This post is following on from 30 Day Writing Challenge Review.

Many things helped me to make it through my way of publishing 30 times in 30 days, and today I’ll continue to share a few more.

Connecting to something bigger

At times of difficulty when I encountered a resistance to hit publish I returned to my why. It was a personal challenge, but personal only in so far as that I want to improve my ability to write and put out content so that ultimately I am more able to spread knowledge and information about psychedelics and to share ideas that I believe can be useful to other people. So when I had doubts I returned to the thought of ‘this is about much more than you’. This helped me to get over myself and think about the people my writing could reach and help. My feelings about how I might come across or how nice my writing is to read took a back seat to the primary aim of getting that information and those ideas out there into the world. This made it a whole lot easier to not get overly concerned with editing.

Knowing that it’s about more than myself was very helpful as those difficult feelings that I encountered were in the end just my personal difficulties. If I want to actually play my part in something bigger and contribute to the world in a meaningful way then I’m gonna have to get over myself.

Before the month I made a small reminder card with an image of the world and a heart that I now keep over my desk. This was to connect to the bigger picture of love and all those lives of the people around the world to help drive me on in times of difficulty.

Inspiring Material

I read Steven Pressfield’s Do The Work before and during the month on a timely recommendation from a friend. I think I’ve blown Pressfield’s trumpet enough on this blog by now for you to get it that his work speaks to me. One thing that stuck out from this work was that doing research can become a form of Resistance and procrastination. So for this month I actually did zero research for any of the articles. I referenced other materials and websites, but only ones that I was already aware of or had in mind that I could use. Aside from being hugely practical in terms of saving time, this was nice in that it was a good chance to test myself and my knowledge of psychedelics and it felt really good to keep churning stuff out without looking at what others had to say on the topic. It has been a great confidence boost for me and I feel way more ready to embark on creative challenges without spending so much time doing prep and just coming up with things on the spot. This is something I’d like to explore more in the future with workshops and talks and have more confidence in myself to do this than before.

Rituals & Routines

I had a few rituals and routines which helped me throughout the month. Here are a few:

Waking up early

I am a fan of a strong morning routine. In July I would wake up around 6, drink a glass of hot lemon water and stretch, take a cold shower, meditate, walk once around the block and then eat breakfast before settling down to begin writing. Having such a consistent routine with an early start was definitely helpful.

The 6AM start did go out the window after my accident as I had difficulty sleeping due to the pain in my arm, but I did get back to early rising once I was able to sleep well.

Fiery Music

Music was a huge help on days when I felt tired or low on inspiration. On most mornings during my short morning walk I would listen to some slamming track which would get me fired up and generally ready to kick some ass. My go to anthem for the month was The Bronx’s cover of Black Night Crash, a punk track which opens up with a ‘yeah!’ that got me going on even my most sluggish of mornings. I would often bounce around the block and always returned home ready to face a new challenge.

Pre-Writing Statement

Once at my desk, immediately before beginning the first draft, I would read a short passage aloud:

“Anything and everything that arises today can be written down,
Anything and everything that arises is a gift from my basic wealth, is bringing me closer to the truth, could be part of the message I want to convey… even if it’s a poop joke”.

This was inspired by Stephen Pressfield who makes a prayer to the Muse every morning before he begins writing. I liked the idea of using the same one but it just didn’t quite feel right for me. I found the above one whilst searching for prayers/odes to read before writing. This one was simple and straightforward and felt right, reminding myself that whatever I put down would be OK. Having this in the forefront of my mind before writing helped to settle me and then to blast through doubting resistance and keep moving forward with my first draft.

I had these placed in front of me every day. On the right, my passage, plus a picture of my ‘muse’, and on the left, my mantra.

A Positive Mantra

The idea for this challenge came in the latter part of a magic truffle journey and both excited and scared me. It seemed like a pretty big ask but at the same time the belief came to my mind, and it came with two words: ‘I can’.

This served as a mantra for my month and I repeated it many times in the week before starting as a way to psych myself up. I even changed the password on my computer to ‘I can!’ before the month so that every time I logged in I would again put it out in to the world and internalize this belief. I believe there is a great power to this and developing a mantra for a challenge is something that I will probably do again in the future.

