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The Effects of Psychedelic Therapy on Personality & Spirituality

The effects of psychedelic therapy on personality & spirituality have been a fairly well-studied axis throughout the history of psychedelic research. Today, our co-founders delve into the science behind the big five personality traits and how psychedelics impact them. 

They explore how the psychedelic experience can create space between an individual and their neuroses, leading to a shift in perspective and an increase in many personality traits. But, why does every trait experience a change, while Agreeableness remains unaffected?

Our hosts differentiate between spirituality and religion, explaining how and why psychedelics can lead to a deeper sense of spirituality for many individuals, even those who are agnostic or atheist.

Before closing off, they share some tips for exploring spirituality and offer practical advice on integrating psychedelic experiences into your life. 

This episode is part of the Psychedelic Passage Podcast X Blog series. For an in-depth analysis of the research studies and anecdotal evidence that informed this conversation, check out “How Psychedelic Therapy Can Change Personality & Spirituality”.

Episode 39: The Effects of Psychedelic Therapy on Personality & Spirituality

Nick: Welcome to the Psychedelic Passage podcast. My name is Nick. I am here with my co-host and best friend Jimmy Nguyen. Thanks for joining us today. This week we are talking about how psychedelics can change personality and spirituality. 

And this is actually the first podcast we’ll be doing that’s essentially in tandem with some of our blog content. And so, the way that we’ve done this is we will drop a link to the blog that we referenced throughout this podcast in the show description so you guys have access to that. 

And a bunch of the studies that we will reference in today’s episode are linked in there as well. And so as far as the agenda for today goes, the main thing that we want to do here is talk about what is personality, what are the things that make up our personality. 

And then scientifically, what does the data say about how psychedelics impact these various personality traits? And then finally we’ll bring it home with essentially what we see anecdotally and practically as far as our client work. 

For starters, I think it’s helpful that we agree upon a definition here of personality. And a quick google search yields something along the lines of the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character. 

What’s interesting is that they note that there’s parts of our personality that stay consistent over time and there’s also parts of it that change over the course of our life. 

Psychedelics are definitely one of those tools that can be an inflection point in our life where it marks a turning point in how our personality manifests itself.

The Big Five Personality Traits & How Psychedelics Affect Them

Jimmy: Yeah, and that personality is also distinct from identity and then also distinct from beliefs and spirituality, but they’re all intertwined as well. And before we dive in further, I just want to take a moment. I’m really proud of us, Nick. 

I feel like the past couple of episodes we’ve been trying to approach topics that are not easy to talk about and we’ve been really making an effort to distill it into something that is approachable but also still has substance. 

And so, I feel like this conversation is a part of it. Talking about personality and spirituality can be a little polarizing for folks, a little jarring for folks. There are some folks who think about spirituality and then the switch turns off, they’re like, “No, I’m out.” 

Just thank you to all of our listeners for your trust in allowing us to go here with some of these conversations. Personality is interesting because, like you said, there are some parts that stay constant and there are some parts that shift over time. 

In the blog post, we tried to dissect and break that down a little bit and then also how psychedelics influence. But what we focused on were these five traits, let’s say, to personality that we feel are the most related to potential change with psychedelics. 

Nick: And it’s also the basic barometer of how scientists and researchers look at personality. They’re looking at what they call the big five personality traits. For those of you who are listening, those are going to be openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism

What they’re basically saying is that these five traits are the big things that feed into our personality. Essentially what happened in the course of these studies is they had participants rank or measure these various traits before a psychedelic journey and then again after and then measured the results. 

How Psychedelics Affect: Openness

Nick: I think we just kind of start with the first one here, which is openness. What’s really interesting is in this study those who received the high dose of psilocybin showed a significant increase in openness while those who received the placebo did not. 

And what I found fascinating is that it also showed that the more intense the mystical experience, the greater increase in openness.

Jimmy: How would you define openness for our listeners who I think maybe have kind of an inherent sense of what that means? I think about openness to ideas, openness to varying opinions, openness to different perspectives. What else would we say about openness?

