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Episode 018

Exploring the Ethics of Integration

Dr. Sandra Dreisbach

Publishing Date

October 13, 2023


We speak with Dr. Sandra Dreisbach, Director of Ethics at Nectara about the ethics of psychedelic integration. Ethics aren't often put side-by-side with integration, but it should be to help ensure the integrity of retreats and creating safer and more compassionate support systems for journeyers. In this episode, Sandra and Pascal explore a few of the many facets of ethics and integration and offer some perspectives for journeyers curious about integration and for services providers in the psychedelic space.

Episode themes

  • Honouring the significance and human need for integration
  • Honouring life’s transitions and integrating them
  • The ethics of diversity and meaning of providing effective integration
  • The ethics of being a retreat operator or facilitator
  • The ethics of determining what is effective integration
  • The ethics of informed consent and capacity
  • The ethics of honouring time
  • The ethics of community-based integration

Show notes

Our guest

Dr. Sandra Dreisbach

Sandra is an Ethicist and Psychedelic Ethics specialist with a MA, Phd in Philosophy exploring Ethical Decision Making and Moral Psychology. She is the Director of Ethics at Nectara. She is an Ethics Advisor active in Psychedelic Integration, Therapy, Education and Advocacy as well as a Psychedelic facilitator, cofounder of E.P.I.C. (Ethical Psychedelic International Community) as well as leader of the Santa Cruz Psychedelic Society.

Sandra taught Bioethics at University of California, Santa Cruz for the Biomolecular Engineering and Philosophy Departments for past ten years, worked for many years in the tech industry primarily at Apple, and is a Reiki Master in multiple lineages.

Sandra focuses on listening and uplifting the voices and values of the Psychedelic Community especially the disenfranchised with the heart space intention of compassion and love.

Episode transcript

[00:00:00] Pascal: Hi, welcome to One-Degree Shifts. I'm your host, Pascal Tremblay. I'm the co founder of Nectar, we're a psychedelic support ecosystem. And today we're talking to the lovely and delightful Dr. Sandra Dreisbach, who I consider a good friend. In the short time that I've met her, I can already consider her a good friend because she has such a good heart and she's so compassionate and I love what she's up to in the world.

And happy, really excited to talk to her today about the ethics of integration, which is a subject that doesn't come up enough and very. Excited to bring it up in the conversation in the community. So Sandra is an ethicist. She's the co founder of Epic Psychedelic, and she's also the director of ethics at Nectara.

Hi, Sandra. Thanks for being here.

[00:00:44] Sandra: Hi, Pascal. So great to be here. And it's such a warm, welcoming intro and I consider you a good friend as well. Now, thank you for having me.

[00:00:53] Pascal: Thanks for being here. Do you want to share a bit more?

[00:00:58] Sandra: We got the way. So that's great.

[00:01:00] Pascal: Great. We're so ethical with this podcast. I love it.

Would you like to share a bit about Epic? Because that's actually. The first time I met you was about EPIC and I, just really love what it's about. Can you share more for people who don't know what what the organization is all about? Yeah,

[00:01:17] Sandra: absolutely. It is I should give it the standing for EPIC is Ethical Psychedelic International Community.

It is a peer volunteer based organization community based collaborative, and we serve the community in different ways, but we mainly came together because we cared deeply about ethics and the space. And we have everyone from Miriam in the Netherlands to myself in the U S as well as Brenna, she and Elizabeth in Costa Rica Liam in the United Kingdom, Sam and Antonika in Australia.

So that international flavor. Came because we already knew each other in community, but we all also had that passion for trying to figure out some of these really challenging ethical situations and saw the strength in collaborating together and working in community. So what we do for that is we offer peer to peer support.

We leave the responsibility and the power in the person who, or community or organization that comes to us and just give them a listening circle to be able to hear and help them think through their whatever challenges are arising. So we offer that. But we also offer what's become more and more of a service is, our community conversations where we invite multiple communities to come together, both individuals, small groups.

And we collaborate on different things that are happening in the space. Like for instance, we just did one actually two part piece on first rupture and repair. As well as navigating ethical repair, and then we create a collaborative document that we share with the community so that we all have more resources and information to make better choices.

And we're all working together collaboratively, co creatively to learn from each other. Yeah, that's

[00:03:07] Pascal: wonderful. Yeah, that's really beautiful and such an important offering. I truly believe that ethics should be at the center of the psychedelic space and in general and the way we operate our lives, right?

And it's not that ethics are always about being perfect. It's more about having a framework from which to operate from our values and also have awareness of when we are out of integrity and have the support to, to repair and have accountability around those things in community and within ourselves and within the things that we do in the world.

Yeah, thank you so much for. co founding that and for everyone else involved in that and I'm hoping it grows and I think it will and will help a lot of people.

[00:03:50] Sandra: Yeah, and I appreciate also and thank you for saying that And also want to acknowledge like I really love that. You brought up the sort of ethical doesn't mean perfect That's one of the things we you know, we mention it at epic, you know I know it has ethical in the title, but to us it's about commitment and it's not about whether or not We're going to make mistakes.

