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Techniques and practices for shifting consciousness (with & without psychedelic medicines)...
Humans have developed ways to shift and expand their state of consciousness by employing various techniques and practices, such as drumming, rattling, chanting together, making art, fasting, sweating / cleansing, meditating, twirling, sleep deprivation, vision quests out in nature, extended time in isolation, dancing, singing, yoga, breathwork, ritual, rite of passage initiations, prayer and many other spiritual practices for thousands of years. All that said, one can be spontaneously transported into an altered / expanded state by encountering something awe inspiring. That could be nature, a dance or musical performance, an infant cooing or smiling, or by something numinous.
We can find evidence of our exploration of consciousness and the realms of our inner worlds as far back as there have been life affirming depictions painted by early man. On the cave walls at Lascaux in southwestern France, we find evidence that shamanic rituals were being practiced 17,000 years ago.
For these rituals, people have also historically been guided to explore the ceremonial use of available plants (medicines) from their local environment: roots, seeds, bark, leaves, flowers, fermentation of fruits and grains, mushrooms, vines, cacti, etc.
These various techniques - with and without ingesting medicines - physically alter brain activity. Some will induce the release of particular chemicals into the brain and body which will change the activity of the nervous system temporarily (while under the influence of the technique and for a period afterward). It is in these altered brain states that consciousness expands, awareness heightens, and healing can occur spontaneously or with the conscious prompting from an experienced guide or therapist.
Help in solving the problems of life...
In modern western life, people are becoming increasingly inspired to utilize expanded states to help them solve the problems of life, whether that means depression, addictions, grief, stress, tension, suffering, confusion, fear, anxiety, certain physical maladies, etc. What is often discovered in the process of working with these states to heal or solve problems, is the visceral existence of one's soul and its longing to disentangle from the gravity of our conditioned modern life in order to reclaim a more natural way of living and being in the world. For some, it arises as a calling of sorts, to experience greater connection with their soul's true longings for them, and to have a stronger relationship with nature itself.
It is inevitable that we'll encounter suffering and disharmony in the course of living a human life. These experiences inherently make us stronger and give us opportunities to learn and grow, if we're paying attention and taking greater responsibility for ourselves as we go along.
Every problem in life appears to prompt us to seek a solution...
We know on some level that our challenges hold the potential for us to learn, grow and evolve through them. We are all seeking mental and emotional well-being on some level. By seeking to resolve the hurts and traumas we have faced in life, including the wounds of both the here and now and age old family relationships, dynamics and horrors, and also the mysterious unknown yet entrenched influences of all that we experienced in the womb and during birth, we not only uncover solutions to our sufferings, but reveal a deeper truth that our soul is guiding us on a parallel path.
Getting back to our human roots...
The modern day investigation of methods for achieving these now often prized expanded states of being is finally wholeheartedly underway. In doing so, we are bringing back age old ways of navigating human life that were lost to us, from our indigenous ancestors' civilizations through the introduction of agriculture 12,000 years ago, and the ultimate homogenization of colonialization. We are now slowly getting back to our human roots, dropping all sense of cultural rules and confinements in order to access our soul's naturally inclined knowledge that we are all ultimately one.
These various modalities alter consciousness and activate a healing process by essentially relieving the body from its usual homeostasis and allowing another perspective to emerge from within our own minds and bodies. Psychedelic and entheogenic plant medicines are often utilized as they are able to change the body and brain states quickly and quite effectively.
Read more about Magic Mushrooms and more - how they work