Nick: I mean, imagination, creativity, the ability to adapt, the willingness to explore new things, the willingness to see something from a new perspective, a different vantage point. All of that to me is a signal of openness. 

Perhaps the opposite would be something like rigidity or essentially being closed off from new inputs, new ways of looking at things, etc. It’s true because from my perspective, one of the fundamental things that psychedelic journeys do is expand our awareness. 

They blow up our worldview a little bit. And so this perhaps more narrow minded, set in our ways worldview can often get shattered with a couple of grams of psilocybin.

Jimmy: Yeah, and just noticing that you are feeling more open, let’s say to ideas than you were before, which then can open the doorway to exploring the why behind how that’s a part of your personality and how it got to that point. 

And so, anybody who’s listened to our social conditioning episode [Nick laughs] will hear us talk about how environment and life circumstances can shape our personality and our outlook on the world and in situations. 

And so, I feel like it’s such a great link up to this conversation here with openness. What I find with psychedelics, as you so eloquently said, is that it sparks the possibility of what else or the alternate or what else is possible. 

And so, as folks start to question things, in order to question things, there has to be a certain level of openness in order for that to be conducive to your process. If you are questioning things but you are closed off to whatever arises for you, then you’re going to be spinning around-

Nick: Not going to go very far. Yeah.

Jimmy: -in a circle. Right. I love this. Yeah. 

How Psychedelics Affect: Neuroticism

Nick: I think that one is fairly straightforward. No surprises there. The next one is neuroticism. In this category the study’s findings revealed that the score for neuroticism significantly decreased following psilocybin therapy. 

And that one also made perfect sense to me because a lot of what we’re up against is our own neuroses. And I’ll speak for myself. I know for certain that when I have had deep journeys, I feel when I return that there’s more space between me and my neuroses. 

And so, that little bit of space, for me at least, allows me to behave differently because to me, the challenge with neuroses is that if it becomes like a compulsive reaction, then you’re stuck in the loop, but you can still have the neurotic tendency but then choose not to act on it. And that to me is really an important part of that pattern breaking process. 

For those who are listening, they define neuroticism here as a tendency to explore negative emotions such as anxiety, fear, sadness.

But I also think there’s like more traditional neurotic things that could almost be classified as OCD in some ways, like, certain fidgeting or stuttering or other aspects like that.

Jimmy: Self-consciousness, irritability, depression can sometimes be termed here. I want to create an important distinction here that in these studies these are somewhat anecdotal and qualitative self-reporting pre and post experience.

And so, what this doesn’t mean is that every psychedelic experience will be chill and smooth and free flowing.

Nick: Or guarantee those outcomes.

Jimmy: Agreed. What I find is that to speak in my own experience and also that of my clients is that for some folks they may move into a psychedelic experience and their communion with the medicine often– sometimes can provide them a relief from the baseline of how they’re feeling. 

“I’ve gone through life feeling this level of anxiety or this level of fear and wow, I’m just absent from that. I don’t even know what that feels like and here I am feeling it firsthand.” 

I’ve also seen other clients and journeyers who have actually been able to confront their anxiety or fear or depression or self-consciousness because it becomes so present in the medicine space that they can’t do anything but look it dead in the face. 

Now, how well you do that is dependent on your preparation, your intentions, the service provider you have around you and so you can see how regardless of whether these neuroses or neuroticisms are present in your experience, there’s an opportunity to be able to integrate and lower these things. I don’t think that there’s anybody out there who wants more fear and more anxiety-


Jimmy: -and whatever. So, we’re talking about lowering these things. But I want to make a clear distinction that it’s not a linear process where you don’t feel that anymore like, “It’s gone. Oh, it’s gone. Now, I am working–” [crosstalk]

Nick: Ramdas has this funny quote where he says–

Jimmy: Yeah, I like this one.

Nick: He says, “Don’t worry, when you come back from a psychedelic journey or a deep meditation, all your neuroses will still be there.”

Jimmy: Yeah. Mm-hmm.

