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Episode 021

Honouring the Journey After the Journey

Isabel Santis

Publishing Date

December 1, 2023

Summary

In our latest episode of One-Degree Shifts, we dive into the heart of meeting the sacred moment after a psychedelic journey with intention and clarity.

Join host Pascal Tremblay and Isabel Santis as they discuss perspectives and practical tools for activating the full potential of what happens after your retreat or session.

Discover the beauty of slowing down, honoring your experiences, and weaving these profound transformations into the tapestry of daily life. It's not just about the journey; it's about how we meet the moment and integrate these deep realizations and awakenings into our everyday existence.

Tune in for a soulful conversation full of practical wisdom.

Themes

  • Sacredness of Integration: How can we maintain the sacredness and potency of our psychedelic experiences in the post-ceremony phase? What are the risks of rushing to share or overly define these experiences?
  • Challenges in Meeting the Moment: What common pitfalls do individuals encounter when trying to make sense of their psychedelic journeys? How does societal emphasis on speed and quick understanding impact the integration process?
  • The Role of Unconscious Communication: In what ways do our unconscious minds communicate through imagery and metaphor during psychedelic experiences? How can different contexts and perspectives offer varied meanings from the same psychedelic experience?
  • Importance of Slow and Intentional Integration: What strategies can support a more gentle, patient approach to integrating psychedelic insights? How does recounting and recording experiences contribute to deeper understanding and integration?
  • Navigating Post-Journey Challenges: How does the societal disconnect from inner intelligence and spirit body affect the integration process? What can be done to prepare the psyche for the journey and deal with the aftermath effectively?
  • Long-Term Impact and Transformation: How do psychedelics fundamentally change attitudes, beliefs, and perspectives? What is the significance of the post-experience period for personal growth and change?
  • Integration in Everyday Life: How can the lessons and insights from psychedelic experiences be grounded and actualized in daily life? What are effective practices and habits for sustaining and growing from these transformative experiences?

Show notes

Our guest

Isabel Santis

My journey along the path of expanded states started in 1995 when I had a dream that changed my life. When I woke up, covered in sweat and shaking, I knew this was no ordinary dream. It was an invitation to a journey of self-discovery.

This experience catalyzed a process of self-exploration and learning.  I began studying shamanism, dreamwork, somatic embodiment, expressive art therapy, and other subjects that helped me gain skills to navigate expanded states of awareness. I also became a certified coach and completed an MA in Transformative Leadership.  All this time I was working on my "real job" as a program manager for corporations and nonprofits, and while the work was challenging and interesting, it didn't fill my soul.

I had been attending Burning Man for many years, and I somehow always found myself holding space and supporting folks who were having difficult psychedelic journeys.  I took the Zendo harm reduction training in 2012 and realized that supporting people’s transformation through intentional work with psychedelics was my true calling.

Eventually, the universe helped me turn my calling into a career.  After a string of amazing synchronicities, I enrolled in the East-West Psychology Ph.D. program at CIIS, where I was able to pursue my passion, studying  expanded states of consciousness, shamanic practices, and eco-psychology full time.  In 2019, I launched Spiral Journey, making use of all that I have learned to place in the service of my clients.  

I have been honored to learn from many distinguished and generous teachers from all walks of life.  In particular, I would like to honor the teachers who have mentored me in Mayan spirituality, the Shipibo Ayahuasca tradition, and the practice of Qi Gong.  Everything I know I owe to them, and to my ancestors who have passed down their knowledge to me.

Episode transcript

[00:00:00] Pascal: Hello, welcome to One Degree Shifts. I'm your host, Pascal Tremblay. I'm the co founder of Nectara, we're a psychedelic support ecosystem. And today we're talking about something that is very interesting and also very useful to talk about, which is how do we meet the moment after a ceremony or a journey in a productive way, in an efficient way, in a beautiful way, and in a sacred way so that we can get the full potential of our psychedelic experiences.

Today we're talking to Isabel Santis. She's a friend and a guide at Nectara and the director of integration at Beckley Retreats. Hi Isabel.

[00:00:36] Isabel: Hi Pascal. Great to see you.

[00:00:39] Pascal: Likewise. Thanks for being here. And today we're talking about meeting the moment and honoring the moment after a journey. I'd love to hear from you as someone who works with people individually and also works at a retreat, and obviously someone who's had her own experiences.

