Psychedelics, Skin Problems & The Philosophy of Self.
How might psychedelics like magic mushrooms, marijuana & ayahuasca be useful for helping those with chronic health problems let go of trauma, mental illnesses & depression? How can psychedelics be used for mental health, creativity, scientific breakthrough, connection with nature & better understanding who we truly are?
How should one supposed feel about themselves when the person staring back in the mirror falls short of what society deems to be attractive & worthy?
The Matrix of Mind Control
From childhood, society conditions us to respect authority, to identify by our ego & labels, our body, our job, our possessions & to blindly follow the opinions of people placed on pedestals such as certain politicians, scientists, the media, intergovernmental bodies, celebrities, public figures & spiritual 'gurus'.
Most go through over 20 years of schooling, where there is a prescribed uniform, a set way of answering, a uniform syllabus that doesn't account for learning differences, we aren't encouraged to fail & we are taught what to think rather than how to think. The morals, values & beliefs of people are heavily influenced by religion, pop culture & the news of which 6 entities control over 90% of mainstream media.
We are naturally curious, open minded & full of life when entering the world but are often judged & taught to align with someone else's ideology.
Why? By disconnecting someone from who they truly are, limiting their ability to think critically & controlling their attention, they are easier to control. Identify by your job & you make a better worker, by your possessions a better consumer, by your religion/politics a better follower. Often you need to experience what you are not in order to shed that & know who you truly are. Paying attention to what invigorates & energises you, what you are naturally drawn to throughout your life also helps you to better know yourself. This disconnection from the self ultimately comes down to power, money & control.
Who am I?
This is a question I struggled with & was fascinated by for most of my life. I was always taught that my self worth came from from my academic performance, material belongings, looks & social influence. It's lucky I was academically gifted but I had eczema from birth & nothing worked no matter how many doctors I saw.
People especially kids & teenagers interact with the external ego & persona of you. They are not yet as developed to look beyond the physical & more at the heart & soul of someone. I was often called a snake with shedding skin, a monster, a burns victim, an infectious person, someone lazy for not trying harder to improve my skin & the most successful insult was Ecz-Man. A somewhat clever pun of switching the X in X man for the Ecz in Eczema! It was also a very popular franchise as I was growing up but I definitely didn't feel like a superhero.
It felt like what I saw in the mirror didn't match up with who I was inside. I knew I was more than my skin. I knew I was more than the names I was being called. I knew I was more than a monster or an Ecz-man. If I had believed everyone I would have become the average of all the names I was called.
I had to be more than my skin, it was constantly changing, itching & flaking anyway so it could not have been me. I had to be more than my grades as who would I be before I started studying? I had to be more than even my name as who would I be before | was named? Something in me knew that there was more to me than meets the eye.
The Physical Medical Approach to Health
When you see doctors & dermatologists the focus is mainly on the physical. Whereas the mental, emotional & spiritual body are not explored. It is a reflection of the materialist scientific paradigm of our society although this is rapidly changing with advancements in understanding the quantum nature of reality & the acknowledgement of the shortfalls of materialism in being able to explain how matter gives rise to consciousness.
The medical system treats us as physical beings, whereas we are actual energetic spiritual beings. The physical matter is more like the interface that allows us to have embodied experiences & a feeling of a separate self. In many ways we have gained much greater knowledge of the body yet it is lacking in many ways due to this limited view as well as the limited toolkit of medicine.
I think all illness also has a mental & spiritual component. We know mental health & stress also effects the immune system so it's a dynamic interplay between the physical & mental. There are approximately 100 billion neurons in the human brain & our gut contains 500 million neurons, which are connected to the brain through nerves in your nervous system. The vagus nerve is one of the biggest nerves connecting your gut & brain sending signals in both directions. Therefore, diet & gut health are directly related to mental health & vice versa.
My Experience with The Physical Medical Approach
I was given steroid creams, antibiotics, antihistamines, petrochemical moisturisers. I had blood tests & skin prick tests to determine allergies. It is no wonder that many people with health & skin issues also often face mental health issues. Suppressing physical symptoms does not deal with the root cause.
