interventions: interference or assistance?

To talk about interventions, we must come to an understanding of what it means to intervene in general before we progress to talking about interventions in the specific context of 5. Five facilitation, as with many modalities that induce or provoke expanded states of consciousness, can be seen through the lens, or on a spectrum, of interventionism; one pole being interventionist, the other being non-interventionist (think “neutral container”).

First, some definitions:

Intervene (verb)
1 come between so as to prevent or alter a result or course of events
2 extend or occur between events

Intervention (noun)
1 interference by a country in another’s affairs
2 action taken to improve a situation, especially a medical disorder

Interfere (verb)
1 take part or intervene in an activity without invitation or necessity
2 (interfere with) prevent (a process or activity) from continuing or being carried out properly
3 (interfere with) handle or adjust (something) without permission, especially so as to cause damage

Interference (noun)
1 the action of interfering or the process of being interfered with
2 from physics: the combination of two or more electromagnetic waveforms to form a resultant wave in which the displacement is either reinforced or canceled

Looking at the above definitions, interference and intervention both have aspects (perhaps most with the former) that suggest something may happen non-consensually. Building off of the definitions of the words, I consider the contexts and orientations in which we may use them. For example, a therapeutic intervention is an action taken by a therapist that is a part of the methodology of that therapist’s approach. A clinical intervention is a part of the clinician’s approach. A shamanic intervention may look very different, since the context is very different. Within a shamanic orientation, as within a therapeutic one, there are wildly different variations; perhaps less than within a clinical one. In any case, there are identifiable actions that a practitioner with a specific orientation use with their participants.

To be 5-specific, this text will explore considerations for interventions through the lens of different “stages” of the 5 “space”. To do so, I will use terminology that I establish in another piece that speaks of samadhi and other stages that are not samadhi but lead to or are arrived at from it. Even though I allude to specific interventions, rather than focus on the orientation of a practitioner (I.e., shamanic, therapeutic, psychonautic, clinical, ceremonial, etc.), I am focussing mostly on two stages (samadhi and peri-samadhi), and the appropriateness of interventions in either.

I am also offering here both a critique of certain practices as well as components of apprenticeship. The text will be more of interest to practitioners (established or noviciate), providers (as Martin Ball would put it), aspiring clinicians—and less so for psychonauts and prospective or practised participants. As I reveal my opinions here, I realise that I risk offending some of the former. I do so emboldened by a small amount of experience in the field. I also do this so as to engage my peers and colleagues by offering another voice to our vocation.

Samadhi and peri-samadhi: a plurality of stages

“Spirit is not an object; it is radical, ever-present Subject, and thus it is not something that is going to jump out in front of you like a rock, an image, an idea, a light, a feeling, an insight, a luminous cloud, an intense vision, or a sensation of great bliss. Those are all nice, but they are all objects, which is what Spirit is not.”
– Ken Wilber

Samadhic interventions are real-time engagements with divinely arising presentations (what I term the psycho-cosmic penetralia) from the broadest recesses of memory, as explored, for example, in Death. Just as when the life force can be felt under your finger tips when filleting a de-headed fish or that breathing continues when someone is in a coma, there is life force in the body when the sense of self is fully dissolved or, at least, not actively, functionally present. That life force engages memories; those memories, I argue, can be worked with—though they don’t need to be.

I don’t mean to suggest that a practitioner should be an interventionist. I support non-interventionist approaches as well and would consider my practice to lean generously on the non-interventionist end of the spectrum. What I see as pioneering, though, is the potential for successful resolution of incomplete experiences that can arise in the fully dissolved state. Furthermore, I prefer to see this pioneering work engaged with in a collegial environment.

Numerous methods may assist in the successful completion or resolution of the presentations in this stage: trauma-informed frameworks that are body-centred (proprioceptive, sensori-motor, etc.), mind-centred (psycho-drama, parts theory, etc.), energetic (psychic surgeries, sound, cosmic contact improvisation, etc.). Again, the application of established methods as well as novel ones to the transpiring penetralia is innovatory. A well-rounded practitioner brings to their private practice many tools that, in sum, amount to the scope of their practice.

Peri-samadhic interventions (in the context of 5 facilitation) may resemble those used with other substance-induced states, whether they be shamanic, clinical, and so on. However, I only consider them beneficial if they support the lens of the design of 5: the samadhi state/stage/point/event (beyond “I”) is likely its raison d’être (or its pièce de résistance, whichever you prefer). How one arrives at or dissolves into that state is a question of approach, a narrow spectrum I have introduced as having two main qualities, surrender and submission. The interventions used pre- and post- samadhi state will largely be congruent with where the practitioner is on that spectrum (or incongruent with where they think they are). The interventions will probably also be reflective of the practitioner’s orientation (psychotherapeutic, energetic, neo-shamanic, elemental, clinical, etc.).

Part of what indicates a peri-samadhic state is that there is a sense of self. “I” is present to some degree, whether it be in the I-I, I-AM, or I-AM-THIS phase. Because there is a self-experiencing aspect to these phases (pre- or post- samadhi), the practitioner offering an intervention will need to ascertain that the participant is indeed participating. I say participate even though the presence of an “I” has a very broad range since it is composed of many categories of memory, not to mention a range that includes passive observation and actively making choices. A simple but imprecise determinant may be: is “I” having an experience?

Pathways to apprenticeship

“Initiation met poorly can be trauma. Trauma met well can be initiation.”
– Sarah Kerr

I consider interventions in the samadhi stage to be advanced and pioneering work when approached diligently, humbly, and in a guidance relationship (as defined by the Conclave). In my opinion, interventions in this stage are not pioneering or advancing anything in a collaborative manner if they are prescriptive, peremptory, templated, appropriations, or left unscrutinised. The samadhi stage is a precious, delicate state. The participant is perhaps at their most impressionable; the psyche completely exposed. Interventions here shouldn’t be used lightly or cavalierly. This is not to say that interventions by noviciates are ill-disposed. It is to say that they may be ill-suited.

When interventions here resemble those that would be common in peri-samadhic states (such as with most other substances) there may be a sort of “copycatism.” The application of interventions that were birthed within other substance work traditions, particularly of those encased in traditions and lineages (ayahuasca, peyote, mushrooms, iboga, etc.) is a poor substitute for learning about what is actually happening while there is a samadhi state—not to mention a process of continual colonisation. Applying interventions this way reveals a lack of a fuller understanding of the 5 as well as a lack of the will to let go of what we think we know. This is reflective of: a false sense of competency on the part of the practitioner; a sense that one has some sort of precocious talent or super power that comes from divine authority; or simply arrogance.