It's the acceptance that we are imperfect and that we are going to make mistakes and to lean in to the fact that we need support and community and collaboration and learning and just generally compassion and respect for one another, given that this is a natural part of growing, learning, and working together in this space.

What it means to do this work.

[00:04:31] Pascal: Yeah, said. I had a friend who said that integrity is like a chair. One of the legs might get broken, but you can always put it back together. So the chair is back in

[00:04:41] Sandra: integrity. I haven't heard that one. It's good to give me surprises. Yeah, sometimes I'll tell my kids sometimes that it's not about whether you made a mistake or an error, it's did you make it right?

So it's and, I suppose we could also add, did you learn and grow from it? I know we're going to be talking about integration today, right? It's, it could even be about integrating the experience. So, not simply about what repair work like a rupture happens, some harm occurs, conscious, unconscious, or otherwise.

And leaning into that, not avoiding it not a lot of challenges in the space about. When conflicts arise, what do you do? And having healthy and unhealthy responses. But even past once you've gone through rupture and repair integrating that experience for yourself so that you can actually make better choices.

And we do this all the time. It's very natural. So, maybe this will translate us or transition us into our conversation.

[00:05:50] Pascal: Yeah. Thank you for sharing. That's a good point. I think at some point I talked about the calling in culture and you said, I really liked the leaning in culture, like leaning into those ruptures and, challenging situations and yeah, learning and growing from them.

And today we're talking about. integration, ethical integration, which I never really heard those two words put together in a sentence. And I'm sure it's happening out there. I just haven't heard it, but it's a very interesting overlap of words. And I'm, so excited about this conversation because it's something that.

I believe now after talking to you, that really needs to be illuminated. And as it offers like a richer and more nuanced definition and approach integration, that really includes ethics in the conversation. And I think a lot of people here are going to learn new things, including myself, and I'm very excited to dive deeper into.

into the conversation. So when we were preparing for this podcast, just an hour ago, we were talking about how integration is going to happen no matter what, but honoring the ethical approach to honoring integration is starting with the importance of honoring integration. Do you want to talk a bit more about the ethics around that?

[00:07:07] Sandra: Yeah, absolutely. I think what you brought up already it's what in philosophy, at least we'd call like the metaphysics of it, like the, question of being around it, which I know don't, click off everyone, just pay attention a little bit longer. So like, when you think about integration, when the way it's talked about, it's as if it's a product or a service.

Or a process to experience and then be done like a check off the list. Like I've done preparation. We had the journey and now we've done the integration check versus understanding that integration is inherent to any sort of life. Changing experience and just in life in general. So first is unpacking what we mean by integration.

I think we talked about before in prep that it community is often used like a bucket term, like the psychedelic community, right? What do we really mean by community? What do you mean? Like we, if we don't spend the time to really look at those terms, it can be challenging for us to find agreement, not because there's disagreement, but because we're not coming with the same.

Ideas and communicating them effectively, but back to the integration piece. So if we're already integrating experiences, like whether it's like. A birth of a child, death of a loved one a journey, psychedelic journey, a credibly spiritual experience any sort of shift of consciousness that, that shifts often your way of thinking about yourself in the world, or changes your way of being in the world will be integrated.

The question is, how is it going to be integrated? And will it be supported well? Or will it not be supported? And, you could even argue, like some of the problems with or challenges around PTSD and trauma aren't, just because of the experience, because of how that experience is integrated and, I, realized that could be a challenging notion for people like isn't it just traumatic by the nature of it?

If you have support in helping let's say, you notice sometimes where a traumatic event will occur, like an earthquake, or people will have a response team that will include therapeutic support. And that is to help people process, have space, be heard get support resources so that they can integrate what they've experienced.

It doesn't mean that some things aren't going to be traumatic by nature. It does mean that you can actually support people better. Or less, or be supported better or poorer, depending upon how we approach it. So that to me is part of the ethics of it is first of all, recognizing that we can actually help people have better experiences, better lives, better ways of living in the world, simply by being willing to take that extra conscious step to support experiences.

And I think in the psychedelic space, we do know we need to be supported, whether it's through preparation and the journey space itself. Or post, but there's there's a lot of misunderstanding about what does it mean to be integrated? Is it just like a one hour circle post ceremony? Is it giving the option like they do in the Oregon service centers?

There's a lot of nuance and variety in terms of what counts as integration. And I think we've been frankly sloppy about how we've been referring to it. I think it's time that we take it more seriously. And be more ethical in our approach and find a way as a community to discuss these things more consciously at least in a Western standpoint, right?

Some other longer held traditions have had a different ways. And some will say they're, they don't have integration. And I realize I'm going off a little bit now and I'll, stop in a moment, but I want to recognize traditional medicine keepers in this context, because this is very much a Western notion that we're applying and Western context of the word integration.

But that doesn't mean that there aren't practices that we would consider integrative, right? Imagine having a journey and there's. A dance, a song I combined dance and song, a dance or a song or a time where you'd have a community meal, or there'd be a context of culture that surrounded it that would be naturally integrative.

