“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.” Bruce Lee
What does “Virgin Tripping” mean? A bit of a silly question because I guess it could mean a lot of things but for me for the purpose of this story it means letting go of my “this is what I believe and it will never change” kind of attitude. Expand. Jump down from my high horse. Let go of control. Trust that the net will appear.
Virgin Tripping is a story of a middle aged woman's virgin journey to the world of Psychedelics (or any kind of drug/plant medicine really).
I grew up in a world and surrounding environment, in an itty bitty country town in my native Finland in the 80-90s, where drugs were not something I ever really encountered in my young adult life. Sure, they were around but not in my radar at all and if they were, only things i heard spoken about them were things that sounded rather scary and not something that I would ever want to test for myself. I never felt inclined to try them for a few reasons. Quite honestly I was pretty black and white about the whole subject, pretty much until I hit 40.
I was like that for a few reasons in addition to the fact that my “drug” of choice was, as for majority of average Finnish teens, the old mighty alcohol. And not in small quantities may I add. We drank to get hammered, let go of our inhibitions and in my case, occasionally wake up in my own vomit or on the floor of a drunk sell at the police station. I know, it might sound a bit jazzy but I was not a wild child or radical at all really. Sometimes I secretly wish I had been but no, I was one of the "good girls". Because it fit my "perfect" image of who I thought I should be. It kept me safe from judgement or eyerolls from bystanders. But despite of all that, I got myself in “interesting” situations sometimes. Accidentally (or that is what I told the adults in my life) ;-)
The other reasons for my negativity against ANY KIND OF drugs were me seeing my first crush kill himself in my teens, because of him playing too much with all kinds of substances you can imagine. Eventually getting so messed up he shot himself while having his brother stand next to him and his mother listening to it all over the phone.
Because through my career in social work in a crisis center, I saw how “recreational” weed smoking in teens lead into us dragging them with the police to the psych ward and being strapped down on a stretcher because they suddenly “snapped”, went into psychosis.
Later in my healing and coaching work, I’ve seen the dark side of drug addiction and where ”innocent” beginnings can lead. The depths of despair and self destruction. I have always also been quite aware of the fact that I have a rather addictive personality and I had suffered from other addictions, as well as depression from early on in my life. So playing with my own brain chemistry on top of all that was not appealing to me at all. In my mind, it would have been like opening the door for the devil to step in and jeopardising something I so valued, my mind.
Thinking back, I now know I was not drawn to them largely also because of my debilitating struggles with perfectionism throughout my life, my then obsessive need to feel in control of EVERYTHING. Because of my need to appear perfect and the thought of losing control in any way scared me more than anything. Drinking felt like the "safer" option to let go and experiment. But I remember even when I was drinking (unless I ended up overdoing it and passing out somewhere that was) that I always had a distinct sense of self, I was TOO self aware and letting go of inhibitions was not what I would do. I was petrified to do so. For example you would never find me dancing on a bar and loving it. Flashing my boobs from an open car window or running on the summer field naked with my ladybits saying hello to the summer sun. I was too self conscious.
I would look at others doing these exhilarating things, filled with secret envy within my being on how free these happy go lucky individuals appeared to be and how amazingly they did not seem to give a shit what others thought of them, and I cared. Way too much. For most of my life. And it was exhausting. I wanted not to but I thought I could never be like that. Just be myself and not care. EVER. Majority of all those inhibitions tying into my personal struggles with bodyimage and lack in my own self love and self worth. Not feeling beautiful, skinny enough, accepted and loved for who and what I was. Hence the nearly 20 years of severe eating disorders that were a big part of my life and eventually nearly ended it.
I thought I had made my mind up about it all, drugs. Of any kind. Whether it be artificial chemicals or plant medicine. I looked at people while condemning them in my mind, people who did any of that. In a small scale or bigger. It did not matter. I thought ' my god, I will never be like them". I was better than them. I was riding happily on my high horse. And I was proud of it. Proud of not being like THEM.
I’ve had multiple conversations on the subject with people throughout my life. With teens at work, people I met along my travels through Europe in my twenties. People I met while living in Hawaii where pot was EVERYWHERE. People who were smoking daily explaining to me how their mind was expanding and how they were more creative on it, how they became one with the divine, how they were not addicted, how life was better being high, how pot was so much better than alcohol...blaablaablaa. And I went on a rampage defending my point of view on how they were slowly but surely making their brain into a big piece of cottage cheese with their daily habit and escaping from their real problems. Bloody cowards. Lazy ass unachievers.
