December 29th, 2020

Episode #4 of the psychedelic leadership podcast

THE INITIATION OF BOWING AT THE ALTAR OF IMPERMANENCE WITH LAURA DAWN

In this solo episode, Laura Dawn explores the overlap and intersection between Eastern philosophy and the psychedelic experience, and how we can learn to draw upon the wisdom teachings as as source of strength, as collectively move through this time of metamorphosis and learn to surf the waves of change with grace and ease.

As we know, this is a time of great change.

So how do we learn to navigate through major times of transition and learn to surf the waves of rapid change with more grace, ease, courage, and resilience?

As we close the chapter on 2020, the year of global upheaval, the year the world as we knew it forever changed, how can we find the wisdom to transmute crisis into the catalyst for transformation, the catalyst for our awakening, so we can pass through the portal into 2021, or whatever portal of transition we happen to be moving through so we can be stronger, wiser and more heart-centered leaders on the other side?

In this solo episode Laura Dawn explores the initiation that many of us are facing right now, the initiation of bowing at the altar of impermanence, and how if we’re willing to make peace with this often very challenging place, it can catalyze a process of metamorphosis in our lives allowing us to be stronger on the other side.

In this Episode:

  • Wisdom tools you can learn to draw upon for strength to navigate times of change.
  • The importance of the narratives we tell ourselves about this time of change.
  • Exploring the metaphor of metamorphosis and the cocoon.
  • Exploring the intersection between Eastern philosophy, the psychedelic experience, and quantum physics.
  • Exploring the wisdom teachings of impermanence and groundlessness.
  • The benefit of relating to times of transitions as rights of passage or initiations.
  • The power of cultivating a relationship with impermanence.
  • Psychedelics and bowing at the altar of your own death.
  • Cultivating the courage to let go and embrace times of change as a launchpad for new creation.

Listen

My name is Laura Dawn, and you’re listening to Episode #4 of the psychedelic leadership podcast. 

Because what the world needs is a new kind of leader. So get ready for a neural upgrade as we journey to a better future. 

As we know, this is a time of great change. 

So how do we learn to navigate through major times of transition and learn to surf the waves of rapid change with more grace, ease, courage, and resilience? 

 

As we close the chapter on 2020, the year of global upheaval, the year the world as we knew it forever changed, how can we find the wisdom to transmute crisis into the catalyst for transformation, the catalyst for our awakening, so we can pass through the portal into 2021, or whatever portal of transition we happen to be moving through so we can be stronger, wiser and more heart-centered leaders on the other side? 

In this solo episode, I am going to explore the initiation that many of us are facing right now, the initiation of bowing at the altar of impermanenceimpermanence, and how if we’re willing to make peace with this often very challenging place, it can catalyze a process of metamorphosis in our lives allowing us to be stronger on the other side.

And before I begin, I want to acknowledge this land, this volcano that I’m recording on here on the Big Island of Hawaii, that has taught me an enormous amount and has been my own initiatory training ground for my own bowing at the altar of impermanenceimpermanence. 

And I want to honor all the people who have walked these lands and tended to these soils for many generations before me. And I also want to welcome in the soundscape of the Hawaii Jungle I’m very much so immersed right now, as I’m recording practically outside. So may these vibrational sounds of the jungle and all the special creatures in it, bless our lives and remind us of the gift of impermanenceimpermanence. 

And so thank you for hearing that. 

Ok, so I think many people share this intuitive sense that humanity is coming to the end of an era and that we are moving through a time of collective metamorphosis. 

And in episode 3 featuring a really fascinating conversation with Dennis McKenna, he talks about this time of metamorphosis, amongst many other things, including his perspective that plant medicines are the messengers from Gaia telling us to wake up and wise up, which is another perspective I really appreciate and resonate with. So if you haven’t tuned into that episode, I highly recommend giving it a listen. 

And I also like to use this analogy of metamorphosis, and I’ve been referencing it quite a lot lately because metaphors can help give us a framework for understanding this time that can often feel confusing and overwhelming, and help us draw meaning from it.)

I also had the privilege of interviewing Sandra Ingerman who’s been teaching shamanic wisdom for over 40 years, in episode two, and in her audiobook called Awakening to the Spirit World, she says: 

“We live in a time of great change, and now is the time for us as modern visionaries to own our power, to make our lives better, and to use our creativity to find solutions to what is happening in our world.” 

And so she, and many others, calls this a time of great change, and when great change happens, there’s a large restructuring that takes place, and we can think of this unraveling as like this time of entering into the cocoon. And we’re witnessing this on many different levels, both individually and collectively. 

