Safety Guidelines for Guides, Psychedelic Integration Practitioners, and Other Leaders

Safety Guidelines for Guides, Psychedelic Integration Practitioners, and Other Leaders

Safety Guidelines for Guides, Psychedelic Integration Practitioners, and Other Leaders

 

 This is a riff on the safety guidelines recently released by Chacruna. I have tons of respect for Chacruna, but I wanted to tweak the guidelines. I’m a white dude with plenty of power and privilege, and I know plenty of other people who fit the same description. What would safety guidelines look like for us, the people most statistically likely to create a lack of safety? How can men, who participate in psychedelic community as members or leaders hold themselves to a standard that promotes safety for the people that really need it? How can we model ethical behavior for the next generation of men who will enter this work in the future? This is what I’ve come up with, in one quick run through. I’m aware that there is some biting humor here, some of it’s brusque, but you’re men, you can take it.

Note: I’m happy to make this a living, collaborative document. I know that Chacruna spent a lot of time and worked with many experts to draft their document, and I created this one on the spur of the moment. I’m happy to have an evolving conversation. I probably won’t argue too much, as it’s not fun for me. I also probably won’t be super open to strangers who want to tell me what I should do, or should have done. I hope that everyone can appreciate and enjoy this in the spirit with which it is offered.

 

Psychedelic Safety Guidelines

 

  1. Treat everyone like friends and family. Better yet, treat everyone like a family member who has had a rough day. People often come to ceremony to heal. If one of your siblings recently had their heart broken by a lousy partner, how would you treat them? My guess is you wouldn’t sexually assault them. Don’t do that to anyone else in your community either
  2. Get Experienced. Do your work. Go to trainings, workshops, and yoga classes. Meditate, read good books. Learn at the feet of brilliant people of a variety of genders, sexual orientations, and belief systems. Challenge yourself.
  3. Be transparent about your skills and abilities. Don’t misrepresent your skills and abilities. That’s lying. Don’t lie.
  4. Don’t touch people without consent, on intimate areas of the body, or otherwise. You’re dealing with family, remember. You wouldn’t grope your mom, would you? Also, if touch is a consideration for some reason, best to discuss it clearly, transparently, in advance, and while everyone is sober. Also if you need to talk to someone alone, try to do it in such a way that it can’t be construed as menacing. Remember that you’re large and strong. Don’t block doorways with your body or insist that meetings take place in overly remote locations. Maybe just a bench in a quiet area of a public park would be nice.
  5. Keep your clothes on, everyone, please. If you’re not at Harbin Hot Springs, everyone stays dressed. And you aren’t at Harbin because it was lost in a fire a few years ago and hasn’t been rebuilt. It’s a tragedy. And you’re a tragedy if you think you’re clever because you conned someone to take their clothes off because of some weird fetish or power trip.
  6. If you have sexual intentions, just take them elsewhere. Look, I want you to have a happy, fulfilling sex life. But this isn’t the place. The gods have provided us with a plethora of online dating apps full of people who want to get down. Get your needs met on your own time.
  7. Sexual intercourse during ceremonies is vetoed in nearly all ayahuasca traditions. There is probably good reason for this. Don’t try to bang anyone. On the off chance that someone tries to bang you, just be flattered and decline.
  8. Sexual intercourse with a client does not make you cool. Sometimes, men with power and opportunity think it does. Usually men who are new to power and opportunity. It’s an immature, rookie move. See #2.
  9. Receive friendliness and compliments with generous appreciation of the spirit with which they are offered. If you are helpful to people they are often grateful. The healing that people receive in a psychedelic space can be profound, and so the gratitude is often profound. People might be projecting some paternal archetype onto you as well, and be in a space where they see you as their dad or Jesus or Santa Claus or Jeff Goldblum or whatever. Don’t abuse that. Be a good dad. Say thank you and tell them you appreciate what good work they did and send them home.
  10. Respect each person’s dignity and humanity. People dress in different ways. They talk in different ways, and they have different customs. Respect, however, is universal.
  11. Respect everyone’s personal space. Physically and spiritually – before, during, and after ceremony. Respect people’s boundaries. Do not suggest anyone feel obliged to engage in verbal or physical communication with you or anyone else during or following ceremony.
  12. Don’t give people shit they aren’t expecting. If you give people shit, make sure you only give them the best, cleanest, highest quality shit, and don’t give them more shit than necessary and don’t give them any surprise shit.
  13. You’re a Shaman, Not a Saint! And really, you probably aren’t even a shaman. So get off your high horse and quit taking yourself so seriously.
  14. If you screw up, or worry you might, get support. We are going to assume you aren’t a sociopath. We’re going to assume that you want to be a good man with good moral values, but that you struggle sometimes with the toxic ideas that you’ve been raised with. I know that I have. Find other healthy men. Work with them. Hold each other accountable. Root out the entitlement, anger, shame, and other issues that you take out on women. If you do hurt a woman, attempt to make amends quickly, learn from it, and don’t do it again. If she doesn’t want to hear it from you, you might just have to leave her alone.
  15. Beware of Consensual Sex. Don’t do this here. Go online. Also, for those of us with jobs in the field, we don’t really get to clock out. Being someone’s MDMA therapist during the day and then dating them at night is problematic. It might work, until it doesn’t any more. Acting innocent and surprised when is blows up in your face will make you look like a schmuck.
  16. Beware of Getting Romantically Involved. Sometimes we have a sex/love/friendliness synesthesia. Wires get crossed. You’ve seen the diagram. You feel a cosmic love for the universe and you look over and see a woman and just decide she’s the one. She’s not the one. You’re tripping.  Chill out and leave her alone.