The challenge that we have in the West in part is because of the fact that we do not have as much of longstanding traditions that have at least been maintained, even if we have ancestry lineages that may have had some of these traditions in our own distant past.

[00:11:53] Pascal: Yeah, thank you. And that's really well said.

And I think what you're also alluding to very well is that integration is a human need and that integration doesn't necessarily mean integrating a peak experience or a psychedelic journey. It can mean for example, for me and Elaine, we just moved to Bali like three, four months ago. And that was a big integration.

For us to live here and to be in a different culture, language, et cetera. That's a big piece of integration that affects our entire life. And what you're also alluding to is something I've experienced myself personally is, people not honoring beginnings and endings.

Very well. So transitioning from one period or transitioning from one event to another in a way that's really honoring of what happens when you're transitioning or when you've received a new insight, when you received felt a new experience, or you've met something else or someone else. So you have a new project starting.

I think we need to honor the beginnings and the endings of things much better, which helps with actually integrating those things in our body. So that we're not constantly chasing. Okay. The next thing, which I've been very guilty of in the past, is like, what's the next thing? And never looking back and being like, what just happened just now?

Have I integrated this move here in Bali? It requires pause and awareness and honoring of integration to apply those things to everyday life events.

[00:13:21] Sandra: Yeah, I totally agree with you. And, I think the, move to Bali is an excellent example because you can see how you already weren't integrated.

I'm not a part of this culture. I'm not a part of this language. I don't understand the social structures of the history or the lineages necessarily. I'm coming in literally as an outsider and, but want to. Be a real involved part of this community and practice. And there's like that literal sense of your physical body and person and family shifting to a different location in a different stranger in a strange land type of thing.

But there's literally also your internal experience, your way of being in the world that will naturally shift because you're in a different environment. You're in a different culture and you're in a different language, right? And that's going to be different for you as it is for your partner, as it is for your child.

And they will be unique, different experiences. And it's relative to past experiences and and how you integrate it is also connected to maybe some previous experiences in the past. So even though all three of you came to the same home it'll be a totally different integration experience and you may have different needs.

Which I think is very similar to what in retreats and journey experiences. There's an assumption like, oh, you all had an ayahuasca journey, or you all had a psilocybin journey. You're all going to need the same thing. And that's... That's not the case I sometimes will joke we're not wearing the same clothes.

Why would you think we need anything else the same? Even if it were the same clothes in the first year this is like we have different favorite foods, colors, flavors. families. And yet sometimes we want to still you might even argue as like a colonialist capitalistic mindset where like that one size fits all let's, put you down the conveyor belt line and we'll prep you for this period of time.

We'll give you this dose for this amount of time. We'll have the formula. Here's your retreat experience. Here's your package. Here's your brochure. And off you go. And, here's your integration package. That will be 5, 000 please and just pay your credit card and we treat it like any other commodity, right?

And that's very and it, shows part of what we're seeing, even with integration and, about the ethical issues that arise are in part what we are already bringing to the table.

[00:15:49] Pascal: You've talked about this as well earlier around we're bucketing the word integration and making it this kind of monolithic type of thing.

And. Like you said so well just now, not honoring the richness and nuances of everyone's cultural backgrounds, the history, the place and time where they're at, like their economical background and status and etc. We're all very unique people. What, do you see then as? A more ethical way of approaching integration.

Is it about really deeply honoring the uniqueness of people and spending more time in community, getting to know them better, and maybe having a better approach to providing those services that doesn't necessarily require a template of some sort? What do you think about that?

[00:16:35] Sandra: It's a balance because it is helpful to have structure, right?

And in part of, and having preparation and having understanding and communicating in terms of like from the facilitator mindset, right? It depends on who we're talking about, right? If we're talking about the individual person and what their responsibility is in terms of having communication.

integration versus what are you asking a facilitator to do or a retreat center, right? It's going to be different. And I understand the realities and the costs, frankly, whether it be human energy, reciprocity or otherwise, that we can't fully customize every experience, but we can recognize and respect.

The uniqueness and diversity that is present and have the humility to know that we do not know each person is a universe in a world and of themselves. And we can't come with the assumption that we already know what they need. And that we already know how to give it to them.

[00:17:45] Pascal: That would not be the right person to give it to them as well.

And we may

[00:17:48] Sandra: not be the right person. I can't say I can't emphasize that enough, no matter what part of the journey experience we're talking about and there's so much that. I like to see it as a partnership working together alongside not just because of power dynamics but, because it actually is helpful.

It actually leads to better outcomes that if I come into the experience and I've had previous and here's trigger warning previous sexual trauma, right? And, it was with a male facilitator and I'm going into an experience again. to heal from that experience with another male facilitator. That is going to make a difference in my experience.

It could be what I want. It could be actually supportive, right? If I, want to lean into that part of it, or it could actually be detrimental. And, in some sense, I may be the only one who really can answer that. But we can also, as a facilitator, as a service provider, look at and, pay attention to those sort of factors and our own biases.

