Casual Psychedelic-er: A Day With San Pedro Cactus

24 07 2017

I have learned recently how to extract the healing medicinal brew drink from the San Pedro Cactus, or Huachuma as it is also known.  That process can be found here as another entry I posted a while back (https://keatingbodyworks.wordpress.com/2016/12/01/san-pedro-cactus-brew-using-medicinal-plants-to-take-charge-of-your-own-healing/).  Mescaline is the psychoactive alkaloid found in San Pedro that makes up somewhere between 0.2-2% of the cactus.  Synthetic Mescaline has a much higher potency WAY above 2% and as it is just a white powder it is absent from the other synergistic components of plant ingredients that normally form in the cactus that allow for the psychoactive component to be in balance with the rest of the plant, offering a more manageable experience.  In this sense, it is basically at least, a different much stronger form of San Pedro, and at most, an altogether different drug and experience.  One must always pay attention to if they are taking a natural, plant form of something vs something synthetic.  Just because they came from the same place and in name are the same drug doesn’t mean they will be the same.

 

I had one more jar left frozen which was nearing an expiration date so I decided to go ahead and take it on.  In the past, I had always created very specific intentions about what I wanted to gain from the experience.  Those experiences were often with other people in powerful ceremonial situations or with myself that usually involved long hikes and processing through those means.  Although those experiences were amazing and still come highly recommended, I wanted it to be a bit different this time around.  My intention was to take the drink in a natural life setting and go about my day and see what emerged (I didn’t have to go into a job on this particular day).  Do people need the support of a group, or to cater to stereotypical meditative type behavior, or what we would could consider normal “ceremonial” behavior in order to have a positive experience?  At about noon I took the medicine.

 

I finished up a few tasks I was doing and then sat down and read for a bit.  The mostly unavoidable side effect of psychedelics is the nausea.  Some people have it worse.  I’ve never throw up (purged) from them, unless that was my intention, but it’s always a good idea to wait about an hour or two to see if this will be the case.  This particular brew was definitely more mild than others in that regard.  As things started to become distracting from focusing on the words in my book, I put it down and started to move around.  This is one of the reasons I usually always resort to a hike because movement and running around outside usually calms the stomach and the overall nervous feeling that you’re entering a psychedelic realm.  However, I did not want to resort to this type of trip of just going on a big hike so I decided I would spend about one hour at the local park just to give myself a normal feeling entry point.

 

Walking outside was an instant relief.  There’s a reason the inventor of LSD, Albert Hoffman, said that psychedelics should be done outside.  As soon as stepping out the door and seeing the scalable mountains all around Salt Lake City, I had an urge to just start going for them.  No!  I  wasn’t going to do what I always do!  To the park instead!  Quickly on the way to the park I noticed all the colors outside.  The sunflowers that lined neighbor’s yards seemed so yellow and intriguing.  There were these bees in them and little tiny bees at that, that I’ve never seemed to notice before.  They were living their lives out and doing what they naturally feel compelled to do to survive and feel meaningful.  Some of the sunflowers even had heart shaped centers which I found incredibly unique.  Have sunflowers always looked like this?  Did I just forget?  I love bees and feel spiritually connected to them so instantly walking out my door and having these experiences seemed extremely connective.  Generally having a connection with nature is typical on such medicine.

 

The lightness I felt while walking around was consistent throughout the day.  I had an intentional and calm gait, something which can be more rare for me as I am always twitching and itching for energy release and being bored and at times depressed of the relative, day to day things in my life.  Walking around and watching the houses and cars go by was extremely calming.  Like the bees, everything was happening for a reason and people were fulfilling their duties and meaning in their lives.  I wonder how many of them were truly feeling connection and meaning with what they were doing?  Do bees feel similar?  Do they mostly like how they go about their day or would that concept seem ridiculous for a bee?  With observing people, I couldn’t help but think that only a small minority of them, given the normative nature of our culture where we can so easily become passive participants in our lives, were not feeling a meaningful connection to their existence, or living how they wanted to be.  We so often live out the lives others want us to live, what “cultural norms” tell us to do, and we are afraid to stand out and really go for things.  If only people had more courage to get through that first hump which makes people notice you and then very quickly turns into acceptance and then envy that such a person is living out their authentic process and sense of meaning.  Not always the case I know, as often we are not always accepted for living out our genuine lives, but if we accept ourselves then that counts for most, and the kind of people who you mostly want in your life will be accepting and feel growth themselves through your admirable actions.  Most others who we try to impress are so preoccupied with themselves, for better or worse, that nobody really takes too much notice of you.  I felt a sense of sadness as I walked and looked at these people as I wondered if they were fulfilled and what scary things they would have to take on to make their lives more open and connective to their true essence.