Not once was I asked about how the eczema was effecting my mental health or was it suggested I see a psychologist. Not once was I recommended stress relieving modalities like meditation, breathwork, sound baths or grounding in nature. Not once was I recommended psychedelics, as even though they could be very useful for treating my depression, they were not a recognised medicine.
The cultural paradigm is now shifting with many of the top universities in the world now studying various psychedelics. Psilocybin mushrooms have proven highly effective for those with long term depression who were no longer responding to antidepressants. Most antidepressants work by artificially increasing levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin & noradrenaline which can be useful in the short term but again they don't target the root cause.
Psychedelics can help us change our perspective of ourselves, others & reality itself, helping us to understand our blockages & take a new perspective. You see much greater connectivity between all regions of the brain, neural plasticity & the ability to form new connections.
Knowing yourself is even more crucial in the times we are living in. We live in such an image driven society, where flawless skin, photoshopped faces & filtered features pervade every inch of our screens, media & social feeds. With the proliferation of the internet we have empowered people to have platforms for media creation which has opened many potentials. It also has paved the path for the formation of many communities & interest groups such as those around the TSW (Topical Steroid Withdrawal) community, with many brave warriors sharing their tips & progress.
Yet this overflow of content leads to increasingly attention grabbing, multi-sensory, quite mindless content that is constantly vying for our attention. Many people think their worth is tied to the number of followers they have. This stress & anxiety, this attack on attention spans, the constant screen staring has physical & mental health impacts as well. It is not surprising that despite having materially more than ever, we are facing a society with mental health issues, social media addiction, declining fertility & social instability.
We are seeing the culmination of how disconnection from our true nature & not understanding our interconnection can play out. Technology, monopolies & revolving doors between industry & governments concentrate power so we are seeing a problem with the consciousness of society that no amount of new technology can fix as it's a spiritual problem.
How might psychedelics help us?
A friend who is researching outer body experiences published research recently with qualitative interviews of those who have undergone an OBE or Outer Body Experience on at least one occasion revealing 8 core themes of transformation: (a) motivational catalyst; (b) decreased fear of death; (c) increased inner peace; (d) new life perspective; (e) greater self-awareness; (f) sense of individuality; (g) re-evaluated relationships & (h) affirmed or new spiritual beliefs.
Psychedelics can help us shift our frame of perception. Letting go of the ego, feeling an interconnection with others & nature & allowing the intelligence of nature to teach us. They also make the brain more neuroplastic, connecting areas that don't typically connect as well as pave the way for greater neurogenesis where new neuronal connections are being formed.
From a young age I always questioned the meaning of life, what my purpose was & how to best live in order to grow myself & lead a meaningful life. My parents sent me to a Catholic school despite me not being so as they thought it had better resources.
I was constantly made to feel as though I was a sinner, that I needed to go through the church & the priest for forgiveness & to blindly follow everything in the Bible. You are offered community, the promise of heaven & the simplicity of living by 10 simple commandments. Yet you are also threatened with eternal hell, the judgement of God & being ostracised by your community. I was unique in being one of a handful of kids who weren't Catholic.
While I was always questioning everything, I wanted to fit in & I tried to believe it. Yet ultimately belief was not enough. As a 10 year old, I remember asking my religion teacher 'if a random boy in rural Africa doesn't believe in Jesus does he go to hell?' to which she replied 'if he has not heard about him then no, if he has & doesn't believe then he does'. Instantly it reminded me of the threats of my mum & I told her 'If there is a God, I don't think it would be so judgemental, so long as he's a good person I don't think it matters what he believes'.
My parents were Buddhist on paper but only because their parents were. They practiced certain customs but they were not spiritual beings. They prayed to their deities as if they were wish genies but were not conscious of their interconnection with all life.
In the depths of meditation, I experienced being conscious & aware but not in my body. I was no longer tied to my body, it felt like just being with the essence of myself. A conscious energetic force. I started perceiving myself as a spiritual energetic force having a human experience. I've tried various psychedelics where my perception of self, time, reality & consciousness itself have changed everything I thought I knew. When you've had the perspective of the drop of water your whole life, it is the ultimate epiphany to merge with the ocean & have the perspective of both the drop & the ocean at the same time. The more I know, the more I know I don't know.
