Rising from the Ashes: Transcending Trauma with Psychedelics


Episode 217

Melissa Barker, Ed.D.

In this Psychedelic Podcast episode, co-host Joseph Anew speaks with entrepreneur and Phoenix Project founder Dr. Melissa Barker about transcending trauma with psychedelics.

Joseph and Dr. Barker explore questions like, Why do traditional therapies fall short of repairing deep wounds? What can psychedelics do for trauma that other modalities can’t? How can survivors choose between ketamine, MDMA, psilocybin, and other psychedelic medicines? And what role do microdosing and community play in long-term healing?

This conversation unveils the trauma-healing trajectory as survivors overcome suffering, embrace their whole selves, and emerge as autonomous leaders.

Dr. Melissa Barker, Ed.D.:

Dr. Melissa Barker, EdD is an entrepreneur, activist, and emerging voice in the growing psychedelics movement. She is also the founder of The Phoenix Project, a community-led mental health tech platform created by trauma survivors for trauma survivors.

Dr. Barker’s personal journey healing from sexual violence led her to psychedelics, including ketamine, MDMA/MDA, psilocybin, and LSD. She’s currently utilizing her experiences to build Phoenix, the first AI companion designed specifically for trauma recovery and psychedelic integration.

Survivor Trajectory of Healing (Barker, 2021)

I’m not ready to think or talk about it

I’m ready to think about it but not talk about it

I’m ready to consider talking about it

I’m ready to talk about it

I’m ready to talk about it with close friends/family

I’m ready to start healing

I’m ready to be seen

Podcast Highlights

  • Dr. Barker’s personal trauma history and its impact on her mental health.
  • How psychedelics accelerated Dr. Barker’s healing journey.
  • Dr. Barker’s transformative experiences with ketamine, psilocybin, MDMA, and MDA.
  • Integrating powerful psychedelic experiences into daily life.
  • Addressing issues of psychedelic access, safety, and reciprocity.
  • Exploring The Phoenix Project & the importance of community healing.
  • Dr. Barker’s seven stages of trauma recovery.
  • How The Phoenix Project got its name, and what’s to come in version 2.0.
  • Kundalini yoga’s role in Dr. Barker’s and Joseph’s healing journeys.
  • Dr. Barker’s message of hope to trauma survivors.
  • How to connect with Dr. Barker.

These show links may contain affiliate links. Third Wave receives a small percentage of the product price if you purchase through the above affiliate links.

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Podcast Transcript

0:00:01.8 Joseph Anew: Welcome back to the Psychedelic Podcast by Third Wave, where we explore how safe and skillful psychedelic use catalyzes powerful transformation. Today, I'm speaking with Dr. Melissa Barker, founder of the Phoenix Project.

0:00:16.8 Dr. Melissa Barker: But I really came to psychedelics at 40 [laughter] with actual intentionality and with a doctorate in trauma healing, going, "I think this could help my old brain, I think there's some good stuff here to dig into." And I'm a total newbie in this space. I'm learning as I go. I'm experiencing just these massive, transformative, healing breakthroughs. And at the end of the day, I'm really thinking, "How do we harness this and build something to help people?"

0:00:46.0 Paul F. Austin: Welcome to the Psychedelic Podcast by Third Wave, audio mycelium, connecting you to the luminaries and thought leaders of the psychedelic renaissance. We bring you illuminating conversations with scientists, therapists, entrepreneurs, coaches, doctors, and shamanic practitioners, exploring how we can best use psychedelic medicine to accelerate personal healing, peak performance, and collective transformation.

0:01:20.5 Joseph Anew: Today's podcast is brought to you by, BiOptimizers. Summer, or really any holiday season, can be a time where we take a break from the daily grind to enjoy life to its fullest. But all the fun aside, we often find ourselves taking a break from our health routine too. Late nights, irregular eating habits and indulgence can become the norm, but when the vacation season winds down, it's time to start getting back on track with our health. Although it may not be easy, it is essential for our wellbeing. If you struggle to get back to your health routine after something like a summer vacation, I have a valuable lesson to share. Focus on majors, prioritize healthy eating, exercise, and above all, quality sleep. Just one interesting fact about sleep to mention, according to a study on the effects of alcohol and sleep, drinking more than two servings of alcohol per day for men, and more than just one serving per day for women can decrease sleep quality by 39.2%, not to mention the effects of indulgent food and late nights out.

