Photo: Ryan Keating

Personal Story: Psychedelics Are A Powerful Tool To Promote Healing

Photo: Ryan Keating


by Ryan Keating

on July 7, 2015

When I was 20 I grew fascinated with Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception. Aldous Huxley was part of the first wave of people who had experimented with psychedelics in our modern American society and that book was an account of his experience on mescaline. I had never done any sort of psychedelics before this age and had only smoked pot but a few times and really didn’t even like alcohol all too much. Up until that point in my life I was obsessed with sports and that’s pretty much all I did until high school and into early college. It was like a switch went off in me somewhere around the age 18-20 where I realized this was not what I wanted to do. There had to be more to life than just swinging a bat and hitting a ball and a certain inquisitiveness was aroused in me that at times has led to happiness at taking a more unforeseen path but also at many other times producing a lonely, wandering characteristic of always yearning for the next thing or something more and never quite being content. And now I have found the answer and it is psychedelics! Ha, no, not really. You don’t have to write me so blatantly off just yet:)

Photo: Ryan Keating

Photo: Ryan Keating

There are a lot of scary things people say about psychedelics. Some are grounded in reality, while most are grounded in fear-based, “War on Drugs” ideologies. Largely, if you dive into the research that’s been done you’ll find that most studies on psychedelics have very positive results for people related to all levels of anxiety, depression, addiction, trauma, general life appreciation through spiritual connection, etc. Not to mention the War on Drugs being in general a complete sham that’s causing a huge amount of unnecessary strife in our population and putting more people in jail who violate a moral and politically-based ideology and who are non-violent versus any other country in the world.

Anyway, in a safe, pure, intention-based setting an overwhelming amount of positivity has been [drawn] from psychedelics, [such as] LSD, mushrooms (psilocybin), and MDMA. Research had shown that these drugs should have been classified on a prescription based setting. They were non-toxic, non addictive, and had similar effects on your brain’s neurotransmitters as other common drugs like caffeine. Instead, the War on Drugs’ political hysteria many decades ago labeled these substances as Schedule 1 drugs, which meant they were [considered] extremely harmful, with no medicinal benefit, and put on the same level as something like heroin or meth (all while the most chemically harmful toxic and addictive substances like alcohol and cigarettes remained legal and acceptable). Studies, research and science had been trumped by a political agenda.

Photo: Ryan Keating

Photo: Ryan Keating

Well then, why were these largely healing drugs deemed illegal? This is a complicated question. When one dives into a psychedelic trip they’re entering a very powerful world. A world where you can’t hide from yourself. The content of your trip will be based on what is inside of you no matter how far you’ve squashed it down. It isn’t a linear experience and the sense that we most accurately rely on (our vision) is largely not emphasized as being the most important sense. We see things we don’t usually see in our normal lives. We see light in a different way and everything that’s moving is cutting through the energy force of that light. It makes one feel as if they are looking at the ocean and somehow that ocean has surrounded all of us. Do fish see the water? They are so used to it that maybe they don’t and this is similar to our default vision/mindset as in our normal lives we are able to see (but not really see) all things around us. Even by closing ones eyes you cannot escape the visions of what is happening in your brain. A brain on psychedelics is incredibly active and firing on all levels, that of which has been compared to a musician composing/creating music (all compared to our brains in our natural day to day state when it’s only firing intermittently and largely focused on one area of our brain). An article showcasing the results of an MRI cat scan can be seen here. We get to see the full potential of what our brains are capable of when we undertake psychedelic healing as well as something like music. How much do we miss in our normal life in our perspective just because we see it everyday and then at some point we fail to see it anymore? Psychedelics are powerful tools to get us out of our own lackadaisical brain routine.

As can be deduced, yes, this is a scary experience if one is not ready to undertake what is coming or capable of having a general “go with it” mentality about it all. Your biggest concerns will come up front and center: you’ll laugh uncontrollably at the wall and what images are being created in front of you, you’ll be in awe at the colors and energy you see, you’ll want to love everything and everyone and wonder why you haven’t reached out to all you care for, you’ll feel an insane connection to everything that most people don’t feel in their normal lives, and in general, you will not really be in control. The only way to be in control is to be content in the fact that you won’t be in complete control, which, in essence, is one of the strong points of this therapy to be related to your normal life.

Photo: Ryan Keating

Photo: Ryan Keating

Now, how does the essence of not being in control play out in our culture? We largely live in a world where there are supposed to be correct answers and a right way of being. Yes, of course there are generally things that are considered “correct” by all like: Don’t sleep with your kin or slap people when you encounter them on the street, etc. Good, glad we can agree on that. However, most of life is not like that, but we try to make it that cut and dry — that black and white. Think about how hard it normally is to get people to get help for things like any sort of therapy? It is a monumental effort that is largely seen as a sign of weakness. Who needs help? Not me!

People don’t invest in themselves in an introspective way and often the thought of either this person or that person acting in such a way very simply leads us to think we can make accurate conclusions about their lives/our lives. ‘It’s all really simple when it comes down to it’ is often the viewpoint taken. You’re either on the right path or not and we can easily see that and figure it out. Who needs any type of introspection or therapy?