I got to where I am today by not identifying with my ideas, labels or roles I'm playing. I say 'First hand experience is greater than third hand knowledge'. I value my direct personal experience that I witness with every sense as the highest grade of information. Everything else can still be useful but it is not a visceral experience & is prone to manipulation so I became good at discerning information. Psychedelics can play a powerful role in undoing a lot of societal conditioning, helping us take a new perspective & allowing us to raise our consciousness.
My personal thoughts on psychedelics?
I believe it is this temporary plastic state of interconnection within the brain that allows us to perceive ourselves, our memories & our reality in a completely new way. Many people often have flash backs to early life traumas or unresolved issues on high doses of psilocybin based mushrooms. The frequency at which the brain is operating at changes & it is my theory that the neurons may be rewiring to allow for the higher frequency flow.
I've had many outer body experiences in the depths of meditation & on psychedelics that have allowed me to know I'm more than my body. I've experienced states of being where I am not embodied but I'm conscious & aware. I've had many dreams where I was aware I was dreaming. I've had experiences on the most powerful psychedelic known to man where there was no distinction between my 'self' & my entire field of perception. Where I witnessed infinite dimensions of the most complex geometric fields, more complex than anything I've seen in this reality. These fields were pervaded by a highly powerful form of consciousness.
I've experiencing having my soul fully dissolved in to everything, where I have become everything & realised that everyone & everything is an expression of a universal consciousness. It's made me think of myself differently & feel more connected with all of nature itself. The sense of self is actually an illusion for there really is only one I experiencing itself.
What makes us human?
The ability to travel to different dimensions is what makes us uniquely human & much more than just material brings. We are multidimensional beings! Though out history we have experimented with various state of being & various plant medicines that alter our consciousness.
Our ability to communicate over space & time through the invention of language, writing, music & art to convey both logical & artistic expression over time is also uniquely human. We have perhaps the greatest ability of all species, as individuals as well as collectively to be able to influence our environment as well as pursue our own life choices.
All creation starts with a mental thought. All forms of life are conscious on a spectrum of consciousness. We are able to introspect, question the nature of reality, question the concept of self as well as the societal norms.
How I now see myself?
I now see myself as an expression of a universal conscious force which powers all life. I see myself as the universe experiencing itself. I think we are all fractals of one universal consciousness, each piece with its own unique characteristics.
Everyone has a nature to their soul so I now think of myself more as a type of energetic force. I'm more than my skin, my labels, my job, my possessions. I'm that inner awareness, that conscious force.
I look at everyone in this way now. At least I really try to most of the time. I know what it's like to be judged by just the external so I really pay attention to someone's heart, their intention, their energy. Ultimately even if they are on a different journey or ethically questionable I still see them as part of the same whole & a unique soul on their own journey.
Meditation is a key tool to help us experience who we really are & psychedelics can help accelerate our growth of consciousness but they must be treated with respect.
The Philosophical Impact of Psychedelics for me?
As much as I know, the more I know, the more I know I don't know. For someone who used to overthink & narrate the world this has really helped me let go & be more present in each moment. Psychedelics have helped me to let go of a lot of societal programming, to trust in my own intuition & value my direct personal experiences to the highest degree. I now say: first hand experience is worth more than third hand knowledge'.They've made me more open minded, conscious, nature connected, undo programming, creative, intuitive & humbled. It's sparked a deep interest in the nature of mind, reality & consciousness. I'm fascinated by the varying states of consciousness I've experienced. It helps me feel reality from another perspective. I also have become far less materialistic, more open minded, happier & more at peace with what I can & can't control. I am much less judgemental, I am much clearer on my life purpose & I feel interconnected to all life. I am helping to raise the health & consciousness of society through Aether.
When you have had eczema all your life you tend to become emotional less available, less trusting & have many walls up, because you've been hurt & lied to so many times. Psychedelics helped me learn that we are all one, that I need to open up if I want others to open up & helped me become more emotionally open. I still have a way to go on this but it was beautiful to learn that I was capable of love & being loved.
The potential drawbacks of psychedelics?
