A Voyage Beyond

On the day after my 32nd birthday, which happened to be a Saturday, I placed a tiny little square piece of paper, called a blotter, under the area beneath my tongue, where it sat for ten, fifteen minutes before it was swallowed whole. For the next hour or so, I waited in nervous anticipation for a feeling or set of physical changes to arise―fear perhaps, increased heart rate maybe, loss of consciousness hopefully not―and willed myself to stay in the moment with Jeff, my partner, and our friends who had graciously come to act as our guides for the day. It was Jeff and my’s first experience with a full-dose of LSD, and while we’d been around plenty of people who’ve used it, had plenty of anecdotes in our back pocket, and even dabbled in micro-doses ourselves, we had no idea where this particular experience was going to take us. 

I’d spent several days in preparation for this event, listening to podcasts on the subject of psychedelics featuring James Fadiman and Michael Pollan on the Tim Ferris Show, searching the web for how to have a safe trip, skimming through pages of “How to Change Your Mind” and “The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide,” all of which reassured me that I wouldn’t die, and all the more likely, would have a powerful metaphysical experience. 

The day before, I went to our favorite neighborhood market and spent $40 on fresh flowers for the apartment. Since we decided to have our first time be in the comfort of home rather than out in nature, I figured why not bring a little nature to us. Friends have shared experiences of flowers smiling and leaves waving, so this was not something I wanted to miss out on. We purchased fresh berries, cheese, avocados and light snacks, knowing that we would likely go from zero appetite to famished in a matter of minutes, and sliced the cheese in advance so that knives could be stored away in their appropriate drawers, in case, you know, one of us got the outlandish idea that we’re impenetrable or something like that. We planned out a nutrient-dense breakfast for the next morning that was lighter on meat and heavier on healthy fats and leafy greens. We rearranged our living room to better accommodate multiple people in a trance-like state, and spent time putting together care kits for ourselves that included eye masks, headphones, notebooks, colored pens, and in my kit, a toroflux―a single stainless steel ring that expands into multiple loops as it spirals down one’s arms―a quirky toy I’d bought for myself two years prior at a music festival where a 100 micrograms of LSD would have been considered “tame.” We spent time curating a handful of playlists for ourselves―one of mine was called “Atmospheric Calm,” which is exactly what it sounds like, another with more electronic tendencies was dubbed “LSD Trip,” another was my go-to playlist consisting of my favorite jams, and another with classical piano pieces. “Music,” echoed our friends, “will be your most important companion.” We dropped off Eleven, our teenage mutant ninja cat with a friend on Saturday morning, a necessary precaution in the event that she suddenly appeared to us as a ferocious, ravenous black panther. 

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Most people in their teens and perhaps even their 20s have their initial encounters with LSD in a mindset of casual curiosity, and often find themselves elucidated with powerful hallucinations of the external world. It’s used for the purpose of recreation and perhaps connection, which differ from the kind of experience Jeff and I were interested in and seeking. Our intention was to turn inwards, to find ourselves in a deep, contemplative state. We hoped to experience something divine, sure, but we weren’t going to be disappointed if a transcendental experience didn’t come to us the first time around. More than anything, we hoped for clarity around a few earthly issues that had been plaguing our mind. Both of us looked forward to glimpses of out-of-the-box, creative thinking, and our intentions were set with that in mind.

I was particularly cautious in my preparation―physical, mental, emotional and spiritual―because of the multiple adverse reactions I’d had to drugs, including psychedelics, in the past. While I’d never experimented with LSD, I had taken MDMA and small doses of psilocybin (or magic mushrooms) many times. Nearly every time I’d taken MDMA but once, I’d throw up and find myself in a state of extreme anxiety in the hours that followed―the exact opposite effect it has on other people. 

