It’s Wednesday night and I’m sitting by myself gazing over a rice paddy watching the sunset over the volcano. At the start of the day I had checked myself into a silent meditation retreat here in Bali.
So here I am in pure silence, trying to enjoy the taste that is only like what I can describe as ‘dirt’, as I chew on a magic mushroom.
See, for the past few months, I’ve felt like it’s been groundhog day.
The biggest problem of all… I have NOTHING to complain about.
When I logically think about it. Life is amazing.
My wife is the woman of my dreams, and we have a deep, intimate connection. We have 4 amazing daughters, all of which are healthy, strong, and blooming into their own selves.
The business I founded not even 3 years ago is growing rapidly. And I’ve been thrust into new problems as a CEO all of which are ‘good problems’ to have.
Yes, my stress levels are higher than they should be as I’m working more than I’d like.
So, if you’re thinking “cry me a river, Chris. It all sounds great”. I don’t blame you, that’s what I’m thinking as well.
Which is why I’ve been scratching my head for some time now pondering on, ‘why the hell do I feel so shit?’
I wrote the above just over 2 years ago… and I want to share this with you today. Now I have a much greater experience that is psychedelics, life, and working on myself.
All of this feels like its stemming from a thought I don’t want to have.
I don’t want to wake up on my death bed thinking “So, what was that all about?”
And it got me thinking.
I saw the process of me aging as a blessing, as an opportunity for personal, social, and spiritual growth?
Rather than dwelling in the days that have past the experienced that are blurred in memory. More and more I feel like embracing the search for meaning, beauty, ecstasy, and services is the best path forward.
There is very little doubt that there is a chapter change, an evolutionary shift in my life happening that has me obsessed and wanting to ponder and answer the bigger questions of life.
The stigma that sits with this being a post about ‘drugs’ is much of the problem. The poverty of our language means that me carefully swallowing psilocybin, which possesses no apparent risk of addiction and is physically well tolerated. Gets bundled together with other drugs.
Some societally accepted such as alcohol which has ruined countless lives is enjoyed without question. My barber gives free Beers away for all customers (even last time I was there which was 9 am). And other non societally accepted such as cocaine and heroin.
We refer to all of these compounds as ‘drugs’, which I believe stops us from having an intelligent conversation about the psychological, medical and ethical use of psychedelics.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that everyone should be ‘doing’ psychedelics.
Far from it.
That’s WHY I want to write and share this with you.
Me openly sharing about my use of psychedelics, wanting to ‘fix’ myself so I can be a better person, has me feeling like I’m standing in the middle of Times Square, butt naked (on a very cold day). I’m barring all, so take it or leave it.
Now, I’m not here to talk about safety, proper practices, or morals about the use of psychedelics. There are much smarter minds sharing great information about this.
I’m simply here to share with you my experience.
With my knowledge and experience of traversing through the landscape of the mind with psychedelics, there is the concept that I firmly believe in, which is “proper set and setting”.
Set and setting in psychedelic drug experiences means one’s mindset (shortened to “set”) and the physical and social environment (the setting) in which the user has the experience. … The term was coined by Timothy Leary in 1961 and became widely accepted by researchers in psychedelic therapy.
The silence and space of sitting at a silent meditation retreat have given me the breathing space to actually talk with myself. Journal and pen in hand, I feel like I can get a cohesive conversation with myself and to work through my beliefs.
More importantly, I can question and therefore break or strengthen the beliefs that I want.
The first question I wrote down this afternoon was “Why do I want to be better?”
For over a decade now I’ve been deeply interested in what we can commonly accept as “self-help”. I think it started out when I had my parents bring home a giant stack of CDs that was Tony Robbins ‘Personal Power’ program.
When I was 11 years old my parents gave me a small blue book by Paul Wilson called The Calm Technique.
I quickly read through about half of it, then walked into my bedroom. Closed my blinds. Sat on my bed and did my first ever meditation. If memory serves me right, I remember opening my eyes after that mediation in awe of the experience.
There was a completely different way to look, feel and experience this life. And at 11 years of age, this was inspiring to me.