Nick: What he’s getting at is that initial impulse tends to stay with us, but our willingness to engage with it or not changes over time, or rather how we engage with it, if at all.

Jimmy: It speaks back to what you said about that buffer or that space in between the feeling versus you, where for many folks who have this as a constant in their life, you define yourself, your identity as this.

“Oh, I’m anxious person,” or “I am not worth anything,” or “I’m worried about what people think about–” [crosstalk]

Nick: Or just tightly wound or perfectionist.

Jimmy: Sure. Or everything has to be in a certain way for me to feel safe and for me to function. What the psychedelic experience can potentially do is just create a little bit of that space in between you versus whatever that thing is that you’re feeling. 

And that even slight shift in perspective, even if you’re one degree over to the left or one centimeter further back from that, can be all the difference in you looking at that being like, “Ha, how long has that been present in my life?” Or, “This is super present in my life?” 

Or all of these things. And so there’s a lot of different pathways to addressing and navigating and healing your neuroses and there may still be things that are just there for the rest of your life as well. 

But what we see in the data that Nick is referencing, which of course is in this blog post, is that there’s a correlation here which I find really, really interesting. I’ve ranted about that to my fulfillment. I think we can [Nick laughs] move on to the next item if you’re ready.

How Psychedelics Affect: Extraversion

Nick: Yeah, so the next trait that they measured was extroversion. And a lot of us are familiar with this one, but willingness to be outgoing, social, interacting, connecting with others. 

They found that this significantly increased with psilocybin therapy and this one was also not surprising to me because I think one of themes that consistently shows up in journeys, albeit in very different ways, is how deeply important connection is. 

Connection to ourselves, connection to others, connection to the world around us. And that creates an environment where I’ve seen people who are totally socially and emotionally isolated go, “Ha, I need to go interact in the world and be around other humans.” 

And they may still be naturally introverted, but there’s still this desire to connect and to be around other people.

Jimmy: What comes up for me is that there is a difference between recognizing the need or how crucial what you’re describing is versus the desire versus the willingness to do it. 

And so again, to try to add some tangibility to this and how I’ve seen this work out in life is that I’ve seen folks really feel compelled to connect with others or share their story or use their process as some type of an example on what this work could look like for others. 

So, one of my favorite clients who I’ve been working with for some time hadn’t really gone out in a social setting for a very long time during the pandemic. And they stepped out into their adventure like, “I’m going to sign up for this art class, and I’m going to feel the fear, and I’m going to go and I’m going to create art and see how it was,” and that was such a monumental thing for them.

Also, I have seen clients who recognize this lack in their lives, this lack of community, this lack of support, this lack of friendship, this lack of connecting with others, and it becomes really present for them somewhat uncomfortably, to the point where they’re like, “Oh, I realize how much I need it in my life. 

But there are some barriers. There’s something keeping me from going out and seeking deep connection or seeking friendship or whatnot.” What I would say to those folks, without being too prescriptive of your experience, is that both sides can be great teachers to your process. 

Like sometimes you need to be in full contact with your neuroses or your introversion or whatnot. And again, this is based on your personality, like there are some folks who are introverted extroverts. 

There are some folks who are just introverts. There are some folks who are extroverts, but then it drains them of energy and bandwidth and fatigue. [crosstalk] -lot of different ways.

How Psychedelics Affect: Conscientiousness

Nick: This is a good segue into the next one because what’s interesting is that the next trait that we’re going to talk about is conscientiousness. In this study, this referred to an individual’s tendency to be organized, responsible, dependable, and goal oriented. 

Now, here’s what I found was really interesting in the data. To your point, people have different base level scores of conscientiousness, and so there are some people who score high regardless of psilocybin and those are the kind of people that are already efficient, reliable, self-disciplined, etc. 

And then you’ve got people who score low and they’re more laid back, spontaneous, and less reliable. What I’m highlighting here is that we all have a different baseline. We all have a different starting point, right?

Jimmy: Yeah.

