In Part One, we discovered that Willpower alone won’t lead to fundamental life change.
So… what works?
Personality Change, Growth, and Development — this is the process for building a happy fulfilling life.
There are two basic steps: an “Initiation Event” and Daily Practice. I discuss Daily Practice at length in another post (and aspects of it will require future posts to explore), and I have mentioned the Initiation Event in other posts.
I’m going to come out and say it: Psychedelics are the best tool for Initiating Personality Change for most people.
That’s a fact.
If neither you nor any of your immediate relatives suffer with schizophrenia or some type of dissociative disorder, you can skip the next two paragraphs.
However, if you’ve read my page about Psychedelic Safety, you know that you shouldn’t pursue a psychedelic encounter if you have a family history of schizophrenia or dissociative disorders. I believe that you may be able to track down a university study designed for people with these conditions (or people who might have a latent condition due to family history and genetic disposition) to have therapeutic experiences and I have heard about experienced, reputable shamans with a wealth of experience treating people with these conditions/tendencies. If you are at risk, tread lightly.
If you are medically unable to engage in a psychedelic experience and you don’t want to take the plunge in a research environment or with a shaman, there are other tools that can do the job (though they don’t work as well — it’s better than simply suffering with anxiety or depression). Some of these include: Vipassana retreats (over a week of silence with long periods of meditation), a deep and lengthy meditation practice eventually resulting in a “breakthrough” meditation, hypnosis of varying kinds, certain alchemical rituals, certain types of ecstatic dance or movement, etc. These are great tools, by the way, particularly when they are used for their ideal purpose.
For the rest of this post, we are going to assume that you are one of the 94-99+% of people who can medically handle a psychedelic trip and I’ll discuss this “Initiation Event” from here on in that context.
Psychedelics have a bizarre stigma in most of western society. The science shows, conclusively and decisively, that most psychedelics (LSD, “Magic Mushrooms”, etc.) are safer and more healthy than COFFEE. When used responsibly, they are one of the greatest tools for developing and realizing one’s mental health — which translates to living a happy, fulfilling life. Just ask the many successful artists and entrepreneurs who have made positive use of this tool (though many still hide in the psychedelic closet because of the stigma) part of their lives.
If you’re depressed, suffering from crippling anxiety or PTSD, or feel “stuck” or “trapped” in your life, do you really have time for rigidly observing nonsensical social taboos? Are you better served brushing the stigma aside and living your higher truth, regardless?
In many places, most psychedelics are still illegal (in direct contradiction of both the science and the overwhelming anecdotal evidence), though in nearly every case where the well-known “classic” psychedelics are illegal, there are other, lesser-known (but just as effective) medicines that are legal and obtainable on the internet (note: because I can’t predict the tide of international laws, I can’t source psychedelics from my site, even if they are legal — you’ll have to do some research).
If you have the time and money, you can also go an Ayahuasca Retreat (typically in places where this is legal). If you diligently research, you can find Ayahuasca ceremonies that are reputable, well-reviewed, and safe. Don’t be reckless, because there are scams and worse out there.
Here’s How to Have a Great Initiation Experience (Which is Crucial to Successful Personality Change):
The dosage depends on how comfortable you are with your subconscious. If you are a lucid dreamer with years of meditation experience, dosage should be no concern at all (high or low, depending on what mood you’re in). If you are a person who is skittish and has a hard time allowing yourself to relax and be vulnerable, you’ll want to go with a gentle dose (depending on your body mass, hydration level, and potency of the substance). If you’re somewhere between those extremes, a “normal beginner dose” (mushrooms: 2.5g dried, LSD: 2 hits, etc.) should be fine.
People online often make a big deal out of dosage, but it is the least important aspect of this process. You just need enough to “break through”.
If you can find a safe, comfortable place in nature, that is usually ideal. But a safe, quiet night home is just as good. Lighting should either be natural, or dim (I prefer candlelight).
Having an experienced partner on a first trip is usually a good idea. Unless it’s her first time, too, it shouldn’t matter whether she’s also tripping — as long as you trust her and can feel comfortable being vulnerable around her. When I sit with people, I also trip and guide people on their trips (if they want/need it). As a general rule, experience trumps sobriety.
If you need alone time, let your sitter know where you’ll be and be careful not to wander too far. It can be helpful to get some alone time (most people feel this way with therapeutic mushroom experiences, interestingly).
Bonus tips: Have fresh fruit, a notebook plus 2 writing utensils, and plenty of water available.
Make sure to turn off your phone as well as electronic devices with glowing screens. TVs, smart pads, whatever should be off and remain off. People tripping while watching TV or playing video games often experience pretty severe delusions (often without noticing it) and it can severely hamper your growth.
