Wednesday, March 2, 2016

How do I explain?

This journey I am on started at what I would consider being the "peak" of my mental health. I probably suffered from a certain amount of light depression, and certainly some anxiety that came from a rather tumultuous childhood that is outside the scope of this entry.

Sometime in the spring of 2013, I was walking through the Mission District of San Francisco walking towards Philz coffee. I was in San Francisco on a whim for a weekend to just walk around and clear my head. I had flown first class, I had plans to meet a girl I was kind of seeing later that evening at a club to see a concert. I was in a position in life where I could just fuck off halfway across the country for a few days, and on top of it fly a chick out to meet me there to enjoy life. It was maybe 10-11am and the sun was high in the sky. I was walking alone and I looked at some cranes that were building a new building and I felt a sudden contentment. It was a physical sensation though where the weight of the world just fell off of my shoulders. I saw the sunbeams gleaming in wonderful patterns from the crane, The bustling neighborhood, the cars beeping. I just stopped, I looked up, I closed my eyes, and I felt the sun on my skin. The anger from my childhood, my past relationships, my son's mother, all the guilt for the things I have done... it fell to the ground. I am not sure why it happened, maybe it is in the aforementioned details. Maybe it just happened because it happened.

Everything changed after this moment. I forgave the people that hurt me, I found comfort in things that had previously worried me. I thought about the things that made me happiest. My son, traveling, the present, and at the time my ex-Sheri whom I felt I had unfinished feelings, and relationship business with. I fostered these things in the meantime, I even became very interested in Eastern Religions, especially Buddhism. Sheri and I found our way back together which was a big deal for my growth, and my relationship skills. In the end, Sheri had her own path but I thank her daily for allowing me to realize the relationship potential I had in me that I was unaware of.

I accidently stumbled upon a documentary called "Monk with a Camera" that caused an "aha moment" in my life. I really identified with this gentlemen. He was born into wealth, a certain amount of celebrity, and lifestyle, yet decided to give it all up in an effort to become a monk. The one vice he kept, taking pictures, seemed to him like such a dirty thing he was doing, an attachment, but it ended up funding a new monastery after the market crashed in 2008. He became the first westerner to become the abbot of a Tibetan Monastery when His Holiness the Dalai Lama appointed him as such. I am not sure what I identified with directly, I certainly wasn't born with wealth, or fame, or anything at all. I did though gain a decent living, education, lifestyle through a lot of hard work, and maybe even a little pushing people out of the way to make way for my huge ego.

I realized something through this story that caused me to turn my life inward. I had never bought a single thing in life that ever made me happier. I purchased every gadget, I worked hard to buy everything I felt I needed that was somehow going to improve my life.  In the end, though it only fed on itself. Everything I bought just made me feel more empty, or like I needed more. It was a carrot on the end of a stick. Materialism.

I turned my journey inward. I decided that working 50 hours a week was simply something that was not going to happen anymore. The time I would gain to spend with family, friends, traveling, or looking inward was going to be my "discretionary fund. I started meditating, trying to get to the core of what this experience is that I call my life. I really started to enjoy nature a lot more. Hiking, fresh air, but especially feeling the sun. Not in a "go get tan kind of way", but the actual feeling of the rays touching your skin.

I have always been interested in psychedelic experiences. Up until this time I had never really tried any drugs at all. Sometime at the end of 2013 I tried pot for the first time while I was in Denver, where I ate a whole brownie which was supposed to be 16 or 32 doses and I completely was out of my gourd and unconscious. I also as a teenager tried Morning Glory seeds where I grew up in Western New York. For those that don't know Morning Glory seeds contain a psychoactive compound called LSA which is closely related to LSD. The effects are essentially the same, maybe a little lighter, but it does have the added purge associated with it due to what I believe is associated with the seed containing arsenic. They make you sick but even as a kid the colors, and warping of visuals was a pretty cool thing. As a kid though we just did it to do it though, it didn't seem like we were taking drugs... it was just a flower.  I was like 10-12 years old.