Now, behind my desk in my home office, there is a bookshelf filled with books (and a storage shed of about 8 more boxes filled with more books), and a kindle whereby I have long forgotten all the books I’ve purchased that are waiting for me.
There has become a constant thirst for ‘more’. More information. More stuff. More of achieving something that gets me to be ‘happier’ when I get there.
In this ever-expanding search for self-help. I’ve lost myself. And it’s been replaced with an overly driven, egomaniac that has a thirst I don’t think can ever be quenched.
Only recently I find that even on my midday walks on the beach. My time to cut through my day to get space. Was immediately filled with listening to audiobooks and podcasts. Right beside me is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The gentle lick of each gust of wind cooling me as the sun beams down on me. And here I am in a different world, lost in thought wanting to find the golden key to achieving the next thing.
It led me to feel like my mind is a clenched fist.
The dichotomy as I see it is the dance between growth, evolution, and being a better person for the loved ones in my life. Alongside actually accepting, loving, and embracing who I am—right now.
And the reason I’m writing this for you is that I swung too far to the side of the pendulum that self-help became all-consuming—and not just an aspect of my life.
So, back to me sitting in the silence chewing on a magic mushroom…
Only a few hours before I was sitting under the tall treetops of the Balinese forest. The silence was deafening. For years I have been meditating and had a strong pull for wanting to go on a retreat to deepen my practice. As I did sitting and walking meditations throughout the day it was as if the noise of everyday life washed away, but was replaced with the high tide of my mind’s own constant chatter.
It took what felt like hours of meditation and journaling to finally bring my mind’s chatter to a calm, almost pleasurable stillness.
The overwhelming feeling wasn’t that I learned anything inherently ‘new’. It felt more like that I re-remembered the importance of what is important.
There’s a great Chinese proverb that’s stuck with me for some time that says, “When the sage points at the moon, the fool looks at the finger.”
It became apparent that I was in the modern-day hustle with my full attention firmly focused on the finger.
The warm wave that has overcome me, and thanks to me sitting in meditation for most of the day. Sparks the thought of “oh, shit, here it comes…”
William James famously wrote that mystical experience—perhaps the closest analog we have of a psychedelic trip—is “ineffable”: beyond the reach of language.
Gordan Wasson, in the 1950s. A vice president of JP Morgan traveled to Mexico with a photographer to the mud hut of the Mazatec curandera (medicine woman) María Sabina. They became the “first white men in recorded history to eat the divine mushrooms”, in 1955.
And in his mind-expanding the experience, he is said to have spent the entire evening “uttering ejaculations of amazement.”
This sums it up beautifully as to the shift in the internal world that I had.
The next day as I recounted my journey. I broke my silence in the retreat.
Laughter poured out of me.
A laugh that had me feeling like a snake shedding its skin.
For now, I will call a major part of my experience defined through a form of ego death.
This dissolution of the ego felt like a life-shattering cerebral experience. I dare say that this could be a step closer to what Buddhists call Enlightenment and believe it can be cultivated with meditation; Sufi Muslims call it fana; psychologist Carl Jung dubbed it “psychic death”, and defined it as when–after a period of suffering–our consciousness “dies” and is resurrected.
It seemed hilarious to me that I started this journey with an insatiable appetite for self-help, which I took too far. Only to lose myself. Then through this psychedelic experience, I’ve had peeled back the vail to have (a temporary) ego-loss.
For over a year now I’ve been obsessed with studying success.
The questions that sparked it all were…
“Why can two people get the exact same business plan… One of them fails miserably, and the other earns millions and receives all the glory?”
My own coaching business has given me a platform where I get to coach and help 100’s all over the world to grow a business that gives them the life they want.
And yet with my own clients, I could see that many thrived, and have massive growth. Yet others would just flatline and have less than ordinary results. This really troubled me, and initially sent me on a tirade of producing more tactics, more strategies, more methods that could quickly grow a business.
Now I know from my Personal Training days that not everyone that follows a program and diet got a 6-pack.
Because it takes work.
But just working hard and hustling more clearly isn’t the answer.
