How to Change Your Mind

“You go deep enough or far out enough in consciousness and you will bump into the sacred. It’s not something we generate; it’s something out there waiting to be discovered.”

Michael Pollan

         Some people are able to transcend their thoughts through a developed meditation practice; some through exercise aided by the release of endorphins, and some use drugs and alcohol to change their mindset.

It’s yet another way …

        Having written yesterday about teens and hopelessness, I feel the need to follow up with mind altering substances, because I believe that deserves some conversation. It’s also part of the equation of meditation, certain pockets of it anyway.Think peace pipe, or the Ram Dass experiments of the 60s–Harvard educated scientists seeking inner truth and consciousness, initially through psychedelics explorations, then later through more yogic pursuits involving love and service. (more here:  

        Meditation, music and drugs are, in many ways, interrelated. And yoga, being a more pure pursuit of spiritual union, has served the addicted population well. Take Kundalini yoga, for example, brought to the west by Yogi Bhajan with kriyas and disciplines that helped the drug addicted get sober.

        Wine and weed have been around for a real long time. Viewed as natural remedies and, with balance, they can help people relax, lighten up, enjoy. And, no question, they can be overdone and used as self medication, or as a crutch in avoiding unpleasant reality. Some use them to alleviate their suffering, others for altered states of mind in pursuit of spiritual connection.

        That’s that second mountain David Brooks talked about, that spiritual quest for more than the material. At some point we each realize we were not put on this earth to merely produce a profit margin and make a mint of our own, and, usually through some sort of struggle we find ourselves landing on questions like why? We realize the sweet timeshare in Park City or the condo in Naples, complete with the bathtub on the beach, sun setting in the background scene is not “enough?” If you are middle aged, you probably read a blog on mindfulness. If you are young, drugs and alcohol seem to be most mainstream way to induce reflection.

        The downside to this is drugs can do weird things to you (note horrifying warning of viagra commercials–some might call it justice:) In seriousness, there is real risk. Whatever kind of drug that is, if it has an effect on your mind and body, it is now another thing to balance, and that requires getting REALLY honest with yourself.

        It’s hard enough to be honest with ourselves about whether or not WE are maintaining balance for ourselves. But, as parents, the honesty thing gets even more complicated. First, we deny.

Then, we send mixed messages with changing laws and ages regarding what is ok and what is not. Standing back only seems to contribute to the deviant tendencies. We need to be walking alongside our young people, and we are not.

        Alright, dismount soap box; it is just something I feel passionate about. Here are three stories. The first two are the experiences from some very spiritual people. It’s an opportunity to listen to how some people seek spiritual connection using recreational drugs. You may go outside your comfort zone. (That is the idea.) The subject is increasingly mainstream, as Michael Pollan writes about in his new book, How to Change Your Mind, an account, both personal and historic, of the use of psychedelics for a transformative spiritual experience. Pollan explores the hope psychedelics offer people suffering from depression and addiction, and whether or not mushrooms bring enlightenment. I haven’t read it but apparently his presentation might just change your mind on this matter. It’s on my list. (a review: 


A young friend writes, on the experience of taking Ayahuasca:

Imagine walking in to a circle of people, most dressed in white, all ages, and taking a seat on your mat for the next 48 hours. What awaits, you’re not quite sure. You’ve heard inklings from friends, strangers who have lauded this form of meditation. Over the course of the evening – after being ceremoniously served your dose of plant medicine – you are transported to another dimension. A world in which the flowers painted on the wall spiral in on themselves, and when you close your eyes you see things differently. You forgive your grandmother for not telling you you were beautiful, as she was just trying to keep you from having an ego. You are filled with gratitude for the mother your mom has been, despite her own loveless childhood. And you see how much true love your partner has to give, which you don’t want to limit by being jealous. Radical thoughts, thoughts you’ve never had before, that free you from your old way of thinking, of believing.

Over the seven hours, the symphony of purging is drowned out by the guitar, the chimes, the singing, and the fanning of palo santo with eagle wings. And when you can no longer feel the effects of the medicine – when you can stand on two feet without having to crawl – you’re reminded that you’ll be back tomorrow night. At the end of the weekend, you’ll feel a surprising connection to these strangers in the circle – the ones who have seen you at your depths, and witnessed your intention and growth through ceremony. You’ll drive away, up the long and winding road out of the canyon, reflecting on what you took with you and what you left behind. Microdosing psilocybin mushrooms is a great way to reset.  

Another writes, on mushrooms:

Ayahuasca meditations are a profound experience but it’s a major process—a two day time commitment and quite expensive. A great experience but harder to repeat regularly.

About once a month I eat a small piece of mushroom chocolate and go for a really long trail run in the woods. For me, it’s a total brain reset. The equivalent of 10 yoga classes or a week of solid meditation. It sparks creativity, invokes genuine gratitude, gives new perspectives. It doesn’t provide a “high.” It’s more like a newer, fresher, less cloudy lens on the world.


How’s that for a Friday minding perspective? Little different for most of us, I imagine.  

        And since I am writing on drugs, and trying to offer balance, I’d also like to add this piece of caution and advocacy:

Please don’t ever touch Molly!   

        Literally wrote that exact text to my son today. Why don’t parents know about this drug, this risk? “Molly” is a modern day ecstacy drug that rocked our small town in Idaho when a spectacular kid took his life a few years ago. It’s got the intrigue of the above to a young people, but a downside of horror. There’s a saying associated with Molly, which is suicide Tuesday, because people take it on a Saturday night and their brain chemistry dips so low a few days later the user can be driven to suicide. Where is the awareness of this horrific drug?  Hopefully here, today. This article tells the story of Lane Linhart’s beautiful life, and tragic death, from Molly. The candle above burns alongside his motocross number, #312.  A reminder. Molly. Don’t go there.

If you do one mindful thing today it’s to be realistic about drugs— their presence and abundance, likely in your children’s world, and their risks. Be safe, be open minded, be balanced, and be realistic about transcendence. It’s a lot to be, at any age. And Breathe.


This Post Has One Comment

  1. Interesting blog.
    Sticking with the old standard:
    Just Say No.
    I even own one of the slogan buttons.

Leave a Reply

Close Menu