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What Nobody Is Considering About The Modern-Day Psychedelic Movement

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This may be controversial in some perceptions, but authentic truth is so important to me that I had to share this for deeper reflection. It’s especially important in a time where psychedelic substances like mushrooms, ayahuasca, peyote and so forth are becoming quite popular. I believe we are losing sight of what they actually do and what their true purpose is to some extent.

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There is no such thing as a shortcut to enlightenment. We might think that because we gain insight during an experience, that the journey is done. The reason why this is not the case is because it’s what you do with that insight that makes all the difference. You will see this sentiment further explained by Graham Hancock below.

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My main calling in life is to help expand consciousness and possibility. This is what I have been doing  since founding CE 9 years ago and what I see myself doing until my heart makes it clear a new path is turning up. Given that, I am all for anything that helps expand consciousness. I’m not for nor against any of these substances we call psychedelics. I am “If you are drawn to it authentically in your heart, do it.”

Side note: I recorded a podcast with my friend Mark DeNicola you can listen to here on this subject.

I feel it’s important to spend time getting in tune with your heart and finding out what direction it is guiding you. Unfortunately, I feel we are spending more time trying things all over the place from the space of the mind because we are afraid to quiet our minds.

With various consciousness expanding methods available to us, you may get a glimpse of what it is like beyond the mind, but if we do not practice being in the heart, we are not going to change from the experience and challenges we have with any of these substances, or any other methods for that matter.

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For the record, I’ve not done psychedelics. I’ve not been drawn to them in my heart and so I have not done them. I’ve chosen a path to expand my consciousness through meditation, breath work and practice, and that has worked well for me. Thus, I have not needed to do psychedelics. What I mean by this will be clear as we go on. (If you check out at this point, you will miss the important sentiment I find many people are not conscious of which makes up the wisdom of this article.)

Finally, I’m writing this because I feel the full story is often not shared. Many people claim all the crazy experiences and benefits they had, but rarely talk about the fact nothing changed the first 3  or 5 times they did it. Also because all too often we hear ‘the coolest stories of all time without asking the big question:’

“I was out of my body and seeing all these colors and beings and I saw the trees breathing etc etc.”

This sounds cool, you expanded beyond daily reality which is great. I have also seen these things. But I know that just as one can see these things through meditation, what does that do to help create a lasting change in your life and evolve beyond the struggles you experience on a daily basis?

I’ve always been quiet about talking about the ‘fascinating’ things or beings I see etc. The reason is I find it distracts people immensely from why they want to do something and it makes them focus on the trip itself. One can have, and I have had, a full out of body experience through 20 minutes of breath work, but is that why one would do breath work? Is that going to help us clear out the emotional challenges we face?

That’s for each one of us to reflect on and decide within ourselves.

Ultimately, what is the reason we do them? To have a trip? To work through our emotional blockages?

An Overuse Crisis?

I’ve not heard this from just myself, but from the spirit of the plants themselves and from many others who have come across the same conclusions. We are in a period where overuse of these substances is extreme. Anytime we want clarity we turn to them. Anytime we think someone should shift their consciousness we tell them to do it. We use them 1, 3, 7 or even 10 times per year. In many cases, we are acting with these plants EXACTLY the way we do in the pharmaceutical world. We’re looking for that quick fix. And we have tossed self-mastery and daily care and practice aside.

We keep saying, “but nature is here to help us!” But to that I ask us to reflect: we already know we have challenges, right? So we know we have to be active in making changes in our everyday life, right? So we need to then develop a practice and self-mastery to make that happen daily, right? So why are we viewing what nature provided as a means to justify our lack of commitment to practice and instead want a quick fix? Herbs are here on this planet to help heal our bodies if we get sick. But they aren’t here so we can use them every time we get sick due to the fact we still want to smoke, drink alcohol, eat processed foods, etc. all day long. Nature is here to support us, not awaken us.