As one ages, this simple thinking doesn’t lead to a whole lot of possibility in one’s life. For most of us, we are unhappy and bitter because, well, our own socially accepted normal and day-to-day experiences put most of us into a box where life gets too predictable and doesn’t cater to our needs. Most of us are only using a very select part of our brains on a day-to-day basis. This can easily lead to wanting to get out of that box or thinking there is something more. But there are no other boxes to jump into, as most of us don’t know where to turn or who agrees with us or how we get out of our own heads or have support from others around us. We can easily go farther internal and push more down and not let things out that need to come out. Self-expression is withheld. We feel there are few options available outside of the accepted norm and what we’ve gone through in our lives thus far. Our worlds can easily largely shrink as time ticks on.

For a world so obsessed with the above, and also one where traditions related to the earth and native peoples have been squashed and looked down upon, psychedelic rituals and healing don’t really fit into our life equation. We’re supposed to have figured out our path more as we age, not delve into practices or drugs that bring out our inner questions or make us confront who we are. Experimenting is largely seen as something crazy people or stupid adolescents do and thus taboo. Abstaining from such experimentation or stimulation or putting substances into our bodies to gain insight or healing (unless of course it’s the super addictive and toxic alcohol or tobacco or the large array of pharmaceuticals that are over prescribed to us) is commonly seen as immature and something we’ve moved beyond and what inferior cultures do who were more religiously and spiritually attached to the Earth. We live in an era where our relationship to the Earth is at an all time low. Somehow we have grown to think of ourselves as above nature, and anything related to nature is either too hippy or some sort of dangerous rot-your-brain voodoo; hence the War on Drugs culture that has spawned forth.

Photo: Ryan Keating

Photo: Ryan Keating

Being on psychedelics is like taking on the humble approach of what it’s like to be a child again, and more specifically, a child attached to nature and what one can learn from it. The world is yours to explore and everything is so interesting. If you try to instill control and come at it like a know-everything “adult” it is very scary, unrelenting and inconsistent, and can more easily produce what is known as a “bad trip.” It is easy to look down at your phone and wonder why you would spend so much time on such a thing as it just doesn’t make sense. You might as well be holding a rock and trying to text, but at least a rock is a natural part of the earth and something you can relate to and feel the energy from. You see life completely differently. You want to change things, you want to love, you want to laugh. You want to appreciate. You want to connect. You want to relate. You want to dedicate to positivity.

It’s as if you are watching a deeply moving / insightful / interesting / emotional / stimulating / stunningly visual movie. Except that the movie is happening in your mind and in your vision. Themes of your own existence and the life you’ve lived come roaring at you. When it is all finished you are not hung over, you don’t feel in the negative or depleted. You feel lucky and overjoyed that you took an internal dive to a world where you saw a spiritual truth behind your own life and who you are, what you’re doing, how you want to be, and what seems to be important to you. It sticks with you. You ponder over this amazing movie for weeks, months, days, years. It is a healing practice you dive into every so often as a reminder and a re-connection to the Earth and to yourself. It is a dramatic shift away from the dependence built and addictive-based world of the accepted pharmaceutical industry that is based on taking pills daily and being reliant on them. The physiological world becomes less important. Psychedelics are an exercise in independence within your own reality and being free from the confines of what constricts us in our lives. It is a wonderful version of wellness and preventative health care.

And that is where I have come to have a relationship with psychedelics. My pursuit of diving into the healing / preventative health care world has naturally intersected with this re-emerging field that has been politically closed off for decades and now seems to be gaining momentum to gain its rightful place as a healing agent in our culture. In the health field, it is impossible to ignore and not notice the articles and research that is spurring forth and it is impossible to not feel positively affected through personal healing sessions. I live and preach a life of health. Up till this point it has been related to massage, muscle training, nutrition and wellness coaching. They are all very important, with nutrition and general wellness probably being the hardest to attain, but yet, the most beneficial. Psychedelics most definitely fall into line with wellness. They are a powerful tool that can help people really bring upon more positive connections and well-being in their lives and the world and the research is only growing exponentially to support this.

Psychedelics are not the be all, end all answer, but they are a powerful medium done every now and then to potentially promote a huge amount of healing. They are a dramatic step away from our ever-present world of being reliant on the drugs and addictive toxicities we often pump into our bodies on a daily basis. We experience a psychedelic healing session and truth seems to come out and negative characteristics of our lives really don’t seem to make sense anymore. They take one away and out of the culture we’ve been led to believe in and attaches us to the culture of our own relationship with nature. The feeling of “I am apart of the larger picture” is overwhelmingly prevalent and takes over in our normal lives and one relies less on the “if and only if this happens then I’ll be happy / satisfied / fulfilled / meaningful / etc. Prospering from peace and the excitement and acknowledgment and respect of existence takes over.

However, one can see the world in this way then go for it. By not recognizing and not being open to the research and studies and benefits and history that something like psychedelics offers, we are a culture holding ourselves back, stuck in our own small world mentalities and nonsensical mind-limiting ideologies related to wellness.

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  • Thomas.Colucci

    I read: “Psychedelics are too powerful to promote healing”, which is true somehow too.