What's what's your story around that? Why do you think that's so important?

[00:01:00] Isabel: For most of us, when we go through a psychedelic journey the experience brings out so much, and there's so much that happens during the journey that it needs to be honored. It needs to be seen and honored as a gift that it is.

And one of the things that happens is that we sometimes get caught up on one particular thing we get so busy with making decisions or, getting into, The talking about the experience that it loses its sacredness. And I feel that the moment afterwards should be one more of internal self reflection.

And to take in what happened in a sacred way to distill the gems of wisdom that come out of it. But hold it in a really tender, loving, and intentional way. So that it doesn't lose its magic. And it's potency.

[00:01:57] Pascal: And there's a lot that goes into the experience itself, and it opens up a whole lot of different things.

And there's a lot to hold, a lot to process, a lot of everything. And probably we're at a retreat, or at home, or with someone holding space for us. And the bigness of it, I think, might get in the way of maybe approaching it in a more gentler way, a bit of a slower way. And I think that relationship to that moment.

I think speaks a lot to our societal norms around speed and bigness and quick, we want everything quick these days. However, I think what you're saying is that there's an invitation to meeting that moment in a maybe counterintuitive way of maybe taking more of your time with it, approaching it more with grace and gentleness and approaching it as well from a longer term perspective.

What are some typical challenges or mistakes that people are making in the way that they meet their moment after a ceremony?

[00:02:56] Isabel: I think one of the challenges can be to, in a way, own it for a moment and keep it like this beautiful, precious thing and not... Dissipate its power by sharing it with the whole world.

It's very tempting to do that. But I feel that as we recount the experience over and over again, and we inevitably collapse it into the high points. And that has a tendency to just erase all the other nuance and all of the other more delicate information that was part of the journey. I feel that psychedelic experiences are Like holograms, they have layers and layers and layers of meaning and if you look at them from a different point of view, they give you even different information and at different points in your life.

They have the opportunity to guide you or give you a point of reference from a completely different. Vantage point than previously, but as soon as we talk about something and we assign meaning to it, the experience collapses and crystallizes into one particular thing. So we are losing the opportunity to be soft with it, to be gentle and open with that part of the process where we allow it to, all the seeds that were planted to fall on fertile ground so they can grow and eventually they're free.

[00:04:18] Pascal: YeAh. So would you say like one of the most common mistakes is trying to make sense of it too quickly then?

[00:04:25] Isabel: Yeah, and trying to make literal sense of it because they're unconscious. It doesn't not speak in regular ways, it doesn't, it speaks in imagery and metaphor.

Making sense of the experience, it's often very contextual. And whatever the context of the, of your situation right now, That is what you can collapse the meaning to, but if you ask yourself, um, how is this applied to this other type of situation, then you get a different answer. I have a story actually that specifically illustrates the points I'd like to share.

Recently during a journey. I had this vision of a wolf caught in one of those man traps, those horrible traps. And its tail was caught in there and it was chewing on its foot to eat its foot off so it could escape the trap. And it looked like it had been there forever doing this.

over and over again. And this bird comes over and the bird says to the wolf, the chain of the trap is broken. You can just walk away. aNd the wolf goes, leave me alone. I know what I'm doing. I have my own way of doing this and continues on chewing his arm. And then the squirrel comes over and it's the hinge is broken.

It's just, the only thing holding it together is that you're putting pressure on it. Why don't you move your hand and see if it comes off? And the wolf is leave me alone. I have my own way of doing this, and I know that I need to chew my hand off to get out of this trap. And then, this whole thing comes and the animals are really sad for the wolf, and they decide to put a blanket over it.

Because it's so difficult to watch him try to chew its leg off when it can just walk away. And this gave me information on a particular situation in my life. On someone that's suffering a lot, and it gave me this insight into what was going on with them. But then I asked myself, in what way am I like the wolf?

In what way am I stuck in my own prison and in my own fixed way of thinking and being that is not allowing me to look at a different perspective, or is not allowing me to accept help when it's offered, or is not allowing me to seek an alternative solution? And that just opened up this whole new doorway of I kept on thinking of this thing and then this other thing and this other thing.

So there was an original meaning that was really direct, right? It made absolute sense for that particular situation. But then there was this other doorway. That, but through my inquiry, I opened up, so I looked at it from a different point of view and came up with just so much more than I would have originally if I had just decided this is about this person and what they're

[00:07:21] Pascal: going through.

