Why We Fear Altered States of Consciousness in the West

Consciousness is dynamic. Everyday we pass through various states of consciousness. When we dream we can do things that would be unthinkable in the ordinary reality because they defy for example physical or social laws. In a dream it is not unlikely to find yourself flying around or throwing a cake into the face of your boss. You do things that would not appear in your ordinary everyday consciousness.

When we do things that we know very well, on the other hand, we are in an automatic mode of consciousness. Imagine you are driving to work and are at the same time engaging in other activities and thoughts. When you arrive at your destination you don’t remember how you got there. Where were you, where was your consciousness? In another state.

Consciousness is not uniform, it keeps changing and shamanic cultures acknowledge that fact. Members of indigenous communities see spirits in nature and communicate with them. For them hearing voices is not immediately a pathological event as it is in the west. It is part of their field of experience. Because in their worldview animal and ancestor spirits are real and to hear them is very normal.

People of all times and places have altered their consciousness. To reach a state of altered consciousness various techniques can be applied such as meditation, fasting, trance dance, singing or breathwork. There are also various substances, natural as well as chemically produced, that take us to these altered states, such as cannabis, peyote, ayahuasca, MDMA or LSD. These medicines/drugs can create strong impressions, colorful visions and bring the person ingesting them in contact with unconscious parts of himself. His perspective on life might change profoundly. The linear demands of society such as getting a degree, job, marriage and kids become relativized. Such an independent perspective can be threatening to the establishment. The reason for the worldwide ban on mind altering substances is not based on any scientific facts but purely on moral evaluation. While these substances are illegal in most western countries we have other psychoactive drugs that are legal because they are part of our culture such as coffee, alcohol or antidepressants.

What is consciousness?  Who are you in relation to your consciousness? Why are consciousness altering drugs illegal in the west when they are part of human culture?

Interview with Marc Aixalà, Engineer and Psychologist, trained in holotropic breathwork and integration specialist for difficult psychedelic experiences

By | 2017-06-05T19:39:47+00:00 June 1st, 2017|Categories: VIDEO|Tags: , , , , |

About the Author:

Six years ago I, I had just turned 27, I received my master’s degree in Anthropology. At that moment I was supposed to transition into a working life mode. My passion was with documentary film making, which had been a substantial part of my education. I imagined how a job in that field would be like: I saw myself taking the metro everyday to work, sitting in an office and realising other peoples’ ideas. My heart cramped up at this outlook on life. It just seemed wrong, I didn’t want to be stuck in a treadmill, executing other people’s ideas, I wanted to realise my own. So instead of looking for a job, I separated from my boyfriend, moved back in with my parents and began looking for myself. I spent 9 months exploring shamanism, meditation, systemic therapies, past-life therapies and meditation. I participated in a vision-quest and spend 4 days alone without food in a forest and encountered my deepest fear - the fear of death. I participated in camps that practiced community life and taught the way of the circle, the ancestral way of sharing oneself in a talking circle. I felt the power and the beauty of the shamanic approach and by the end of that year I finally encountered with the amazonian plant teacher ayahuasca. She showed me the perfect harmony of the universe and then she brought me all the way from Germany into the savanna of central Brazil, where I am based now. For the last 5 years I have been drinking a lot of Ayahuasca in various lineages, intensely exploring my Self. I passed through various crises and got stronger along the way. Since the plant medicines and healing modalities that I have encountered have helped me greatly on my path of deconditioning myself of everything alien to me and of becoming more and more who I am meant to be, I feel the call to share this information and my experiences with healing and medicine with more people. I wish for all of us to be conscious and openhearted human beings so we can co-create a new reality on this beautiful earth. Mapping Medicine is a project straight from my heart to yours. I hope it inspires you on your healing journey!