Further (Drug-Free) Psychedelic Adventures & a Book Review

I previously referenced Michael Pollan's book "How to Change Your Mind" back in May when articles began appearing before the book's publication. One quote jumped out for me:

"...a mystical experience can permanently shift a person's perspective and priorities."

Pollan's book examines the work of researchers using state of the art technology to study what happens in the brain under the influence of psychedelics. One of his surprise discoveries is how the psychedelic-ized brain matches up with the brains of experienced meditators. I wonder how the brain of someone on a past life journey would appear on an fMRI. Even more so, the brain of someone exploring the NPE (Non-Physical Experience) between lives, where consciousness is navigating untethered to a physical body, present or past.

Pollan refers to an un-named psychedelic experiencer as a "psychonaut", that is, someone who is using psychedelics for consciousness expansion, and his deep observation:

"If it were possible to temporarily experience another person's mental state, my guess is that it would feel more like a psychedelic state than a 'normal' state, because of its massive disparity with whatever mental state is habitual with you." 

A very trippy thought because in the context of past lives explorations, that is only the starting point. Some of the best past life journeys can be likened to mystical experiences because we have set our conscious intention to "temporarily experience another person's mental state", with the added layer of knowing that we ARE the person inhabiting that mental state, are aware of its back story and its justifications for its behaviors. Like the psychonaut's inner adventure, the past life journey requires some unpacking afterwards. There is the disparity between the behaviors of our present and our past life selves (especially when the previous incarnation making those decisions is acting in a way that is either evil, an asshole, or both), combined with the resonance from that past life state that is echoing into our present life. That "echoing" is the reason we are drawn to examine that previous life. Pollan's take on this-

"The long-term fate of the novel connections formed during the psychedelic experience—whether they prove durable or evanescent—might depend on whether we recall and, in effect, exercise them after the experience ends. (This could be as simple as recollecting what we experienced, reinforcing it during the integration process, or using meditation to reenact the altered state of consciousness.) Franz Vollenweider has suggested that the psychedelic experience may facilitate “neuroplasticity.”

All aspects that I believe also apply to the past and between lives journey.  In fact, except for set and setting, most of the requirements for a successful psychedelic journey apply to past and between lives work:

-setting an intention

-having a good, experienced guide

-discussing and journaling the experience afterwards to fully integrate it

Set and setting, so important to the trip experience, are of significantly less importance. Some of my most powerful sessions were online connecting with people in their living rooms.

After a particularly intense past life journey, I have often thought (and heard brave participants say) "Wow, what a trip!" That concept of a trip has been altered after reading this book. But, and this is significant, I am not entirely trusting of psychedelics as a consciousness expanding device. In fact, this book about research into psychedelics has reaffirmed my belief in the power of past and between lives exploration for the purpose of expanding consciousness. With this powerful tool, we have the ability to inhabit, with full consciousness, both another mental state and another physical state of a different race, culture, environment, and, for the ultimate contrast with our present life, another sex. That's the journey that can shift a person's perspective and priorities. 

I don't recall Pollan mentioning past lives even once, and I still highly recommend this book:

Michael Pollan- "How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence"