Podcast

#007: Thinking Out Loud: Finding the Courage to Talk Candidly about Religion

In “Thinking Out Loud” sessions I’ll share my own views in podcast format. In this first one my main goal is to provide information about my evolving views toward religion and my intentions for starting this show. The purpose of this podcast is, in part, to excavate the many valuable aspects of wisdom traditions from the dogma of organized religion.

In particular, I’m referring to contemplative practices such as meditation and yoga and pranayama, which still present us with some of the most powerful tools for understanding consciousness. I’m also a big proponent of the fact that myths have an important role to play in society, and religious metaphors are a legitimate and valuable source of meaning and identity for many people.

But in order to honestly acknowledge the positive aspects of religion for many people we have to be candid about the serious problems that religious beliefs continue to present to free societies, from terrorism to impeding scientific progress to attacks on basic human rights of individuals.

In having honest conversations about the positive and negative aspects of religion I hope to find common ground between those who find themselves on different sides of the fence. In a world that’s increasingly divided–in which we choose to curate content online that conforms only to our points of view and to ignore dissenting opinions–I think it’s essential to find some common ground.

Even more fundamentally, we have to commit to the project of trying to find common ground, of having constructive dialogue. Collectively, we’re doing very poorly at listening to people with opinions different from our own. We can only reason with those who are willing to submit to the basic rules of rational discourse: of using evidence to support arguments and basing conclusions off of evidence. But to those people who are willing to have the conversation we have to try to reach out.

I don’t intend for this show to be a “political” show, but occasionally and inevitably the issues at the heart of this show will intersect with politics and culture. After all, if we’re going to talk about the benefits of psychedelics on this show we’re implicitly saying that we should have the right to take these substances, even when we don’t always make this point explicitly. And I absolutely will make this point explicitly as well!

In having honest, candid conversations about religion we’re going to bump into political issues. In my view an honest discussion about the benefits and problems of organized religion is inevitably going to lead to positions that will offend conventional thinking across the political spectrum.

Way too many of us are stuck in “group think,” in identity politics, in points of view that not so coincidentally mirror those with whom we surround ourselves, both in person and online. I deliberately seek experiences that take me outside of my comfort zone. Psychedelics are a powerful tool for shattering one’s paradigm. Traveling to a different culture is one of the most effective. We can also harness the power of social media to engage with those with different viewpoints, in addition to connecting with others who share similar interests.

We have to “break the spell,” to use Dan Dennett’s phrase, but not only of religious literalism but in adherence to any ideology that demonizes those who dare to dissent. We have to reaffirm the fundamental value of freedom of speech in our willingness to engage in difficult conversations. We want to preserve the best of our traditions, and to discard that which is no longer useful, when we create the brighter, more hopeful future of tomorrow.

#006: Meditation & Psychedelics

My interview on Leonie Joubert’s podcast, “The Psychonauts.” I share my views on the relationship between psychedelics and contemplative practices, and how I became interested in both.

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

#005: Revolutionizing Mental Health Care with Psychedelics

In this episode I sit down with Leonie Joubert, a science writer based in Cape Town, South Africa. Leonie became interested in psychedelics through a now high profile court case that has gone all the way to South Africa’s Supreme Court. A favorable ruling for the defendant could lead to the legalization of psilocybin mushrooms.

 Leonie shares her thoughts on how psychedelics could potentially revolutionize mental health care in South Africa, by providing an effective, low cost alternative to healing trauma and expanding access to the vast majority of South Africans who are locked out of the current system. These lessons offer great potential not only for South Africa, but for the United States and for other countries struggling with the high costs of health care and pharmaceutical drugs.

How you can follow Leonie:

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

#004: Building a Psychedelic Community with Dax DeFranco

Guest Bio: Dax DeFranco is a co-organizer of Altered Conference in Berlin. Having been a bartender, a teacher and a programmer Dax has a strong interest in communication and language which has been furthered through listening to Terrence McKenna and his own psychedelic experiences.  Dax is currently based in Berlin as a web developer and also teaches various courses about mycology with CRCLR (see Showlinks).

Altered Conference:

Altered is an international gathering of consciousness explorers from all background to take parts in talks, workshops and rituals on the subject of psychedelics, conscious practices, and social issues facilitated by leading experts and researchers.

Showlinks:

Altered Conference

CRCLR

Terrence McKenna’s Talk: “Shamanism, Alchemy and the 21st Century”

Shownotes:

5:30-22:30: The Concept behind the Altered Conference. Building a psychedelic community

22:30-30:00: The language we use to describe the psychedelic experience

30:00-37:00: Microdosing vs. Macrodosing

37:00-41:35: Psychedelic Awareness vs. Activism

41::35-60:00: How to discuss the benefits of psychedelics as therapy

Tags/Mentions:

Altered Conference, Microdosing, James Faddiman, The Third Wave, Paul Austin, Terrence McKenna, Ian Benouis

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

#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:

  • 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

#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:

  • 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

#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