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0:03:26.2 Joseph Anew: Again, that's magbreakthrough.com/thirdwave. Fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and wake up feeling refreshed with Magnesium Breakthrough. Hey, listeners, this is Joseph Anew, director at Third Wave Psychedelic Coaching Institute. Welcome back to the Psychedelic Podcast. In this episode, we navigate questions like why do traditional therapies often fall short of fully repairing trauma? What can psychedelics do for deep wounds that other modalities can't? How can trauma survivors navigate this largely illicit space and find options around different psychedelic medicines like ketamine, MDMA, and psilocybin, and how can they find reputable guides? Today we have Dr. Melissa Barker on the podcast. Dr. Melissa Barker is an entrepreneur, and activist, and an emerging voice in the growing psychedelics movement. She's also the founder of the Phoenix Project, a community-led mental health tech platform created by trauma survivors for trauma survivors. Dr. Barker's personal journey of healing from sexual violence led her to psychedelics, including ketamine, MDMA, MDA, psilocybin and LSD, and she's currently utilizing her experiences to build Phoenix, the first AI companion designed specifically for trauma recovery and psychedelic integration.

0:04:48.9 Joseph Anew: As always, go deeper into this episode with full show notes, transcripts, and any links that we mention in this conversation. Just follow the link in the description or head to the thirdwave.co/podcast. Once you're there, scroll down to episode 217 with Dr. Melissa Barker. Here is a glimpse of what Dr. Barker and I dive into today. First, we examine Dr. Barker's personal trauma history and the enduring impact on her mental health that it has had. We discuss how psychedelics accelerated healing and delve into her experience with ketamine, psilocybin, MDMA and the lesser known MDA. Dr. Barker also describes her process of selecting the right medicines and finding reputable guides. And later-on we dig into the critical process of psychedelic integration for enduring healing. Dr. Barker explains the seven stages of trauma recovery, why she started the Phoenix Project, and the importance of community and healing.

0:05:47.8 Joseph Anew: Finally, we celebrate the power of Kundalini yoga and its role in both of our healing journeys. Both Melissa and I share that in our past. This podcast offers a profound message of hope for trauma survivors, and I hope you find it as genuine and meaningful as I did. I will add that this conversation does have mentions of sexual assault and other forms of trauma that may be challenging for some listeners. So discretion is advised. Before we get started, I invite you to take a moment to follow the Psychedelic Podcast on your favorite podcast app or like and subscribe on YouTube. This is the easiest way to follow the rapid evolution of psychedelic healing and transformation. Plus, we have a ton of powerful content coming up that you're not gonna wanna miss. All right, that's it for now. I hope you enjoy my conversation today with Dr. Melissa Barker.

0:06:44.5 Joseph Anew: Melissa, thank you so much for joining the podcast. Welcome. How are you?

0:06:50.0 Dr. Melissa Barker: I am good. Thank you for having me. I'm very happy to be here.

0:06:56.8 Joseph Anew: I'm really excited. I think this is just going to be a really important conversation because I think trauma survivors, they can get stuck in the more conventional above-ground systems. And of course, those systems can be great for some and have some degree of healing for a lot of people, of course. But still, when you hear the anecdotal accounts of victims truly and fully taking their life back with safe, intentional treatments with substances like MDMA and others, mostly in the underground, it's hard to not open the door for trauma victims in the realm of psychedelics. So, I would love to know, Melissa, following your traumatic experience or whenever it was that you began seeking help, where did you start? And really what worked even outside the psychedelic space, what worked? What didn't? And I suppose what made you turn to psychedelics? And how did you go about that part of your journey?

0:07:56.5 Dr. Melissa Barker: Absolutely. So also very excited to have this conversation and honored to just be in this with you. So my story is I am a person that has compound PTSD, meaning I have more than one traumatic event that has occurred in my life, and those traumatic events have compounded. So when every event or traumatic experience would happen, it would only build and build and build. So it just feels like the world is on your shoulders. And, for me, my first traumatic experience was at the age of five. It was actually an experience I didn't even realize I had until I was assaulted when I was 17, and that memory came flooding back to me. So we could talk forever about the body and what it does to protect the brain and the body from reliving traumatic experiences and the ways that we cope.

0:08:46.0 Dr. Melissa Barker: But I was really gutted, for lack of better words, when I was 17 and I was assaulted. I was a surfer. I was assaulted by a fellow surfer drugged and left for dead essentially, and came out of that extremely harrowing experience at a 17-year-old, just looking at my world and thinking, "Oh my gosh what is safe? Where do I go? How do I even begin to process this?" And my parents put me in therapy. That was the thing to do at that time, it still is. Therapy is obviously still a great tool, but I was immediately put together with a therapist that wasn't as trauma-informed as she should have been [laughter] and frankly, some harm happened in those therapeutic sessions. And so I actually, totally rebelled and said, "No therapy, no anything for my mental health."