Furthermore, it is extremely difficult for anyone to act without a degree of projection. If there is an impulse for a practitioner to act/intervene at the samadhi stage, their genius aside, there is a strong element of that impulse being an egoic/personal one. A simple message to noviciates: when in doubt, lean towards refraining from offering an intervention. Then, find peers and/or mentors with whom you can shadow. This way, a trusted peer (one that can support and scrutinise you) can offer feedback around your decisions to act.

Supervision is one of the most valuable stages of a guidance relationship, and ought to be sought out. Avoiding aspects of a guidance relationship (such as shadowing, supervision, case study, and experiential giving/receiving) is to avoid gaining know-how through the vulnerability of being seen by a peer, mentor, trainer, or master-practitioner. Care-full and supportive scrutiny from peers and/or mentors advances one’s practice toward excellence much faster than “re-inventing the wheel”—often a characteristic quality of the self-approved autodidact, lone wolf, and charlatan.

Shadowing is equally valuable and, ideally, would come before supervision. To simply be a fly on the wall within a mentor’s “container” exposes a learner to a lot of information. This can then be absorbed in post-session debriefing. Here the shadower can simply take in the information without having to be involved in decision-making processes. The peer or mentor can then respond to questions regarding the decisions that were made. This is as close to explaining the nexus of intuitive and rational process as can be. It is also an opportunity for the mentor to be vulnerable, as the mentee or apprentice has the capacity to reveal blind spots. Thus, everyone is our teacher and we can all continue to be students.

Spectrum of intervention

The spectrum of intervention styles or methods is broad. Often, the interventionist pole is marked with blatant interference. Contrasted with that, the non-interventionist pole can lack in “benefit optimisation.” Somewhere in this range, a practitioner will find themselves operating. If the practitioner is allowing it to evolve, their position on the spectrum will probably move throughout the duration of their practice. It won’t move much if the practitioner is encased in or committed to a particular or inflexible way, teaching, custom, or tradition. That there isn’t a universally practised way with 5 suggests that there is a high likelihood one will see signs of continual colonisation (a system of oppression) in an offering, such as appropriation and capitalisation—often a characteristic or unchecked quality of the neo-shaman.

On that note, where a practitioner finds themselves on this spectrum will also vary according to their orientation, such as shamanic, therapeutic, clinical, psychospiritual, ceremonial, etc. For instance, a shamanic approach may use interventions constantly and automatically, whereas a clinical approach may use none if they are not requested by the participant. The question of orientation, then, intersects with the question “Who is this for?” In other words, consent and interventions are inextricably linked.

Consent

Assist (verb)
1 help (someone), typically by doing a share of the work
2 help by providing information
– [no object ] be present as a helper or spectator

Assist (noun) mainly North American
1 an act of helping

Although I have used the word “intervention” here, I quite like the word “assist.” This word, for me, more squarely/adequately answers the question “who is this for?” with “the participant” being the response. As noted above, an intervention may be offered without the consent of the participant. This then opens the door to the possibility that the practitioner is not helping the participant, but perhaps helping themselves. Helping themselves to what? If there is a protocol that is being followed, such as within a shamanic tradition or a clinical framework, it is possible that the prescribed action taken is more about procedure rather than being completely attuned to the immediacy of the participants’ experience.

Perhaps this is why the Conclave’s Best Practices are a very broad and often non-specific set of guidelines: an expansive array of possible orientations and interventions may fall under the guise of what is considered good practice—if indeed many of the considerations in this text are contemplated and integrated. It is not a manual after all, but a broad pathway to integrity.

What’s Presenting?

Presentation (noun)
1 the giving of something to someone, especially as part of a formal ceremony
the manner or style in which something is given, offered, or displayed

Now, returning to the specific nature of the potential peak experience of 5, samadhi. When there are presentations in the samadhi stage (remember, the “life force” or “cosmic penetralia” that can be perceived despite there not being an “I” present), the practitioner doesn’t necessarily know “who” or “what” is presenting. The question “who is this for?” then becomes quite tricky. It would be a facile assumption to automatically determine that the life force that is activating the body and many of its faculties and motor functions is indeed conducted by the person(a) that ingested the substance. To be direct: if the “beyond-I” phase is arrived at, that “person” is most likely not directing a presentation (if there is one).

Persona (noun)
1 the outer or assumed aspect of character

If the “I” who imbibed is not present, but there is a presentation of some other persona or penetralia, how can we ask for consent? Any prior consent would be either moot or inapplicable—unless a “carte blanche” had been given to the practitioner. The non-interventionist practitioner would insist on doing nothing no matter what was happening (with the exception of keeping the body safe), thereby avoiding possible interference, yet foregoing offering an assist. The interventionist practitioner would not hesitate to offer an assist according to whatever they thought was appropriate.

What should a practitioner absolutely not do when someone is in a full-release [samadhi] state?

In other words, what is malpractice in regards to interventions? The strict answer is that the practitioner should not be assisting/intervening in any way that was not consented to prior. The exception to this would be the full discretionary power (carte blanche) given by the participant.

The loose answer is that intuitive responses to unpredictable presentations (remember, psycho-cosmic penetralia) may not have been consented to, yet there may be a magic component to how the genius of the practitioner manifests. The “genius” is the intuitive yet informed response to uncertain and/or volatile presentations. Informed by what? A combination of practical competency and a developed intuitive sense that serve immediate needs and potentials.

Practice makes perfect, so it is said. To deny genius—an exceptional yet innate creative power or natural ability—is not the suggestion here. To practise and develop genius is to be response-able with the participant. That practicing and development is probably best done, initially or even continually, with supervision or co-witnessing of some kind.

Best practice would see that the practitioner outlines the range of possible assists that they may use for the participant to consent to—especially those that would be deemed necessary to keep the body safe. The scope of the practitioner’s practice is implicitly revealed here. Even if the carte blanche is given, the practitioner can indicate what may occur and even what is not to occur.

