Pathologising neurodiversity is a form of oppression

Pathologising neurodiversity is a form of oppression

🧠 “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”.
In Service
psilocyin, alternative healing, holistic healing
Catch me being Interviewed by Free Talk Radio at Anarchapulco Conference

Catch me being Interviewed by Free Talk Radio at Anarchapulco Conference

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

 

On Navigating “Bad Trips”, Paranoia, Cannabis and the Void…

On Navigating “Bad Trips”, Paranoia, Cannabis and the Void…

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!
 
With Love…
 
A x
 
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!)
Magical Mushrooms Hunting in the Mexican Mountains – Part 1

Magical Mushrooms Hunting in the Mexican Mountains – Part 1

Aloha Loves,

I’m sitting in Miami Airport en route to Jamaica, ruminating on my next adventure which is soon to to be upon me!

Mexico >>> Jamaica to spend 6 weeks assisting and Co-creating deep Healing Retreats using Magic Mushrooms. Honoured to head out to Mycomeditations Retreat Centre. These guys are the only completely legal mushroom retreat centre I know of in the World! Learn more at www.mycomeditations.com .

Yes, its no secret, I love Mushrooms, more specifically, their healing qualities. Research shows that they are highly effective for drug resistant moderate-major depression, PTSD and anxiety (especially end of life). With Mental Health positioned as the leading cause of disability worldwide according to the World Health Organisation, I was naturally inspired to learn more…

So, last summer I spent few months up in the Mountains of Oaxaca searching for psychedelic mushrooms and a local Mazatec Curandera (Medicine Woman) to hold Ceremony for me with these incredible Healers… At times, equally as strong and as revealing as Ayahuasca, I had been called to begin working with this Sacred Medicine the summer before. After a completely unexpected and rather dramatic entity extraction, performed by myself under the influence of the Mushrooms; I vowed to go to a Land where healing under their influence was Culturally practiced. Perhaps here I could find some answers as to what had happened… Here’s the first instalment of my story…

I knew finding a Mushroom Curandera would be hard. I was well aware of the tragic story of the legendary Mexican Mushroom Healer, Maria Sabina, and what happened after she shared her healing Mushroom Ceremonies with white foreigners… A peaceful Woman of God working with the Mushrooms for healing purposes, she was tricked into sharing her Ceremony by Author and amateur Ethnomycologist, George Wasson. Normally only ingested for Healing purposes he lied to her and said he had come to find God after which she allowed him to take mushrooms with her. Really, he was documenting the Cultural use of the Mushrooms for his own interests…

images-1.jpg
Abuela (Grandma) Maria Sabina

Despite good intentions as a genuine mushroom enthusiast, his subsequent article about Maria and the Mushrooms in Time Magazine in the mid 1950’s, lead to a massive influx of Culture-flaunting, free-love advocates from the States. The small rural town, with strong Catholic principles, was soon overrun and the entire economy upturned. Other recreational drugs could be found, prostitution flourished and kids stopped working in the coffee plantations in favour of selling highs to Tourists.

IMG_7826.JPGStunning Mexican Mountains in the rainy Summer Mushroom Season.

Having realised what she had unwittingly done, Maria herself said “I realised the young people with long hair didn’t need me to eat the little things. Kids ate them anywhere and anytime, and they didn’t respect our customs.” The rest of the story doesn’t end so well, so i’ll leave it there…

So, you can understand why I knew it would be hard to locate a legit “Shaman”. With business booming in the Mountains it was guaranteed that every other “Shaman” would be a charlatan. Luckily, as chance would have it, a Mexican chap i’d couchsurfed with in 2012 had spent every summer in the Mountains where I was headed since he was 15 and he was happy to take me there and ask around on my behalf. A few days into our time in the Mountains, we had received the same message from all his contacts, no Shamans to be found here. The recurring comment was ¨the Mushrooms will tell you everything you need to know, no intermediary is needed”. Hmmm. Though true it was not welcome news.

IMG_7945.JPGKittens and kiddies to pass time when you hit a dead end

My friend left and I went back to the drawing board. I decided to move to a town an hour down the road, a little more rural, and hold out there for a while, eating a simple diet, trying the mushrooms on my own and waiting for the Teacher to appear…

After 3 weeks, definitely wondering what on Earth I was doing with my life, I heard tell of a man who had discovered the mushrooms aged 14 and left his (wealthy and, no doubt, rather perturbed) family in Mexico City. All in favour of a life in the Mountains, following a Spiritual path in Meditation and peaceful Eco-community.

