I read news articles weekly that tout the benefits of psilocybin. Headlines like “Magic Mushrooms Linked to Decreased Risk of Opioid Addiction”, “Psilocybin Helps Alleviate Depressive Symptoms”, “Magic Mushrooms Provide Fast, Long-Lasting Depression Relief”. Woah–am I right? Impressive. Those are substantial claims, backed up by real data [sarcasm intended]. That nearly automatic response to headlines is trained in us by various institutions. When we read keywords such as 'data' 'significant' 'alleviate' and 'depression' we know to view these headlines as substantial advances in the future of mental health. If the data says it’s true, then it must be true. And if it is true, the implications for that truth are profound. Profound for whom? I have been included in a number of text groups, forums and newsletters that enthusiastically share this new research, efficacy data, compound advances and investment portfolio suggestions. They wave these bits of data around like they are remarkable and pointing us towards a brighter future. Yes, the Elites are getting hip to this information, think they have found the next investment craze and are looking to capitalize on it. Those headlines are bullshit, full of illusion and are frankly misleading the average global citizen into thinking psychedelic medicine is something that it is not. The media’s narrative of this renaissance in psychedelics is being carefully constructed to intentionally focus the attention of the public away from the real miracle that is emerging.
The real miracle that is emerging is that we can heal ourselves. We can heal ourselves of pretty much anything. In order to do that, however, we need to be the ones that choose to heal. And that usually means profoundly changing the way we live our lives. All that the studies about psilocybin are telling us is that a consistently reproducible effect is occurring within the biological systems that are being studied in isolation. Phenomena such as neurogenesis and neuroplasticity are impacted by a chemical compound; it is as simple as stimulus and response. Turns out it is a big leap to get from neuroplasticity to long-lasting depression relief.
These headlines represent a materialist reductionist way of defining health. They reinforce the assertion that the body is a machine and that the western biomedical model can isolate the causative effect of individual chemical compounds and manipulate them to produce healing. When you read these articles the first mention of the extensive psychotherapy required to produce these results occurs 50-70% of the way through the article. They do not discuss the painful, labor intensive work of processing the core woundings that created the conditions for depression to arise. They do not catalog the tears, the failures, the setbacks that are associated with the hard work of healing addiction. They do not capture the role that the integral complexity and interdependence of the mind, body, spirit and emotions play in an individual's healing. These articles make the healing process seem as simple as munching on some magic medicine that makes everything better.
Medicines like Psilocybin, Ayahuasca, Peyote, Ibogaine…they do not make anything better. They are simply teachers that help us remember that we can heal ourselves. Said another way, the presence of neurogenesis is inconsequential if we continue to make the same bad choices. We can take all the psychedelic medicine we want and achieve nothing at all. The therapist works in the same way. They can’t do the work for you. They simply witness, reflect and ask us what we think about our situation. Why do you think they ask that? Because we are the ones who ultimately choose whether or not we will heal. We are the ones that have to show up to the mat and do the work. That work should not be limited to any one modality. Healing occurs within a rich tapestry of support that engages all senses and ways of being. We are an integral whole, not independently functions mechanistic systems.
Psychedelics are powerful allies that help us remember. They help us remember that we are complex organisms that are interconnected with a living biosphere full of other complex organisms. They help us feel deeply, connect with our emotions and help us go through a journey of our inner landscape. They provide us with the opportunity to practice choosing differently. When we choose differently in the presence of neuroplasticity, and then consistently act differently, the neurogenesis that occurs is curative. Without the empowered choice of the human, the change potential slips away. We miss the miracle entirely.
True miracles will never be found in investment portfolios, clinical studies or headlines in the New York times. They are found in the mundane work of the human on themselves in a dynamic relationship with the Earth. True miracles arise from within when we put in the work of tending to our inner gardens. Imagine how empowered we would become if this were the narrative the media was sharing. If our cultural stories acknowledged and supported an individual's ability to heal themselves, what would happen to the chronic illnesses that fund the biomedical industrial complex? Our systems of power are very good at dismantling revolutions of consciousness before they happen. They learned a LOT from the last revolution in the 1960’s. We are in the midst of another massive evolution of consciousness, one that leads us away from giving all of our power and authority to heal to ‘ the experts.’ For those of you who are waving around these headlines like they are going to save us, it’s time to get to the mat and start your work. There are bigger miracles waiting for you.