Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Bad Trip

In hindsight I am on the fence about whether or not that period of time where I used LSD recreationally was a good thing or a bad thing for me. My mind is set to where I inevitably would have come back to whats important - I am too driven and motivated to get caught up in some sort of addiction cycle. I could only abuse it for so long before I would eventually say, "hey you know what this isn't working I need to be serious, I need to use this with a purpose. You have set, setting, mindset and then you have a one purpose. What am I going get out of this trip? " Sometimes Psychedelics take to to places you don't want to go. The next phase for me was dealing with bad trips. and that's no walk in the park. You can imagine a living nightmare no longer subject to just the physical limits of the world, you've just made a 12 hour commitment to Hell. And you've got to go through hell just to get out of it. There is no backing up and saying "I'm just gonna go out the way I came in, you want to get out of Hell you've got to go all the way down into the belly of the beast because that's the only way out. The horror movie "As Above, So Below" is probably the best analogy of the anatomy of a bad trip that I have seen. There is no way out of it except to go all the way into the belly of Hell and somehow it becomes some opposite paradigm where it becomes easier the more you face it and the further out you come. It was scary and I didn't want a part of it, the very idea of a bad trip kept me away from psychedelics for a while but I had this nagging feeling in the back of my head; everything I read about bad trips told me "its all mental, this is all in your head" and of course I have had some friends that have NEVER had a bad trip.

"it's your mindset, it's all in your head"

This nagging feeling just ate away at me, like i had failed myself, i let it beat me, I wasn't in control. It ate away at me for months. This ordeal was a reflection of my life, how I approached the world. A reflection of who I was at my very core. When things got tough I quit... That was the person I had become. And I knew I was so much more than that. And so i decided i would do it again but I was still scared, this time I would do it with a sitter. I planned out my trip entirely, I did it with another friend, lets call him R. R had done LSD many times and never had a bad trip. In fact, R couldn't even conceive how someone could have a bad trip. and it got me over the anticipation of taking another trip. At one point I started going down a bad trip and R kind of got me out of it, but it wasn't defeating the bad trip it was distracting myself - this is a lot of times what recreational drug users do when they start going down a bad trip or experiencing paranoia, they have to distract themselves because the more you think about the idea of a bad trip, the more it amplifies. What most people do to offset this is they distract themselves, they'll start watching NETFLIX or a movie or listen to music or a friend will just keep talking to them to make them forget any negativity around them and it works. But if you focus on the negative it just amplifies and amplifies and amplifies like quicksand, the more you fight it the faster you sink. This is all happening very fast and before you know it, in the blink of an eye you're full blown paralyzed - cowering in terror in the corner of the room because you're seeing haunted faces in the walls and everything is just collapsing around you, and you're absolutely positive you are going to die but you're about to experience a fate worse than death. 

Unmitigated Terror. 

Going down a bad trip is a very scary thing its something that you typically would want to avoid, I don't blame anyone for distracting themselves out of a bad trip. But eventually I had a bad trip that I couldn't avoid. I was deep in it, and just on a personal level i knew that if i let this thing beat me, right here right now i was gonna carry it with me for the rest of my life. i would know on some secret level inside of me, that that was the person i was, that was the person i chose to be - someone who chose to accept defeat. someone who let the outside world dictate his circumstances. and in that one moment - the most terrifying experience of my life, i overcame it. i said, "im gonna beat this even if it kills me" and i meant it. In my mind it was very real, i was gonna die. but if i was gonna die i was gonna die on top, i was gonna die in complete control. Rather than running from this thing, i wasnt gonna run, i was gonna beat this thing and i did. And I've written about it, i will share it and continue to write about it. As scary and terrifying as that experience was, it was also the greatest experience of my life. because i had beaten myself, i had won against my limited mindset and i came out such a stronger person, a much stronger person. That victory has carried out into so many other areas of my life. its like a Keystone Habit you change one habit or behavior and it changes almost every other thing in your life. Facing and overcoming the fear and negativity and self doubt that I have in my own mind is probably the greatest epiphany i have ever had and i know i never could have had that experience sober... not unless i climbed Mount Everest... maybe then... but it was truly the most profound experience. Lao Tzu says, "Mastering others is strength; Mastering yourself is true power." There is no greater friend or enemy than what you choose to be for yourself.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Labyrinth insight into Human Nature - Mental Illness