Conclusion

There are many considerations and factors that determine intervention styles. Metaphysical sentiments, the vocational orientation, the degree of apprenticeship, the functional skillset, and consent all intersect to result in identifying how and why a practitioner would “come between so as to prevent or alter a result or course of events”. This nexus of factors alone could apply to any trade of the healing arts. However, seeing this intersection through the lens of the peak experience with 5 makes this body of work unique. The uniqueness merits special attention and ought to result in a niche expertise.

Proficiency in these matters is a part of what turns best practices into excellent practices. Excellent practice, in my opinion, is, in part, to empower the participant as much as possible. Developing excellence takes time, no matter the knack or personal will that a practitioner possesses. May all practitioners aspire to excellence and may excellence not be an end point but an ongoing process.

Let’s keep it simple: there is an essential quality to being human and working as a guide. The guide is also human. The guide is consciousness in human form, just like the participant. Both guide and participant are manifested godheads of quintessence. We are all finding our way. What is personal or ego-derived is also divine. Let’s not forget that. Let’s not forget that the potential for great integrity comes often through learning through degrees of our messy, human selves.

We may all be a divine intervention. So may we find grace in the movement of the genius into form. May this form be as in-formed as possible. We seem to be constant(ly) in-formation, anyway.

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a therapeutic window

“vyutthāna—the several-minutes-long process of coming out of deep meditation, of moving from fully introversive awareness to the extroversive state. It is in this vyutthāna phase that we have a golden opportunity to integrate the former with the latter. Kṣema teaches us that the way we transition out of deep meditation (samādhi) is just as important as the meditation itself.”

– Christopher Wallis on the Recognition Sutras

A Window Into A Therapeutic Methodology

In the following paragraphs I partially outline two stages of my practice, initiation (the Conclave‘s word for setting) and integration, which conjoin rather seamlessly. I”ll begin by sharing first about a theoretical underpinning to my approach to initiation. I’ll then follow by touching on how I put theory into practise via interventions. I end the chapter by describing the ways in which my clients are supported beyond the initiation and throughout until the following one. I wish to thank all the peers, colleagues, mentors, and teachers who have continually provided me with the reflections I’ve used to stay humble and sincere, as well as open, curious, and bold.

 

A core element of my methodology mirrors the wisdom-teaching of Rajanaka Kshemaraja, a nondual Shaiva Tantrik who wrote, in Sanskrit, the Recognition Sutras around 1000 years ago. When I say the methodology mirrors the teachings, I mean conceptually as well as practically. The conceptual and philosophical framework of the Recognition philosophy mirrors my own cosmovision and, by extension, my own understanding of what is happening with 5 (at least at the time of writing). Practically, the predominant way that I engage participants in my sessions is a sort of modern take on Sutra 19. In this Sutra, the observation of a unique moment is introduced. The word for that moment is vyutthana and it refers to a short period of time directly after a samadhi experience.

 

Words
To explicate vyutthana and how I consider it to be a core part of my private practice, I will rely exclusively on the translation of the Recognition Sutras by Christopher Wallis. For consistency throughout the text, I will use the numeral “5” to refer to 5-MeO-DMT (as an isolated molecule) as well as the secretion of the Sonoran Desert toad. My own rationale for this can be explored in other texts. I will also use the word “participant” to refer to those who receive what it is that I offer.

I am relying heavily on his one Sanskrit word samadhi to embark on a sharing of my process here, so I will simply use the word samadhi to reflect what I believe to be other words nearly synonymous with nondual, pure consciousness, zero-point field, satori, great spirit, the All, the Holy Kingdom, etc. (this list is by no means exhaustive). My own articulations and thoughts on what a nondual or full-release state is considered in other texts and media.

I don’t pretend to be a Sanskrit scholar whatsoever. However, it is important to note here that the word samadhi is defined in many different ways. It seems to me that for Westerners, the more common definitions and understandings of samadhic states and stages come from well before the Recognition Sutras were written, such as in the Vedic texts, including the Yoga Sutras. Since there is an entire field of study and philosophy around this experience, I won’t be discussing it here. Rather, I will simply say that the definitions of samadhi in the Recognition Sutras resonate with me more than other definitions.

I will begin by commenting on the citations from Wallis’ book.

Sutra 19 of the Recognition Sutras

“When emerging slowly from deep meditation, while still feeling its effect, contemplate the Oneness of whatever is perceived with awareness: practising this again and again, one will attain samadhi that continuously arises.”

Wallis’s interpretation of the above translation:
“vyutthāna—the several-minutes-long process of coming out of deep meditation, of moving from fully introversive awareness to the extroversive state. It is in this vyutthāna phase that we have a golden opportunity to integrate the former with the latter. Kṣema teaches us that the way we transition out of deep meditation (samādhi) is just as important as the meditation itself.

The practice described here is simple: if in the meditation you abide in your true centre even only for a few moments, then, when coming out of meditation and opening the senses to the external world, let yourself perceive whatever you perceive as a direct expression of the fundamental awareness of the center. Everything you experience, without exception, is a direct expression of the simple, sweet, quietly alive sense of being at the center. But you don’t necessarily realise this automatically[…].”

Wallis uses the English word “meditation” to replace the Sanskrit “samadhi.” Since the fully transcendent state with 5 is “even only for a few moments” (if it is “arrived” at at all), it is not long after ingesting 5 that the “extroversive state” is gradually entered into. This is where the various aspects of the sense of self begin to amalgamate into a cohesive unit again. As the self reconfigures (bringing on self-consciousness), it doesn’t “necessarily realise this automatically.”

Wallis continues:
“The moments of vyutthāna—the liminal space between samadhi and the state of being actively engaged with the world—are the golden opportunity to integrate whatever arises in the sphere of perception into the ever expanding sense of ‘I’-ness until it becomes totally all-inclusive. Then your samadhi becomes continuous, for the word samadhi really means ‘intimate union with’; in the first instance, intimate union with the Center, and in the second, through the practice given here, intimate union with the totality of reality.

In this case, the samskara of the samadhi state is what allows for the practice of integrating all that is perceived with the fundamental awareness of that state. It is precisely when you are bathing in ‘the afterglow of the sweet taste of deep meditation’ (the samskara […]) that you have the natural ability to see the mass of existent things, beings, feelings, and mental states dissolving […].”