Final Thoughts

So those are a few things which supported and helped me through the process, to finish here are a couple of final thoughts from the challenge.

Creativity breeds creativity

Before going into the month I brainstormed a few article ideas and kept them in a list for my reference. Initially it was useful to have so I felt reassured that I wouldn’t draw a blank but as the month went on what happened was a surprise. Rather than the list getting shorter as I wrote different pieces, what I found was that the opposite actually happened, and the list of ideas for articles kept growing. As I wrote more articles, more ideas for other articles that I wanted to write just kept popping up. This was a great feeling as I find that moment when a new idea pops up in the mind to be quite satisfying. In a creative sense it feels great to have such an abundance of ideas out there. However, deciding to act on them or let them go is another step and definitely something for to me consider as I make decisions about how I will spend my time and what projects I want to devote my time and attention to.

Writing More

This was the first 30 day challenge I used for a creative project and I think that is what made it so rewarding. It forced me to engage my mind in a particular way every day that is different than other challenges I’ve done and I noticed my mind working in a new and novel way that I haven’t since I learned Spanish. That psychedelic (reality broadening) aspect was hugely interesting and definitely will push me to do more of these types of challenges in the future.

Also, just being that creative felt great in and of itself. I was away for work the two weeks immediately following the challenge and didn’t have an opportunity to blog. (I wrote How to Start a Meditation Circle on a double day during the 30 day challenge so I’d have something to publish whilst away on work). I have actually missed getting up and writing and publishing every day. I don’t really know how to describe the feeling other than totally agreeing with Seth Godin’s comment that ‘blogging is good for the soul’. Although I feel rusty coming back to it after a couple weeks out it feels good to write again. There is a new version of Maps of the Mind coming later this year and I will then settle in to a schedule of one to two articles every week. I noticed that I had more regular readers for the month of July and that also felt great to have new content for people coming back.

Finding Purpose

One of the most remarkable things I experienced was the sense of purpose I felt throughout the month. The daily challenge gave me a real raison d’être each day and I woke up each morning excited for the day and to see what it had in store.

So there’s my review for my 30 day writing challenge.  Ultimately it was an incredible, magical, and especially empowering month. It has just further developed my love for the 30 day challenge and I am excited to throw myself in to many more. Taking a break for the month of August, I am already looking forward to embarking on a new one for September….

🙂

Last month I completed my most difficult 30 day challenge yet; publishing a new blog post about psychedelics every day for 30 days of July.

It was an incredible month packed with synchronicities and very meaningful to me in terms of challenging myself and cultivating a growth and exploratory mindset. I can say that it has been one of the most interesting months of my life and so many things occurred, not all clearly because of the challenge, but in ways that I don’t think were entirely coincidental.

The month also nicely coincided with two other milestones for Maps of the Mind, the most views and visitors the site has ever received in a month, and also during the month, 2020 became the year with the most views and visitors. With 5 months left this is very promising and by years end will set a nice new bar for me to reach in 2021.

I’d originally planned to do a review on the final day of the month but in the end needed the time to prepare for a work trip to the Netherlands. I just arrived back on Wednesday and today wanted to take the time to sit down and review the challenge and allow the lessons and all that passed to sink in a little deeper.

PSYJuly Review

Going into the challenge I was both excited and nervous. At the start of July I’d averaged around one post per month on the blog so this was effectively multiplying my output by a factor of 30 – no small amount. However, I knew that my slow rate was due largely to overthinking and perfectionism and the idea of making a jump that was so ridiculous in this regard was that I knew it would push me to overcome this resistance and through whatever was holding me back.

I learned an incredible amount about my writing process and was able to experiment with different ways of approaching writing articles, from structuring, drafting and also using different writing tools.

It was a challenging process and although letting go of those perfectionist tendencies was one of the main difficulties, there were were other hurdles such as days when I didn’t feel that motivated or inspired, and other days when I was tired and was still faced with the fact that I still had to crank out another piece. There were also some very personal things I wrote about which I’ve never shared in public and was nervous about posting online.

At those difficult moments, there were many things which helped. Here I will share a few of those things and I believe these will be most useful for me to remember going forward into new challenges.