Let's say you only, I think I've used this example before. And when I've had talks about. Imagine you always do journeys in the forest and you feel like that's the best way to do it. That's how you always do medicine and you take them on walks, whatever it is. But let's say that the person you're working with had a traumatic experience in the forest.

So it's not the forest in and of itself that's causing the harm. It's the lens through which are the previous experiences or the trauma that, you know that, that actually. adds a different layer of the set and setting that you may not be paying attention to. We tend to try and objectify. And dehumanize versus bringing the subjective and the experiential and the somatic aspects of our lived experience.

And if you really appreciate that, then you recognize that your perspective, your experiences are going to differ. And what may be supportive for you may not be for someone else. We understand this intuitively. But in terms of practice and in terms of the ethics of integration knowing that if you find out from an intake that they had this traumatic event with a male facilitator in a forest then you might say as a male bodied person, maybe Do you feel comfortable with me being the person and finding would you rather let's explore your options here.

You can, you don't have to do it with me. You could do it with someone in a different setting. You could do it in an indoor setting. You could do it by the beach or you can offer options. And that's very important, not just in terms of what we're talking about, but also in terms of informed consent.

That people have the, if you don't give people options, even if it's not one that you personally provide, then you're not actually recognizing and supporting their ability to make good choices for themselves with full informed consent as best you can. And there's so many options in space. I don't expect everyone to list all of them, but to at least have a couple.

Or if I'm not a good, maybe you'd rather have a group facilitation versus an individual facilitation, right? Giving enough education even in advance before you even journey about integration. There should be a sense of a plan, right? This is generally, this is what I've offered. This is how this scope of practice is for me.

Here are some other options. Here's other possibilities for integration. Here are some other possibilities in terms of medicine or places and supporting people in that. That thought process,

[00:21:47] Pascal: right? So a lot of empathy and awareness and treatment and, commitment really to serving people in a, better way, in a way that honors their unique selves.

I had an experience earlier this year where I was in the ceremony space with one woman and two other men, and we had a ceremony and. Great conversation. And in the middle of the conversation, she shared it's a lot for me to be in the space right now with three men around me. And at that moment, I was feeling like everything is fine because I'm a guy and I'm part of the space and I feel safe, but you never truly know what's going on for someone else.

You just cannot know what's happened in their past could be from childhood or whatever. It could be from last week. It could be something that's very strong for them. And so what I'm hearing, and I agree with you, is the need for better processes, better frameworks, and better approaches to how we serve medicine and integration to people so that we can really honor the ethics of what it means to serve them well.

[00:23:01] Sandra: Yeah, absolutely. And, when we lean into very specific areas, like you're mentioning a gender difference that may be experienced by someone you, we also see it in terms of like the LGBTQIA plus space on the BIPOC community as well as different spiritual culture beliefs. As well as language gaps all of these can be differences that can not just provide barriers to having a good experience, but could actually cause real harm if you're not consciously garnering and paying attention to those possible aspects.

of the experience

[00:23:46] Pascal: in the context, of course of, the psychedelic experience itself and what can come up like being a very vulnerable space for a lot of people. And so I believe that we need to honor the sacredness of that too, and the immense potential and power of those experiences and really match that with as much.

care and empathy and compassion as we can for others so that we can meet the moment in a way that's truly supportive and not just another conveyor belt, like you said earlier.

[00:24:17] Sandra: I really like that you brought up the question of vulnerability and honoring their, the sacredness. And even actually earlier, you mentioned even the word attunement. And one of the things that's, I think many of us understand that the capacity on which you have to make a decision when you maybe. Having challenging background experience, background in terms of like maybe CPTSD, PTSD, maybe there's mental health concerns.

Maybe there's a substance dependency that you're working with and through and hoping, or maybe you're even have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and this is part of your way of finding peace. All of these possibilities can affect one's capacity. And your capacity in terms of having informed consent in the sense of having the autonomy, the ability to self govern, to make good choices for yourself, it doesn't mean that you can't make them, but to the extent that your capacity has been affected if you are vulnerable.

You're a vulnerable population per se, quote unquote, or in a vulnerable state, or even just simply you didn't sleep on the way because of the plane travel or something like that. All of these or stressful, like maybe the idea of even rescheduling experiences or leaving more time for integration, because let's say there was a death in the family recently.

There are reasons to pivot and shift or to create more spaciousness so that the person has time, not just to make the decision because, and maybe I should go back a little bit and talk a little briefly about informed consent. For informed consent. at least in the traditional Western bioethics model, you need to have not just the capacity, right?

Like a four year old, we wouldn't say has full capacity to give informed consent. They may still be able to say their preference of ice cream and you honor that maybe. But but you also want to have information, deliberation and options. And information means that that they've been given the information.

Like I was mentioning earlier about what are the options in terms of what the information about what am I taking? What sort of considerations might I have? How long is the experience going to last? The information you would need to make a decision. And then the deliberation portion means that you've, you not only have the information, but you understand the information.