A few weekends prior, I’d taken a half dose of psilocybin at a low-key festival surrounded by people I thought I felt comfortable around―including the two friends who came to guide us on Saturday through our LSD experience. We’d hiked down to the beach where a stunning sunset and live acoustic music was taking place, and as I sat next to Jeff on the cool, golden sand, gazing out towards the pastel hued horizon, I found myself, not an hour later, yawning uncontrollably, eyelids drooping from an invisible weight, wondering whether this was a normal reaction or whether this was it―was this death? And suddenly, I felt the weight of my body slowly give out, and in those milli-seconds of conscious recognition, I looked over to Jeff and whispered, “I need to lay down...” before collapsing head first into the sand. There I physically remained for fifteen, twenty minutes, though for me it didn’t feel nearly as long. I could feel the brisk dusk air, it was in the low 50s, yet my skin was burning hot. Everything around me went dark, the music that had been playing so fully faded further and further away. The voices around me quieted, and I was left in pitch blackness with nothing but my breath to guide me. So this is what it is to feel without body, a complete loss of control and communication with it and the outside world. It was a dark, lonely place. I wasn’t sure I would come out of it. The outside world still existed, but it was a blur, so distant, and I didn’t have the strength to return to it. Just follow your breath, I told myself, just follow it and it will guide you out of this. I felt a presence lower himself towards my face and with what little life I could gather, I strained my eyes open just long enough to see the face of a concerned friend, and then back into the darkness, I surrendered. Moments later, not once losing focus on my breath for fear that it too, might fade, I felt a cloud of warmth manifest behind me, and gather in density around the middle of my back, where it rested for a time. It felt good. It was my only bridge to the outside world. Eventually, I came to, and regained enough strength to open my eyes and keep them so. I pivoted onto my back and felt the cold chill against my damp, burning, sand-covered skin. A couple of friends gathered around me, and I was transported back to a similar scene from years ago that I’d forgotten about―at Coachella, where the ingestion of MDMA had sent me reeling into an identical place of darkness. This seemed to me a sign―and this time was strike two. When I felt the blood settle back into my face, I joked how tragically comical it would have been had I died not of an overdose, but of an under-dose, and and how my hopes of connecting with the plant gods was once again extinguished. My friend’s friend, known by her circle of friends as an “old witch” for her insight into the realm of mysticism said, “But they did communicate to you.

And so, with this experience fresh in my mind, I had my concerns about LSD. What if this is my third strike? If I don’t heed all of the warnings I’d been given, that’s on me. Why do I continue subjecting myself to these experiences on baseless optimism that the result will be different? Isn’t this what Einstein calls insanity? There is clearly a fear of missing out here, but on what? On sharing this experience with others or with myself? These were questions that needed answering, and one night at dinner with a couple friend of ours, the subject of psychedelics found its way into our conversation. This couple leverages the power of hallucinogens (as well as MDMA) on a regular basis to strengthen their relationship with each other, to open up lines of communication, creative thinking, etc., and are huge advocates of LSD in particular. Their enthusiasm was so sincere and pervasive that I would have taken a hit of LSD right then and there had we had access to it. But it wasn’t their enthusiasm that hooked me, it was our friend’s hypothesis on my response to drugs that intrigued me. He suggested that I take at minimum a full dose in the future to allow for the full surrender or death of the ego (or my sense of self). He theorized that my ego, subconsciously, might be so deceptive, strong and controlling that at a non-full dose, it resists discovery by shutting my body down. He wondered whether my previous responses could have been psychosomatic. This wasn’t exactly revelatory―I’d been pondering this for awhile myself―but it was said at the right time, in the right way, and there was a solution available. After that conversation, I was certain I would undergo a psychedelic experience―it was just a matter of when and how.

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One thing that became clear and compelling in the couple of weeks of reflection that followed was the potential to leverage psychedelics as a tool of growth. This was the basis for my fear of missing out―I felt strongly that there were lessons to be learned in these voyages, things to uncover that had long been swept under the carpet―and not experiencing this would be a disservice to myself, especially since freedom, connection and growth are my core life values. This would be an exploration of all three. After reading up on much of the scientific material about LSD, and feeling confident that there is nothing inherent in a pure dose of LSD that could cause physiological death, I proceeded to learning more about the sometimes disturbing mental and emotional effects it can leave on those with an unsound mind. I was mildly worried that it might elicit some kind of dormant depression within me, as my mother was depressed for nearly a decade, but that was more situational than biological. The more I researched and read, it seemed most of the concern around LSD as a trigger for dormant mental illnesses was around those susceptible to schizophrenia or dementia, which was less relevant to me.