Integrating “whatever arises in the sphere of perception” is what I call the real-time integration of the specific mental, emotional, and physical phenomena that can be observed in this “liminal space.” Presencing these phenomena (what may be called the samskaric material and other energetic imprints), can be the continuation of what the “fundamental awareness of that [transcendental] state” has revealed. I consider this material as an accretion of clues, signs, or traces that have been revealed. They have been revealed by having had all the self-identifying functions dissolve. The revelation, then, is pure and unfailing. The “medicine” has done its job. It’s a realisation.

 

From initiation to integration and beyond
In my private practice, I take it to be my role to help the participant realise what has been revealed (with “real eyes” of course). To do this, I use “presencing” techniques of various sorts in the “several minutes long process” after a participant has sufficiently regained enough mindfulness to be able to be guided (often verbal, sometimes physically). The guidance is simply taking stock of what has arisen at this time. Specific thoughts, emotions, and sensations are evident and yet, naturally, the actively reconfiguring, reconstituting mind is often not attending to these phenomena.

Sometimes, immediately after the extroversive state has begun, there is either a fixation with the awe of what happened, or more likely, the scrambling to determine what has just occurred. This can obscure or divert attention from what is happening in that “now.” Without being too directive, my process can “capture the rapture” for future processing. There is, admittedly, a risk to be prematurely analytical or unnecessarily “heady.” However, the aim is to bring a slight degree of mindfulness to the divine phenomena. I consider it divine because the participant is experiencing specific things that have come directly out of the dissolved state, from Source. Engaging with that material begins the practice of integration for the participant.

 

mindful
1 conscious or aware of something
2 focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, especially as part of a therapeutic or meditative technique

 

At the time of writing, there is much emphasis in popular, mainstream dialogue on being “present” and being “mindful.” For many born into and growing up in an increasingly stimulated environment, it almost goes without saying that paying attention to what is “at hand” is a good thing. Generally we are more “grounded,” clear-headed, and functional when we are attentive to what is immediate—both spatially and temporally.

To use Wallis’ words in his definition of vyutthana, mindfulness is akin to the extroversive state. This is when personal consciousness is present or active enough to be aware of and observe what is happening in the moment. For example, current thoughts (observations as well as narration), emotions (whether core or peripheral; observational or instinctive), sensations (including proprioception and interoception). It is in these moments that I assist in directing the participant’s attention to these phenomena, at least enough simply to report them.

Before this state was the introversive state, samadhi or similar. It may be a reach, but I liken this to mindlessness. Typically, mindless is associated with a lack of care or concern or—and this will be expanded on later—an activity that is so simple that it is performed without thought. Hang on to those last two words: without thought.

Is it not that samadhi is partially defined as a state absent of conscious thought?
If so, we could say that it is a sort of mindless state. What is introversive, as per Wallis, is when personal consciousness is absorbed entirely by, or dissolves into, pure consciousness. Certainly, there are many semantic quandaries here (what do we mean when we say “mind,” “consciousness,” “personal,” etc.?). There are naturally difficulties expressing these experiences as well as describing their phenomenology. It’s inevitable that we arrive at the ineffable. It’s an “ineffitability.”

The vyutthana phase begins when various senses of I, primarily coming from memory, emerge “slowly from deep meditation.” My approach emphasises Wallis’ word “slowly.” Quite often, from such a deep meditation, or samadhi state, a sense of awe and wonder can dominate the attention of the participant. We could all benefit from more “shots of awe” as Jason Silva might say; the state of wonder is more and more elusive with hyper-stimulation and so it is by no means undesirable to behold amazement. Yet, just beneath that experience of awesomeness, I take the “golden opportunity” to capture what personal awareness can perceive in those precious minutes. For whatever can be perceived is, as Wallis says, “a direct expression of the simple, sweet, quietly alive sense of being at the Centre.”

I often put it this way: after the profound, direct experience of Source, a participant could be thinking, feeling, and sensing anything. And yet, in those several minutes—vyutthana—there are specific and identifiable thoughts, feelings, and sensations that can be observed/perceived. These are the direct expressions of the Oneness—gifts from pure consciousness perceived with personal awareness. Within this phase, the zone between mindlessness and mindfulness is one of integration.

This is where the “guidance” begins. This is where I, as a guide, can be in support of what can be the “take away.” What the mind observes in the moments of samadhi (mere minutes in my experience as a witness; often eternity in the participant’s) is not unimportant, yet, as the late Rajanaka Kshemaraja would have it, the moments emerging from samadhi are equally as important as the samadhi experience itself. This is my integration work. It happens in the immediacy of the peak experience.

After the session, when the identifiable phenomena have been consolidated, the participant is left to chop the wood and haul the water. This is when their “work” begins. And so, integration is engaging with that consolidated material. And given that the material is patently personal in nature, integration is a necessarily customised process. Each individual is on a unique path. In a session, their path has just been marked by an extraordinary experience. After the session, I use tracking and coaching to support them in actualising the potential.

 

to track
1 follow the course or trail of (someone or something), typically in order to find them or note their location at various points
follow and note the course or progress of
• follow a particular course

to coach
prompt or urge (someone) with instructions

What can be called “coaching” and “tracking”, then, is what follows a session with me, whether in subsequent in-person meetings or, more likely, video calls. As sacred witness to what was there in both the samadhi and vyutthana phases, I am able to remind the participant about what was presented (in the time that passed while fully dissolved), what was “presenced” directly after, and why it’s important.

The tracking is together recognising and interpreting the traces, the clues, the signs, that were apparent in the session. Like a trail of breadcrumbs outward (extroversive) from the Centre, the signs of the path are everywhere. Of course, as Daniel Schmidt, creator of the Samadhi films, would say, “the path is you.” Following the breadcrumbs inward (introversive) toward the Centre is always available. And so, the trail’s markings become invaluable.

The crumbs (the material that emerged into perception from the centre) may be thematic; related to repressed memories (biological or otherwise); sublimated behaviour; related to relationship; somatic/physical; theological/philosophical/metaphysical; or any number of such things. I may coach a participant to heed the signs on the path by addressing them in very simple and direct ways. This is a creative and collaborative process, as opposed to a prescriptive one. This is one of my favourite parts of what I do. It’s personalised and customised.

 

Personal path considerations
Sometimes the intention of the participant is reflected in what arises in the vyutthana phase, sometimes not. Since an intention is created with a certain degree of mindfulness, an experience of mindlessness—if indeed samadhi was realised—doesn’t always yield to what the mind wanted or intended. In other words, despite the intention, the participant and I attend to what arises. Again, sometimes there is an obvious correlation, sometimes not. What can be perceived directly after an experience of the Centre is paramount, and the faith in that primacy helps detach from what the participant wanted. The trope of getting what is needed, not necessarily what was wanted, can apply here.

