MAGIC MUSHROOMS AS COUPLES THERAPY. SERIOUSLY.

In the latest instalment of Now Age relationship column Yogi Vegan Lez, Alexandra Roxo and her GF experiment with magic mushrooms as a form of couples therapy…

Alexandra and Orion get intimate with the contents of each other’s head…

What do people usually do when they leave yoga class. Drink some water? Go for an egg white omelette? Take a shower? Well, on that Sunday morning my iCal sent me a post-Vinyasa reminder: “Spiritual Awakening. a.k.a. Magic Mushroom Journey!” complete with a mushroom emoji and a smiley face. And so walking home through Williamsburg’s leafy McCarren Park, my girlfriend Orian and I whipped out our ‘shrooms and ate them right there and then. At 10am.

We had both wanted to do something special for our anniversary, and after a friend mentioned a beautiful afternoon she and her hubby had with some mushies, I was inspired! JUST WHAT I NEEDED. If women are scheduling their births these days, why can’t I schedule my DIY spiritual awakening? Plus, magic mushrooms are cheaper than a yoga retreat upstate and can be delivered directly to your house, so there’s really no excuse to not take them, right?

After sharing a vegan club sandwich on GF Rye, we sat and watched the dogs in the park for a moment. Then I was like “Umm, we should walk towards our house. Like Now.” Orian had never been on this kind of ‘journey’ so I also wanted to make sure she didn’t start tripping out while staring in the face of a Frenchie or…um, just crossing the street. Cos that could be dangerous.

I felt sort of like the person guiding the ship, the unofficial road woman or gatekeeper. When she kept saying things like: “When I do drugs I usually need a lot of water…” and “drugs make me feel…” I kept trying to tell her, “THIS IS NOT DRUGS. YOU ARE ON A PLANT MEDICINE ODYSSEY.” She finally succumbed to my benevolent dictatorship, and seemed to accept that a mushroom journey isn’t like a molly trip or a cocaine high.

As for me, this was the first time I’d done mushrooms completely sober of any alcohol and cigarettes. Not the first time I’d attempted an afternoon of mushroom-induced couples therapy though. The last time I tried bonding with my lover this way, we were holed-up in a dreamy Silver Lake cottage where got into a fight, I had a vision of an energetic cut between us where I saw our stars zooming off in opposite directions, realized quite viscerally we were poison for each other, starting having a panic attack, and didn’t sleep for two days.

So gee whiz, why wouldn’t I want to open this door with my new girlfriend of one year, on our anniversary, after an emotional month of me cleansing, quitting smoking, and doing all sorts of energy work?

But we had actually both been sober and clean and totally vegan for over two weeks, and I knew this quiet energetic state was essential to our ‘shrooming success. We continued wandering back towards our house as was the original plan: take a little bit, take a walk, just be together. I soon had to pee though, and we stopped in a cafe to use the loo. The bathroom walls were covered in a magazine collage. Who does that? And then the bathroom started to cave in on me.

I shut my eyes, ran out past the innocent bystanders (i.e. brunch crowd of people not on mushrooms) and what ensued was the most glorious and intense bonding session known to woman.

Magical Mushroom by Kaitlyn Fister via Behance.net

We held crystals (and FYI, holding crystals while on mushrooms is like holding an elephant or the sun or rain). We opened a book and could only look at one painting and then close the book. Then we had this realization that if we each balanced our Yin and Yang energies, we wouldn’t be searching for balance outside of ourselves. For someone who is bisexual and constantly trying to balance out masculine and feminine vibes I realized that seeking Yang outside of myself wasn’t necessary. I can align with someone else who has balanced energies and then we are each neutral!

This was our tripped out realization. Maybe we would all become androgynous beings again one day! Beyond gender! (I think I actually read that in some article about the next evolution of humans from a channeled entity…) Over the course of six hours, we laughed, we cried, we had profound healing conversations about life and death, and took quiet time alone.

The different phases of the trip were not too unlike my journeys with ayuhasca and peyote. There was a time of feeling physically unstable or unwell. Then there was some euphoria, the feeling of oneness. Then some darker challenges that came our way. That’s the ‘work’ part. The medicine comes in and gets shit done.

The result was what felt like a month of traditional couples therapy in one afternoon. There were no distractions. Except I kept wanting to eat dates and nuts because I felt I needed to ground myself, but was also afraid I might choke. But besides that it was cell phones off and in a drawer. Computers closed. It was magical.

Like everything in life, relationships take maintenance. As we change as individuals, we are altered as a couple. And sometimes these changes can cause a rift, a damn, a chasm, an avalanche, tidal wave. So if you’re tired of the traditional approach to processing your differences, here are our tips for a successful, and magical, couples bonding day on mushrooms:

PLAN AHEAD. The last thing you want is for your landlord to show up to fix your toilet or to have to take your dog out. If you’re opting to do the work at home, make sure your roomie isn’t planning to bake cookies to house music. If you can get away, get away. But why not try and tune into your own world instead of fleeing it?

UNPLUG. Turn off TV, computers, and cell phones. It’s unlikely you’ll even remember what Instagram is during your therapy session, but if you do find yourself tempted to check it – don’t. Just don’t. In your vulnerable state, do you really want to see a photo of Angelina Jolie’s chicken pox? You do not.