Sheri and I were having some relationship issues but I was in a great place mentally and didn't really feel connected to the issues in the relationship since at this point it had become clearly obvious to me that the issues she was having with me in the relationship were clearly self-imposed. I was on my own journey at this point and knew she wasn't part of it and wasn't even sure if she wanted to be part of the marriage. I was already feeling sure that she had her foot out the door. I didn't realize to what extent that was at the time, but I suppose I didn't need to, she was on her journey, and I was on mine. I decided on a weekend trip I made for us in an effort to try and bridge some gaps that I would try to relive my childhood a bit and take some LSA in a real dose in an effort to get more in touch with my introspection.

The bad idea in this is that I chose to do it with Sheri present. She was grumpy about it, made me feel like I was doing something wrong, while meanwhile she has done every drug I can name besides heroine, and scarfed down more anti-depressants, anxiety pills, and had no problem doing marijuana and drinking. I remember feeling super judged and frankly concluding that her hypocrisy doesn't have to ruin my journey. I was successful to a point in ignoring it, but I do recall a few comments during the "trip" and her walking around grumpy in a bathrobe looking about 30 years older than she is because of her foul aura. What could have been a learning experience for both of us turned into a nice introspective journey for me but also my first real awareness that she was out and not sure she was ever coming back.

Spanglish. The LSA trip starts with some visual trailing, some light fractal hallucinations, and what I find most interesting is the time distortion. I was out of my mind a bit and I had put Spanglish on the TV at the Airbnb we were at since I knew the movie extremely well and the time distortion was blowing my mind. The world was stuttering. I could hear in real time but the visual from the movie was like way behind it and stuttering. I suppose that makes it sound like a parlor trick. It was very interesting at the time, though.

The most interesting thing in this experience was the ability to see sound. There was a point where I could no longer really hear, or maybe I could but it wasn't necessary because I could observe the sound waves and actually understand them. It was mind blowing and real. It's one thing to be able to understand the idea of a sound turning into something visual, but another step to be able to see the sound and understand what it says. Another notable part of the trip was that there was a point when I could no longer sense where sound or movement, or feeling were coming from in regards to my body. Sheri at one point was talking to me, and touching me but I had to ask here where she was. I couldn't ascertain it on the information I had available. That's oddly enough foreshadowing. Some other notable points are that I did, in fact, throw up, I was nauseous most of the time, but it wasn't that distracting to the experience. I chewed up 250 seeds and downed with OJ.

Ayahuasca is a brewed tea made from components of plants that grow in Central/South America. Somehow thousands of years ago people took two plants, one of which would be useless to them without the other and turned it into a brew that can take you to places that are simply indescribable with words. I will try, but I am no wordsmith, and again the words are just not really available. The amazing part about this brew is that the two active ingredients that bring about the experience, DMT, which is available in a multitude of plants and animals, including humans, and an MAOI inhibitor that causes the stomach to not break down the DMT immediately upon oral ingestion. How these people decided to throw this Caapi vine and some leaves in a brew, and boil it down to a point that it was psychoactive is beyond coincidence. Also, worth mentioning is that this brew tastes worse than anything you can imagine. I am an embalmer, I see the a wide range of gross and smell an ever wider range of smells. The smell and taste of this brew are simply off the charts gross. Just the thought of the smell makes me gag and the thought of the taste makes me lose all appetite. If you can somehow get it down, though... you are in for a trip.. one that is simply out of this world.

The taste never goes away for me. I meditate a bit, I watch a little tv, like Cosmos, or even chanting or nature scenes. Slowly the world starts to shift. You start to feel like the things around are talking to you. My dog, my ex, they aren't... but they are. It starts with a warm feeling in your spine that starts at the base and slowly works its way all the way up through your neck and eventually outside the top of your head. I can literally feel the warmth a foot above my head. How can you feel above your body? The most amazing thing about Ayahuasca, in my experience, is the ability to turn the trip "on and off". While you are in another world I was always extremely aware that I was on a trip and I could simply turn it off with an intention. I could walk, talk, I could probably even drive (even though I wouldn't) on a full blown Aya trip. So with the intention to go back "there", I just needed to close my eyes and BOOM! back. Over the average 3-4 hours of full on trip, I have done amazing things. I got to say goodbye to my dog who died of cancer. I got to ride on his back through city streets doing what Dusty did best, run, and I got to spend time with the living being that touched my heart more than any other being. I was able to paint a picture of a glowing tree with my ex with her guiding my hand. It was maybe the most intimate moment in our relationship in the last 6 months and it wasn't even real...  at least not to anyone else.