Faced with obstacles, people retreat inwards as if perpetually stuck in their own bad trip. Director Jim Henson of Labyrinth has an unbelievable insight into human nature when confronted by our own inner demons. More astonishingly, director Henson's ability to translate that onto the big screen. The entire scene is a metaphor for how one approaches life and obstacles. People retreat inward, into our own little rooms or safe spaces; and in the short term it is comforting but eventually its not enough, it becomes claustrophobic, suffocating... And so these broken people become hoarders trying to bring the outside world into their little "rooms." Not quite grounded in reality and not quite able to bear the suffocation of their mental safe space - one foot in and one foot out. Watch the clip below to see this extraordinary insight into human nature. [2 minutes 46 seconds]

We are all aware of hoarders and homeless having mental illness but forgetting just how frighteningly close the average person gets to breaking point at various stages of hardship in life. There are also varying degrees of mental illness and all sorts of baggage (I say damage) outside of hoarding and living in isolation. We can hit a rough patch and never fully recover or life hands us a "bad trip" that we don't ever quite come down from... Maybe we are aware of our damage but feel hopeless to face it or maybe like a fish is unaware that it is in water - we are unaware of the the baggage we tug around on a daily basis or the possibility of a life free of such damage; the programming runs too deep. In this short clip from Labyrinth, Sara (the teenage girl) faced her Bad Trip, she wanted nothing more than to shut herself into her room and distract herself - to forget about the nightmare she was currently living in. And she could have so easily turned a blind eye to the fact that it wasn't real; that there was a bigger scarier world outside of that room, and there is no telling how long she could have remained in the comfort of that illusion. From the outside looking in, we see the bigger picture, the hoarders were the Sara's of the past whom the Goblin king had trapped in their own insecurities. That is why it is important to face our fears regularly, to overcome personal obstacles. On a scientific and self improvement level there is the importance of personal growth to avoid your personality being "set like plaster" [RECOMMENDED READ] where by 30 years old your personality "stabilizes... and will never soften again..." That's a fancy way of saying you stop learning and growing by the age of 30 due to not challenging and stretching your comfort zone as you get older. But overcoming personal obstacles goes beyond self improvement and personal growth, challenging our fears regularly is so much more important on a spiritual level... It gives us the ability, when faced with adversity or psychological harm, to come out unscathed, or at least with minimal damage. Go ahead and watch the clip again (you know you want to), I am still BLOWN AWAY at how much the director "gets it" but even more so at his artistic ability to translate such complex human emotion into a short 4 minute scene.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Psychedelics and Ego Death - PTSD Therapy