Sometimes the information gathered before the session is reflected in what arises in the vyutthana phase. Taking in information about what circumstances a participant has lived and how they have been responding to those circumstances is, in many cases, a key component in tracking the material that is present in a session, whether in the samadhi or vyutthana phase. The trick is, as I mention above, not to let what has been gathered prior to the session to override the immediacy and primacy of what happens in session. I allow that whatever presents in the samadhi stage or vyutthanic phase are of greatest importance. I trust the unerringly divine nature of the experience and treat it as clarity itself. I then assist in making it coherent for the participant.

Sometimes the information gathered before the session is reflected in what arises in the samadhi phase. In the samadhi stage there can be a seemingly infinite array of presentations that can only leave me to deem the experience as utterly unpredictable. I believe this unpredictability is due to the entire human condition being available: anything a human could ever encounter (in the past or future) is possible to be presented here because the whole of consciousness is “channeled” via the body without the filter of the self-identifying parts of the mind. Much like a fetus presents in a certain way in relation to the cervix as it comes forth from the womb, I regard the participant’s body presentation (and any other phenomena) as an expression of human experience that may be biographical, perinatal, ancestral, or transpersonal in nature (bascially, a COEX system). This is an entire field of focus in and of itself and so I’ll leave further explorations to be expounded in other texts elsewhere.

 

5-MeO-DMT in a therapeutic context: a theramony
While the definition of a therapeutic orientation to 5-assisted work is up for grabs, my therapeutic approach is the combination of 1) the assessment of the individual’s life story, 2) the real-time integration in the session, and 3) tracking and coaching. By tracking the information gathered in the vyutthana stage, the participant is coached to take that and apply it. The application of that information is the “work”—the actualisation of the realisation. The work can be done with continued guidance sessions with me or not. Participants can lean on me as a tracker: I help a participant to see what’s on their path, coherently piecing together what the session revealed with what may be an optimal way to move forward.

I believe that each one of us is a wayfinder. This belief results in a process that empowers the tracker in us all. I use each session with 5 as an initiatory starting point from which a pattern can be seen to emerge. Whether someone is having their first session with 5 or their fifteenth, there will always be something to track. Naturally, most people become great trackers for themselves over time. At some point, clients seek me out less and less as they become more and more skilled at following the traces—the guidance that is everywhere.

 

A psychedelic guide
I am a guide, yes. I offer guidance. However, the guidance I offer with 5 isn’t about navigating multidimensional or transpersonal spaces in the session. The guidance is about navigating this human life by way of extracting what has sprung from the Centre and transmuting it into excellent, optimal living.

The word “heaven” is often depicted as being above the sky. The sky is above us. It’s vertical. Similarly, when we turn our attention to what we’re standing on, we’re aware of the ground. And it’s below us. There’s a continuation of that verticality. Now, when we look across from us with these human eyes, we see anything else that is before us as also on this ground. It’s horizontal. Each one of us, as long as our personal consciousness inhabits this Earth-suit, is an axis, a point at which these lines connect. And as we move about this life, we find optimal ways to “align” ourselves, vertically and horizontally. Sometimes we are “off-track.”

Re-alignment is a part of the constant course-correction of living. Guideposts help one stay on track, staying centred—”connected,” as it were—yet also grounded. After all, this human life is happening—for now—horizontally, on the ground, on Earth.

 

ungrounded
not electrically grounded: an ungrounded screen can act as an antenna

down-to-earth
with no illusions or pretensions; practical and realistic

 

The peak experience with 5—some may say a type of samadhi—may be the most ungrounded experience a human can have. Since the concepts of ground and of human are completely “up in the air,” there can be a cosmic, stellar, dreamy quality to the transcendent event.
As a guide, I help ground the experience.
As a guide, I help to bring heaven down-to-earth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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essentially in good spirits

“[Source] is not an object; it is radical, ever-present Subject, and thus it is not something that is going to jump out in front of you like a rock, an image, an idea, a light, a feeling, an insight, a luminous cloud, an intense vision, or a sensation of great bliss. Those are all nice, but they are all objects, which is what [Source] is not.”

Ken Wilber

Essence: 1: a volatile substance or constituent,  2: a constituent or derivative possessing the special qualities (as of a plant or drug) in concentrated form; also, a preparation of such an essence or a synthetic substitute.

Spirit 1
: an animating or vital principle held to give life to physical organisms, 2
: a supernatural being or essence: such as
 holy spirit or soul

A brief and incomplete timeline of contemporary use

Bufo: taken from bufo alvarius (the taxonomical name for the Sonoran Desert toad); often the word used for the secretion of this animal. Sometimes referred to as sapo or toad (not to be confused with rana or frog).

5: taken from the name of the molecular compound, 5-MeO-DMT. Sometimes referred to as the god molecule, 5-MeO, jaguar, and other various monikers. This is predominantly synthesised, however extraction from plants is also possible.

Contemporary use (by smoking the vapour) of bufo began, as far as anyone knows, in the early 1980s. Contemporary use (by insufflation and vapourisation) of 5 began in the 1960s (though it was first synthesised in 1937). Please click here for a better timeline).Generally, the usage was not broadcast very loudly. It was rare to learn about either bufo or 5, though some notable figures knew of one or the other: Terrence McKenna spoke of bufo; Ralph Metzner was a professor at the CIIS and detailed his use of Bufo and 5 throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s in The Toad and the Jaguar, 2013); Sasha Shulgin included his experiments with 5 in his book, TIHKAL (1997); in 2005, the first account of an extraordinarily difficult integration of 5, Darkness Shining Wild, was written by Robert Augustus Masters; in 2006, Stan Grof briefly articulated his first experience with 5 (decades earlier) in When the Impossible Happens; James Oroc’s Tryptamine Palace was published in 2009…. Despite these mentions from some, the use of 5 (and especially bufo) was more or less absent from the discourse on psychedelics.

That changed around the beginning of the 2010s, when two people began to use the internet to share that they were offering bufo to whoever would like to have it. These two individuals are from Mexico and I call that marker in time the Mexican Wave.