So if it's given in a language you don't understand or can't understand well but if you don't have enough proper time to deliberate, to consider the choices you will not only not maybe be able to fully understand or comprehend. And, take in and process the information people on the spectrum, like myself may need more time to process that information to fully understand and integrate it in terms of understanding integration.

But there's also the, options aspect, right? So if you, don't have any options, that's coercive or it's forced, right? That's not a choice, right? A choice implies that you could do otherwise. And many people the capacity is not only affected in terms of extenuating circumstances to mental health or otherwise, but also in terms of they can be coercive.

Maybe you don't have a lot of financial options. Maybe this is the only weekend you can get away. Maybe you find that You, this is your last hope. You've already gone through multiple antidepressants and have worked with therapy for many years. And that sense of desperation, it not only affects your capacity, but is coercive in circumstance.

So by supporting not just that information, understanding options and having time to deliberate that. Like enough spaciousness. If I tell you right now do you want to jump out of an airplane? I don't provide you any information about that. I don't tell you who's going to be able to supporting who's going to be flying the plane.

What kind of parachutes I have, how long the like all the things that you might want that you would feel would be relevant for your decision and I limit the time window to being like, you can either do it now. Or not, but it's or now or never type of decision. And you can see how that time compression would affect your ability to make a decision.

It doesn't mean you can't make one, it means that you're going to make a better decision given more information, time and having that deliberation process. So, especially when you think about integration, I'm going to bring this back in, right? When you've finished a journey experience, you're often more vulnerable due to the sort of window of integration that the sort of critical window period that sometimes talked about in research that you're, not only more able to create the brain state changes that, where that neuroplasticity has the maximum amount of benefit, but also in terms of you're more influenceable.

You're, vulnerable to what other people would say, how people will frame your experience, the value of the experience. You may even be even if you're in an ecstatic sort of joy state after your experience, that's not the time to capture and get feedback from them about how good was their.

their experience with you if you want it for like a testimonial, which I know Jules Evans wrote a great piece on that. And I want to recognize that. So, in terms of that vulnerable state that kind of goes across the board. And so given that you know in advance, especially as a facilitator or someone's a provider, that's going to be happening in advance before they're even in that integration period, then you plan for it.

you you make the decisions before you're even in that state. Because they're more capable of making that decision before than they are afterwards. And certainly not during the journey experience, right? Please, yeah but we've had cases and I've heard cases where people have been not just give, given testimonials, but also let alone, of course, sexual acts as well as funding and ask for money.

And resources even during a ceremony, let alone right after a ceremony or within, or the next day is that they call their integration time. If we really deeply respect people's capacity to. make their own choices and Respect the medicine really to that and their healing journey because that's what that's hopefully what We want them to have either a positive spiritual or positive, change in their life Whatever they're aiming for their intentions, but also for healing outcomes, especially You need to take that more care it That integration, that part of the ethics of integration is thinking about it in that preparation phase.

That integration starts there and then the tail end, it doesn't end just because you had three integration sessions with them, that's not the end of their integration, that may be the end of the integration sessions, but the integration experience continues on.

[00:32:06] Pascal: So the ethics of honoring time really, and again, the sacredness and the potential of the experience.

And when you were sharing about informed consent, about an external party, Practicing informed consent or not practicing informed consent for someone it made me think also about the internal layer of that own person might potentially be getting in the way of their own personal informed consent, like how we get it in our own minds and we have traps in there and things like that, where we might not be giving ourselves enough options.

We might not be giving enough. Time to ourselves to make the right decisions already within ourselves. So when someone else comes in with a misalignment of some sort around the ethics of integration it it can compound as well on their own internal compasses, right?

Which can be as as we've all experienced at some point can be pretty flawed sometimes.

[00:32:59] Sandra: And, we're all learning, right? Getting back to that idea of a compassion and like We're learning how to do this better as a culture. And I'm saying that as a Western oriented person, but I think part of what that brings up for me is this idea that not just that sort of bias that we come to the table with.

We have this, we think that what we experienced for better or for worse either we're avoiding an experience that we've had, or we're trying to recreate an experience even if you're like, okay, this is how I was taught, how my mentor taught me, or this is, was my best experience.

So this is what I'm going to give them. And I'm going to try and recreate that, or this is what I think is the best model for integration prep. And I know some of that is going to be. unavoidable. Like I can already feel you noticing that you can't, avoid bringing you to the table.

And, respecting and honoring you is as much of importance as it is to their experience as well. Because, and that's why for me you can't see this in isolation. If you think of it more like an ecosystem where you have, you're literally coexisting and co creating in the same environment, growing the same plant with the same nutrients and soil and if you are part of what bringing the nutrients in the soil and you bringing the plants and things, and then they're bringing their plants and you're now creating this new environment that you're trying to grow something together in, you can't.

You, if you've nourished that relationship sufficiently not to the point of enmeshment, right? Like you're respecting each other's individual backgrounds, cultures, diversities, communities, but you also are trying to attune. You do make a conscious effort to attune. And the attunement process is to Not just recognize the individuals, but to come into a co created space that you're working with the other person.

