Using Intention, Belief and Heightened Emotion To Enhance Psychedelic Healing
THE IMPORTANCE OF PREPARATION & INTEGRATION
There are problems when it comes to people using plant medicines. Largely because we’re still in our infancy when it comes to the collective understanding that these sacraments, tools, allies and teachers have immense potential in benefiting humankind.
Seekers are looking beyond the Western establishment which has failed many in attaining a level of holistic health, instead choosing to pursue psychedelic experiences intended for rapid healing and growth. Increasing numbers of people are flocking to the jungles of South America to find shamans to guide them through an Ayahuasca journey, or to the Andes mountains to drink the sacred cactus brew Huachuma, while both lounge-chair and forest-dwelling psychonauts concoct and consume a variety of consciousness altering substances in the comfort of their homeland.
While it’s simple enough to book a ticket, jump on a plane, and drink a psychoactive mixture, the missing puzzle piece for many people is the simple yet overlooked - and sometimes paradoxically complex - process of implementing resourceful strategies during the preparation and integration stages of their journey. And I don’t just mean following a few guidelines on diet, abstinence from sex, and avoiding pharmaceutical medications.
Assessing one’s internal and external environment with great detail is crucial, as is having some sort of game plan, or designated signposts if you will, to try and direct us towards a smooth transition back into daily life, with the heightened potential for long-lasting healing and growth.
There are many aspects to this, and a one size fits all model is hard to implement when so many people are seeking a variety of things from the psychedelic experience. In saying that, there are some basic fundamentals that could benefit the vast majority of wisdom seekers. I cover these essentials in Sacred Psychedelics, and I’ll be delving into one of these ideas furht.
Even without a reasonable amount of preparation and integration, one can still attain profound healing on their self development and spiritual paths of working with entheogenic medicines. We know that inherent within these experiences lays the potential for the reframing of dysfunctional beliefs, the release of emotional blockages, and the processing of deeply held traumas. However to ensure we have the best chance for long last healing and growth, it’s wise to lay some stepping stones before plunging into the unknown depths that await us.
ARE PARASITICAL TRAIN CONDUCTORS CONTROLLING YOUR EVERY MOVE?
Adam Lowery presents a framework and basic linear progression for understanding how we ultimately show up in the world, in his book The Cognitive Rampage: A Scientific Approach to Self Discovery, Change and Life Optimization.
Our perception of reality comes from the beliefs that we hold about ourselves, others, and the world, which may be either true or false. Our beliefs will largely give rise to our thoughts, and these thoughts can give rise to our feelings and emotions. Our feelings and emotions then influence our behaviours on a daily basis.
Perception > Beliefs > Thoughts > Feelings > Behaviours
In reverse, we behave the way we do, largely because of our feelings, which arise due to our thoughts, which stem from our beliefs, which make up our perception of reality. With that linear progression in mind, if we wanted to create change in our lives, it would make sense to engage in practices and processes that help reframe and shift any dysfunctional programming.
There are various ways in which to do this, such as psychological talk therapy approaches like CBT, Peter Levine’s work on somatic experiencing, journalling practices, the use of consciousness modulating substances, and many more.
For the focus of this particular article, Bruce Lipton has some interesting things to say in The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter & Miracles. Lipton explores the latest in scientific research to conclude that every single cell in the human body is affected by the thoughts that we think, which as we’ve clarified, stem from our beliefs.
Through the field of epigenetics, we know that a cell and it’s functions are not defined by its initial genetic programming, but primarily through its interaction with the environment on an ongoing basis. Environment is paramount when it comes to genetic expression and whether certain genes are turned “on or off”. We’re constantly taking in and processing information from our environment, on both a conscious and unconscious level. This information that we process gives rise to the energy of the mind - thought, which we know can directly influence the brain’s ability to affect the body’s physiology.
Lipton puts it like this…
“The conclusion is simple: positive perceptions of the mind enhance health by engaging immune functions, while inhibition of immune activities by negative perceptions can precipitate dis-ease. Those negative perceptions can also create debilitating, chronic psychological stress that has a profound and negative impact on gene function.”
Positive thoughts facilitate health cell function. Negative thoughts facilitate dysfunctional cell function. Thoughts stem from our beliefs, so to have healthy thoughts, we need healthy beliefs. Our beliefs stem from our subconscious mind, so to shift these beliefs, we need access to this subconscious database.