So we can think of this time as things falling apart, or we can shift the narrative as say things need to fall apart right now, so they can fall back together in a much more functional way. 

And I’m also a big fan of Charles Eisenstein’s work, and he said something along the lines of, and this is a very loose quote, but it was something like: if we want to influence real change: “We must become the storytellers of a new world.” So really everything I’m sharing here is weaving new narratives so we can create a more beautiful world our hearts know is possible, as Charles would say. 

Because as we know our narratives, the stories we tell ourselves are everything, really. It’s the foundation for which our lives are built upon. 

And I think it’s valuable to adopt the narrative and treat these significant inflections points, these major transitions we all experience, that truly punctuate the story of our lives as either a rights of passage or an initiation. 

And I think it’s helpful to approach transition from this perspective, this narrative, because it creates a framework of support, like scaffolding that offers us strength because we choose to treat these passages, both large and small with more awareness and respect, and this can directly influence and shape how we experience these transitions in our lives and also, the outcomes of them. 

And we know when we go through this kind of initiation, we need to hold space for something to die, and really let go of old ways in order to make space for something new and more harmonious to emerge here. As they say, something’s gotta give –– and I think a lot of things have to give right now, especially when it comes to the way human beings are fundamentally showing up to live on this earth. 

In a way, I see going into the cocoon as this opportunity to give ourselves a neural upgrade that ultimately prepares us to stay calm, centered, grounded, and resilient in the face of what will surely be more change to come in this time of global restructuring. 

And that feels like exactly the journey we are embarking on right now. 

And before I dive into exploring this initiation of bowing at the altar of impermanence, and why it’s so important, and how it can directly shift the way we choose to show up and engage with life, because this is my first solo episode with you, I just want to set the context here. 

And I know this is pointing out the obvious, but I actually think it’s worth fully acknowledging that we are living through radically different times than ever before, marked by exponential change due to a confluence of so many factors, of course including pandemics, but also climate change, technology like AI and quantum computing.  

I mean, we are now having to prepare children for jobs that don’t exist yet. And on top of it, or more like what’s transpiring in the background, is that we’re witnessing the slow degradation and breakdown of so many foundational systems that billions of people have built their lives on top of, we’re entrenched in these systems that just don’t serve us anymore, they were built for a different time, a different era, and we’re coming to the end of that era. So they’re due for a radical overhaul, yet no one really knows or has the answers to what more effective systems can look like. 

So, that’s a lot to process, and a lot is happening simultaneously, which can feel overwhelming. And we are undoubtedly embarking on a very new journey ahead of us. 

And leadership Experts call this a VUCA world, I don’t know if you’ve heard this specific term before, but it’s a world marked by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, and this was coined all the way back in the late 80’s so imagine what those experts must be thinking about the world we’re living in today. 

So in a way, it’s like we’re being thrown into the ocean with massive chaotic tidal waves without being taught how to swim. And it’s very apparent when we look at rates of depression, suicide, and chronic stress and illness that a lot of people are just struggling to cope and stay afloat right now. 

And so this is the initiation. And this is what I truly feel like these times are asking of us: to become more resilient, more adaptable, and flexible. It’s time to be stronger now, more open-minded and more open-hearted, and more fearless in the face of change.

But if we choose this path, and bring a certain mindset and framework to it, at least this is how I’m thinking about it, we can undergo a unique kind of training, our own restructuring, and come out the other side much more flexible, more fluid, more adaptable and resilient in the face of change. And we can train ourselves to shift our perception of reality and think more creatively which can fundamentally allow us to uncover new solutions to the complex challenges we face, both individually and collectively.  

Because as Einstein said, we can’t solve our problems at the same level of thinking that created them, so this metamorphosis process is essentially a process of up-leveling. I mean, being a caterpillar seems pretty cool and all, but common’ you know you want to be the butterfly. 

But to give birth to those delicate wings, we need to be willing to face these incredibly scary places of letting go and allow great change to transpire.  

And I think it’s worth highlighting here that we weren’t really taught the necessary skillsets to navigate through this much drastic change. And actually, what I think is just as important, maybe even more important to cultivate right now than skillsets are the right mindsets and also what I call “heart sets” that allow us to completely up-level our lives. This is the era of mind-body upgrade. 

So the story I like to tell myself about this time is that we have a new kind of journey ahead of us, and like any new trip we’re about to take (psychedelic or otherwise), we need to know what kind of climate and terrain to prepare for; we have to know how to pack and what to pack. 

And so here’s the thing: I happen to believe we are collectively moving through a specific kind of transition–– and this is the message I keep receiving from plant medicines –– that the new terrain we actually need to learn how to navigate resides in a different dimension of reality. 

