? “Pathologising neurodiversity is a form of oppression”?
It is well known that the way we perceive reality is so varied. We all operate to a different map inside our heads. The lens we see life through, conditioned in childhood and polished daily by the thoughts that run through out heads, so utterly different it can boggle the mind..
So why do we expect everyone to be the same?
This socio-normative dilution of what a human being should experience is at best dull and at worst, oppressive to the point of outright discrimination.
At med school we took a module called Valuing Diversity. It is well known that educational establishments and businesses have to employ X number of people who identify a LGBT or are of Colour etc This has been going on for decades at least.. so how is mental health still not even vaguely catching up?
It appears that people who commune directly with plants, live parallel lives in the dreamtime, believe themselves to be direct descendants/prior versions of star beings, talk to waterfalls as if they were people, channel intelligent entities, see spirits or hear voices in their heads are still judged to be “woowoo”. Yup, crazy… or cray cray if you’re hood.
I wonder, do you judge these people. Does even a little bit of you? I do. There are layers of woo that even I have not transcended yet, of course this is my conditioning, but my heart always stays present to their experience, knowing it to be equally valid to mine. Maybe i’m even a little jealous… being one who does not perceive this way, I always wonder, what would it be like…?
When considering this I often return to this maxim. Something we were taught in Medical School:
“Pain is what the patient says it is”
Who are we to judge someone else’s pain? We can’t stand in their shoes. We are not privy to the infinitesimally complex interplay of neurotransmitters and thought processes that cause them to genuinely perceive pain where another would not. Just because pain is easier to perceive in others does that make it more acceptable a thing to value than other ways they are interpreting their reality?
Synaesthesia, the combining of usually unrelated senses – smell and touch, music and vision, is a socially acceptable form of an unusual of state perception. But the spectrum goes much farther. When will we accept this?
It really hammers home just how much Mental health is still stigmatised. The final frontier. That it is behind racial equality and gender politics in the diversity stakes. And that many even categorise stances like believing in fairies or star people, to be a “mental health” issue, shows just how much judgement there still is.
And all in such a tiny amount of time.
Go back just a few hundred years and you would have been weird NOT to think many of these thoughts many now judge and disregard as silly.
And with this judgement comes just as much shame, for those now having to hide their parallel interdimensional experience of existence.
The truth is that many of these people are fully functional, even successful individuals that have just learnt to hide it well. Many from fear of stigmatisation, categorisation, or worse, institutionalisation.
Some are lucky enough to find tribe they can truly be themselves with, but, for many more, this is not the case.
As someone who considers herself psychically inert (I don’t see spirits, commune to guides or have the patience to interact with plants) this almost worked in the reverse. I was ashamed to NOT feel or see these things. My chosen tribe always seem to have such fruity experiences, I almost feel left out!
And, due to some ironic brush of fate, I seem to attract clients who are often having some very powerful and involving experiences. Experiences Castaneda would have been impressed by!
In these calls my practice has been to sit in the space of the pure presence and non-judgement with these clients. Their experience is what they say it is and it is my job to welcome all of them. To shine the light so bright that all shame simply disperses. Many have, years down the line been shocked to realise I don’t see Spirits, after years of talking to me about it and thinking I did! I consider this a great achievement.
It is important to remember that it is our beliefs around what is happening to us and how we relate to it that determines if it pathological or not. Are you still fully functional in society? Yes? You can go to work? Yes? Then, tick, you can’t have a problem! Ummmm…. no. Sadly, this is the World we live in. Look at functional alcoholism and depressives on medication dragging themselves about their lives… Is that living? I don’t think so.
Yes there are some who really have gone beyond knowing how to help themselves, and for them intervention is needed, but for many, like autism (indeed this is likely the polar opposite of the Woo spectrum), the range is large, varied and often very beautiful.
Where am I going with all this? It is quite the rant
The invitation is for those who are in hiding to acknowledge their map. To decide for yourself if your experience of it is joyful to you or not. A burden to you or actually a special power you just haven’t acknowledged as such. To even cherish it. And then, to find community. To find people who wont judge you for being exactly who you are.
God knows the World is not set up for you right now, but there are people and places you can go to. Every honest disclosure in a safe space is a step towards healing and the destigmatisation of neurodiversity.
Below I have linked an amazing TED talk by a Lady who learnt how to talk to the voices in her head and got off all her meds and back into society (an incredible feat given then most are unemployable with a previous diagnosis of psychosis). Watch, be inspired and choose how you want to feel about your experience of “reality”.
Earlier this summer I was interviewed by Renegade Pharmacist Niraj Naik. An inspirational man who cured himself of Ulcerative Colitis using breathwork and Ayurvedic (traditional healing Cosmology of India) teachniques. Once a pharmacist in the UK he now travels the world teaching about Breathwork and other healing practices to large audiences. To see more about what Niraj gets up to check out his website here
For the interview he did with me covering all things from Psychedelics, breathwork and my own journey into Alternative Healing please click here Below the interview you will also find an exclusive article I wrote on the importance of communicating about and advocating psychedelics at this present epoch in time. Enjoy!
After meeting Niraj I myself decided to sign up for his life changing 21 day Breathwork Journey which I completed a month ago. Positive results were diminished appetite, increased energy, reduced appearance of cellulite, more mental focus, increased creativity, calm and a deeper connection to something greater than myself. Highly recommended! If this interests you please check out the course here
As ever, with Love
Join me as I was briefly interviewed as one of the speakers at the Health and Wellness portion of the Voluntaryist Conference Anarchapulco this year.
We talked about my work with Kambo, the Medicinal secretion of the Amazonian Tree Frog.
