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explorer revolution psychedelic course

On November 1st, in just over three weeks, I will open the course portal for R/EVOLUTION.

R/evolution is a deep dive course for psychedelic explorers. If you’d like to find out more about the core information or sign up, visit the course page. Here I will share more of a behind the scenes blog post.

The Openings of R/EVOLUTION

I am excited to say that after having done a soft launch, we already have the first members of our first cohort signed up and on board. I have ‘soft launched’ over the last week by emailing an early version of the course page to previous clients, those who filled out the feedback form, and my mailing list, and adjusting and editing the course page based on their feedback. I am really excited to see the first group for this course beginning to come together. This cohort will be a key part of what I see as a co-creative group experience.

Group Experience

One aspect that I want to bring to R/evolution is the group experience aspect. Connecting with others is something that many people on the psychedelic path have difficulty with, for obvious legality and stigma reasons, and a few people who were generous enough to give early input mentioned that this aspect of the course would be very appealing and go some way to making the course a meaningful experience.

One of these early contributors even mentioned that they feel like integration is like a solo sport, and this is something that resonated with me. I remember often feeling like a total outsider after my first psychedelic experiences ten years ago. I was fortunate enough to have one friend who also had his worldview thoroughly shaken to talk with, though at the time, I had never heard of the term ‘psychedelic integration’, let alone had a framework or guide. I fumbled through and found my way, leaning heavily on meditation as a support and finding some semblance of community support in meditation groups or gatherings in the places I was living. Though I have found my way, I can see how beneficial it would have been to have had a dedicated group or community that I could share my experiences with and learn from through those years. I think it would have supported my growth massively.

Community

The theme of community comes up again and again in psychedelic integration because support is so crucial on a path of growth. Also as humans we are social animals and have a desire to connect with others.

Even in Buddhist tradition, which is often seen as having a very solitary practice, community, or Sangha, is one of the three key supports, or ‘refuges’ – the other two being the Buddha and Dharma. 

In R/evolution, we will have live zoom calls throughout the month of November to give participants a chance to connect with other members of the group. Each call will have a section for small group sharing and connection exercises. Depending on the number of people who attend each call, we may split into smaller and go into breakout rooms for exercises. I tried to fix the dates based on availability of the first signups, but alas it is very difficult to coordinate across different peoples schedules, so I’ve just done my best and tried to include a mix of days so most people can at least attend one. The calls will be recorded and available to people who can’t make them live, and there will be another opportunity to connect through a private Signal group.

The Signal group will offer a place for members to ask questions and share difficulties and learnings as they go through the course. It will also be a space to allow any members to set up peer led calls in addition to the calls I will be hosting as part of the course itself. 

Personalising a Psychedelic Approach

Although I hope the group and social aspect will be a big aspect of the course, another key aspect will be that of the individual. The core content of the course will be delivered in audio lessons and associated homework exercises, and I am designing the course in a way that facilitates a personal experience for each participant.

No individual is the same, and I’ve found that developing a personalised approach is the best way to work with psychedelics. Whilst frameworks and structures can be extremely helpful, I believe they are best used as a basis or starting point for exploration, experimentation and customisation. 

Throughout the lockdowns of the last year and a half, I’ve spent a lot of time developing and refining my own protocols by way of practice and feedback. The middle section of the course will guide people through the process of doing this themselves, and I will be offering my own protocols and rituals as models and templates to give people ideas.

The templates will be bases or starting points for people to work from and develop their own customised approach. The level that people deviate from the suggestions given is entirely up to them. 

I hope that course participants will share their own ideas and customisations with each other too, building something of a repository of knowledge, and together making a contribution to the field of psychedelic exploration.

The Atmosphere of the Space

I hope to create a space of learning, with an atmosphere of genuine warmth and comradeship. It’s also vital to me that community members are respectful of each other, as this is important with the type of openings that psychedelics can bring about and that I hope to facilitate. 

I love the feeling of being in a group which has a special bond and I hope we are able to create that, by bringing together people who have a shared love of psychedelics, and offering opportunities for connection and bonding. I have found that psychedelic work is especially conducive to forming special bonds and I hope that will be true here too. 

I also want members to feel supported and heard, to have a space to share both their learnings and their struggles too. Walking the psychedelic path is no easy feat. For that reason, resources, support systems and finding the others will also feature in the core material too. 

My Approach to Creating the Course

Though I have many lesson outlines and a couple folders of material and ideas, I have not yet finalised any lessons. It makes the most sense to tailor the information to those who will actually be using it, so I will be refining the course content based on the input of those who will be taking part.  

