[ Psychedelics for personal development || How does psychedelics for personal development and therapy work || Neuroplasticity and making new choices || Drug free psychedelics for personal development || Your senses ARE your experience || Further experiments with psychedelic light therapy ]
None of the following is an endorsement or recommendation for psychedelic drug use.
Using psychedelics for personal development is regaining popularity. Can you really get lost in consciousness, and then find yourself? Absolutely!
Unfortunately, people often fall into a trap. They keep having ‘just one more’ psychedelic trip, because the first one didn’t create any lasting positive change.
Did self improvement through psychedelics ever lose popularity? Not really.
But it is still thought of by many as requiring repeated use of drugs, or profound spiritual experiences.
And because of this, it is seen by many as being out of reach.
Here, I will outline how and why personal development with psychedelic experiences works. And why in fact you don’t need to ingest a substance to get the benefit.
What do I mean when I say ‘lost in consciousness’? I mean letting go of control and suspending current reality.
No significant advance or evolution of idea’s ever came from seeing reality as static and unchanging.
People’s search for meaning, leads to exploring altered states of consciousness. And also to the idea that life is more than what we experience with our 5 senses. Disruptions to self consciousness are one factor leading to changes in thought and behaviour. The strength of these disruptions seem to correlate with the depth of the altered state of consciousness. And psychedelic experiences are one way to get into a profoundly deep altered state.
Psychedelic personal development and therapy can change your life
Single session therapy using psychedelics like psilocybin or ketamine are showing how powerful they can be. In many cases with people who are considered to have therapy or drug resistant challenges.
PTSD, depression, alcoholism and even schizophrenia have been successfully treated with results that last months, years or even permanently.
So is it any wonder that more than ever, people are looking toward psychedelics for personal development too?
Integration of psychedelic experiences
What makes the results of these psychedelic trance journeys last?
Integration, and using the correct set and setting protocols:
Pre framing the session (set).
Creating the right environment (setting).
And transferring the experience through discussion and habit into the real world (Integration).
Set, setting and integration aren’t just useful steps for the therapeutic use of psychedelics. If you want to develop yourself personally with psychedelic experiences, then they apply there too.
Psychedelics for personal development
Therapy based uses of psychedelics are just the things people actively seek help with.
What about simply wanting to let go of fears and old habits of thought. There is a growing desire from people to use psychedelic experiences in a self generative and responsible way.
There’s an undercurrent of belief in some people that self development is selfish and ill gained if not done through blood, sweat and tears. ‘Change should be hard’, is still a prevalent belief. And working on your career or relationships is still more OK than taking time out to be self-full. Self-full being a more accurate statement than selfish.
People are seeing the value in working not just on their careers and relationships.., but on themselves. The irony of course, is that by working on yourself, your career and relationships benefit also.
The psychedelic trap
Unfortunately however, psychedelic trips can turn into psychedelic traps. Using psychedelics for personal development effectively requires intelligent effort.
Many people fall into the trap of having just one more psychedelic trip because the first one didn’t create any lasting positive change.
And this then turns into more and more frequent use, where psychedelics become the persons new holiday from life. Again, this is mainly the fault of a lack of integration and understanding.
In these cases.., the elusive truth, is that no actual work is being done.
The psychoactive substance has been given the role of changing the person instead of being a tool.
Acting on the messages of increased awareness
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…
The best ideas, techniques and strategies for changing your life, only work.., when you do!
One of the things the psychedelic experiences (and indeed other forms of trance) give you, is a choice point.
When you become more aware of your thoughts and actions.., you have a choice to continue them or change them. If you embrace that choice and an old habit shows up again later.., you can shrug it off and do something different.
If you ignore that choice, then the habit will do what habits do best. They will stay habits. Some habits have as part of their structure, the belief that you can’t change them. It’s how they manage to stay present in the face of new choices.
How does psychedelic personal development and therapy work
Actually science doesn’t yet fully know. As with many forms of alternate experience, there is repeatable science that can be explained.., and then there is the ‘magic’ that cannot. Personal development with psychedelics still has an air of mystery around it.
