Psychotherapist Catherine Auman talks about psychedelics and spiritual growth
The word psychedelics might make you think of hippies wearing beads laying in the park, staring at their fingers. You’re not the only one. The image of plant medicines has been highly filtered by the propaganda. Although we are in the midst of a psychedelic renaissance, a lot of misinformation still remains. The average person is scared of psychedelics. But many also pound coffee or beer on the regular. It’s their way of relaxing. However, substances like LSD, Magic Mushrooms or Peyote don’t always provide mindless relief. In fact, plant medicine is quite skilled at bringing us face to face with ourselves. Or at least, what we have always considered ourselves.
That’s right. A hit of LSD or Magic Mushrooms is closer to a pushy therapist than a beer buddy.
We contacted longtime psychotherapist Catherine Auman to see exactly how psychedelics can assist in personal growth. We also wanted to know how it can be used for transformation and spiritual enlightenment. Here is what she had to say.
First of all, how can the use of psychedelics lead to spiritual growth?
Psychedelics give us a taste of a reality much greater than the one we are mass hypnotized into believing is true. What do we do with this taste? It is up to us to incorporate this greater awareness into our lives, and potentially this can lead to personal and spiritual growth.
What other types of growth have you seen psychedelics facilitate in people?
People report growing in their compassion for others, gaining a better sense of how to prioritize what’s important in life, experiencing less desire to indulge in harmful or addictive behaviors, and becoming more loving.
What similarities do you see in mindfulness and psychedelic experiences? How can they support each other?
Both mindfulness and psychedelics facilitate similar mechanisms: they both dissolve ego boundaries and direct one’s awareness inward toward the self. During both experiences, a person is intensely aware of what they are feeling and of timelessness, characteristics reminiscent of mystical states.
What advice would you have for people seeking to integrate psychedelics into their spiritual practices?
Know why you are seeking to use psychedelics– is it for an increased sense of joy, celebration, and ecstasy? Or psychological growth, understanding, and life change? Psychedelics offer us a preview of what’s possible — the rest is daily disciplined work. The payoff of this work is worth it, but you’ve got to do it. Find help from people who know more than you do about living in higher states of consciousness.
What tools does a person need in order to integrate and make sense of their psychedelic experiences?
Psychotherapy can be helpful. Learning from others’ experience is good. Read widely, especially in whatever spiritual literature calls to you.
What precautions should someone take when preparing to work with psychedelics?
If someone is not stable emotionally or mentally, psychedelics will not help and may be harmful. It is good preparation to get a full psychological assessment and to work with a trained guide.
How can the practice of mindfulness assist in the process of integrating mystical experiences?
The practice of mindfulness brings us back to the present moment, again and again. This is the same present moment revealed by psychedelics. And also by mystical experiences. All mindful awareness practices and psychedelic integration ultimately enhance a state of reverence. They enhance the sacredness of life.
Catherine Auman LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) is a psychotherapist in private practice and the Director of The Transpersonal Counseling Center in Los Angeles. This center specialties is psychedelic integration. For more information visit www.catherineauman.com.
Featured image by Gerald Streiter — Flickr.