BE PRESENT. When you feel overwhelmed, listen to yourself. And if something comes up, share it with your partner. This is the whole deal with the ‘couples therapy’ thing. I asked Orian a few times: “What’s wrong?” She replied: “Oh, I don’t want to get sad or cry.” And I was like, “You can’t fight it! The whole point is to feel what you feel!” And so we were honest when things came up like, “Oh I was just thinking about when you die.” Instead of running from these things, remember you’re here to learn from them.

THE AFTERMATH. Plan to do something gentle afterwards. Light some candles. Have some soup. A bath perhaps. And WRITE IT DOWN. These lessons are invaluable, and it’s likely you will have been flooded with knowledge and wisdom so make sure you keep track.

And most of all, have fun and enjoy being together! And make your next Couple’s Bonding Day one that includes pizza in bed and SNL re-runs, cuz it’s all about the balance.

xx @Yogi_Vegan_Lez

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ESCAPE TO EDEN: IS BURNING MAN A SPRITUAL GAME CHANGER?

Is making the pilgrimage to Burning Man a spiritual game-changer, or can that change only occur within? The conscious party scene can be a portal for sure, but there’s no fast track to enlightenment, says David H. Wagner. Homepage image: Elena Kulikova via Behance.net 

Recently, I shared an email exchange with a young seeker in our community. She was considering making it to Burning Man this summer. I have to preface this whole thing by saying I have nothing against BM. I have dear friends and colleagues that go every year, I think it’s actually pretty cool. Overall, I’m glad it exists.

This could just as easily be written about a South American Shamanic Retreat, or a hot new weekend workshop, or someone signing up for a Yoga Teacher Training. It just so happens it’s about BM. That aside, I think there are valuable points in here about the cross pollination between yoga, spiritual disciplines, partying, and consciousness expanding drug use. Here’s a snippet from the email:

“As an elder in this spiritual scene I’ve seen so much of this over the years. I’m not against partying – and the kind of partying at Burning Man is probably a lot more positive than other party scenes you’ll find. But if you choose to go – just be clear what you’re getting into. Many people will talk about it like it’s a spiritually ‘game changing’ experience – but in many ways it’s just a slightly spiritualized party.

You might experience a little anarchy, or get naked in public, or take some E or some acid, or smoke some weed, or dance all night, or have ‘deep conversations’ with people while doing any of the above. And if you were TOTALLY closed before that, or TOTALLY uptight or TOTALLY un-awakened then it’s true that any of these experiences could be profound…”

True. If I could send my conservative Kentuckian cousins to Burning Man, they might come back transformed. But the young seeker I was writing to was already very open-minded and in the process of awakening, and looking for training and a deepening of her experience. Here’s some more:

“Anyone can FEEL free taking E and dancing naked at Burning Man. But feeling free and learning to BE free are two different things.

And…too much of the former actually can hinder the experience of awakening. In all my years working on a spiritual level with people, there have been only a handful of people I really couldn’t help. Among them the ones who’ve burned their neurotransmitters out on E, or built up a whole quasi-spiritual identity based on these external experiences. In my experience, getting high prevents people from learning to be high.

These sorts of experiences are good doorways – if the doors are stuck. But the idea is to then walk through them. You don’t hang around the doorway, or deify the door, or the openers. You move forward, you find your vision for life. You live your vision.

Ram Dass has awesome teachings about all this. Once he asked his guru Neem Karoli Baba about using drugs as a spiritual means. The Maharaji said; ‘You can use it to see Christ. But you can’t use it to become Christ’.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all into experiencing new things. The thing is, when people rave about the experience (pun intended), I think that’s more about the raver than the rave. People can have deep experiences even at super hokey things. It’s the same when people have been in the presence of great masters and have been exposed to great practices and teachings, but only a handful get the deep benefits. It’s what’s going on inside that counts.

More from the email:

“A sincere seeker will get benefit from even the stupidest bullshit. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. If you haven’t already, you’ll hear about ayahuasca, and Ecstasy, and all sorts of substances that people have found to be the key to their awakening. Or you’ll have people try to enroll you into some new coaching method, or a radical health approach they found to be the ‘answer.’ And often times you’ll hear about these things from really goodhearted people. And for them, in this snippet of time, it may have been the answer.

But over the years I’ve seen that things come and go. Even if, in the moment, they are THE THING for a group of people, like all things, they then move on. What remains, hopefully, are the seekers and their sincere intention to live in wisdom and freedom. All the long-term yogis and path-walkers I know have cycled through dozens of different ‘game-changers of the moment.’ And as we have, we’ve seen countless good people get swept up and lost in these things when they lost their sense of self and perspective.”

On the spiritual path, we need to know what we’re after. And know ourselves well enough to know whether or not we’re on the right track. It also helps to have some elders around. People who have some seasoning and can offer some perspective. Even after 26 years on the path, I feel like I barely qualify – but none the less, when someone like this person has a question, I feel it’s our duty to answer, even if I sound old and lame.

As a young seeker, your beauty, your sincerity and your light are all qualities that people are going to lust after. And not just in a sexual way, I mean organizations lusting after your enthusiasm and your brightness. I mean “scenes” lusting after your awesome energy and vitality. If you’re getting into all of this at a young age, you will likely have a lot of different ponds to swim in.

It’s all good. Swim in them.

But listen to your gut before you dive in, heart first. Just know there are a lot of blind people out there leading other blind people, and some straight up jackals too. So stay alert. Stay in touch with your heart. And you’ll be good.

Read more from David and learn about his work at Davidhwagner.com