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On Using Your Words

Yesterday my Wife and I were driving back to the bay from Los Angeles. About 4 hours in, things started to get tense. We managed to trigger each other, and for about fifteen minutes, we alternated between sniping at each other and just throwing off bad vibes. This went on until one of us finally said, “I’m having some feelings….” Although it was challenging to pause and make space for her feelings at first and there were a few times it could have really gone off the rails, we managed to listen to each other and speak from the heart. Before too long, we were back to love, connection, and having fun. All because we used our words.

A Community Psychedelic Integration Circle is an opportunity to practice using our words. It’s a safe, low pressure environment where we get a chance to talk about things that are hard, sometimes seemingly impossible, to talk about. We get things off our chest. We take the power away from the parts of us that feed on fear, confusion, and alienation, while empowering the parts that foster clarity, trust, and connection.

It’s hard enough to give voice to what is up for us in a chill space. It’s hard when when we’re triggered, and it’s really hard when we’re high and triggered. The mind can overlay elaborate meaning on our our surroundings. The situation can seem highly urgent (something must be done now) or important (live or death hang in the balance) or confusing (what is going on?). and we might not even understand how. Our friends might appear to be against us or we might intuit sinister intent on the part of the ceremony leader. It doesn’t always occur to us to make our concerns explicit, and sometimes it doesn’t even feel safe. Admitting we’re having feelings makes us vulnerable, and can compound potential anxiety. As a result we spiral deeper and deeper into our own ideations.

For myself, there was once a series of trips where I was convinced everything was an initiation. On one level that was probably true, but the extent to which it freaked me out was probably disproportionate. Every cup of tea I made for a friend, every drawer opened or closed became an indictment about my lack of spiritual fitness. My mind told me that I could never make the tea good enough, that I’d never be able to infuse enough love into it, and that my friend would forever judge me. Some friend, huh?

Looking back, it’s obvious to me the sacredness of the moment was palpable for everyone in the room. Instead of getting stuck in my head, I wonder what would’ve happened if I had said something to the effect of, “Hey man, I want you to know that I love you, and I want you to have the best cup of tea possible, and I’m doing my best for you.” Chances are, everyone would have received it in the spirit in which it was offered, and the energy of the room would have been infused with love, care,communication, and trust. Because my friends were good people, and who doesn’t like a warm cup of tea at three am? The power of using your words.

Our secrets keep us sick. We can get wrapped up in the shame of being something we don’t think we should be, or wanting things we don’t think we should want. We decide that if people knew who we really are, they would reject us. If they knew what we had done, they would judge us. If they knew what had happened to us, they would eye us with pity or disgust. We come up with a thousand ways that we’re different, terminally unique. And all of this can confront us in ghoulish multidimensional detail during a journey. All the ways we’re unlovable. All the ways we must stay quiet and hidden.

And that’s one of the things for which the circle exists. To practice using your words in a safe place. To grow in your capacity to say what is yours to say. To dip your toe in the waters of courage. To stick your neck out, and realize your friends will probably just rub your shoulders. To allow yourself to be accepted, not in spite of, but because of your peculiarities. To sit in a room full of the brave and the beautiful and to realize that you’re in the right place.

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