Yeah, which is collapsing it into one thing, right? Is that what you're referring to? Yeah. Yeah. And so that inquiry is a portal maker almost and meeting that moment with that approach of curiosity and playfulness with it from what I'm understanding is really about. Doing that, reflecting, taking the time to sit with things, not making conclusions too quickly honoring the sacredness of the medicine and the way that it does work in terms of time and space and the messages and the archetypes that it does communicate with is not always like Getting a report from your boss or whatever that details everything in one sort of document.

There's a lot more that goes into it. And so what have you seen in, in your personal experience working with Beckley in terms of how people relate to the experience after in terms of time? Do you think there's a big rush to? Get it done and integrate in the next week and find the conclusions that make sense.

Do you think that's just a shortcut? And it's just, it's a, it's an antidote for integration in a very busy world where I don't have time to spend three months integrating some, I am going to rush into it. Do you think there's something there about that?

[00:08:34] Isabel: I see this more in my private practice. I see a lot of people come to me after they have had a journey where they were not. They did not receive support for integration or the support that they received was not adequate enough for the depth of processing that they want to go through.

And I find that what happens for folks is that in this rush to meaning making, which is a very human thing, we are meaning making animals. That is how we make sense of our world. A lot of it is lost and there's this sense of Of loss, actually, a lot, for a lot of people, it just manifests thematically, the sense that they left something at the table, and there's this dissatisfaction, oftentimes, where they feel that, somehow, they missed something important, or that there was something more that they should have understood, and they're trying to recapture that experience.

And Oftentimes that is possible. You can go back to the journey and re imagine it and re inhabit it again and bring it back up in your body so that you can remember what happened and what it is that you need to know.

[00:09:45] Pascal: Yeah, and you mentioned this earlier around staying connected to the sacredness of the experience, and I'm wondering, based on what you just shared now, when you think about the potentiality of people relating to their experience in the way that they do you think there's a lack of trust of the inner intelligence Or the spirit body or spirit intelligence and the way that it works because we're so disconnected from that.

[00:10:08] Isabel: I do think so. I think a lot of the preparation, um, for journeys is focused on logistics and it's focused on tactical stuff and less focus is placed on preparing the psyche for the psychedelic journey, which means being able to hold the big emotions. And be present with yourself and not abandon yourself, not run away from the experience, and how do you deal with this big monster that just shows up, and won't let you through, how to effectively work with those imagery can be such a It requires training, here's the thing about psychedelics. They are there's hundreds of different ways of engaging and achieving expanded states of consciousness, right? There's through meditation, through yoga, through fasting. Not drink, all kinds of different ways. All of those things require training, require dedication, require attention, require, that you slowly build your capacity to deal with whatever will come up whenever you encounter it.

With psychedelics, we don't have any of that training done in advance because the way especially that is being done right now is people go to a retreat and they have this experience and whatever shows up can be a really big thing that their psyche is not necessarily prepared to deal with, it is possibly prepared to be to deal with at some level, but not with the fullness that they would be able to deal with it if they were prepared.

More prepared. So in a way, I feel that this rush to and speaking of the experience itself rather than the integration and preparation and the development of the practices to really deepen with your understanding so you can get the most out of the experience is sorely lacking in the way that Most people are approaching this work.

[00:12:15] Pascal: Yeah. Well said. And I think there's something to be said as well about the process and the timeline and the approach to it, but also setting expectations that the feelings you're having during that ceremony or journey is not permanent. And that once you get back into real life is when the stuff's going to come up and that's where the real work begins.

And so do you think meeting the moment in the right way is also having the right. Expectations of what this is, but what also this isn't, and I think that a lot of people don't talk enough about that.

[00:12:48] Isabel: And a lot of people don't want to talk about that, they want to to maintain the belief that all they need to do is have this experience and their life is going to be magically changed.

And,

[00:13:01] Pascal: are you saying from one journey, it's not going to fix all of my problems forever? I'm really disappointed to hear that.

[00:13:08] Isabel: But it's sometimes that happens, people have that expectation and they're really disappointed when it doesn't. And what I have found that psychedelics changes attitudes, beliefs, and perspectives.

Those three things. And those three things can be changed permanently because once you see something or know, understand something, you really can't unsee it. It takes a lot of. Mental gymnastics to go back into an old way of being when you have seen that the curtain has been parted but other things like expansiveness and creativity and all of these Physiological changes in your body that happen as a result of the chemicals that are part of these plant eyes will dissipate And not being prepared for that can lead to a great deal of disappointment.