0:09:39.4 Dr. Melissa Barker: "I'm just gonna white-knuckle this thing," until I was 27. So it took 10 years to actually get me back into therapy. And some other traumas within that space. But the thing about my story, which is not, unfortunately, unique to many other stories, especially for women, is I've survived a lot of sexual and physical and mental trauma in my life, and each of those experiences have chipped away at my soul. I dug in, like I said, when I was 27, I got back into actually getting into therapy and started working with a therapist that I took years to build trust with. Truly, truly years and years to get to a place where we could really go in and open these doors to these different traumas and start to unpack them.

0:10:33.3 Dr. Melissa Barker: And we did everything. We did EMDR, we did somatic work, we did breath work, we did IFS, I cannot speak enough about IFS for trauma. It's incredible. But last march at the age of 40, I was assaulted during a massage when I was in Austin for South by Southwest. And that just shattered my nervous system for so many reasons. And so when I came to psychedelics, I truly came to the door desperate, nothing was working. EMDR wasn't working, all the trauma therapy I had wasn't working. Basically everything I had in my toolkit for 10-plus years just suddenly was not getting the job done, and I could not break through. And I was having extremely, extremely strong PTS reaction. So hypervigilant, really agitated, super irritable, not sleeping, the things that just... You can't function as a human when you're in that type of state and your nervous system is that revved up. So I turned to psychedelics out of pure desperation thinking, "Okay, maybe this will be the thing that helps me at least start to work this and get through it."

0:11:46.0 Joseph Anew: Wow. Melissa, thank you, thank you so much for sharing. And I'm curious, when you were 17 and these memories from age five that were repressed or not anywhere in your awareness, can you... For anyone listening, can you walk us through what is that experience like? How do you grapple with new old memories? Did you find yourself seeking validation or... What was that experience like for you?

0:12:22.9 Dr. Melissa Barker: It was beyond humbling. It was confusing. It was... It's almost like... The brain does everything it can to protect you and so does the body. And so what happened to me at five, which was I was molested by a relative, my brain and body suppressed all of that, literally put it so far in the back of the closet that you were not gonna find that thing unless you really, really went digging. And then when the assault at 17 happened, it was like my entire nervous system and body and mind and spirit. Everything was just on fire. And it was when I was in therapy trying to work through the assaults of me being 17, what had happened to me, I stopped surfing, all these things that were part of me and my soul, felt like they were being taken away.

0:13:15.2 Dr. Melissa Barker: And it just, all of a sudden it came through me like wildfire. I remember sitting up in the session and going, "I think something happened to me when I was younger." And the therapist at the time, this is why I wish she had been more trauma-informed, immediately reported it to my parents, which was not the greatest path to take because that completely shut me down. I was so raw and fresh, and it was like watching a movie, but you're just in the observer seat. You're not part of the movie, but you know you're in the movie and you're just trying to make sense of it. And there was so much disconnection, my body was telling me, "We lived through this, this happened." I could feel this somatic experiencing of it, and my mind was trying to make sense of it, because that's what the mind does.

0:14:08.3 Dr. Melissa Barker: It's like, "How can I make meaning? How can I put this in a box? How can I wrap myself around this?" But I was so raw and fragile that I didn't even touch that memory until 10-plus years later when I went back to therapy. So it's almost like it came out and then I immediately put it back and shoved it in the back of the closet, which for trauma survivors, it's very common 'cause it's hard to live through this stuff. And it's even harder to have these almost like ghosts of memories come back and floor you. However, that trauma stays with you that whole time. So it's showing up in coping mechanisms, it's showing up in behaviors, it's showing up in relationships and self-talk and all these other ways.

0:14:46.4 Joseph Anew: Right. In those 10 years between Melissa 17, because I think you said at 27 you started therapy again. So, yeah. And before we move into psychedelics and some of the treatments that really worked for you, can you tell us a little bit about how that 10 years went? What would've been different if at 17 you were able to process it in a more effective way? Or your therapist didn't immediately go tell your parents? How would your lived experience from 17 to 27 been different?