For simplicity purposes ill focus on LSD. Psychedelics are gaining awareness as treatment for PTSD. I am putting my work and journal notes out there to raise awareness of other practical uses for these wonder drugs. I don't recommend it for getting work done ie caffeine on steroids for a novice, it takes expert level focus and control. For the novice LSD is sensory overload as you're taking in and processing far too much information to hone in on just any one thing... REAL life ADHD not the crap they're prescribing little kids that don't like sitting in 1 spot for 8 hours... What makes psychedelic so magical is a little thing called ego death. Its when the body and mind are so overwhelmed by the 4+ hits of LSD or 5+ grams of shrooms that your ego is completely suspended. And a suspension of your ego for 4-12 hours is something magical. Our ego holds us back in ways we can't even imagine with ingrained beliefs from cognitive dissonance and societal programming. Anything that challenges a core belief is rejected by the ego and not even processed as information, all of this without even realizing it. Were walking around with baggage that we don't even know we have.... Ever see that alcoholic father who has alcoholic kids who have alcoholic kids? Nobody says "I want to grow up to be an alcoholic like my father." or even worse "I want my kids to grow up with my drinking problem." they simply aren't aware of how baggage can transfer between generations. Yet to the outsider this may be plain as day and even predictive... Or may be not as obvious until the kids get older which ones will take on more baggage. But it goes even deeper than that, all sorts of damage that you didn't even know you could pass down from generation to generation... Stubbornness, tempers, selfishness, abuse, neglect, laziness. See that fat parents with the obese kids? You think obesity is gonna skip a generation when the kids have kids?  I'm going on a tangent but I've illustrated the larger point. We've all got baggage were carrying around (I say damage) and a LOT of it you aren't even aware of because the programming runs deep. Does the Asshole know he's an Asshole? How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie makes the argument that almost everybody thinks they're a decent person, even criminals and thieves. To some people this is black and white, what about some grey areas? What about people in the self help industry or people that sell substandard products and services, trying to make a quick buck? Sometimes they're blatantly ripping people off, other times they're selling a crappy product and the customer could really do with a better product or service and the seller is well aware if this fact. These people ripping others off, preying on others, they don't believe they are bad people or deserve to go to jail despite the obvious harm they cause to others. Many of them have good and healthy relationships with family and friends and wouldn't be considered criminals by the general public. Just look at how Bernie Madeoff stunned The World... And there were dozens of people involved not just Bernie Madoff but we aren't in a hurry to start throwing the whole company into prison. The programming runs deep, your ego protects you from processing any information that goes against the belief of you being a good person. I mean, we are all Asshole some of the time...

Psychopaths make up approximately 2% of the population and most psychopaths aren't actually killers like the TV show Dexter would have you believe. Their lack of emotion makes them too smart for that and so most psychopaths just climb the ranks in corporate hierarchies due to their superior office politics. The rest of the 98% of the population would fit into some variation of sociopath tendency. Not "pure evil" (not that psychopaths are actually evil they're just hardwired differently and its very scary to think about), but different degrees of assholery. Sorry, another tangent.

So imagine what 12 hours of suspending your ego and with it, biases and programming can do for you? You maintain the same level of intelligence and information processing power in the trillions, but see information in an entirely new light... You see possibilities that weren't there before and experience life in the present moment. People with PTSD or those with high levels of anxiety, victims of trauma such as rape and other violence - can look at how feelings, emotions, anxiety affect them almost in 3rd person and analyze them in real time. A rape victim might look at themselves in real-time and say "I'm scared of black men but don't want it to get to me and make me racist so I overcompensate and am overly friendly to black people." Could you get there without drugs? I'm sure you could, but it could take years of therapy and you might never fully get to the root of the problem. In therapy you've got the psychiatrists' ego to deal with in addition to your own. Much like spirituality, I believe the personal discovery journey by is very much your own. It might help to have "guidance" but it also runs the risk of attaining other baggage without you realizing it. A Hindu Father might believe in traditionalism and that his children should find spirituality through the teachings of the Hindu Shruti or Vedas. And at the expense of a generalistic self discovery - excluding other lessons that could be gained from Christianity, Islam or Taoism religious texts. This might create a culture of ignorance and closed mindedness that transcends generations. Kids attaining baggage from their parents... The sins of the father passed onto the son. An atheist rejecting religion might educate himself in his spiritual journey and include all the major religious practices and doctrines and therefore attaining a much more efficient awareness of self and what it means to be "Christ like.".. Or the same person could reject any and all religious dogma and avoid any spiritual self discovery. What causes one and not the other? The ability to process raw unfiltered information, and your ego shuts down that ability more times than you would realize.