Nick: And this study showed that conscientiousness was a trend level increase, which meant it was an increase relative to your starting position, i.e., a trend, but it wasn’t this, like, across the board, massive shift, like some of the other traits.

Jimmy: Mm. That’s interesting. I’m thinking about my own life and where I land on that scale, and I feel like a part of me in some modes or some circumstances is leaning towards that efficient, reliable, self-discipline. And then there’s another part of me that’s laid back and spontaneous or whatnot.

Nick: We’re a good example of this because my natural disposition is far more type A, regimented, disciplined, etc. And you’re more spontaneous, go with the flow, what feels good, trust your gut. 

We generally come from opposite ends of the spectrum there and yet we’ve found our own respective internal middle ground, like the balance point that works for each of us respectively. But I don’t expect us to just because we’ve taken psilocybin like have our end scores line up.

Jimmy: I don’t think that there’s a world where you undergo a psychedelic experience. Look, what I’m about to say is both. There are people who move through psychedelic experiences who feel radically changed. 

They’re like, “I’m a completely different person,” and then also some of these things may still exist in your life. Like these patterns of openness or conscientiousness or where you fall on this laid back versus regimented scale.

It’s this funny non-dualistic conversation to be able to be open to radical change potentially through psychedelics.

And then also just know that like that Ramdas quote, there are things that will persist and that’s kind of the beautiful nature of it because you can’t predict it for every person and there’s ranges of changes. 

Maybe even these few little things about neuroticism or openness or conscientiousness may make all the difference on the huge impact and some other folks go through radical, radical, outlooks on their life as well. We have a couple more here. So, we have what, two more?

Nick: We’re on the last one.

Jimmy: Okay, awesome.

How Psychedelics Affect: Agreeableness

Nick: This one’s really interesting. And so, this one is definitely going to warrant a little bit of a discussion here. The studies found increases in openness, conscientiousness and extroversion and decreases in neuroticism which we’ve covered. 

But no change in agreeableness. And I really think what this comes down to is that everyone has their own interpretation of what agreeableness is.

And so, I actually think that this is a bit more of a nuanced discussion because based on how you define agreeableness, it’s not surprising that you may feel like that goes up or down after a psychedelic experience.

Jimmy: And I’ll hammer this point home again and again and again. That it depends on you and your life circumstance and what you’ve been through. Let me try to highlight this for folks, is that agreeableness is not only defined differently by folks, but it has different applications in our lives. 

Some of our listeners might be thinking, “Well, what’s the difference between agreeableness and openness?” I define it as openness is more about the possibility or more about entertaining alternatives. 

Whereas agreeableness takes on a little bit of a different tone and I’ll try to describe it in a story that a friend of mine was telling me. 

So, the way that they described it was they had in their life had gone through, in childhood had been a part of a really just strict mainstream religion to the point where there was a clearly defined way of morality, there was a lot of right and wrong, there was a lot of shame, there was a lot of conformity to thoughts and beliefs.

And so, my friend, as they’re exploring medicine work, psychedelic work, the way that they describe it is they have a healthy radar for cult-like behavior. And so they’re moving into these psychedelic experiences having a radar for that. 

They had recently gone through a men’s group and part of this men’s group was this like chanting and singing along. In the beginning, the facilitator was trying to get folks to sing along and my friend was like, “I’m going to check myself. 

I need to trust these folks first before I start chanting along and singing along to whatever this person is saying.” Then by the end of this experience he’s like, “I trust these folks. I’m good, I’m chanting and I’m singing along as well.” 

And so, openness and agreeableness probably play into each other. But I also think agreeableness can come from let’s say it comes from people pleasing. 

Maybe you were born in an environment where in order for you to perceive safety in your childhood or for you to feel like you’re worthy of the love and attention that you need to people please and that can be a form of agreeableness too.

Nick: And so, this is what I want to highlight is the actual definition of agreeableness that was used for purposes of identifying this trait in the study had to do with altruism and being trusting of others. 

The layman’s definition that most people would use to self-evaluate is more along the lines of what’s people pleasing, codependency, and lack of adherence to one’s own needs. And so, you can see how based on how you’re defining this term, you would rate yourself very differently. 