As such I will be creating a lot of the course content throughout the month of November. When the portal opens on the 1st November, I will have the first few lessons uploaded, so that people can begin, and I will then be creating the rest of the course and finalising lesson plans and recording the audios and uploading them to the course portal as we move through the month of November. By the 30th, all 30 lessons will be uploaded. This will allow the fastest people to work through the material at one lesson a day, and the rest to go at their own pace. On a personal level, not having everything done beforehand is about leaning into trust, creating something unique and inspired, and developing my creative flow.

I am quite excited about the 29th lesson, which will be decided on by the group. I will be accepting ideas and listening to feedback for the weeks before then, and as we approach that day I will put it out there to the group to decide. I will then do my best in creating a lesson on the specified topic, or perhaps even try to make it something of a group creative collaboration. I will feel into that with the group as it approaches but I’m excited about this as I’m not aware of anything quite like this already out there. 

Creating the Course

Over the last couple weeks my main focus has been building the main infrastructure for the course, such as the course platform, payments system, setting up my home recording studio, and some marketing and outreach. With most of that now taken care of, my focus has begun shifting back to the course content itself.

One of my main challenges right now is that I have too much that I want to pack in and I’m already feeling like the 30 lessons isn’t enough. That said, it’s a nice problem to have, and I will see this as an exercise in condensing information as succinctly as I can to the most fundamental principles. I believe that this will lead to each lesson being relistenable and I am aiming to create a course that people can repeat and still make big gains.

Each audio lesson will end with an exercise. These will be a mix of journaling, guided meditation, and awareness or out-in-the-world practice exercises. Currently my thinking is that for some of the lessons, I will offer two or more exercises and people can choose which one they want to do. This fits in nicely with the personalised approach theme that will run through the course and explorers will be able to re-run the course and do any alternate exercises in the future. For those that aren’t sure which one to do, or if nothing in particular calls, I will offer a suggestion as a default first option. 

Where I’m at

I am beginning to brew with anticipation and excitement for this experience. As I was setting up my microphone in my home work space yesterday, I reflected on the fact that creating this course will require me to draw upon the vast majority of my professional experience of the last decade of my life. Having studied broadcasting, I worked in media, spent years in education as an English teacher, and then transitioned to workshops and facilitation work in psychedelics.

It really feels like this is how I can best offer my unique gifts to the world at this moment in time. With most of the administrative organisational work to be taken care of by the end of the week, I am especially excited to shift my energy to the content and finalising and recording a few of the first lessons.

If this course interests you, I invite you to take a look at the R/evolution page, and if it is calling you, join us! 

As I write this, there are still some early bird tickets left 😉

psychedelics meaning

What is the meaning of psychedelics?

Literal Meaning

Well the word ‘psychedelic’, as most psychonauts know by now, was invented by the British psychiatrist Humphrey Osmond. Osmond first coined the term in his correspondence with famous psychedelic enthusiast and scholar Aldous Huxley. He derived the word from the Greek words, psyche, meaning soul or spirit, and delos, meaning reveal or manifest. So the literal translation is ‘mind manifesting’, or ‘soul revealing’. In this original form it was used strictly to describe drugs which gave particular effects, those which have now been discovered to act on specific serotonin receptors in the brain (5-HT1A and 5-HT2A) such as LSD, psilocybin, mescaline and DMT.

Other Meanings

Of course the word has grown and broadened in terms of its use and psychedelic has gone on to be used to describe not only drugs but also music, arts, films, and literature. The word can be used to describe pieces of art which have been inspired by the use of psychedelic drugs.

Visual artworks may resemble visual attributes typical to the experiences, such as bright colors and kaleidoscopic patterns. Another interpretation, notable in films and literature, is that the piece demonstrates or exemplifies a type of mental or cognitive experience, such as non-linearity, or circular themes or narrative. It may also be that it is simply confusing and hard to follow. This meaning of the word converges with the word ‘trippy’, which is often used as a synonym for the word psychedelic.

It could also be that the way in which the artwork is viewed or perceived is not necessarily fixed, that it is open to multiple interpretations. This meaning reflects an aspect of psychedelic states, in which users may be able to see things from different angles or various perspectives. The offering of new perspectives is often what is appealing to many people. 

Anton Newcombe’s Definition

I also like Anton Newcombe’s definition of the word psychedelic. Newcomb, from the band The Brian Jonestown Massacre, has had his share of experience, and I once read on wikipedia that his understanding of psychedelic is that it simply means ‘mind expanding’. This broadens its potential use, and really anything could potentially be considered psychedelic. This could refer to travel or other such mind opening experiences.