[00:13:58] Pascal: Yeah, which speaks to the importance of integration and the process of landing those things in a more embodied way. And you talked about this earlier, which I really was. Allowing yourself to record as much as you can from the journey when you're going through the journey to then reflect on that after you leave the experience, you can go back to that state by reading, by listening to yourself.

I've had people journal my experience when I was, it was like 12 pages of full pages. I kept talking and talking. So that was interesting for the person writing, but also for me, it's, I have this in my journal now and I can go back to that ceremony whenever I want. And reflect, even six years later, I can go back and feel it again and reflect on the changes that's happened since then.

Tell us more about recording and how is that helpful to meet the moment well?

[00:14:48] Isabel: I think it's really important because psychedelics, like I said, give you so much information in different ways, and one way that often surprises people is so much somatic information. And I have this theory, which I haven't, like I haven't studied it in depth, but I have this theory that this particular sense that humans have is called interoception, which is the capacity to know where your body is and understand what you're feeling and feel things in your body.

All that is connected to intuition and that oftentimes we. The things that we're feeling in our bodies give us information that is not verbal or visual. And developing the capacity to understand the language of your body and what it's trying to tell you can be a great way to make sense of an experience.

So I highly encourage people to record the physical sensations that they are feeling or they have felt in a particular moment. I created some worksheets for folks that, ask you to describe a particular vignette in your journey, not the whole story, sometimes there's a particular vignette, and you'd record what that vignette was, and then, Before you even tell me a story, I would like to know what is it that you felt?

What were the emotions that were present? Where in your body did you feel that? What memories, what thoughts came up for you while during that time? Were there any associations, any flashes, any colors, any textures? Really embodying the experience in a way that can make it really visceral.

Because when you remember those things, then it feels, it's like a 3D as opposed to a 2D approach, right? When you just tell me the story, I can try to imagine it, but if you're telling me the emotions and everything else, it just adds richness. It's like reading a novel versus a report of an experience.

Yeah, that's

[00:16:48] Pascal: beautiful. And I love that relationship to colors and the different senses that sometimes feel unseen and unheard, but they're such primal elements of our existence that like on the other flip side of the coin is, for preparation is bringing different items of different colors or things that remind you of a memory and things like that, so that you can approach the experience from less of a brain level and more of a.

Full spectrum level, which is, I think what you're sharing here. And what are ways that, um, we talked about time earlier and meeting the moment. And we're talking about going back into the experience. How can people take an awareness and a relationship to the moment in terms of taking advantage of the window after a journey, because it's such a powerful time.

Of malleability and awareness and attunement and post retreat glow, whatever you want to call it. It's a very potent time for integration. How, and you talked about this earlier around giving it. Time and giving it space, are you advocating for more of a intuitive kind of just calming yourself and being in nature type of approach?

Or do you recommend meeting that moment in a more strategic way, like maybe cataloging different things? What's your general recommendation for that time?

[00:18:12] Isabel: I Like it both at the same time. I think that there's the capa Humans have tremendous capacity to do multiple things at once.

And I encourage people to do this internal processing and really settling in, allowing the experience to settle in before you talk too much about it. And at the same time, investigate and bring curiosity to their habits. What is the internal narrative that you tell yourself that during your journey you realize are destructive?

What habitual patterns of behavior have you identified that no longer serve you? And that's what when people talk about the default mode network, that's what they mean. The habits of mind, the habits of doing that we would just go from. Trigger to action without even thinking about it.

They're just automatic processes. So what are those habits that no longer serve you? And do you want, now that you know that they don't serve you, do you want to keep them? And if you decide you don't want to keep them, what do you want instead? And if you, once you realize what you want instead is, how do you cultivate them?

And then you practice. Because the thing about psychedelics is that unless you actually make changes in your life and implement these changes that you want to see, they're not gonna, they're not gonna just manifest, it's just like your New Year's resolution. If you decide you want to lose 20 pounds but never go to the gym, chances are you're not gonna do that.

It's about the implementation.

[00:19:43] Pascal: Yeah. And you're touching on something is really important. I really want to touch on this because I also think it's very important is the assumption that it doesn't take anything to make the changes stick. And I've talked to a lot of facilitators and retreats and the common thread is.

Even with people that offer free integration, a lot of times people don't take them up on it. And I wonder what your perspective is. Is it ego? Is it lack of understanding? Is it all of the above? What do you think?

[00:20:09] Isabel: I think it's two things. I think there's especially In the retreat and experience world, there's two things happening at once.

One is that people are seeking the experience, and they're chasing that dragon, and they're wanting to operate on that high note. When after you come back from the retreat, there's all of these amazing chemicals surging through your body. And, there's in, Gul'dan is a scientist that has been researching this.

And psychedelics open up this period of between two and four weeks that is called a critical period where it's an enormous amount for productivity and self examination and fluidity and all kinds of wonderful things. But it's a temporary thing that happened. But a lot of folks just want back. They just want that high note.

They're not willing to go deep into the muck, and, explore the base notes of their experience the deeper underlying patterns of behavior that lead to dysfunction, so in a way, it's a way of spiritual bypassing because they're staying up in this level and not really willing to go down.

So they don't want the integration because the integration will make them go down into this. This exploration of all the other stuff that is happening

[00:21:33] Pascal: and I'm doing constellations work right now with a therapist. And, the whole premise of constellations is to honor all the parts of someone's system and bringing them back into awareness so that the energy in the system can flow in a healthy way.

And what I'm hearing from you is this apprehension to revising old stories and patterns and revising or going back into things that might seem really disgusting and hurtful. Where do you think that comes from? And obviously it's different for everyone, but what are some reasons why this is happening and how do you think that People that are working in this space can help support and nurture something that seems fairly prevalent and people.

I don't want to go deeper. I just want the experience. Is it the role then of the facilitator and the guides to implement the program and be like, you need to take this? Or how do you feel? Maybe it's everyone's agency. Of course, they can decide to do that or not. Maybe that's all there is.

[00:22:34] Isabel: I think sharing stories. Thank you. It's probably the best because there's plenty of stories of people that can tell you, that after that, they didn't do the integration or they didn't take it seriously. I recently talked to someone, for example, who has been to a retreat for 3. Three consecutive years and spent a nice chunk of change on doing this work and by his own admission he's doing a retreat again because they're, they didn't spend time with integration.

They didn't do the practice, they didn't stay with the meditation. They didn't do the things that were, that they knew were supposed to be done. They went from the retreat, two days of travel. Back into work. And the challenge, is you may have gone through a transformative experience after a retreat or an experience, but the people and the systems and the structures of your life did not go through that same transformative experience.

So when you come back into your old life, it's like your shoes don't fit. All of a sudden, and then you're like, this does not feel right, but then you need to go for a walk anyway. So you put on the shoes, even though they don't fit. And eventually they fit again, because you went back to the old shoe size.

And that's the problem that if you don't take the time to revise the structures in your life that no longer serve you, if you don't take the time and the effort that is required to Examine your relationships. What relationships do I want to cultivate in my life? Or what relationships am I ready to let go of?

Or how do I need to modify this particular relationship so it actually is healthy and not something that is drained? Or same with work, it's is this work something that I can stand behind and be okay about it? How many people go to a psychedelic retreat because they hate what they do with life?

And then they come back into the same thing, and now they have this self awareness that they hate it, and they know why, and they know what's wrong with the situation, and yet they do nothing about it, and their misery is compounded, because you cannot unknow something once you know it,

[00:24:54] Pascal: and then that knowing of that thing from the box that just came out and then interfacing with the old paradigm can create a lot of frustration and disappointment and negative feelings that exasperate or exasperate and I'm not sure that's the right word, but it makes it worse.

Exasperate, yeah. Yeah, it makes the whole experience even worse than if, by simply not integrating, you're also adding some, a layer of. Negative relationship to it, which can create a lot of harm, which makes you want to go to another retreat because obviously it wasn't enough medicine. The first time I need to add a bit more.

[00:25:30] Isabel: Yeah. So that's where you get this chasing, right? Because people go from one retreat to another chasing this. The high feeling and not really willing to make the structural changes in their life that are required to enable them to have the life that they need. And I'm also saying this with a full understanding that it's not easy and that sometimes there's things that preclude you from.

Making any changes at all, there's you know, there's so My assumption here is that you have agency over being able to make certain changes and sometimes you don't you know You have people depending on You have a mortgage and a family and your parents are sick and you're a disorder supporter All of these things it may be that you don't have the option of changing the big parts of your circumstances But you can find other smaller things that you can do But you can exercise your agency and develop different habits or different ways of looking at things that can be more sustaining.