Psychedelics were used back in a time when the level of consciousness of the planet was not as high, which helped give insight to shamans so they could share it with their communities. It was meant for use in extreme cases where heavy trauma or addictions existed and people could not use other ways to work through their emotional challenges. Here in present time, we use them in a western fashion as THE GO TO for moving through all of our challenges. I’m here to remind you that you have so much power and ability as a being that in most cases, you don’t need any of these things to evolve. I’m not suggesting don’t do it, I’m simply saying truly ask your heart what you want, and don’t get caught up in the grand allure and peer pressure.

I made it a point to prove to myself that it was possible to quickly and easily create noticeable shifts within people and give them a practice to continue with. I developed a 5 day challenge using concepts I’ve learned and developed over 8 years of practice. I’ve put 180,000 people through these 5 days and most people have reported very powerful emotional shifts and life changes in these 5 days alone. This is great news. But did they last? That is something that is never up to the method or the plant, but up to the person, and this is my point. While I have heard a number of amazing stories of lasting changes from this challenge, I have no idea how many lasted for a long time. What I do know is the challenge was designed around self mastery and practice, giving us the tools to carry forth long after it was complete from within ourselves.

Misconceptions

One misconception we have to begin to explore is that taking these substances don’t suddenly reveal to us all the secrets of the universe. They do precisely what other altered states do – they provide insight into what the space of awareness is beyond your mind. In some cases, they also tap you into the astral field, which isn’t the source of grand truth even though we sometimes see it that way.

Like masters, yogis and meditators of our past, we know we can achieve deep states of consciousness and tap into truth quite easily while sober, it just takes some time to do so. How much? Depends on what you are doing, but one can achieve a silent mind in just 20 minutes of breathing.

Regardless, it doesn’t matter whether you are a master meditator, veteran psychedelic user, a yogi master or whatever other method we may use sober or not, none of it matters if we are not actively doing what it takes to change our lives on a daily basis based on what we see during our experiences.

People have sometimes assumed that when I share what I share about self-mastery I am stating that only psychedelic users bypass the work they need to do, but this isn’t true at all. I do know some people who have chosen the psychedelic path and have made incredible changes within their first session, and I have known people who have chosen breath work paths who’ve done the same in the first session. I’ve also known people from both categories who have a great trip/experience but deal with the same challenges for many years to come because there is a lack of integration and self empowerment.

An Incredible Story

Many of my friends have experienced psychedelics, and I have had the pleasure to hear so many people’s stories in the 10 years that I have been in the consciousness exploration space. I have noticed a ton of common trends and specifically have seen that there is an unbalanced perspective being spread quite a bit that I feel requires some grounding.

I decided to jump on a podcast with my friend Mark DeNicola who shares a very insightful story about his journey using mushrooms and ayahuasca.

He shares his take aways from his experiences and what mama ayahuasca told him about ayahuasca use in the modern world. He also shares how you can explore if the journey is right for you.

Grounding The Subject

Since about 8 years ago I have been fascinated with observing the research coming out about psilocybin and watching others as they use psychedelics for spiritual development. I can tell you, it absolutely can be an effective path. But I have found this to be few and far between and I feel I know why. It truly comes down to the fact that no method in this world suddenly gets rid of all of your challenges. It takes time and a practice to authentically make it go. The trouble is, many are not wiling to do that work.

As Mark mentioned in the podcast, he would ask people thinking about it “If you knew that the ceremony would not get rid of all your challenges you have now that you want gone, and that you would have to do work after to truly clear them, would you still want to do it?”

This of course is not a deterrent, but an authentic question around what the purpose of these substances are.

I wanted to bring up some common challenges I have noticed that just don’t seem to be talked about enough as many don’t share the full story of their journeys. I believe this misleads people. Again, these aren’t negative things, they are calls for us to take responsibility for our evolution within and truly ask “Is what we are doing to help change our lives truly working?”

