The Psychedelic Podcast by Third Wave
Psychedelics & Creativity: Problem-Solving In a New Era of Leadership
Laura Dawn, founder of Grow Medicine, joins Paul F. Austin to explore the intersection between psychedelics and creative problem-solving.
Through her signature Mastermind Programs and Plant Medicine Retreats, Laura Dawn weaves together science with ancient wisdom. She teaches business and thought-leaders, entrepreneurs, and creative professionals how to mindfully explore psychedelics and sacred plant medicines as powerful visionary tools for inner transformation, fostering emotional resiliency and unlocking new depths to our creative potential.
Through mindset, somatic coaching, and plant medicine integration, she inspires leaders to align body, mind, and heart to get unstuck and take centered action in alignment with a deeper sense of purpose to influence meaningful change.
Laura Dawn has a Masters in Science specializing in Creativity & Change Leadership.
Her degree explores the intersection between psychedelics and creative problem-solving, helping leaders and teams consciously work with sacred plant medicines to think more creatively and cultivate heart-centered leadership in order to unlock innovative solutions to the complex challenges we collectively face.
- Laura’s current transition from Austin, Texas, to Costa Rica.
- Grow Medicine, Laura’s donation- and education-based platform.
- Laura’s evolutionary path with psychedelic medicines, starting at an early age.
- The two burgeoning studies of psychedelics and creativity—and how they come together.
- Laura’s Systems Change Model for Psychedelic Leadership.
- Laura’s Website
- Laura’s Instagram
- Grow Medicine
- Indigenous Medicine Conservation Fund
- Blessings of the Forest
- Laura’s podcast, The Psychedelic Leadership Podcast
- Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris' theory, Relaxed Beliefs Under Psychedelics (REBUS)
- Third Wave Coaching Certification
- Book, Stealing Fire by Steven Kotler & Jamie Wheal
- Third Wave’s Virtual Summit (Featuring Laura)
- Research by Rolland Griffiths on Psilocybin, mystical experiences, and Openness To Experience
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
- Words Are Vibrations Podcast Hosted by James McCrae
- Book, How to Laugh in Ironic Amusement During Your Existential Crisis by JamesMcCrae
This podcast is brought to you by Third Wave’s Mushroom Grow Kit. The biggest problem for anyone starting to explore the magical world of mushrooms is consistent access from reputable sources. That’s why we’ve been working on a simple, elegant (and legal!) solution for the past several months. Third Wave Mushroom Grow Kit and Course has the tools you need to grow mushrooms along with an in-depth guide to finding spores.
Looking for an aligned retreat, clinic, therapist or coach? Our directory features trusted and vetted providers from around the world. Find psychedelic support or apply to join Third Wave’s Directory today.
0:00:00.6 Paul Austin: Welcome back to The Third Wave podcast. Today, I am speaking with Laura Dawn, author, keynote speaker and host of The Psychedelic Leadership Podcast.
0:00:09.7 Laura Dawn: And now I’m combining and looking at psychedelics through the lens of creativity, and again, it affects how we talk about set and setting and preparation and integration, and instead of combining those windows of enhanced mental flexibility with therapy, let’s combine it with creative thinking training and creative problem solving and creative cognition, and these are actually being called by the World Economic Forum, let’s call them full circle as the most important skill sets for leaders of our time.
0:00:39.6 PA: 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.
0:01:16.4 PA: Hey listeners, I am so excited to have Laura Dawn on the podcast today, we go deep into the topic of psychedelics, creativity and leadership, as we all know, a lot of the focus in the psychedelics space has been in the mental health and therapeutic elements.
0:01:30.2 LD: Laura Dawn has a Masters in the science of creativity and has explored both the paradigms of psychedelic use personally and the paradigms of creativity personally, and professionally. And she really does a phenomenal job of weaving the two together. So in today’s episode, we’re gonna talk all about the sort of emergence and necessity of creativity in the professional world and how psychedelics help us to develop that skill so we can adapt and grow in a world that is increasingly uncertain and volatile. Through her signature mastermind programs and plant medicine retreat, Laura Dawn weaves together science with ancient wisdom, she teaches business and thought leaders, entrepreneurs and creative professionals how to mindfully explore psychedelics and sacred plant medicines as powerful visionary tools for inner transformation, fostering emotional resiliency and unlocking new depths in our creative potential. Through mindset, somatic coaching and plant medicine integration, she inspires leaders to align, body, mind and heart to get unstuck and take centered action in alignment with a deeper sense of purpose to influence meaningful change.
0:02:34.0 PA: She has a master’s in science, specializing in creativity and change leadership, and her degree explores the intersection between psychedelics and creative problem-solving, helping leaders and teams to consciously work with sacred plant medicines to think more creatively and cultivate heart-centered leadership in order to unlock innovative solutions to the complex challenges that we collectively face today. But before we dive into today’s episode, a word from our sponsors.
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0:03:49.3 PA: Help to heal yourself. Help to heal others. Let’s make the world a better place. And thanks for supporting the podcast, this is directly supporting our work at Third Wave, our mission, continuing to elevate and educate through the directory, providing resources on who can you trust and who are great providers and retreats and clinics and its products like these that support our initiatives that also creates more resilience within the overall system, the network, or even anti-fragility. So 3WPodcast, thanks so much.
0:04:17.1 PA: Alright, let’s dive into this episode with Laura Dawn. I hope you enjoy our conversation on the intersection of creativity, psychedelics, and next generation leadership.
0:04:27.6 PA: So I’m here with Laura Dawn for Third Wave’s Podcast. Laura we’ve already been chatting. Normally, I give a big intro, but we’ll just sort of weave who you are throughout the entire episode. We seem whenever we meet over Zoom or virtually to have technical issues and I’m glad we’ve resolved them once again.
0:04:50.3 LD: Well, you did take responsibility by saying you were a hot mess, I appreciated that. I was like, Oh, you’re a hot mess so look at my mess. I’m in packing mode mess. So I have a lot of understanding around that right now.
0:05:06.9 PA: Well, you’re moving to Costa Rica. Back to the jungle.
0:05:11.7 LD: Back to the jungle. Yeah, it’s been eight months since I’ve been out of the jungle and I feel a little bit like a fish out of water. Moving into this apartment, it’s so funny to be in a box because I haven’t lived inside on grid in almost 20 years. So this is a little bit of a different… It was like, Okay, what is this experiment like, what do most people experience on a daily basis, and I’m really excited to be moving down back into the jungle where I can be more in outdoor. Indoor outdoor living is really conducive to my whole lifestyle and my thought process, my creative process, how I like to create, how I like to commune with my plant teachers and… Yeah, just everything about it. It works for me.
0:05:58.8 PA: So what brought you to Austin in the first place? How did you land there?