And that's another way in which integration can really help reframing, telling different narratives and changing the way that we approach and look at situations. So that they are less of a drain on our resources.

[00:26:47] Pascal: What would you recommend? I have a story as well of going to a beautiful ayahuasca ceremony.

It was amazing, of course. And then the morning after I got a phone call from someone I was in real harmony with and I crashed right back and collapsed back into the stuff that I thought I had left behind the night before, which obviously was an illusion, but I, it changed my nervous system completely.

And just with that moment completely changed my whole direction in terms of integration. So what would you recommend as tactics or tools or approaches for people that are leaving a retreat or leaving an experience and are faced with, like you said, the stuff that is, it's not going to change overnight.

It's, you're going to go right back into it. How can someone better prepare themselves, especially given the often tiny time period. I'm assuming with Beckley, a lot of people travel to Jamaica and go there and leave a few days after. It's very transient. What are ways to get ready for that kind of going back to the real world?

[00:27:48] Isabel: onE, one thing that I try to help people do it as part of the preparation process is to prepare what I call a soft landing. So when they come back, there's less of the stressors of every day. Like day life impinging upon their capacity to be in a more, in a less stressed out and more easeful space.

That can, that is often impossible, for, especially if people are traveling from overseas as soon as you get to the airport and there's flight delays. And you missed your flights or they left your luggage

[00:28:26] Pascal: or airports are perfect for coming back to real life. It's not a chaotic place.

[00:28:31] Isabel: Yeah. So we, I've prepared a number of different resources for folks to, to help out with that. One of the things that is really useful in stressful situations right after someone is going back to the music. If the, if you have a soundtrack or if you can prepare a soundtrack or find one of the millions of soundtracks of medicine music that exists on the internet, have that loaded on your phone so that when you are in this stressful situation, you can just.

Create this tiny little bubble where you can go deep again into your process. Just make sure that you set an alarm because I've had people miss their flight because we're in the bubble. So just make sure you set up an alarm so you make sure not to miss your gate.

[00:29:16] Pascal: That's a great advice. Yeah. We have a playlist called every day is a ceremony.

It's got 1500 medicine inspired songs. So if you want to get lost at the airport, that's the playlist to do it. But yeah, it's a great, it's a portable ceremony and that's why I love music so much.

[00:29:29] Isabel: Yeah, music can transport us, and it's just, and medicine music in particular, it's so attuned, it, Especially when you're still in the medicine.

The medicine doesn't go away just because you stopped the ceremony,

[00:29:42] Pascal: let's talk about that a little bit more. Like this idea of okay, I had my journey and then like the, now it's separate. I just left the temple. I just left the Moloka and now I'm back into real life. Let's talk a bit more about that because there's an element of sacredness, I think, that gets lost in that moment.

Let's talk more

[00:29:58] Isabel: about that. If you think pure, oftentimes people we talk about the spirit. Of the plants and they and merging into your heart. But I want to be even more practical. There's new research that is emerging that for two weeks to four weeks. There's this period of increased.

Malleability in your brain that is caused by the chemicals means that for two weeks to four weeks The chemicals are strong enough in your body that you're still having this expanded state that means the spirit of the plant is still with you, you know in shamanic terms we talk about the spirit of things and It's the intensity may be higher or lower, but the spirit remains, just like when you love somebody you just because you're not with them.

That doesn't mean that you've stopped loving them. Proximity means absolutely nothing. Once you've made contact with the spirit, and you have become, they have become an integral part of your DNA, and your makeup, because you have ingested them, they are with you, I think, forever. onE way in which this is really obvious is you probably have heard of a lot of people that do 5 MeO DMT that get, do cannabis or some other psychedelic and they're back in the 5 MeO experience.

And it's sometimes really challenging because they're not expecting it. So this is one example in which the spirit remains, that experience, it gets re triggered and we can relive it, just think about, have you ever had the experience where you're thinking about something beautiful and all of a sudden someone tells you, why are you smiling?

[00:31:46] Pascal: Yeah.

[00:31:49] Isabel: So it's just like that, we can go back in our minds and remember and be so in the moment that we go back through that process and in your body, all these chemicals, all these hormones and neurotransmitters don't know the difference between the previous experience that was real and the experience that you're having right now where you're just remembering.

