When Integrating Psychedelics, What Are The Seven Quests & Why Do They Matter?
YOUR LIFE DEMONSTRATES YOUR VALUES.
“How are you spending your time during the day? What daily activities are you focusing on? What are your highest priorities in your life? What are your lowest priorities in your life? Are your behaviours congruent with the things most important to you?”
Dr John Demartini goes straight for the jugular with some of the most the important questions we should all be asking ourselves, whether a mere mortal peasant, or a psychonaughtic saviour. He’s a human behavioural specialist and peak performance strategist, with his fundamental framework and philosophy giving great attention to value structures.
His whole philosophy is really quite simple. So simple in fact, that a simpleton like me had no idea about this framework for the majority of my life.
If we’re not focusing our attention on the things that are the most important to us; our highest priorities and our greatest values, then it’s likely that we’re going to be spending our time on the things that are least important to us; our substandard priorities and our lowest values. Wherever we're placing our focus, that's the life and the destiny we're creating for ourselves.
When people go about their days with tasks and activities in alignment to their highest values, their lives are filled with meaning and purpose. Their self-worth increases. They're motivated and filled with a deep sense of achievement. They're spontaneously and creatively inspired. They have clarity and direction and become the leader of their own lives, rather than a follower of others.
I mean, duh. If it was this simple though, why the hell hadn’t I considered what my highest values were until I started working with sacred medicines and psychedelics?
The answer is, because I was a complete schmuck. Joking, but only partly. I knew on somewhat of an intuitive level, but as we know, we get bogged down by a lot of psychological and energetic muck throughout our lives. Sometimes it takes a strong cup of Ayahuasca to grab us by the collar and shake some sense and self-reflection into us while screaming “wake up dummy!”
Many moons ago, when I was a misfit teenager, I spent my time creating music and playing drums. That’s all I wanted to do. Play music with my friends, and take over the world doing it. I intuitively knew that this was one of my highest values, but without being aware of how much conditioning had been ingrained in my psyche since I was a young boy, I wasn’t conscious of the fact that I was clouded with dysfunctional beliefs and behaviours as far as the eye could see, which was severely sabotaging my potential to align fully with all of the things that I considered to be most important.
If our lives demonstrate our values, then playing drums, touring around Australia playing music with friends, getting black-out intoxicated, being extremely jealous in relationships, and deep down feeling like an insecure little boy but masking it with arrogant and self-destructive behaviours, were some of my highest priorities!
Hmm… well at least I got a couple of things right to some degree. Thank goodness for the healing power and incredible self-reflective potential that sacred plant medicines can offer us.
WE FILTER REALITY IN ACCORDANCE TO OUR VALUES.
"Walk down the same shopping mall with your partner or friend, and you're basically walking down two different malls. You’ll notice particular stores and filter out all the stuff that doesn’t interest you, and they’ll do exactly the same. Same shopping mall; vastly different perceptions of it."
If you didn’t already know it, the brain is really good at filtering reality in accordance to what we perceive to be of most importance to us. If we don't define our highest values, chances are we're spending our time focusing on things we don’t actually care too much about, and because of this, we'll be filtering our reality in regards to what we're paying attention to, which is most likely some pretty low priority and unimportant things.
Take a look around… people are engaging in these behaviours everywhere. Surely complaining and bitching about daily minutiae is not at the top of the list when it comes to what’s most important, but there they are… droves of people bringing all their attention to these lowest denominator vibrations, time and time again. When people do this, they very clearly lack meaningful direction, and they actually seek out actions that give them immediate gratification.
In very basic terms, we get a hit of the neurotransmitter dopamine when we do something like buy a new item, which is the chemical responsible for the reward and pleasure complex in our brain. The problem is, this chemical response wears off relatively quickly, and we start looking for another short term fix to get our hit of the feel good chemical. This results in a cycle of constantly needing to seek out immediate gratification to momentarily feel good, rather than focusing on and setting goals based on a vision that truly inspires us, leading to fulfilment, meaning and purpose.
Understanding our own value structures becomes super important when engaging with psychedelics. If it isn’t obvious, understanding what our highest values are, and what our daily behaviours look like, allows us to see if we’re living in congruence with our vision.
Psychedelics are notorious for spinning our compass in all kinds of directions. Some of us skyrocket towards love and light, while others drop like a cannonball into the dark abyss. Sometimes it feels like we’re on a life raft at sea, riding the hundred foot tall crests and holding on for dear life as the waves crash around us, and at other times we’re kicking back watching dolphins glide past as we whistle our favourite tune.
Integration can take up a lot of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bandwidth. When we know what our highest values are, it brings so much more clarity when it comes to knowing where to focus our energy and what to include in our days, especially when we’re already knee deep in sludge processing the grime of our past.
Knowing our values is a short-cut to filtering out all the unhealthy habits and behaviours that we engage in on a daily basis. When we have a grasp on some of these patterns and programs, or we’re at least more conscious of keeping an eye out for all the low priority things we currently engage in, we’re in a better position to cut ties and rewire those neurological pathways with greater potential, especially in combination with the potent neuroplastic qualities that psychedelics offer as a little gift to our psyche.
In addition to that, when we become clear on our highest and lowest values that make up our daily behaviours, it begins to compartmentalise and give structure to some of the thoughts in our head. It can offer us a greater opportunity to shift things from being as erratic as a psychological pinball machine with three balls bouncing around at once, to having one ball held steady on a raised flipper, ready to shoot with greater focus and precision.
When we’re clear and focused on what really matters, we can filter our reality much more appropriately without being distracted by as many flashing lights and high pitched noises. This is one puzzle piece when it comes to gaining more clarity and direction through our use of psychedelics. By knowing our values, we automatically shift our focus towards that which brings us more meaning and purpose in our lives.