  • I’ve noticed some great changes in some, but in most cases I have not observed a lasting effect in users, simply because there is no self work after. (I can say the same about spiritual retreats in general)
  • It appears common to feel incredible 1 to 3 weeks after, but go back to the same struggles. Again, because you don’t suddenly get rid of everything during any method, I believe this is due to a lack of practice and action.
  • It’s common for people to state “I puked out all my demons and challenges, and now they are gone.” But that’s not what seems to be the case as in many cases the same challenges and patterns continue on for that person long after the ceremony. More on this on the podcast!
  • Many people I have seen use Ayahuasca 15 – 30 times, seem to ‘get worse’ the more they do it. This of course doesn’t happen to all. Again, I feel this comes down to lack of self work and thinking the plant will do all the work.
  • I don’t mean this in a negative way, but a ‘cult like’ mentality seems to form and many users aggressively try and convince everyone in the world this is the only path to enlightenment and that it will change the world if we all do it.

The Podcast

Check out the podcast here for the full story, some amazing insight and how to explore whether or not your path could include a journey like this.

I share once more because so many people ask me this question, there is no right or wrong here. We don’t need to feel that if we do them or don’t do them we are somehow wrong or missing out. You’re not on a more purposeful path one way or another. If you want to find out if any experience is right for you, look in your heart, develop that relationship.

My goal is to help others be TRULY empowered. I wrote this because I’m not seeing enough of that happen within others as we give the power to things outside ourselves. This is a reminder.

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Alternative News

Our Biology Responds To Events Before They Even Happen

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Multiple experiments have shown strong evidence for precognition in several different ways. One of them comes in the form of activity within the heart and the brain responding to events before they even happen.

  • Reflect On:

    Do we have extra human capacities we are unaware of? Perhaps we can learn them, develop them, and use them for good. Perhaps when the human race is ready, we will start learning more.

Is precognition real? There are many examples suggesting that yes, it is. The remote viewing program conducted by the CIA in conjunction with Stanford University was a good example of that.  After its declassification in 1995, or at least partial declassification, the Department of Defense and those involved revealed an exceptionally high success rate:

To summarize, over the years, the back-and-forth criticism of protocols, refinement of methods, and successful replication of this type of remote viewing in independent laboratories has yielded considerable scientific evidence for the reality of the (remote viewing) phenomenon. Adding to the strength of these results was the discovery that a growing number of individuals could be found to demonstrate high-quality remote viewing, often to their own surprise… The development of this capability at SRI has evolved to the point where visiting CIA personnel with no previous exposure to such concepts have performed well under controlled laboratory conditions. (source)

The kicker? Part of remote viewing involves peering into future events as well as events that happened in the past.

It’s not only within the Department of Defense that we find this stuff, but a lot of science is emerging on this subject as well.

For example, a study (meta analysis) published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience titled “Predicting the unpredictable: critical analysis and practical implications of predictive anticipatory activity” examined a number of experiments regarding this phenomenon that were conducted by several different laboratories. These experiments indicate that the human body can actually detect randomly delivered stimuli that occur 1-10 seconds in advance. In other words, the human body seems to know of an event and reacts to the event before it has occurred. What occurs in the human body before these events are physiological changes that are measured regarding the cardiopulmonary, the skin, and the nervous system.

A few years ago, the chief scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Dr. Dean Radin, visited the scientists over at HearthMath Institute and shared the results of one of his studies. Radin is also one of multiple scientists who authored the paper above. These studies, as mentioned above, tracked the autonomic nervous system, physiological changes, etc.

Scientists at HeartMath Institute (HMI) added more protocols, which included measuring participants’ brain waves (EEG), their hearts’ electrical activity (ECG), and their heart rate variability (HRV).

As HMI explains:

Twenty-six adults experienced in using HeartMath techniques and who could sustain a heart-coherent state completed two rounds of study protocols approximately two weeks apart. Half of the participants completed the protocols after they intentionally achieved a heart-coherent state for 10 minutes. The other half completed the same procedures without first achieving heart coherence. Then they reversed the process for the second round of monitoring, with the first group not becoming heart-coherent before completing the protocols and the second group becoming heart-coherent before. The point was to test whether heart coherence affected the results of the experiment.