[00:32:10] Pascal: Yeah, there's moments in my, in some key ceremonies like my first ayahuasca ceremony where I got taken around the globe and there's a half a second in that journey that I can go back to and it's very present. Same with my first 5 MU experience where it's still in my heart. It's still there. It's a flash.

An illumination, a flash of illumination that is a resource for me whenever I need support or remembrance, I can just tune into that and it's very powerful and you're right. It doesn't feel that much different than when I was in the experience and is it really that different? Really? It's a state and we can go back to it.

[00:32:47] Isabel: Exactly. It's a change of state. There's ceremony moments that I cannot talk about without crying. BeCause the emotion is so powerful and thinking about them often cultivates that emotion. So it keeps it fresh and alive in my being. It keeps it accessible and I can go back to it and I can remember how it made me feel.

We often cultivate negative things, rumination is that is this going over and negative experience and the what ifs and all of that, but our brain has the capacity to do the positive focus and rehashing of a positive experience and have the completely opposite effect rather than depression and anxiety can, you can have joy and, Euphoria come from just the memory if you cultivate it enough.

[00:33:37] Pascal: Yeah, we don't talk enough about that. And it reminds me of my first ayahuasca ceremonies was with this group that, there's different ways many different ways to approach ceremony with ayahuasca, but they're. Philosophy was to pile light on top of light. And so there was light in the ceremony that was like positive music.

There was a bit of dancing. There was a lot of positive mood that were part of their ceremonies. Whereas some other ceremonies, they work deep in a dark shadows. Everything is dark. And the ceremonial list will really sing the songs and bring the energies that will make you churn and go deep in the underbelly of your consciousness.

And I think the, this idea of light on light. As a way to heal and transform, I feel like it doesn't get spoken enough. I think in the space where a lot of it is trauma based and that's all really beautiful. But I think that positive resourcing for integration is something that I'd love to talk more about because I think it's very valuable, especially in a world where.

We're problem focused and we're stuck in our habits and we go to ceremony because we want to heal. But oftentimes we don't bring out the positive enough because we're problem solvers. We talked about our linear intellectual mind earlier. I think that's part of it is we're problem solving all the time.

But what about feeling good and remembering that?

[00:34:55] Isabel: Yeah, a big part of the work that I like to do is helping people cultivate joy and hope cultivate positive emotions, and I think that is an underutilized skill because we are, the negativity bias in our brain notices. Eight, I think it's eight times more negative things than positive one.

[00:35:15] Pascal: I Didn't know that.

[00:35:16] Isabel: Yeah. That's successes. We don't celebrate what the things that we do good. We beat ourselves up when we do something wrong and we don't stop thinking about it. And we're agonizing in bed at three in the morning over what I should have said or done or whatever. But we don't spend the same amount of energy.

On the positive.

That is a habit that is, that can be learned, that is, it requires attention to the internal narratives, but it's a habit that we can learn.

[00:35:48] Pascal: What would you recommend for people that are. Meeting the moment after a journey and trying to have a bit more of a positive line, if possible, if it's in their capacity or possibilities at the time, but how can someone leverage that the positives if there was any perception of positive elements from their ceremony to bridge that into a more transformative integration process?

[00:36:12] Isabel: I think that, gratitude is perhaps one of the most powerful practices that you can do that has compounding positive impacts on almost every area of your life. I don't know if you know the work of Kristen Neff. Self compassion and gratitude are two of the most important things that you can do. To increase the quality of your life and she has all of these exercises and all these things that are easy to do but require discipline, but it can be just as simple as waking up in the morning and do eye gazing with yourself.

Have you ever done the eye gazing exercises?

[00:36:53] Pascal: Yes, it's one of the most powerful, especially with others and with yourself and, warning label if you're inexperienced and you go to the toilet and look at yourself in the mirror, be ready for another trip by itself. So just be careful with that during a journey.

[00:37:07] Isabel: Yeah, but I gazing with yourself after the journey and just. Sending loving kindness to yourself, just for a moment. And I like to do it when looking at different eyes, because different eyes have different personalities. I don't know if you've noticed, but your left eye is usually softer than your right eye.

No, is it the other way around? One of them is softer and kinder, and the other one is more logical, and that relates to the hemispheres in our brain. So I like to do that to each one of my eyes, and to say something nice, and be kind to myself. And then I switch to the other eye, and make eye contact with, because we cannot focus on both of our eyes at the same time.