Fully committing beforehand

Fully committing 100% to completing the challenge beforehand helped me to find ways and solutions through tight spots. The biggest example of this came on day 11 with an unexpected obstacle.

I was out on my skateboard early on the Sunday morning (I have found weekend mornings are the best times to skate as the city sleeps and you have the roads to yourself). One third in to the 30 days of publishing, I was feeling great about my creative output and in an excellent mood. The sun was shining, I had music playing in my headphones and, skating on some newly paved smooth ass roads, I felt on top of the world. I busted out a few new tricks that I haven’t in a while and was getting a little bit cocky. What happens when you get too cocky? You get a hard lesson.

Flying down the road on my way home from Alexanderplatz I attempted something I haven’t landed in years, and clipping the curb, fell hard. After lying on my back for around 15 minutes, making strange noises whilst I dealt with the pain, I picked myself off the tarmac and with a blood stained T-shirt, gingerly got myself home.

With my cuts and scrapes cleaned and bandaged up and an icepack applied to my right elbow, I was OK, but I’d totally lost the use of my right arm. No movement whatsoever, I couldn’t use my fingers, I couldn’t use my hand. The whole right arm was immobile and in a lot of pain.

At this point I might’ve thought that maybe I can’t go on with the challenge. After all, losing all use of your dominant arm is quite a setback if you are planning on writing. However by this stage I was so committed to the challenge that I knew I had to find a way.

Coincidentally, I had read article the day before called Setback or step up? about whether a change is a setback or an opportunity depends on your framing. It clicked in my mind that this is actually an opportunity for me rather than a hindrance. Thinking back to my original intentions, one of them was to force myself to think differently about how I create. If this wasn’t an opportunity for me to to think differently then what was?

I began dictating my first draft directly into Google Docs using voice typing and did my editing one-handed with my left hand. This editing process was tedious and time-consuming, but determination and resolve kept me going and I feel like I really strengthened these muscles through this trial. Fully committing to the decision to finish 30 days is something that ultimately pushed me through and kept me determined.

In this regard taking the time before hand to think about why I was doing it and having clear intentions very much helped me.

Revisiting Intentions

When stuck in some way, revisiting my original intentions helped a lot. I was able to remember why I was doing this and use it was a compass and impetus for action. There were many occasions when I started to get a little bit jammed or doubting and one of my intentions absolutely cleared up the issue for me and gave me a clear focus and direction to move forward.

Explorer’s Mindset

Seeing the month as an experiment very much helped to let go of perfectionism. I was able to tell myself that it was an experiment and that I would gain valuable data whatever happens and whatever I put out. This is one of the most useful mindsets I’ve found in terms of growing and something I wish to continue to cultivate.

Setting Limits

The first week was difficult and I had to overcome a lot of resistance to hitting the publish button when I was not happy with what I was putting out. Fortunately I had a very busy month outside of the writing challenge and though that might seem like the worst time to do such a challenge, it was actually a blessing. It pushed me to hit publish early in the day so that I could move on and get on with the rest of my day. It meant that I couldn’t afford to continually edit or try to refine the post.

I would set a deadline early in the day, do the piece to the best that I could by that time, publish it, and then move on. When my deadline came, usually around 10 or 11 am, I would remind myself that the point was to practice hitting publish even whilst not being satisfied with the final piece. Some days I really didn’t want to publish, but coming out the other side can say it was definitely worth it. I always have the opportunity to revisit and edit pieces in the future if I like too.

More next time…

There is plenty more to this, but alas I am out of writing time and need to move on with the day. I’ll continue in a part two of this post soon… see you next week!

My Psychedelic Story Part 1 | Part 2 After understanding that it is my path to be involved in some way with the psychedelic movement I began to be more active in the online community.

Last week I was interviewed on Awaken Atlanta, a breakfast show in the US that covers topics that mainstream media don’t talk about. I was on to talk about, of course, psychedelics, and shared a bit of my experience and answered some of their questions. The show is now available online. You can watch my interview below or see the full show here. Enjoy!