A few elements particularly fascinated me in Tim Ferriss’s podcasts with Michael Pollan and James Fadiman: the first has to do with a part of our brain called the “default mode network,” which to many’s surprise, shuts down during an LSD trip. Researchers, through brain imaging scans, had expected to see a lighting up of all areas in the brain during a hallucinogenic experience, but what they saw instead was a darkening in the area of the brain that is usually most active―our default mode network. This is the part of the brain that composes our sense of self, critical for memory (particularly of the autobiographic episodic type that attaches our self to a specific time and space), and self-reflection. It collects patterns (or data) from the external world and assigns it a value of good, bad or indifferent based on past experiences―all within milli-seconds―so we can easily “predict the future,” make quick decisions and get through life. When this area goes offline, external stimuli no longer passes through the control center or filter of the default mode network, and instead detours, allowing for the creation of new neural paths. A childlike curiosity overtakes the over-conditioned adult, and we begin to notice and see with an open and unhurried awareness. The experience of a dissolution of self, or ego, is likely precipitated by this too―feelings of separation disappear and is instead replaced by a sense of oneness. Some research have shown alternative modalities, such as a mastery in meditation, to achieve a similar effect.

The second was around LSD dose sizing, where a certain type of experience is often associated with a certain dosage―400 micrograms is usually where mystical or spiritual experiences are had, 200 micrograms is great for personal exploration, psychotherapy and gaining insight into our inner workings, 100 micrograms is good for scientific and creative problem solving, 50 micrograms is called a “museum” or “concert” dose, which enhances audio and visual perception and 10 micrograms is a micro-dose, what James Fadiman attributes to an above-average day. This was useful, practical information that helped me determine the approximate dosage I wanted to experiment with―somewhere between 100-200 micrograms seemed like a good start.

The last piece was around the importance of set and setting. Set refers to your mindset and setting refers to your chosen physical environment, both of which are pivotal in creating a safe, constructive and positive experience. Both of these seem obvious, like “duh” you should be in a good headspace and “duh” you ought to be somewhere comfortable―but I found it difficult to pinpoint and define exactly what that meant to me personally. I went through the week before our trip in constant anxiety, wondering (quite dramatically) whether this would be my last week on earth, reading cautionary tales of people who never recovered from the shock of “ego death.” I worried that my worrying was putting me in a bad mindset and doubted I’d ever be able to overcome it. By Saturday morning, I’d worked myself up so much that my heart rate spiked, my body temperature dipped, my hands got clammy and my ability to focus was severely fractured. I had to force myself into a 10-minute meditative sit just to calm my nerves. As for setting, most of our friends encouraged us to do it in nature, concerned that our apartment might be too restrictive and uninspiring, and to do it with a small group of 4-6 people we know well and trust.

Aside from my first ever experience with MDMA (it might have been ecstasy), I had never done drugs in a small, intimate indoor space. It had always been at a music festival, concert, party or nightclub, and I’d always been surrounded by large groups of people, from friends to acquaintances to strangers. I wanted it to be different this time. Knowing my tendency to get swept up by other people’s needs and wants, I knew I needed to be around people with whom I could isolate myself without feeling guilty, and to be somewhere where I’d have my own space. Home seemed like the right choice, and after going back and forth between a few different set of friends, one of my closest friends and her boyfriend agreed to join us. Both of whom are not only immensely knowledgeable about psychedelics and highly dependable, but were there through my ominous mushroom trip a few weeks prior and so understood my apprehension.

A LINEAR TIMELINE OF A NON-LINEAR EXPERIENCE

12:11
I place the tiny speck of paper under my tongue and wait. By 1:10 pm, I grow restless―finding it harder and harder to stay present in the ongoing conversation. I wonder whether this edgy feeling is psychosomatic or an indication that the LSD is kicking in? I excuse myself from the group, retreat to the bedroom and lay down in my bed. Am I going to faint? Black out? Is my heart rate up? Am I worried? Let’s not go down that rabbit hole, there’s no need. I feel hot internally but cold externally. I get under the covers, plug in my earphones, queue “Atmospheric Calm” on my phone and pull my eye mask over my eyes. I drift. 

14:00
I lift my eye mask and feel a cool dampness in the part of the silky fabric that rests over my eyes. Have I been crying? I glance at the time on my phone and am surprised by the distortion of time―what felt like a few minutes had been nearly an hour. I’d lost myself in the music―each note, break, instrument, sound reverberated through multiple layers, multiple dimensions, and compounded. What was time? Time was irrelevant. In my journal, I write, “The music. It dissolved me, my lines, shape. I was in the music. I was the music. I am the music.” Where darkness had plagued my normal field of vision, I’d seen bright etheric pulses, beats, vibrations, waves, patterns―infinite spectrums of color melded with infinite photons of light―flashing, flowing, flickering. Was I seeing sound? Hearing visions? Feeling both? It is the kind of beauty that words and pictures can’t capture. It is magic.

