Let’s talk about the role of love in psychedelic experiences.
What do we mean when we refer to the word?
Scientifically speaking, it’s hard to quantify.
Largely because we all have different definitions of what love entails.
Some of us define love as a feeling.
Some as a continuing action.
The sense of oneness + interconnectivity between ourselves + the world that surrounds us.
The love between mother + the love between brother or lover.
The love of our own individual beings
The love of a perfect stranger.
We feel its presence…or are focused on the lack thereof.
It affects our hearts + puzzles our minds
Even if we cannot define it, we are aware of its profound effect on our own actions + the greater world at large.
As this relates to psychedelics, we see how some substances have an effect on our perceptions of experiences that alter our ability to work through difficulties both internally + relationally.
MDMA + even (low dose) Ketamine - are empathogens that “softens our hearts” —meaning we can access greater levels of self-compassion, vulnerability, curiosity, emotional openness, + deep care for self + others. This makes working through challenging topics easier to navigate because it makes both people more flexible in hearing the words of the other + working to find a solution together. These also facilitate compassion while we may be facing trauma or other difficult past painful events.
Ayahuasca, Mescaline, and Psilocybin - are psychedelics that can also facilitate states of feeling “love”, care, interconnectedness, + compassion, but in a different way that allows us to work on the inner programs/beliefs that prevent the feeling of love = connection.
—although, I will add that any of these can also amplify feelings of anxiety/fear if not in a safe + held setting.
For some of us, we’ve never experienced a reference point of care being directed at ourselves or perhaps another. Love was associated with fear, manipulation, transaction, absence of boundaries, and abuse.
From an attachment theory standpoint, love is the function through which we can get our needs met. We (hopefully) bond with our parents so we are cared for + kept safe. We, as children, discover ways to “get love” which become a part of our internal programming—for better or worse.
So in a psychedelic state, we may experience the qualities that characterize love: self-compassion, vulnerability, curiosity, emotional openness, playfulness, bonding, + deep care for self + others. And it now becomes a conscious component of our beings.
Further, while in these psychedelic states, we attach meaning to what we feel: “I feel love, therefore I am in love.” Or “I feel love, therefore this is my person.”
We need to approach the meaning-making process of psychedelic experiences with reverence + patience.
The number of times students or friends or even myself had an experience revealed to them that “This is my person” “This is my soulmate” “I’m in love” “We’ve known each other for lifetimes” or even the: Ayahuasca told me “I need to break up with this person” is innumerable.
We need to be mindful not to give our entire power of choice + agency to a medicine/spirit/substance—but to allow for time + spaciousness for information to reveal itself before making any major life decisions.
Our subconscious minds work through symbols, like poetry.
We need to interpret the material that arises in psychedelic experiences as such: Poetry.
This is why taking your time + also having a therapist or coach to help hold you in the process of meaning-making can help.
We all want love.
Love is the experience of safety in our nervous system + care for our being.
We just need to take our time to discern before we act so that we aren’t clouding our own judgement with rash, spontaneous action in order to get it met.
I just posted the results of my recent survey on Sex + Psychedelic experiences.
Want to read about it?