Four women – two daughters, their mother and their grandmother – recently gathered in Colorado for the emotional trip of a lifetime. They undergo psychedelic assisted psychotherapya compound found in mushrooms.
The retreat, especially for women, was followed legallylast year to decriminalize the use of psilocybin.
As three generations of a family come together, they hope for a new and different path to healing.
Delaney Sanchez, 23, said she was diagnosed as a teenager with anxiety, which would manifest itself in panic attacks. The medications to treat it, he said, were not effective.
“They made me feel very … a little numb to everything,” he said.
Recently, his mother, 59-year-old Dana Sanchez, asked if he wanted to try mushrooms – as a family, even with his 77-year-old grandmother.
“We talked about it … because of my anxiety I was really interested and I kind of felt like if my grandma could do it, I should be able to do it too,” Delaney Sanchez said, laughing.
Magic mushrooms took root in the counterculture movement of the 1960s and found their way into research laboratories. About 200 species of mushrooms are known to contain the active component that produces psychedelic effects. But psychedelics, including psilocybin, were banned in 1970.
About 30 years later, scientists began to revisit psilocybin and found that it increased brain activity. Today, clinical trials are underway in leading research institutes, and some are now turning to it in search of healing.
Heather Lee, who has been a therapist for more than 30 years, said she went through one of the first trainings to become certified in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy later.to vote in favor of creating a regulated system for substances such as psilocybin and another hallucinogen, psilocin.
“Mushrooms seem to be very kind teachers,” Lee said. “They bring to light and bring to the surface material that needs to be healed.”
Her recent therapy session with the four women involved drinking mushroom tea, after which each woman retreated to a personal space for introspection, aided by eye masks and headphones with preloaded soundtracks. Lee said she can’t guarantee people’s safety, but that she screens “really carefully” during her sessions.
Shortly after drinking the tea, Dana Sanchez began to feel restless, while Delaney Sanchez became emotional and sick.
“I had a rough start, for sure,” Delaney Sanchez said. “I struggled a lot with this … a sense of overwhelming anxiety and just, I felt trapped by my own panic. And then, I just had to let go. And I felt like once I did, it became very quieter.”
Danielle Sanchez, 25, smiled during her session, and later said she found a deep sense of peace and love.
“I felt like I could face my fears with, like, having a smile on my face and just saying, ‘That’s stupid, let it go!’ “, he said.
Donna Strong, the grandmother, faced more sober reflections, which she and the others shared more than four hours after drinking the tea, in what Lee calls an integration session.
“Mine was kind of dark. I couldn’t move. You know, I felt, uh, uncomfortable. And I think maybe it’s been my whole life,” Strong said.
All the women said they felt healing — a common experience that Dana Sanchez was grateful for.
“The gift is the women in my family,” he said. “How strong we are, but we also grow together and release things together.”
Lee believes a psychedelic renaissance has occurred.
“People are hungry for emotional and psychospiritual healing,” he said. “We need soul healing.”
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