INTEGRATING VALUES PRE & POST CEREMONY.
Reflecting on our values is a process that can be revisited ad infinitum. The potency of this understanding can’t be understated, especially during the preparation stages of engaging in any entheogenic medicine work. Dr John Demartini has a free online value determination test, which is a great place to begin.
The principles are simple, but much harder to implement, as with any behavioural change process that we try and personally undertake. Start with what you know and let what you know grow. What do you know in your heart that you’re committed to and inspired by? What are the things that you do that you love, without needing motivation to do them?
Not giving way to low priority distractions on a day to day basis is key, and we do this by filling our days with high priority things. Sure, some of us are stuck working dead-end jobs, trading time for money, answering to a sucky boss that we secretly hope would get struck by lightning (tsk tsk, how un-spiritual of you). This is where a little perspective trick comes into play, called linking.
If there’s no current work around for what you’re spending your time on, it’s imperative to try and find a way to shift your perspective and link this in to your highest values. Working a full time job that you don’t really like? No probs! Link that in to your highest values through the understanding that it’s helping you gain the necessary skills or the financial wriggle room to pursue what you really care about.
And if what you think you really care about is not inspiring, or at the very least, motivating you in some way, then it’s not aligned with your highest values. When returning from a deep dive and reclaiming some of our treasure, or, getting a little burnt by the dragon in the cave, it’s helpful to have the extra clarity to keep motivation and inspiration levels in focus, or at least in our peripheries, especially when riding out the often inevitable ebb and flow of emotions and feelings.
It’s during this time that being gentle on yourself is important. Recognize and remember that small steps build momentum. Don’t be scared of lists, whether on your phone or in a journal. Prioritising and noting down a few actionable steps, even as small as one tiny shuffle forward, creates that ongoing feeling of accomplishment. Before long, that tiny little snowflake within has potential to become an unstoppable snowball.
Thinking long term is beneficial here; the birds eye view; creating a chain reaction of benefit for not only yourself, but potentially for future generations as well. Para el bien de todos; for the good of all. One of the best ways of being in service, is aligning our lives to our highest values. When we’re in this place of inspiration and we’re on a path of self development and spiritual growth, the vision for our life starts to expand and encompass something special that not only benefits us, but benefits the collective. The vision and the mission becomes greater than our individual sense of self.
THE SEVEN QUESTS TO FULFIL & FIND EMPOWERMENT IN.
Demartini suggests that there are seven quests within our lives that we yearn to empower and fulfil. Any area that we don’t empower, and any quest that we don’t fulfil, leaves an empty space for someone else to come in and project their own energy into. Consider each quest, a value. If we don’t decide what our relationships and boundaries are to these seven values, others will decide for us and impose their own value systems into our lives. These seven areas include:
A spiritual quest - fulfilling a spiritual mission.
A mind development quest - awakening our mental & creative genius.
A vocational quest - developing success & achievement in a career.
A financial quest - obtaining financial freedom.
A family/relationship quest - the need for love & intimacy.
A social quest - our desire for social influence & leadership power.
A physical quest - wishing for vitality, wellness, beauty & attractiveness.
I touch on very similar quests to fulfil in Sacred Psychedelics as I believe these are important contemplations for everyone; even more so for those of us preparing to saddle up for some deep psychedelic medicine work. We’re all individual manifestations of the grand totality consciousness field - according to spiritual texts and Eastern philosophies, that is - and as such, we each carry our own unique signature.
Included in this signature are our unique gifts, our unique way of approaching life, our unique values systems, and our very own unique relationship towards each of these quests. The quicker we can integrate this understanding on a deep level, the quicker we can overcome the disease that’s running rampant right now, proliferated by the ease of access we have to social media and the highlight reel of others’ lives.
This disease is the nonsensical but incessant program of comparing ourselves to others.
Whether it’s the new Tesla Model 3 that the neighbours just bought, or the holiday your broke-ass sibling somehow managed to go on, or the amazing relationship instagram celebrity XYZ seems to be in, or the amount of money your bestie makes (which is way more than you, mere mortal peasant), or how someone else seems to be doing the very thing you want to be doing and is always two steps ahead… this disease of making comparisons is on par with the black plague!
The thing is, how can anyone really make an accurate comparison to someone, or something, that in actuality is contained within a completely different set of value structures, perceptions and realities? We can’t. It’s hard enough trying to come up with accurate representation, let alone a comparison. What we’re actually doing is comparing ourselves to our own external projection of what we think someone or something else is actually like, rather than how it actually is. Instead, we’re better off comparing our own behaviours to our own plans and vision, focusing on our own reality and priorities, rather than our guesswork of someone else’s.
This is uber important as we progress along the path. It’s easy to get caught up in drivel and allow our attention to drift away to things that aren’t important. But alas, these are all the teachings and learnings inherent within the self development and spiritual path that continue to act like the faithful thwack of a Zen Buddhist teacher and his “keisaku”, his flat wooden stick bonking us over the back of the head until we finally “get it” (that’s if we ever do).
When integrating and preparing for shamanic journeys with the intention to heal and grow, it’s kind of like a little kid with a pencil trying to figure out how to get to the treasure in the middle of a full-page maze in the back of the morning newspaper. Lines and squiggles everywhere!
There are a plenty of rivers to explore to when it comes to developing more clarity, direction, meaning and purpose in our lives, and the tributaries and off-shoots span far and wide within the more specific context of psychedelic medicine journeys.
When we can better understand and integrate our highest values into our daily behaviours, we’re well on the way of creating a life of fulfilment, inspiration and passion. The things we gotta do to piece together that multi-dimensional puzzle… Simple, right?
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