And then it’s also challenging to rate yourself on something like agreeableness when you’ve got this self-bias. There’s not the long-term nuance of being able to objectively observe your personality over time because we’re typically locked into how we’re feeling in the present moment.

Jimmy: We’ve all had that friend or that person in our lives where we know are– I’ll say this very carefully, too trusting. They don’t verify or they’re really putting it all out there and maybe being vulnerable in containers and people where they’re not and then they get their feelings hurt or whatnot. 

And then we also know that there are folks where trust is very low in their lives. And so, this goes back to that baseline thing I think that you were chatting about before. 

The other part that comes up about these big five personality traits with agreeableness is, I’m reading this from Wikipedia so I’m kind of getting a cliff note here. But the willingness to compromise their interests with others. 

For some that can be very collaborative. For other people, you are violating your own boundaries, needs and sovereignty in trying to compromise for others. And so, I think agreeableness also being to some amorphous type of phrase. There’s also a lot of different applications on how that might look in your lives.

Nick: Yeah.

How Psychedelics Affect Spiritual Beliefs

Jimmy: I want to make sure that we’re spending time talking about the spirituality side as well. I feel like we’ve gone through the personality side as far as creating a baseline for folks, but I welcome anything that you have to add to this part.

Studies on Psychedelic-Induced Changes in Spirituality

Nick: No, I think that’s good. Let’s switch over to spirituality. So, for starters, we reviewed a study that was conducted over a 14-month period, and it found that 58% and 67% of volunteers, respectively, rated their psilocybin experience as among the five most personally meaningful experiences and the five most spiritually significant experiences of their lives.

Jimmy: May I interject here really quickly?

Nick: Yeah.

Jimmy: I want to make sure that people know that if you have a psychedelic experience and it’s not the top five most [Nick laughs] important thing in your life and not the top five most spiritual thing, like that’s a really high expectation. 

We’re talking about this reporting of the possibility that there’s a trend and data here, but also just know that your experience matters and it’s okay, and it is aligned with the right work to be really beneficial to your process. So, thank you. I just really wanted to say that out loud.

Nick: Yeah, it’s a good primer. Just to further kind of highlight what this study found, 11% and 17% respectively considered the experience as the single most meaningful and spiritually significant experience of their lives. 

The study also revealed that 64% of the volunteers felt an increase in their sense of wellbeing or life satisfaction after taking psilocybin, and none of the volunteers reported a decrease in their wellbeing or life satisfaction.

So, pretty substantial data as far as the overwhelming majority of people found it to be a deeply spiritual experience. I think what I want to add here is that spirituality and religion are different. If you’ve listened to the podcast, you’ve heard us address that point. 

Understanding Spirituality in The Context of Psychedelic Experiences

Nick: When I think about spirituality in the context of something like a psychedelic experience, what I mean is that those experiences generally highlight that there is more going on than meets the eye and there is something bigger out there. 

It doesn’t matter what it is. It doesn’t matter how you categorize it. But I think the essence of what we’re getting at with this spirituality piece is that there is more than just us, even if you can’t put your finger on what that is. 

Correct me if I’m wrong here, Jim, but a healthy portion of people when they come out of a deep journey, the first thing they say is, “I don’t know how I would ever explain that to someone.” 

Part of that is because you’re experiencing this thing that transcends human language, the human experience, everything you thought being a human was, it has the potential to be kind of blown up in a span of four to six hours.

Jimmy: Yeah, like you’re saying, a limitation in the words that we can use to define those things which are dependent upon the culture in which you live, the environment in which you live, what’s important within that culture? 

Your own baseline for spirituality or religion. We have said this before, but we work with plenty of atheists and agnostic folks or folks who would say that they’re not spiritual at all. Let’s say they’re moving into the psychedelic experience as purely cognitive or purely for trauma or whatnot. 

We see the trend going in the direction of folks asking what if? Or is it possible? Or they’re more open to it. We often don’t see it the other way where people become more closed off to the idea that there’s more than meets the eye. 