Psychedelics and Profound Meaning

Psychedelics can induce induce profound alterations of human consciousness, emotion, and cognition. This can result in incredibly deep and profound experiences. These experiences bring up questions about the fundamental nature of reality. And these questions ultimately turn into matters of spirituality. Because of this I often think the term psychedelic can be used to describe anything which brings up those deep philosophical questions. Who are we? Why are we here? What is our purpose? Any type of deep experience which brings up those questions, be it a near death experience or a film, could also be described as psychedelic.

I find it very interesting that people discuss the meaning of the word psychedelics when psychedelic substances themselves bring up questions of meaning. Experiences can be tremendously meaningful to individuals. They can help us assign meaning to events in our lives, and our entire journeys as humans, individually and collectively. They can create meaning, or push us to ponder if there is any meaning. 

Final Thoughts

There’s not really any strict definition on what the term psychedelic means and I think it’s very fitting for the word to be open to many interpretations. Even the category of substances is debated, and these days it is also sometimes used to describe other substances such as MDMA and ketamine, which are also known as non-classic psychedelics, or now even a new term, ‘clinical psychedelic’, recently coined by Ben Sessa, on Twitter.

What does psychedelic mean to you? Let me know!

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healing relationship psychedelics

For today’s closing post of this year’s PSYJuly, I would like to share my thoughts on an aspect of long-term psychedelic integration. That is, how we relate to psychedelics.

I think improving our relationship with psychedelics is a key but mostly unrecognised piece of long-term integration. This piece is more relevant for the long term practitioner because you don’t need to have a good relationship with a one night stand partner. For something longer term, you do. 

If you are someone who has some kind of ongoing practice of working with psychedelics, how do you relate to them? What do you think about them? When you talk about them with others, how do you feel?

Healing and Understanding

Many users of psychedelics have feelings of guilt, shame, or embarrassment tied into their use. This is usually due to social stigma, cultural perceptions and drug laws, and many people remain closeted about their use.

Whilst opening up to friends and family members can be healing in some cases, it isn’t always the best option. Keeping the psychedelic part of ourselves hidden from others may often be the most pragmatic course of action. 

To enjoy a really healthy relationship with psychedelics, however, it’s important to resolve any feelings of embarrassment and shame that we have around them.

Exploring the roots of these feelings can be done by journaling. Writing answers to some simple questions, such as ‘Why am I embarrassed? What do I feel ashamed of? Why am I keeping this hidden?’ can begin to bring more clarity, understanding and healing to the relationship.

Trust

Did you ever come out of a session feeling disappointed? Maybe you felt like it was a little bit of a letdown? I certainly have many times, and trust is something I have had to learn over time.

Trusting in psychedelics, the experiences they provide, and the insights they reveal, will bring about a more fruitful journey with them. Can you let go of the seeds of doubt in your mind? 

‘You don’t always get what you want, but you get what you need”
– Psychedelics

This can also mean trusting in the process. Maybe you didn’t get what you were hoping for from a session. You still have the option to trust that on some level it was what you needed at this point, and that it will make sense within the larger context of your journey. Leaning into trust will ultimately benefit you and your relationship with psychedelics.

Patience

Through engaging with psychedelics continuously over a number of years, one of the most valuable but also hardest lessons I’ve had to learn is that of patience. This is intertwined with trusting that I am being given what I need when I need it, and that ultimately, where I am is where I need to be, not at some point further along where I think I’m supposed to be. This means being patient in allowing the unfolding of my own journey, letting it unravel in its own perfect time, without trying to push it.

psychedelic integration journey progress graph

Patience helps us allow ourselves to be where we are

An example of practicing patience would be in the integration process. Rather than trying to fix everything at once and improve all areas of your life simultaneously, realise that you are a human and have limits. It’s wisest to choose one or two key areas to focus on. As for all the other things, be patient, they will come in time. 

Respect

Psychedelics are incredibly powerful. They can can sit us on our ass, reduce us to babbling babies, and they can propel us to the far reaches of the universe to spaces we never even knew could exist. They can transform ourselves and the realities that we exist in, both inside and outside sessions. Psychedelics deserve y/our respect.

Gratitude

Practicing gratitude is one of the most powerful things we can do. I find it hard to express in words how much I love psychedelics. But beneath that, how grateful I am that they exist at all, and how incredibly fortunate I am to be in a position where I have access to them. Many people who would like to use them simply do not have the means, ability or access. There are people suffering from heavy depression, and others suffering with terminal cancer who are seeking access and are unable to receive it. I know because I’m contacted by these people and I do find the current reality around their access to be both upsetting and hard to accept. In those moments it’s again a chance to practice patience, and also gratitude for the privileged position that I find myself in.