Join Tim and Shannon as they discuss psychedelics. They will be delving into different types of hallucinogens, how they can benefit your mental health, and its long-term effects, as well as hallucinogen addiction. They will be speaking with Alice Smeets, a Trauma Integration Therapist and Kerrie O’Reilly, a Trauma Integration Therapist, and Holistic Health Practitioner. They’ll also interview their John Andrew, a Psychedelic Explorer & Guide.

Rather than do a best psychedelic books list, I thought it would be fun to explore my psychedelic story through books that I’ve read over the last 10 years.

When I was thinking about writing this piece, I thought: ‘is it strange to only count books since I started taking psychedelics? Shouldn’t I include important books from before I started my psychedelic journey?’. I thought about what books I would include from before and I remembered that there weren’t really many.

Though I’d read a few, I actually only really started to get into books after my first psychedelic experiences. The curiosity they fed me gave me an insatiable hunger for learning and knowledge, as well as the patience to read slower, more challenging books and those above my level. My renewed sense of childlike curiosity also made reading more inherently rewarding, worthwhile simply as a means of exploration even if there would be no take away lesson or practical benefit.

Now the idea of living without books seems like a deprived existence. Suffice to say reading remains one of my favourite and most rewarding hobbies.

For this piece I will just run through in a roughly chronological order books that I remember reading and that somehow seem significant or influential as part of my journey over the last decade. It won’t be thorough or complete, but will surely give you an idea of my course.

The form of this piece is going to be loose as I think this will just be a fun way to chart my journey via literature and continue to embrace using this month of blogging to cultivate the experimenter’s mindset. I’ll adjust text size to show significance and add comments by some of the books that I feel have been especially important.

Important Books In My Story

The Doors of Perception – Aldous Huxley

I read this in the aftermath of my first experiences and I fell for Huxley’s literal, almost scientific way of describing, while also diving into cultural commentary and philosophical and spiritual ideas. I even remember at one point standing up and punching the air whilst reading this. Huxley has since become my most read author. His mind and words just get me in some special way. I find the way he explores ideas both through novels and essays to be incredibly stimulating and energising.

The Psychedelic Experience – Tim Leary, Richard Alpert, Ralph Metzner

On The Road – Jack Kerouac

As cliché as it is this beat classic was a big fuel for me in my wild travel and wanderlust ways. It was a perfect companion on my first budget travel trip around Europe, and it also planted a seed of desire for me to visit Mexico; a journey I made around seven years later and ended up staying in the country for five months. My time in Mexico remains one of my all time favourite chapters and cherished memories.

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test – Tom Woolfe

A rollicking great story following Kesey and those crazy band of merry pranksters. Woolfe plays with form in a psychedelic style which fits perfectly.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo‘s Nest – Ken Kesey

May be my favorite novel that I’ve ever read. Rightly a classic, just brilliant.

The Path of Tibetan Buddhism – The Dalai Lama

 

Introduction to Zen Buddhism – D.T Suzuki

How to Meditate

The Zen Teaching of Huang Po: On the Transmission of Mind

Tao Te Ching – Lao Tze

Wisdom packed, almost mystical, fundamental Taoist text. I’ve read a few different translations and this is a book I expect I’ll be continuing to revisit for the rest of my life.

Be Here Now – Ram Dass

An incredible story and many great tools for aspiring spiritual practitioners. This book began my yoga practice, I used the core asanas it provided, and was very useful with the step-by-step instructions to both these and pranayama breathing exercises.

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
1984 – George Orwell
Brave New World Revisited – Aldous Huxley

Island – Aldous Huxley

This remains one of my favorite pieces of literature that I’ve ever read. The island of Pala that Huxley describes is in many ways the beautiful world our hearts know is possible. Incredible vision from Huxley of a spiritually and scientifically informed society where psychedelics integrated and used in a coming of age ritual.

Peace Is Every Step – Thich Nhat Hanh

I bought this book in Bangkok train station on my way heading south to find a peaceful beach where I could unpack after my 14 month stint in China. I lived in a hut by the beach for a couple weeks, reading in hammocks, relaxing, and practicing meditation ahead of my first silent retreat which was coming up a few weeks later.

Reading this book really helped evolve my meditation practice from a mostly seated stillness practice into a daily life mindfulness practice. Though a simple and very readable format and style, it has depth and gave me ideas for many ways to return to a mindful state throughout the day.