Ok, so there’s a lot I could say about this. It’s really actually one of my favorite topics to talk about, but for now, I’ll just refer to this dimension as the realm of consciousness, and just illuminate that there are other dimensions of reality and that there is so much more than meets the eye, and there’s an unseen realm that exists beyond which we can see. 

So what feels pertinent to share in this moment is that this particular journey we’re embarking on isn’t about accumulating more stuff. Actually stuff is just going to weigh us down, it’s too heavy, it’s like Erykah Badu’s song Bag lady, so we need to leave the baggage at the door. 

And what might serve us much more effectively is focusing our attention on accumulating tools, and by that, I mean cultivating skillsets, mindsets, and heartsets which also reside in that dimension of consciousness that I think will be more useful as we pass through this portal and transition into this next era, this next chapter of human history. 

So given this context now, I think another thing that’s important to remember is that we each have the capacity to equip ourselves with these very helpful tools to support us on the path, and begin to understand which tools make more sense to focus on, like creative problem solving for example, is a cognitive tool I think will prove to be invaluable for all of us as we face the decades to come.  

And so anything can be a tool that we add to our repertoire –– to our toolbelt so-to-speak–– it can be a teaching from an ancient lineage, it can be a conceptual framework, a metaphor, a myth, it can be a meditation practice or technique, a movement practice. Music and sound, like tuning into vibrational frequencies are also a tool we can work with. 

And of course, I also consider plant medicines invaluable tools we can learn to consciously work with to support us on this particular path of initiation and metamorphosis. 

And these transformational tools are so effective because they help us shift our perceptual field of awareness, like offering us a new set of glasses that enable us to align with a new way of seeing that peels back veils of illusion that essentially we’ve been clinging to for comfort for most of our lives, but that actually no longer serve us. 

And so these tools allow us to move into deeper alignment with the lives we truly want to be living, lives filled with meaning and purpose, and they support a way of perceiving that deepens that alignment in a very integral way.

So when we are tossed into the ocean, these tools are how we equip ourselves with a surfboard to ride the waves of change rather than get pummeled by them. 

So whether you are in the cocoon of metamorphosis or not, whether you feel the upheaval of major transitions in your own life right now or not, these are still valuable tools to explore. Because well, this is life, so you will be meeting these places sooner or later, and these tools can help prepare you for those bigger moments of transition, or help you make peace with painful transitions that have transpired in the past. 

But beyond that, and maybe even most importantly, this framework can help you become resilient enough to help support and hold space for other people moving through portals of change and transition that are painful and challenging for them to navigate. And this is just one way amongst many we can lay the foundation for becoming stronger, kinder, more compassionate leaders holding space for the larger metamorphosis we are all collectively moving through.

And essentially, you know, I really see this as being the path of the Bodhisattva, and I really resonate with those teachings, which I won’t get into in this moment but just to say that we’re training ourselves to be a light in dark places, and I think this is really what it means to be on the medicine path right now, at least it’s what it means for me.

So in these solo episodes, I’ll be weaving spirit with science, eastern philosophy, quantum physics, neuroscience, stories, psychedelic experiences, metaphors, quotes, music, you know, all the things. And really just sharing how I’m framing and thinking about things, especially in relation to plant medicines but of course, so much more than that. 

And I don’t claim to have any answers here, I’m just sharing my heart with you, and I’m on the path right alongside you as I’m also figuring out what it means to be a human being living on this planet during such interesting times.

And so I encourage you, as mother would say, take the best and leave the rest. Adopt what resonates for you and, of course, find your own truth. 

———————

Ok, so without further ado, let us turn our attention to the topic for this first solo episode: the initiation of bowing at the altar of impermanence, which I admit, is a pretty heavy-duty place to start, but as my spiritual teacher Pema Chödrön would say, there’s no time to lose, which is also the title of a wonderful book of hers, that talks about the way of the Bodhisattva, if you want to go deeper on that path. 

So I’m going to touch on these wisdom teachings that have been around for thousands of years that we can lean on for support and guidance. And where that overlaps with the psychedelic experience and quantum physics, just from my perspective anyways, although I won’t spend too much time there. 

So when I mentioned veils of illusion, I think one of the biggest illusions we erroneously perceive is that we live in a very concrete, solid reality. And one of the habits of mind is to constantly try to solidify and concretize and cling to things: to people, to our relationships, to stories, and especially to our own identity, ultimately to help give us a sense of security in this constantly shifting world, something to hold onto. 

