Most people struggle with something in their lives. Relationships, career, health, family, spirituality, financial aspects of life; sometimes all of the above. I’m not sure why we struggle, but based on the multi-billion dollar self-help industry, it’s not an easy fix. Some people address their struggle head on through therapy, hypnotherapy, personal growth workshops, reading books, etc., and some push it down or numb out through excessive use of alcohol, drugs, food, shopping, internet, sex, work, obsessive exercise, or some other unhealthy habit, behavior, or activity, because they don’t have the resources, desire, or the courage to figure out the root cause of their pain so they can move past it.
Some are well-adjusted, content humans, grateful for the good things in their lives, and area able to withstand the ups and downs of life in this human form. They move through emotional ups and downs without allowing those things to take over their lives.
I strive to be like that! But, I'm not. How about you?
Are you well-adjusted, happy, content, and able to roll with the punches? Or, do you struggle with something in your life? How do you deal with it? Do you talk about it? Hold it inside? Pretend everything is just fine?
I always wished I had the capacity to ride the waves of life’s ups and downs without becoming overwhelmed. I’ve struggled with depression, anxiety, relationship and self-esteem issues for most of my life, and only in the past few years was I finally able to begin to understand the root cause/core wound/childhood trauma that caused these issues, so I could heal. I'm much better now! But, it's a work in progress. It took persistence and courage, and it’s on-going, but I believe that by sharing my story, I might be able to help others who are struggling. Thanks for joining me on this journey.
Imagine forgetting everything: your name, your physical existence, your friends, things you've learned, books you've read, places you've traveled to or lived, people you love, your fears, desires, anxieties, needs, money, language. What's left? Pure consciousness, endless energy, eternal light, infinite expansiveness, connection to everything that is, was and ever will be. This energy is bound by nothing. It's part of the infinite and finite at the same time.
If you find that hard to imagine, you're not alone. Buddhist Monks spend a lifetime trying to achieve ego-death, or enlightenment, with limited success. The so-called ego-death, or ego-loss, is a phenomenon that many psychonauts are looking for and at the same time have their greatest fear of.
I can't vouch for all psychedelics, because I haven't tried them all, but from what I have gathered,, 5Meo-DMT is the most intense, and quickest, way to experience ego death. But back in 2017, I knew none of this. I was told, "the toad is like experiencing pure love". Sounded good to me.
Organic 5Meo-DMT (also known as the God Molecule, or Toad Medicine) comes from a rare species of toad native to the Sonoran Desert, which produces a venom containing 5Meo-DMT; an extremely potent natural psychedelic. It's also available as a synthetic, which is more appealing to most people, because the frogs can be left alone. Michael Pollon had a 5Meo-DMT experience while researching his book, How to Change Your Mind. His experience was not a positive one, which is why I am posting a link to it, because it’s important to see both sides, and since he is a respected journalist, it feels like the right perspective to share.
Although my experience was at first completely terrifying and then beautiful beyond words, I'm still not sure, four years later, if it changed my life for the better, or made things worse. On the upside, this experience was the beginning of a 4-year journey (and still going) of transformation. I finally had the courage to address and heal my childhood trauma, I was able to overcome my depression, and taught me about self-love and acceptance. In most areas of my life, I am more emotionally stable and centered. But when it comes to romantic love, well, I'm still working on that one.
Once I decided to move ahead with this experience, the universe led me to the right person; someone I had known for awhile and trusted deeply. A few weeks later I found myself sitting on a comfortable cushion on the floor of this friend’s house, we’ll call him Tim (not his real name) who had been facilitating these journeys for years. He was dressed all in white, had soft music playing, and had just finished explaining how the ceremony would unfold.
“Once I light the pipe and it fills with smoke,” he explained, “blow all the air out of your lungs and then inhale, slowly, and hold your breath for as long as you can.”