Sins of the father passed onto the son - everyday damage from childhood

We don't see our own damage from growing up. I don't clean, my mom doesn't clean. Truth is when I really think about it, my mom never cleaned - that's a habit you gain and cultivate from your parents. I don't clean, my mom didn't clean, her parents didn't clean.. And I have to be 29 years old before I realize I'm a freakin slob living in a filthy house. LSD made me aware - but now that I am aware I see it in every day life. My moms (and mine) idea of cleaning is anything visible and easy to get to. Mop the floor clean the counters wipe down the sink. Furniture never gets moved, carpets never get vacuumed. Windows, blinds and corners full of dust and cobwebs. The shower full of mold and rust. Filth around and behind the toilet. Without LSD I don't think I would've ever known I was a slob... I have had roommates before but always picked on one of them for being a neat freak, and he would pick on me, "the whole house is clean except Nathan's room." It seems common sense to clean ALL of the HOME and to have it clean AT ALL TIMES but it slips through the cracks...To quote the bible verse Exodus 20:5 “ ...the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me.” Or the more commonly heard paraphrasing, "...the sins of the father passed onto the son." Baggage transcending generations. I am not religious by any means and not trying to turn the topic into one of religious doctrine but what does sin really mean? Sin is an archery term meaning failure, being in error, or missing the mark, especially in spear throwing. We grow up living a certain way and don't even realize the damage we posses. It slips through the cracks because of all the other things life puts in our way like paying bills, work, hardships, or if you're lucky actually doing something fun like sports or hanging out with friends... I was looking for something that dropped and moved 2 cupboards in the kitchen this morning to take these pictures.


I remember my parents fighting when I was growing up. My dad would yell at my mom that the house was filthy. My dad didn't grow up in a filthy house and my mom never cleaned, and they would fight about that, money, anything really. My mom was a stay at home mom, and even in hindsight some odd 25 years later I'm still not so sure what my mom did all day... Growing up with my mom I got to hear all about how bad and mean and abusive my dad was... I was always with my mom, my dad was an absent father. Dad was too busy working, trying to get various businesses off the ground while we lived in poverty. And my mom hated him for it. I of course was too young to see the dynamics at play... Only 15 something odd years later can I piece together pieces of history. My mom grew up in poverty, she was first generation to go to college, she was determined to leave that behind and not live in poverty, neither she nor her kids would grow up the way she did. And my mom worked hard to give us more than she had growing up. I heard the stories, saw and helped remodel my moms childhood home. We definitely lived better than they did, but it wasn't enough. My mom COULD have been the primary breadwinner as a nurse, but she put her faith in my dad and supported his Vision. And every time we fell on more hardship my mom resented him even more. There were periods where I truly thought my dad was evil due to my moms brainwashing. My mom was angry and bitter and depressed and (I didn't know at the time) even on Prozac and other antidepressants for a very dark period of my childhood. At about 12 years old I was able to question it and encourage my 2 younger sisters to question it as well... But it didn't help that my dad has his own flaws... My dad was an absentee parent - almost never there, we rarely saw his good qualities or much of him at all. My dad was so determined to make it work for him, he came to America from one of the poorest countries in the world, Bangladesh with only $200 in his pocket. America the land of opportunity and he was the most capable of his 11 siblings, the first to make it over here. He became an Occupational Therapist and shortly after started working on various business ventures to take control of his life and financial situation.

Dad never said a bad word about my mom. He just put up with all my moms flaws and her badmouthing him. He held shit in and blew up occasionally - Sometimes frequently. Dad had a temper and rarely hit us but did nonetheless. Never beatings or a closed fist and rarely more than 1-3 hits or a hard shove, but he slapped or hit or pushed you like you would an adult... Fierce. And then my mom would speak about how evil he was and how you should never hit your kids... It was hypocritical bullshit but you aren't self aware until you hit your teens, even then you don't take a critical look at your history until much later, all you remember is the pain. But the real flaw, the root of it all - the source of strife in my mom and dad's relationship, our relationship with our father, the relationship between siblings, all of that was worsened by growing up in poverty. There is a lot of family brokenness that can be covered up with a better higher-quality standard of living... And my dad had no business sense. Business books weren't written back then and he didn't have any mentors. My dad invented all sorts of cool stuff in his little workshop. I even worked with him on some of them. A collapsible-portable baby table (which i would years later see in supermarkets), an underwater blinking fishing lure (now out there in 2015 thanks to kickstartr), a humane catch and release rat trap. My dad learned the hard way with his best inventions stolen and sitting on top of 1,000 product inventory which he sold at a loss. Inventions would be stolen by the same guys my dad went to to do business with (I remember as I went with him to many of these meetings). Today nobody signs an NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) because of how easy it is to rush to market but back then you absolutely needed them! Patent lawyers charged $20,000+ back then so most people saved that step for last. People could see your stuff, patent it, then steal it right out from underneath you.