And of course, this is at the heart of Buddhist teachings, this teaching of impermanence. And when I started learning from my teacher Pema Chodron, gosh, about 15 years ago at this point, she would talk about this sense of primordial discomfort inherent in all human beings. 

And I still vividly remember the first time I heard her talk about this, I was listening to an audio recording of hers, and I was in a slightly altered state from a small amount of THC, laying in a hammock on the beach at a time when I was living out of a van with my ex partner in Mexico. And I was so struck when she describes this feeling of primordial discomfort that’s always there underneath the surface, and I immediately knew exactly what she was talking about, and she gave language to this experience which of course, language has the capacity to open up new perceptual doorways of self-discovery.  

And the way Pema frames it is that we are always seeking solid ground to stand on. 

And we spend our entire lives grasping for this sense of security. And, well, as we all know, this is incredibly futile.

And intellectually, of course, we know this. We can rationally say to ourselves, yes, things are always changing, in each and every moment things are shifting, growing, birthing, and dying. 

And what I find particularly interesting is that this just so happens to be exactly what quantum physics also points to. And just like Tesla said, if you want to understand the secrets of the universe, you need to understand energy, frequency, and vibration. And when we look at reality at the smallest level, at the quantum level, we also see that it’s always in motion. 

And that’s at the core essence of what we’re talking about here.

And so this is where science and ancient wisdom meet. Pema, whose teachings are rooted within the perspective of Eastern philosophy and shares a very large body of teachings to help us wrap our minds around this very simple point, this truth of impermanence, and she’s essentially saying the very same thing that quantum physics is pointing to, that everything is always in transition, energy in motion. 

So intellectually, we know this ––everything is constantly in flux––but emotionally, well, that’s a different story. 

It’s incredibly hard for us humans to come to terms with the nature of impermanence, because first of all, it’s just exhausting. Facing constant change is emotionally and it can be physically and also mentally exhausting. 

And second of all, it can be super painful, it’s like touching an open wound. 

I mean for anyone who’s suffered and grieved loss, and loss is inherent in all transition, it’s just part of the process, we’re leaving something behind, and sometimes what we’re leaving behind is really painful to let go of, the loss a home, a loved one, a relationship, our health in the case of illness, we know it’s just so emotionally fucking hard. So we try to protect that soft spot, so we don’t have to feel it. 

And so, we’re not taught how to make peace with this discomfort, and that there’s wisdom in learning to make direct contact with it, and beyond that even, there’s wisdom in cultivating a relationship with impermanence, and honoring the inherent gift in it.  

And what we tend to do instead is cover over it. And it’s subtle, and we’re not even aware that this is what’s going on, but we cover over it by clinging and trying to hold onto pretty much everything that we perceive as solid: lie our relationships, our homes, all the stuff in our lives, cars, phones, social media, pets, our bodies. And it’s not just stuff, we cling to beliefs, to dogmas, to addictions especially, that’s a big one, to perceptions, that’s another really big one, to who we think we are, this solid sense of Self, and we seek comfort in all of it. It’s the solid ground we look for to stand on in this inherently shifting world.

And you know, ultimately, we’re in transition in every single moment of our lives–– of course, some moments of transition feel much more significant than others–– but it’s our internal narratives and the way we solidify our identity and our perception of reality that prevents us from living in a way that really embodies this perspective of impermanence. 

In a sense, this constant need to solidify prevents us from living in “right relationship” with life, if that makes sense, because of this survival-based defense-mechanism we inherently have that really just tries to protect us.  

As Pema Chödrön says: 

“Impermanence is a principle of harmony. When we don’t struggle against it, we are in harmony with reality.” 

And that’s how I think of this notion of being in “right relationship” with life itself. 

And so layer upon layer, we unconsciously cover over the discomfort of groundlessness, and whether we’re directly experiencing loss in the immediacy of our lives or not, the strong urge or tendency is to turn away from it. And ultimately, it’s what sets the stage for a life filled with constant distraction and lack of fulfillment and it’s why there’s a multi-billion dollar industry that tries to offer solutions on how to just be happy. 

And these particular teachings really helped me start to see my own knee-jerk reactions to seek comfort in ways that just caused me more suffering and started to offer me the wisdom of discernment. 

And I think it suffices to say that the core fear that strikes terror in our hearts is acknowledging our own impermanence; that we too shall also come to pass, back into that sea of energy from which we came. Because we just don’t like to embrace death in our culture, and instead, we sweep it under the rug, which is really just so dysfunctional, and we know this, and it’s wreaking havoc in our lives because we’re afraid to face it. 

And so, facing this fear is what makes this an initiation. 

And I know this place of fear quite intimately in my life, and these wisdom teachings have been and continue to be incredibly powerful and just so helpful, like the medicine, the antidote to suffering. 