At the same time, depending on the depth & intensity of the experience it can also be isolating, existentially harrowing, make most of the ordinary seem unimportant & make people think you're crazy or different. Which I guess isn't that different for me as I've always felt a bit different due to my life experiences.
I guess because they are not fully integrated into mainstream culture, are a bit taboo, are illegal in many countries but legal in others & there being a lot of misinformation about psychedelics, it can be hard for someone who hasn't experimented with them to understand what it's like. I believe it is a fundamental human right to be able to access plant medicines & improve my state of health, wellbeing & consciousness. However, after being lied to about the dependency steroids can have on the skin when used for long term, I thought I would pursue the truth in every area of health. No matter what I am being labelled. Question the unquestioned & deeply question the unquestionable.
With time & shifting cultural perspectives on psychedelics they will become more commonplace with many more integration networks available.
A shifting perspective of psychedelics
The neuroscience has helped shift perceptions & also spark interest in a wider range of communities. Speaking with people who've never tried any psychedelics I notice a fear of the unknown, in the experience & the potential lasting psychological effects. Many think it might make them crazy yet they are happy to binge drink, smoke & eat fake foods without question. Yet they are curious especially when they see the growing use for creative, spiritual & mental health applications.
Many see mushrooms, ayahuasca & DMT as drugs whereas I see them as plant medicines. Nature's tools to help us reconnect with ourselves, each other & nature. We must commune with them with respect & humility, it's an inter species communion.
In a world gone mad in many ways, it's not surprising that lifestyles that counter the engineered cultural paradigm would be labelled as crazy. It's always the warriors, artists, pioneering scientists & originals that pave the way for cultural change. Those willing to be called crazy until crazy becomes the norm.
Psychedelics can have powerful benefits for mental health, creativity & connection with nature & the interest is growing rapidly with many of the top universities now studying them. They have also become popular due to word of mouth, internet talks & podcasts about them, visionary art which it has inspired & the growing use by entrepreneurs, artists, scientists, nature lovers & those with mental health needs.
The 4S's of Psychedelic Experience
The self, substance, set (mindset) & setting are important factors to remember when trying psychedelics. I just realised this makes the 4S's which makes it easy to remember.
- Self - You should consider your previous experience with psychedelics & being in altered states of consciousness whether that be in meditation, sound baths, lucid dreaming or other psychedelics such as marijuana. If you have any experience with mental disorders such as schizophrenia or psychosis you should also consult professional advice before considering any psychedelic. Some people are intolerant to fungi & other plants so check whether you have any allergies or intolerances.
- Substance - It is usually beneficial to stick with more natural psychedelics in their original form rather than chemically synthesised ones as they contain other compounds that are in a certain ratio that have a synergistic effect. So it is preferable to take dried mushrooms over LSD & ecstacy as you can see exactly what you're getting & it is less likely to be contaminated. Psychedelics made by pharmaceutical companies who have isolated psilocybin from mushrooms have the upside of being able to standardise dosing more easily but again it is missing its related compounds. Your experience & the topics covered in the Self determine the type & quantity of psychedelic to try. It is beneficial to start with a very small amount of mushroom as doses vary between batches, whether its fresh or dry & how each individual reacts. You can start with about 1/4 of a mushroom or 0.25g & wait 30-45 minutes to see how you react, then stagger up in small increments to what you are comfortable with. One shouldn't try Ayahuasca, DMT or the other more potent psychedelics unless they have experimented with high doses of mushrooms & even then it is questionable as it is such an intense, life changing experience where many insights can be tough to handle & integrate.
Set (Mindset) - Consider everything about your physical & mental state. They are a completely different way to perceive the self, the world & others. They are not a party drug or something to get high off. They are plant medicines that should be treated with respect. Go in with an open mind, make sure you have plenty of time in the days & week following to be able to process the experience & be in the moment. On a microdose you might feel a bit more creative, your senses might be a bit widened, a bit higher & you start becoming aware of your subconscious thoughts, even higher you might feel a sense of needing to let go of control of your ego, then often very intuitive learnings come up. They are not always easy but are designed to grow your awareness & level of consciousness. If you fight it, aren't prepared to process intense or difficult emotions or expect it only to be a high without any introspection you might have a bad trip. Consider the mood & mental state you are in. It tends to bring out more of you in the moment. With the right mindset it can be extremely soul nourishing.
