The title of this newsletter is adapted from Layman Pang, an 8th century Zen Buddhist.
Psychedelic-assisted medicine/consciousness medicine is an active therapeutic approach and an inside job. It is different than taking a pill and passively waiting for everything to change. Or expecting others to suddenly change so that your life becomes easier.
The external, sometimes mundane, aspects of life don’t change after a psychedelic healing journey. Drawing water, chopping wood, arguing with a stubborn partner, negotiating with a challenging employer, your dog running away at an inopportune time, or the dishes will all await you after your psychedelic experience. So, how does a psychedelic experience prepare you for responding, rather than reacting, to the same situations?
The humanist psychologist Carl Rogers provides some insight in this direction. The externals don’t change but our perception and engagement with them change when we embrace self-acceptance and self-compassion. This is a primary goal of psychedelic therapy. During a session, you come into awareness of your parts (often developed in response to trauma) that have protected you and yet create suffering as they may no longer serve you. Psychological material arises during a journey; insights, “A-ha!” moments, and significant epiphanies may emerge. But the utility of these experiences are only sustained if they are integrated into your daily life. This integration is an active rather than passive process. Many of the benefits of consciousness medicine are sustained during the post-psychedelic integration sessions.
Research in this field indicates that depression or anxiety can lift and be sustained for months after just one psychedelic session. When your relationship with your parts changes (the inside job), you begin to respond differently to your internal thoughts, emotions and sensations. In turn, this changes how you respond to external circumstances.
Ultimately, drawing water, chopping wood, the dog running away….become less burdensome and potentially triggering, if not strangely enjoyable, because you’ve increased your emotional and experiential flexibility. This allows more joy and gratitude to surface regardless of the external circumstance.
With deep gratitude,
Ian Luepker, Michelle Bienick & Martha McCord