A couple of years ago, I had an experience of total groundlessness, the proverbial rug being pulled out from under me. 

I spent years pouring my heart and soul, my blood, sweat, and tears into building this incredible volcanic hot spring retreat center from scratch with my partner on the Big Island of Hawaii. 

And when we bought the land, we didn’t know we were going to tap into volcanic water that flows at 111 degrees with over 400 minerals in it. 

And it was a time when we started with nothing, and worked so hard to create something that was just so special and so magical. And a moment came where we were standing in the garden, and we caught word that the road split open in the closest subdivision above our land and lava started flowing. And during that time, we experienced thousands of earthquakes, so talk about groundlessness, including one massive earthquake that really devastated our home. 

And that cataclysmic event of the volcanic eruption that lasted months––as an enormous amount of lava covered a large area and took out many homes in our community–– completely changed the trajectory of my life. 

And yes, after months of watching the lava flow, we are so grateful our land was spared from that flow anyways, and it’s still there, but it’s no longer ours, because we made the very challenging and painful decision to sell it and let it go.

And that entire experience catapulted me into the cocoon of metamorphosis and what felt like a very long and tumultuous dark night of the soul where I was confronted with so much pain and so much grief I never knew existed –– a well of grief that I felt like was trying to swallow me whole–– because I was so afraid of losing everything we had worked so hard to create, the retreat center, our home, our food security, our business, our livelihood. 

That land was apart of me, it’s what I birthed into creation transmuted from an inner vision in my mind, and I was so incredibly attached to that creation, and that attachment and my ongoing reluctance to let it go caused me an enormous amount of suffering. 

As Byron Katie so succinctly puts it: 

“When you argue against reality, you suffer.” 

And that’s why she calls herself a “lover of what is.” And it’s just short, pithy lines like this from our teachers that can help ease some of the pain. So we learn to adopt these quotes as another tool we can continuously draw upon to offer us wisdom and discernment around what we can and can’t control and what we can and can’t influence in our lives. 

And all I can say is thank goodness I had been listening to Pema’s teachings, and others, but particularly Pema’s literally over and over again, over many years, because they were truly a lifeline for me, a tiny pinhole of light at the end of a very dark tunnel. 

And they reminded me that there was nothing I could physically cling onto that would ease the suffering and that trying to cover over it or move away from it with food, or caffeine, or Netflix didn’t actually help but made matters much worse. And the only way to make peace with this level of fear was actually to sit in the middle of it, like sitting in the middle of a fire, you know, it’s just that intense. 

And not to give you the impression that this devastating experience happened, and I just immediately went to that place of facing it, oh no, no, no. I did, in fact try everything in my power to cling and hold onto anything I could. 

I kicked and screamed and freaked out (internally, I mean, well mostly), but when I had the moments of remembering these teachings, it certainly helped ease the suffering. 

And they still help! 

I’m holding space for another big transition in my life right now, bowing at the bittersweet altar of impermanence yet again as Noah and I transition out of 9 years of being married.

So these teachings that are alive within our hearts and minds, residing in the dimension of consciousness, and they become a different kind of solid ground within ourselves that we can learn to stand on and found solace in, and connects us to the ground within our own beings that can offer us strength and fortitude during transient times.  

Ok, so wisdom teachings are helpful. 

And of course, there’s only so much I can say here, but only so much time, but if you are struggling with transition in your own life right now, I highly recommend reading the book “When things fall apart” by Pema Chödrön. I consider it to be like a survival guide for the 21st century, and I hope you find as much strength in it as I have. 

So I also want to talk about plant medicines and how I’ve personally found them to be invaluable tools on this path of metamorphosis, of course, when working with them in a mindful way, and how they’ve offered me a wellspring of teachings, guidance and support in this particular department of learning to make peace with and bow at the altar of impermanence. 

And I’m so fascinated by the similarities and overlap between eastern philosophy, quantum mechanics, and the psychedelic experience. And it’s very possible and highly likely that my medicine journeys are influenced by these teachings and what I’m learning about quantum mechanics because that’s the perceptual lens I’m equipping myself with as I enter these spaces, which is really the point of what I’m trying to get at here. 

Can we learn a perceptual framework, like uploading a neurological program in the mind, that then allows you to perceive a different reality? But that’s a huge conversation that we’ll come back to in another episode. 

And just as a side note, the most interesting thing I found about Micheal Pollan’s book on Psychedelics called How to Change Your Mind, was the fact that on the very last page, he ended his super lengthy book where he covered so much territory, by ending on the note of mentioning quantum physics. And so where he left off happens to be exactly where I want to pick up the conversation. 