Participants were told the study’s purpose was to test stress reactions and were unaware of its actual purpose. (This practice meets institutional-review-board standards.) Each participant sat at a computer and was instructed to click a mouse when ready to begin.

The screen stayed blank for six seconds. The participant’s physiological data was recorded by a special software program, and then, one by one, a series of 45 pictures was displayed on the screen. Each picture, displayed for 3 seconds, evoked either a strong emotional reaction or a calm state. After each picture, the screen went blank for 10 seconds. Participants repeated this process for all 45 pictures, 30 of which were known to evoke a calm response and 15 a strong emotional response.

The Results

The results of the experiment were fascinating to say the least. The participants’ brains and hearts responded to information about the emotional quality of the pictures before the computer flashed them (random selection). This means that the heart and brain were both responding to future events. The results indicated that the responses happened, on average, 4.8 seconds before the computer selected the pictures.

How mind-altering is that?

Even more profound, perhaps, was data showing the heart received information before the brain. “It is first registered from the heart,” Rollin McCraty Ph.D. explained, “then up to the brain (emotional and pre-frontal cortex), where we can logically relate what we are intuiting, then finally down to the gut (or where something stirs).”

Another significant study (meta-analysis) that was published in Journal of Parapsychology by Charles Honorton and Diane C. Ferrari in 1989 examined a number of studies that were published between 1935 and 1987. The studies involved individuals’ attempts to predict “the identity of target stimuli selected randomly over intervals ranging from several hundred million seconds to one year following the individuals responses.” These authors investigated over 300 studies conducted by over 60 authors, using approximately 2 million individual trials by more than 50,000 people. (source)

It concluded that their analysis of precognition experiments “confirms the existence of a small but highly significant precognition effect. The effect appears to be repeatable; significant outcomes are reported by 40 investigators using a variety of methodological paradigms and subject populations. The precognition effect is not merely an unexplained departure from a theoretical chance baseline, but rather is an effect that covaries with factors known to influence more familiar aspects of human performance.” (source)

The Takeaway

“There seems to be a deep concern that the whole field will be tarnished by studying a phenomenon that is tainted by its association with superstition, spiritualism and magic. Protecting against this possibility sometimes seems more important than encouraging scientific exploration or protecting academic freedom. But this may be changing.”
 Cassandra Vieten, PhD and President/CEO at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (source)

We are living in a day and age where new information and evidence are constantly emerging, challenging what we once thought was real or what we think we know about ourselves as human beings.  It’s best to keep an open mind. Perhaps there are aspects of ourselves and our consciousness that have yet to be discovered. Perhaps if we learn and grow from these studies, they can help us better ourselves and others.

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Consciousness

Studies Show That Writing In A Journal Can Benefit Your Emotional & Physical Well-Being

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If you have read any of my previous articles, you may already know that I am a huge advocate of keeping a journal, or diary or notebook – whichever term you like best to describe the act of writing out your thoughts on paper, or if you prefer, typing them out on a screen.

Personally, journaling is something that has helped me get through some really tough times in my life and is also a great tool for just allowing some new perspective and a space to vent without judgment or advice. But for all of those skeptics out there who don’t understand how something like this could actually help, well, there’s science to prove it.

Scientific Evidence To Prove How Journaling Helps

Psychologists from the University of California were able to investigate the effect of journaling by inviting 20 volunteers to visit the lab for a brain scan before asking them to write for 20 minutes a day for four consecutive days. Half of the participants wrote about a fairly recent emotional experience, while the other half of the participants wrote about something neutral.

Those who chose to write about an emotional experience showed more activity in the part of the brain called the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex. In turn, this relaxed neural activity that is linked to strong emotional feelings.