I would say that once that question opens up, is there more to this existence than what is here within my senses? Where I can smell, taste, hear, feel is obviously a little subjective. But then once you ask that question, the really fun question comes in, which is, who am I and how do I relate to that thing? 

So, another one of my favorite clients– this is actually an amazing timing for this episode because I just got an email from one of my clients who is like, “I feel like a lot of this has been primer for newer folks, but then I’m ready for some next level stuff, and I’m wanting to talk about spirituality.” I was like, “Oh, great, well, wonderful timing because we’re recording that right now.”

Nick: [laughs] Here we go.

Jimmy: And their sense was that I would probably say fairly agnostic, maybe borderline atheist. I don’t want to mischaracterize this person, but they are now at a point where they are wanting to explore their spirituality and what that means. 

This also happens to be a person who is deeply exploring their impact and their existence and their contribution and meaning in life. I’m like, okay, that all goes hand in hand. 

I think we’re framing this up to say that if there are parts of your personality that can evolve and that can mold over time, and there are parts of your personality that are really cemented in there, those types of changes can then open the door for exploration of these other things. 

Primarily spirituality, as we saw with the really significant data that you just referenced there, Nick. And so, if we’re cracking that door open on the possibility of spirituality, which again, can be polarizing for folks, can be really triggering for folks, can bring up a lot of stuff for folks. 

Then it becomes, “Okay, well, how do I nurture that exploration? How do I use this psychedelic experience to actually move towards my own discovery around spirituality?”

I’m framing up a hard question here, [chuckles] I know that, but I wonder as I’m posing that, Nick, what comes up for you?

The Relationship Between Spirituality and Existential Angst

Nick: What actually came up for me is how closely related spirituality is to what I’ll call Existential Angst, which is who am I, why am I here? What am I here to do? What’s the point of life? 

What I found is I had a really hard time answering and holding those questions for me personally without a spiritual framework. If it’s just me, just Nick, and I’m just a human off alone in the world on my own, I have a really hard time answering some of those questions. 

When I feel like I’m a part of a whole and there’s a higher power or more than meets the eye or a cosmic flow of energy, I am now a part of that.

As opposed to just like me, isolated in the world trying to figure out the answer to all of these existential questions that I would venture to guess most of us have pondered at some point in life.

Jimmy: That reminds me of a lot of the big five personality traits that we were just talking about how maybe if you’re feeling, let’s say, disconnected to the world. How about that? Let’s use a very straight up which can blur the lines on the exploration of spirituality. 

If anybody’s ever felt disconnected with the world then you can imagine how your neuroses and neuroticisms might show up differently in your life or your openness and agreeableness or your conscientiousness. That whole thing about seeking the others and community then comes up in your share. 

I find it almost like inextricably linked or there’s a parallel here. Like if you’re willing to explore you internally with your personalities and your traumas and the reasons why things are and whatnot. 

If you’re trying to find the why in yourself, then you’re naturally going to lead into the why around the rest of the world [laughs] that we’re experiencing.

Nick: Totally.

Jimmy: It’s really fascinating because that’s a big reason why psychedelics haven’t gotten a lot of merit in western society over the past several hundred years because we are a society that likes to define and to record and to calculate things. 

And you can’t do that with psychedelic experiences all the time. And so if you can’t define it, if you can’t measure it, if you can’t calculate it, then it must not exist. That’s like the way that science has been running for a while. And then now it’s like, “Oh, it might be possible.”

Nick: What’s funny is when you think about all the studies that we just gave a 30,000-foot overview on, it’s all self-reporting, which means for those who are data hungry, it’s not like that’s perfect data, it’s just designed to help give us a trend, a pattern and understanding of these correlations. 

But you’re still relying on a human to subjectively evaluate their experience and we are notoriously bad at that.

Nurturing Spiritual Exploration Outside of The Psychedelic Experience

Jimmy: Yeah. I want to switch gears a little bit to say that there are also folks that may have a mystical or spiritual experience. Well, this can happen in a lot of different ways. 