And of course, when talking about psychedelics, there needs to be a disclaimer here, because that’s just the responsible thing to do. There’s a disclaimer on my website that I recommend reading if you feel like you need to, which I’ll include in the show notes. But in short, I’ll just say that everything I share about plant medicines are for educational purposes only, so please take responsibility for the choices you make. 

These are powerful tools, not to be used lightly. And they aren’t for everyone. And I see them as like Swiss army knives with infinite add ons, like bio-technologies that have a multitude of applications. 

So there are many different ways we can choose to approach and work with these substances, and I really like holding space for this conversation because I feel like we’re just starting to scratch the surface in terms of what’s possible here. 

And one thing I also want to mention, specifically when talking about bowing at the altar of impermanence, is that I find it super interesting that there are studies that have been done at Johns Hopkins showing that Psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer. And that’s the actual name of the study, and I’ll include that link in the show notes if you feel inspired to look into this more. 

And I know I’ve had some really profound psychedelic experiences where I found myself bowing at the altar of my own death, which was so painful but also so beneficial. When we make peace with death, we make peace with life and wake up to living our lives rather than just continue to go through the motions and take it all for granted. 

And just as another side note, I recently saw an online conference called psychedelics and dying pop up on my social media feed. And I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, but I’ll find the link to it and include that in the show notes as well. 

So there are of course, people looking at psychedelics through this particular lens already, which is awesome. And there’s so many layers to impermanence, the big one, or ultimate transition we make, of course, is death. 

But the shamanic path is filled with initiations and a series of many smaller deaths in our lives, which I think plant medicines can not only help us move through, but also help catalyze. 

And I think they are so helpful in this way because they help us to shake up our internal narratives, and this may have something to do with how psychedelics influence the Default Mode Network, but as Manesh Girn, a psychedelic scientist who I will be featuring in the next episode of this podcast will discuss, it’s much more complicated and not as simple as that. 

But we do know they can help us shift our perception of reality, and that in and of itself can help us change our narratives, especially around our sense of Self and identity. 

There’s this quote from Sandra Ingerman who, as I mentioned, teaches about the shamanic path that says: 

“We sacrifice our identity, ego, and beliefs to the Divine, and in response, we achieve liberation from formerly limiting beliefs and concepts.” 

And this is where we can find one overlap between shamanic wisdom, or the psychedelic experience and the Buddhist teachings on impermanence. Because remember I talked about this tendency we have to solidify everything, especially our identity, when we are actually much more fluid, and adaptable than that, and psychedelics can help lend a hand in opening us up to new ways of being, and new ways of thinking and perceiving.  

And I have a really comprehensive guide that I wrote that’s all about working with plant medicines to help re-write the story of your life, which can catalyze profound transformation. And you can access that on the freebies tab of my website, but I’m also going to record another full episode on this topic because there’s just so much to get into there. 

Ok, so another thing I want to mention is that I find plant medicines have this unique ability and are particularly helpful at allowing us to glimpse behind that veil of illusion of this solid 3D reality that I’ve been talking about, and help us shift our perceptual field of awareness to make contact with what some might call the quantum realm, or Spirit realm. That realm beyond our intellectual concept of space and time that tunes us into the dimension of energy, frequency and vibration that is constantly in motion. 

And we can actually enter into those realms with this kind of perceptual lens, and teach ourselves how to make contact with the void, or these completely groundless spaces, and in a way, this is the epitome of bowing at the altar of impermanence, and I think plant medicines can help support us in facing those places. 

And so I feel like I was sort of starting to gain this understanding over the years, the more I deepened into a practice with plant medicines, but then, this really started to land for me when I turned to my plant teachers for support while I was really facing a lot of fear during that period of volcanic upheaval, and struggling to let go and make peace with this enormous transition that was unfolding in my life.

And there was one journey I had in particular that really epitomized the cocoon of metamorphosis that I’ll never forget. And again, this is just my own experience here, and maybe it can be helpful for you, or maybe not, but I’ll just share it for what it’s worth. 

And so at one point in this journey, I was feeling a lot of fear and that insecurity of groundlessness, and this moment I could see very clearly how much I was contracting, like on a somatic level, and turning away from my pain, and like, shutting down in the face of it because I was afraid. 

And so I just started breathing, and of course, the breath is another incredibly powerful tool we can learn to draw upon, especially in psychedelic journeys. And I would breathe in, and then on the out-breath consciously relax the somatic contraction that I was noticing on these really subtle and energetic levels.