This Wave was an unprecedented phenomenon that has contributed to a wider awareness of bufo and, consequently, 5. Remarkably, before the Mexican Wave, the waters were still: not only was it rare to hear about the general usage of either bufo or 5, but learning about dubious practices with them were basically unheard of. The Wave has had a wake behind it. Without digressing, however, I will get into the substance of my writing here.

 

Spirit vs. Essence

What does bufo have that 5 doesn’t?
If 5 were extracted from bufo, what would it be considered?

The secretion of the toad naturally has many components, not just 5-MeO-DMT. These components and their composition can only be found in this one species of toad, the alvarius (sidenote: the term bufo is a misnomer, since bufo is the genus of all creatures we call toads, and alvarius is the name of the specific species of toad we are taking about). Apparently, 5 is not a component in any of the hundreds of other species of toads, but only in the alvarius. So, the practical difference between 5 and bufo is that the latter has an assemblage of other ingredients.

Put simply, the composition of the various components of bufo are unique: arguably, no other creature possesses such a concoction. Therefore, I recognise that there is a spirit of the toad.

And, if 5 were not one of the components of bufo, no one would be smoking it. Its ‘spirit’, like the spirit of the hundreds of other species of toads, would not be appreciated by anyone in this same way. I have yet to hear anyone use the word ‘medicine’ for the secretion of any other toad.

5, then, is the essential component to this concoction we call bufo. The concoction—a natural blessing, to be sure—hosts the essence.

But why am I not considering that bufo (here I mean the secretion) is the essence of the animal? Because the same ‘effect’ is happening when using 5.

Is that true, one asks? What about that entourage or bouquet effect that occurs due to all those other components…. While the answer to that will most likely always be subjective, I will rely heavily on this one likelihood: no one would smoke bufo if it didn’t have 5 in it.

 

5 is essential. 5 is the essence.

Quintessence: 1: the essence of a thing in its purest and most concentrated form, 2: the fifth and highest element in ancient and medieval philosophy that permeates all nature and is the substance composing the celestial bodies

Let’s take, for example, coffee. Coffee is generally consumed because it has caffeine in it. The caffeine isn’t the only component to what we call coffee. It is, however, why we use it. Smoking bufo without its essence may be analogous to drinking de-caffeinated coffee. In the case of bufo, then, ‘de-fived bufo’. Or, a coffee substitute, like chicory for example, may be like smoking the secretion of another species of toad. It’ll have spirit, like the chicory surely has, but not the essential thing we’re looking for. Caffeine, following this train of thought, is the essence of coffee.

Different people report different things in their findings with both bufo and 5. I suggest that it is impossible to objectively know if the entourage of components that make up the spirit offer anything to the essential experience that characterises 5. The word ‘different’ seems to be the common denominator. Your subjective experience is your individual truth. My guess is that individual truth evolves in many ways throughout a lifetime. Is it possible, then, that there is an evolution in moving towards what is essential?

Whether with bufo or 5, essentially, it is. All. (t)here.

 

What characterises this essence?

Essence: from Middle English essencia, from Latin essentia, from esse to be — more at IS

The unique function of 5-MeO-DMT is its efficacy in revealing the source of All. All what? Well, everything. Even nothing.

Often, the potential peak experience (what I often call a ‘full release’) with 5-MeO-DMT is related to the non-dual teachings of the most robust bodies of wisdom, ie. Taoism, Vedic texts, etc., as well as many modern ones (i.e., Mooji, Rupert Spira, et al). Without getting into what the words non-duality, or, singularity, attempt to describe, I often use the word ‘Source’ to underline the idea that all binaries, polarities, dualities have a source. That source can only be One. The word ‘Spirit’ (with a capital S) is sometimes used in the place of Source, for instance by modern non-dual thinker/philosopher Ken Wilber (quoted above). Indeed, the ineffable—paradoxically yet understandably—has many names and words; humans have always tried to ‘eff’ it.

My purpose for cursorily delving into such an immense tangent here is that there is a characteristic of 5-MeO-DMT that is seemingly unlike any other substance: that it reveals this One—this source of All—so effectively that it would seem to be its very function.

If the source of All is indeed revealed by both 5 and bufo alike, then one could say that spirit is not necessary for the revelation to occur. Spirit—in this case the entourage of components that make up bufo—is non-essential. But what is essential? Is the potential peak experience the modus operandi of 5-MeO-DMT?

That question, I suggest, is certainly of the essence.

To be continued….

 

 

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a storey beyond story

“Enlightenment itself evolves. Even though the state remains absolute, the means by which humanity awakens as a totality has its own storyline within the maya […] Every individual moves through progressive revelations before arriving at the ultimate Revelation.

[…] The consciousness within form always has a storyline to follow. The trick is to fall in love with your own story and follow it without holding anything back. Two things are then assured — firstly, you will arrive at the story’s end, and secondly, your own story will be utterly unique and unlike anyone else’s.

[…] The truth is that nothing you do or don’t do changes when and how you reach the ultimate. You simply have to have faith in your own storyline. This is also why it is so rare for humans to attain these states — there is no one to follow, the path is virgin and wild and when your revelation finally dawns, it does so without your even being there!”

– Richard Rudd

The MO of 5-MeO-DMT

modus operandi: (1) a particular way or method of doing something ; (2) the way in which something operates or works 

James Oroc describes 5 functioning at the 7th energy centre/chakra. This is not within the physical body but within the energetic body, of which the perimeter is outside the physical body’s limits. Biologically speaking, Thomas Ray has identified that the depth and breadth of the molecule’s interaction with neuroreceptors is greater than any other (only N,N, DMT has a similar depth and breadth). Identifying the depth and breadth at which substances interact with how our system receives transmissions (as the molecular compound is a transmitter of neurons) is a way that we can recognise their function.

Why is it important to understand how 5 functions?

Because to hold it in a way that does not recognise how it functions would be a misunderstanding. A miss. The mark is missed. This is the etymology of sin. And for an experience so sacred, so precious, so divine, to approach it with sin would be, well, a sacrilege.

A religion may be a structural paradigm that holds or contains Spirit.
A structural paradigm that holds the most efficacious path to direct experience of Spirit with miss-understanding, may be sacrilegious.

Beyond stor(e)y

Imagine an elevator. The building it’s in—let’s call it the Shushumna Tower—is so high that one cannot see the top of it. In the elevator there are buttons, much like the glass elevator in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Each button has a specific label and will take you to that ‘floor’, ‘level’ or storey.