And it's both of you together working together. And part of that this is all just to be able to explain that if you aren't aware, this is why people talk about doing your shadow work doing your work, like if you aren't aware of your own. S H I T. You're right.

For positive or negative or otherwise. This is why people talk about transference countertransference projection, right? Therapists are trained in this. A lot of facilitators aren't, and it doesn't mean that their therapists are better. It just means that this is something that came with their training, right?

That an understanding that what you're bringing okay. Even in terms of your embodied self, right? As a male body person highlighting the fact that for yourself that, okay, I'm a male body person. And this is how I sometimes present to people, right? And, bringing that into conscious awareness, but also in terms of your experiences I think the forest is the best place on the planet.

And it's always amazing. And that's, yeah. Nature's the way to go. Forget about doing it in some sort of with the blindfolds and the headphones and whatever. That's not the way to do medicine, right? , that judgment, that perspective can be an asset, but it can also be a detriment.

And so having that cultivated awareness of those aspects of the self, of what your personal. Preferences, biases, culture, and what that comes to the table, but then also equally what that other person does too in, in the attunement and the preparation part as well as prepping for integration, right?

If you know that they really have been doing a lot of somatic work and they really love that. And they're working with somatic therapists before they've even seen you, maybe they want a somatic oriented integration that maybe that'd be extra supportive for them. But guess what? You're not a somatic therapist, right?

Or you don't have that training. Then. Then you have a conversation about that. So you're recognizing where they are, you're recognizing like I don't feel like you need somatic therapy, but this person seems to be really into it. And they're working well on it actively right now.

Maybe there's a way to bring both of these together and maybe even bring in a team effort, the somatic therapist to create a larger team of working towards the wellbeing. And I think that's another part about integration that's not brought up. But it may be jumping ahead. Maybe I'll pause right there, but please

[00:37:40] Pascal: keep going.

What I'm hearing is all about relationships. And ecosystem and honoring the relationships that are part of someone's own ecosystem, but in relation to your own ecosystem.

[00:37:57] Sandra: Yes. Yeah. And if you really think about that, right? Like my ecosystem, for instance includes my two kids that I have halftime and it even includes my, ex husband and his partner.

Even though we have a different relationship right now. And so those are some of the communities. Immediate communities that I'm bringing to the table. You don't see it on my face necessarily, but I'm bringing it and you already bringing you're a significant other and your child and and the cat and I'm like, and I have chickens and they're all part of our relationships.

We aren't pure objects. We are embodied beings in a lived experience and lived environments with lived relationships. And when you come into a journey space, you haven't divorced all that. That's all coming with you. Whether you see them around you or not and to try and find a way to honor and respect that diversity, that difference coming into attunement pay attention to what you're bringing to the table, at least considering what they're bringing to the table and what may be important to them or valuable to them or what they may need, including larger communities like spiritual communities.

Localities I'm in California you were in Canada before you were in Bali, right? So that has a different culture, different community mindset that, that affects how we view things. And similarly, like we, if we're going through Our lived experience what's, what is their job what's happening in their life?

Is there, are they going to other practitioners? Are they working with other people? And it doesn't mean that they have to disclose. I do really believe in privacy, but at the same time the idea being that like, I am here to help work with you and to serve you best. In relationship and I am not going to be compromising your current relationships and it's not a competitive it shouldn't be considered a competitive experience to go on these experiences, right?

It should be an enriching experience and a supportive experience from beginning to end and beyond. And I've heard it where like couples and partners I can't tell my partner. Or my partner doesn't support me or or sometimes they're with their partner.

And that would create a different experience. And then you were respecting the, relationship of both of them coming into ceremony. And you can, easily see how quickly. We can add in different aspects because when you think of the, ecosystem aspect or that mindset or those interrelationship and think relationally versus and it's not that we're giving up the sort of the tools of structure and the need for a sense of.

of reliability you know, who you're going to be meeting with and that establishment of that relationship, but even if you don't have an individual one on one relationship, a facilitator, you have a group ceremony, there's the container that's created and the container and that community becomes that relationship and that primary relationship, even more than maybe the one on one relationship.

So this gets into another piece altogether, but and yet when we talk about journeys, we talk about it very simplistically. We, do a reductionistic move where we're like, it's about preparation, journey, integration.

[00:41:36] Pascal: And we're done. We're, fixed. It's been complete.

[00:41:41] Sandra: Yeah. And, I haven't even touched on the fact that it's like, when you think about.

How do you know if your journey has been successful?

[00:41:54] Pascal: Yes, please. Let's talk about that because that was one question that it's impossible to answer almost. It's what's good integration? And... How do you know it was successful? That's a really important question, I think, because ultimately, I believe that it's never fully integrated.

But there's a place in time where you might feel like it's okay to move on to something else, but in the background, integration is always happening, and I don't think it's ever a complete thing, but I think some people sell it as such.

