploring with recreational psychedelics at a young age without doing any screenings or evaluations before going on the ride of altering our consciousness. It worked out well for me thankfully, but I saw up close, experiences go bad, and it was scary. The name of the game here is harm reduction and safety through knowledge. As more and more people are called to work with these medicines, this is probably one of the most important things we can talk about. 

And this leads me to my musings for today! Are psychedelics right for you? If so, which one? Psilocybin (mushrooms), cannabis (YES, it’s a psychedelic), DMT, Ketamine, 5 meo-dmt, LSD, MDMA, Ayahuasca, or Ibogaine? (FYI not all of these are legal…yet!) Is a solo journey right for you? Would you benefit from a guide? Do you want or need your guide to be a psychotherapist? Should they have a medical background? Do you want your guide to be a shaman or trained in these indigenous methods? Or, are you more comfortable in a clinic setting? There’s a lot of questions to ask yourself, but first, it’s beneficial to understand what questions to ask. I’ll also discuss ways to check in with yourself after meeting a potential guide to discern if they are the right fit for you. 

“The Betterment of Well People”

I want to start by saying that psychedelics expand our awareness, our consciousness, and can generally help most people grow into versions of themselves that they have been desiring. “The betterment of well people” is a phrase I like to use. One can be mentally “healthy", “successful”, have good relationships, while also feeling like “there’s more”, desiring further exploration into inner worlds, or deepening a connection with something much bigger than themselves. Psychedelics can help us see what we could not before, becoming more innovative, and opening our hearts to allow more love in. So, if you are curious about psychedelics and you are generally “well”, you can feel confident that you will have a profoundly healing and expansive experience.

What if you are in a deep depression, or feeling deeply anxious about life? What if you have suffered from severe trauma? Have you been diagnosed with a mental health disorder? Are you taking any psychiatric medications? Do you have any medical issues? In these scenarios, it’s important to speak with a trained and experienced psychedelic facilitator that can help you determine if psychedelics may benefit, and what type of psychedelic would benefit you most? And this is the part that gets a bit more nuanced. 

There are many types of practitioners in the psychedelic space, which means there are many different ways of providing these experiences. There are ketamine clinics popping up left and right, many of which are very medicalized without much emphasis on the spiritual nature (Booooooo! I clearly have an opinion on this). There are shamans who have trained their entire lives in the spiritual realm of healing with plant medicines. There are trauma-informed psychotherapists that have trained extensively with the indigenous medicine carriers. There are nurses that have trained extensively to work with plant medicines that have experience with humans in a vulnerable space, while also being medically trained and walk a deeply spiritual path (hint hint, me!). There are artists, entrepreneurs, dancers, and everything in between that are being called to work in service of humanity to help us expand and grow. 

As you can see, this is why knowing what to ask will help you find the kind of practitioner that can provide you the most impactful and safe experience. It’s important to understand that if you are human, you have experienced some form of trauma (little t trauma). Even if our childhood was perfect, there are little experiences that stick to our soul and drive our behaviors, blocks, and general ways of being in the world. And what a beautiful thing to be able to explore those more deeply and have more awareness and consciousness about the way we move through the world. If you find a practitioner that has been on this healing path, doing their own “work”, acquiring tools along the way, participated in psychedelic facilitation training, have considerable experience with the medicines they are working with, and most importantly,  in alignment of being in service to others - they are likely safe to work with.

Clinical Mental Health Concerns 

Then there's the BIG T trauma as Gabor Mate defines it - the kind of trauma that has left a large imprint on your soul and perhaps some clinical mental health diagnosis because of it. If you have unaddressed trauma from your past that could be excavated during a psychedelic experience, you want to at least ensure that your practitioner is trauma informed and has tools available in the case a big break occurs. Perhaps you desire someone who is a psychotherapist to help you navigate through these challenges, or a clinic with multiple practitioners, but this is not always necessary. Shamans are trained in a different way to help utilizing the spirit of the medicines, the elements, the spirits beyond the veil, and nature to help you navigate challenges. (To note, it is not a bad thing if a big break happens, sometimes this is what healing can look like. We need to move through experiences to move them out of our system, rather than suppressing them to the dark hidden caverns of our psyche where they express sideways.)

How to Discern Who to Work With

Perhaps you are feeling confused by all the options available to you. This is where I encourage you to drop into the wisdom of your beautiful and vastly intelligent body. Our mind is what gets in the way and becomes confused, but our bodies often carry the answer. We just need to get quiet and listen. This means, set aside some quiet time after you have talked with the potential guide, and sit with your eyes closed so you can access the mindseye and the wisdom of your body. Think about working with this person and check in with your body. Do you feel calm, relaxed, and open? Or do you feel contracted and anxious? Remembering that it is normal to be a little nervous about moving towards an unknown experience. Can you separate rational nerves from a nervousness that is coming from something beyond that. Your body is always communicating with you and this is a great practice to check in with yourself on the many decisions you make, big and small.

Here are some additional tips on how to make a decision about who to work with:

  • Always have a call with the facilitator before you give any money. They should be offering some sort of consultation to discuss how they practice and address any immediate safety concerns. 

  • PAY ATTENTION to how your body feels when you are talking to them. Do you feel anxious? Do you feel at ease while talking to them? 

  • Are they answering your questions to your satisfaction? Do you feel pressured in any way? 

  • Ask them about their training and experience with the medicines? The more complex your trauma history, the more experience they should probably have. 

  • Ask them where they practice and make sure you are comfortable in that kind of environment.

  • What additional life experiences are they bringing to their work?

Hopefully this edition of my musings are helpful for you to take the next steps and move closer to traveling the expansiveness of your consciousness through these magical medicines. We are all in this together. We are all healing together. If you want to have a conversation and ask some of these important questions, schedule a consultation call with me.

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