Hacking the Self

#003: Healing Trauma with Ayahuasca & other Plant Medicines with Ian Benouis

This week on Hacking Consciousness: Ian Benouis

Ian Benouis is a graduate of the prestigious West Point Military Academy who flew Blackhawk Helicopters for the US Army. After leaving the military, Ian worked as a sales representative in the pharmaceutical industry. Eventually, he bumped up against the limitations of what the Western medical model had to offer.

Finding healing for his own traumas through working with plant medicines, such as Cannabis, Ayahuasca, Ibogaine, and 5MEO-DMT, Ian now spends much of his time advocating for the rights of veterans to heal from PTSD through the use of these natural remedies.

Ian explains why these plant medicines, including cannabis, are literally providing a lifeline for some veterans returning home from war, many of whom find the predictable, pharmaceutical solutions to PTSD and depression ineffective and fraught with too many undesirable side effects.

If you’re interested by what you hear you in this conversation I would strongly encourage you to consider how you can support this cause, which is quite simply, the reasonable demand of people who have put their lives on the line for this country to heal from the psychological and emotional wounds of warfare in a way that’s most appropriate and effective for them and their families.

I’ll be sharing some additional thoughts on my conversation with Ian in subsequent blog posts. In the meantime, here are some excellent individuals and organizations advocating for the rights of veterans to use plant medicines:

I’d strongly suggest watching the free documentary, “Soldiers of the Vine.”  This movie follows Ian and a group of veterans as they travel down to Peru to participate in a series of Ayahuasca ceremonies. Hearing the stories of these veterans at the end of the film is extremely moving.

Finally, this is the website for the shaman, Carlos Llerena Chavez, featured in “Soldiers of the Vine” and who has done a lot of plant medicine work with veterans. He and his brother Juan are based in Tarapoto, Peru.

“Ask the plants of the earth and they will teach you.” Book of Job, 12:8-10

“If you see the day of judgment coming finish planting a tree.” Muhammad

Shownotes:

0:00-3:00: Welcome and Opening Remarks

3:00-6:30: Introducing to working with plant medicines for trauma

6:30-10:50: How cannabis helps veterans with PTSD

10:50-13:11: Ian’s personal background with plant medicines and his own trauma

13:11-18:50: Overview of plant medicines & how they help with trauma

18:50-25:45: Reframing the discussion of psychedelics/entheogens as medicinal, therapeutic

25:45-29:30: History of how psychedelics were socially constructed in the US

29:30-39:00: Limitations of pharmaceuticals for dealing with depression and trauma

39:00:45:00: Cannabis as a tool for reintegration into society; Ayahuasca as a heart opening

                          experience

45:00-51:28: Plant medicines as a catalyst for a larger social and cultural awakening

51:28-1:0:03:15 Prospects for Political Reform

Please help to make Hacking the Self a sustainable project by:

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#002: Myth, Metaphor and Mantra: The Power of Language and Narrative with Susanna Harwood Rubin

In this episode I discuss the power of myth, metaphor and mantra with yoga teacher and writer Susanna Harwood Rubin.

Guest Bio: Susanna is a yoga teacher, writer, and artist whose work is rooted in South Indian Philosophy. An artist by training and a former educator at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York, Susanna is a storyteller who is passionate about Hindu myth and the philosophy of Rajanaka Tantra, which she has studied for over 15 years in the U.S. and in South India with Dr. Douglas Brooks, one of the great living scholars of Hindu Tantra.

In our conversation we explore the power of narrative, myth, and metaphor and how viewing the world through these lenses can enrich our lives. We consider this from the perspective of various viewpoints, including why those who might not identify as religious or spiritual might find value from myths. We also discuss the power of language and what mantra can contribute to one’s meditation practice.

Links:

http://susannaharwoodrubin.com/

http://www.rajanaka.com/

Please help to make Hacking the Self a sustainable project by:

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How we breathe and how we feel are deeply interconnected

In the first podcast episode of the Hacking Consciousness, founder of Yoga Elements Adrian Cox spoke about the power of pranayama (breath control exercises) for entering into expanded states of consciousness. As he put it in our conversation:

 “Pranayama truly is the gateway to higher yoga and by yoga I mean expanded consciousness. It is the gateway, the step before meditation and the doorway with which our practice begins to really, truly deepen.”

   Let’s briefly define “pranayama.” In the yoga tradition “prana” is a term that refers to both our own breath and to the very life force that animates every particle of this universe. “Yama” can be translated as to regulate, to control, or to channel. Thus, pranayama is the process by which we learn to skilfully channel or regulate our breathing (our very life force).

In my own practice, I’ve certainly come to appreciate the wisdom in Adrian’s statement. Recognizing the relationship between the state of our breath and the state of our mind invites deeper insight into the ways in which the mind and the body are deeply interconnected, an essential point that we often forget when we’re deeply lost in thought.

 It’s also a view of consciousness that runs contrary to the traditional, dualistic body-mind split in Western thought that dates back to Descartes. In other words, especially for those of us in the West, we need to drop our assumptions that consciousness is simply equated with the brain, or that it’s even located solely in the region of the head.

 How we breathe is deeply connected to our nervous system. There are two major aspects of our autonomic (involuntary) nervous system: the sympathetic (“fight or flight” response) vs. the parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) response.

Comparison of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

Image Source: Osteopathy Calagary, 2016. Read More

#001: Adrian Cox of Yoga Elements on the Science of Pranayama, Mantra & Meditation

In the first episode of Hacking the Self I speak with Adrian Cox, owner of Yoga Elements in Bangkok, Thailand, on the science of pranayama, mantra and meditation.

Guest Bio: Adrian Cox is the owner of Yoga Elements in Bangkok, Thailand. An engineer by training, Adrian left his IT job in New York City in the late 90s to study meditation and yoga in Nepal and Thailand before eventually starting his studio, Yoga Elements, in Bangkok in 2001. Since that time Adrian has developed Yoga Elements into one of the premier yoga studios in Asia, drawing excellent teachers from around the world for workshops and trainings.

We discuss several tools of yoga: asana (the physical practice), pranayama (breathing exercises or techniques for channeling energy), mantra (the power of sound or vibration) and meditation.

Shownotes:

0:05-11:02: The Purpose of the Hacking Consciousness Podcast 

(*Note: Now called the Hacking the Self podcast)

11:02-12:10: Introduction to guest #1: Adrian Cox

12:10-23:20:  The intellect vs. intuition

23:30-27:30: Yoga as a tool for Hacking Consciousness

27:30-30:25: Asana: The physical practice of yoga

30:25-:39:30: Pranayama: Breathing exercises, or channeling energy

39:30:1:04: Meditation, Transcendental Meditation, Mantra

1:04-1:06: How to connect with Adrian Cox online and in person

1:06-1:08: Final show notes

Please help to make Hacking the Self a sustainable project by:

  • Making a donation at https://www.patreon.com/hackingtheself

You can also help us to get the word out by:

  • Sharing this interview with friends and on your social media platforms
  • Writing a review for the podcast on iTunes, Sticher or the Google Music Store