And it was like I was teaching myself how to harmonize or entrain my nervous system to stay calm and centered, and get much more comfortable resting in, and making full contact with that fluid nature of reality, of total groundlessness, and opening to it, and ultimately learning how to trust the unknown. 

And in this moment, when I had the courage to lean in, what my plant teachers showed me was that this place of groundlessness is actually nothing to be afraid of. It’s just like the boogeyman in the closet. 

That we don’t need to be afraid of impermanence, because it’s actually the source of all of creation. And there was a really powerful narrative shift that transpired in that moment. That everything is birthed from this place, from this source. And there’s this wellspring of energy that emerges from this void, and we aren’t separate from it, we are inherently apart of it, and we can learn to tap into it.  

And the narrative shift was also seeing that there is beauty in the ending of all things and that ending becomes a launchpad for creating something new in our lives. 

And when we contract, we can’t open ourselves to it, we cut ourselves off from that channel, that life-force, that flow of energy. 

And I went into this vivid visionary experience where I could see this new neural imprint being laid down embedded in my nervous system, and I could see these strands, like fiber, it was super wild, literally weaving resilience and trust into the fabric of my being, my cellular makeup, my DNA. 

And Joe Dispenza has this quote I’d love to share with you. He says:

“Now, when a new day dawns for us after the long night of darkness and the Phoenix rises regenerated from the ashes, we have invented a new self. And the physical, biological expression of the new Self is literally becoming someone else. That’s true metamorphosis.”

And so, I do feel stronger out the other side of this experience, that felt like a major initiation. And it’s allowed me to strengthen my capacity to navigate through change, especially through COVID and also through this process of letting go of my marriage. And now I feel stronger and strong enough to hold space for other people who feel unsettled and struggling through this time of upheaval.

And so I’ve come to see these medicine journeys that I embark on as helpful allies in helping me to make contact with groundlessness in my life and make peace with it. And in a way, they can offer us an advanced training ground where we can catalyze this process of metamorphosis and radically up-level how we choose to show up and meet life. 

And so I don’t think we can talk about this initiation of metamorphosis without really touching on one of the most crucial components here, with is learning to let go. 

Sandra Ingerman says: 

“Whatever occurs, we must learn to surrender and accept what life brings for us. This is what initiation is about.” 

And as we know, letting go is hard, and it’s painful, and it’s much more painful when you resist it. 

As the Buddha said: “Change is never painful, it’s only resistance to change that is painful.”

And like usual, I find metaphors are often helpful, and the one I would offer here is the metaphor of the closed fist. 

When we are afraid to let go, we spend an enormous amount of time and energy clinging to this solid reality, searching for solid ground, and reaching for this false sense of security, and so our hands are grasping and closed, which also means they are unable to receive all the goodness that’s just waiting for an open channel to flow into our lives.

And so part of this training of letting go is that we teach ourselves to stay open, we learn to meet this energy in a co-creative dance, shaping that energy and molding it into creation, and in the process, we honor the beauty of impermanence, and we celebrate it through choosing to step up and meet it face to face, with an open heart, an open mind, and with our hands wide open ready and willing to receive.

As Thich Nhat Hanh says: “Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible.” 

It’s what makes the lotus flower bloom; it’s what allows us to bite into a ripe, juicy peach; to witness the majestic beauty of a sunrise that can just take your breath away, or experience the bittersweet beauty of shared love. 

And that’s essentially what we’re doing in this process of learning to let go is we’re opening ourselves up to contact with the energy that gives birth to new possibilities. 

So I want to encourage you to cultivate a relationship with impermanence as if it’s a living thing, because in a way, it really is. And I encourage you to create an altar space where you can spend a few moments a day honoring the beauty of the cycles of life. And in all relationships, we learn to cultivate the practice of giving and receiving.

And there’s this song that my dear sister Aea Luz sings called “cradled in the balance” and she talks about how offering our love to the mountains, gives us something in return, it offers us wisdom. And I want to play you a short clip from her song, here it is. 

And so in the same way, when we bow at the altar of impermanence, and we show up to make offerings, which is the act of giving: 

So first and foremost, we offer it our awareness and give it our attention (which is our most valuable resource), and when we bow in the face of impermanence with humility, and respect, it offers us something profound in return. 

It offers us inner peace. It plants a seed within us, a seed of strength, of courage, of wisdom, and shapes us into the person we are becoming as we pass through the portal of whatever transition we happen to be moving through with more grace and ease. 

And I know this isn’t easy, but if we have the courage to touch the heart of impermanence, and move through that portal, because the only way out is through, what waits for us on the other side is own freedom, awakening, and liberation.

