Glossary of WORDS AND TERMS COMMONLY USED BY THE CENTER FOR MEDICINAL MINDFULNESS
A new angelology of words is needed so that we may once again have faith in them. Without the inherence of the angel in the word – and angel means originally “emissary,” “message bearer”- how can we utter anything but personal opinions, things made up in our subjective minds? How can anything of worth and soul be conveyed from one psyche to another, as in a conversation, a letter, or a book, if archetypal significances are not carried in the depths of our words? We need to recall the angel aspect of the word, recognizing words as independent carriers of soul between people. We need to recall that we do not just make words up or learn them in school, or ever have them fully under control. Words, like angels, are powers which have invisible power over us. -From The Blue Fire by James Hillman, the founder of Archetypal Psychology
What’s in a name? Medicinal Mindfulness is equally passionate about both mindfulness and psychedelic medicines, and while each is incredibly valuable on its own, our work over the past decade has taught us about the profundity of the combination of these two ancient technologies for personal and global healing.
Often times “drug” or “substance use” trends in our society involve the use of a prescription or illicit substance to numb or reduce symptoms, and to turn away from a difficult or painful experience. We believe in using the combination of safe, sacred, and legal medicines with mindfulness practices to turn towards underlying concerns and root causes of pain.
Medicinal: of or pertaining to medicine; having healing or curative properties or attributes; adapted to medical uses; of or relating to the science or the practice of medicine; a medicinal substance.
Medicine: the department of knowledge and practice which is concerned with the cure, alleviation, and prevention of dis-ease in human beings, and with the restoration and preservation of health. The art of restoring and preserving the health of human beings by the administration of remedial substances and the regulation of diet, habits, and conditions of life. A method or process of curative treatment.
Mindfulness: A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Mindfulness: the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something;
the quality or state of being intentional and having purpose; attention; regard; memory
Mindful: taking thought or care of; heedful of; keeping remembrance of
“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally, and in the service of self-understanding and wisdom” says Jon Kabat-Zinn, Founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
Psychonaut: From the Ancient Greek: psyche “soul, spirit, mind” and naut: sailor, navigator. “Sailor of the Psyche” Being a “sailor of the psyche” means to turn inward, navigating the waters of the soul, in an effort to self actualize, to wake up, and to heal.
But a psychonaut doesn’t only turn inward. Because when you journey inward far enough, you meet the universal. The transpersonal. Psychonauts travel to that realm to receive teachings, seeking answers for our own troubles, or for the troubles of humanity.
A true psychonaut is someone who has the skill, just as a seasoned sailor would, to chart a course to navigate those realms. They do not turn the boat around, despite the choppy waters and big swells that arise in any journey. They bring back solutions from their visions and successfully implement them into their lives and the world.
Transpersonal & Transpersonal Psychology: extending or going beyond the personal or individual; of, relating to, or being psychology or psychotherapy concerned especially with esoteric mental experience (such as mysticism and altered states of consciousness) beyond the usual limits of ego and personality.
Four Primary Paradigms of Psychedelic Medicine Use (Concept developed by Daniel McQueen): There are four primary “settings” of psychedelic medicine use, with specific, and often very distinct intentions. These settings represent paradigms of thought with an emphasis of different skill sets and outcomes. These paradigms are:
Psychological – Using psychedelics for therapeutic healing
Scientific – Using psychedelics to explore the nature of reality and the mind, as well as discover new innovations of thought and technology
Spiritual – Using psychedelics to connect with the numinous, the divine, and the interconnectedness of all beings.
Creative – Using psychedelics to be creative through self expression, music and art.
Working with these concepts guides the work we do at Medicinal Mindfulness to help ground us and to create a solid structure for us to practice within, both a “ship” that allows us to travel through new possibilities, as well as a “crucible” that helps transform us in our healing process. Why approach psychedelics from just one of these four paradigms when we can produce experiences that equally honor all four? We’ve found that this approach balances the experience in a way that reduces risk and increases efficacy significantly. Holes in one paradigm of thought are addressed in the others, and allows the safe exploration of these profoundly meaningful inner places.
Ritual, Ceremony & Prayer: At Medicinal Mindfulness, we work with ritual and ceremony in most aspects of what we do to deepen the intention and meaning of the experience. As an example, during Conscious Cannabis events, we “create sacred space” by evoking the symbolic natures of the four cardinal directions, and to help us remember that we are part of something larger than ourselves. When you work with the medicine in this way, intentionally, you begin to have a different relationship with it. It’s no longer recreational. When you imbibe with intentions, the act becomes ceremonial, and there is great healing in this simple act in and of itself. We find that many of our clients come to us wanting psychological healing, but walk away realizing that prayer, ceremony and ritual were also what they were craving. A connection to Spirit. An understanding of our place within the cosmos. This extends beyond medicine ceremonies, but into every aspect of life. Praying, lighting candles on an altar, creating rituals around natural cycles or important life events help bring the sacred into everyday life and remind us of the Great Mystery we are all a part of.
Plant Ally: Cannabis is an ancient medicine, a sacred sacrament and a healing herb. Like all plants, cannabis has a spirit, and that spirit is an ally to us. It is represented by the symbol of the sacred feminine. Treating psychedelics as an ally allows us to feel the support of something outside ourselves, that we are assisted in our healing through the “spirit” of the plant, the pharmacology and the mind states that are produced. Since there is a deep sense that this support transcends the self, there is a sense of allyship with the plant and medicines themselves.
