Psychedelics

Alex Grey 2 - Hads Trippy - Image via Thingstolookathigh com

Yesterday I watched a Ted Talk discussing the effects of psychedelic substances on the brain. I clicked on this video absentmindedly, not really expecting it to tell me anything I hadn’t already heard before. To my surprise I was given new insight into why my psychedelic experiences have been the way they are. It also gave me even more reason to believe that psychedelics really do allow us to connect to some deeper consciousness, a divine connectedness. It is a glimpse beneath the veil of our earthly illusions, and the things we think and perceive in these altered states are perhaps more real than the reality our sober minds produce.

I knew that taking psychedelics altered the way our brains perceive the world. I knew that they break down our biases and inner walls so to speak. They remove the shackles of our well worn neuronal connections and allow us the freedom to explore the vast possibilities of our consciousness and perception. What I didn’t know is that this brain state is very similar to one we’ve all experienced before: childhood. Apparently a child’s brain works in a very similar way to a brain on psychedelics. Isn’t that fascinating? I had often described my experiences with LSD as being a child again in a new world. Nothing is taken for granted. Everything is fascinating and new. There is so much joy and curiosity and discovery to be had.

As children none of us were too enmeshed in certain ways of doing things or seeing the world. There were many more possibilities open to us. As we age, our brains naturally start to sink into patterns, strengthening certain neural networks while allowing other, less used pathways to shrivel and shrink with disuse. Eventually we begin to feel trapped in our ways of thinking and seeing the world. It feels impossible to change or view the world from a fresh perspective. And in reality, while it is still quite possible for us to change, it will be much harder than it might have been when we were younger.

Imagine a cart being pulled over the soft earth. Once you’ve made tracks in the dirt, it is easier to follow those tracks again. The more you follow those particular tracks though, the deeper they become. Eventually it will be quite difficult to make new tracks or break out of the ones we have been taking. A child’s mind is an image of virgin land, no tracks, no footprints even, just a great expanse of possibility and wonder. This is one of the reasons, I believe, that adults tend to enjoy children so much. While our own minds may feel incapable of breaking free of our patterns on their own, spending time with a child is sure to be full of surprises and new experiences. Children have the ability to pull us in new directions we would have never considered on our own. Kids are funny. Kids are weird. Kids are surprising, unpredictable even. That is the magic of a newly developing brain. That is the magic we may all experience again for ourselves with the help of psychedelics.

This comparison to a child’s mind helps explain a lot of the experiences I’ve had with LSD. The idea that psychedelics are able to break down our preconceived ways of seeing the world only strengthens my conviction that the feelings and truths I’ve experienced in that altered state of mind are real. LSD isn’t making me hallucinate or become delusional. LSD helps me to break through the illusions that I live inside of. It helps me see the world for what it is again, through fresh eyes, with the innocence and imagination of a child. I don’t for a second believe it’s a coincidence that one of the reoccurring perceptions people come away from a psychedelic experience with is that we are all connected. There is a powerful feeling of connectedness, contentment, joy, peace, trust. It is reconnecting with the wisdom of the universe, a deep sense of reassurance that everything is as it should be. There is also the ever present image that everything in life is a cycle, and that it’s okay to have faith in and surrender to that cycle. Now more than ever, I feel confident in that belief.

Alex Grey's “Gaia” | Pinkocrat

We Are One

I really enjoy reading yoga books. They are like text meditations. They help me take a step back and see this life from different perspectives. The book I was reading yesterday was reminding me that we are not these isolated thoughts, emotions, experiences, or sensations. We are the spectator, the grand awareness behind it all. We are not separate. We are all one with everything and everyone. We are each just a small expression of that great consciousness, experiencing itself in an infinite number of ways.

It is a beautiful, comforting realization. While I’m a skeptic at heart and I have no way of proving this concept to be true, I choose to believe it. I’ve seen the endless cycles within cycles. I’ve experienced the silent awareness inside of me. I want to love and accept all that there is as myself and learn to behave accordingly.

This book pointed out to me that this life is filled with illusions of separation. And that false sense of separateness is the root of all forms of suffering. Yoga philosophy teaches us how to live our lives from a sense of connections instead. Then we may finally be able to see through the illusion, dissolve our suffering, and find true union.

And yet even knowing these things, the road laid out is daunting and long. It isn’t easy to break free of these chains I’ve been crafting for myself my whole life. Living as one means being feeling vulnerable, opening your arms and your heart to the whole world. It is hard to truly surrender to that higher knowledge, your higher self, and live from that place every day. Fear and doubt are strong, weaving new webs of misconceptions all the time.

While I may not be able to start aligning my actions with my inner beliefs just yet, this deep truth is still a great comfort to me. I am not alone. I don’t have to be afraid to love freely and unabashedly. Everything is going to be okay in the end. In fact there is no end. Everything is already okay. I am merely hear to witness, to learn, to grow, to experience, to enjoy. There is nothing to fear, so smile, live this life in whatever way makes you happiest. Stay open, keep loving, and surrender to all that is before you, surrender to yourself. And while surrender can be scary, there is peace in that surrender. So much peace.