You may not feel that in your psychedelic experience, but because of this internal work that you’re doing, that exploration of spirituality may come up then in your integration work or post work. 

Alternatively, there are folks who do walk in wanting the intention of developing their spirituality or exploring that part of themselves or that questioning. And then afterwards that feeling can persist in the afterglow and integration.

There’s also many folks who will have that experience and they’ll come out and they lose it. They almost forget, they’re like, “Oh, it was so present and clear to me in the psychedelic experience and then now I’ve lost it somehow. I want to get it back.” 

I’m framing that up for a lot of different reasons. The importance of integration, the importance of the support around you, the importance of continuing to explore and do this type of work, the importance of taking a break sometimes when you need to.

But what would you say to those folks who maybe had a spiritually oriented experience or it trended up the spirituality measure in the experience and then they come out and they’re like, “Ah, it’s gone. I don’t have it anymore.”

Nick: I think it just highlights that if we place too much reliance on the experience itself, meaning like the actual dosing session where you’re taking psilocybin, it really cuts out a lot of the room that we save for stuff like integration, which is this nurturing of that. 

I think a large part of this has to do with how we’re oriented around the experience. Even just the way I read the studies was like pre and post psilocybin. But that’s actually not the whole story. 

They were doing prep sessions, they were doing integration, they were in a larger container. And so, whenever I see someone try to gauge the efficacy of their experience immediately after, that’s not the best time to evaluate that. 

The other thing that I would tell that person is you’ve experienced it, which means you now have the capacity to experience it. Your same hardware, your same body got you to that place, that neural pathway has been built. 

We can get back there, but it’s probably going to take a little bit of work. Maybe that’s through breath work, maybe that’s through meditation, maybe that’s through journaling, whatever it is. But there’s always a way to go back. Sometimes we just have to find a different reminder to get us back to that state.

How to Align With Your Spiritual Intuitions

Jimmy: Well said. Thank you for saying that. That brings up a lot of things for me. And I may get a little heavy here with what I’m about to share, but it’s all in an effort of being very tangible and actionable for our listeners here as well. 

What I want to share is that for folks who have had spiritually oriented psychedelic experiences and have come out the other end or for folks who have had somewhat “unrelated” psychedelic experiences in their content and then they’re now open to this exploration of the self and then that leads them to this pathway of exploring spirituality. 

A few things come up for me. One is something that you say all the time, Nick, which if we are seeking external things as the catalyst for our exploration and that’s the default way, like we’re dependent upon that for our own exploration, then you lose out on this ability to find it inherently within yourself. 

And so, in your words, it’s if we’re out there chasing peak experiences all the time, well, what good does that do? Because maybe one day we’re not going to be able to have a psychedelic experience anymore. Maybe we’re not going to be able to do breathwork anymore as an example. So it’s what we take with us from these experiences and what it catalyzes within us.

The number one thing that I found helpful, I guess two. I’ll split it up into two and then I’d love to hear your thoughts on this too. The first for me is what are the things that can fuel your discovery process? I will remind folks that the discovery process happens in the present time. 

And so when you’re exploring spirituality, it’s not like, “Oh, there’s this future thing where I’m spiritual now, like I’m good.” It’s about being in the present and seeing what ignites your questioning of why. 

What ignites your connectivity to others and the greater world? What ignites your healthy level of self-inquiry? What ignites your healthy curiosity about how and why things happen the way that they happen in the world? If there’s other things that you’re not aware of or within your perspective. 

And so that’s a present moment thing. Like you have to be in time right now for you to have that level of exploration. And then the other part, which I think is much more tangible, is what are your daily practices to cultivate this? And so, is that meditation? 

Is that getting up and making breakfast? Is that waking up and being silent for the first hour as a dear friend of mine does? Is that going on a walk every day? Is that spending time with family? Is that spending time alone? So, there’s all these different ways that I’m highlighting here.

What I find is that if you cultivate a daily practice, regardless of if it’s regular everyday stuff or if it’s spiritually oriented, like, you and I both have an altar. We meditate, we spend time at the altar. We’re in prayer, we’re chanting, some of those things. 

Even if that’s not for you, even establishing a daily practice will give you this sense of constant as you then go out and explore all these different what ifs, what spirituality is and connectivity and all that. And you may not even arrive at an answer, by the way, on what is God? 

What is the universe? What’s driving or forcing or the driving force behind all this stuff? Spirituality is the pursuit of questioning that I believe is actually the most vital part of this whole process. So, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I know we’re running up on time as well.

Survey Responses on Psychedelic Changes in Personality & Spirituality

Nick: Oh, I think that was beautifully stated. I think the only other thing that I perhaps want to cover in today’s episode is just practically and anecdotally what some of these spiritual and personality-oriented shifts can look and feel like. 

And one of the things I thought I would do is just read a couple of these snippets. We actually sent out a survey, an anonymous survey to ask folks how they’ve been impacted personality wise, pre and post psychedelic experiences. 

And so, I’m just going to read a couple of these to give our readers an understanding. Once again, the full verbiage here is in the blog.

“Before I started mushrooms, I was a very closed off and sad person and couldn’t accept myself. However, after I started, I was able to accept myself, which led me to be more outgoing, happy and kind than ever before.”

Jimmy: Yeah, let me read this other one that’s calling to me. “I was a judgmental, rude, self-centered, bigoted Jehovah Witness. I no longer believe I have all the answers for everyone, nor am I a believer still, I believe in acceptance, not repentance. Mushrooms help me love myself. MDMA helped me love others. LSD helped me love everything.”

Nick: “They have made me even more creative,” which goes right back to that openness piece. And this clearly is written from an artist. He says, “My perception of color and how I work with it has never been the same since I took LSD.” 

And so, these shifts in our perspective, in our awareness, in how we see the world versus how we see ourselves, it trickles through into our personality. And I was thinking of things that I’ve personally experienced and I’ve noticed, I prioritize things differently now. 

I feel lighter and more free. I’m less bothered by things that are out of my control. And perhaps the biggest gift that psychedelics have given me is an ability to– I used to look at all of the sh*tty things that happened to me in life and go, “Man, why did all this happen to me?” And it’s almost kind of like that victim. Why me? Woe is me?

Time and time again, what psychedelics showed me is that I needed those challenging experiences to get to here. It allows me to hold the loss, the tragedy, the shame, the guilt, whatever it is, with so much more grace because I’m like, “Oh.” 

When I’m able to actually zoom out and see it for what it is, it’s like a big game of connecting the dots. When you’re going from dot to dot, you don’t know what’s happening and then you zoom out and all of a sudden, you drew a rhino or whatever just through a whole bunch of line segments.

Jimmy: I would really support what you’re saying, where the most important thing for me is that it’s given me– seeking my own spirituality, which was heavily influenced by the pursuit of psychedelic exploration, has given me a home and a container to hold me when life really hits the fan. 

And even at times where I feel it’s absent, like everything’s a mess in my life and it’s absent. The return and the reminder, “Oh, it’s been there the whole time, I’ve been supported and held the whole time.

Oh, what a relief that I’m not alone, having to figure out all these answers by myself, this little limited human being.” 

And so, I hope that everybody has the opportunity to explore that and what that means for them, whether through the use of psychedelics or whether they have a near death experience, hopefully not. 

Maybe the best thing that happened to you, whether it’s a life thing, whether it’s having a child, it isn’t always about medicines, but I hope that this conversation has illuminated that potential for everybody.

Nick: Yeah. Once again, to anyone who is listening, all the studies and the article that we referenced will be linked in the show description so you can find it there. That brings us to the end of our episode for today. Thank you so much for joining us. 

You can download episodes of the Psychedelic Passage podcast on all the major streaming platforms, whether it’s Apple Podcast, Amazon, Spotify, IHeartRadio, or wherever else you choose to digest your podcast. If you like the show, please rate and review us. 

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