The Psychedelic Podcast by Third Wave
Revealing What Is Present: Wisdom from Meditation, Breathwork, and Psychedelics
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- Finding awareness out of suffering.
- Tools for developing awareness: studying, meditation, and breathwork.
- Breathwork as a practice.
- Transitioning from healing to growth.
- The impact of teachers and the difference between teachers and gurus.
- Influential books.
- The relationship between wildness and divinity.
- Chess’s experience in Third Wave’s Coaching Certification Program.
- Chess Edwards Website
- Chess Edwards FB
- Chess Edwards IG
- Chess Edwards YT
- Third Wave’s Coaching Certification Program
- James Nestor, Breath: New Science of a Lost Art
- Andrew Weil
- Wim Hof
- Humphry Osmond
- Aldous Huxley
- Rupert Spira
- Ram Dass
- “Sitting Around the Fire”
- Michael Brown, The Presence Process
- Richard Rohr, Falling Upward
- Richard Rhor on liminal space
- Rudyard Kipling, “If”
- Francoise Bourzat, Consciousness Medicine
0:00:00.0 Chess Edwards: But oftentimes, that order starts to fall into disorder. And that’s the dark knotted soul, that’s the bitter despair, that’s the kicking and screaming and like, “Oh my God, it’s all falling apart. Everything I’ve built up around me.” So the order falls into disorder, and he said, “The beauty is that now you have the ability to consciously re-order life around who you really are.” That was huge. So again, working with a lot of people who come at a space of, “Wow, things are not the way they used to be, I don’t feel secure anymore, my life seems to be really shifting,” that’s a great book. Falling upward and that we grow from… Through our falling. And of course, every classic hero’s journey, every mythical story, is gonna talk about, life was good, it turned a shit, and then through that, I was able to actually address what needed to be addressed so I could heal and grow.
0:01:03.3 Paul Austin: Welcome, to the Third Wave Podcast. I’m your host, Paul Austin, here to bring you cutting edge interviews with leading scientists, entrepreneurs and medical professionals who are exploring how we can integrate psychedelics in an intentional and responsible way for both healing and transformation. It is my honor and privilege to bring you these episodes as you get deeper and deeper into why these medicines are so critical to the future of humanity. So let’s go and let’s see what we can explore and learn together in this incredibly important time.
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0:04:46.1 PA: Hey, listeners. And welcome back to Third Wave’s podcast. I’m doing this from LA and today, but still virtual. And today, I’m with Chess Edwards. Chess was part of our inaugural coaching certification program, we’ll talk about that further throughout this podcast, and he is also a Sedona-based spiritual guide and meditation teacher with whom divine consciousness has awakened and continues to expand. Chess has over 40 years of experience guiding people into stronger, deeper and more vibrant relationships with themselves, their work, in the world that they live in. And as a champion of the human spirit, he is dedicated to helping his clients and students tap powerfully into their full potential as they learn to trust and embody their innate perfection and brilliance. Chess, great intro. I’m quoting that from your website. It’s phenomenal. It’s very good.
0:05:43.3 CE: Thanks. I think some of it might even be accurate… [chuckle]
0:05:45.5 PA: Yeah. [chuckle] It’s good to have you. I’m glad we can record one of our many, many conversations in public. We’ve been talking quite a bit the last six months or so with the program.
0:05:57.8 CE: Indeed. I just really appreciate the opportunity. I’m looking forward to this.
0:06:01.0 PA: Yeah, it’ll be fun. It’ll be fun. So let’s talk about you a little bit just to start, just so that our audience is a bit more familiar with you. What’s been your path to awakening?
0:06:16.6 CE: I think it’s often helpful to start with what is this current state of being or state of awareness. And the easiest way I can describe it is that there is a pretty stable peace now in the awareness of all that’s happening, all that’s happening around, all that’s happening in here, all that’s happening in the emotional bubbling, all that happening… Just a presence of witnessing, of awareness. And that wasn’t the case for most of my life. And I think it’s probably common that many who are drawn to a sense of wholeness, a sense of belonging, a sense of safety, which the awakening of awareness can reveal that we’re already that wholeness, that that is often come to because of a lot of pain, a lot of difficulty, a lot of struggle. There’s a beautiful teaching that says, “If you want something and you really are devoted to it,” like, I wanna be at peace, life will say, “Oh okay, let me show you all the ways you’re not at peace.” [chuckle] So the path, really, to here started in a youth of a lot of dysfunction, a youth of neglect and abandonment and some betrayal, some abuse, not at the hands of my parents, I wanna make that real clear. [chuckle] But it created an egoic sense of self, an identity that didn’t feel at all safe in the world. Just felt really, really uncertain about where my place was, if I was okay. Classics. Am I lovable, am I alright, am I enough?
0:08:23.0 CE: And so I was going through life just basically by the skin of my teeth, just trying desperately to feel okay. Just to feel okay. And so drugs started really early in my life. Age of 13, just started smoking a lot of pot. And in those days, that was back in the ’70s, so Quaaludes. And at that time, mushrooms as well. My first experience with acid at way too young of ages. And I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I was just trying to escape the fear that I felt. So that tracked through my life in various ways. And I got to the point right around in my early 40s or so, mid-40s, where I finally went, I gotta address this. So I started to find teachers, I started to find guides and a group that I belonged to for a while, doing the personal development work, starting to get clear on why I felt the way I felt, why I acted the way I acted and behaved the way I behave. And started to learn for the first time, “Oh, that has to do with your childhood.” [chuckle] That was a revelation to me. And getting clear, “Oh, that was my dad’s stuff,” or, “That was my… ” Of course, I felt afraid. Of course, I defended my heart. And started going through the process of relieving a bit of the anxiety that was built up in my egoic construct of self.