0:15:22.3 Dr. Melissa Barker: Oh, I think it would've been a completely different life. So, jokingly, I'll say that I went on a trauma full-blown like, "Let's just add as much as I can to this whole story, let's just really up on all the trauma. Let's keep... " I was like a magnet for it. Talk about unhealthy relationships, toxic relationships, abusive partners, self-abuse, self-abandonment. I had a daughter, my beautiful, beautiful, amazing daughter who's now 19 at UC Santa Cruz, but I had her at 21. I was a young mom with an abuser, and I had a baby that obviously changes your entire life. What's interesting though, throughout this whole time though, there was always this really strong seeking part of me that was online. That was trying to make sense of all these things, these life experiences I kept just wanting to have on some level, which really, when you peel back the layers, is that trauma, that part of this deep shame and deep self-hatred that you go into these places of self-abandonment and almost live this... Your self-fulfilling prophecy of these things keep happening and it just keeps recycling over and over and over.

0:16:35.3 Dr. Melissa Barker: So I think a lot about if 17-year-old me had different paths laid in front of her, one of which would be psychedelics, it would've been a completely different life. And I can say that without any doubt in my mind. I do, this is where I go into the spiritual side, I do believe that everything that happened was an initiation of sorts. I had to live through a lot of these experiences to get to where I am today to do the work that I'm doing today. But there's deep grief there, there's deep loss of thinking, "What would my life have looked like if these different pathways had been open to me at such a vulnerable and tender part of my life and journey?"


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0:19:06.4 Joseph Anew: And I know you mentioned EMDR and somatic work, and I am curious, I want to begin to get into when... Did you begin using psychedelics at age 40? Or was it sooner than that?

0:19:17.6 Dr. Melissa Barker: At age 40. Well, okay, so when I was 18, I definitely played around [laughter] I did not do them in...

0:19:23.1 Joseph Anew: I actually do.

0:19:24.3 Dr. Melissa Barker: Did not do them intentionally as you do. Which now I look back and I'm like, "Wow, that mushroom trip was really, really taking me to some places. I really had a deep journey there." But I didn't know what I was doing, I was like... I'm like, "Molly's really fun. This is great." Or ecstasy. 'cause I'm a 90s, 2000s raver kid. But I didn't know what I was doing with intentionality. It was all from this place of escapism, from, "When I tap into this place, I'm in a different world and I'm in a different... " I can feel what happened to me.

0:20:03.8 Dr. Melissa Barker: And it doesn't completely flood my system to the point of complete breakdown. But I was 17 and 18. I tried to commit suicide when I was 18. I had a really just not great experience in college, which happens unfortunately. And it was like I was so raw and so vulnerable that I'm like, "I don't want this life. I can see the path in front of me and I don't want this experience cycling over and over." But I really came to psychedelics at 40 [laughter] with actual intentionality and with a doctorate in trauma healing going, "I think this could help my old brain, I think there's some good stuff here to dig into." And I just turned 41, so I'm a total newbie in this space. I'm learning as I go. I'm experiencing just these massive, transformative, healing breakthroughs. And at the end of the day, I am really thinking, "How do we harness this and build something to help people? How do I go back to that 17-year-old and help her?"

0:21:09.5 Joseph Anew: Right. It's beautiful mission. And when I do frame these questions, I should always say, "When did you begin safe, intentional, responsible, psychedelic use?"

0:21:19.0 Dr. Melissa Barker: Yes, exactly. [laughter]

0:21:20.6 Joseph Anew: It's a very different thing. And I'm curious, Melissa, 'cause having done some of these other modalities with I'm sure varying levels of success, when you stepped into psychedelics, and I am curious what path you took and what medicines and things like that, but what do you feel... From a mechanism of action standpoint for you personally, what do you think psychedelics did for you as it related to healing your trauma that maybe you couldn't get from EMDR or somatic healing or therapy?

0:21:55.1 Dr. Melissa Barker: I equate it to a rocket ship. It was like I got on the rocket ship and it was immediately I was there, I was right there interfacing with these parts of myself that were really, really hard to get them to come into the room through traditional talk therapy, through EMDR, through somatic work. I had access to them before, I knew... I've been doing IFS work for 10-plus years, and I knew who the players were in the room, but I could never get them all to come in and really be in dialogue with me. And so... And I would love to go into the what I've used, what I've been learning 'cause each medicine has had a different teacher to me.

0:22:38.0 Dr. Melissa Barker: It's added another layer. It's added a different piece. But with psychedelics, it's like I'm able to jump the line, so to speak. I can go right in and say, "Okay, we're gonna work this part, we're gonna look at this piece. We're gonna really get to the core of it." And then I'm able to come out of those journeys, turn to my therapist and say, "Okay, I've got a blueprint for us to work with now. If we're gonna do EMDR, this is the focal point." Or, "If we're gonna do some somatic work, this is the part of my body." I've been doing tons and tons of somatic work around my womb 'cause there's a lot of trauma there. And that makes sense. So really, really hyper-focused somatic work and breath work that's targeted on these very specific parts of me. And I'm blown away by the results and the outcome. And it makes me so hopeful for trauma survivors everywhere.