Somatic Psychotherapy: is a form of psychotherapy which acknowledges the interconnection between body, mind, spirit, and emotions. In addition to supporting clients through more traditional “talk therapy” techniques, somatic therapists involve body awareness, embodied processing of emotions, and movement interventions to support their clients in uncovering, exploring, and integrating trauma, challenging experiences, and old patterns of feeling and thinking. Somatic therapy is receiving increasing attention for its researched effectiveness in the treatment of trauma, depression, anxiety, grief, and identity issues and is especially suited to supporting clients who are looking to reconnect with an embodied sense of aliveness, creativity, and well-being. Combining somatic psychotherapies with psychedelics amplifies the healing process through greater awareness of inner processes leading to release and resolution.
Psycholytic Psychotherapy: refers to therapy sessions which are semi-psychedelic in nature, using lower doses of a medicine [psycho comes from psyche: soul/spirit/breath and lytic meaning loosening, unfastening, untying]. In our experience a two-hour cannabis-assisted psychotherapy session, for example, is more psycholytic in nature as opposed to a 4-5 hour session which is deeper and therefore requires additional time in session to return to baseline. In a psycholytic session, clients report a loosening of their ego defenses and a willingness to open up and share, which can greatly enhance a therapeutic conversation.
Set and Setting: Originally coined by Timothy Leary in the 1960’s, set and setting refers to the mindset and physical/social setting in which a psychedelic experience takes place. When one’s mindset is open, relaxed, and registering a general feeling of safety, a medicine experience is more likely to go well. If someone enters an experience feeling very afraid or stressed, it is unlikely to go well. The physical and social setting has a great impact as well, which is why clients report a profound difference between taking psychedelics in recreational settings versus an intentional or therapeutic space with support.
Set, Setting and Skill: In 2016 Daniel McQueen added this additional dimension of “Skill Sets” to the classic paradigm of “Set & Setting,” turning it into “Set, Setting & Skill” so we can best promote therapeutic mindfulness and journeywork skill development and the development of the psychedelic resilience required to safely be a guide and psychedelic therapist for others. We further build upon the “S’s” of Set, Setting, and Skill by including “Substance Education” and “Support/Integration,” all of which are integral themes of the program.
We also teach people who are taking psychedelic medicines skills to work with them: how to breathe, to focus, to stay present during difficult experiences, to surrender when that’s what’s called for, to engage with the spirit of the plant, and to manifest and integrate after the journey. With these skills, healing happens faster and more effectively.”
Psychedelic: (psyche + delic ) of a drug; producing an expansion of consciousness through greater awareness of the senses and emotional feelings and the revealing of unconscious motivations; of, pertaining to, or produced by a drug.
It’s etymological roots are very important here:
Psyche: life, spirit, soul, self; akin to the Greek psychein to breathe, blow, make cold; the vital principle of corporeal matter that is a distinct mental or spiritual entity coextensive with but independent of body or soma; soul, self, personality; the specialized cognitive conative, and affective aspects of a psychosomatic unity; mind; the totality of the id, ego, and superego including both conscious and unconscious components; in Greco-Roman mythology Psyche is a beautiful maiden personifying the soul who was loved by the god of love Eros; from the Greek psyche which means butterfly, moth, soul
Delic: to make manifest, to reveal and make visible
Medicinal Mindfulness is intentionally working to maintain the “angel aspect,” or deeper meaning, of the word psychedelic, which has come to mean a number of things in our culture since the “psychedelic ‘60’s” and some of the collective and cross-cultural trends of uncontained, unsafe psychedelic use and misuse/overuse. Based on our collective clinical and life experiences, as well the etymological roots of the word psychedelic, Medicinal Mindfulness defines psychedelic as a soul manifesting and spirit revealing sacred medicinal tool. In our experience, some of the greatest benefits and the true power of psychedelics are best revealed in contained and intentional settings with professional support and guidance.
Psychedelicize: to make psychedelic; to render more colorful and lively
Psychedelic Harm Reduction: (According to the Harm Reduction Coalition) Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use. Harm Reduction is also a movement for social justice built on a belief in, and respect for, the rights of people who use drugs. Harm reduction incorporates a spectrum of strategies from safer use, to managed use, to abstinence to meet drug users “where they’re at;” addressing conditions of use along with the use itself. Because harm reduction demands that interventions and policies designed to serve drug users reflect specific individual and community needs, there is no universal definition of or formula for implementing harm reduction.
Psychedelic Harm Prevention in the Medicinal Mindfulness model takes this paradigm a step further. Saying “harm reduction” implies inherent harms, whereas we believe that when used skillfully and intentionally, cannabis and other safe psychedelics can be used to heal and make our lives better. That being said, the risks are real, so we address them head-on.
Psychedelic integration: the process one goes through in the days, weeks, and months after a psychedelic therapy or intentional psychedelic experience. During this time, we are making sense of the content of our experience, processing the profound insights that came up, as well as any significant or challenging memories and emotions that surfaced.
SOURCES: Definitions come from the Oxford English Dictionary oversize volume at the Allen Ginsberg Library at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado; Merriam Webster, Oxford Languages, and Daniel and Alison McQueen