We have to choose one or the other, so I choose both. And it's really beautiful. Because we are so hard on ourselves all the time, so hard on ourselves, but these small things that we can do to just be gentle and kind for change, even if it's once a week. Yeah,

[00:38:11] Pascal: I was talking to Shiri on the podcast this week about war and how we live in a violent system.

And so when we have, we grow up in a violent system, then we end up being violent towards ourselves. And so how do we find the small places where. The inner critic dominates and I've had those moments at 3 a. m. I'm like, oh my god, it's why did you like just ruminating on that and then just sinking myself into the sand and adding a bunch of rocks on it?

That feels terrible and I think it's also a common habit that we have to look at the negative because it puts us in danger and our lizard brain gets activated and we start finding solutions to things that Yeah, or challenging to deal with. And so changing that habit then to having a more positive outlook seems like a really good, powerful tool for integration.

And I'm curious to hear as we're closing the episode here we talked a lot about the common pitfalls of meeting the moment after a journey, what's your vision for this space in terms of supporting that better, what do you see in the future? I was talking to someone yesterday.

And we shared together about this idea of having retreat centers, having sister projects or sister locations specifically for integration to give people that time to give people that space to give people the opportunity to really sink into an oasis of integration so they can. Tap into these beautiful ideas and insights you share today to give them the space to do that.

What are some things that come up to you when we talk about the future of this space and how we can support this better?

[00:39:46] Isabel: I think that's so important. One, it's so necessary to make the space for the integration as sacred as the space for the ceremony. And because the truth is that we don't honor the medicine until we actually take the gift that we were given and put them into action in our lives, I often feel that people that do a lot of ceremony over and over again.

And they don't do integration is they're drinking at the fire hose, right? There's this abundance of gifts being given to them. And what they're taking is just this tiny percentage because the volume is so great. And that becomes disrespectful to us after a certain point, and you keep on going for more and more.

I have had experiences, ayahuasca is one of those. Teachers that is no, I've given you enough already. Have you done your homework? I don't know about you, but my relationship with her is she's very much the tough mama.

[00:40:51] Pascal: Oh yeah. She's my most important experience was basically passing out and having a black screen the whole night and howling at the moon and rolling, no memory at all whatsoever after, and the message was tough love of sit down, slow down, integrate.

And come back in a couple of years maybe

[00:41:08] Isabel: It's so true But it's if we're gonna be honoring those medicines. We really need to take into Account that they have given us so many gifts and that you know what are we doing with those gifts and we just like throwing them back in a pile because we're just looking for the one Gift, it's not a it's not a bag of Skittles, we don't get to pick and choose the medicine gives us what we need and if we're not willing to look at the things that we're given and actually, take a look and say, okay, so this is hard.

And this is really challenging for me to accept about myself. But how, I really need to take a look at it because it keeps on coming up and it keeps on sabotaging my life in this particular way.

[00:41:53] Pascal: It's honoring the entire spectrum of the human experience. So you don't get to just pick the red Skittles like I would do as a kid.

And then the other ones are secondary and maybe I won't eat them today, but you don't get to pick and choose. And yeah, really honoring the full. Spectrum of the experience itself and the teachings that it does give and I love that you brought up the honoring of that gift. First of all, it's a privilege and second of all it's such a blessing that we're able to experience these things with these substances.

And we talked a lot about plant medicines, but there's a lot of sacredness in the chemically derived ones as well. There's the intention of creating those medicines is in those medicines, at least from my perspective, but honoring also the present moment. Of imbibing a medicine to me is a sacred regardless if it comes from the plant or anywhere else.

So thank you so much, Isabelle. That was lovely. I'm really grateful for this talk and grateful for your work in the world. And I really appreciate your insights today. It was really. Really

[00:42:48] Isabel: lovely. Thank you. Same here. I really appreciate the amazing work that you're doing and that you're putting together this amazing resource for folks with so many highly ethical and beautifully diverse group of healers.

So thank you so

[00:43:04] Pascal: much. Yeah. It takes one to know one. Thank you so much.

[00:43:07] Isabel: Okay. Bye bye.

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Elevating Safety in Your Psychedelic Practice
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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From Psychedelic Renaissance to Psychedelic Enlightenment

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December 21, 2023

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