 

Commodifying the Sacred, a Conversation

Commodifying the Sacred, a Conversation

Commodifying the Sacred

Niki and I would like to extend a big thank you to everyone who came out to sit in a circle and discuss the future of psychedelics, their research, and their commodification. It was wonderful to get a diversity of views. Personally, I was thrilled to hear ideas that I had not considered before and to hear some new perspectives. I’ll be talking to Niki and some other team members to think about new ways to move this conversation forward. One of the pieces of feedback we received was a request for more information about the subject, so we’ll be considering presentations that will educate people about some of the nuances of this subject. More on that will be forthcoming.

Until then, here are a list of articles and resources that you can read through. Most of them are really good, and will give you a pretty good lay of the land. They can also serve as a jumping off point for those of you wanting to do your own research.

Thank you again for coming, and I’ll see you at the next one!

-Daniel, 10.17.18

10/15/18

Commodifying the Sacred- A Community Dialogue about the Future of Psychedelics

What does it mean to bring psychedelics into the for-profit medical model? What will be the effects of competition from corporations vying for control over the emerging “new market” of psychedelic-assisted therapies? Join us in community to share information, thoughts and feelings related to turbulence around transformational tools and practices and their interface with capitalism.

Related writings and resources:

STATEMENT ON OPEN SCIENCE AND OPEN PRAXIS WITH PSILOCYBIN, MDMA, AND SIMILAR SUBSTANCES
Robert Jesse and others
http://files.csp.org/open.pdf
and
https://chacruna.net/cooperation-over-competition-statement-on-open-science-for-psychedelic-medicines-and-practices/

A millionaire couple is threatening to create a magic mushroom monopoly
A millionaire couple is threatening to create a magic mushroom monopoly

Capitalism on Psychedelics: The Mainstreaming of an Underground
By Erik Davis, Ph.D. – Techgnosis
https://chacruna.net/capitalism-psychedelics-mainstreaming-underground/

The Dire Need for Systemic Critique Within Psychedelic Communities
By David Nickles – The Nexian
https://chacruna.net/dire-need-systemic-critique-within-psychedelics-communities/

Psychedelic Justice: Disrupting the Cultural Default Mode Network
By Jae Sevelius, Ph.D.
https://chacruna.net/psychedelic-justice-disrupting-cultural-default-mode-network/

It’s Too Late For Cannabis, But What About the Future of the Psychedelic Industry?
By Katie Stone, M.A.
https://chacruna.net/too-late-cannabis-what-about-future-psychedelic-industry/

The Wild Kindness
By Bett Williams
https://www.lennyletter.com/story/the-wild-kindness

Relevant to how these are being absorbed into healthcare and the greater cultural context:

Colonization Laid the Groundwork for the Drug War
Ismail Lourido Ali and Magalie Lerman
https://www.thefix.com/colonization-laid-groundwork-drug-war

Relevant to who will get access (to answer those “how does this affect me/us?” questions:

We’re Too Excited About MDMA’s Potential for Treating PTSD
By Kevin Franciotti
https://slate.com/technology/2018/10/mdma-ptsd-treatment-access.html

Late Night Thoughts on Mindfulness of the Body

Late Night Thoughts on Mindfulness of the Body

Late Night Thoughts on Mindfulness of the Body

Learning to practice Mindfulness of the Body has been one of the most useful things I’ve done to help deal with difficult emotions and experiences that arise before, during, and/or after a session. Sometimes called Somatic Awareness, nothing has helped me move my attention from that which I can’t control, to that which I can.