- Setting - Consider everything about the environment, your friends, who's around, the physical surroundings. The setting will greatly influence your overall experience & the self, substance & set should be considered when choosing the setting. You should always be around trusted people. If it is your first time you should have a trusted sober friend guide you along. Ideally you should have easy access back to your home & access to some nature. Some people become more introspective, others more social, sometimes within the same session some feel the urge to dance & have fun while others want to be in nature, by the beach or watch the stars. Make sure you have your phone on you & keep track of how much you've had and at what time. You might also want to have a pen & pad, voice recorder or your phone available as some people feel the need to capture insights while on their journey. It's important you feel safe, comfortable & free when you are on psychedelics.
How are they being used?
Psychedelics have broad ranging applications from spiritual & emotional health, to treating depression, creativity, nature connectedness, communal ritual, cleansing to mystical & transcendental experiences & consciousness expansion.
Psychedelics are being used successfully on former military personnel who often have PTSD. They are proving effective for long term depression sufferers where they did not respond to antidepressants.
They also have been proven to increase feelings of nature connectedness & wellbeing with states on nonduality, ego loss & heightened senses allowing greater communion with nature & other species especially if taken in a natural setting.
Some creative & entrepreneurial types are known to microdose with them for creativity, flow & presence reducing the level of overthinking & tapping the subconscious flow of the mind.
Ayahuasca is a South American psychoactive & entheogenic brewed drink traditionally used both socially and as a ceremonial or shamanic spiritual medicine among the indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin, and more recently in North America & Europe. It contains DMT a powerful hallucinogenic chemical which is found widely throughout nature & produced naturally in your brain in trace amounts. They are particularly intense experiences, where the frame of consciousness, the awareness inside is fundamentally altered & many experience seeing complex geometry, multiple dimensions & various interdimensional entities. Ayahuasca ceremonies have also become more popular with westerners looking for fundamental perspective shifts & a change from the typically disconnected Western lifestyle.
Interestingly, DMT is naturally produced in the human body & widely found throughout nature including in acacia trees, mimosa & wattle plants. Larger amounts are believed to be produced endogenously particularly during birth, death, near death experiences (NDE) & dreaming. It is chemically similar to serotonin & found in thousands of plants species. It's exact role in the body & nature is unknown although it is likely that it modulates our state of consciousness, the frequency at which the brain operates & therefore how it perceives. It is often referred to as 'The God Particle' for the state of non duality it often induces, the sense of timelessness, interdimensional realms & entity experience & the feeling of becoming God.
Scientists have also used psychedelics for breakthrough ideas. They have been used extensively by many of the greatest minds in history including Francis Crick, Kary Mullis, Richard Feynman & Steve Jobs. Francis Crick, the Nobel Prize-winning father of modern genetics, was under the influence of LSD when he first deduced the double-helix structure of DNA nearly 50 years ago. He told a fellow scientist that he often used small doses of LSD then an experimental drug used in psychotherapy to boost his powers of thought.
Kary Banks Mullis was an American biochemist who won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for making valuable improvements to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique. This was a key step in humans copying DNA in a laboratory. Mullis told California Monthly that he “took plenty of LSD”. Richard Feynman one of the greatest theoretical physicists in history experimented with LSD, marijuana and ketamine. Steve Jobs stated that experimenting with LSD in the 60s was 'one of the two or three most important things he had done in his life'.
Trends & Implications?
The merging of science & spirituality driven by the growth of neuroscience, quantum physics, consciousness & psychedelic research is proving to be an exiting time for better understanding the nature of reality & how we as individuals fit within it.
An exciting but underexamined application for psychedelics could be for those who have experienced long term chronic health issues & skin issues. Psychedelics can help us heal many of the mental issues these health problems bring as well as help those currently experiencing problems to better navigate their situation & their conception of self. They are not a quick fix, you must be willing to put in the self work to also integrate & process the learnings. Yet they are an exciting, advanced spiritual tool who's mechanism of action offers great promise in improving our health & wellbeing individually & as a society.