Despite having his details, for some reason one day I woke up and set off to find him unannounced! As is the way in the Mountains, what should’ve taken 45 minutes took 4hours. I finally arrived at his door on exactly the same footstep as an Abuela (Grandmother) arriving in the other direction. The door opened to the both of us and I was informed, very kindly, that he was on sabbatical and not holding Ceremony this year. “It is no coincidence that you arrived at exactly the same time as Maria” he said in a highly suggestive way. At this point she indicated for his to ´shhh´! He rolled his eyes a little at me and did as he was told. It was clear that she did not want him to disclose her Mushroom services.

After 20minutes of idle loitering, puppy stroking and smiling she softened to me and invited me to her little Ranchito (farmhouse) a few hours down a dirt road from where we were. Finally I was to sit in a Velda (candle lit night time ceremony) with the Little Mushrooms and a local Curandera!

IMG_7900.JPGMexican Mountain Lilly, often painted by Frida Kahlo

The kindness of her facial features and inclination towards smiling gave the game away.. She was clearly so full of Heart and radiated such a humble warmth… something had told me to sit put.

We decided that I would get to hers the following weekend for a night with the Mushrooms on the eve of the full moon. A few others were also coming to partake. I set off on the long Journey home, exceedingly happy and excited for what was to come…

Next installment soon… With Love

images.jpg Illustrators depiction of Maria Sabina

 

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“I need to Heal”. The Healing Path – pathological fixation or legitimate journey?

“I need to Heal”. The Healing Path – pathological fixation or legitimate journey?

Healing… What does it mean to heal? As a Medical Doctor is was pretty clear to me that healing was something that someone did as a result of a physiologically proven disease state or mental imbalance that left them distressed and unable to function within society. These, states, it was clear, require ‘Healing’. I will never forget my first Ayahuasca Ceremony, the Man who had brought me along proclaiming his need to heal this and that and this other thing… I remember gently asking him if he felt his need to heal was in fact pathological, as he was clearly in great physical Health with a wonderful social/work life. It is safe to say I was miffed by the whole concept or Healing within this context. I had so much to learn. I am still only just beginning.

 

As one begins to go deeper than merely the physical emotional realms it becomes clear that there is indeed a lot that warrants healing. The Healing Arts are called so as there is a Multidimensional quality to the process of healing that requires abstract thought, non-liner processes and, often, creative flair. Our minds are far more complex than just our literal ‘monkey mind’ thoughts. They also consist of our subconscious programming and default pathways, our psychosomatic wiring and our connection to the greater morphic field of collective consciousness… And that is before we get to other higher/external intelligences, thought forms and the realm of Spirit. From what I have personally seen and experienced I believe that we are part of an incredibly complex superimposed holographic Universe, and that what it means ‘To Heal’ is similarly as varied, fascinating and unpredictable. Some days I wish it was more simple, that I could go back to the 2D realm where everything was so, seemingly, straightforward. Blood tests, mechanical investigations, Surgical procedures. Black and white, yes no, easy peasy!

 

Well in truth the World of Healing is rather a grey one, or rainbow coloured should we choose a more energising metaphor! Even within individuals of the same species that same pathological diagnosis is expressed in infinite different ways. One does not experience depression, IBS, stage 4 lung Cancer etc in exactly the same way that any other person ever has. And in exactly the same reasoning there is simply no ‘one pill fits all’ cure or protocol to be prescribed. ALL Dis-eases have their deepest roots in different personality tempraments, lifestyle choices, genetic predispositions, and as such the treatment for each must be tailored for that individual. To not do so would be to bulldoze into the scene like an elephant in a china shop, often causing a lot of harm, despite good intention. Take Antibiotics as a prime example, sure you might kill off the offending pathogen but you will likely kill all the beneficial microbes too, weakening your gut and actually predisposing yourself to other disease processes.