 

The park was a magical place to be.  I walked through the grass and continued to walk with an ease and grace and calmness that I hope I can remember to do more of in my everyday life.  Suddenly a beautiful, vibrating sound came out of nowhere and there were two bag pipers!  This completely entranced me and I had to stop and sit in the grass for a while and just take it in.  Such a beautiful instrument and I could feel every inch of my being affected by the hypnotizing sounds.  It was so wonderful to just sit there and take it in.  Over the last many months, I have come to have a new respect and understanding of music and vibrational therapy.  The bag pipes were like medicine on top of medicine in the state I was in.

 

Eventually I got up and continued my walk.  Ironically as soon as I got up, the bag pipers stopped which made me feel like there was something so perfect about that moment.  Something was naturally aligned to have that work out so well.  They were playing and I was watching.  There was a natural connection with the performer and the audience.  We each were motivated by the other and feeding off each other.  You don’t notice these types of things as much in your day to day life.  It was enormously refreshing to know that we all contribute to each other in meaningful ways even if it’s something we can’t really see.

 

I walked around for the next bit going to my favorite places in the park, taking in deep breaths, and noticing all the wonderful people around who were also enjoying the park.  It was easy to say hi to people, it was easy to connect with the animals and stare admiringly at the trees and plants.  I walked by the Zoo and had an intimate long stare, eye contact moment with a pelican.  It started out uplifting but then it turned depressing as it seemed obvious that this animal was being held against its will in an animal type of concentration camp.  I suddenly began to visualize WWII Japanese internment camps.  What would it be like if we kept humans in these things for children and adults to come and observe, eat frozen yogurt at, and then simply go back to their freedom based lives?  I hate zoos for this reason and looking into one and making spiritual connections with the animals made me feel awful and like I should do something about this.  How does one go about changing things when 95% of the population views it as “normal?”  This isn’t an excuse for inaction and my soul hurt upon leaving the stare but I will not ever pay to go into a zoo or encourage anyone else to go to one for these reasons.  Passive activism is the bare minimum that we can do, but also very effective at the same time.

 

Before this experience started I had really wanted to go to yoga in this state.  I left the wonderful park and walked home and took a moment as my body was drenched in sweat from the 100 degree everyday July Salt Lake City has been having.  I felt like I was ok to jump in a car and head down the way to my yoga studio.  It is a good general rule to avoid driving while under psychedelics but there are a lot of general rules that don’t apply even the majority of the time.  A test one can do is for one to go off their gut feeling and to think about how big of a dose you took.  WIth micro to low doses I don’t see any problem, but starting with medium doses I would take special precautions.  An actual physical test one can cater to is to stare at an object.  If that object melts or turns into something else then you are clearly not okay to drive.  You can also do a test of trying to focus on one idea.  If you try and focus on one and it leads very quickly and intensely to an array of ideas and tangent thoughts where you basically lose track that you wanted to drive somewhere then that is a good indicator you shouldn’t drive.  Take some deep breaths and really go within and see what you want to be doing and what you’re capable of.  It is easy for people to judge others on this war on drugs/don’t drink-don’t drive absolutist mentality.  The reality is that people on drugs who are distracted and shouldn’t be driving can very easily be no different than people who are emotionally distraught, irritated, confrontational, abusive, aggressive, depressed, numbed out, etc. whether they come from drugs, emotions, or whatever in their “sober” lives.  However, these other things haven’t as easily been kept tracked of or paid attention to in our society while the war on drugs demonizing culture has led the popular public to think that all illicit drug users are evil people.  Driving under alcohol is vastly different and more dangerous than anything else on average and should not dictate one’s thoughts for all drug use.