I was listening to music on headphones. Particularly the Tool 10,000 days and Lateralus albums. I know each note, lyric, and arrangement front to back. Listening to them mid-trip is simply like listening to a brand new cd that has 5 times the depth and beauty. They were simply beautiful. Maynards voice was speaking directly to my very being. I was aware of nuances to the lyrics I had never considered, and the music seemed completely foreign or alien... but beautiful. I highly recommend if you have the chance to do Aya that you listen to the CD you know the best. It is incredible.

I saw stars outside that spoke to me, and most importantly I had conversations with my internal self that were simply life changing. You actually can speak to your subconscious mind, and it speaks back. The plants in this tea seem to actually have their own voice as well. They speak of caring, and compassion, and a sense of connection that I had simply never felt. The feeling makes me think of a culmination of every painting I have ever had the luck of seeing of the Buddha at the moment of his enlightenment. Just him being connected to the ground, the tree he was sitting under, and the sky being completely interconnected with all living beings. That is my explanation of Ayahuasca. It seems to show (in my personal experience) how connected we all are. It is the largest, most loving hug you can ever receive. Until the puke and poop comes.

I love Ayahuasca, but, the sheer amount of bodily fluids and solids that leave your body while taking it are simply "off the chain". While the puking seems oddly part of the process, and it doesn't seem to hurt, or be a negative (if anything it's like an odd relief), the worst part, by far,  is the diarrhea. Normally when you take Aya you follow a diet of very simple foods. Vegetarian, or even just water. Where all this crap comes from I have no idea, but cleaning up the toilet the morning after a mind journey is quite the job. Plus, you are weak from the loss of fluid and the experience. I found this to be overwhelming and being a guy that holds a job that requires me to be "always ready to go" since people rarely die on a schedule, I also don't have scheduled days off so it makes this experience hard to incorporate into my life. That leads me to the mother of all Psychedelics. Pure DMT.

The problem with explaining DMT with text is that there are things that simply do not compute. For example, there are colors that you can see while on DMT that are simply not on the spectrum. Of course, all colors we can see are represented on the spectrum. This is an example of what makes DMT difficult to explain. I have experience many colors that do not exist on the spectrum. The other conundrum is that I do not see these colors every time, and it wouldn’t surprise me that I will see many more colors that have not yet shown themselves.

Another conundrum is the term straight. For the most part when someone says that a line is straight, we know that it can’t be straighter than straight. For example, a 180° line is universally referred to as straight. Most of the furniture I have in my house is modern and has straight edges, as well as the molding, and doors in my house. While on DMT with your eyes open something can appear straighter than straight. Clearly, this sounds insane, but I assure you this is an experience a lot of people that have used DMT share. Angles are more pronounced, depth is simply different, and an important part of the eye open experience of DMT is texture.

Texture on any dose of DMT where you are conscious enough to have your eyes open is quite the “trick”. Rough items like blankets look smooth when you aren’t focused on them, but if you look at the blanket closely and look at the texture the blanket comes alive. The texture much like the fractals you see if your eyes are closed come alive. They are constantly moving in a very organic with a hint of machine mixed in. It’s like a steampunk lovers dream. The hair on your arms comes alive. It looks darker, it sways, and it seems alive, almost like a separate entity.

The textures, shapes, lines, and change in colors (although not new colors), seem to be a constant in every DMT trip I have experienced. There are a few more constants I will cover as well. First the warm feeling of the ayahuasca is still represented here but it happens so fast it’s hard to feel it travelling. By the time you are aware of it you are almost “gone”. There is a sound that occurs for me behind my right ear. It starts as a high pitch buzzing, then gets louder and louder and louder. By many users this is called a “carrier wave”. This “carrier wave” seems to be a large part of the actual DMT experience. I will go into theories on this in a later post but this sound gets so loud, and is always at the same frequency (not that I can take a meter in there with me), and when the trip hits what is referred to as the “breakthrough” (Where you literally leave your body, or this universe, or whatever is going on), the carrier wave tends to just propel you through a tunnel, or shatter the room you are in, or if your eyes are closed I often get the experience of many faces, or fractals, or lights coming at me head on (some people call this the DMT loading screen)…. then when it cannot possibly get any louder… reality as we are used to it is gone.