Final thoughts

These are all overarching principles and lessons that I have received from psychedelics and I believe it’s a fitting response to reflect them back to the wonders which have bestowed these gifts upon me. 

I believe anyone wishing to work with psychedelics over the long term can benefit from establishing a relationship with psychedelics founded upon these core elements.

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Thank you for reading, and have a wonderful day!

learn how why to use psychedelics

I honestly believe that learning how to use psychedelics is one of the most useful skills one can learn.

You may have heard psychedelics being called a technology or a tool. They are sometimes referred to as a technology for exploration and growth. Beyond those more abstract terms, they can also be very practical in terms of personal and lifestyle change. For me, at this point in my life, they have been the most useful tool for personal development that I have come across. For many other people too.

Why doesn’t everyone spend time learning how to utilise this magnificent technology?

To me, not learning how to best utilise psychedelics to leverage positive change and improvement, is like not learning how to use computers, or the internet. Why would anyone deprive themselves of such a skill?

The technology can open doors that were never open before, it can open up possibilities that simply weren’t there. When it comes to using such remarkable technology, I believe investing some time and energy is absolutely worthwhile. 

What does it mean to learn how to use psychedelics?

There are certain ways of using psychedelics which can make them more useful, ways of using them which can increase the likelihood of bringing about desired results. One could call this, as Bill Richards does in Sacred Knowledge, ‘skilled use’. 

Learning to use psychedelics can mean both going deeper and broader. 

Broader means learning how to use them for different applications. Perhaps you’ve learned a particular method of use, with a specific purpose in mind. The purpose might be healing, creativity, or connecting with nature. The method might be a specific way of using them, such as the psychedelic therapy style method. Broadening would mean learning different methods, for a wider range of purposes.

Going deeper means learning how to use them more effectively. This includes careful consideration and utilisation of things like: intention, dose, ritual, music, preparation, navigation, set, setting, and integration. These might include tips, tricks and best practices. This also includes developing personalised methods and approaches that best suit different individuals. 

How to learn

Like almost anything, the best way to learn how to use psychedelics is through a combination of knowledge and practice. You read a manual or guide, then you have a go at using the technology based on what you’ve read. You incorporate what you’ve learnt from your own experience and factor it in next time. You might go back to the guidebook, or read other ones, and eventually you might experiment with things that aren’t in any manuals. Through continued education and practice, you develop your skills and approach.

Final thoughts

Psychedelics have catalysed many positive shifts and changes in my life. They introduced me to meditation, gave me a firm helping hand in going vegan, aided me in quitting smoking, and gave me courage to start a pioneering business. They’ve helped me make sense of a confusing world, embark on worldwide travels, heal from personal traumas, and find meaning and purpose in my existence.

What I find so incredible is that after many years of taking psychedelics, their gifts show no sign of running out. They continue to give. And I continue to learn from them. At ten years of beautiful relationship with these magnificent wonders, I am committed to going deeper, and learning even more. I invite you to join me.

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mushrooms how often should i trip psilocybin

‘How often should I take psychedelics?’

This is a question I am often asked. And of course, there is no single right answer. So instead of trying to give one, I’ll share my thoughts on the topic.

What is the right amount?

You can’t really put a number such as ‘x times per year or month’ and say ‘that’s the right amount’, because it totally depends on the person and their circumstances. It’s like asking ‘what’s the right dose?’. It can’t simply be answered in any meaningful way. It depends.

It depends on you, your intentions, and your current circumstances. Why are you taking psychedelics? Where are you at in your journey, and where do you want to go next?

If using psychedelics for recreation or leisure, it’s like asking ‘how often should I watch a movie?’. With the intention of using psychedelics for healing or growth, there still isn’t a set answer. For many people, it seems like once or twice a year is enough to gain valuable insights and allow time in between to integrate the lessons. For others, a more frequent pattern may be most beneficial. I’ve also heard of people saying that once in their lifetime was enough.

Frequency varies depending on culture

There is a variety of frequencies in different cultures and types of use around the world. This ranges from modern clinical use to more traditional shamanistic use.

Within the field of modern research and clinical trials, there is variation. In a study with people who suffered treatment resistant depression at Imperial College London, participants received two doses a week apart. From just two doses, most participants saw statistically significant improvement in their wellbeing. That said, many patients saw depressive symptoms beginning to return after six months, so it seems they could’ve benefitted from another session or two around this mark.