0:06:03.2 LD: Oh my gosh, okay. This is getting really personal. So Noah and I were married for 10 years, and a couple of months after we split, he started dating a beautiful woman who I respect and admire and I totally bless their love, and they’re still together, and we built a volcanic hot spring retreat center together on the big island, and then we sold it a few years ago after the volcanic eruption, but we still had a 10-acre parcel, and so when we split…
0:06:33.5 LD: Yeah, that was the hardest part about the split actually was who keeps home? Home base. And so we decided, and I’m really proud of the way that we separated, we did it in a really good way, a very loving amicable way. He also doesn’t love it when I talk about him publicly, but just… Yeah, we navigated through quite a lot and we decided that we were gonna put a deal on the table that was favorable to either one of us, and so I sold my last portion of the land with the agreement that I can still build a bungalow on the land and in so many ways, he’s still my family.
0:07:11.5 LD: We were together for 10 years, and so I was living like 50 feet from him on the land. And his new partner had moved onto the land, and it was good for a while, we were all living together on the same, cohabitating the same land for a couple of months, and till I just got to the moment where I was like, I need to change. I need to get off this mother effin island right now, and I was talking to a really good friend who was in Austin, who came to one of my last really big retreats that I ran in Costa Rica, Matt McKibbins who I adore. Matt and Brittany Kaiser, who are dear friends of mine. And they had an open spot. They were living in a house that had an Airbnb behind it. And they just said, Come, come and stay. So there wasn’t a lot of thought process behind it. Austin’s a hub in the psychedelic space, there’s not very many volcanic eruptions in this area, low fires, that was part of the process, but it was more just like, Okay, I need to actually take some space and really allow this transition to transpire in a good way.
0:08:15.8 LD: And so I got off the phone with Matt and I booked a flight, and 48 hours later, I got on the flight and I just packed everything up and was like, Okay, go time. And then when I was in Austin, so much was happening, and it’s nice to have a really a good base to create from, especially as an entrepreneur, and after the volcanic eruption, we lost really good internet connection, so I actually launched my previous… Before the programs that I ran while I was in Austin, the last big program I ran was off of my mobile hotspot. I ran a 35-person microdosing mastermind, combining microdosing with advanced practice, and the whole thing was out of a hotspot, and I was like, I’m just taking my business to the next level, I need somewhere solid. And that is a big consideration, moving down to Costa Rica. Internet is definitely a factor down there, so yeah, it’s been a decision-making process, but also I feel like there are certain things that I don’t wanna compromise, and being in Austin and living inside and being on the grid, there are certain things that I’m willing to navigate through the challenges of to be really living in alignment with what I value and what I really, really care about.
0:09:27.6 LD: So it’s been good to feel the contrast and then to make new decisions and new moments.
0:09:34.8 PA: So this is something we really haven’t talked about on the podcast before, which is the scene in Austin, I wanna get into Costa Rica, and we’re definitely gonna talk all about plant medicine leadership and all the really juicy stuff. But how long have you been in Austin now?
0:09:48.8 LD: It’s been about eight months. So it’s very fresh.
0:09:53.1 PA: That’s so long enough. I’m curious, what is the scene like when it comes to psychedelics, what is Austin like at this point in time as a lot of people have moved there during COVID. What has it just been like to live there and be around that sort of conscious scene, if you will.
0:10:12.3 LD: Yeah, I feel like Austin has been this cauldron of a lot of energy, but also very transient, people are feeling super called to come here, and there’s also been a lot of people coming in and a lot of people leaving, there’s been sort of a big exodus that’s been happening. And there’s not a lot from what I’ve seen, there’s not a lot of really amazing facilitation here, there’s not a lot of this like, I don’t know, cohesive medicine community that is very different when I’m living on the Big Island or I’ve spent a lot of time down in Costa Rica in certain areas. That is just the way of life is more of the medicine way of life. And it’s really, it’s interesting. I haven’t lived in a city in almost 20 years, so it was more like, Okay, what’s this like? And nice to be in the entrepreneurial vibe, and so many people that I met are just launching big projects, and a big part of the reason that I was here was also to really connect in with the community to get Grow Medicine off the ground.
0:11:18.2 LD: But I’ve also realized that I have such a vast network in the psychedelic space, and so much of that has really come from just connecting with people through social media, through Zoom meetings, through the podcast, going to all the conferences and meeting people. So I really don’t feel like at this point that I need to be in a hub or a city. One of the things that’s actually been really nice as living 25 minutes from an airport that is so easy to get everywhere, because I’ve been speaking a lot and traveling a lot, speaking at a lot of the conferences, so that’s nice, to be able to have that kind of convenience and where I’m gonna be living in Costa Rica is like a four-hour drive to the airport. But again, it’s like things like that, that I’m willing to compromise because it’s like, I want to live there.
0:12:06.2 LD: So it’s a little bit more challenging in some ways, but it’s an overall better lifestyle, and it’s very similar to Hawaii, and my body does really good in the tropics, and it’s not for everyone, but once you sort of acclimate to tropical living, it’s kind of hard to go back. And I love who I am. So much of my community is there, but so much of my last 10 years was married to Noah and I just need to change. So it’s like new chapter, and I’m ready for that. And I feel like that’s a big theme right now for so many people, it’s like people are hitting the reset button on so many levels right now, and we’re all in the cocoon of metamorphosis to some degree or another, so I really welcome this transition and I’ve been through enough really, really big transitions in the past few years to learn how to navigate it with more ease and grace and open-heartedness and also just being open to grieve. Even if it’s just a little bit of like, Oh, I’ve only been here for eight months. But really just feel the closing of the chapter and be able to step into the new chapter in a fresh way and ready to face what’s to come.
0:13:15.4 PA: So you mentioned resets. The World Economic Forum in Davos took place I think a month or so ago now. Klaus Schwab has been quoted as talking about the great reset, which is probably another… Whole another conversation, but it just made me think…
0:13:32.1 LD: Oh gosh, don’t associate me with that name.
0:13:35.6 LD: I got so many people reaching out.
0:13:37.6 PA: The conspiratorial Instagram memes that I…
0:13:39.9 LD: I know, I’m like shit. We better diffuse this conspiracy right now before it spirals out. I’m gonna get 100 emails after this podcast goes live.
0:13:50.5 PA: Like, “what is Laura doing out there at the World Economic Forum?” No, but you were at the World Economic Forum, you were at Davos, you were at this sort of medical house of psychedelics at Davos, talking about a new project that you’ve been up to the last little bit which is called Grow Medicine. And I’d love if you could just tell our listeners, Hey, how was it to speak at Davos about psychedelics? What was the vibe like? What were the conversations like, what type of reception was there. And then tell us a little bit about Grow Medicine. What is this new project? What’s the intention of it? I’d love some of that back story as well.
