Updated: Jan 13, 2021
Cameron Grayson is a Visionary Artist, Reiki Master, Life Coach, Authentic Relating Facilitator, Shamanic Practitioner, and Breathwork Therapist. Her art is a medium for inner exploration and transformation.
In the second interview for our Amplify series, Cameron opens up and shares her personal journey with us. Let's explore together her views on psychedelics and breathing as tools to catalyze inner transformation.
This interview was conducted and transcribed by Jessika Lagarde and condensed for clarity.
WOOP: Can you share a bit about your background?
Cameron: I grew up in a small artists community in New Jersey. As a teenager transitioning into a more expansive world, I became overwhelmed and developed stomach issues and anxiety. This led to severe panic attacks, which inhibited me from going to school. I was eventually diagnosed with agoraphobia and was so overwhelmed that I could not even visit my grandparent's house or the grocery store. The only thing I could do was go outside and enjoy nature.
As a result, my psychiatrist decided to put me on Zoloft, an antidepressant. My parents didn’t have the tools and knowledge back then, so alternative medication or therapy was not available for me. Art to me was something expansive. It included life itself. But when I was 16, community college art classes that killed my creativity. I stopped doing art for 2 years due to strict regulations and harsh containers being forced on me.
I eventually joined an alternative learning cooperative instead of going back to school. During my three years there, I took classes in emotional intelligence and explorative philosophy, allowing me to explore my values in life. I then started working for the cooperative and dove into the study of alternative education. It was an amazing experience that planted seeds for my future.
Smoking weed was a very sensory experience for me. Due to the anxiety, I had been afraid to feel for a long time, but the weed helped me get off Zoloft.
A yoga teacher training introduced me to the spiritual world and practices. In combination with marijuana, this ‘spiritual liberation’ helped me become more grounded, to better define my life philosophy. It helped me to be unashamed of my body, especially around sexuality.
When I moved to upstate New York with my boyfriend, I started my studies at the Omega Institute, a holistic retreat center, and the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, an art church started by visionary artists Alex and Allison Gray.
There, I had the chance to reconnect with my creativity and artistic side by combining a meditative space with art. This gave me an anchor to this world. I started to see how my creations were divine reflections and even tools of the transformations I was experiencing. At Omega, I dove so much deeper into holistic transformations and gained some of the most impactful tools that I share today.
WOOP: Can you tell us more about your journey with Breathwork? What are the differences between Holotropic Breathwork and Integral BreathTherapy?
Cameron: I work with a combination of Holotropic Breathwork and Integral Breath Therapy because I believe it to be more hands-on. Both of these modalities bring you into an altered state of consciousness to clear out physical, mental, and emotional blocks or resistance.
Early in life, we learn to suppress our emotions physically by tensing muscles and restricting the breath. Over time, this protective process becomes chronic and automatic, and we lose the capacity to experience and express this energy in motion. Breath Therapy brings these stories, energies, and traumas to the surface and allows them to be moved through and met with whatever it is the individual is needing in each moment of their experience,
During the practice of Holotropic Breathwork, The person goes through the experience alone. You allow them to have their own journey, checking once in a while to see how much support they need. Some people like to be left alone, while others prefer having someone to check in on them more often.
On the other hand, one has full support during Integral Breath Therapy. As the breath therapist, I can support in moving through any energy shifts that are wanting to happen. This type of breathwork feels more grounded. The individual usually walks away with a more integrated sense of their experience.
For me, the work of guiding someone through a Breath Therapy experience has been an important process of recognizing the capacity that I have for another's human experience, as well as my own.
WOOP: Why did you decide to follow this path of work?
Cameron: I believe that each individual is a part of the greater whole of all of our existence. I also believe in a world where we can all be whole integrated peaceful beings together. Breath Therapy to me is a way to support others in experiencing their own inner power, their inner healer. It is a way to allow each individual to integrate and accept all parts of themself.
I love guiding people through these experiences. Even before I actually got trained to, I was already being called to hold this space for friends. This gave me the confidence to do this work and hold space for other people. Seeing more of my value as a being gave me more confidence in my artwork as well. I could see the value in the creations I was transmitting onto canvas, and how they were just as much of a transformative tool as breathwork.
WOOP: What do psychedelics and breathwork mean for you?
Cameron: From my perspective, both are catalysts for an expanded experience of life. They are a way of putting our intention, energy, power, and trust in an experience that we create for ourselves to heal, open, and expand. This can also come to us in ways that we can't choose, like when I had the experience with agoraphobia. That was also a psychedelic experience in a lot of ways.
WOOP: Could you share with us a bit about your most transformative or life-changing experience with altered states of consciousness? What changed for you after that?