In various smoking cessation studies at Johns Hopkins University there have been between one and three doses given. People have successfully quit with one session, whilst others had three. It is noteable that quit rates were higher for people who had more than one than one session.

With shaman of various Amazonian traditions, people drink ayahuasca on multiple consecutive nights, or on alternating nights. So it might be three or four nights of drinking ayahuasca in a row, or six nights of drinking over twelve nights total. There are also variations between. In some religious communities or churches that use psychedelic plants, groups drink monthly or weekly.

Philosophy professor Christopher Bache did 73 high dose sessions over 20 years, and as far as I know, no one in the psychedelic community has said it’s too much. In fact, he is seen by many as a courageous explorer and his work an incredible contribution to the field. He is a special case and was extremely conscientious in his use, I should add.

This variety shows that there is not really any standard which could be said ‘this is the right way’.

Can you take psychedelics too often?

When I would say taking psychedelics is too much is, the same as any other activity, when it starts interfering with one’s life in a negative way. When the downsides outweigh the upsides.

Gabor Mate’s view of an addiction can be useful here:

A behaviour which provides temporary pleasure or relief in the short term but has negative outcomes in the long term.

For some, psychedelics might be used as an escape from reality, or to avoid dealing with one’s problems. This can be known as spiritual bypassing. If one is re-entering journey space before or instead of integrating the lessons from the last journey, this could be seen as too soon.

However, I’d say that one’s problems can be shoved back in one’s face on a journey, so it’s not always an easy escape. In fact, for that reason, not taking psychedelics could be seen as an escape.

Is there a minimum frequency?

No one can say that someone should be taking psychedelics at least x amount of times per month or year. Although with medicalisation on the way, perhaps doctors or pharmacists will in fact be prescribing them in this way.

‘Go for three psilocybin journeys per month over the next 12 months and then we’ll meet back and reassess your treatment plan. If you feel you need a recalibration of your dose just give me a call and we’ll set up another consultation.”

I can see it already. But anyway, I digress.

Psychedelics can show us things that we are afraid to see and therefore unconsciously avoiding. Avoidance is no long term tactic to resolution, so for those that psychedelics have shown to be a useful tool for inner exploration and therapeutic shadow work, then there could be cases where it could be argued that someone should take them more often than they currently are.

The best amount and frequency is one that will bring the most healing over the long term. Knowing exactly what that is is difficult. We like to have answers or steady plans we can follow, but in the case of psychedelics, it can’t be pinned down as such. It needs our own continued consideration and adjustment, as well as our honesty. It also depends on the doses we are taking.

When should I pick up the phone again?

You’ve probably heard the Alan Watts quote, ’When you get the message, hang up the phone’. This has been commonly interpreted to mean ‘don’t trip too often’. Once you have some useful information, act on it before seeking more. What I would add to that is, feel free to pick up the phone again to get a reminder of the message.

Oftentimes a psychedelic journey will make absolutely clear an insight to be acted on. Good progress can be made on integrating that insight in the weeks directly after whilst the insight is fresh. As time passes, however, the clarity and raw obviousness of that insight may fade. And though the insight may not have been 100% integrated yet, touching back in with ourselves on a journey can be a refreshing reminder. If meaningful change has been made, space will have been cleared in our psyche for other useful messages, insights, and ideas to pour in. Integration is a life long journey and our lives are imperfect, so aiming to have integration of an experience totally complete before journeying again can be unrealistic.

The common interpretation of Watts’ quote also doesn’t consider the question of what ‘the message’ is, or if there are different levels of understanding the message. Or even, if there are multiple messages to be received.

Final Thoughts

I see the advice that ‘one should not journey too often’ commonly put out there, yet most of the people I know in the psychedelic community have ample experience and have journeyed dozens of times themselves.

In general I think there are many people could stand to benefit from more psychedelics sessions, rather than fewer. This is almost something of a faux-pas to say these days, but it’s what I believe, so I’m saying it. That is why the thoughts I have shared here have leaned towards illustrating this viewpoint, and not going into the dangers of overuse, which of course absolutely do exist. I should also make clear that I am talking about respectful, intentional, and careful use, done with the intention of learning or growth. And also that if insights are revealed, one should invest ample time and energy in to integrating them as best they can.

If we consider psychedelics to be teachers that allow us to access wisdom, what is wrong with visiting that teacher? Sure, you do not want to spend your whole life with that teacher, never stepping out of the classroom to practice your lessons. But likewise, you’d want to attend lessons to make the most of the wisdom they have to offer.

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This post was day 20 of PSYJuly 2021.