0:14:25.4 LD: Yeah, so Davos was such a great time. And there’s a nuance here because we weren’t inside the World Economic Forum, it’s kind of like Burning Man camps. Davos was like Burning Man for billionaires. It was like all the different houses on the main strip, and so we kinda had our base camp, which was The Psychedelic House of Davos, but then we’d go over to Brittany Kaiser, who I mentioned earlier, she was running The Crypto House of Davos. And so it was fun to just kind of go and meet the other people and… Yeah, you know, a lot of people were like, Oh my goodness, I can’t believe you’re gonna go to Davos, and kind of hold a different perspective that there’s a lot of money there, and also people with money are making big decisions for the future of our planet and more and more than ever before, people in very influential leadership positions are starting to work with plant medicines. So I think that we have a certain responsibility to help steward that transition in the best way possible and really be aware of some of the downfalls of that, of really really wealthy, powerful people working with medicines. And there are some downfalls to that. So I just wanna be open and be part of the conversation and show up with curiosity without all of these preconceived notions about who anyone is at any point of time, because you can go and you meet people there, you don’t know how much money they have in their bank account, or how influential they are, or you know…
0:15:57.8 LD: And it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. There’s a great quote that I love is the more you get to know someone, a lot of your… And under story and who they are, a lot of your preconceived notions start to fall by the wayside. So I really just try to show up as human to-human in this moment, and sometimes that’s hard, even with people in the psychedelic space when you’re here, there’s definitely just a lot of shit that gets thrown around in the space where different personas and people and people saying things about other people. But when you meet them, you’re like, Okay, I wanna be present with you without all these preconceived notions of who you are or who you perceive, or how people perceive you on social media, for example. And I want people to meet me in that way. Let’s just be fresh, present in this moment, what is happening here and now. And so I met an amazing amount of awesome people in Davos, it was such a great time. And just shout out to Marik and Maria from Tabula Rasa. They did a really great job, their whole team was so sweet, they worked so hard to put on a really exceptional event, and it was interesting. It was super interesting to have Deepak Chopra headlining on the last day to a packed house and hearing Deepak being like, I’m moving into the psychedelics days, I’m like, Of course, you are.
0:17:21.3 LD: You know, of course. And to hear Amanda Feilding that was also a highlight, Amanda is hilarious and wise and funny, and she just has so much history there. So it was so fun to get to meet people. Jason Silva was so sweet to connect with him there too. Yeah, so I had a great time and we were really there on a mission, I was there with the Indigenous Medicine Conservation Fund, and so just to shift gears a little bit about Grow Medicine. Grow Medicine is, basically, it’s a donation-based platform, and it’s really to make it easy for people in the psychedelic and plant medicine communities to step towards, right relationship with the traditional knowledge holders of so many of the medicines that we love to engage with. And maybe I’ll actually just step back a moment and share a little bit of how Grow Medicine came to be, which I think… Yeah, I think there’s a lot of people that recognize the increase of demand in the West for psychedelic medicines. And so over the years, Noah and I had talked about that, how do we… So we started planting seeds and ideas of how do we really support plant medicine conservation and what does that look like.
0:18:36.1 LD: And then a couple years ago, I journeyed with iboga for the first time, and I had some idea of the sustainability issues that iboga was facing, and it did really come into my journey that night, and it was present for me. I was like, “Okay, I’m this privileged white person who’s having this journey, it’s very expensive,” and come to find out that there are local people in Gabon who don’t have access to their own medicine because of rising demand in the west, and that iboga’s actually going extinct in the wild. And it’s a major, major, major issue. And it was after that experience that I was like, “Okay, I’m really gonna go all-in and focus on finding solutions for plant medicine conservation.” And it was through a couple of different friends that connected me with Blessings of the Forest, and they’re a non-profit organization doing incredible work on the ground, helping to conserve iboga medicine and planting. They’ve protected and planted, I think 17,000 iboga plants at this point. And so I talked to them and David Nassim from Blessings of the Forest spent a lot of time just educating me. So it was this process of just listening, learning. And then I started doing that for all the other four medicines.
0:19:56.1 LD: So there’s five Keystone medicines that I wanted to support. And then I really just went all-in and focused on it and put a team together to build the branding and the website. And part of the process… So for people who don’t know my background, I’m actually just about to graduate. Tomorrow is my very last class for graduate school, and I’ve been focusing my graduate degree on the intersection between psychedelics and creative cognition, specifically creative thinking and creative problem-solving within the context of leadership development. So part of the process of building Grow, I really had a lot of conversations with people about reciprocity, and a lot of the… I kept hearing a lot of the same things, that people were wanting to “give back”, but they weren’t sure where. They weren’t sure how to do it. They didn’t trust where the money was going. And so I kinda created this matrix and put that through the creative problem-solving process and solved for each one of those issues to create something that would be easy to use, that would have credibility and build trust that people could track where the money is going, and that we can partner with organizations that were really embodying what the vision of what we’re trying to accomplish.
0:21:10.8 LD: And the main thing was making it easy. And then when I looked at the space and I’m so happy that so many people are really focusing on indigenous reciprocity, and so I’m not gonna name names or anything, but a lot of the issue that I found was that it was really… A lot of the initiatives weren’t very well-branded. They didn’t have very good names. They had very long complicated names. I remember looking on one website and it took me like 45 minutes to try to figure out actually how to make a donation. It wasn’t set up in a way that was conducive for people to donate. So that’s where we really focused on launching Grow. And then right before I was about to launch, I connected synchronistically from many different angles with Miriam Volat from the Indigenous Medicine Conservation Fund, through Sutton King, and we had a lot of incredible meetings and just coming together and looking at what they were doing, they’re looking at the same five Keystone medicines, we kind of put our decks next to each other, and they’re focusing on the same thing, but through high philanthropic raise.
0:22:13.3 LD: They’re raising $20 million, they have a different strategy. But part of their mission was to create a vehicle that bridges the gap between indigenous cultures and the wider psychedelic medicine community. So it really was just such a good fit, a great partnership. And what I love about what the fund is doing is that they have a really in-depth assessment process, like a due diligence process. And I have to say, I have learned an enormous amount. I feel like in the past year, I’ve gotten a world class education on the indigenous reciprocity space and I’m really grateful for that, I’ve learned a lot. And so it’s made for an incredible partnership on a lot of levels. And so they were also launching the… Announcing the fund at Davos. And that week that I was at Davos, we went live, we did the soft launch that week for Grow Medicine.
0:23:06.5 LD: So I can tell you, I didn’t sleep for three months. [laughter] It was such a busy time, and then being in the time zone change and speaking and while I was managing the team and going live with everything. And so people can check it out, growmedicine.com. And it’s just beautiful. It’s a beautiful design. We apply design thinking to help tell a story about the medicines. And so it’s a donation-based platform, but it’s also an education-based platform because we really want people to become aware of the impact of their choices to consume medicines. And for me, when I consumed iboga, I’m responsible for that choice, and I need to be aware of what the impact of that choice is on local communities who have been working with this medicine far, far longer than we have.