Only the internet has brought the costs of patent lawyers down and leveled the playing field for aspiring entrepreneurs... In 1994 who was there to teach a middle eastern guy how to do business? You know all those "Reflexology" and massage shops you see in malls all over the country? My dad was THE first one. Shit he probably could have even trademarked the term "Reflexology" and definitely could have built a franchise out of mall massage parlors. There were no modern business gurus like Tim ferris or MJ Demarco or Seth Godin to teach you about prototyping and rushing to market. There was no internet to tell you how to do things like boot strap or start a lean startup or fund raise or pitch an idea to angel investors or venture capitalist. No internet to tell you how to start a franchise from scratch or hire decent employees who aren't incompetent and don't steal from you or how to build SOP (standard operating procedures) to make them efficient employees or how to get rid of incompetent or thieving employees properly to not have to pay unemployment or be party to lawsuits. Nobody to tell you how to sell your big idea to corporations, get the deal signed and everything paid for then worry about finding a manufacturer after everything is signed on and "paid for." Nobody to advise you to move out of your little workshop and partner with an engineer who has access to tools and resources to help you go from idea to prototype much quicker. Of course I wouldn't have known all this either if not for the hundreds of books and thousands of articles I have read which didn't exist back then...

And then life gets even harder for my dad. For me it didn't rear its ugly head until after 9/11 but you have the ugly truth that people discriminated against middle eastern people in this country and possibly still do. My dad never spoke about it, possibly in his wisdom of not wanting his children to gain or accept a victim mentality but I was able to piece together all sorts of history. My dad was laid off or fired or something after 9/11 happened. He was forced to commute to another job in another city ever since.. With all his experience he couldn't get a job in ol' racist [insert metropolis name here]. It got bad for a period of time after 9/11, kids I had known for over 7 years were calling me a terrorist at school... And I look white! To this day It still eats me up inside (not punching those kids in the face) but just imagine how adults treated an Indian guy with an Indian name after the towers fell... Of course this is all plain to me in hindsight... My dad living out of his car and eating canned food to save money while his house sat empty in [anonymous metropolis name here], saving every penny he could living like he was practically homeless. Because he still hadn't given up, he wasn't working on businesses but he had dreams and aspirations like funding a family trip to Bangladesh or sending his kids to college. He still gave me $150 spending money every month even after I turned 18.

My parents with all their flaws didn't have access to the technology, internet, libraries, and higher standards of living that we have today. And even now, with an abundance of all the information in the world accessible from a mini computer in your front pocket, the bar is so low on "Adulting." We shun self improvement like its some scam industry, sure the self improvement industry has more crap books than any other area of the book store but few people read, even fewer self reflect. There is no guide or "how to" on raising children properly or getting rid of baggage you don't even realize you have... And if there was those books would be in the self improvement section. We leave it up to the public school sector to educate our children. Then after that its up to college, then figure it out on your own.  And then once you get a job you finish all the learning you're supposed to do.

My self awareness at 20 (pre-LSD) helped me to see that I didn't want the (obvious) baggage that my parents had, I would be better and I would overcome those negative character traits. I inherited my dads temper and I STILL hold shit in rather than vocalize my concerns or injustice as it happens.; its one of the reasons my dad and I had a falling out 8 years ago and we still don't speak (we both blew up at the same time). And it sucks because my dad is an amazing intelligent guy STILL full of potential but unwilling to let go of his baggage (hate and anger at the past) and repair his relationship with me. I no longer have a temper and have given up a lot of other bad traits that I learned growing up. But it would be a long time before I learned that I didn't know it all. I still possesses all sorts of damage and baggage that I wasn't aware of... And I have a more sympathetic view of my upbringing and the hardships my parents had to endure and the sacrifices they had to make. That is what LSD has done for me. Opened my eyes to take a good hard look at myself and how I live my life. What baggage have you gained from childhood? What details in your everyday life just slip through the cracks?