For a more comprehensive answer to how and why the therapeutic use of psychedelics work see:
What is becoming clear, is that a large part of the benefit is in the psychological experience of the user. Most psychoactive substances resemble the serotonin molecule. And this certainly goes part way to explain the change in mental state. Serotonin is an important hormone responsible for mood, feelings of well-being and happiness. As well as the regulation of communication in the brain including cognition and memory.
But serotonin is produced in other ways too that don’t seem to lead to life changing events. What seems to be the difference according to many in the psychedelic space is what you DO with the change in mental state. Using psychedelics for personal development or therapy requires structure and intention.
Letting go of control in a controlled environment
Users report facing fears in a controlled environment, losing their sense of being separate from others and the world, and that letting go of control is safe.
And they are able to do this because they enter profound altered states of consciousness. In those states, is an opportunity to re-frame life and re-wire neural pathways. This includes the deactivation of the default mode network in the brain. A part of the brain that gives us a sense of being unique and somewhat detached from the world. With this deactivated, our awareness expands to include a sense of connection to ‘all that is’. In a sense we truly do get lost in consciousness.
Neuroplasticity and making new choices
The concept of neuroplasticity gets thrown around a bit with psychedelics. But it’s important to know that neuroplasticity happens all the time. And does so with or without purposeful attempts to initiate it.
Mind altering experiences may open the door, but it takes intention to walk through.
Interestingly one chemical in the brain does have an effect on how easy it is to change. And that chemical is Oxytocin.., the love and connection hormone.
Studies on sheep have shown, that when a new lamb is born there is a huge spike in oxytocin in the mother. This allows the mother to break her bond with the previous lambs and re-bond with the new ones. If this hormone is switched off in new mothers, they will reject the new lamb and stay bonded to the older ones.
In essence, oxytocin is one precursor to neuroplasticity. Love really can find a way.
Unfortunately for most, keeping an old habit is the easy choice even when the brain is in the best state for change.
This is where the role of a therapist or guide of a psychedelic experience can be invaluable. And it is where personal development with psychedelics is potentially still missing the point.
Getting lost in consciousness without finding the ‘treasure’ to bring back home.., is just getting lost.
Drug free psychedelics for personal development
There are other ways to get to that heightened awareness choice point. For example brain stimulation, breathwork and some meditation practices. Light or photic stimulation is one of those ways. A psychedelic light experience is one of the benefits of the Roxiva RX1 highlighted on this website.
Using light and sound, users get a drug free psychedelic trip and create deep trance states. In this way, altered states of consciousness can be used without drugs. Flickering light in particular has the ability to produce intense visions of colour, movement and mandala type patterns.
Users report the experience as being just like an Ayahuasca, DMT or LSD journey. And this is elevated by being in control of how long or how intense the experience is.
And for most people who have never, or will never, be willing to ingest a psychoactive substance.., it is a lack of control that stops them.
How does light give a psychedelic experience
The rods and cones (cell structures) of our eyes respond to different frequencies and wavelengths of light in different ways. Many of the cells in our eyes are specifically tuned to only respond to a narrow band of frequency.
Each of these cells also has a threshold of excitation and decay of that excitation. What this means is that after a cell is stimulated by light, it then takes a period of time to calm down again. It’s like when you look at a bright light and then close your eyes. You can see an after image of the light behind your eyelids.
With this excitation happening multiple times a second, the resulting effects interact with each other to produce pattern and movement.
For a full explanation see:
It is then this pattern, colour and movement that produces the expanded feelings that go with a psychedelic experience.
But the science is only one aspect of the equation. People have their own moments of experience that cannot always be explained away. And there is good reason why you shouldn’t try to explain significant experiences either. Spontaneous awakenings or moments of spiritual enlightenment are unique to the individual.
If a picture is worth a thousand words.., then a thousand words cannot explain a changing picture.
Your senses ARE your experience
When a person has an experience that brings with it elements of different senses, the combination of those sensory elements IS the experience.