My heart was pounding. I was terrified. But, I knew, at some level, that this was my path. I was ready. I took a few deep breaths, inhaled as instructed, and within about 3 seconds, my mind went black and I felt like I was dying. I can’t put into words how this felt, but later learned that what I experienced is called “ego death.” According to RevitalizingInfusions.com:
Certain substances, such as DMT, psilocybin, ayahuasca, peyote, LSD and Ketamine, taken in different quantities, have a strong reputation of being able to push the mind or soul over the edge, allowing it to seemingly detach from its bodily counterpart. Often hard to put into words, this can create a state that some have called ego dissolution, ego loss, or even ego death. According to new scientific research, these experiences can have a powerful and positive effect on mental health. People who scored higher on ego dissolution tended to be more positive and have a better outlook on their life after the experience.
Stanislov Grof explain it as such:
“Ego dissolution is an ecstatic state, characterized by the loss of boundaries between the subject and the objective world, with ensuing feelings of unity with other people, nature, the entire Universe, and God.”
The article goes on to explain why an encounter with the infinite possibility is so therapeutic. When we meet death, we become more alive.
Once I “crossed over”, I entered a state that is near impossible to explain. I wrote the following in my journal that very night, and every time I read it I feel like someone else wrote it.
Journal entry: Feb. 3rd 2017
It all became perfectly obvious, in an instant. Everything made sense. Life, death, existence itself. The answer was inside me the whole time. It's inside of everyone, but with the possible exception of life-long meditators or monks or yogis, most of us can’t access this feeling from our “normal” state of consciousness. And to be clear, it was a feeling, not a visual experience like other psychedelics often bring on. I saw nothing, I saw everything. My eyes were closed the whole time.
I felt like I was breathing my first breath. Like I was being reborn. I am. I am expansive. I am beautiful. I am everything. So this is what they were talking about. All of the spiritual and self-help books, the intense workshops, the meditation teachers. I have everything I need right here, inside my heart, my mind, my soul.
But until I felt it, that expansive place in my heart, the place where I was connected to this very moment, everything that ever was, everything that ever will be, in this dimension or another, until I finally got it, that I was the source of my own pain, suffering, and freedom...only then could I begin the real journey to becoming a whole person, and share what’s in my heart with the world. Sing it, shout it, write it, dance it, create from it live it.
We all have this magic, this love, this infinite well of energy inside of us. It’s not about buying stuff, being successful, winning, raging war. It’s about connecting with each other. Allowing ourselves to be seen, to see each other, for who we are. Only by sharing what’s in our hearts are we able to truly connect with each other and the world. Being open. Vulnerable. Take the risk. Open our hearts, so that others can open theirs, knowing they are loved, they are safe, they are held. If we hold it inside, it eats us alive. This expansion, this universal love, it brings a freedom I never knew existed.
I can breathe...I am in the flow of life, I am life, not an observer. Not withholding, but expanding...love is all...it's everywhere we only need to open our heart and minds to receiving it. It's so beautiful...it’s easy, it's right here...just reach out and embrace it.
I had to shout it out: “I AM BEAUTIFUL...I AM EXPANSIVE...I AM EVERYTHING...I FUCKING GET IT!” Open your arms, your heart...every breath is an opportunity to take in more love, and send more love out into the world.
It’s only when we get quiet...stop DOING and start BEING that we will be able to access this pure love...the world we experience as reality is just a distraction. Unless we take a moment to get quiet, it’s beyond our reach. We don’t give ourselves a chance to feel this. We are too busy, and too tired when we sleep.
Meditation can lead us to this bliss. It's a time to go in, not out. To have quiet, not noise. To access this universal love that lives in each of us, and connects us all. We can float on this love forever.
It might feel scary at first, but once you open the door, the door disappears. The walls disappear. The roof and the floor float away...all that’s left is infinite expansive energy...purity...it is birth, it’s life, it is death, it's everything in between. Some call it God, the creator, the entity, higher power. I have no name for it. It's in every cell of our bodies. Once you access this, you will know. Stop searching for peace out there...find it in your own heart, surrender to it, share it. Give it openly. It is your connection to the source of everything, to each other, to the natural world, to yourself, to the core of who you are. It's beautiful...magical.
When I came back into my body, I thought my journey was complete. Eventually I realized it had just begun.
