Heal the World?
Heal the World?
Psychedelic Medicines and Where the Real Transformation Game is Played
At this moment in time, when all the societal structures we once took for granted are crumbling around us when the very air we breathe can no longer be taken for granted, where do we go? What can we depend on? How can we move from fear and helplessness, into an empowered, loving strength?
The real game of transforming the world is played within. We transform ourselves, and in so doing, we heal the world.
We urgently need to let go of shaking our fists at some external “they” or “them” or “those people”, and look within. This is where our individual power is greatest. This is where the real game of transformation is played, and where psychedelic medicines are a powerful ally.
Stages of Psychedelic Healing
At the time of writing, I am 2.5 years into my psychedelic healing path. I’ll share what my journey has been, as one person’s experience that may offer a helpful roadmap.
Stage One – Healing Trauma, Experiencing Safety, Foundations of Trust
I came to the work with early childhood wounds of rejection of my authentic being and adolescent wounds of bullying and sexual assault, the first, setting up a fear and unworthiness that led to the latter.
The mushrooms also offered me moments of bliss and oneness–an all-encompassing love that showed me I didn’t need to be afraid of dying.
My opening ceremony on mushrooms was a very intense somatic experience. Hours of clenching and releasing revealed to me the depth of wounding, and how I had lived my life from that place. The mushrooms also offered me moments of bliss and oneness–an all-encompassing love that showed me I didn’t need to be afraid of dying. A challenging, beautiful first experience with a wise and caring man I’ll call Adam.
Next, I worked with a practitioner whose main medicine was MDMA. I’ll call him John. I worked with John for nearly two years. In the first year, very gradually, I went inside to do the feeling work of allowing the trauma to be released inside of a safe container. This was a very tender process. Having been rejected as a child, many parts of my psyche were locked in fear. My practitioner, a strong, gentle man of deep integrity, held me in a space of complete acceptance and unconditional love. This was the first experience in my life of hearing that all of me was welcome.
Layer by layer, different parts of me would come out and express themselves, testing the safety of the container. As they each experienced that, yes, the safety and loving acceptance were real, more parts got in line to step out of the shadows and be seen. I remember a breakthrough moment in my fourth ceremony with him, where I felt the sensation of trust in my heart for the first time.
During this early healing period, my father, who was at the root of so much of the wounding, had a stroke. My ability to be there with genuine loving support while still grappling with the wounds he inflicted, was an example of the power of this work beyond the Self.
Stage Two – Trauma Healing, Building Strength, Trusting Self, Learning Responsibility
In my second year working with John, we added in mushrooms. I would begin with MDMA, to ground in safety, and then add in the mushrooms to take me deeper into my subconscious.
Sessions seemed to toggle between old wounds and the experience of being victimized, and the beginnings of more strength and sovereignty within. During one sacred ceremony, I was holding a safe place for myself, to allow my Inner Child to come out. I was learning not to push, but to hold space without judgment or demand. She eventually peaked out from behind a rock. As she came out into the open to look around, a wise Council of Elders appeared in a semi-circle to receive her. They showered her with love and joy. I wept for a long while, feeling this healing presence and gift of support.
Then the feeling shifted. The Council was looking at adult me with a sterner expression. They were communicating a need for me to step out of my victim stance and into a more empowered place.
The rest of this second year of work, over and over, I would grapple with the lesson: No one can rescue you. No one can walk your path for you. But, you don’t have to walk it alone.
Another feature of this period was the shedding of protector personas. False layers I had adopted as a child, to navigate the world. The People Pleaser. The Performer. The Analyzer. These were each suits of armor I kept between the tender, rejected authentic me, and the world.
I got to experience somatically, over several hours, that if I showed up as myself, I would not be abandoned.
In another profound ceremony with John, I brought the intention of healing my fear of abandonment. I would commit to dropping my defenses, allowing the raw, vulnerable me to be seen, with the ask that he be there for me the entire time. The soul-level re-patterning of this ceremony is with me to this day. Deep in medicine, with my eye mask on and one of his beautiful playlists playing, I would drop my defenses. Each time, an act of courage felt like jumping off a cliff. I would reach out my hands and every time, his hands would clasp mine. I got to experience somatically, over several hours, that if I showed up as myself, I would not be abandoned.