Over and over, we hear stories of people having the insight, ‘happiness is a choice’. Mindfulness of the body gives us that choice. Anytime I blame or fear, anytime I’m of the mindset that ‘they did that to me’ or ‘that might happen to me’ or ‘I don’t know what’s going on’ there is no choice, no power, no happiness. In the middle of a session this can be hellish. Even in our ordinary life (default mode) the result of these thoughts is a disconnection to the present, to our center. A state of dis-integration.

Mindfulness of the body brings us back to the present, by asking us to get in touch with exactly what sensations we are feeling Right Freaking Now. Instead of ‘they hurt me’ or even the slightly more aware ‘they made me angry’, we try, ‘I feel heat and tension in my arms and chest’. Or whatever it is. Pure sensation. Often uncomfortable sensation. Somehow more uncomfortable that self righteous anger or even a deep terror. It’s weird how a twisted feeling in the stomach is so threatening. The cool thing about it though, is that it’s workable. If a situation is confusing or terrifying, there isn’t a lot I can do, especially if I know it’s just my trip. But when it comes to tension in my own belly, I can look at that with compassion. I can breathe into it, let it vibrate, let it release. If I stay with my sensations, and bring kindness and presence to them, I stand a chance of healing something potentially deep and old. Mindfulness of the body, it’s always an option. It costs zero dollars, and provides limitless benefit. I’ve learned so much about myself, and at the same time I’ve learned how to be kind to myself. Win.


If you’d like to stay connected with our community, and up to date with our happenings, please join our mailing list and our facebook group. we’d love to see you at the next circle.

Register for the June Circle Here

On Listening

On Listening

On Listening

Have you ever been in one of those gatherings where everyone has a chance to share, and you know your turn to talk is coming up soon, and you can’t listen to anything anyone else is saying? Maybe you’re all wrapped up in scripting your contribution, or concerned with what other people will think. Perhaps you’re full of anxiety that defies description, and you’ve got cold sweats. I hear reports from people that this happens to them in integration circles, as well as in other areas of their life. Choreographing what we’re going to say or do next obviously has benefits, but we don’t want it feeding our neurosis and disconnecting us from others. If we see signs that this is the case, it’s a sign that we have work to do.

Healthy Choreography and Reflection
There is a misconception that we always need to be ‘in the moment’. While huge value lies in the capacity to Be Here Now, we can’t live there exclusively. As worldly people, we need to be able to plan ahead in order to manage our complex lives. We need to be able to look back on our day and think about how it went, and how we can be better versions of ourselves tomorrow. Attempting to only ‘be present’ denies the magnificent capacity of our mind’s natural ability to self reflect, to adjust, and to adapt. We live in time, and in relationship, and these things deserve our attention and care. To deny this is to isolate ourselves from our resourcefulness and our ability to create our best lives for ourselves.

Neurotic Choreography and Reflection
The inverse to the above is true as well, of course. We all know that the inability to get present creates innumerable challenges. We all get caught in mental spirals about what could of been, how wrong we were, or how badly we were treated. We all worry obsessively about what might come to pass. Not being able to regulate our mind’s attention leads to a build up of stress and tension in the body. Our anxiety becomes a lived, felt experience. It becomes a vicious cycle, the more we do it, the easier it becomes, and the harder it is to break out of.

The Role of Self Centeredness
The root of these mental spirals is self centeredness. We are focused on ourselves, what might happen to us, how are we going to get what we want, am I going to be ok? “All through the day, I, Me, Mine, all I can hear, I, Me, Mine”, as The Sainted George Harrison said. We’re so absorbed in our problems, in the “ourness” of our problem, that we can’t see past our nose. We feel isolated, alienated. Of course, this usually leads to poor decision making and maladaptive behaviors. It definitely isn’t great for cultivating empathy or connection.

A Solution: Listening
We come to circle not just to talk, but to listen. We have a moment in our lives where we get to practice being supremely present and attentive to what others have to say. We can put aside our need to be the most knowledgeable, or the most broken, or the most whatever, and just be one among many. Through listening we get out of our own head, we become less isolated. Maybe we see that we’re not the only one who struggles with a particular issue. Maybe we get a chance to take ourselves less seriously. By listening to others, and caring about someone else for a moment, the grasp of our ego loosens. We end up with a different relationship to the community, sure, but more importantly, we end up with a different relationship to ourselves.


If you’d like to stay connected with our community, and up to date with our happenings, please join our mailing list and our facebook group. we’d love to see you at the next circle.

Register for the June Circle Here

On Using Your Words

On Using Your Words

On Using Your Words

Yesterday my Partner 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.


If you’d like to stay connected with our community, and up to date with our happenings, please join our mailing list and our facebook group. we’d love to see you at the next circle.

Register for the May Circle Here