As terrifying as it was to access this space of love, eternity, surrender and transcendence, I resisted reintegration. I wanted to stay there. I never felt so at peace. All of my problems, anxieties, worries were nonexistent and I experienced nirvana. But I had no choice. Gradually, I returned to my body, trying to hold on to the feeling for as long as possible. When I finally opened my eyes, I was greeted by Tim, “Welcome home.” Those words took on a whole new meaning. I realized that I’d always been home; everything I need is inside of me. All this time, I had been looking elsewhere.
My journey to inner peace wasn’t easy, and although I now have many more “good days” than “bad”, it’s an ongoing practice. There were days when I wanted to give up, call it quits, run away, crawl into a hole, or snap my fingers and make all my inner struggles disappear. It was frustrating, confusing, difficult, and exhausting. I’d attend a workshop/have a therapy session/take a psychedelic/read a book, have a breakthrough, and think, YAY! I’m healed! I figured it out! And then, a few days/weeks/months later, something else would trigger me and pull me back into a funk, and I’d begin the process over again to figure out the source of my new pain. Rinse and repeat.
I wondered if I had become addicted to self-help, and feared that I would never access the peace I craved. I wanted my inside to match the outside because to the outside observer, my life appeared to be pretty good. I went to college, got a good job, had lots of friends, got married, had two kids, and was living in Silicon Valley. My husband had a good job, so once the kids came along, I had the choice to work or stay home with them, or do a little of both, which is what I ended up doing.
I opened an art studio where I taught expressive art classes, created and hosted a TV show about art, and sold lots of my work. How blessed I was! I had everything I thought I wanted, it was a good life. So, when I found myself locked in my bedroom, curled up in a ball on my bed crying my eyes out for “no good reason,” with my kids standing outside the door asking if I was ok, it made no sense to me. I was very confused about why I was so sad, so I didn’t share my depressive episodes with anyone, at least, not for a while. These feelings stayed with me all day every day, but I was good at covering them up. I put a smile on my face, took care of my kids, went on vacation, hosted parties, and tried to push down my pain. But as you might guess, I was unsuccessful. As they say, what we resist, persists.
It was years before I found the courage to begin therapy and explore other ways of getting to the root of my pain, so I could break my patterns of negative internal voices. During this process, I discovered there were others who experienced similar thoughts and feelings, so I felt less alone, less damaged, less messed up.
One of the reasons why I felt “crazy” and that my feelings were not valid/logical, was because I was married to someone who had never experienced depression so he just couldn’t understand why I was feeling so bad. And at the time, I was unable to properly express how I felt, nor ask for what I needed, as far as support. So in addition to negative thought patterns about myself, I began to think negatively about him. Why wasn’t he being more supportive? If he would just be more attentive/loving/understanding, all my pain would go away. I later learned this is a common pattern of someone who is codependent, a word that was not in my vocabulary at the time. I began the cycle of blaming someone or something outside myself for my internal pain. It wasn’t until much later that I realized the flaw in this line of thinking, but at the time, all I could focus on was “it’s all his fault. If only he would change, everything would be ok.”
My pattern of thinking became as follows: “I’m not happy in this relationship. But, I am not happy with myself either. Therefore, any relationship I might enter into will end up being the same. I will be unhappy. So I should just stay here, because he’s a good guy, he loves me, and I didn’t want to break up our family.” But there was a part of me that wondered if this was really true. I kept coming back to the same question: Is it ME, or is it US? Am I capable of being in a happy, healthy relationship? Am I capable of love at all? Did I love him? What does love even feel like? What does love mean to me? I questioned everything, and I’m still seeking answers to those questions.
At some level, I knew that if I were to ever find the solution to this rubik's cube, I’d have to start with looking inside myself for answers because as I wanted it to be all his fault, the answers weren’t “out there”, they were inside myself. That said, I needed help, so I began my quest.
Psychedelics have been a catalyst to heal the depression and anxiety I have struggled with for most of my adult life. I hope that sharing my story of transformation might help others to find the courage to heal their pain and find a path to self-love, acceptance, and inner peace. Thanks for reading.
Forbes article about Toad Medicine