And if you decide to have music, it should be non-vocal or in a language you don’t speak. I like Ravi Shankar’s non-orchestral stuff (just sitar, tabla, and occasional chanting) but I am also a fan of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s psychedelic 3: Wave, Tide, and Stone Flower. If you intend a trip to be therapeutic and you listen to psych music with words (that you understand), it can be incredibly distracting/encompassing and get you off track easily.
Unless you are using it as a tool to dig into your subconscious, avoid mirrors.
If you’re here, then let’s assume you have the right Intent (“I have issues and want to work on them!”). Having a meaningful Intention is a profound part of this experience — even if you switch gears and find other, more pressing issues or challenges to investigate during the actual trip.
In the trip, it is important to understand that the “personality” begins as a defense mechanism we subconsciously build as children in order to cope with (and, occasionally, thrive with) the people and the world around us. Personality traits are unconsciously “selected” based on what problems we encounter and how we deal with them. They are reinforced and crystallized while using these traits.
In order to work on the personality, you’ll have to examine it (especially childhood memories — including many unpleasant ones — that led to the personality you “have”), accept/reassure/forgive it (you were a child doing your best to survive emotionally), dissect it (once the child comes out and feels safe, you’ll have to cut away the personality traits that don’t serve you and consciously claim those that do), reprogram it (take conscious control of your personality program), and, after the trip, help it evolve and develop it further. Each one of these could be a post in itself or chapters of a book on this topic.
If you want answers to pressing questions such as “How did I start thinking this way? When did I start to do ______?” (filling in the blank with a behavior or habit you have that you wish you didn’t), just ask yourself and you’ll likely get answers.
It may sound crazy, but you can speak directly with your subconscious if you are able to let go and actually try.
Sometimes, psychedelic medicines will try to distract you with breathtaking visuals and sounds.While the sparkly fractals and tinkling bells can be fun to experience, don’t let this aspect of the trip divert you from your mission.
And sometimes psychedelics will test your “psychic integrity” with wacky delusions (grandeur, conspiracies, aliens, demons, etc.). These delusions are obstacles intended to test the seeker. You are very much undertaking a heroic, “spiritual” activity and heroes have to overcome obstacles as part of the journey. Enjoy the delusions, laugh at them if you can, but don’t buy into them or fear them — it’s only a test. I wish someone had told me about this aspect of it when I first started!!
Using this method, you’ll be able to directly access your subconscious programming and work toward solving your issues. I used this method to completely cure my own depression and social anxiety (and other stuff like self-esteem issues, etc.).
The key to this method’s effectiveness is that you have to be honest, open, forgiving (of the people who reinforced the personality traits that made you unhappy and yourself for unconsciously making these “choices”), vulnerable, and self-loving. You have to really want to dig down deep and let your pure child self out.
Some of the memories you dig up might be particularly painful or unpleasant — don’t try to “escape”. Allow yourself to experience them with a loving heart and forgive all the actors involved, including yourself. As Socrates said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Do your best not to blame or judge, even when it’s terrible. Forgive. That’s the key.
Ultimately, it’s not about healing — it’s all about growth. You’re not really “broken”; you’ve just been functioning on “autopilot” with outdated software that’s got some bugs in it. This Personality Change method is how you learn to switch off autopilot and upgrade the programs.
The most important step in Personality Change — and it’s the step most often left out in these discussions — is Integration.
You should take notes of your realizations (thus the notebook), insights, and changes you want to make. And then, in the days, weeks, and months following, you have to actually make them.
People have the notion that changing beliefs and habits is about Willpower, but it isn’t.
It’s about discovering what subconscious “needs” are being fulfilled by a habit or belief (usually more than one) and replacing them with nourishing, fulfilling habits and beliefs that serve the same needs. I wrote a blog post about Daily Practice and it has a lot of information about how to properly integrate the experience (meditation, diet, exercise, etc.).
I know I’ll have to make a specific post about Integration. Just understand that, as you start to go though your beliefs and habits and replace them, you’ll need to use your Willpower for a few weeks here and there to make them stick and when you face the challenges that making positive life choices will inevitably present.
People may grow jealous, envious, maybe even hostile when you start living your Truth. And, inevitably, you’ll have to clean house and distance yourself from toxic people, regardless of whatever roles they played in your past. This is natural and normal — nothing to be anxious about. There are people on a similar journey as you — and like you, they’ll need allies!
During Your Trip, Remember:
If the waters get choppy and you find the experience challenging, remember that it will end in a few hours and you’ll be back to life in a non-psychedelic state.
Relax, breathe deeply, and let the process happen.
Let go and be vulnerable.
And, most importantly, enjoy it.
You’re about to level up, if you do it right.
Because the vast majority of psychedelics are non-addictive and non-toxic, you can go back to the well. It is unlikely you’ll get everything done on the first try and that all of your integration efforts will “stick” with 100% certainty.
So don’t rush. Don’t force it. More than likely, you’ll have to go back.
And that’s alright.