I still think smoking pot every day, doing anything like that, alcohol, cigarettes, any kind of substance every day is...well, let's just say, I wouldn't. I think it’s harmful and a way of escapism, and addictive. For an occasional fun thing, fine. But personally I would never want to do something that is taking over my life. Nor do I have a desire to try majority of the things mentioned above. But that’s another day and another post ;-)
I spoke to dear friends over the years who had done ayahuasca ceremonies, ended up shitting themselves and thrown up in a group environment, and telling me how life transforming it was. I never saw the appeal of that for myself. I dated people who were pushing all sorts of substances, from pot to psychedelics and heroin in my face and pressuring me to try them too. Saying “Suvi, you need to loosen up, come on, just do it with me” just for me to show them the door and wish them well. I don’t and didn't want that in my life. And for the majority of those things, I still stand behind. I also abused my body so so much during my anorexic and bulimic decades, that I want to fill it with loving, healthy things now.
Fast forward to early 2019. Around my 39th birthday. I got approached my someone I trust implicitly, someone I consider to be one of the most intelligent, accomplished and health-forward people I know. And I know he would never ever do anything affecting his mind and health without major research and without doing it with the best people in the world for it. But even bigger reason than that was the fact that he is a person in my life who I know would never put me in a situation that could be harmful in any way. We spoke about how much I had done to heal my perfectionism and eating disorders over the past decades. With ridiculous amounts of my own work, immersing myself into personal development, using mentors, studying different aspects of healing and having a lot of healers work on me, creating a life where I finally feel centered, happy and free to be myself. But I also mentioned that I felt there was something deeper I needed to release, layers I can not touch with meditation or other things I was practising on my own. And getting there, releasing those old things that no longer serve me, would help me step into the next level of my evolution, personally and professionally. Being able to be even better guide for my clients on their own empowerment and healing journeys.
After this discussion he told me about his recent experiences with a specific kind of mushroom, legalised in Mexico and Amsterdam and now also in Colorado. And how profound it had been, and helped him so much in his own healing journey. He asked me to watch a few interviews and read a few books, especially one by Michael Pollan “How to change your mind” and Allan Watts”The book”. And if I was interested in trying a retreat they had done with world class facilitators, he would organise it for me.
I thought for a moment, and ordered the books and immersed myself in them. Thinking maybe, just maybe. I found myself in a minor “existential crisis” when I realised I was about to crumble the very core believes I had had for all of my life. All of a sudden my mind to the world of psychedelics was cracked slightly open and I sat there thinking “what a bloody hypocrite you are Suvi”. I’ve judged people doing what I was about to do and I could feel how the crash down from my high horse hurt my...well, ego :-P The very thing I so desperately hoped to crumble into pieces in this journey to something totally new. For me. Something that still scared me shitless. Something that I knew would change everything for me. One way or another. But I wanted to do it anyway. Step wayyyyyyyyyyy beyond my comfort zone and see what would happen.
I see myself as someone who takes calculated risks in life. Not stupid ones (stupid to me). I was talking to a friend who told me about his experience with psychedelics some time ago. He told me he didn't know much and went to have a try with a mate, and ended up waking up in a recovery position. Because he had gone unconscious and almost lost his life. He thought it was fine because he didn't die. For me that is not a calculated risk.A risk where the benefits outweigh the risks. I have no desire to dip my toe into death to get these experiences. None whatsoever. Maybe I’ll change my mind one day (that is one thing if nothing else I have learned in this process, and a few others. Never to say never. Have openness to shift my thinking if it feels right. TO ME. Not be rigid. Be like water. Like the great Bruce Lee once said. ). But the step I am about to take for me is calculated enough. I will be in a nurturing environment with trained people who I will work a month in beforehand to set my personal intentions and for them to understand my history. Reasons for all this to be able to support me in the best way possible in the experience.
I also said yes because I fully believe in divine timing and guidance of life. I believe when it’s time, when we are ready for certain experiences, they will come and find us. As do people.
So I said yes. Feeling uncertain and unsure. Scared and excited. It’s time to step up my healing, for my own growth and evolution, but also for the greater good. For me to be able to do more good through my work.
I will be embarking on this epic journey with a sacred, chosen itty bitty group of people in Colorado in 2 weeks time. A 5 day healing immersion with 2 individual guided "virgin" trips, ran by the amazing ladies from Buena Vida Retreats. I'll be going with these loving tips echoing in my mind to calm myself. To trust, embrace and let go:
Suvi, don't be scared. Just remember this during the journey:
1. Know it’s a perfectly safe 3-4 hour thing. No matter what happens, it’s just 4hr “fun”, then it’s over. You and the mind/thoughts you observe will come back 100%.
2. You can NOT control your thoughts or mind. It’s like a roller-coaster, when it takes off, you can’t stop it, you just observe and hold on to it. You can NOT control it at all. Don’t try, it won’t work. Just drop back and observe (for ~4 hrs).
3. You might want to prime your mind. When you experience something tough or unclear think “let’s do it”, “open the door”, “go for it”. Generally just lean into it vs. try to escape, because you can’t :-)
4. People are around to help you (guide) e.g. if you want to touch and “feel secure”.
And I am inviting you along for the ride with me. Share with you what happens when I dip my toes to the sacred space of my subconscious. The good and the bad and the ugly. So welcome, welcome to the ride of my life! :-)
Aloha, Suvi xx