Cameron: Five years ago, I restarted therapy with Internal Family Systems (IFS), a psychotherapy technique where you might revisit pain and trauma that is stored in your body. My therapist suggested Breath Work, so I went on a Holotropic Breathwork retreat with her that incorporated IFS.
It was an amazing experience! I had tension and contractions all over my body, even in my toes and my hands. I was invited to allow the energy to move, to let it flow the way it wanted to flow through my body instead of trying to control it. All around me, other people were screaming and crying, going through their own experiences. That really encouraged me to go through mine.
At that moment, I had a psychedelic experience. I experienced myself going through the birth canal as a baby. My vision then zoomed out, and I was also my mom giving birth to myself. This represented the effort and importance of my mom and me not being separate, that we were creating a life together.
I then experienced a huge release in a visually and sensationally light experience. After that, all of my anxiety, depression, and codependency had been completely released. With support, I integrated this newfound sense of wholeness and purpose into how I choose to move through my life.
WOOP: How do you believe altered states of consciousness can benefit women?
Cameron: Psychedelics are beautiful feminine energy tools that remind us of the connection we have to Mother Nature and to Earth. They bring out that energy inside of us that can be really empowering for women. Breathwork is amazing because it shows that you contain this powerful energy inside of you - your own breath.
WOOP: How do you think women can use altered states of consciousness as tools for healing, self-liberation, and empowerment?
Cameron: I think breathwork and psychedelics have been huge catalysts for me to recognize ways in which I have suppressed parts of my being. This is very common in women, especially with the long history of patriarchy and repression. Women have not been able to fully express themselves, and these experiences give them space and time to do so.
The integration period is also really important. Having a support group can help them express and validate their feelings. Sometimes, it can be overwhelming to come out of these experiences and back to a world that doesn’t have an understanding of how powerful these experiences can be.
WOOP: What about the current trend of psychedelics most excites you, and what about it most worries you?
Cameron: A part of me feels resistance and fear for the ways in which our society uses medicine to gain monetary profit. I also know that these medicines and sacred plants have a larger plan, so a bigger part of me feels trust and excitement. I believe that when more people are able to have psychedelic experiences, there's going to be an awakening.
I've been on this path for a while now, and I carry a lot of trust for humanity. We just need to be intentional and respectful while making use of these medicines. I don't think a person needs to go off to the jungle to have a life-changing and transformative experience. There are many ways that people can have the experiences they need, with the right guidance.
WOOP: Based on your personal and professional experiences, what are the most common difficulties women are hoping to overcome when looking for Breathwork Therapy?
Cameron: A pattern I see that is very common in our world: listening to men, being told what to do. Often women look for something or someone outside of themselves to tell them what to do. So even when women want to become more empowered, they still come to me looking for answers.
I always try to turn it around with questions like, "What are you feeling?" or "What is happening inside of you right now?" I want to remind them, just as breathwork reminds us, that we all have the power and all of the answers inside of us.
WOOP: What would you advise women who are looking to do that kind of inner work for the first time?
Cameron: Women could become more confident in stepping into the power of their “yes” rather than “what the rest of the world thinks is their yes”. Remember: what is right for you is already inside you. Get in touch with that feeling. Be open to receiving and trusting. Once you choose to do that, a lot will come to you.
This will allow you to find out what you need, whether that is a psychedelic therapist, a breathwork therapist, a traditional therapist, a life coach, or maybe to just travel. “A trip is a trip is a trip,” as Ram Dass says.
Although I believe that psychedelics can be radically transformative for our society, I don't believe they are the only tools or catalysts that can get us there.
WOOP: Could you share more about your Visionary Artwork? What is your favorite art piece that you have created?
Cameron: It’s challenging for me to choose a favorite piece. Each piece is a symbol of a journey of transformation that was processed and integrated through the creation of the painting. Each of these moments of life has been just as impactful as the next.
Inhalation Activation is an example of a very powerful moment for me. It was the point at which I recognized the power and ability I have in each moment to choose my reality - just by breathing - I had the power to change the neural pathways in my brain and choose a different, more peaceful and, fulfilling reality for myself.
WOOP: Any exciting new projects?
Cameron: Being with my clients and going through their journeys together has helped me in accepting my own journey more. This month I hope to create a workshop of visual art for the Integral Breathwork Integration process. The goal of this workshop is to take the internal into the external, to transform what you have learned in a journey into art. I am also in the process of creating a book of my art and the transmissions and transformations that have come through while creating. On my website, I have a project page where you can learn more about this.
WOOP: Any final words?
Cameron: Life is beautiful. If we are tuned in and open, it will give us exactly what we need. The universe is listening.
If you would like to learn more about Cameron’s work or get in touch with her, give her a follow on Instagram, or visit her website Cam’s Conscious Creations. You can also check and support her beautiful artwork at Etsy.