The Creative Way With Psychedelics
Psychedelic compounds offer a wide array of therapeutic benefits in a safe, sterile, therapeutically designed setting. All the latest magazines and research are over the moon around legal research. Consumed by the need to remind the world and more specifically the law – the people that make up the law that may have never touch one of these drugs or still think Tim Leary was the most dangerous man on the planet – that under this work it’s going to be done in a remarkably safe environment with the watchful eye of 15 doctors at one time and 120 hours of psychotherapy before we consider you a candidate. And if you are dying in the next 30 days – yes, yes, then you can try it too. Oh yes, and the legal –treatment (rough cost of (one)1 treatment up to $20,000).
All that to say this… I cannot, I will not turn my back to the “wonderfilled” opportunity that a recreational experience can have; this creatively transformational experience with just as generous chance to heal without lying on a mat with a blind-fold on. Without jumping through some bullshit hoops - that God knows who set up anyway - to see if you qualify to change.
Of course I am talking about a completely controlled recreational experience with pillows wrapped around your body and helmets strapped to your head in case you take a face plant in the garden all the while you smell the remarkable fragrance of the fresh flowers as they talk to you and tell you that they love you too.
Over 30 million Americans try psychedelics a year, and I am sure since Michael Pollen’s book it went up drastically.
There are days we can be in our suffering and be in our pain. There are days we can push against it, resist it, and despise it. But when the day comes where we can redefine it, this is the day we can begin to be free of it.
Everyday, moment-to-moment, we are making choices. Choosing to stay in our suffering or to create a new moment, a new pathway and a new direction.
There is an integral connection between creativity and healing.
The artistic process is not only a way to emotional and spiritual growth but it is also a form of transformation, healing, meditation, and relaxation.
I offer you a not so radical – yet highly irreverent idea – intentionally creative work with psychedelics.
Flow - To move or run smoothly with unbroken continuity, as in the manner characteristic of a fluid.
Creativity is an essential consciousness and mental ability related to all areas of our everyday functioning. Thus, finding a way to enhance it is of far-reaching curiosity.
Your experiential work with psychedelics will dive you into what drives you, stimulates you, and gives you flow.
Movement that would otherwise feel common can be an entirely new venture when on psychedelics: maybe colors jump off of flowers on a neighboring garden or there is a fresh thankfulness for the feeling of walking on different ground surfaces, giving a whole new appreciation for “grounding”.
People group movement with musical accompaniment as dance; though this sometimes adds extra pressure to blissfully move your body. The pressure can you feel it? Psychedelic compounds lower hang-ups, and also helps make some people more open to the physical expression of dance.
According to research, dancing can improve happiness, boost confidence and decrease anxiety: all helpful additions to any psychedelic experience. Psychedelic genres of music are great starting points for tapping into some trippy movement. Psychedelics can distort auditory sensations, opening people up to enjoy new music or reimagine only favorites. Get yourself to a Dead and Company or Phish show and you will quickly understand what I mean.
Dancing isn’t the only form of joyful movement. A walk around the block or tossing a ball back and forth with a friend can allow neurons to fire in different parts of your brain, showing users a fuller range of their experience. Mixing psychedelics with movement is common. After all, the first-ever recorded LSD trip by Dr. Albert Hoffman was on a bicycle ride. Building safety is a top priority and can keep the energy positive and adventurous. Your environment being safe and your mindset are key.
Invited Exercise. Gentle movement. Do a gentle movement exercise that will incorporate yoga, dance or a free flowing body movement of your choice. It could just be shaking to a certain beat or swaying to a specific melody. Spend 10 to 20 minutes turning into your body through gentle movement.
Making music is another creative arena that people often feel unsuited for. Without formal training and previous experience, picking up an instrument can be overwhelming. Music is a huge part of early childhood education and is found to increase kid’s retention of new concepts and promote socio-emotional wellbeing.
Though no longer children, psychedelic users can benefit from the child-like exploration of music. If musical ability and instruments are available, tremendous! But creative musical exploration doesn’t need any more tools besides the ones existing on the human body. Some of the first forms of musical expression available to human civilizations were clapping hands, stomping feet and vocalizing melodies. Across cultures, singing, chanting and guttural vocalizations allow communities to come together and celebrate ancestral traditions.
Psychedelics and music have a long tradition amongst indigenous cultures: Amazonian curanderos perform icaros—sacred mystical songs—during ayahuasca ceremonies and the Native American Church uses rattles alongside their drums and voices during peyote rituals.
Communal music making helps foster a more connective experience. Opening with small humming, clapping or a familiar chant or tune is a great start, with any luck cultivating an open-minded musical exploration.
Exercise to Explore. Musical Improve. You can use an instrument for sure. I love my djembe drum for this very exercise.
Yet let’s connect to the natural beat of voice, clap, or stomp. Then bring in the instruments. You will have plenty of time to explore your musical world. We are all musically able at hear we just censor ourselves. Open to the opportunity to be untethered to the music you feel. Don’t judge it simply send some sound out into the world and let it go.
Walking Meditation - Forest Bathing.
Spending time in nature is linked to improvements in emotional, physical and spiritual health. We are unclear on the exact behavior or action it takes, and frankly it’s not a science. And yet anyone who has spent a weekend camping or an afternoon hiking through a nearby park can attest to the rejuvenating power of the great outdoors.
The term nature bathing started in Japan during the 1980s. Forest bathing or shinrin-yoku emerged as a physiological and psychological exercise meant to reconnect people with nature after the tech boom—hopefully inspiring citizens to protect their country’s forests.
New research backs pairing psychedelics and nature: A 2020 study found similar psychological mechanisms present during both psychedelic administration and contact with nature. The two activities shared benefits like decreased rumination, increased mindfulness and a higher feeling of connectedness. It is also a great way to turn on and tune in to all things creative and flow state. These researchers proposed a synergistic effect when using psychedelics in nature. I think they both feed off each other and can benefit you by using them together.
Not everyone has the same access to green spaces: race, income, and education level are all factors that correlate with nature accessibility. The ideal scenario is full immersion in nature’s wonders but if nature isn’t easily available, appreciating trees outside a window, tending to a well-loved houseplant or listening to nature soundscapes allows people to tune into nature even when far from green spaces.
A Fun Exercise to do. Walk in the woods. You will go on a silent medicine walk to “listen for signs”. During the walk you will find what is calling you and incorporate your lessons. Be safe, have your water and layers of clothing, and go for a long time, at least 45 minutes or what may feel like 6 days. Keep a watch close by you.
Integrating a recreational trip… is no different than an intentional therapeutic trip. It takes work, courage and a safe therapist that will provide you with objective reasoning and support, kindness, and deep respect for your choices.
Creative, recreational psychedelic use is not bad. There is a lineage of people from Terence McKenna and his brother Dennis - were they imagined our language coming from a “Stoned Ape” to the Mayan people, from the Merry Pranksters of the 60’s or my teenage self we all explore with these medicines and we all deserve to make sense of these medicines.
Dr. Ryan Westrum PhD is a clinical psychedelic psychologist. Who advocates for the safe, sane and consensual use of psychedelic compounds for healing and transformation with or without a therapeutic environment. You can reach him for psychedelic integration support at firstname.lastname@example.org or healingsoulsllc.com