Inner Journeying: The Fastest, Cheapest & Most Effective Healing Modality?
I want to write about something I discovered in December 2018 that has become a big part of my life over the last three months.
I’ve been calling them “closed eye-journeys” or “inner healing journeys”. I started doing them after hearing Stanislov Grof describe the practice on Tim Ferriss’ podcast.
To give some history: Researchers like Grof were studying the healing properties of various psychoactive substances in the 1950’s, trying to understand them and their potential.
After studying various substances and different ways of working with them, Grof and others concluded that the most therapeutic use of these substances was to go inward with closed eyes, guided by music, and attended to by a sitter.
They concluded that the most powerful healing occurred when the psyche was left to heal itself, free from external visual stimuli, with music as the guide. Patients would lie there with an eye mask and headphones and report powerful healing experiences.
More recently, MAPS here in Boulder is showing similar results with MDMA and other substances for the treatment of PTSD.
Intrigued, I decided to try it.
(Note: I’m not advocating breaking any laws. Please check your local laws. Luckily Colorado is progressive in this respect with certain psychedelic substances like cannabis legally available, and other substances like ketamine available in specific therapeutic settings. I have tried both. Another great option - which I have tried many times now - is to journey inward without any substances at all, through Holotropic Breathwork, which was invented by Grof after psychedelics like LSD, DMT and Psylocibin were made illegal in the 1960’s.)
Suffice to say I have been amazed at the depth and personal breakthroughs resulting from these journeys.
By going inside, guided by music, and with a sitter close at hand, I’ve been able to uncover and heal things that have been lying dormant in my subconscious for years or decades. I’ve been able to get in touch with childhood trauma, release stuck emotions, see unhelpful patterns of thought, and get inspired with visions of next steps for my life. All in a couple hours.
I’ve been so impressed that I’ve now done a number of these journeys over the past few months.
I’ve also had the opportunity to sit friends, who have also reported large and massively impactful healing experiences.
In fact, this has been so big for me that Kati and I purchased a subscription to Breathwork Online, and after only a few months we now consider occasional breathwork as part of our spiritual hygiene.
I’m still in the honeymoon phase with these inner journeys (so my excitement might fade) but from my current perspective it’s hard to think of anything that has more potential to economically, quickly & deeply heal humanity.
I now believe these inner journeys are part of what is going to save humanity from itself. And maybe the most important tool we have.
So yeah. I’m frickin’ excited by this discovery! I have dabbled with substances in social settings for decades and I’m shocked and amazed that I never went inside with them. I was missing all the juice.
I wish I had known about this when I was a kid going to parties, and I want all the kids doing substances at parties now to know about it too.
I’m still exploring this modality, but if you are interested in doing your own inner healing journey, here’s what I recommend:
Have a sitter. This is crucial. Someone you trust to hold the perimeter. Could be a therapist, a spouse or a friend. I’ve found it best if they are undistracted with their attention focussed on holding the space. This seems to greatly reduce any fear, and the potential of a challenging (or bad) trip. For Breathwork Online there is a sitter built in.
Choose your music wisely. Instrumental music with no words is a must, as the words distract from the healing process. I also think it’s best to have a plan A, plan B, and plan C with the music in case you aren’t vibing with what’s playing. The music is so important here’s two EPs I recommend below, and I’m going to put together a list in a separate post.
3. Set good context. Pick a starting and ending time with generous time buffers in between to allow the experience to unfold.
4. Do this in a quiet safe space where you can emote and make noise. You might want to scream or cry.
5. Use a good eyemask. I recommend the Mindfold created by Alex Grey.
6. Use headphones that isolate your ears and that have a volume adjust.
7. Plug your headphones into your phone and use your phone for the music, so it’s close at hand and you can change music if needed.
8. Get a voice recorder so you can leave voice memos to yourself to capture the emotion of the experience and listen back later.
9. Have an integration session the next day with your therapist or sitter, to integrate the experience into your life.
I’ve found these experiences to be an access to a deeper understanding of myself. I hope you do to.
I’m excited at the prospect of using this modality in my coaching and more generally in my life. Please write me and let me know how this goes for you.
P.S. Probably the easiest way to get started is to attend an Breathwork Online session. Michael Stone (the founder and a friend) runs them multiple times per week and he is a lovely human.
P.P.S. If you donate to MAPS you can get a free session!