Primary Orientation

by Daniel McQueen

The Center for Medicinal Mindfulness integrates what founder Daniel McQueen has termed the Four Primary Paradigms of Psychedelic Medicine Use to elicit profoundly healing and transformational experiences in a safe, legal and supportive environment.

Native American traditions speak of the medicine hoop, which honors the symbolism of the four cardinal directions, and reminds us of our place in the cosmos and our place on the Earth. There is nothing more anciently human than orienting our location and direction with the stars and heavens. The symbol of the circle, and aspects of cycles of life related to the four directions, is a universal symbol that can be found in all indigenous traditions and mystical traditions throughout the world, from paganism, Buddhism and even in traditions of High Magic. These symbols have also been adapted in “Depth Work” and “Parts Work” and are also present in Transformational Alchemy. As I studied Alchemy it became evident that there was a correspondence with the seven stages of alchemy and the cardinal directions, the direction of the Earth below, the sky above, and the direction within ourselves.  

Working with these concepts guides the work we do at Medicinal Mindfulness to help ground us and remind us of our practice. It creates 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. 

In many traditions, the West represents the subconscious, the unconscious, the emotions and diving deep into our psyches. On our circle, the West represents the Psychological: the clinical work we do. It’s the healing work, it’s trauma resolution, it’s depth and meaning and soul work. 

The North often represents the wisdom that comes from experience, and the intellect of the rational mind. In our practice, we acknowledge the important role of scientific inquiry and discovery; and the best practices created from existing psychedelic research that so many before us have dedicated their lives to. We base our programs on research models that we know work. This direction also represents using discernment as we explore new possibilities. 

The East often represents our connection to Spirit and to community. At Medicinal Mindfulness, these concepts — spirituality, prayer, community — are always part of our practice. We see no need to separate the spiritual, the ceremonial, the sacred, from the rest of our work. It wouldn’t feel complete. Many people come to us seeking psychological care, but realize during their time with us that what was really missing from their life was connection to Spirit. 

The South, symbolic of  embodiment, creativity and play, represents the importance of aesthetics and our body’s natural intelligence. Curiosity, self expression, art, music and our body’s natural healing intelligence are all centrally important to our transformational process. 

Each of these directions and aspects of healing are part of the medicine space that we create at our center; they are also embedded in every program we offer.

I’ve described the horizontal directions, but there is also the Vertical axis, the Transpersonal dimensions of this work. The above; the sky, the universe, the cosmos, the sacred, transcendent and our future possibilities. And below; the Earth, honoring the sacredness of the physical, the manifest, the abundant, as well as our ancestors and our past. We’re all part of the Earth and we come from the Earth. Working in a way that’s aligned with the planet is part of everything we do at our center. 

And then there is the center of the circle, the still point within, the reflection of all that is inside each of us. It’s the sacred place within ourselves that makes us who we are — the spark of genius, of soul, that belongs uniquely to you. It’s our hope and our mission at the Center for Medicinal Mindfulness to help that spark, that light, shine as brightly as it can within each of us as empowered and self-actualized human beings.