0:23:53.6 PA: So in terms of how that works, let’s say someone pulls up the app and they clicked, I think you can click on a mushroom or Ayahuasca or Peyote, and then you click in and you can just start to give, let’s say $5 or $50 or $500, and then where does that money go, and kind of what’s… Yeah, what… Bring us to that ecosystem a little bit.
0:24:13.3 LD: Yeah, so there are about 33 projects, about in that range, like 20 to 33 that the Indigenous Medicine Conservation Fund has been on the ground, building relationships with these projects and these organizations. And so there is a due diligence process and it really starts with the technical team showing up and listening and engaging in relationship, getting to understand what the needs are of the community, and what do they need to thrive in the next 100 years, for example. So what Grow Medicine is doing is really reflecting the projects that have gone through a very in-depth assessment process that take months and sometimes years for that relationship to be built, and they’re receiving a lot of support from the different committees on the Indigenous Medicine Conservation Fund side. And that’s beautiful.
0:25:09.0 LD: It’s like, “What do you need? Can we help you create a budget?” all of the financing, all of that. And then there’s a lot of support along the way. So that’s really the credibility piece for Grow Medicine, is that all of those numbers are being tracked, it’s all transparent. We have the same ethos, the same missions, aligned values, and part of that is transparency and being able to communicate to people where that funding is going. And so Grow Medicine is mirroring the fund, and so on the launch, we chose five organizations for each of the medicines, but they’re gonna rotate.
0:25:45.7 LD: There are other organizations. So with Ayahuasca, for example, right now we’re featuring UMIYAC. And so I also brought on Ricardo, who’s helping to support UMIYAC, which is down in Colombia. And we brought him on to the podcast sharing the story for people to really get to know the projects and what they’re doing. And then we’ll rotate into other projects that the fund is already supporting and we’ll be featuring other projects as well. Because especially… And it gets really complicated especially with Ayahuasca, so many different lineages, so many different cultures work with this medicine for a very long time. And so it’s really just looking at how do we offer support in multiple different directions.
0:26:30.4 PA: So I wanna circle back to this just as a way to help complete a full circle and tie together the work you’re now doing with psychedelics and leadership and creativity to sort of the indigenous lineage, but I think that’s more of a final question, ’cause we haven’t yet heard as much about your story and even your plant medicine story, this is usually something that I start interviews with in terms of just setting the landscape. But how is it that you first became interested in these medicines? What was that journey like for you? When did they first start to come into your life? I’d love just a little bit of sort of historical context of Laura Dawn.
0:27:05.4 LD: Yeah, it’s always so interesting when people ask me this because I’m like, forever, it’s been my path forever. [chuckle] When… Yeah, and even just talking about altered states of consciousness, I have been a prophetic dreamer my whole life. When I was in elementary school, I used to be so much more interested in going home and going to sleep to enter dream state rather than sitting in class. I was also raised as an athlete and that was a big, big part of my upbringing. I was training competitively for the first 15 years of my life and that of course shaped so much of who I am today. But I was so…
0:27:42.2 PA: Which sport was that, Laura.
0:27:43.5 LD: I dove for many years. I dove…
0:27:46.2 PA: Oh wow.
0:27:47.3 LD: And then I also played water polo competitively. And I have some funny, funny stories about that too, actually, full circle moments. But yeah. And so when I was young, I was maybe eight, nine, 10 years old, I had someone that was about 10 years older than me, very close to me in my life and my family, I won’t name names, and they were engaging with a hallucinogen experience, hallucinogenic experiences, and telling me stories. So I was like… In that range, I was just very young, and he would tell me that he was in British Columbia, in canoes, canoeing across the lake and these giant toads would appear and I was just like, “Oh my God,” he would be like talking about eating these magical mushrooms. And so in some ways, I feel like it really has been a part of my life for so long. And then I had my first high-dose psilocybin experience when I was about 14. So I was pretty young. Even before that, I was just talking on another show, it’s funny to think about this, it’s not good or bad, it just is what happened, but I had a friend in high school and her dad was part of Hells Angels, and he used to roll us joints, rolled in hash oil, and we used to smoke that when we were like…
0:29:04.4 LD: I was like 12 years old when I started experimenting with that. And I’m like, okay, I don’t recommend that. It was like definitely before my prefrontal cortex was fully formed. But it was very profound experiences. And I remember walking outside with her and remembering that I would just pop into a completely different dimension, and then come back and I’d be like, “Whoa, where did I just go? What just happened.” And so it was… Yeah, and part of my… I have an intense amount of curiosity as a kid too, and just seeing what else is possible, and a real strong propensity to just kinda wanna hurl myself off into the deep end. As I said, I grew up in the water and one of my first earliest memories is of my father holding me by the armpits underneath and counting to three and throwing me in the deep end. So if that’s not a metaphor of my life, I don’t know what is.
0:30:03.4 LD: So that was a big part of it. And in my early teens, really starting to explore quite deeply and that was it, I never went back. So that was… It’s been 25 years working with medicines on that level. And it’s a different time now, as you know. Back then it was like kind of a big fun secret, and now the cat’s out of the bag, it’s very different. But that’s when I actually started microdosing too. I remember the first time I heard the term “microdose” in my late teens and I thought, “Oh, of course. Duh, that makes sense.” But I was not very good at school and I was never good at paying attention. I really just could not fit into the conventional box. And I’m really grateful that my parents always supported me to be who I was and to follow that path. And when I was 15, I got my license, I had my… My first car was a white Toyota Corolla. I loved that car. I was able to put $5 in the gas tank and it would last me for two weeks.
0:31:05.5 LD: And I was just a very adventurous spirit ever since I was a kid. And I told my parents, “School is not working for me,” and my mom said, “What do you need? You have to graduate, so what do you wanna do?” And I said, “I wanna get a tutor.” And I basically, instead of sitting through five days a week of school, I just had to have a tutor for one day a week, and I ended up, grade nine through 11, working with a tutor and not having to do that. And I had all this free time and I really just leaned into life in a lot of different ways. And then the rave scene hit in Montreal, which was like such a chapter in history…
0:31:46.1 PA: Is that where you grew up, was Montreal?
0:31:48.9 LD: Yeah. Yeah, I grew up in Montreal. And I’ve talked to a few other people that I’ve met who were around my age who were in Montreal during that time and it was such a special chapter of music history. And so I started going to my first raves when I was about 15 and doing all the things and being in these huge piles of 30 gay men, like all high on MDMA in a crowd of 300,000 people, dancing to Paul Oakenfold. I mean they were are wild times and I wouldn’t trade it in for the world. And I learned a lot through that, through that whole scene. But eventually it’s like you move on and you experience it fully, and then it’s time to go. [laughter] The lights turn on at the end. In the morning, the sun starts coming up and you’re like, “Oh yeah.”