 

This is where the ancient healing modailites are a lot more comprehensive. From the Hippocratic ‘humors’ of blood, black bile, yellow bile and phlegm; to the Aryuvedic Doshas of pitta, kapha and vatta, it is clear that there are delineating physiological dispositions we can be further subdivided into. Once allocated appropriately we are in a much better position to move off from, in the direction of Holistic healing. It really doesn’t matter which cosmology you opt for. What matters, is that you feel curious about it; that it genuinely makes you take an active interest in your Body and your Mind. Remember you, not the Doctor/Healer/Shaman/Therapist, is the one doing the healing, so you’d better become an active participant if you want to truly heal.

 

This means you need to drum up some enthusiasm and take the time to do some research, not simply submit yourself to “The Experts” opinion and prescription. If I could get a dollar for every story I have heard of how the patient/seeker/ailing wasted money, allowing serious diseases to progress to terminal because they didn’t listen to their own gut instinct or trusted that money would buy them peace of mind… i’d be rich. It’s sad but true. There are terrible Doctors, charlatans, egoically driven wounded healers who will not admit when they don’t know something… and then you’re in really dangerous waters. To minimise this risk, stay vigilant, stay present (yes that means putting your phone down) and follow this time tested piece of advice.. ‘If it feel off, it is’. Then take action. Seek out another opinion, do more research, whatever…

 

The term Holistic, is derived from the Greek ‘Holos’ meaning Whole, and describes a concept where multiple systems, in this case the physical, mental, social, community base and spiritual health of an individual; are all considered to fully represent the entirety of the person seeking wellness. This is something particularly important as part of my Coaching approach. Even if you come to me for Health related issues we will always take a moment to touch on love, finances, career etc because the truth is, how you do one thing is how you do EVRYTHING. Let that sink in… It’s quite a profound truth. When we begin to see how we operate in the multiple areas of our lives, patterns begin to emerge and it is then that we can hunt out the root cause for an habit or behaviour that you are ready to say goodbye to. This is the deeper work. We are simply a sum of our daily actions and habits and it is here that the magic of real transformation begins to unfold.

Now all this is well and good but what about those for whom the ‘Healing Journey’ has become all involving, a lifestyle of its own? We all have friends who have become fanatical in some way, be it Sacred Medicine ceremonies, dietary choices or submitting all life decisions to the dictates of their Guides. For some, the depth of pain, illness and mental suffering requires a deep, deep dive, and this naturally becomes a priority. Some are instinctively drawn to begin training in the Healing Arts as a result of their dramatic transformations. This is right and as it should be, and is indeed the journey of most Healers. Where I would like to draw special attention is to those to whom the Healing has become the identity. The Ceremony now, in truth, is really the social scene. The Processing, and the sharing of it publically, is somehow the validation of the experience they are having.

 

Yes we meet beautiful people along the way and yes it is natural we form new communities.. and, I have noticed that there are some to whom the process becomes the identity. The lure of the peak experience, the ‘Aha moment’, the attention of the group becomes the next way to gain energy from something external to the self. It is easily, and often completely subconsciously, slipped into. One could argue, that until one reaches enlightenment, the Healing ‘Work’ is never done. There are always more layers of the onion to peel away to reach our true essence. Yes this is true and also, it is important to remember what those enlightened beings taught.. The unifying teachings are ones of presence, joy and acceptance of what is. Giving too much of our energy, repeatedly time and again begs the question, “what are we looking for?”

 

If it is truly the definitive healing of the pain then at some point a slowing of the intensity in the process will naturally arise.. Here the illness resolves, the negative thought cycles cease, life begins to reflect back to us the work we have done and a sense of peace, balance and vitality suffuse our field. There is a saying, “if the door opens, stop knocking” and I feel the message of this simple adage is important to heed for those forgetting why they started the healing Journey in the first place. When you have received the final message adn you know what to do, it is time to do it and integrate it into your life. There is no substitute to action. It always speaks louder than words.

 

Please remember, if you have a friend you feel is consumed by their Journey, is important to address this with them gently and with extreme sensitivity, as I mentioned these new behaviours are often completely subconscious. We can never know what is really going on and they may indeed really need those few extra Sessions, but I feel it is always helpful to discuss our observations with loved ones if we have any concrns. It is up to them what they do with our well meant observations. Ultimately we are here to be happy, joyful creatures enjoying the gifts of life here now, in the present moment. Not endlessly focusing on the past and our wounds, while doing so, taking precious energy away from making positive changes to the World around us. There’s a million projects, bigger than ourselves, requiring enthusiasm, diligence and determination. So, get well, get inspired and get on with Living it!

With Love.

Alex