And a part of the reason I’m inspired to share this with you is to also plant a seed of what’s possible here. And by that, I mean you can learn to apply this kind of mindset to working with plant medicines. 

Because, you know, this is the psychedelic leadership podcast, so I’m imagining most people listening to this already have a personal practice with plant medicines or psychedelics, in some shape or form. Or it can also be applied to a microdosing practice. And it’s this kind of framework I weave into my microdosing programs, which is what I think makes them pretty unique in terms of what’s out there. 

But you also don’t need to work with psychedelics to find this applicable. These teachings can definitely be applied to meditation practice, I mean, that’s where they originated from, right? Cultures that utilized meditation as a catalyst for making contact with groundlessness. 

And you only need to meditate for a short amount of time before you start to sense that place of primordial discomfort and start to see more clearly all the habitual ways we (as in all humans) tend to cover over it and gain more insight and wisdom around how we can stop kicking that wheel of suffering. 

But if you want, this kind of conceptual framework is a tool you can add to your psychedelic tool belt and learn that you can actually bring it with you, into your psychedelic journey space. 

And I think that when we draw upon teachings like this when we are in an altered state of consciousness, something unique transpires, and it accesses a different part of our consciousness, and we can integrate it on a deeper level. 

And it’s also kind of like taking the understanding of set and setting to an entirely new level, (set referring to mindset), but I’ll talk more about that in another episode. 

So I want to invite you to reflect on this question: as we pass through the portal into 2021, what are you ready to let go of and leave behind? What are you ready to allow to die? Maybe it’s a belief, a relationship, a behavioral pattern. I encourage you to have a little ceremony around this. Write it on a piece of paper and burn it in the fire of transmutation. 

And then reflect on what you’re ready to welcome in? What do you want to make more space for in your life in 2021? 

And this isn’t about not grieving the loss, or feeling the pain of transition, quite the opposite actually. Give yourself permission to feel it all. Because as they say, the feeling is the healing, and there is medicine in grief, but we also don’t need to overindulge in it. We just feel it until we are complete, and then cultivate the discernment to know when it’s time to let it go, and then face forward and move on.

And so before I wrap up this episode, I wanted to offer just a quick additional tool that you can lean on, especially for those of you feeling the upheaval right now or are struggling to navigate through these turbulent times. 

There are two meditation tracks that East Forest, who’s a wonderful musician, put out that you can find on Spotify or Bandcamp, called Meditation for Chaotic Times, and one is guided, and one is instrumental, and they are only about 15 minutes each.

And I really enjoy listening to them, especially before I go to bed, so if you feel called, I recommend checking them out and giving them a listen, and I’ll include them in the show notes. 

I also have a bunch of guides on my website, including plant medicine integration guides, guides for having a safe psychedelic trip at home, which is a guide meant for more seasoned practitioners. I also have a free 8-day microdosing course, as well as an 8-hour music playlist for psychedelic journeys and beyond. 

If you want to get in touch please reach out, let’s come together and really be here for each other. I’d also love to know what you think about this episode. You can connect with me through my website livefreelaurad.com or send me a message through Instagram at @livefreelaurad. 

And if you know someone who could really benefit from these tools and teachings, I encourage you to please share it with them. 

So I want to end this episode by sharing the aspiration that we all learn to surf these waves of change with grace and ease, and may you catch the most epic ride of your life in 2021 and beyond. 

I shared music in this episode by Aea Luz, and I’m going to leave you with another one of her songs called Sunrise that at one point I was listening to on repeat, and it brought me a lot of strength when I was riding my own waves of change over the past couple of years. Because music is certainly another powerful tool at our disposal. 

And like always, you find information about the musicians I feature on this podcast on each individual episode page on my website and in the show notes as well. And if you enjoy their music, then I encourage you to please support our beloved musicians who are also holding space for this time of great transition. 

Thank you for tuning into episode #4 of the Psychedelic Leadership podcast, I’m your host Laura Dawn. 

Until next time.

Laura Dawn Biography

Links

Laura Dawn

Microdosing mentor, visionary life coach and business consultant, author, and international speaker, Laura Dawn has been leading transformational retreats for over 10 years. She teaches business leaders, entrepreneurs, and change-makers how to mindfully explore psychedelics and sacred plant medicines as powerful visionary tools for inner transformation and creative manifestation, inspiring you to embark on the path of heart-centered leadership to influence real change. LD is pursuing a Masters in Science specializing in Creativity Studies & Change Leadership, exploring the intersection between psychedelics and creative problem-solving to unlock innovative solutions to the complex challenges we collectively face.

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Episode # 4 of the psychedelic leadership podcast features Music by Aea Luz
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