0:32:43.1 PA: At some point, at some point.
0:32:44.7 LD: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
0:32:45.5 PA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
0:32:46.1 LD: Yeah totally. But you know… So I’ve always kinda had that adventurous spirit. But when I worked with more of the harder, harder substances, it really played a toll on my mind and I struggled with depression at that time, and I was also struggling with some addiction too. And yeah, throughout my path, definitely had various bouts of pretty severe addiction that psychedelics like LSD actually really, really helped me, where I remember having one really deep LSD journey in that night, and I was struggling with a cocaine addiction at the time and that was it. Walked through a door, I saw, it’s not who I wanna be and that was it. I never touched it ever again. So there’s a lot to unpack here, and especially it’s like we’re talking about younger years of experimentation and exploration, and that looks very, very different than what my personal practice looks like at this point.
0:33:39.5 PA: Right, yeah, you’ve changed and evolved, since those earlier rave days.
0:33:44.2 LD: God, I hope so.
0:33:44.3 PA: For better or worse. So one thing that’s coming up is this idea of recreational. And oftentimes in a sort of overly medical psychedelic space, there’s sort of a stigma around the recreational use of psychedelics, and yet the very word itself, recreation is quite powerful in that way. So I’m curious from your lens, even now today with the more intentional work that you’re doing in psychedelics, creativity, leadership, the Grow Medicine work, the plant medicine, what do you see as the role of the rave scene and festivals and psychedelics in a more recreational context rather than just a purely shadow work, deep healing sort of context?
0:34:37.2 LD: Yeah, I’m a little bit just more open and middle pathway. I’ve also studied Tibetan Buddhism for so many years, about 15 years. And I like to be in the just open. I’m less… I was speaking on a panel and there’s a therapist who just like pooh-poohed recreational use and she said something to me that was like along the lines of, “It’s very irresponsible and you should be very mindful of how you speak as a psychedelic influencer.” And I was like, “Thank you, I appreciate that perspective.” And there’s just not one way. There’s not one way. These are such versatile tools. And again, as someone who really loves to explore boundaries, that’s what I’m doing right now, I really feel like I’m at the forefront of psychedelics and creative cognition, and within the context of leadership development, and God forbid, I would stay in the same box that everyone else is. And I just think that there’s just not one way. And so I think that there’s foundational concepts like safety is important, education is important. You made a great… When we were speaking on that panel together in Salt Lake… Oh, it wasn’t during the panel. It’s during your keynote that you made this reference about increasing the literacy rate is really important, and that actually really stuck with me because I think the more that we’re, just as a culture, educated and informed, it’s not so much fear.
0:36:00.3 LD: And so I don’t also err on that side of like being so afraid of, and needing to, you know, trip in a padded room. It’s like, okay, let’s just remember that millions of people have been tripping for millennia, and look, we’re still okay. And there are things that we need to be aware of. And of course, I had someone also tell me like, “You shouldn’t tell people that you used to drop three hits of acid and go surf and double overhead waves.” I mean, that was dangerous. And I used to motorbike throughout Thailand. It was… And life is dangerous. So it’s like, yeah, it’s… [chuckle] And so I don’t shout that from the rooftops and I’m really… I stand for cognitive liberty. I stand for people being able to make their own choices in the most informed educated way.
0:36:51.7 LD: I’ve also had people tell me that it was irresponsible for me to put a “How to have a safe psychedelic journey at home” free guide on my website. And it’s like, okay, we are… I’m all for the medical model, really, I support that. I support all of it. It’s like the full spectrum range. I support all of it. And I do support the medical model, especially for people who have more fear or trauma or anxiety. And it’s like people need to make their own choices and be informed and aware of what that…
0:37:21.0 LD: The plethora, the buffet of psychedelic experiences have to offer, and some of my most transformational experiences have been out in the playa with mixing all sorts of fun things and having an incredibly mind-expanded experience. And would I do that every weekend? No. Can it be a catalyst for escapism? Absolutely. Can we take too much and use it as a way for numbing out and not leaning into being present with life? Totally. So there’s a lot to be aware of. These are powerful substances, and the more powerful a tool, the more you need to know how to use it responsibly. And everyone has a different definition of what responsible is.
0:38:03.9 PA: Yeah, we were… I had a… So we run this training program for Third Wave where we’re doing the coaching certification, and I had my first lecture this morning and brought up that sort of concept of spiritual bypass and disassociation and the way they frame it in Stealing Fire, ’cause we’re having the students read Stealing Fire as one of those core things is what I think Jamie Wheal came up with this phrase, “bliss junkies”. And we become so sort of attracted… The moth becomes so attracted to the light that it gets just sucked in and can’t actually ground and be present with the various things that are coming up in day-to-day life. And I think it is… I’m very much, as everyone knows, who’s listening to this, a psychedelic enthusiast, I really support the intentional use of them, I also support the recreational use of them. But psychedelics is all boundaries. Psychedelics, they can create a lot of chaos. And this is why you mentioned the concept of literacy and education, and what we talk about is skill.
0:39:04.1 PA: It’s sort of knowing what are your limits and boundaries. And for someone like you, you’ve been doing this 25 years, you’ve had the full effect at this point in time, whereas there are other literally, there are others who they’re just getting started and maybe they just need to eat some miso soup before they go into the raw sashimi. And so I think that also speaks to the importance of microdosing and these, even non-psychedelic modalities that can create an open and altered state. Because I love the example you brought up of your dad just throwing you in the deep end because you were clearly adapted to jumping in and figuring it out, and not everyone sort of has that capacity and ability.
0:39:56.4 PA: So I guess the take that I’m coming to is like everyone needs to come at this from their own perspective and their own way of being. And especially for those who are newbies and who are beginners, find a coach, find a therapist, find a friend, start low, start with ketamine or MDMA, and then if you find yourself taking acid on a motorbike in Thailand, good for you, you can enjoy it and have some fun with it. ‘Cause that was my life in 2014 as well. I was starting to “microdose”. I was really mini-dosing and museum-dosing and I found that when I was on a motorbike and doing this, my coordination was better, I was able to be more aware, it was pretty unique and interesting about like, “Oh, this is really interesting in what could happen.”
0:40:37.5 LD: Yeah, yeah, totally. I mean when I… I learned essentially how to become a better surfer through working with LSD. It tuned me in on to such a different level of awareness of subtlety and energy and movement and my coordination with my body, but the base foundation was already there. So if I never surfed before and took LSD and went out into… It’s like the model of the challenge skills ratio. It’s like the 4%, push yourself. If you don’t normally backcountry ski, not probably a good idea to climb the mountain for 20 hours, drop acid and ski down. It’s probably not the right fit. But if your base level skill is already really high, it’s a really powerful tool to hone that skill further.
0:41:27.6 PA: So let’s go into that a little bit more because we haven’t really got to the meat of what you’re now doing, which I think it really is this intersection of psychedelics, creativity and leadership. And we had you for the Virtual Summit a couple of months ago. We went pretty deep into this, so if someone’s listening to this and they wanna do the really, really deep dive, I would say check out Laura’s recording for the Virtual Summit. But just sort of give us the landscape, just to start with a little bit around… I remember when we were talking in Salt Lake, you really emphasize that not only are psychedelics a really sort of pioneering thing that we’re learning more and more about, but creativity is also something that we’re just starting to learn more and more about. What have you learned about creativity? What are sort of the fundamentals of creativity? And how does psychedelic work facilitate a more creative person?
0:42:23.1 LD: Right. I wasn’t joking at that dinner that we had in Salt Lake about how psychedelics and creativity are both going through a cultural rebrand right now. Because there are a lot of myths about creativity. And I actually grew up feeling like I couldn’t… I would never be creative because I couldn’t draw. And so I actually had a creativity trauma as a kid that I know a lot of other people who’ve had that experience too. Brené Brown, who is just such a huge role model for me in my life, she was talking on a podcast with Elizabeth Gilbert saying that about 80% of people had an experience in school from a teacher that negatively impact a belief about themselves going into adulthood, and of that 80%, 50% of that was around creativity.
0:43:12.1 LD: So the cultural myths that there’s creative geniuses, very select few, and then there’s everyone else, and I’ll never be in that camp is I think a really strong myth that people have, and also that it’s associated with drawing and arts and music and poetry. So it’s really just actually expanding how we’re even defining creativity. And before I actually talk about that, I think it would be easier for me to back up and actually give a higher level overview of an understanding of the framework and what I’ve just spent the last few years really focusing on through graduate school as well.
0:43:51.0 LD: So right now I would say that in our Western culture, the majority of the conversation focuses on, how do psychedelics help to reduce mental illness? I think that that’s a big entry level question that has driven a lot of research. And when you look at the totality of the research that’s been done on psychedelics, a large majority has been focused on psychedelics and mental illness for really good reason. And I don’t actually love the term “mental illness”, but we’re talking about depression, PTSD, anxiety, addiction, and for a good reason. Not only are we witnessing a mental health crisis, but it’s also a valid pathway into FDA approval. So it makes sense that there’s only been about 10 studies done on psychedelics and creativity, a few more if you just include some of the studies that just threw in a question about it.
0:44:40.5 LD: So really what I’ve been focusing on is reframing the question, which is a creative thinking skill in and of itself, it’s a very powerful tool, that when we reframe the question, how do… Instead of asking, how do psychedelics help reduce mental illness, but we look at, how do psychedelics help to enhance mental well-being, and we define creative thinking, creative problem-solving, creative cognition as one function of mental well-being and overall emotional well-being that we actually…
0:45:10.6 LD: It changes the lens through which we look at psychedelics. And so, as we know, these are incredibly powerful and versatile tools and we’re really only scratching the surface. And if we keep looking at something through one perceptual lens through the lens of mental illness, it’s going to inform how we think about set and setting, how we think about preparation, how we think about integration. It really defines the outcome of the experience. And I know this is so obvious, but very few people actually talk about it from this perspective, and so what I did through graduate school is actually spent an enormous amount of time, like two and a half years looking at the existing psychedelic literature through the lens of understanding creativity research.
0:45:57.7 LD: My program was a master’s in Science and Creativity Studies and Change Leadership. So very well-versed in creativity research and bringing that lens to the existing psychedelic research. And even though we can’t scientifically because of only 10 papers or so done on psychedelics and creativity, even though there’s not that much research done specifically, we can actually make a very strong case that given the existing literature, that psychedelics actually do enhance creative cognition for a lot of the same reasons that they help to reduce mental illness. And it makes sense, right? Because it’s like… It’s a…
0:46:34.8 LD: Consciousness is just a continuum. So what the reasons for which… When you think about it… For example, I struggled with addiction, I know that feeling very, very well. Mental rumination, it’s like being caught in a hamster wheel where you’re going round and round with self, same thoughts, and Michael Pollan talked about it in his book, quoting Mendel Kaelen about the sleds going down the snow. It’s like having a fresh bank blanket of snow, that’s what the psychedelic experience is like. And so when you have this mental rumination, it’s hard to deviate. It’s hard to think of a new thought. And psychedelics help us through entropy, and when we can look at Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris’s work, Relaxed Beliefs Under Psychedelics, then we’re able to sort of shake that snow globe and to be able to have a new thought. And that’s the same thing of essentially what creative thinking actually is. So we know that psychological flexibility is a core mediating factor for psychedelics’ efficacious-ness for treating mental illness and psychological flexibility is a core factor that defines enhanced creative thinking. So there’s actually a lot of hidden dots that I’ve been connecting and that actually make a lot of sense.
0:47:49.7 LD: And when you think about it now, everyone takes it for granted that, of course, we all know that psychedelic-assisted therapy works because there’s been so much research on it, but Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris really only pioneered that a few years ago where he said, “Okay, this is what’s happening. We have this increased entropy. We’re more malleable. We’re more shapeable. Let’s leverage those windows of cognitive flexibility, of mental flexibility. Let’s combine it with therapy and let’s have a sort of two plus two equals 10 scenario where we know therapy works, let’s do it during that time that we know now that psychedelics open what’s called critical periods based on neuroplasticity.” Those are really hard windows to open up again into adulthood. Very open during childhood, but going into adulthood, that’s hard. We know change is hard. And so there’s this… One of my favorite definitions of creativity is by Arthur Koestler, “Creativity is the defeat of habit by originality.” And the same can be said for depression and for addiction. The healing of depression is the defeat of habit by originality. So there’s actually a really strong parallel track.
0:48:57.7 LD: So what I did was I took a lot of Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris’s theory and again flipped the whole narrative, and now I’m combining and looking at psychedelics through the lens of creativity, and again, it affects how we talk about set and setting and preparation and integration. And instead of combining those windows of enhanced mental flexibility with therapy, let’s combine it with creative thinking training and creative problem-solving and creative cognition. And these are actually being called by the World Economic Forum, let’s call them Full Circle, as the most important skill sets for leaders of our time. And we are all products of an industrialized education system that did not teach that. So we’re at a moment in time where we actually need to equip ourselves to navigate what we call a VUCA World, a world marked by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, and learn how to be adaptable in the face of change, and be flexible in the face of change. And change is hard.
0:49:55.6 LD: So I’m actually… It’s really just taking so much of what we already know and flipping it into a new narrative, but by doing that, it creates a whole new framework, a whole new curriculum for preparation and integration. And what I actually did to now look at the overlap between psychedelics and getting back full circle to creativity, a good way to think about creativity is to divide up the creative landscape into what we call the four Ps, this was Mel Rhodes’s model from 1961, creative person, creative process, creative product or outcome, and then the creative…
0:50:30.7 LD: They called it press, but I call it place, the environment that we’re in. I took that model and I overlaid it with set and setting, and I developed that model further to combine and to add, so we have the creative person that mirrors set, and then we have the creative place that mirrors setting, and then the creative process, the process we go through through the journey, through the psychedelic journey, and then the outcome. What is the outcome? And so I’ve created a whole new model mapping over everything that I just said, building on all of these re-framings and the work that Carhart-Harris has already done, and then taking these models from creativity and really expanding that into how we set ourselves up for journeys, how we prepare, how we integrate, and creating full curriculum with that and for that.
0:51:18.6 LD: And I actually developed… My mentor and professor from my University, Dr. Puccio, he developed the Four Ps model into the systems change model, and it looks at how do we combine the Four Ps to actually create systems-wide change on a cultural level. So I took that model, and then I developed that further into the systems change model for psychedelic leadership. How do we work with psychedelics to inform and train better leadership? And one of the core components of that is training in creative cognition. We know these are the most important skill sets for leaders of our time, so that we can actually find creative solutions to the most complex challenges that we currently face.
0:52:00.3 PA: Boom. We could just end the podcast…
0:52:01.7 LD: That was a mic drop. Oh my gosh. [chuckle] Oh my God, I actually forgot, there is one part… I added a fifth P to the Four P model on top of Puccio’s, which was creative practices, and that’s informed a lot of the creative thinking skills, which when you look at the creative thinking skills, I can make a very strong case that every single one of those creative thinking skills, psychedelic journeys fundamentally teach us how to think in those ways. And so it’s… And that’s just the whole fun of the whole process that I like to get down with.
0:52:35.2 PA: Could you talk us through a little bit more of the systems change, what was it, the map of system change for psychedelics and leadership? Just kinda walk us through that architecture, and then I’ll kinda wanna double back on a few of the creativity things as well.
0:52:52.5 LD: Yeah, so the model that my professor, Dr. Puccio created was the systems change model of creativity. So it’s looking at, how do we cultivate the creative person and learn process? So the first year that I was in graduate school, I actually trained in a formal process, the creative problem-solving process. So I was trained in advanced facilitation for creative problem-solving for teams. And then we’re looking at training people in the process, also training the cognitive skills, and not just the cognitive skills, because the creative person goes deeper than that, and one overlap and dot that I can connect here is what you’ve probably heard, the research that Roland Griffiths did about one psilocybin journey can fundamentally change a personality trait known as openness to experience. Openness to experience is highly correlated to creative achievement.
0:53:46.4 LD: And so when we look at a creative person, there’s multiple levels that we can look at within an individual, train them in a process, and then aim for a creative outcome, the product, and then that creates what we call creative change. It’s innovation. So it’s personal change. So if I go through a journey, for example, and I go through an internal process, I’m a different person on the other side and that changes the way I relate to my family, the way I relate to… Let’s say I’m an executive leading a big corporation, that changes the decisions that I make. So that essentially leads to cultural-wide change and innovation and creative breakthroughs, and then we take that… It’s an iterative process that then goes back to the person, the process, the product and the systems-wide change. But again, it’s… And it’s easy to fit it into a model, much more complex and nuanced when we talk about real-life examples, but Grow Medicine is a perfect real-life example of what the outcome of that was.
0:54:48.3 LD: It was a creative solution and now it’s driving systems-wide change. It’s finding very real tangible solutions that are creative, that are beautiful, that are engaging, and that are educating people to think differently. And the name of the game right now is, how do we think differently? And psychedelics, as Dennis McKenna said in a conversation for my podcast, psychedelics are tools for learning how to think, and he said, “They’re tools for learning how to think more creatively and that’s the core of it.” And actually, that skill set is also helpful for people who struggle with depression and addiction and anxiety and PTSD. But we don’t draw upon that body of wisdom and research. We’re using… I mean a perfect example is, are you familiar with Dr. Ross’s acceptance and commitment therapy?
0:55:39.4 LD: So she’s doing the same thing. She’s combining… I mean when you look at the foundational principles of acceptance and commitment therapy is teaching people how to take values-driven action, and they’re using that really within the context of mental illness, depression. So I’ve been taking models like that and I’m like, “Wow, values-driven action is the core of training effective leaders. So let’s take that model and let’s apply it to other frameworks.” And so a big takeaway here for people listening is that we’re only starting to scratch the surface of what’s possible. And just because it’s never been done doesn’t mean that you can’t create it and you can’t dream into what else is possible and what other versatile tools that you can combine or models or frameworks. And so a lot of the work that I do is actually teaching people, how do you leverage psychedelics to become a thought leader? And that’s a whole other way to talk about it, but actually implementing new ideas, new narratives so that we can drive systems-wide change.
0:56:44.0 PA: One idea that comes up with psychedelics and thought leadership is, or at least that I’ve seen and then I’ve been witnessed to and that I think it’s true for both of us, is that there seems to be this way that psychedelics… The way that we think about psychedelics right now are very much like there’s a psychedelic ecosystem, in other words, psychedelics are the thing. And the way that I think it will grow and evolve in the future is it’s still gonna be business and politic and culture and education, but each one has a psychedelic component, so to say, right? And so oftentimes, these insights that we come to, which fundamentally is about interconnectedness, connection to source, connection to something greater, within that personal responsibility. So much of when I think about how creativity is tied even to helping people with depression, for example, is reminding them that you actually are the fundamental creator of your own life, and that you are not a victim to your external circumstances.
0:57:56.5 PA: And I think psychedelics often teach us that and that I think is so critical in terms of these new systems that are being built and created, because like you said, the industrial way is old, it’s dead, it’s decadent. And when psychedelics came on the scene, in the ’50s and ’60s initially, this is what kicked off all of this sort of what is often called the Information Age, if you will, or the Mycelial Age, if you will, or the Age of Decentralization, if you will. And so, we find ourselves at this precipice of many of us are looking over the edge, and we’re like the penguin that doesn’t wanna jump, but we’re finding more and more that we do have to jump into what is a very unknown future.
0:58:44.9 LD: Yeah, that comes full circle back to being thrown in the deep end as a kid. It’s like that is what is going on right now. So it’s like, learn how to swim immediately, learn the skill sets that you need. And so much of the work that I do, especially I do a lot of one-on-one work with C-suite, executives, leaders of different companies, and I frame it as ceremonially informed leadership. So how do we actually learn how to work with a Plant Teacher and weave that wisdom into the way that we fundamentally show up and meet life on a very moment-by-moment basis? And in so many ways, I feel like the ceremony space, the psychedelic space, is advanced training ground for how to navigate through life. And actually to bring Robin Carhart-Harris’s work back into this, I remember watching a presentation of his where he was talking about the mechanism of action of the 5-HT2A receptor and psychedelics being agonist to that and I’m sure you’ve had many people on your podcast talk about that. And he put one word next to it. He wrote 5-HT2A equals, and he wrote, adaptability.
1:00:02.2 LD: And the adaptability piece, and that’s essential. That is the core skill set that we need to learn in today’s reality. And it’s what helps us overcome depression, but it’s also like, let’s put a different lens on it and let’s actually work with it to be adaptable in the face of so much change, and we better hop to it here, people. It’s like we’re at a very critical moment of time. We’re sitting on the precipice of the sixth mass extinction. And so, I’m also not all about doom and gloom. I’m also like, let’s not take ourselves so seriously, and humor is a very high form of expression of creativity and also intelligence. And actually, creativity is a way that we can engage with life as a path, as a way of life, and actually creativity shows us how to embody the path of mastery, and so do psychedelics. And it’s really the embodiment of the path of the beauty way and how do I create beauty and inspiration on this planet.
1:01:05.8 LD: So there’s so much there, but I’m really not in the sense of like… I mean, yes, it’s urgent and we need to wake up, and also it’s really important to live in alignment with our core values and what we care about and to be inspired and to create with joy and to laugh and enjoy the ride along the way. I’m sure you know, as an entrepreneur.
1:01:25.8 PA: Oh, yeah. And what I wrote down here is balancing levity with gravity. Right?
1:01:35.8 LD: Yeah.
1:01:36.6 PA: Psychedelics teach us depth. Psychedelics teach us the importance of soul. Psychedelics teach us the importance of taking things seriously and being intentional and acting with responsibility, and they equally remind us of this so-called cosmic joke of what life is. And like you were saying, acid on Deep Playa can be just as transformational as Ayahuasca in the Amazon. One, the Ayahuasca in the Amazon has that more gravity, one, acid in Deep Playa tend to be, not always ’cause sometimes you get lost and that can cause its own thing, but that’s even more fun in that way.
1:02:14.6 LD: I’m actually, I’m speaking on my friend, James McCrae’s podcast tomorrow. He has the Instagram. Do you know James’ Instagram handle, @wordsarevibrations? He’s one of…
1:02:26.7 PA: I think I’ve heard of it. Yeah, I’ll to check it out.
1:02:27.9 LD: Yeah, yeah. I love it. He’s an expert at memes and he’s totally a homie. He’s into the intersection between creativity and psychedelics, and he’s also very rooted in the same lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, so we riff really good together. And he wrote a book that I feel like is the title for the story of my life, which is “How to Laugh in Ironic Amusement During Your Existential Crisis“. And I was like, “James, you couldn’t have picked a better title than to describe the epitome of what it means to be tripping on psychedelics at this point in time.” Because it’s like, we need to bring in the irony and the humor, and for me, the path of mastery is actually learning how to balance all of it. Balancing, there’s grief in joy and joy in grief. We grieve because we love. We die because we live.
1:03:15.5 LD: There’s so much profundity in all of it, and I think psychedelics show us that, how to hold it all. How to hold it all with an open heart and an open mind and not take it too seriously, and yet, let’s find creative solutions to these big challenges. Also because it’s a fun process to engage with and let’s kind of enjoy and laugh along the way, because it’s funny that we’re all like taking everything so seriously and being like… But when you zoom out and you think it, “Okay, in a couple hundred million years, the earth is gonna be swallowed by the sun, so let’s all just remember that. There is gonna be no earth.” [chuckle] And to keep a root in that, to keep that real in your daily reality.
1:04:01.4 PA: Impermanence. The truth of impermanence in a way, yeah.
1:04:04.2 LD: And that’s why, to me, Tibetan Buddhism and psychedelics go hand in hand. And it’s okay that doesn’t resonate for everyone, of course, but having such a deep root in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy has hugely informed the way I navigate psychedelic space, the way I integrate. I’m actually one of my next program’s… It’s an eight-week program that looks at psychedelic integration through the lens of Tibetan Buddhism, and I’m so fascinated about sharing that just because it’s been such a big informant for me in my life. Impermanence is the key of all of it. And it’s all shapeable and it’s all malleable and we hold on and cling to the story of who we think we are, and yet we don’t create space for who we’re becoming, and this is where visionary leadership comes in, and understanding the neuroscience of psychedelics.
1:04:54.7 LD: How do we leverage what we understand about those windows of cognitive flexibility to weave a new story for our lives, to embody a new sense of identity, to stop telling the story of the past and to say, “Okay, this is what I’m stepping towards in my life. This is who I am becoming. This is what I take a stand for.” And to hold that lightly in the process and not grip the shit out of that either. But it’s all malleable. It’s all energy. It’s all shapeable. And so we can ride the wave or we can get pummeled by it. We can dig our heels in and resist change, or we can actually go with the flow, catch the wave and enjoy the ride.
1:05:38.3 PA: I love it. Ride in the wave. That’s what this has been all about, in many ways. It is once you get at it, once you paddle out and do all that work, how do you enjoy it? And that’s a lot of it. Well, Laura, I’m mindful of time. I know you’ve got a minute left in terms of… ’cause we had some technical issues, so I think this is a good time to wrap up, even though we could probably talk another hour and a half and we would not run out of things to talk about.
1:06:05.8 LD: Easily. Easily. It’s fun riffing…
1:06:08.7 PA: So you have a podcast of yourself, what you mentioned, The Psychedelic Leadership Podcast, I believe. If people wanna… They wanna learn more about you, if they wanna check out Grow Medicine, just give us a lay of the land about how do people engage more with your work?
1:06:27.5 LD: Yeah, my home base is lauradawn.co. That’s where you can find all the main things. My Instagram handle, @livefreelaurad, and my podcast, the Psychedelic Leadership Podcast. And yeah, and I’ll be starting to run retreats again, which I’m really excited about. I promised myself no retreats during COVID and graduate school. But now that I’m about to go into my last class tomorrow and I’m graduating this weekend, I’m so excited to be being closer to Costa Rica and running retreats again, and all of that good stuff. So lauradawn.co, and if you’re interested in upcoming programs and doing one-on-one work, you could just reach out to me through there.
1:07:09.0 PA: Beautiful. Well, thank you, Laura, for joining us for the podcast. It was fun, insightful, inspiring. It was really a pleasure to have you.
1:07:16.9 LD: Thanks, Paul. Yeah, it’s so fun to riff with you. I always appreciate your own thought leadership too. You’ve been such a pioneer in the space, and with that comes all of its own fun challenges, but you’ve really spearheaded a lot of the space, so I appreciate you for that.
1:07:33.3 PA: Thank you, Laura.
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