By Leah van der Kooy, Licensed Professional Counselor and Participant in Third Wave’s Microdosing Experience Program
When I first enrolled in Third Wave’s Microdosing Experience, I could not have predicted the profound psychological and spiritual changes I was about to undergo. My expectations far underestimated the measurable shifts I experienced as the course unfolded. Admittedly, I was skeptical. As a mental health therapist and a person in recovery for alcohol abuse, I had a predisposition that I may even be partaking in something against my professional, moral, or personal fabric.
I applied a rational approach. As a practitioner of psychotherapy and sufferer of low mood and anxiety, I divided my analysis of the effect of psilocybin medicine into two parts: what were the effects of this medicine as evidenced by the literature (studies regarding the therapeutic application of psychedelics) and how did my personal experience overlap with the research?
Letting go, learning, and laughing
I conducted my field study methodically to begin with, and, as the course unfolded, I gave myself the permission to let go and allow the medicine to work in my mind and body. At the onset, I reported subtle shifts in my mood improvement and over-identification with thinking, worrying, control, and stressful events (past and present). These shifts impacted my experience of anxiety significantly. My previous symptoms—which manifested as a racing heart, a tight stomach, shortness of breath, and rumination—began to dissolve. I learned to accept.
I found myself laughing for the first time in months and smiling more. I sang in the shower and started acting more like my goofy self again. I was compelled to pray more, meditate, go on long walks in nature, and take a mindful approach to exercise and eating. I wanted to nourish myself, mother myself, and give my heart permission to feel supported by the medicine.
To say that these activities were in opposition to the mindless autopilot, over-achieving, and worried state I’d been in before entering the microdosing course is an understatement. It’s not to say I gave up on my focus, my goals and my drive. Rather, I’d developed a mental and felt-sense of knowingness that everything would be just fine and I could allow life to unfold. I could respond to life and not react to it.
Creating community through a guided process
Third Wave’s Microdosing Experience guided me through my process. The support I received was so perfectly weaved throughout my experience. Having access to the course materials, reading resources, the community Slack channel, weekly group Zoom sessions, and 1:1 contact with Paul Austin demystified my journey and, in the process, I developed an enriched layer of connection that simply cannot be replicated in one-on-one therapeutic settings. The interconnected aspect of this course is not by accident. It is the togetherness and shared sense of hope, vulnerability, and growing together that uniquely intensifies the effects of medicines we used.
There was strength and tremendous empowerment in completing this experience as a team. I am certain that the stories shared and lessons learned will be carried by us for the rest of our lives. From all corners of the globe, we met for six weeks. Some of us entered with mental health struggles, some were seeking interpersonal, intrapersonal, or professional growth, and some sought a closer connection to the universe or with their understanding of God.
All of us were curious and brave when we entered and we left with plans, ideas, and direction. We left with more love for ourselves and a deeper compassion for our shared human experience. In the pursuit of having a better experience of life and how we live it, Third Wave’s Microdosing Experience offered the perfect accompaniment to true life change.
The entire experience, from beginning to end, was one of the biggest blessings I’ve ever received in my life.