Catch the talk here: https://soundcloud.com/freetalklive/free-talk-live-2018-02-20
Skip forward to 1 minute 10seconds to get going!
Hope you enjoy
Join us as we discuss all things related to healing and magic mushrooms following the completion of a 7 day legal psilocybin retreat Centre in Jamaica.
Find the podcast link here: http://www.herewearepodcast.com//episode/165/eric-osborne
Laughter is Medicine! For more about Shane Mauss visit his website at www.shanemauss.com
I recently heard someone say that there was no rhyme nor reason for a bad trip. That sometimes they just happen on mind altering substances. Something to be endured and brushed over in a sense… This being the biggest concern for using psychedelics, after psychosis in the predisposed, I felt to explore it as my thoughts are evolving on the subject.
Having spent time in Jamaica recently I thought I would try my hand at a bit of Marijuana again. With a lot of Jamaicans smoking the classic “Marleys” (where a whole bud of weed is used to make each individual conical joint) without seeming annihilation, I gained some confidence.
I say gained confidence as I had a very unhealthy relationship with poor quality skunk when I was at University. Pretty much every day for years on end I would smoke weed, mainly because my housemates and Ex-boyfriend did. As I was constantly stoned I had little insight into how much I had gone down the rabbit hole of paranoia and pejorative thought. It was bad, very bad…
Thankfully that phase ended with Uni. I smoked a few bits of weed here and there over the last 6 years but never anything heavy and pretty much always with regret… This past few years, I completely left it behind, saying weed simply wasn’t for me…
Back to Jamaica. So here I am, pumped up with zest for life and optimism and I decide to smoke. Sometimes i’m a bit absent minded, other times giggly and at others sleepy. Not too bad. I gain confidence. Then a few nights ago I am offered a spliff and decide to smoke a little… Each strain is so different .. And well, the paranoia hit HARD! Joy of joys…
Now, let me explain the paranoid to you a little.. First theres the physical symptoms, dry mouth, heart racing.. Then theres the inertia, need to lie down, can´t have a conversation, horrible hunger. Then, and this is the stickiest part, the thoughts start coming. I´m actually getting old, no one will ever love me, an enormous fear of death and mediocrity, life has no meaning, I will die on my own after years of pain, the painstaking unbearable loneliness fo the human condition, that thing I did last week was SO BAD, i´m a fraud, humanity is UGLY, I am a meaningless blip of pointlessness…, existential angst to the MAX.
This mental chatter is SO different from the usual inner chatter. It is quite… overpowering. But then, this time something different happened.
I started giving back as good as I was getting! In other words having an argument with my inner demons. I began making firm assertions, “I AM loveable, life IS beautiful, you’re only just getting started, you will die as part of a large beautiful community that will have cherished you… etc. And then… I realised, I was fighting.. And then I had an aha moment! Which is that I was fighting the death of my Ego.
No f**king. way! This thing that we had been counselling all the Retreat participants about for the Mushrooms (something i´d never encountered on mushies) and it was happening to me now. I realised I had a chance to “let go and die”. It was so unexpected as I had never associated the “Ego Death” experience with Weed, I always thought this was for other Plant Medicines. Now I could see, of course, why not Santa Maria (cannabis as she is known in Latin America)? She is a plant teacher too…
I once met some beautiful blue robed men of Seek Warrior linegage at a Ceremony just outside of London… They had come to offer their entrancing devotional music to the space and they told me something very interesting… They said that Marijuana was the teacher plant of their traditions and that in Northern India they typically brew a chai tea with the Hindu Kush strain of the plant, SO strong, that they are high for days. Of note they shared that they believed that of all the strains, the Jamaican Sess was the only other one they considered a true Teacher Plant capable of imparting ultimate wisdom.
Anyway, I digress! Back to my paranoid evening… So, realising my profound opportunity, I stopped with the positive affirmations, a breath of invigorating zeal though they were, and just let go. I expanded into the boundless forsaken realms of nothingness. Into my own absolute insignificance and without the resistance…. somehow found myself in a a place of calm. A place of cruise control within the black lonely infinity, the pejorative thoughts dried up, the tension left me and then, I slept.
What was this place? The Nothing of Never Ending Story fame… And then I remembered my Shamanic Training in Hawaii 3 years ago… Where we had danced between levels of Egoic consciousness.. A concentric birds eye bullseye from the Observer, inwards to the Experiencer, ever inwards to the centre of the bullseye, the Void… The place before anything was manifest… Terrifying to some and yet so, so Sacred. This is the place where the first sound sounded and creation shew forth. The birthplace of Maya, where polarity first drew itself apart into something other than I. In it’s nothing it is everything. In it’s oblivion it is comforting. It is the place those who experience deep suffering long for. The Ultimate ceasing of the incessant minutiae of the human condition.
This is the space Michael Pollan so vehemently spoke of on his recent podcast interview with Joe Rogan. Having smoked the psychedelic venom of the Bufo Alvarius toad, containing 5Meo-DMT, he recalls being unbelievably glad when he realised he was coming back to something.. ANYTHING other than the nothing “he” had been floating around in….! HA! and it is like this, that us incarnate beings cling to Life. to the self, to the Ego so desperately. Link to that podcast here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tz4CrWE_P0g
This is what Marijuana taught me. That it is this clinging that leads to the suffering, the anxiety of needing to be something. And that if we let go we can open ourselves up to so much more that we dreamed was possible… As courageously as we can hold ourselves in the not knowing for is reciprocally how much we shall be rewarded with when we land on the other side..
Thank you Santa Maria for all you have taught me!
p.s. This image is of Magu, the Taoist Deity of Hemp. Isn’t she divine…? (she does appear to be holding a mushroom tho…. upon closer inspection!)