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Beyond the Self | Rethinking Hyper-Individualism in Psychedelic Medicine

This one goes out to my fellow psychonauts,


I want to start this month’s blog off with a question:


How do we challenge the notion that psychedelic exploration is solely for the individual’s growth and expansion?


This question comes to me after listening to The Emerald Podcast, a podcast focusing on the exploration of the human experience through a lens of storytelling and myth. This podcast challenges conventional narratives on subjects like politics and public discourse, meditation and mindfulness, the arts, sciences, and more.


In a recent episode titled, Embodiment Means Being Torn Apart & Flying Away, host Joshua Michael Schrei — a teacher and lifelong student of the cosmologies — discusses the hyper-individualism that exists in our culture which has me asking myself how this hyper-individualism impacts the experience of psychedelic medicine.


What is Hyper-Individualism?


In order to truly understand the basis for my question, it is important to understand what hyper-individualism is and what it looks like.


Hyper-individualism is when people are extremely focused on themselves and their own interests, often putting themselves above everything else. In essence, this mindset is all about personal freedom, independence, and achieving your own goals, sometimes without considering how it affects others or the community.


In a hyper-individualistic society, people are encouraged to prioritize their own happiness and success above anything else. It's like the idea that "it's all about me." People emphasize their personal choices, responsibilities, and achievements without paying much attention to how it impacts others or the bigger picture.


Hyper-individualism usually arises as a reaction to the belief that the group or society is more important than the individual. It shows up in different ways, like focusing on making money for solely personal gain, advancing in careers, and pursuing personal happiness and self-expression. However, sometimes this intense focus on the individual can make people feel disconnected or isolated from others - and this may not be an ideal mindset to bring into the use and experience with psychedelic medicine.


How Does Hyper-Individualism Appear In The Psychedelic Experience?


Lately, I have been considering how psychedelics serve as non-specific amplifiers and how, at times, they can amplify the hyper-individual, neoliberalist, capitalist/colonialist, white supremacist culture that we live in and do this to a degree that might not be actually helpful for both the individual and/or the collective psyche.


Oftentimes, people go into their psychedelic experience focused on how that particular experience will impact or influence them, the individual. As the people utilizing this medicine, we can sometimes go into our experiences thinking, “How is this experience going to reframe MY life and MY psyche? How am I going to grow and change MYSELF?


And while the individual experience is profound and important, we also need to consider what information or wisdom can we bring back from our psychedelic experiences as we travel to these other realms and how those experiences can benefit our communities community and the collective consciousness.


So, how do we do this?


How To Form A More Collective Approach To Psychedelic Medicine?


While I don’t have a black-and-white answer to this question… I think it is vital to open up a dialogue about how we can shift the cultural narrative around hyper-individualism and begin to look at our psychedelic explorations as a means to support the expansion of the collective.


As we set out on our psychedelic journey, it is important to go into the psychedelic experience with the wondering of how we can gather wisdom or information that beckons the growth and healing of the collective. We need to begin our journey with the wondering, How will I be able to take what I learn about myself, nature, and the world in my journey and bring back material or action to help not just myself, but my community grow?


As an example, something that I've experienced in a number of my psychedelic journeys has been the concept of grief. Initially, when this came up for me I felt that it was necessary for me to go to a grief ritual in order to do my own grieving work. And while this holds true, I have also realized that part of this grief work is not solely about me and my grief, rather I have begun to conceptualize and access training around how to offer grief ritual for and within my community.


Again, I don’t have a concrete answer for exactly how to form a more collective approach to all medicine journeys and experiences, but I am beginning to consider how to support this process of collective and community healing through individual medicine experiences.


One way we can go more purposefully into psychedelic space is to ask ourselves if we are willing and open to considering not just ourselves within the context of our journey but also the communities and families that we serve and exist within. This can be practically applied to the intention-setting process or be utilized during the integration and meaning-making stages of psychedelic medicine work.


Once we’ve begun this process of meaning-making and beginning to integrate, then we can decide how we take those themes and share them in community, with family, with friends, with children, and with partners. We can then really utilize this information as a way of being and showing up in community rather than only considering how the medicine wisdom solely applies to the individual.


Revisiting the Question


So, allow me to pose my question again:


How do we shift the notion of I, I, I in the Psychedelic space and bring back wisdom we gain from our experiences to the communities we serve so that we all become a constellation of individuals that embody the practices of the unseen world that we tap into when we do psychedelic medicine?


What thoughts do you have?


If you are interested in becoming more informed about psychedelics and Psychedeli- Assisted Therapy visit Elemental Psychedelics to register for trainings, workshops, and psychedelic circles centering around educating clinical and non-clinical practitioners on the ethical, safe, and purposeful use of psychedelics.


If you are a clinical practitioner and are interested in learning more about how to guide your clients in engaging in meaningful and collective-focused psychedelic experiences, visit the Elemental Supervision, Consultation, and Coaching page to learn more about clinical supervision and psychedelic counseling opportunities.


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