 

All that being said, I drove to my yoga.  My driving was like my walking; much slower, calm, and full of intention and observation.  The overwhelming thing was walking into the gym.  I go to Vasa gym in Murry and it is one of the most “scene” gyms I’ve ever witnessed.  It’s insanely, super cheap so that’s why I go.  Your senses are usually much more sensitive on this kind of medicine and instantly upon walking in the smell of plastic, and protein powder filled me with anxiety.  People were abusing their bodies in extremely back killing torque bends with high weights.  Most of the men in there looked like they were going to topple over from being so top body heavy and having no flexibility or range of motion.  Everyone seemed so stiff.  It’s been a while since I’ve noticed how much people are looking at others around them or obsessing over themselves in the mirror.  There was something going on in this gym and it wasn’t too much associated with health and definitely not in alignment with anything psychedelically related.

 

I reached my yoga class and it was wonderfully refreshing.  For Vasa being such a “douche” gym, the 4pm yoga instructor Calvin is really good.  The music is calming and refreshing and it’s much more breath and energy focused and balancing yoga than it is anything power yoga or cross fit yoga related.  The yoga session was amazingly powerful.  I kept my breath in a way I usually don’t.  The balance poses seemed way easier and I had no problem keeping myself from pushing too much.  Catering to my breath and what I was capable doing with my body that day seemed so natural vs other times I go not on medicine.  It felt so good to be focusing on where my body was leading me in the moment.  I wasn’t impressing my neighbors or, most importantly, wasn’t competing with myself, which is a hard, critical, self-judgement issue I have with myself.  The meditation poses where I normally have monkey brain rather felt like I could stay in calm meditation forever.  It all just felt so natural and eyes closed breathing exercises gave rise to some visualization in my minds eye which is often very hard for me to do.  The energy I could see swirling around from that transferred to my natural vision when I would open my eyes and made me feel connected and meaningful to my teacher and the people around me.  I will focus on tapping into this feeling when I go to yoga not on medicine.  I loved the connectedness of the whole experience.  My body and mind felt wonderfully open and powerful and full of energy and life.

 

Upon arriving home, I laid down on the floor and felt overwhelming waves of lightness and body flexibility.  I did not have a constricting muscle or entity in my body.  Everything was open.  I turned on some music and relished for a long while in the zen state I was in.  It was so nice to be feeling so comfortable in my body and to fully absorb the music appreciation which was vibrating my brain so eloquently like the bag pipes had done earlier.  Not putting any pressure on myself to be doing anything other than what I was doing, I reveled in the openness of the moment and the self-acceptance and love I was feeling for what I was experiencing.

 

I eventually got up.  It was around 7pm and I figured I had a few more hours of feeling the medicine in its more pronounced state.  I grabbed my backpack full of water and figured I’d head out for a walk in the more cooling Utah dessert evening.  In my trek, I noticed many things about downtown I normally don’t notice.  Salt Lake City has one of the best libraries in the world and it was just made better in my mind as I ventured in and found myself on their rooftop deck.  It was wonderful to be able to look at the mountains and then down many stories to the bees of people who were all busy doing their duties below.  Looking down upon the tiny little beings of the human race really humbles humanity.  How are we any different than any other living thing that’s just going about its day?  We live in this infinite, massive, expansive universe and it is often so easy to feel like we are at the center of it all.  We clearly are not, and although it is wise to have an insight of your ego and how you affect the world there is clearly a billion times more things that don’t involve you.  We should not so easily get lost within ourselves being the center of the universe.  It is a balancing act for sure but a lot of depression and stress and angst and anxiety in the modern human, especially the American, is a result of this imbalance and us taking too personally everything that’s happening in our lives.  It is really not all about us, but likewise, we have to be happy with ourselves before we can be happy with what’s around us.  You see, it’s not the easiest pickle to figure out.

 

There were free concerts all around downtown happening here and there and it was incredibly refreshing to see people experiencing and enjoying music and dancing and embracing in culturally what makes them human.  I ended up over by the Mormon temple which is an incredibly beautiful building.  I couldn’t remember the name of the little guy on top of the church.  The name Jabroni kept coming to my mind but that clearly wasn’t it, as that is the name for like an east coast slimy dude.  Ha!  Angel Moroni was the actual name that I eventually remembered but somehow I think I’ll remember the name Jabroni from now on.  As I was walking around Temple Square I was in amazement of how I’d gotten to this particular space in time in my life.  Even only about 3 years ago I would have NEVER thought I’d be living in Utah and NEVER would have thought I would have taken San Pedro medicine and been in Temple Square.  I used to be so scared of Utah and Mormons and although I will stand firmly against the gross oppressive ways of their church leaders and doctrines, most people involved in the religion are just common people trying to live out good lives with what they think is the correct way.  Not that this a justification for doing bad things but they are no different than most of us others.  We’re all trying to figure it out and we all need to stand up for what we feel is right and clashing over that idea is ok.  Most Mormons are good neighbors and nice people and I can jive with that.

 

As I settled in for the night I was famished and had an extremely enjoyable meal to wrap up my day.  It is common for psychedelic medicine days to not come with eating much food.  Fasting adds to the experience.  My impressions of the day were positive.  I really liked going about my day in a normal fashion while attempting to take in the San Pedro medicine.  It was a medium to big dose but the extraction process I use keeps these doses manageable and more mild relating to nausea in general so it was all good.  I probably could have achieved the same thing today with taking a small dose as once the psychedelic mind is just slightly stimulated and attuned to knowing what is going on it doesn’t take a lot of medicine to tap into the brain stimulation that leads to the positive feelings of its healing powers.  Just like with anything else, the placebo affect is often the strongest medicinal approach we have.  This is probably one of the reasons psychedelia is not really addicting and why experienced psychonauts eventually do less psychedelics in their lives as the years pass for them.  I felt confident in my processing given my “normal” day and my impressions are that one doesn’t need a purely stereotypical ceremonial space or to be in a traditional, super contemplative meditative mindset for meaningful processing to occur.  I do think that when one is inexperienced or a beginner with psychedelia, it is good to have people around or to have support in some way.  Not to say you couldn’t cater to this when you were “advanced,” just that one can process on their own in a more or less “normal” day if they have experience with psychedelia and choose to do so.

 

Overall, I get into ruts in my life.  Everybody does.  We all battle issues related to our ideas of self-worth, feeling heard and expressed and loved in relationships, feeling meaning in our lives for the jobs we do, and basically overall angst at how we spend our time, and if we are doing the “right” things and living the “right” way.  These real and intense thoughts can all lead to us battling our own problems related to stress we put on ourselves, traumas we’ve experienced that have shaped our personalities, anxiety about the future, and depression about what we’ve done in the past.  All can lead to very unsettled feelings in the present, which can easily lead to addictive behavior in whatever we take on in our lives whether it’s liking the feeling of certain drugs vs being dependent on watching TV or working out or dating excessively or eating sugar or diving into religion or politics or anything else in our lives that has a routine built around a negative effect on how we treat ourselves and others and possibly forces us into isolation and looking forward to numbing feelings so we don’t have to feel.  We all know the negative feelings we don’t confront.  It is not an easy life and issues and problems are relative and it’s why a homeless person can be happier than someone making a million dollars.  What I’ve learned to love about psychedelic medicine and the San Pedro in this situation is how non-ordinary states of consciousness can be a positive force for living and dealing with ordinary states of “normal” day to day consciousness.  Our brains need stimulation in non-ordinary ways too no different than our bodies need it and why we do workouts that cater to different muscles not too much used, which we then are sore from.  If we are in an emotionally good place then we ARE in a good place.  Emotional health is everything and contrary to popular belief regarding whatever politicians and laws tell us regarding the “War on Drugs,” psychedelics can dramatically benefit emotional well-being and leave us in a very healthy, light, calm, loving, accepting, efficient, and connective place.

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