[00:42:28] Sandra: Yeah, I totally agree with you. And, this gets back into sort of almost that realm of definitions and stuff again, too, right?

If we define integration as just being that critical window period of a biological physiological shift and, we look at it under a fMRI brain scan and decide that, okay, for this person let's imagine we did this and I'm sure it'll happen eventually, like, wherever we have fMRI brain scans, but like, where we decide someone's integrated based on what their brain scan looks like.

[00:43:02] Pascal: A soul scan of some sort in the future where they can scan your soul and everything just lights up

[00:43:08] Sandra: when it's good. There's lots of ways You can even see there, it's in terms of the question of value of a good integration or a successful integration there's, you can divide it up into many different ways, but I think for me, at least it's important.

What's important for you? What was your reason for engaging in the experience? Yes, intentions. And we know that a lot of times intentions are not met, but I still think it's important to set them. But the, at the end of the day it's more about creating a sense of understanding and comprehending yourself in relationship to that experience.

And you're the only one who can decide what that experience means to you. That meaning making aspect of what any experience means. If many people will talk about, like you, you have a child and you can't anticipate what your life is going to be like. After you have the child, you can try and okay I've seen kids, I've babysat them or whatever I'm like, I can I'm like, okay, I see what happened to my friend.

He stopped showing up to our hangouts and parties like some little things like signs and symbols, but it's way different when you are experiencing it and you're integrating the new role, the new job, like just of being a parent. And that responsibility and that shift or that shift in relationship with another human being in that way.

Same thing happens with the passing of a loved one, right? The you can, each person who passes is going to be unique. And there's a sense that you're, you've understand, you've integrated the aspect of the meaning making of. the shift of who you are, like how you behave in the world is going to shift.

And so it's gets back to the example of you moving to Bali, right? There's the external shift that happens and adjusting externally to that shift. But then there's the internal shift, the internal change that happens within you, that you feel at peace. That, and when we talk about good or successful in terms of integration or in terms of a journey one person say I had the mystical experience I was looking for it wasn't what I expected, but I still had a mystical experience.

check, right? Or I'm trying to give up a substance dependency. And I realized now that I didn't fully understand some of the root causes of it, and I'm still not fully recovered, but I feel like this was still helpful. And this isn't even getting into the difficult and challenging experiences that can be traumatizing, right?

So that The really challenging experiences that may take more time to integrate just a traumatic event would take more time to integrate versus positive stress, right? Positive, like having a kid, right? It's still challenging to integrate that or a move. It's still challenging, but it's, one that we have more scripts culturally and supports around.

Yeah. Whereas our culture hasn't really designed a lot around journey experiences and helping people integrate that as we do around practices around Oh, we plan meals for people around the childbirth experience or even for the death experience like we're bringing meals, we don't have that sense of Oh, they went on a journey. I should check in on them to see how they're doing. But I think ultimately we are the own, our own arbitrators of that. I've known people who've created different systems and different ways of evaluating psychologically, the integration process, and obviously physiologically.

But I think for my purposes as, an ethicist, and because that's all where I can speak from is when we attach meaning to the experience in a way that's valuable to us. and supportive to us, even if it was a challenging experience, even if it was a difficult experience. Like I went through the CZU complex virus here and was evacuated for a month and I find meaning out of that experience now and a lot of value out of it.

I certainly wouldn't ever want anyone to have to experience that. I wouldn't choose to go on that journey, right? But at the same time, you can find value and meaning in it, and they're still going to be unpacking over it over time, like what you're saying, that integration is, the integration of who you are as a person what the value of it is to live your life, you can look back at experiences when you were first going to school.

Or when you're first on a first vacation or any sort of experience you can go back to and relive an experience and I'm still getting value out of my early psychedelic journeys and experiences.

[00:48:34] Pascal: Absolutely. I do too as well. I, that's why I've I've oftentimes taken a long pause of any experience itself because I keep reflecting back on those things and life itself shows me new things to reflect back on and be like, Oh, that reminds me of this.

Oh, look. What happened back then Oh, I can think about that again and integrate it further. And the more I've done that to really pay attention to the the things that do come up in my consciousness, the more I've been able to deepen my integration. It's not as fantastic and rainbow inducing as the first ceremonies I had where I was like, Oh, I'm really healing so much right now.

But it's, a lot more attuned and more grounded and like we've done in this conversation here the, a lot of the richness is found in the small nuances or the small things. And we, the last thing I want to explore with you today, Sandra is, and we've talked about it throughout, but I know you're really passionate about this, but community people are integrating.

Their journeys within themselves, within their immediate community. But they're also integrating those experiences within their larger community. And I'll be like a group online or a community online or a group of friends or a group of extended family, there's always integration happening in that community, even if.

People are not always aware of that. What would you say about the importance of community in the honoring of the ethics of integration?

[00:50:05] Sandra: I would say it's essential. And that's a very short answer, but it's the same thing I was mentioning earlier. Because our larger culture in the West doesn't create those natural containers and structures for helping support us with those experiences.