0:10:01.7 CE: And I found, Paul, that… After years of doing that… There was this one group I belonged to. We got together every… I think it was every three months. Maybe every four months, but multiple times through the year. And it involved substance. We worked with, originally, with a shamanic guide, and we would do Ma and different versions of ayahuasca and MDMA and different substances to help drop out of the classic default mode network of thinking about self and feel something differently. And it was valuable, hugely valuable. But the guides in that experience, they were never talking about spirituality. They were only looking primarily at the personal self. How do you heal the childhood wounds, how do you start to work with the person that I have created in my own mind. So, hugely valuable, but after a while, I realized it wasn’t scratching the itch. I was going back to do another round with a group and I was feeling guilty. I’m like, “How is it that I’m going back with some of the same questions, some of the same stuff, working on it again and again and again? And it’s easing, but it’s still very much there.”
0:11:21.5 CE: And I remember framing it as, I feel like I’m going back to God and tugging on the sleeve of God and saying, “Hi. Me again. Can we go over this again? I promise I’ll try to hold on to it this time.” [chuckle] And then I realized, ’cause I was starting to find teachers in the world of non-duality and in the world of self-realization, and I was starting to recognize there was a another self beyond the egoic self I was working with. And I realized, “Wait, I’m not going back and tagging on the sleeve of God. I’ve never been to God. Not consciously, not with awareness.” That shifted everything. That’s when I started to take my personal development and bring it together with spiritual development. And that’s made all the difference, and it’s what infuses my work today, is to be able to say, “Yes, work on the person… The temporary personal construct of self, the egoic self that’s been built over a lifetime, programmed, conditioned.” Work on that. But also, come into a rested grace in the you that transcends that, in the eternal you that won’t end when this egoic self ends. And it just makes the personal development work so much easier when I can be with myself and the different things that arise in my psyche.
0:12:46.1 CE: From a rested state of, “No, I’m alright. I know who I really am now.” And that’s embodied, that’s present. So that embodied self of ease, of wholeness, of grace is now the more forward self. And the egoic self has really loosened up. Doesn’t feel the pressure of needing to be the dominant identity, and is now able to fall into the background more in service to the divine play of God consciousness and soul, doing this divine dance.
0:13:26.6 PA: I love it, and psychedelics help with that, right? They help, as does breath work, as does meditation, as does fasting, there are many ways to come into that awareness to wake up, so to say. What for you, what have been… Besides psychedelics, let’s start there. Besides psychedelics, what have been tools for you to continue in that awareness or cultivate or develop that awareness? Right, where are some of your foundational learnings from? And some of those are gonna be psychedelics ’cause you have been working with them in various ways and shapes and forms for many years as well.
0:14:02.4 CE: Yeah. Yeah. I think I’ll start with the psychedelic aspect of that. I stopped using any psychedelics for about 10 years, because I was finding that my main practice had turned to meditation, and that was what was guiding me into the deep knowings, the spaciousness, the vastness of pure consciousness. And then the psychedelics for me were starting to almost interrupt that. They were muddling my experience to some degree, but only because I wasn’t trained yet in how to actually use them, I was just kinda taking them and well, we’ll see what happens. And now I’m on a solid microdosing protocol. I regularly journey with various psychedelics to really open to different levels of consciousness that aren’t as available to me in the “Normal” state. So, psychedelics now play a really significant and beautiful role in my journey. But really the… And one of the primary modalities that I utilize with the people I work with, and that is primary in my life is the combination of study. So, engaging again and again and again and again in the conversations with teachers, Rupert Spira, Adyashanti, Gangaji, Mooji. You know, these different teachers who are all speaking the same thing, which is helping to remember who am I really.
0:15:58.2 CE: So the study, and then the meditation upon those studies, so marinating in something that lands in this study going, “Ooh, that analogy of sky and weather, and I’m actually the sky and the weather is just passing thoughts, emotions, they’re passing. And I’m the awareness of sky.” Well, that may come into teaching, and then just for months to sit and marinate. Let it drop in, let it embody. Let it move from a concept into an actual experience of being. So, that’s the primary modality is really study and meditation.
0:16:37.0 PA: For you, where does breath come into that?
0:16:41.7 CE: So breath work is one of the newer modalities that I’ve started to work with. I was introduced to breath work through being a participant and was just blown away by how in an hour of focused breathing, I could just release so much and I can allow so much feeling and energy to move through me. You know, the Vipassana meditations teach that everything arises so that it may pass. And in the breath work so much could arise and move energetically, just the humming of energy through my body, through emoting, vocal emoting, letting go of grief, of anger, allowing myself to sob, deeply. Allowing myself to just laugh, uncontrollably. Just allow whatever was needed to be present to move through me, that was my first experience of breath work, was a series of breath works by a local practitioner. And I thought, “Well, I’m a coach, and I’ve now experienced breath work, I can just start leading breath work with people.” And I’m really glad, [chuckle] I’m really glad I didn’t.
0:17:57.7 CE: So I reached out to this practitioner and got trained and went through a full couple of months of deep, deep training in this work. And now it is one of the modalities that I use on a regular basis with the people I work with. I’ll often have people come and spend two days with me here in Sedona, three different times, and then we have the connection, coaching and counseling sessions in between those visits. And usually the first visit is breath work journey. That’s one of the principal foundational parts of that, besides the teachings and the meditations, is the breath work journey. The second visit will often be more of a psychedelic journey, a plant medicine journey. And then with the third, we see what is best at that time. But I work with every client, breathwork is a central part of the experience for them to be able to drop out of the mind and into a surrendered space of activating energy, activating emotions and seeing what needs to move.
0:19:09.0 PA: So I read this book, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor. Have you heard about this book? Well, it’s phenomenal.
0:19:16.1 CE: No.
0:19:16.6 PA: So I’ve been studying quite a bit about the physiological elements of breathing. In other words, nose breathing versus mouth breathing. If you mouth breath, you die. You don’t die, but it’s not healthy. And there have been many indigenous traditions that have specifically encouraged nose breathing, ’cause they recognize, right? Andrew Weil then came and talked about this in the ’90s, and now there’s Wim Hof and all the science around breath and the importance of breathing.
0:19:47.8 PA: Some of it is very physiological, like I said. Some of it’s about sympathetic, parasympathetic, or about anxiety or neurotransmitters, how you can work with them, what happens with norepinephrine, what happens with dopamine. But a lot of it with breathwork is… It’s almost like… Well, it’s certainly a practice, but an emotional practice, in a way, because it’s teaching so much about how to let go. And my breathwork experiences range from holotropic to Wim Hof to transformational breath work. What for you… And then like I said, just learning to nose breathe into the actually basics of how I’m breathing every day. What have you learned about breath through breathwork yourself?
0:20:35.8 CE: I think one of the most fascinating things is how little we typically do breathe, that most adults are breathing at about 30% of their functional capacity and…
0:20:53.8 PA: 30%?
0:20:55.7 CE: 30% of our functional capacity. [chuckle]
0:20:58.3 PA: Absurd.
0:21:00.7 CE: It really is. And the most… The fascinating way that I’ve found to describe that is that we learned it as babies. That babies, they’re not breathing in a limited way. They’re not guarding their breath. They’re breathing in whatever they feel. They’re fully expressing it. No doubt about it. But a baby, when they’re expressing, and the first expressions are a bit of uncertainty or fear or discomfort, so they’re crying. Even the most loving parent is saying to the young crying baby, “No, no, no, no, no, no. No, no, no, no. Calm, calm. Control, control. Bring it in, hold it in.” And you watch the babies respond. They’re crying, and then they get this instruction. And they know, I need to learn how to be in this world from these people who’ve clearly been here longer than I have. And they listen. And you watch ’em, they’re crying and they get the instruction. And they go… Okay. And they come into the shallow breath. And then as we start to become adults, we breathe in a way that I call a guarded inhale and a cautious exhale. We’ve learned to guard what we let in. Hey, I let in love before. I let in trust before. I let in… And it hurt and I got betrayed, and it… And I don’t want that to happen again.
0:22:33.1 CE: So we start breathing in in kind of a guarded way. And then we exhale in a cautious way. Careful what I say, careful what I do, careful how I express. I may be judged, I may be abandoned, and the classics. And so most adults, whether they know it or not, are walking through life, going… It’s this guarded, shallow way. It’s a protection mechanism. And it’s part of what we learned as babies. So in the breathwork, when we’re breathing fully for a full hour, it’s a permissive state. We’re given permission to feel, to express, to be, and to let it move. And it’s like a baby crying, and what if the parent was saying, “Oh yeah, baby, come on, bring it, bring it. Yeah, yeah. What else you got? What else you got?” [chuckle] So I love the fact that the breath helps us feel more alive and that it does indeed activate those higher levels of consciousness that are being suppressed by the anxious mind, by the defended thought patterns. I gotta be careful about who I am and how I am. Let that go, and we open that kind of… It’s like the concrete growing over a flower that wants to grow. And we loosen that rigid way of thinking, the way you put it so beautiful, it de-rigifies that sense of being, and allows the blossoming of what’s present.
0:24:13.7 CE: And the main teaching I find in breathwork is breathwork doesn’t create anything. It reveals what is already present. And it may reveal bliss, it may reveal sadness, it may reveal resistance. Sometimes people come out of breathwork, they’re like, “I couldn’t… I never was able to let go, I kept drifting out of the breath, I couldn’t do it.” It’s like, “Beautiful. That was a perfect breathwork session.” How does that show up in your life?
0:24:43.7 PA: Yeah. Do you get tetany when you do breathwork?
0:24:48.5 CE: Sometimes. Less and less. And for those who don’t know, tetany is the T-Rex hands. And yeah, I’ll be in breathwork sometimes, and just… It starts cramping up. And I found that vocal emoting tends to release it more than anything, ’cause energy is trying to move. And if I’m not allowing myself just to express, ’cause there’s an embarrassment about, what if I yelled, what if I cried, what if I really let this go? My baby self is going on, that’s not safe. If I don’t let it go, that energy is trying to release, and I’m not letting it. And as soon as I start to really emote vocally, then that starts to release. And the vocal sound we train with is, ah. Really, a pure ah sound, ’cause it’s one of the most natural sounds we make as humans. It’s why we say, amen. It’s why so many names of God have ah. Allah, Jehovah. Why the native Americans say, “Ah so”, or “Ah ho”.
0:25:53.0 PA: Ah la too.
0:25:54.0 CE: Yeah. Ah la. So ah is… In breathwork, if you can let the ah as a bliss sound or as an anger ah sound, frustration, and that, I find, Paul, is the most difficult thing for people in breathwork.
0:26:13.0 PA: Is the ah?
0:26:14.7 CE: Is the emotional… Is the vocal expression of allowing what they’re feeling to actually be unabashedly released and expressed. It gets caught in the throat often. We’re all invited. Alright, let’s bring some ah into this. I’ll notice them clenching and holding. Let go. What are you feeling? Let it go with the ah, and they’ll be like… It’s really interesting how tightly wound so many of us are.
0:26:52.1 PA: When I first did breathwork, it was 2017. I went to a place called Rythmia, which is where I drank Ayahuasca for the first time.
0:27:00.1 CE: Down in Costa Rica?
0:27:00.2 PA: Down in Costa Rica. And immediately, I remember getting tetany. And I remember getting tetany probably for a few times after that as well. At some point along the way, I just stopped getting it. And I don’t remember when and where. And also, it could be that a lot of the breathwork I’m doing now is Wim Hof breathwork, and not necessarily the holotropic breathwork. There also seems to be a difference there. The breathwork I’ve done in preparation for plant medicine usually goes a lot deeper than the performance breathwork, although not always. There’s ways to work with both. And what I find is you just naturally teach yourself through that process to, like you said, breathe better, to use maybe 70%-80% instead of just 30%. And also, the breath is the best teacher for presence, which a lot of this work or a lot of this coming, becoming is about presence, present moment awareness.
0:28:06.7 CE: I find with it, when the tetany lessens over time, it is typically ’cause we’re trusting more as well. It’s not only the different types of breath and what is doing physiologically within our body, but also the trust, learning to surrender, learning to let go, learning to let the energy move, to not bottle it up. Yeah. I find it to be one of the really powerful psychedelics, as we were talking about early… Earlier, that term that I learned from you, that psychedelic is to be… Is to have the soul self revealed, have the full self revealed, have the full psyche revealed or shown. So psychedelics, anything that gives us that knowing is a psychedelic. So breathwork is a psychedelic experience.
0:29:03.9 PA: Yeah. We were talking about the definition. So Humphry Osmond was writing a letter to Aldous Huxley and included this word psychedelic in it. And a lot of people think of it as mind manifesting. But the word psyche, in Greek, there is no connection or no, disconnection between the mind and the body. It’s really the full self, so to say, the essence, the soul essence. So, really, it means soul manifesting, which I think is so relevant to the… What we call the creative orientation or leadership or self-actualization or self-realization or kinda insert whatever phrase, mystic, or whatever phrase you wanna put in there that… Yeah. And that trust is the foundation of that ’cause it allows for that exploration. For you, I’m curious, Chess, when did you… When and how did you make the transition from, let’s say, healing to growth?
0:30:09.0 CE: That’s a good question. I’ve never heard it asked in that way. The healing was when I was still… When I didn’t know, when I didn’t have any awareness of a self beyond my egoic self. So I was healing the crappy way my construct of self got put together. I was deconstructing that and healing and trying to put it back together in different ways and healthier, more honest ways of that I’m not unworthy, that I am okay, that I do belong. But those were still mental concepts that I was applying. And it moved from the healing of the personal self, again, which is necessary, and I’ll continue for the rest of my life, to the growth into what I already am. And it was just the… The growth is the allowing of the full psyche, the soul self, to grow, to appear, to blossom because it’s not being dampened, it’s not being veiled by the noise of constant self-reflection through the egoic mind.
0:31:31.3 CE: And that happened when I started to find teachers. That happened when I started to study non-duality, self-realization, and started to work with and devote myself. That was one of the big parts of it, was a devotion. I finally went, Alright. That’s it. I am devoting myself to this knowing of my being. I don’t know what that means yet, but I know that I’m not just my mind. I don’t have any sense of what else there is, and I wanna start to know that. So I devoted myself through the meditative practice, and now through the psychedelic and breathwork practice to awaken that which I already am. So it happened when I started to find teachers around non-duality and self-realization.
0:32:22.6 PA: What role has Ram Dass played as a teacher in the path?
0:32:27.1 CE: Yeah, he’s played a more recent role. It’s been very interesting. I’m a little bit almost embarrassed that I didn’t really understand the depth and the breadth of his journeys and his beautiful clarity and playfulness and humility in how he teaches and shares until probably this last year. Before that, my main teachers were Rupert Spira and Adyashanti and Mooji, Gangaji. Those are my main teachers. Ram Dass, man, I’m just… I’m listening to him a lot these days. And…
0:33:10.1 CE: We did a journey together with the CCP group. And toward the end of the journey, you played the Sitting Around the Fire by Ram Dass. Just… I use that a lot now in my journeys with people as well. That is such a beautiful piece of articulation of truth within delivered with such grace and kindness. So Ram Dass has really been a teacher in humility and kindness and playfulness. Yeah. And in allowing. That’s the word that is the most present in my work today for myself and with those I work with, is allowing. To be in the grace of allowing. And Ram Dass says, “Everything on your plate is the stuff of your enlightenment. Everything.” He’s got a… He says on the second visit to India to be with his guru, who he wasn’t looking for a guru and he found one, and he was clear, he said, “A teacher is a teacher of the truth. A guru is the truth.” That’s the difference. A teacher points to truth and helps guide to truth. A guru is the absolute embodiment of that truth.
0:34:39.2 CE: So on his second trip to visit his guru, his guru said, “Ram Dass, love everybody.” And Ram Dass felt into it and he went, “I can’t. My mind is so full of judgments.” And his teacher said, “Good. Then that is your Sadhana, to meet your judgments again and again and again until you’ve seen them all, until you recognize them all, and you love them all. Give ’em space, give ’em room. Give ’em room to release, if they’re ready to release.” So that humility of admitting and owning and saying, “Yeah, I am a human being. I’m a human being exploring. And I’m a spiritual being exploring through this human experience. But I am human as well.” He also said recently, which I loved… Well, I heard it recently. He hasn’t really said anything recently. [laughter] But I heard it recently. He said, “I’ve been doing this for 25 years.” And his path is, obviously, very deep and wide, and with much devotion. He says, “I’ve been doing this is for 25 years.” He goes, “I have not lost one of my neuroses. [laughter] It’s just that now when they come, they appear, they blip, there’s no… They don’t… There’s nothing… There’s no fertile ground for them to rest in. It’s like water off a duck’s back. They just show up. And then they don’t. They show up less frequently with less ferocity, but… ” But he goes, “I haven’t lost them. They’re still there.” So I love his humility.
0:36:21.7 PA: Yeah. He’s a very special person. The whole story with him and Timothy Leary is just ridiculous in so many ways. And his path after that from Richard Alpert to Ram Dass and the gurus in India. And then he lived in Hawaii for a very long time and taught from there. And what’s interesting now are there’s a lot of musicians, like the one that we had in ceremony, that was part of a larger album by Jon Hopkins, this Music for Psychedelic Therapy that he’s now released. It was… It’s been interesting to see how artists have re-integrated his teachings now into music for psychedelics even. So it’s kind of a full circle ’cause he moved away from psychedelics for… Well, in the public eye. I’m sure he was still dropping acid. But anyway.
0:37:21.3 CE: Yeah. Well, he saw it for what it was. It was just another modality, another opportunity to open.
0:37:26.6 PA: He lived a long time, though. He lived into his late 90s. Which was a very good life. What a man. And now he still… He’ll still be on YouTube and in podcasts with us forever. That’s the great thing about technology is his presence is still here, like many…
0:37:42.0 CE: And that album by… With East Forest.
0:37:45.2 PA: The one with… So East Forest did an entire… Yeah. A lot more.
0:37:48.7 CE: Every song on that is just beautiful. His teachings, his conversations, and then with the musical background holding the space, and… For it, is just powerful.
0:38:04.9 PA: So powerful. Okay. Slight change of pace. Chess, what… Chess, five books. Five books that have been influential on who you’ve become.
0:38:16.2 CE: Okay. Now I’m really gonna be embarrassed. I read less and less. It’s very interesting. So one of them was called The Presence… Is called The Presence Process by Michael Brown. I don’t think I’m working with anybody who I haven’t recommended that book. It is… It’s a 10-week process that takes one through the… You read a chapter a week, and it takes one through a really deep understanding of how the ego itself got put together. Conditioning, programming, projections, unconditional love. It just really speaks to how we got put together the way we did in our minds, and how to do some work around, Okay, I’m triggered today, but it’s not my 60-year-olds who’s actually triggered. It’s my unhealed 10-year-old. Oh, why is my 10-year-old still afraid? What’s he believing? And so to track where my triggered response or reaction came from and to identify what was the programming, what’s the… What are the words around it, and when did it get implanted, so I can go back and do a little rewiring, a little work around that younger self. So The Presence Process is…
0:39:42.4 CE: Was significant. I went to Bali for about three months when I was 50. And one of my mentors said, “Oh, you’re gonna go away for three months. Here, take this book.” First time I read it, blew me open. And then I did that process. I finished the book. Four months later, I went through that 10-week process again. And Paul, I was reading stuff in the book going, “Whoa, oh my God, that’s fascinating. There’s no way that was in there, the first time I read the book.” [chuckle] Just that I wasn’t ripe yet. I wasn’t ready for it yet. And then I did it again. I did it again. I did it four different times. So that book is huge. Another one was a recent book by Richard Rhor, R-H-O-R. He used to be a Benedictine monk. And he’s just a beautiful teacher. And it’s called Falling Upward. And it’s been very helpful at this mid-stage of my life, to read a book that speaks about how… That in an early part of life, you have order that you’re usually born into, family, culture, often religion. And then order that you create. ‘Cause you don’t know any better, or the careers, maybe your own family that you create. But oftentimes, that order starts to fall into disorder. And that’s the dropping out of the soul. That’s the pit of despair. That’s the kicking and screaming, like, “Oh my God, it’s all falling apart, everything I’ve built up around me.”
0:41:11.5 CE: So the order falls into disorder. And he said, the beauty is that now you have the ability to consciously re-order life around who you really are. That was huge. So again, working with a lot of people who come at a space of, “Wow, things are not the way they used to be. I don’t feel secure more. My life seems to be really shifting.” That’s a great book. Falling Upward. And that we grow through our falling. And of course, every classic hero’s journey, every mythical story is gonna talk about life was good. It turned to shit. And then through that, I was able to actually address what needed to be addressed so I could heal and grow.
0:42:02.2 PA: I’m pulling up a quote from Richard Rohr, which I will read. So it’s called Between Two Worlds. He wrote this right after COVID, April 26th, 2020. And it’s about liminal space. And I’ll just read all of it. It’s short. It’s not incredibly long. Here we go. Liminal space is an inner state and sometimes an outer situation where we can begin to think and act in new ways. It is where we are betwixt and between, having left one room or stage of life but not yet entered the next. We usually enter liminal space when our former way of being is challenged or changed, perhaps when we lose a job or a loved one, during illness, at the birth of a child, or a major relocation. It is a graced time, but often does not feel graced in any way. In such space, we are not certain or in control. This global pandemic we now face is an example of an immense, collective liminal space. The very vulnerability and openness of liminal space allows room for something genuinely new to happen. We are empty and receptive, erased tablets waiting for new words. Liminal space is where we are most teachable, often because we are most humbled. Liminality keeps us in an ongoing state of shadowboxing instead of ego-confirmation, struggling with the hidden side of things, and calling so-called normalcy into creative question.
0:43:20.5 PA: In liminal space we sometimes need to not do and not perform according to our usual successful patterns. We actually need to fail abruptly and deliberately falter to understand other dimensions of life. I imagine that even if you’ve never heard the word liminal before, you likely have a sense of what I’m talking about. It would be difficult to exist in this time of global crisis and not feel caught between at least two worlds, the one we knew and the one to come. Our consciousness and that of future generations has been changed. We cannot put the genie back in the bottle. I shortened that a little bit. I’ll post the full thing in the podcast notes. It’s Liminal Space, Between Two Worlds. So phenomenal, right?
0:44:01.5 CE: That’s why I love him. Yeah.
0:44:03.6 PA: That sense of holding the shadow with the light, the recognition of… I gotta find you word. Just hold on. Okay, that recognition, like what he says, shadow boxing instead of instead of ego-confirmation. I think that’s such a powerful term and tool. Because a lot of times in the more spiritual spaces, there can be a predisposition towards spiritual bypassing. And the work of dying sometimes to be reborn, is part of staying in touch with that shadow. And this is something that was brought up for me as well when you were speaking earlier, the role of wildness and what’s the relationship between wildness and divinity. One person I’ve been thinking… Not person, but God, Dionysus, the Greek god, been thinking about how did he embody that through his relationship between wildness and divinity. I think it’s fascinating. What is wildness? When I say that, what comes up for you? The wildness and divinity part.
0:45:09.5 CE: To be okay with the unknown. To embrace the unknown. To accept the unknown. To accept and embrace the mortality, the danger, the dark. So I spent 25 or 30 years leading adventure travel trips all around the world. And that, the wildness of possible avalanches or rockfall or dying while climbing or river rafting, class five rapids, all the… The prospect of dying in that world was safer to me than being in the world of humans. [laughter]
0:46:00.6 CE: But it taught me. It taught me how to then come to a sense of trust in being in the wild world of humans, and the uncertainty of humans. ‘Cause there is all manner of the egoic identity just being… Doing a lot of weird stuff out there. But wildness, it’s… For me, it’s giving myself to the moment and saying what… Allowing. Allowing each step as I’m moving, trekking in Nepal, not knowing exactly where I’m going, all I can do is be present in the moment and aware. All of my senses come alive in wildness. I’m present to feeling, smelling, sensing, seeing, hearing. I’m in tune with a wild world. I think we’ve gotten way too comfortable. And so that spiritual bypass is moving from the comfort of maybe addiction or denial to the comfort of spirituality, and not allowing that liminal space of the full man I am. I don’t have anything to hold onto right now. There’s nothing to grasp onto right now, which can be so much the experience in meditation, in psychedelics, in breathwork. So, yeah, that surrendered space.
0:47:42.4 PA: Yeah. It comes back to the letting go, the breath, again.
0:47:44.9 CE: Let go, let go. Who’s the one who doesn’t wanna let go? The one who doesn’t trust. The sense of self that goes, I don’t trust that I’m gonna be okay with whatever happens to show up. And to find that rested state of grace. I love it. He said… In that reading, there was one line about, “It’s a graceful state that doesn’t feel like it has any grace in it whatsoever.” Yeah. To be the fool, to be the one who doesn’t know, to be the one who’s willing to say, Alright, I’m willing to get a bit beat up. Do we… I would… I wrote a blog about this many years ago about how I would never hire a carpenter that didn’t have banged-up knuckles and maybe a missing finger or two. And I wouldn’t bet on a boxer who had a straight nose. I’d been on a boxer who’d been beat up in the past. So to allow ourselves to get beat up, so that we can find our faith, we can find our strength, and we go, “Wow, I survived that. Wow. I have the capacity to show up in an uncertain world.” Yeah.
0:49:02.1 PA: Right. And also the sort of… I think it’s both basically the inner sense of trust and confidence in knowing, which can often come from… Often comes from healing work or just being loved as… I was fortunate enough that growing up, I had a lot of love from my family, care, support. Most of my trauma was just related to ostracization within a peer group at school. But that was like fifth, sixth grade. So that… Also that… I guess that sense of love as a foundation then enables the going out and would be having a willingness to get more beat up is what I felt ’cause you feel like there’s a certain level of privilege that you’ve come into the world with, and that one… Privilege in many ways equates to responsibility, how are you going to use that privilege, how are you going to create with that to give… To take on maybe something that’s more difficult and challenging, because you can. And that’s part of the living. It’s what creates a fulfilling existence, is taking on challenges, making… Not making things difficult. And I wanna clarify. It’s not that you’re making things difficult for yourself. It’s that you’re willing to go through things that maybe most other people won’t be willing to. And there’s a reciprocation there with the sort of meaningful fulfillment that you could have life from that.
0:50:24.3 CE: And that the… That your identity, who you really are, is not dependent on whether you succeed or not or whether you fail or not. That that for me was a big part of the journey, was starting to recognize that inadequacy in any moment or in any endeavor. If there was inadequacy in that, that that didn’t actually reflect upon my divinity, my divine self. Rudyard Kipling has a beautiful poem from If. And one line from the poem is, “If we can meet both with our triumph… If we can meet with our triumphs and our disasters, and treat them both as the impostors that they are.” There’s times I’m gonna get beat up, there’s times I’m gonna get it wrong, there’s times I’m gonna absolutely totally mess up. There’s other times that there’s gonna be a brilliance and a grace. And none of it really reflects upon my true soulful self that is just here to learn, just here to grow, that’s here to take every opportunity. And no, it’s already in a divine grace. And now it can play. That’s a big thing. Life becomes much more playful, doesn’t it?
0:51:48.0 PA: Yeah, for sure. So much more playful. CCP. Chess, tell us about CCP. Why did you enroll in CCP? So CCP, I will clarify for our listeners, is not the Chinese Communist Party. Chess is, as far as I know, he’s not a communist.
0:52:05.1 CE: That’s why I enrolled. I thought it was a Chinese Communist Party.
0:52:08.0 PA: Like, Sign me up. [chuckle]
0:52:09.0 CE: Turned out it wasn’t.
0:52:09.9 PA: What could be better than death camps? No, seriously. So it’s the Coaching Certification Program that we have through Third Wave. And, Chess, we have a mutual friend. And it was funny… A close mutual friend, I would say. It’s funny, when… And Amy has been on the podcast too before. So when she mentioned that she was catching up with you as an old friend, she goes, “Yeah, and Chess mentioned this thing about your coaching program.” But I didn’t mentioned anything to him. I was like, Oh, this is worlds colliding. So it was meant to be. And we immediately connected. And I’m just curious, in terms of your… We’ve talked a lot about psychedelics towards the beginning of this. Since then, we’ve gone into many other interesting avenues of conversation, but what for you is meaningful about psychedelics and coaching and what was meaningful for you about the program itself and the people that you’ve met through the program, the connections you made, the learnings you’ve had?
0:53:12.8 CE: So a four-month program that… I didn’t know to what degree it was gonna have the impact that it did. Most of what I do in my work now has been touched, has been informed through that course. Some things are new, some things are just… The things he was doing, I’m doing them differently now. The reason that I joined the CCP was because I recognized that, as I mentioned earlier, I was doing that work with the group using different substance, typically, psychedelics for all those years. And I reflected back on that and I thought if I had had guides that while I was doing that, were actually helping me understand the spiritual nature of my being, the sole nature of my being and not just doing the personal development, holy cow! That was a combination that I thought, that’s huge. If I could take the work I’m doing now with the deep meditation and breathwork and awakening as who we really are, that’s a letting go. That’s a real letting go of the egoic identity, it’s the hardest part of this work. And I thought, “Well, wow, what if I took these teachings and this guidance and these meditations and added psychedelics that would allow people to more easily let go and have this direct experience?” That’s huge.
0:54:48.3 CE: And it did, it’s turned out to be the case. So that’s why I joined, ’cause I wanted to understand how to more consciously, ethically, professionally and work with all these different medicines and the nuance of them. That’s one of the things I loved about the program, is learning the difference between LSD, psilocybin, MDMA, ketamine, all these different medicines that can be used in different ways for different purposes, as an art form. So I learned the art and that was beautiful.
0:55:28.1 PA: So we talk about it as a skill. Right? So I’m curious, what did you learn about psychedelics as a skill through the program, through the experiences you’ve gone through now over the last six months?
0:55:40.8 CE: Well, set and setting. Really, the deep work leading into an experience, that’s why I don’t… Like I said, I do programs where I’ll meet with somebody for a two-day retreat, and then three months later, a second two-day retreat. I don’t typically do psychedelics in the first two-day retreat. I wanna understand really where this person’s coming from, what they’re working with. Have they addressed… Have they ever done any trauma work before? Do they have deep trauma? And if I don’t know that, and I’m just jumping on, I’m gonna be, “Okay, here’s 2 grams of psilocybin,” and then only then realize, “Oh my God, they’ve got deep trauma and they’ve never addressed it before.” I’ve probably moved them too quickly. So to understand the set, the setting, the preparation, the sacredness, the sacred dynamics of these medicines and how to treat them as such, was huge. And that brings me to one of the other books. And you’ll need to help me. The book was tremendous, but I can never remember the exact title, but it was…
0:56:47.2 PA: The Path of Least Resistance?
0:56:49.0 CE: No, the Conscious of…
0:56:50.2 PA: Consciousness Medicine?
0:56:52.0 CE: Consciousness Medicine.
0:56:54.1 PA: Yeah.
0:56:54.6 CE: That was such a really humbling education in how to bring oneself really authentically and with great integrity into working with these medicines, so set and setting were huge, learning that, and then the integration on the back end to really recognize that there’s so many, more and more, as psychedelics are becoming a more of a part of people’s healing and awakening journeys, we both know there’s enough times that people are rushed into an experience. They have the experience, and then they’re just let go, and there’s not very much integration.
0:57:38.8 CE: So to learn that role of being a really trained integrator of the psychedelic experience into one’s life was huge, and also I didn’t even know Paul, that going into it, that there was a difference between sitting with somebody, delivering the medicine, holding a space for the medicine, sitting with the medicine, and then doing the integration. I didn’t know that one could actually be a coach who is preparing somebody for a journey, turning them over to skilled sitters and deliverers of the medicine, letting them have their experience and then re-engaging with our clients and then helping them integrate the experience, without having to be the one who actually sat with them through the experience. For instance, if they’re doing Ayahuasca, as we talked about the program, I’ve never… I’m never gonna deliver Ayahuasca. That’s not my lineage, it’s not my place. So to… But to prepare a client for that, let them go through the experience held beautifully by somebody in their integrity around it, and then help them integrate afterwards, I didn’t know that that was a way of working with psychedelics.
0:58:55.2 PA: And in some ways, if you have the training to facilitate and guide, let’s say, with psilocybin or MDMA or ketamine, it’s nice to be the person who handles the prep experience and integration. There is a benefit to that for sure. And that just is not always the case necessarily, because you have all these iboga and 5-MeO-DMT and san pedro and peyote. I may microdose with a few of those just on my own, but I’m not gonna do any sort of significant journey, and yet sometimes that’s relevant or the right thing for a client that you’re working with. And it also… I was saying it also has to come down to legal jurisdiction, in terms of what’s legal, where. Psilocybin or ayahuasca or even five or whatever, so there’s also navigating that landscape. Sometimes you have to send them to a retreat overseas, if that’s what they want.
0:59:53.2 CE: And that was a big part of the program as well. Starting to understand the legal landscape and the social landscape of… And getting turned on to so many of the current studies and as third wave, the whole third wave of psychedelics are now understand the history, where it got shut down in the 50s and 60s, and now it’s how it’s starting to open up again, and all the clinical studies and the scientific research that’s going into this, that was huge. And the other part was the community. I went into it, admittedly, saying, “I’m not a real group guy, I’m a bit of a hermit,” just the… The beauty of being held in and a part of a group of people who are all so honest and courageous and in their hearts and revealing, being able to have themselves reveal to themselves through other people’s reflections. Being able to have myself reflected back to me through the group experience. I’m now the… One of my main offerings is… Are group experiences, not just in the retreats, but like four-month online experiences, because I understand the power of community now that I didn’t understand that before.
1:01:17.0 PA: Yeah, it seems to be front and center with a lot of this work in the psychedelic space and just emerging business and tribe building. It’s community first, everything else second. Especially in a world that’s become almost over-digitized, people really seek that sense of connection with people who are on a similar path. And that seems to be the… Continue to be the appealing part of programs like this. The training and the information is critical, obviously, and super important when you’re working with substances like psychedelics, and you learn so much just from being in a community… Itself.
1:01:54.1 CE: Well, yeah, we were able to tap into the community wisdom. So there was the power and the wisdom of the lectures, of the teaching, of the guest faculty of all that, and then the wisdom of the community. That was significant. It just really fleshed it all out so beautifully.
1:02:17.8 PA: So Chess, we’re almost reaching the end of our hour. One last question for you. What are you feeling excited about at this point in time? What are you inspired to create?
1:02:32.0 CE: I’m really, really, really turned on right now with the desire, and it’s a real soulful desire, it’s a real authentic juiciness that’s coming forward within me that says, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, let’s do this.” And it’s really working with healers. Working with those who I’m calling conscious evolutionaries. And I love the fact that evolutionaries isn’t a word you can find in the dictionary. But the working with people who are in their own way, in their own modalities, playing a part to be a guide in the evolution of awakened consciousness. In the evolution of unification into the one loving awareness, loving consciousness, that I wanna help support and provide programs, opportunities, courses that help people who are… Really work on the edge, and help them to get out of their own way, and to more fully embrace and embody their own soulful expressions.
1:03:51.3 CE: Because I’ve come to recognize in this work for me, that whenever we’re working on edge, whenever we’re guiding and leading in a way that is unfamiliar to the majority, when we’re inviting people into a space that is not the norm, it’s very vulnerable. That’s where I would hit my edges of like wait a minute, hold on, hold on, this is… I might get rejected. Classic fear, I might get abandoned again. People might withdraw their love if I get this wrong. So I wanna… My joy right now is helping people to do their personal healing, awaken into their full grace, their full dimensionality of being, so that they can truly honor their soul’s desires to be out there in the world helping us all evolve. Helping us all grow, helping us all arrive in our authentic truth.
1:04:49.1 PA: Beautifully said. Thank you Chess, for joining us for the podcast. This is super fun. I’m glad we could drop in for the time that we got to drop in for. In terms of… If people wanna find out more about your work, it’s chessedwards.com.
1:05:07.1 CE: Yeah. Pretty simple.
1:05:08.8 PA: Pretty simple.
1:05:08.9 CE: So chessedwards.com is the website, and there’s an opportunity there to book a complimentary 30-minute discovery call, or what I call a call to freedom. And so that’s there as an opportunity, there’s a couple of gifts as well, some guided meditations, another emotional vocabulary builder, which is a wonderful tool for helping people expand their vocabulary to describe what’s happening within themselves. So there’s free gifts on the site and an opportunity to connect with me, to have a good conversation and see if the… Our coming together would be a value to the people.
1:05:53.8 PA: Beautiful.
1:05:55.7 CE: Also, I have a YouTube channel.
1:05:57.5 PA: Great.
1:05:57.9 CE: And that’s growing, I’m about to revamp it. I’m finding that a lot of the videos that I put up years ago, I might take them down. There’s just this whole new body of work now that’s emerging. But the YouTube channel’s there too, and they just look up Chess Edwards on YouTube and I’m the only one.
1:06:18.4 PA: Beautiful. Chess Edwards on YouTube and chessedwards.com. Chess, thank you again for joining us for the podcast. This is an honor. It was great to interview you and learn so much.
1:06:28.4 CE: Thank you brother.
1:06:30.4 PA: So, just appreciate you.
1:06:32.5 CE: Thank you, Paul, I appreciate you, man. Everything you’re doing, and the edge that you’re leading, and just the beautiful, playful and open-hearted way, you bring yourself to some really important work. And I’m excited for the new CCP group. That’s amazing that it’s growing, that it’s expanding. And so, whatever I can do to help.
1:06:53.5 PA: Yeah. Thank you, Chess.
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