Updated: Feb 2
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I sit alone in the empty room and that sensation of feeling everything at once and nothing at the same time fills every fiber of my shaking body. I look in that mirror and I can no longer recognize the face staring back at me. Tears roll out of my eyes as my stomach aches. Just another result of being at war against my body.
I wonder who was that woman in the mirror and how she allowed herself to get so far. From home.
A year ago I found myself in a place and mental state in which I was utterly disconnected from myself, from my body, from my surroundings, and anything else that would revolve around me. The reasons for that disconnection were a combination of years of avoiding doing the actual work of observing unhealthy behavior patterns and of allowing someone else to have control of my not so well-resolved self.
It took me months of healing work through therapy, meditation, and yoga practices, and ultimately a few significant psychedelic experiences to finally be able to reconnect with my body, with my essence, and the amazing world I live in. What I’ve learned from these experiences, I will now share with you.
The ego and its dissolution
Our ego is what sets us apart from the rest. It is the ego that carries our personality, characteristics acquired throughout our life through experienced moments, and it is what makes us unique before other beings. The other side of our ego is our selfishness and the notion of the individual “self”. This can be present in negative ways in certain situations, such as when we feel the need to win discussions or when we let some of our weaknesses take control of ourselves.
Some people who have had experience with psychedelics might have come to encounter the ego dissolution, where this notion of "I" disappears, and they come to see themselves not as an individual being, but as part of a whole, fully integrating the Universe in a great connection with it.
According to Buddhism, the notion of "I" must be tackled along with the illusion that we are separated from the rest, creating a duality between "I" and "other". Differing us from nature and animals, but also from other human beings. The dissolution of this “I” can be explored in different ways through different techniques, such as meditation, yoga, and the use of psychedelic substances.
Policing the importance of the notion of “I” through meditation, self-observation, and self-knowledge are practiced, bringing a greater perception of oneself and a greater connection with the Universe. This can create an expansion of consciousness that many believe to be spiritual, and that leaves traces of empathy and altruism in the personality of those who experience it.
Psychedelics and our connection with the Earth
During the first LSD experience of my life, I was walking through a natural park in Amsterdam and I could see how beautifully the light of that sunny day created several tones of green in the leaves of the trees. As I walked further between those same trees, I found a small lake where suddenly the world felt like it went on pause.
I stared at this gigantic tree and placed my hands around its trunk simply amazed by what I was witnessing right before my eyes: The tree was breathing! And as I touched it, I could feel its heart pulsing along with mine.
At that moment, we were no longer two different separate beings, human and plant. But simply two lives utterly connected, daughters of the same source.
A study suggests direct experiences of nature and a sense of connection with nature supports a greater environmental awareness and a desire to care for nature. Such experiences could have the potential to minimize people's "environmentally destructive behavior".
Not only that, but the study also affirms that there is a temporary collapse of the very distinction between self and nature and a result of that could mean a deeper sense of last longing connectedness with our planet and our environment.
Would then psychedelics have the potential to promote greater environmental awareness? Would it be possible that a psychedelic experience in nature could even result in outer action in more environmentally responsible ways? As an Earth and climate activist, I can’t avoid pondering those questions or even dreaming about the possibilities of it.
But I guess that the potential for psychedelics to provoke environmental awareness, behavior change, and activism remains to be seen. Meanwhile, we should not forget that changes in individual perspectives cannot be compared, neither replace the much needed structural changes within our system.
Psychedelic drugs offer new perspectives - and seeing outside the box is very necessary for the context of the climate, humanitarian, and mental health crisis that we are going through.
Psychedelics and our connection with each other
I enter the hut made out of banana leaves and find myself in the middle of a circle of people chanting together. Some were lying on the floor, others were dancing. Some were laughing, others were crying. I look around me and see people from all corners of the world, so different from each other, and yet, the similarities were also there.
At that moment there are no wars between countries, no fights on religious beliefs or prejudice against each other’s skin colors. We are all there, as one race, ‘one people’ creating something uniquely beautiful.
And although the only lights in the room that night are a couple of candles in the middle of the floor, I look up to the ceiling and I see a big shining golden light. At the moment, I knew that wasn’t an effect of the LSD I had taken, or of my pupils being dilated.
I look at that flying energy of light and I know: I see love. Because also, at that moment, I was love.
Studies found is that the use of psychedelic substances significantly and positively increases social connectedness, even for weeks after the experience takes place. It seems as if the use of psychedelics may indeed uniquely contribute to an increased perception of oneness or connectedness with other human beings. Something that anyone who has had a positive psychedelic experience can agree upon.
Psychedelic journeys played an essential role in my life this year, by helping me regain my connection to my essence, my connection to home. And by having psychedelic experiences with others I could connect with friends and loved ones in much deeper and more vulnerable ways. But to fully disclose all the learnings that came with it, I would need to write many more pages and a few more articles.
A way forward?
It's widely considered that we have entered the sixth mass extinction of life on this planet, due entirely to human actions on the biosphere. At this moment, humanity appears to be stuck between a breakdown or a breakthrough.
We need to see others the same way we see ourselves, we need to understand that our planet lives with the same heart that pumps our blood. Because it’s the idea that somehow we are separate as an individual - an idea resulted from the ruling ideology of the political system we live in - that has been the most potent poison in our evolution.
Those who’ve managed to see things more clearly through meditational practices, psychedelics, or have awakened in some way or another all agree on a profound sense of being part of a much larger whole, of a magnificent interconnected web of life, and on a common truth of oneness. And I truly believe this oneness is the key to our survival.
If psychedelics can be one of the many catalyst tools to help us see ourselves as one with the others, one with nature and with the world around us, they might be one viable tool to help us move forward. Because environmental and humanitarian crises are not the biggest issues we’re facing.
Our biggest issue is disconnection.
About the author: Jessika Lagarde is an experienced plant medicine facilitator, integration coach, educator, and Women On Psychedelics Co-founder. Jessika provides one-on-one coaching, sessions, and group ceremonies for women going through life transitions, such as grief, career change, relationship break-ups, motherhood, or moving countries. Check out her website and offers here.