According to Lieberman, men seemed to benefit from writing about their feelings more so than women, and writing by hand seemed to have a bigger effect than typing on a keyboard. That’s an interesting note: could men benefit from journaling more because in general they tend to keep their feelings to themselves? A journal can certainly act as a safe space for emotionally deprived men to vent.

“Men tend to show greater benefits and that is a bit counterintuitive. But the reason might be that women more freely put their feelings into words, so this is less of a novel experience for them. For men it’s more of a novelty,” Lieberman said.

Aside from drastic improvements to your mood and emotional well-being, writing out your thoughts and feelings regularly can actually benefit your physical health as well. Journaling can increase your chance of fighting specific diseases like asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, AIDS and cancer. Amazingly, it can even help physical wounds heal faster.

A study conducted in 2013 found that 76% of adults who spent 20 minutes a day journaling for three days in a row before a scheduled medical biopsy were fully healed 11 days later. On the other hand, 58% of the control group had not yet recovered. The study concluded that just one hour of writing about a distressing event helped the participants to better understand the events and reduce stress levels.

Lead researcher on expressive writing at the University of Texas and author of Writing To Heal, James W. Pennebaker, has found that by translating our experiences into our own language by writing it out, we are able to make the experience more comprehendible.

Pennebaker says: “Emotional upheavals touch every part of our lives. You don’t just lose a job, you don’t just get divorced. These things affect all aspects of who we are — our financial situation, our relationships with others, our views of ourselves…writing helps us focus and organize the experience.”

The Most Efficient Way To Cope With A Big Life Change Is To Journal

Journaling will help you to get over a break-up or cope with other up and down relationships in your life. While it may seem to be overanalyzing, studies have shown that venting about a past relationship actually helps to speed up emotional recovery and can help build a stronger sense of self-identity following a break-up. I don’t know about you, but this is something that I wish I would have done after break-ups that leave you feeling lost and like you don’t know who you are anymore.

By venting I don’t mean to your friends. While this certainly can help, the act of writing, with a pen or pencil, will provide you with the most health benefits.

“Writing accesses the left hemisphere of the brain, which is analytical and rational,” Maud Purcell, a psychotherapist and journaling expert, told Fast Company. “While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to do what it does best, i.e. create, intuit, and feel. In this way, writing removes mental blocks and allows us to use more of our brainpower to better understand ourselves and the world around us.”

Journaling Can Provide Long-Term Benefits

Journaling helps you to cope with the experience at hand but it can also help to prepare you to face similar experiences in the future.

“Journal therapy is all about using personal material as a way of documenting an experience, and learning more about yourself in the process,” Kathleen Adams, a psychotherapist and author of Journal to the Self, told the Huffington Post. “It lets us say what’s on our minds and helps us get — and stay — healthy through listening to our inner desires and needs.”

The process of journaling allows you to get to know yourself through your feelings and experiences. It’s just plain and simply writing out your feelings. This is different than just thinking because it is more streamline; you aren’t going back and forth or writing the same thing down over and over again.

You can start right now, or the next time you’re feeling particularly stressed about something. It’s so simple you might as well give it a shot! What do you have to lose? It just might help you more than you might have imagined! Plus, wouldn’t it be fun to look back at the big events that happened in your life in 20 years or longer and see how you were able to deal with the situations? It could even provide you with some insight on how to handle situations you are faced with in the future.

We are constantly being faced with challenges. This is what life is all about, but our reactions to those challenges is what defines who we are. Are we strong and capable or are we weak and playing a victim? The choice is ours!

Much Love

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Consciousness

Loneliness: A Health Problem That Could Be Deadlier Than Obesity, Study Says

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Loneliness can reliably be linked to a significant increase in the risk of early mortality, according to a study at Brigham Young University. Head author, Julianne Holt-Lunstad, notes that “substantial evidence now indicates that individuals lacking social connections (both objective and subjective social isolation) are at risk for premature mortality.”

Holt-Lunstad believes the risks associated with loneliness are already greater than such established dangers as obesity:

Several decades ago scientists who observed widespread dietary and behavior changes raised warnings about obesity and related health problems. The present obesity epidemic had been predicted. Obesity now receives constant coverage in the media and in public health policy. The current status of research on the risks of loneliness and social isolation is similar to that of research on obesity 3 decades ago… Current evidence indicates that heightened risk for mortality from a lack of social relationships is greater than that from obesity.

Furthermore, she warns that “researchers have predicted that loneliness will reach epidemic proportions by 2030 unless action is taken.”

Why Are We So Isolated From Each Other?

From the long view, it can be said that Western civilization as a whole has fostered a gradual disintegration of our physical and social ties. With an emphasis on individual goals and an almost fanatical regard for personal achievement, the traditional institutions of family and community and their capacity to provide their members with a sense of belonging and shared purpose have become significantly fragmented.

The family unit has gone from large generations-linked mutual support systems to small and immediate units, sometimes involving single parents whose necessities make it very difficult to create a stable home environment for their children. Add to that the fact that more and more people are not even building families, and our society has more people living alone than at any other time in history. This includes the elderly, who are less likely to find a ‘fit’ living within their children’s families than ever before.

The decline of the ‘community’ is perhaps as significant as the disintegration of the family unit. In Western-style communities, people work as a collection of individual units interacting by specific functions rather than as an interrelated whole with a significant shared identity. Naturally, attempts are made today to join or build ‘communities’ all the time, but like the Meetup model, they are founded on the gathering of select people with similar interests and purposes, rather than a shared embrace of all people within a certain geographical area.

The Rise of Social Media

I believe the rise in prominence of social media has in part been fuelled by the sense of alienation we have long felt within our modern society. I don’t believe social media is the root cause of our loneliness, as some speculate, but rather a symptom of this much longer-standing social problem. Connecting via chats and web pages is just something that we have gotten into the habit of reaching for since it is so immediately accessible. But like any quick fix, it does not end up fulfilling our deeper needs, either individually or as a society.

If we see that our society has been slowly disintegrating over hundreds of years, then it becomes incumbent upon us as a society (if we can still even identify ourselves with our ‘society’) to take measures to remedy this situation. What those measures might be, though, given how things seem to be trending, is a matter of great conjecture.

On Being Alone  

One approach is to first acknowledge that Western society’s emphasis on the individual is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I believe that the development of personal integrity, creativity, and autonomy is a critical step in the evolution of human consciousness. Learning how to be alone with oneself is a part of that process. In his work entitled Pensées, French philosopher Blaise Pascal observed that “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

As evidenced by Eastern gurus and mystics, one can be perfectly content in isolation. This can be greatly facilitated by the practice of meditation and other such methods that give us a direct perception of our energetic connectedness not only with other people, but with all things. In this higher state, the damaging emotional impact of loneliness and social isolation are not experienced.

Our Next Step

Still, the life of the yogi remains for the few. The rest of us, it seems, have come to this planet to interact, share, and love. And we have not incarnated into this dense physical world to get better at virtual relationships. At this stage, we have perhaps gotten a bit too accustomed to social isolation for our own good.

Holt-Lunstad notes that “although living alone can offer conveniences and advantages for an individual, this meta-analysis indicates that physical health is not among them.” She also cites another study that “has demonstrated higher survival rates for those who are more socially connected.” And then there is the seminal 75-Year Harvard University study, where “it was universally clear that without loving and supportive relationships, men in the study were not happy.” The message is becoming clear: we need to come together.

We are perhaps at a larger turning point in our development than most of us realize. It seems that we have reached the extreme edge of the exploration of individualism, and we are readying to move into greater balance with a collective identity. This is not a return to traditional ways, but rather a synthesis of our growth as individuals with the shared experience we are now hungering for. This synthesis signifies the next stage of our evolution.

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