14:04
I walk out of the bedroom and down the hallway to the bathroom. I need to pee, and I want water. I should also make sure the world is still spinning and hasn’t undergone apocalyptic doom in the last 54 minutes. It hadn’t. I glance in the mirror and see a person there. She looks like me, I guess, except it’s not me. I pee. It feels glorious. I rinse my hands under the cold, cold water and don’t look back up at the mirror. I forget about the girl in the mirror who looks like me but isn’t me. It’s not a rabbit hole I want to go down anyway. I exit the bathroom and walk towards our living and dining room. Jeff is on his back, grounded into the floor cushion, eyemask and headphones on. He looks like he is deep into a voyage of the distant kind. I smile. I look towards our friends Emily and Sini who are sitting at the dining table looking back at me with curious smiles. I know they want to know where I’d been and whether it was enjoyable. It was. I tell them so. Emily tells me she’s happy to see that I’m enjoying myself. Me too, I say. It’s been wonderful and I’m going back.

14:10
I’m back in my bed, my conduit through time and space. I sit upright for a bit, and soak in the sounds of silence all around me. A dashing streak of light enters the bedroom window and spotlights an intricately woven section of the Moroccan rug I hadn’t noticed before, even though it’s been there for over a year. I hear a gentle knock on the door and see Emily’s shape take form between the slit of the door and the frame. She peeks her head in and says “hi” in a distinctly Emily way, and asks whether I need anything―a booster dose perhaps? She’s relieved I’m having such a positive experience, and thinks I can handle a booster if I want it. Sure, I say, why not. 

14:24
I place another tiny speck of paper under my tongue. It’s a little under 50 micrograms, Emily shares and then, what are you listening to? I show her my playlist. She has a listen. She asks me how I feel physically, I tell her a little uneasy, fidgety, can’t get comfortable, like I’m trapped in my own body. My temperature keeps fluctuating. She says that’s a common experience. Her energy is calm, soothing. It relaxes me. She has a song she wants me to listen to. It’s called “The Sacred.” I put my earphones back in and pull my eye-mask down for a more immersive experience. I drift.

14:28
Again I pull off my eye-mask to find it dampened by tears of infinite joy. I’d traveled to a place of pure serenity and met the graceful elves that protect it. It’s not far, but it’s hard to get to. I try my best to remember the way so I can go back, but my memory is defunct.

15:17
I peak. I don’t know how long I’m in it for. I light a candle and can’t stop watching the dancing ballerina inside the flickering flame. I’ve never seen such grace, such elaborate choreography. My eyes move towards the dangling vines of the philodendron by the window―her every subatomic particle is expanding, contracting, lengthening, shortening, orchestrating itself into a synchronized groove with the universe. I don’t understand. I can’t possibly understand. But I don’t need to. I lay back down in the bed and leave my eyemask off. The patterns in the ceiling start to shift and move in the same manner as the philodendron, as if they’re both in on some great, big, cosmic secret that I’m not privy to. Except it doesn’t matter. I’m okay with it. This is enough. This is more beauty, love, freedom, connection and growth than I can handle. In the dialogues between the vines, the walls, the flame, I begin to understand the essence of life, why it is, what it is and who is the bringer of it. I begin to understand love and abundance, how one cannot exist without the other, how those are the only two qualities that remain once you peel back all the hardened layers that we amass through life. It is a fear of losing love and abundance that drives us―except we are gravely mistaken to think that that could ever be. I begin to dissolve again, the way I did with the music, but this time quicker and more complete. There is no separateness, I am spread across the walls, the vines, the flame, and they are me. Everything is alive. Everything. And they always have been and always will be. I am in tears. I don’t know when they first came but they won’t stop coming. It is an outpour of every emotion I’ve ever felt all at once and none at all built on a bedrock of love and abundance. I chuckle at myself and write in my journal, “I’m laughing at myself for being so ridiculous.” When I glance back up at the ceiling, I think I see a tardigrade. A goddamn near-microscopic water-bear. For a split second, I think, “Are there really water-bears in our walls?” at once followed by, “Probably! Of course they’re in our walls! Everything we’ve ever known is everywhere, all the time! Hah!” The pure delight I experience in this moment is so intoxicating that I burst into the living room, face smothered in joyful tears, eyes radiant with euphoria and insight, tap Jeff on his shoulder, point towards the ceiling and babble between breaths, “Jeff, look at the ceiling! Water-bears! There! In our ceiling!” He looks up and grants me a smile overflowing with compassion and understanding, and tells me to turn to page 104 in “Scale: The Universal Laws of Life, Growth, and Death in Organisms, Cities and Companies,” a book that had been laying around the apartment and by design, seized his attention. My tears blur the words on the page, but what I see are images of neural networks, a tree with intricately connected branches, and the words “an integrated series of such networks... across all scales.” I understand it as “we are all intricately connected” and again erupt into an uncontrollable fit of euphoric tears. I look at Jeff, Emily and Sini with love and abundance, excuse myself for losing it, point towards the bedroom and chuckle, “I’m just uh... going to go back in there... for a bit.”

