With the rise in awareness of mental/emotional/spiritual health issues at the moment it was really interesting to watch Michael Pollan's series "How to Change Your Mind - What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence".
It's an easy to watch 4 part series on Netflix or the book/audiobook by the same name.
I'd never really thought much about psychedelics in a therapeutic context before and was therefore amazed about the amount of research that has already been done. These medicines are certainly not just about having a nice trip. They have been used in clinical research with PTSD, addiction, severe depression, fear of death with terminal illness and much more. These are significant health issues that are seriously affecting the way people are able to function in the world. And the results are outstanding - complete changes in perspective, sometimes after just one session. So why haven't we heard more about them? Well Michael goes into the history of research, suppression of research and the reemergence - very interesting!
The series goes into the traditional use of the medicines as well as the modern medicine approach. He discusses four main medicines - LSD, psilocybin, MDMA and mescaline and also touches on Ayahausca. Now I understand this can sound a little confronting - LSD is associated with the 60's and MDMA is the main compound in the party drug ecstasy. Don't worry I was right there with you! However, what I've learned is that these substances were being used in medical research before they got out into the public sphere and were used recreationally. And this is what the book and series is focussed on - the clinical application of these medicines.
I was blown away by the significant results people can get and how non-addictive the substances are. A common theme is how important the environment and the intention are when using these medicines. In traditional cultures there are important rituals and guidance from an elder when using these medicines. This has been translated into the western clinical setting where there is a safe, comfortable environment, a therapist with the client the whole time and a clear intention set before starting. It's not just a factual documentary series, there are personal stories and experiences shared with each medicine including Michael's own.
I'm sure there will be plenty more research to come but in the meantime if you feel like having your eyes opened a little, or maybe if you feel challenged by the topic, step out of your comfort zone and read the book or watch the series - it might just change your mind. (Sorry, couldn't help myself I love a pun!)
Happy perspective shifting!
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