For the sake of this post I am speaking about vaporization techniques of inhaling DMT as it is the most popular and practical way to take it. Starting at like 20 mg's all the way up to 80 mg's, which is the range I have tried, I can tell you that these constant effects scale up according to dose, for the most part. I have had experiences at a lower dose that were more pronounced than higher doses. I have read a million theories as to why the dosage can interact so differently from one trip to the next, but this is outside the scope of this post. I inhale the dose, in one very large breath, and hold for as long as possible. The vapor is harsh, a bit plasticky, and you have to fight to not cough. The fact is, though, that the longer you hold it the better. I simply hold it until I either cannot any longer, or I lose consciousness. This sounds scary but losing consciousness in this “realm” doesn’t mean you just pass out like a vegetable and sleep of the trip. When you are no longer “here” you are “there”

There. This is where the constants fall apart. I will write about a few experiences I have had, but in truth I understand that anyone that reads them will see them as silly, scary, explainable due to the chemistry of the brain, or scoff at the idea that any of this is true. The other factor is that you could take DMT a thousand times and never have an experience similar to any of mine. We all have a definition of “weird” and we all have a good understanding of what it means…. and then there is DMT weird. I assume you DMT weird is weirder than your weird.

So when the breakthrough occurs it is simply impossible to tell where you will end up. Sometimes it is not even a place. It is just an endless sea of fractals, there can be sounds that range from what I would imagine to be mermaids singing, machinery (think factory), or complete silence. I often feel like the carrier wave is still there but if it is I either can not longer process it the same way, or the carrier wave has turned into the fractals that you see, much like “seeing sound” on LSA. I sometimes feel like maybe I am falling, or being shot out of a cannon at first. Now three experiences with as much detail as i can recall.

Trip 1: I am completely immersed in fractals. For reference, this is an example of what I am referring to when I say fractal.
Clearly the colors and shapes in a fractal can change in an instant on a trip. They are also constantly in motion. They seem to almost always rotate right for me, but again that’s almost always. I am simply in awe of everything that is going on around me. I do not seem to have a body and am very much an observer in this “there”. The sound is mechanical, and high pitched, and it’s a bit warm. There is an effect I have from time to time when immersed in a fractal “there” that I refer to as “infinite zoom”. Explaining this term is rather simple, which is weird enough. While the fractals are spinning if you look and focus on one small component of the fractal you can zoom in on it. When you zoom in on it the fractal becomes the largest fractal and the space around is filled with new fractals that were identical to the small ones in the original situation. My mind cannot help but try and keep zooming in for a while until you come to the realization that it's infinite and there is no getting to the end of it. No matter how small a fractal you zoom in on there will always be more at that level. When I realized that it was futile the whole world folded once down the center vertically, then again through the center horizontally, and then what seemed like a hand came in from the left side of view and simply swiped it away This brought a new set of fractals that would repeat the above cycle. I remember it being infuriating at first as this happened 5-10 times.

I then had the realization that connected what I was being immersed in with my problems. I remember each time a hand swiped the folded fractal away there was a sense of a sigh or lightening of a load. It seemed like every fractal that got swiped away was a layer or a problem that would eventually lead to the root of whatever ails me. I never did get to the root as a DMT trip lasts 5-10 minutes, tops, but I did leave this trip with a feeling that my issues were not worth over-analyzing  and that just swiping them away and moving onto the next in order to focus on the root cause seemed to be the best way to deal with life’s many issues.