Over this period, outside of ceremony, my friendships deepened, and new friendships formed. I was becoming stronger and more present. I laughed more! I had more emotional depth and strength to offer the people I loved. I brought a greater depth to my coaching clients.
I spent ten days at my parents’ place and helped them find and onboard a home care team. I gradually came out of the psychedelic closet to my parents. This courage to be authentically me with my parents, without needing to project guilt or wounding onto them, is a direct result of the work.
I also noticed a deeper compassion for anyone struggling. The more I became familiar with the landscape of my own inner terrain – the shadows and the light – the more I was able to feel the energy of the struggles that others were going through. There was no effort in this compassion – it was – and is – a natural out-pouring resulting from the work.
Stage Three – Leaving Victimhood Behind, Stepping Deeper into Authenticity, Contribution of Gifts
This is the stage I am in right now. I’m sure there are many stages to come after this one, but I have some big, chunky work to do, and I imagine I’ll be here doing it for a good while!
At a certain point, John and I both felt that a graduation had happened. That we had gone as far as we could together, and I needed to jump out of the nest.
I spent a few months integrating all I had learned and experienced in my work with him and then was ready to move into the next stage of growth. Of course, I can only describe this after the fact. It’s all a mystery from the inside! I can say that I have come to a profound trust in the psychedelic medicine path. There is a saying in this community: You may not always get what you want, but you will always get what you need, and what you can handle. I have found this to be true.
Indigenous peoples consider these medicines to be sacred teachers, wisdom holders, and relatives. The more I delve into this work, the more I hold those values in my heart.
The next practitioner I was guided to work with we’ll call Tony. Tony does psychedelic bodywork. As deep as the healing work to date had been, this was a whole other level of depth. We worked with mushrooms while he did acupuncture and Swedish massage on my body. This had the effect of lifting emotions of fear, pain, humiliation, grief, and anger that were locked in my tissues and flushing them out of my system. I was able to express soul-level rage to my father and make peace from a place of strength. My Council of Elders challenged me, and I met the challenge and stood up to them, claiming my worthiness for myself.
In this part of the journey, I am being asked to confront where I am hiding. Where I am holding back my gifts and my unique perspective, out of fear. I am being asked to build the strength I need to fully show up in life.
Sharing my path in this article is an example of me doing just that. I am showing up with you here, now, as an act of faith and courage. Faith that I am enough. That my experience and perspective may have value for you.
Sharing my path in this article is an example of me doing just that.
An example of how healing yourself gradually heals the world:
There are a number of homeless people in our community. Sometimes I give money, sometimes I don’t. A couple of months back, I was coming home from the gym and a man was standing, hunched over, with his pants halfway down. In the past, this might’ve alarmed me into giving him a wide berth and continuing on my way. But that morning, my heart was completely open. I stopped and talked with him, and stayed with him for 45 minutes. There was a turning point inside. Part of me thought I should get home and into my day, and then something shifted. I had my arm around his shoulder and I felt a deeper commitment. This came from within. It wasn’t a should. I said to him – and meant it – I’m not leaving you. Eventually, he stood up. We talked. I asked questions… made a couple of suggestions, and heard why he felt they didn’t work for him. He allowed me to take him to the 7-11 for some food. As we were walking there, he thanked me. I said because I felt it inside, you don’t have to thank me. We are exactly the same.
After we got him some food, he wanted to go to the subway. I walked him there, paid his fare, and gave him a big hug. It was a real hug. A real connection that nourished my heart as much as his.
I haven’t spoken about this much because I don’t want my ego to get sucked in. This is slippery business.
One of the most important discoveries I have made is that the real transformation is, and must be, PRIVATE. As soon as we trumpet it, we endanger the transformation by stroking the ego. The transformation is first, the work of healing our own traumas, and then, experiencing that we are all the same. From this place, we cannot, would not, harm another soul.
From this place, we heal the world.