One of the consequences of our rapidly changing society and environment is widespread feelings of overwhelm and stress. Our brains are designed to seek for the familiar in order to find comfort and safety yet these days much of our experience involves massive changes and novel challenges. The unpredictable and rapidly changing circumstances of our lives paired with a pandemic of isolation further perpetrated by the global Covid-19 pandemic have presented a significant and complex challenge to our sense of safety and well-being.
Safety is the foundation of a regulated nervous system. We are designed and trained to seek control in order to support feelings of safety yet much of our life experience these days involves massive changes outside of control. Environmental disasters associated with climate change, economic challenges further perpetuated by the pandemic, and socio-political turmoils, are monumental challenges outside of an individual's control and are likely to shape the landscape of our world for the foreseeable future.
In the face of massive uncertainties and loss of control, the only sustainable approach is to train our nervous systems to better handle the unknowns and bounce back better from our inevitable states of overwhelm. Practices like breathwork, meditation, and mindfulness have long been used to cultivate resiliency, modern resilience practices combine many of these modalities with new cutting-edge somatic trainings to train the brain to better handle states of overwhelm. While psychedelics enthusiasts have long been benefiting from the resilience-building benefits of psychedelic medicines, cultivating resilience has often been a side-effect rather than a goal for the seekers, until now...
Psychedelic medicines are indeed potent facilitators of resilience. Psychedelic medicine journeys facilitated in a safe and intentional container offer a unique and highly effective framework for cultivating resilience.
Navigating States of Discomfort and Fear
Large dose psychedelic experiences are often paired with physical and emotional discomfort and at times even fear and terror. Throughout the course of developing a practice, individuals work to overcome the anxiety associated with these states as they become aware of the impermanence of these states and develop simple tools like breath and movement to maintain agency over their responses. Traditional communal and ceremonial containers especially offer a wonderful framework as each individual feels connected to and supported by the group.
Cultivating a fresh perspective to reframe the experience
One of the hallmarks of a psychedelic experience is its ability to shift and form perspectives. Psychedelic states offer individuals the opportunity to examine their experiences in a new light with fresh insights not accessible under ordinary circumstances.
Science has been demonstrating the incredible ability of psychedelic substances in removing the standard processing filters of the brain allowing the new and novel firing of neurons and the development of new types of brain connections that facilitate new insights and perspectives.
Through psychedelic medicines, individuals are empowered to reframe their experiences in a more compassionate light allowing them to not only shift their experience from suffering to empowerment but also inspiring a more compassionate lens towards the struggles of others.
The power of acceptance
One of the most potent teachings of psychedelic experiences is "acceptance". Psychedelic experiences support individuals in cultivating acceptance through both their ability to inspire compassion and through the experience of navigating discomfort and fear.
As we cultivate new perspectives that expand our understanding and capacity for compassion, we become more accepting and forgiving of our own and others' shortcomings. As we sit in the discomfort of an experience and notice that resistance to conditions we can not control (ie: the physical or emotional discomfort confronting us in a psychedelic experience), exacerbates our struggle and suffering, overtime we harness the ability to accept discomfort as a part of our life journey as a potent practice to reduce suffering.
Practicing and mastering surrender
Learning to surrender is perhaps the most challenging yet rewarding gift of psychedelic practice. Learning to let go of fear and control, to accept what is and surrender is no small task yet those who show up time and time again to confront their fears and tendencies of control are rewarded generously through the psychedelic practice.
Much of our society is built upon controlling circumstances but sooner or later we are confronted by the naive nature of the illusion that we can somehow control circumstances or the actions of others. Psychedelics deliver the critical reality check our modern societies need the most these days: control is an illusion. Not only that but that the more we seek to control, the more we struggle and suffer.
Surrender practice has deep history and roots in many mystical traditions and is often cultivated through decades of focused practice. Psychedelics however offer a unique pathway to surrender practice often within a few ceremonial experiences. As individuals learn to let go of their struggle to control, often through pure physical and emotional exhaustion, they experience the profoundly liberating and healing power of surrender.
As we practice finding states of safety in surrender through psychedelics, we begin to cultivate the ability to surrender more easily and more readily, ultimately empowering us to be more efficient in letting go of our struggles more easily and find comfort in surrender to the unknown.
Psychedelic practice is a true gift of perspective and resilience during these profoundly transitional times as we are consistently confronted by a shifting world, society, and economy. Our ability to hold steady and remain resilient in the face of these challenges is the most critical skill of our lifetime and one that these medicines are uniquely poised to deliver.