There are buttons that invoke technologies that offer specific and non-specific states of consciousness: Peyote (mescaline), iboga (ibogaine), different breathing control techniques, meditation, frenetic movement, prolonged activity (such as long-distance running), LSD, psychoactive mushrooms (psylocibin, amanita), …..
Some buttons simply have life experiences marked on them: becoming a parent, falling from great heights, losing a close loved one, having your heart broken, purchasing a home, ecstatically professing your love for someone, a concussion, a powerful orgasm, and so on.

These levels to which the elevator takes us offer us different vantage points. I imagine myself navigating the ‘floor’ from where the elevator door is to the windows looking out. Once I get through all the material that that experiential level beholds, I get to see what the world looks like from that stor(e)y, from that vantage point. Chances are, I can see further out than when I had been on a different stor(e)y, often one that was below or closer to where I began entering the building.

The building, of course, is life itself. And 5 reliably takes us to the penthouse—and beyond. Perhaps just like Oroc describes as the 7th chakra. All levels before the Penthouse are the stories.

And that’s what 5 does, doesn’t it? It takes one “beyond”. Beyond what? Beyond the seeing. Beyond the navigating of the content of another story. It’s trans-human and trans-story. Transitory but yet eternal. The place where there is no content, just a sensation of the ride that cuts through all the Tower’s stories—and so effectively.

At the Penthouse, one is still on the “edge” of being in the building and being beyond it. It’s the final veil, the margin between the physical body (the tower, and the top levels of the 6th chakra) and the energetic body just beyond (the sky or the ‘heavens’, the 7th chakra). At the Crown of the Tower, from which no horizon can even be seen, all is there. But if we’re looking for a horizon at the farthest reaches of the infinite landscape, then there’s more!

That elevator is actually designed to take us to not just the top floor, but it blasts right through the roof, disintegrating as it loses touch with its multidimensional host, the Tower. The tower now has no connection. The tower is gone. The elevator is gone. The content in the elevator is gone with it. Gone where? EVERYwhere! Horizon?
Infinite?
It?
I?
This is object becoming subject. Or subject unbecoming object. Or some other seemingly witty way to describe the ineffable in its own beautifully unique effing ways. What countless others have already described over millennia.

It’s this. This becoming. This beyond. This actual elimination of polarised perceptivity. Because with any other medicine, you’re always on a stor(e)y in ShuShumna Tower. Maybe it’s tranquil, maybe it’s geometric, maybe it’s personified, demonified, angelic, In any case, there’s a dimensionality as long as there is an “I” experiencing it, as long as you perceive a story.

How do we ensure we get to the Penthouse and beyond?
Maybe if there was enough fuel in the elevator’s rockets, such as in the submission approach. Or, maybe if the elevator’s load was lightened (such as with the surrender approach), it’d get through past the penthouse, beyond any stor(e)y that the Tower housed.

And if we pressed the 5 button but pretended we were on the N-th floor, like a 128th story walk-up, wake-up, we’d miss the point. Like we pushed the penthouse button but tried to get out on the way up….

Misaligned

In other words, why use 5 like you would use any other medicine? This is not operating at the level of other medicines. So, just like a tool has a specific function, it may not need to be applied to a task that it is not designed for. A soup is not met well with a fork; a spoon is the greater tool. The fork does the soup no harm; the spoon applies better.

If a practitioner doesn’t recognise how 5 functions, they risk missing the opportunity to assist people who have dissolved into the All while they were assisting on another storey with a particular story.

Imagine thinking we need to do something for the person going in the elevator, missing the point that they’re not IN the elevator, they’re not the elevator, they’re not even just the building, they’re the entirety of what the concept and structure of a building could even be. And more.

The elevator shaft can be very precise, a tight container and passageway to—if the 5 button were pressed—the Source. A practitioner’s alignment with the vertical perfection of the shaft is elemental so that their own story is not keeping the elevator at a storey other than the button that was pressed.

If a practitioner’s particular way or method is not congruent with the way 5 operates, their MO is misaligned. The practitioner is dimensioneer-ing at the Source of all dimensions.

 

~There is no need for two at the One~

 

 

 

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with surrender in mind

“True surrender is never an enslavement, but rather a step toward the discovery of real power. It is the active yielding to a larger intelligence, without trying to control the outcome. True surrender is not blind. It requires real discrimination—the capacity to recognise the necessity of completely opening oneself and letting go. Surrender does not have a finite object; one does not give oneself to something limited and bounded. If one does, then it is most likely submission—to the teacher’s personality or the Cause.” – Jon Welwood

5-MeO-DMT can be used in a way that intends to overwhelm the system. With unnecessarily high doses, often the system has no choice but to submit to the incredible power. In this way, the practitioner somehow guarantees the experience of a full release via force. Much like frenetic force is typically used to achieve the release that is orgasm, for example, a submission approach uses the very high dose to force the full release.
But release can also occur using a contrary approach. Through surrender, a genuine and intentional opening allows for the release to reveal itself. After all, the direct experience of Spirit (Pure presence? Samadhi? Satori? The All? The zero point field?) reveals that it is always, already there. By using a gradual approach to find how Spirit can be revealed through a gradual process of releasing that which veils its omnipresence, the system is met with a ‘soft power’. The power of the experience is thus revealed via surrender, genuinely empowering the individual.

Submission: a developmentally regressive retreat from maturity and genuine surrender.
Surrender: a progressive step beyond egocentricity toward a fuller connection with being.

Submission is a forceful approach is to offer the direct experience of Spirit revealed via overwhelm, thus falsely empowering (disempowering) the individual. Seen in this lens, one could say that the forceful approach is a violation and that the gentler approach is a liberation. It would be another space to discuss whether or not the direct experience of Spirit is qualitatively affected by the approach or the nature/methodology of the revelation.

The Approach to the Summit
Descriptions and reports of the full release suggest that it is not always experienced the same way, much like each dip in different parts of the ocean has a different feel, or that no one foot steps into the same river twice. Ancient bodies of wisdom as well as contemporary explorers have already created a reliable-yet-iterative cartography of the psyche, the nature of existence, and the multi- dimensional and holographic aspects of reality. Moreover, the idea that there are myriad experiences of the One are apparent upon learning about different descriptions, ancient and modern, of the direct experience of singularity. For now, I’ll enjoy the reports of these intrepid voyagers as an armchair psychonaut.