15:58
I’m done peaking. I think. But before I do, the tears don’t stop. The amount of liquid generated by my eye sockets is unfathomable. Where is it all coming from?! After returning to the bedroom following the water-bear episode, I focus my efforts on my relationship with my mother―one of three earthly issues I’d written down and hoped to get clarity on (the other two are far too trivial for where I am mentally and spiritually). I play an emotionally charged playlist and stare at the blank page in my journal where I’d written, “My mom―have I forgiven?” and within seconds, I am transported.  She appears, as does my grandmother, and a sister that I don’t recognize but feel communion with. Through my tears, I understand that this cry is different than the one before it. This cry is sad, it is melancholic, it is comprehension, it is kind and it is for humanity, for all who have suffered before and will suffer after. For the first time, I experience my mother’s pain directly, not as her daughter, but as her. I let the tears flow for both of us. The tears fall into a wide, gushing river made up of all the tears that’s ever been shed for and by humanity, and I feel momentarily weightless as the river current absolves us of our inadequacies and limitations. And then, I see her. I see my eleven-year old self standing by the river bank, and I realize that it had never been just about my mother. It had been just as much about me, about this eleven-year old girl who died on the eve her mother attempted suicide. She died that night to survive. I had never grieved for this eleven-year old girl, who’d lost her childhood, her purity, her childlike freedom and playfulness. Not a single tear had ever been shed for her. And while I feel I’d already forgiven my mother for wanting to end her own suffering, I see now that I need to forgive her as my eleven-year-old self, too. The tears fall unabated, its healing energy purifies and softens my heart into love and tenderness, and in what must have been seconds in the earthly realm, I navigate through the repressed anger, confusion, fear, loneliness, despair, grief, desperation, pride, guilt, and selfishness, as her―my eleven year old self. I come out of it. We both do. I hug her, tell her it’s time to let go―the same wide, gushing river sweeps away our tears. And then it’s time for me to go. I say goodbye. I weep and weep because I know I won’t meet her again. I see she’s at peace now―forever a part of me but not the whole of me. I open my eyes and see the water-bears. I laugh at myself for being so ridiculous.

16:26
I walk into the living room. I’m exhausted, and famished. Emily and Sini stepped out to get pizza. Jeff is in a similar position as when I’d last saw him, headphones and eye-mask still on. I fiddle around in the kitchen, wonder briefly whether I’m well enough to handle slicing an avocado in half without injuring myself and decide that I am. I scoop the two halves of avocado into a bowl, drizzle a little olive oil on top, sprinkle some salt and pepper. I take my first few bites standing in the kitchen and am disappointed by the flavor and consistency. I puzzle over why LSD and most drugs enhance our auditory and visual functions yet so critically neglects our taste buds. Too bad, I think, but probably best. I shuffle over to our couch and sit down just as Jeff removes his eye-mask and headphones, writes furiously in his journal for a few minutes, and turns to me with a look of, “My mind’s just been blown to pieces. I think I need a break.” We come together for the first time since noon and share with each other our respective journeys and insights, as well as my bowl of mashed avocado. We are surprised by the similarities in our experiences―how we’d expected to stay in the realm of earthly sensations but were instead propelled through time and space to come face-to-face with the biggest existential questions of life and the universe. Jeff says it well with this metaphor―he had been looking forward to having his own private 747 jet plane that could take him anywhere on earth, but instead, he’s given a time-traveling, dimension-crossing machine that can traverse the cosmos at the speed of light. Personal and earthly matters grow trivial when you’re given the opportunity to unravel some of life’s greatest mysteries! We are let down by the limitations of words and sentence structures to wholly encapsulate all that we’ve seen, felt, observed, learned―but somehow we understand each other anyway. We play around with my flow toy, aptly named the toroflux. It’s a single stainless steel circular band that starts out as a flat, two-dimensional ring and springs open into an infinite loop of toruses with a tap, or expands into what looks like a metallic soap bubble as it spirals down an arm or stick. It has an energy to it and we are both in awe. Jeff tells me about his trip to the edge of the universe, where he saw that we are (in) a simulation. He was, for a moment, a bug in the system unraveling the layers of code hoping to discover the real creators and minds of the universe, but as he dug deeper and deeper, he saw the toroflux and realized at once there is no end―our simulated universe is (in) an infinite loop! His concern of being debugged brought him back. We sit for awhile longer. I decide the recharge has given me just enough fuel for one more trip, maybe not to the edge of the universe but perhaps to the edge of our galaxy, and I head back to the bedroom.