“The subconscious is an emotionless database of stored programs, whose function is strictly concerned with reading environmental signals and engaging in hardwired behavioural programs… similar to a programmable ‘hard drive’ into which our life experiences are downloaded. The programs are functionally equivalent to stimulus-response behaviours… When a stimulus is perceived, it will automatically engage the behavioural response that was learned when the signal was first experienced.”
So if we’re not doing the work to better understand ourselves psychologically, we’re essentially walking around every day with little parasitical train conductor creatures, pulling levers, turning knobs and pressing buttons somewhere in the deep psyche, influencing our actions and attitudes.
Can we all guess one of most potent and profound ways to initiate change on a behavioural, biochemical, and core belief level?
Yep, you got it… The psychedelic experience.
INTENTION + EMOTION² = HEALING
Research shows that during the psychedelic experience we’re essentially handing over the keys to these powerful little molecules, while the parts of the brain responsible for our sense of self and personality, start to quieten down. This in turn, gives our still-very-present awareness the opportunity to observe the workings of the deep subconscious mind; the material that we don’t ordinarily have access to during our normal waking state of consciousness.
It’s within these altered states that we can engage in unique psycho-spiritual processes that facilitate the deep healing that psychedelic experiences are becoming more well known for.
Joe Dispenza further explores the potential for deep healing in You Are The Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter. Dispenza states how both placebo and nocebo, which are the positive and negative beliefs, thoughts and expectations we hold towards an outcome, can hold profound implications, perhaps quite obviously, when it comes to shaping both our future and our moment to moment experience.
He asks the simple question, “If your environment changes and you then signal new genes in new ways, is it possible to signal the new gene ahead of the changing of the actual environment?” And he answers it with a resounding, yes. The question then becomes, how?
“This process involves making a decision with a high-enough level of energy that your thought about the new belief becomes an experience that carries a strong emotional signature, which alters you on some level in that moment.”
In this new state of being, you’re essentially “bathing your body in the neurochemistry that would be present if that future event were actually happening.” It’s here that we start to embody the information, because we’re chemically instructing our bodies to emotionally understand what our minds intellectually understand.
Understand? Essentially, a clearly defined healthy intention paired with a heightened state of emotion, such as joy, gratitude, inspiration or awe, can lead to profound shifts in health and wellness. It’s in these heightened emotional states that we bypass the conscious mind and tap into our subconscious mind, allowing us to override dysfunctional programming with neurobiochemical changes.
This all ties back in with epigenetics; the potential for genes to be modulated by the information which they receive, which in this case, is the information we’re capable of producing ourselves through our own thoughts and beliefs. When we imagine a new state of being in the future, and pull that vision into our present moment experience, our physiology not only responds as if it’s happening right now, but as if the outcome has already happened.
This is how we’re capable of changing our own biology, becoming the placebo.
”Health and illness are much more rooted in our minds and in our hearts and how we experience ourselves in the world than our models even begin to understand” - Jeffrey Rediger, Harvard Psychologist.
INTENTION + EMOTION² + PSYCHEDELICS = ???
Psychedelics have the capacity to induce heightened states of emotional capacity, much greater than any emotional states ordinarily available in everyday waking consciousness. What then is capable, when we pair a clear intention for specific healing, access to our subconscious mind, and a heightened state of emotional potential, which can often subsist for some time after the actual experience itself?
While many variables are involved, there’s certainly the increased potential for us to have more of a hands on effect in regards to epigenetic change, healthy gene expression, neurobiochemical shifts, and as a result, deeper alignment to health and wellness - physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Tapping into this innate ability to shift our biology at a cellular level could be possible at all levels of psychedelic engagement; during the actual psychedelic experience itself, and during the preparation and the integration stages afterwards. Knowing the process of getting there, which is actually right here, right now, in our present moment experience, could lead to some very potent healing experiences; likely playing a role in regards to why such a wide spectrum of disease and illness are seemingly being treated and healed through the use of various psychedelic medicines.
Interestingly, Bruce Lipton states that “scientists have linked lots of genes to lots of different diseases and traits, but scientists have rarely found that one gene causes a trait or a disease. In the realm of human diseases, defective genes acting alone only account for about 2 percent of our total disease load.”
Yes, these substances themselves may be having neurobiochemical epigenetic interactions in the body that induce specific healing mechanisms which modern day science has yet to discover, but let’s not disregard the possibility that we could be tapping into our own innate capacity to shift the why, how and what we think; becoming the placebo that induces such profound healing and transformation.
”Your subjective experience carries more power than your objective situation.”
- Steve Cole, Epigeneticist at UCLA School of Medicine.
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