Trip 2: I decided to do my best to keep my eyes open and sit super close to a mirror. I used a lower dose to be sure I would be able to maintain control of my eyes. I placed the mirror on the floor and laid on my stomach directly in front of it. While holding my breath I noticed my head getting red, but of course, I was holding my breath. Then my pores seemed to come alive. Like Hindu-inspired symbols, my pores seemed alive and my skin seemed to be moving like an ocean. My pupils were dilated which is to be expected, and I may have even had a little fear. There were flashes of my face turning green or gray, maybe slightly reptilian. I am not sure why this frightened me. DMT is odd in that at least at lower doses you can be extremely aware that this is a trip.It can be completely weird to be in such a different place but know you will only be there a short time and you will never be able to access that place again.  the fear became overwhelmed with love, though. Even though I looked completely different than I am used to seeing myself I knew it was me. I wanted to get closer to the mirror in fact. I even touched it with my forehead which was so cold to the touch. It made me close my eyes for a second. It felt like heaven. I was gone with my eyes closed though, OPEN YOUR EYES! I am still at the mirror. Only now it’s a static image. I am moving my head, my eyes, but the image isn’t moving. The skin surface is still flowing but my body is not moving in the image.  

This weird image slowly turns into more of a delay. My body and head are moving now, but not in real time. It's pretty freaky and seems a bit like a party trick. I also get the experience which from what I understand is a mushroom type side effect of elongated body parts. My face starts to stretch and then in the stretch it looks like there are many versions of the face in the stretch. I remember feeling comfort, and just happy to be me at the end of this trip. Coming down was even more body euphoric than most trips.  

Trip 3: The Jeffrey experience. I am going to be honest here. This trip freaked me out completely. Not in a horror, bad trip kind of way, but more in a mind blowing, I am not even sure what is real anymore kind of way. I completely was outside of my body, and not just somewhere else, but I became someone else. I call it “The Jeffrey Experience” because well... just keep reading.

So I was in a recliner in my living room. I had a video playing on YouTube that was a meditation type carrier wave tone that supposedly calms you. I was holding in the vapor and suddenly POP. I do not even remember a loading screen type experience. I suddenly woke up, I was looking down, I was wearing a black polo shirt when I inhaled, and I still was when I woke up. There was a plastic name tag on the shirt, wtf?. I don’t ever wear name tags. I move my hand to look at the name tag and my skin is clearly African American. WTF is going on? I move the name tag and it says Jeffrey on it. I did notice the store but for the life of me, I cannot remember what the store was. I look around the room I am in and it's a similar room to where I was but not the same room. Everything in the room is much brighter (minus my skin ROFL) than normal, and there is a pillar of rainbow flowing from the floor to the ceiling. It's moving and maybe a bit “tree-like” as it hit the ceiling in the corner of the room.

While I am dealing with the fact that I am someone else I make the realization that I was never Gary at all. I am actually Jeffrey and everything I thought was real was a lie. I remember feeling profoundly disappointed. I sighed. I even mourned all the people I thought were real. I was sad that the life I thought I knew was never even real and I was just a dream that Jeffrey was actually having.

I accepted it as truth almost immediately and felt disappointed for being tricked so easily. There were very loud sounds, almost like an orchestra giving the “aha moment" because I finally snapped out of it, and the Gary delusion can rest. I put my hands down on the couch and lean back to try and recollect how this all happened, and try to remember who Jeffrey is. I look at my left hand and there is a white wooden sign on it like you would hold up at an employee strike. I kept mechanically raising it up so I could see what it said. It looked completely blank though. I remember thinking about what it was supposed to say, why am I showing myself this over and over. Am I missing a message?

Not long after this point I am coming back to reality a bit and I start to realize again that I am actually maybe not Jeffrey. I start moving backwards and there is Jeffrey off to my left constantly raising and lowering this blank white sign. He was a black guy with a mustache similar to Kyle’s dad in South Park. As I was being pulled back into Gary I wondered was Jeffrey a real person? Did we just swap places for a minute? I still don’t have that answer, I also am not sure what I learned. I was quick to accept that reality as real though. It seemed every bit as real as this present moment. I still wonder if Jeffrey is out there and now vow to have my email address always in plain view in case body swapping can actually occur on DMT!

So clearly this post is just a way for me to get out some of the things that have been going on with my journey into "me". It is written to help a few people understand what I have been going though, and also as a way for me to catalog what have been going on with me, especially over the last 6 or so months of this crazy and wonderful life I lead. I hope you enjoyed!


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