17:21
Emily knocks on the door and says hello. I’d put on classical music a few moments before and again saw myself disperse into pulses, beats, vibrations, waves, patterns, swirling with the rhythms and notes of life, of energy. I’m not bothered by the interruption, and instead welcome it. She grabs a slice of pizza from the living room, and then the whole box, and sits down on the floor next to my bed. We talk about souls, friendships, intentions, psychedelics, nature, growth, consciousness versus spirit. I am energetically engaged and find myself listening with rapt, wide attention. We talk about my voyage, and while I struggle to find the words to articulate my thoughts and feelings, I’m not embarrassed, as I normally might have been.

18:14
Jeff knocks on the door and asks whether I need more time? He is ready to debrief with Sini and Emily whenever I am. Emily and I are just wrapping up our conversation anyway, so I say I’m good. We head into the living room and I take a seat next to Jeff on the couch; Emily and Sini sprawl themselves before us on the same floor cushions that had been Jeff’s conduit to space just a moment ago. For the next ninety plus minutes, Jeff talks, I talk, Jeff talks some more. We try to bring back morsels of lessons learned from afar to the earthly realm, we try to process it ourselves and what this all means for us today, tomorrow, the day after, and in the weeks, months and years that follow. We compare and contrast our notes with each other―Jeff has over sixteen pages of notes―and with Sini’s and Emily’s past psychedelic experiences. We give thanks to them, to the powers that be, to the guardians and protectors who watched over us today. We order food at around 8:00 pm―we have less a physical desire to eat but know we should. I miss Eleven, and decide to go get her and bring her back before the end of the night. Our journeys incite Emily’s interest in taking LSD again. Her psychedelic experiences have not been as positive or constructive since she went to ceremony last August, where she was warned the Mother Ayahuasca can be very jealous. A manifestation of a dark, ugly energy has appeared nearly every time she’s consumed another plant medicine since.

20:41
We say goodbye to Sini and Emily, and thank them again for holding space for us. It’s back to just being the two of us, Jeff and I. We eat our food bit by bit, talk occasionally, and take many breaks in between to sit or lie silently. We attempt to absorb, process and reintegrate. We put on The Beatles. We understand, but the understanding begins to contract as our thinking expands. We find ourselves slowly falling back into the small, limiting construct of our one shared reality. 

⧞ ⧞ ⧞

Weeks later, residue from that day’s journey still finds its way into the nooks and crannies of my being, my way of living, feeling and thinking. I’m grateful for it. It is a kind reminder on hard days that this is not all there is, that there is so much more. A book I’m currently reading called “The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation” talks about three types of wisdom: accepted, intellectual and experiential. The first is wisdom gained by the hearing or reading of stories and words of others. The second encompasses the first, but goes one layer deeper by evaluating and analyzing whether the received wisdom is indeed rational and logical. The third and most beneficial (or impactful), is a first-hand experience. Up until that Saturday, I’d heard anecdotes from friends and read research and books from experts about their experiences. I’d contemplated the potential benefits, detriments and effects and surmised the potential truths behind it. I’d roll my eyes (on the inside!) anytime someone shared yet another platitude derived from their explorations―“Love really is the answer,” “We’re all one,” “We’re all connected,” “‘I’ don’t exist,”―even though I mentally believed these statements to be true. But it wasn’t until I underwent it myself did I truly come to know it, did it all of a sudden become as clear as polished glass and deeply profound.

Here is a poem I wrote the next day―my best attempt at encapsulating the experience.