Savor – Thich Nhat Hanh
Shamanic Trance and Modern Kabbalah – Jonathan Garb
The Perennial Philosophy – Aldous Huxley
Against Nature – Joris-Karl Huysmans

The Book – Alan Watts
The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle
The Way of Zen – Alan Watts

War God – Graham Hancock

An incredible semi-historical flight of fancy from one of my favourite authors in the psychedelic space. An absolute page turner, couldn’t put this one down and had me staying up late reading and waking up for work tired.

Vagabonding – Rolf Potts

True travel classic. Certainly one of the most influential books on my path and somehow practical in a philosophical way. Potts saved money for his travels whilst working as an English teacher in the South Korean coastal city of Busan. I read this book whilst saving money for travel whilst working a an English teacher in Busan. That was not planned, but surely another reason why it resonated so strongly with me. Potts was also an inspiration for me as an aspiring adventure and travel blogger.

The 4-Hour Work Week – Tim Ferriss

 

The Sunhitcher – Tomi Astikainen

The Book of Tea – Kakuzō Okakura

 

Thousand Cranes – Yasunari Kawabata
The Old Capital – Yasunari Kawabata
Snow Country – Yasunari Kawabata

The Joyous Cosmology – Alan Watts

The Teachings of Don Juan – Carlos Castaneda

After having been out in the Mexican desert picking peyote and smoking DMT with a band of travellers, I picked up this book upon heading back to the city of San Luis Potosi, where I was based. Reading Castaneda I became so inspired and re-invigorated with that adventurelust I once again packed up and headed back out to the desert town for what turned out to be another incredible chapter which began with bailing a friend out of a local prison for possession, had consecutive days of peyote sessions in the desert, a Mexican country village fair, and lead to me being invited to The Dance Of The Sun – a native American shamanic ritual that includes fasting and blood sacrifices.

The Daily Stoic – Ryan Holiday

Can’t recommend this book highly enough. Ryan holiday has become one of my favourite authors.

Waking Up – Sam Harris
The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide – James Fadiman

The Secret Chief Revealed – Myron Stolaroff

Western psychedelic therapy has been huge in informing my approach and I still use methods from this book both as a practitioner and as a guide.

Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism – Chögyam Trungpa

The Book Of Disquiet – Fernando Pessoa

The Obstacle Is The Way – Ryan Holiday

The War Of Art – Steven Pressfield

This book has been absolutely hugely influential and inspiring for me. Recommended to anyone looking for inspiration for creative endeavour they’d like to embark upon.
Getting Higher – Julian Vayne

Siddhartha – Herman Hesse

Atomic Habits – James Clear

I followed blogger and habits expert Clear for a few years before he released this book, being so interested in the subject of habit formation. Atomic Habits is the ultimate compilation of his works and I can’t recommend highly enough for anyone interested in habit change.

Zig Zag Zen – Alan Badiner

Wherever You Go, There You Are – Jon Kabat-Zinn

I read this book over the time I was doing mindfulness coach certification and found it to contains so much in so little. Each chapter is 1 to 2 pages, so it’s one of those books where you can read a page a day and slowly digest all the wisdom and depth that is packed in.

Can’t Hurt Me – David Goggins

Psychedelic Psychotherapy – R. Coleman

Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss – Dennis McKenna

Digital Minimalism – Cal Newport

This is a book for our times. It has changed my digital life (mainly, getting me off whatsapp and telegram) and continues to inform it. I love the way Newport thinks I found it especially satisfying that the practical system he proposes in this book is almost structurally identical to a practical system I have devised for psychedelic integration. Great minds!

The Pocket I Ching – Richard Wilhelm
Ego Is The Enemy – Ryan Holiday

Currently reading:
Steppenwolf – Herman Hesse

That bring us up to date!

I’m not sure how interesting this post may have been to read but it was really fun to write! Reflecting on how much these books have contributed to my life has me really excited to read a bunch more. If you enjoy reading, try exploring your story through books, its a fun activity 🙂

I think I’d like to return to this post sometime to add photos but for now, I’m off to finish Steppenwolf.

Tschüs!