Maybe you could think of. Some aspects where it does, like we do have like coaching and therapy and things like that. We have you may come from a spiritual background where you're going to community practices or just your local community, right? Maybe I'm in the Santa Cruz area.

It's, I would say it's a lot more supportive. Has an environment for psychedelic journeys and experiences, even though it's primarily recreational oriented. But in terms of community's value in general, I think it's important to have a community that can understand you and to be able to have a space where you can share those experiences.

And, have support on, that integrative journey process, because you may think you're done and then something will come up, something that will remind you of something you experienced or and all of a sudden you find yourself reliving or, coming back and not in a flashback sense, but in the sense of I didn't think about that.

I I didn't think about this in that terms of that relationship before or maybe. Maybe someone you journeyed with starts telling you about theirs and something else came up by having a community of support. And having and going to integration circles or having friends you can talk to is so important and so invaluable that I really feel that it's part of the ethics of integration to support people past their time with a facilitator or a ceremony space, at least to give them access to information and resources where they can find.

Community to continue the support because we know that this is not a one and done experience in the sense of integration. You may only, and I don't think there's any required amount of journeys or medicines you should take at all. I think that's another thing to unpack is about this idea that people should keep on going on journeys or people keep on going for the next thrill ride as it were.

Or who want to and if you want to experience everything more power to you, but, and just do so responsibly as best you can but, give yourself spaciousness to integrate, right? Sometimes that, that chasing and not leaving that spaciousness for yourself to find that meaning making to, sit with what's come up.

And not just rush to the next thing. Our, Western culture doesn't encourage that in general with our lives, let alone with a psychedelic journey and experience. And, if you already find that you're not in let's say a region or area of the country or world that supports you in that.

identifying that, creating that even if you need to. And I know many people who have, I know, I started supporting my local psychedelic society in part because I wanted more community conversations about it and circles and such. So I can't, say the strength of it. And I'm a big community advocate.

I think that there's so much value in learning from each other and Gaining insights from our own experience, just by someone else who even if their experience isn't the same they may be able to bring to light things that you can't see, just any sort of community

[00:54:00] Pascal: does. Absolutely. And I've, yeah, I see you, you see me and the mirror continues to illuminate new faces all the time in circles.

And I find a lot of richness and yeah, that awareness of the lived experience of other people who might be completely different than mine. And I've learned a lot about myself from those experiences. I have one last question. It's a big question. Are you ready for a big question?

[00:54:26] Sandra: Oh, I don't know.

I am a philosopher, but

I used to joke you can ask me any question, but just don't expect answers. Cause that's not what philosophers are for. We're only good at asking questions. What's

[00:54:44] Pascal: your greatest wish for the space? Sandra's greatest wish for the space.

[00:54:49] Sandra: My, my impulse is simply to say greater love and compassion.

And that's also what I stand for personally too. If I had to identify my ethics, like I try, that's what inspires me is I know love is thrown around a lot and, even compassion, but to live a life. in integrity for me is to live in alignment with love and compassion and including towards myself and, inform so much of my work and how I think about ethics.

And integration, all of it, like that's part of what I've integrated from my journeys and my experiences and the meaning I continue to make for my life. I'm not saying I'm not going to shift or pivot perhaps in different ways, but that's what brings me joy and meaning and inspires me in the space.

And when I see people really loving and supporting each other, really showing compassion when people are at their lowest. or most vulnerable and showing up and leaning in, even when it it's really uncomfortable and there's conflict and there's pain and it's the most beautiful. most transformative thing in the world.

To me the power of love and compassion is really what is the medicine.

[00:56:19] Pascal: Beautiful. So I love it. I compassionately love that. And love it. Love the love . I love the love. And yeah, you're in sacred service to love, which is a beautiful way to to move in this world. So yeah, thank you so much for that and for everything you do and for the time we spend together today.

I, we can go on for 10 hours like we shared in the prep. Maybe there's a part

[00:56:44] Sandra: two coming. I'm like, I'm, I can just getting started.

[00:56:47] Pascal: Yeah. Thank you. I've learned a lot from you. So thank you very much and blessings to you. And listen,

[00:56:53] Sandra: thank you so much. Yeah. And love you all.

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From Psychedelic Renaissance to Psychedelic Enlightenment
Honouring the Spirit & Dreams of Psychedelic Medicines
Honouring the Journey After the Journey
War, Peace, and Integration
Integrating with Systemic Constellations
Exploring the Ethics of Integration
Ethics, Responsibility, and Non-Ordinary States of Consciousness
Somatic Plant Medicine Integration
Re-Indigenizing Consciousness
The We Space
Minority Perspectives
Psychedelic Storytelling
Ethical Stewardship
Indigenous Reciprocity & Interbeing
The Science of Sound Therapy
Being in Right Relationship
Breath as Medicine
Journeying Safely with 5-MeO-DMT
Psychedelic Safety and Preparation
The Eastern Medicine Perspective
Scarlet Heart Living
Exploring Men's Work
Adventures in Medicine

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