Often there is one sense that leads the experience. In NLP this is called the driver or cue of the experience. This doesn’t mean to say that another sense cannot be the cue or driver. But in this persons neurology it is likely that each time they have this experience, the driver will usually be the same.
And this driver can be stimulated artificially to give the same experience even if it is usually automatic. For example there is a technique in NLP called ‘Drug of choice’. The goal of this technique is to deconstruct what the body and mind does naturally after taking a drug step by step. By mirroring those steps purposely without the drug, the same whole body experience can be initiated. In a sense what is happening is that you are jump starting a process. This then gains it’s own momentum and triggers the body and minds ‘memory’ of the drug induced state.
The brain has the existing altered state pathways already in place. All you need to do is start down the path.
Why is this important for drug free psychedelic experiences? It shows that whole body experiences can be triggered by only one sense. But there is more…
What about starting from the other end of the path? This is where another principal called anchoring (NLP) or conditioning comes in to play.
The brain links feelings with sensory cues. It does this to streamline our lives and keep us safe. When we are young, at some point we will touch something hot and it will hurt. In that moment, we make the connection in our brain that temperature or glowing things like flames can be dangerous. We associate caution with heat and this is a useful distinction to make. Without this type of learning we would have to re-experience pain constantly and would not evolve as a species. Or would die trying!
Or take a more individual example. Maybe you have a friend past or present who loves/loved a particular piece of music. And every time you hear that piece of music you think of your friend. The two have become linked together in your mind. The opposite is also often true. You see your friend and you instantly think of the music.
These are examples of anchoring or conditioning. One thing in one sense is associated with another thing in another sense.
Some associations are intrinsic to being human
There are not many associations that we are born with and need no conditioning, but there are some. Loud noises and falling being two examples of intrinsic (belonging naturally) fears we have.
And guess what.., scientists believe that hallucinations experienced during a psychedelic journey are intrinsic also.
This means that our ancestors experienced the same as we do during a psychedelic trance journey. It’s part of our nervous system.
Why is this important?
Psychedelic experiences are hard wired into our nervous system.
One sense is linked to another to create a whole state.
Therefore by stimulating one sense with psychedelic phenomena.., the whole state will be produced.
Combine sensory ‘drivers’, anchoring or conditioning, and the intrinsic nature of psychedelics.., and a question arises.
Do we need the drug itself?
Probably not. At least we don’t need the drug to get the visual experience. And as we have established, the visual experience will likely lead to the whole experience.
Further experiments with psychedelic light therapy
This leads to the question of using a psychedelic light experience therapeutically or for personal development.
We have established that psychedelics are one of the most exciting focuses of therapy in recent years. And yes there are chemical effects that these psychoactive substances induce that potentially light cannot. Or can it? We don’t yet know. Could the rewards of psychedelic light experiences replace the risks of ingesting a psychoactive substance?
What I can tell you is that users of the technology can have eureka moments that can only be described as life changing. And with the right set and setting maybe this can become more common. What IS common, are the deep trance states that people experience. People relax and let go sometimes for the first time. And this leads to spontaneous healing of the mind and body. The experience has been labelled by many as just like past psychoactive substance ones.
Recent discoveries have actually found that certain flicker light frequencies can mimic the effect of ketamine and put the brain into a neuro-plastic state also. Thus in this state new learnings are easier and old ones can be reframed and changed.
You want to improve your life.., so where to next
You want to try a light and sound based psychedelic experience yourself, and then you will get it. And remember that the recommendations of set and setting still apply. If you want a casual fun experience that leaves you feeling alive and inspired then go with that intention. If you want to go deeper then speak with your guide and work with them to include the right setting and integration as part of the process. As we gain more knowledge and experience, this leads to more frequent positive results. Especially when combined with other practices. You can of course, set up your own form of integration process.
Better yet, once you’ve tried it.., invest in your own device to make your own journey a constantly improving one.
Get ‘Lost in consciousness’ and find your way to en-light-enment in whatever form that has meaning for you.
Overall, I hope you now have a better understanding of psychedelics for personal development. In fact maybe the title should be:
Altered states of consciousness for personal development.