My discourse here is about how the direct experience of a full release is arrived at. Reliable technologies access the direct experience of Spirit (note that I am not meaning only trance states or other explorations of expanded states of consciousness, dimensionality, but of non-duality) in a variety of ways: certain styles of meditation; dark rooms/light deprivation, the hypnagogic/flickering effect, extremely large (dissociative) quantities of certain substances (many DMTs, LSD, mescalines, etc.), sound (i.e., isochronic beats), movement (shaking, dance, etc.), and sex. Some of them are approached gently and some forcefully. The gentle approach could be argued to be the most refined one.

A good example is orgasm. Orgasm is often more easily achieved through intensified stimulation where ‘more’ is required to achieve the release desired—which leans towards submission. In Karezza or Tantric practices, however, orgasm is approached through a more subtle process, allowing the release to be revealed through relaxation—which leans towards surrender. Similarly, some meditation approaches use sharp attention, mental concentration/control/discipline; others emphasise a diffuse attention (TM, Zen, etc.). Again, the former suggest submission while the latter suggests surrender.

Generally, the gentler approaches of surrender take more time, allowing the nervous system to relax; the machinations of letting go are honed to the point where transcendence is reached consciously as opposed to a psychic dissociation that occurs unconsciously. With large doses of external, exogenous substances however, no time is needed—just more quantity of the substance. The exception, of course, is 5-MeO-DMT taken at certain quantities by certain methods (IM, inhalation, insufflation, etc.). This substance—which is perhaps the very endogenous compound that is analogous to direct experience of Spirit—reliably reveals the full release of the ego structure with a relatively small range of factors to be considered.

Factors unique to the God molecule

With such a narrow range, the approach to the direct experience of Spirit (which is perhaps the very function of this molecule) can change from genuine surrender to forceful submission in just a few hundredths of a gram, whereas with 5-MeO-DMT, the experience is relatively short—one second of infinity is all it takes to experience all of infinity. The approach—not the length of time—is of most interest in regards to the quality of the process of revealing what lays behind/beyond the veil. A few hundredths of a gram more may turn the opportunity for genuine surrender into a forceful submission.

So what happens when the desired state is not achieved? Often the remedy is an increase in the quantity of the substance, or more attempts at submission. But what about more surrender? What about the material that makes up the veil? If there were to be less of that cellular material, there would be less need for more of the substance. However, this would require more time. More time is often used with methodologies and orientations that are psycholytic, trauma-informed, etc.

I have pointed out here that using more substance generally indicates an approach I call submission. More, in this case, basically means excessive. But what is excessive? It is the power that is in excess of what is required to allow for a surrender : a minimum effective dose. Arriving at a minimum effective dose (ED), as well as a dissociative dose (DD), is a process of discovery. As one approaches the direct experience of Spirit (by transcendence or dissociation), we can discover small ’s’ self in and by degrees.

I will use an analogy to explicate. The helicopter can take us to the summit while we sleep, while we are ‘blindfolded’, or even against our will, plowing through myriad fears (heights, abrupt movement, noise, etc.). The helicopter can also take us to the summit more consciously, with open eyes and a welcoming but not insistent window view, maybe taking breaks and checking in with the passenger along the way. The latter is the empowered, intentional choice of the person—a conscious and consensual ascension. The former is the prescribed offering of a forced ascent, usually initiated by the pilot making sure you get to the top regardless of the quality of your experience on the way up and all too often without regard for the quality of your experience on the way back down.

“Submission has a narcissistic quality, in that followers seek to bask in the reflected glory of their leader as a way to inflate their self importance.”

Effective and dissociative dosage levels are unique to the individual for a variety of reasons. Discovering that unique DD requires time: less time than with other modalities of psychedelic or ‘medicine’ use, to be sure, but more time than the submission approach used by some practitioners and psychonauts. The helicopter either needs to have a bigger engine (force/dose) to get to the top or needs the load to be lighter (surrender/letting go). One solution is for the passenger to consciously lighten their load. This makes the ride up more of a conscious choice: the individual releases the material that veils the direct experience with Spirit (the summit, so to speak) and in so doing less power (dose) is required. Indeed, empowerment results from the conscious, genuine surrender.

Surrender empowers us.

As I argue for a surrender approach in the use of bufo alvarius or 5-MeO-DMT, I do not negate the value of a dosing regime that unconsciously overpowers the system by way of submission. From a non-therapeutic perspective, the emergence/dissolution of the body/form/ego consciousness—regardless of how it happens—may be ultimately what propels or accelerates humanity’s evolution. With this lens, would it matter how empowered a person is when having a full release?

“An abrupt awakening is always to be preferred above a sweet but unconscious sleep”

On an interpersonal level, it is compelling to opine, that yes, empowerment liberates the person from constricted/contracted ways of living. A liberated life probably leads to the further empowerment of others—the hundredth monkey myth. On a supra-personal level, it may be that a full release in and of itself is enough to catalyse the same effect. Yet even with the hundredth monkey hypothesis, after the rate of population growth is considered (more humans exist today than ever existed in sum before), is facilitation that emphasises empowerment (by way of arriving at the full release via genuine surrender) able to match or overtake the rate at which humans are being born?

This is where the topic potentially dovetails to epi-genetics. Those who have a full release through submission, if we are to trust/believe/hypothesise that a genetic transformation is occurring, or at least seeded, may be, just by having children, catalysing the transition toward a collective new dawn/awakening. The latter idea would then champion the submission approach. In this case, large doses (without needing to discover the DD) served indiscriminately to as many people as possible would be the fastest approach to ensuring that full release seeds are planted and the hundredth monkey myth is enacted most expediently. The former idea would champion the surrender approach, used by those offering a psycholytic methodology, perhaps in a therapy context. Empowering the individual to arrive at the full release through genuine surrender would be the most comprehensive (and time-consuming) methodology; the interpersonal field thus being the level at which humanity will thrive and evolve best.

Those practitioners betting on a submission approach may not have the time to consider these ruminations and I don’t expect that they, as I describe them, are reading this right now. Those practitioners who are interested in empowering individuals via genuine surrender in their approach may be more inclined to take the time to read this. In any case, it’s likely that there isn’t a ‘best’ way. The full release of the ego structure can happen many ways.

One of them is with surrender in mind.

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