And it struck me that it’s what going on in each of our heads. Dare I say it, our ‘mindset’ can be the limiting factor to our ultimate success.
This is why I belief in being able to use the ‘tools’ that are psychedelics, breath work, journaling, therapy, personal development and so much more to unlock the roadblocks that are stopping us from being a better version of ourselves.
My only hope with this is that it will get you to ask better questions for yourself.
You will have a greater intention as you live your life.
You could have a flashing thought, that gets you to question how you’re living your life, and that then changes your trajectory so that you be, who you want to be.
For me, it started with insight. That I want to be a clear, more compassionate, a less reactive version of myself for my loved ones. My friends, my family, the people that form our world.
I came to the conclusion that we have a finite number of encounters with our loved ones, and we really don’t know how many more moments together we have left.
To all of my family, my friends, and my loved ones in my life, I really want these people to be happy. I really want these people to understand their value in my life. And none of that will happen if I’m stuck in the vortex of trying to earn more money, be more successful, and have this ‘more, more, more’ life that society is trying to stuff down my throat.
This is the only life that I’m sure that I’ll have with them. So if I don’t make the most of it now. I’ve thrown away one of the most amazing experiences possible.
Now, long after the mushroom trip…
Here I am at 2:15 am, after an especially challenging and exhausting day. Our fourth daughter, Noa, is only a handful of months old and is crying inconsolably. Before I realized what was happening I held my youngest daughter in my arms, dancing and singing her the song I remember my parents rocked me to sleep with.
My daughter Noa was just lying there looking into my eyes, and there it was…
There was the realization that this moment. This was a continuation of all my daily meditations, psychedelics, and self-work that I’ve been doing.
Once the intoxication of the drugs fallaway. The psychedelics effects don’t stop. There is the integration of the experience, the afterglow that is inherently obvious. But then there are the sublet shifts that I’m aware of even months after.
You and I can have these mystical experiences, but what exactly is it that we take back to our day-to-day lives, so there is a meaningful and useful experience.
Tripping on mushrooms for just the sake of tripping on mushrooms isn’t right, is it?
Aren’t we supposed to do it so that we become a better people…
Or is that just my “self-help” indoctrination playing itself out again..?
The way I see it… I don’t meditate to become a better meditator. The mediation sessions don’t stop when you stand back up and walk off into your day.
It has a ripple effect that improves the quality of my awareness and what I believe, in how I show up to the world.
The quality of our life comes down to the quality of the questions we ask ourselves.
And it is only in having the truth, in having the awareness that we can first ask the right questions. And then truly answer these questions.
This really isn’t about psychedelics.
I merely have used these as one tool to tear off the barnacles that have been old, built up beliefs, patterns, and habits that don’t best serve me.
So, there’s GOOD news and BAD news…⠀
The good news is:⠀
You are enough. ⠀
You are not broken.⠀
You have everything you need to be happy.⠀
The BAD news is:⠀
It’s 100% on you… And this really is only bad news, if you’re not willing to take full responsibility.
Because taking full responsibility for EVERYTHING in your life is one of the most liberating choices you have.
And I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that if you’re still with me, this far into the article. You’re ready to make that choice.
You and me… we are different from the rest of the world.⠀
We want more out of life.⠀
Most people aren’t like us.⠀
They might call us weird or obsessed.⠀
But, you and I want to DO something different.⠀
So when you SAY that you are going to do something about it… I believe you.⠀
You’re only reading this because you’re a difference-maker.⠀
But, I also know how lonely it can feel sometimes…⠀
So, I just want to say “Thank You” for reading my posts, watching my videos, and listening to my podcasts.⠀
I’m really, really thankful that you let me into your life.⠀
I know how easy it is to compare yourself to other people on the internet… and always feel like you come up short… or you “don’t know enough.”⠀
I feel so blessed and thankful to be a part of your journey… whether we are friends or have never met in person.⠀
So… I guess what I’m saying is: I admire you and support you.⠀
Even if you’re still “figuring it out…”⠀
And even more importantly: you’re not alone.