0:23:37.1 Joseph Anew: Absolutely. And so it's more that the psychedelics enabled you to get through that nervous system response, through that alarm, through that fear to see things as they are, and then take that to non-psychedelic modalities and work through it.

0:23:55.7 Dr. Melissa Barker: Exactly. And then also to say, "Okay, I now understand where this coping mechanism came out of a place of trauma, where this pattern of behavior that I'm just, I keep running through where it's came from, and I can actually go to it post-journey and say, 'This is how I'm gonna move the needle forward, this is what I'm gonna do to start shifting that behavior.'" And because of the neuroplasticity, because of the state your brain is post-medicine, I can actually feel myself rewiring parts of my brain that I never ever thought I could access. I never thought I could go in and start to repair. I had a journey actually one time with ketamine, and these cartoon birds in the old-school Disney movies came in [laughter] and they were sewing the parts of my trauma, actually sewing them and then giving them back to me. And I was going, "Okay, it's whole, thank you." There's no longer these shattered, these tattered parts of me. They're being sewn back up.

0:24:57.0 Joseph Anew: That's beautiful. That's beautiful.

0:25:01.8 Dr. Melissa Barker: Thank you.

0:25:03.6 Joseph Anew: And ketamine is pretty broadly available now. And I'm curious for trauma victims that may be listening, what was the path to find, when you decided that psychedelics might be a modality to try, how did you go about finding safe, structured, responsible facilitators, docs? What was your path like? Because I think a lot of times there's a lot of people out there that are probably suspecting that psychedelics could help them, but they don't know where to go, maybe they see the ketamine clinic, but as it relates to especially other medicines sometimes that path it's a big part of what Third Wave is really trying to help people with. But I'm curious on what your path looked like, Melissa, when you decided, "Yes. For psychedelics. Yes. I wanna investigate this." How did you navigate the fairly illicit environment?

0:25:57.3 Dr. Melissa Barker: Absolutely. So I will say that I chose a very structured path and I went rogue and messed up a lot. So there's two [laughter] there's two parts of the story. There's the part of, again, I came to psychedelics desperate. I came from it thinking, "I don't wanna try SSRIs. I've tried those in the past they've never worked for me. They've made things worse. This isn't depression. This is trauma I'm trying to work with." And I'm incredibly fortunate to have the academic background I have. So I was able to quickly devour journals and things like that. To be like, "All right, I can see the case studies. I can see where things are headed." So I picked Mindbloom. I was like, "All right, this is great. They can be shipped to my house."

0:26:41.4 Dr. Melissa Barker: "I can do this thing at the comfort of my home. Let's give this a whirl. Let's start in." And so I started with Mindbloom. And very quickly my, so with ketamine, very quickly I had to be put at the mass dosage that Mindbloom will give you, because my body would not release and drop in. And I could basically stay in like 35 to 38 minutes on the nose. And every time I check in with my clinician or the team, they'd be like, "Oh let's see if we can get you in an hour." And ketamine was this beautiful, beautiful opening. It really opened the door to medicine for me and actually stepping onto a medicine path. And so as I started working more and more with ketamine and started having some of these deeper journeys, which I think a lot of the depth that I was able to reach at such an early part was that I had this foundational work under me.

0:27:34.3 Dr. Melissa Barker: 13-plus years of trauma therapy, IFS, these really important levers. I was able to go in and get all the systems firing. But from ketamine, I started to hear the call for psilocybin. And I was like, "All right, did mushrooms when I was younger and didn't know what I was doing. And had some profound, now I realize, breakthrough." So started microdosing with psilocybin and started doing that on my own and experimenting and here in the Bay Area psilocybin has been decriminalized in San Francisco, Oakland, and Santa Cruz. So we're fortunate that we can actually go and source good medicine. But very quickly realized, "I don't know what I'm doing and I need to be in reverence with this medicine. This is medicine that is deeply indigenous. It has this beautiful history and culture."

0:28:20.8 Dr. Melissa Barker: And I was very quickly made aware, "This isn't something you just come in and play with." This has to be in deep reverence to access the shadow parts of myself that I was really trying to heal and bring forward. From psilocybin I, researcher, started going in and looking more at the researcher and research and was studying everything MAPS was putting out and really realized, "Okay, MDMA is the one for PTSD, so let's really actually start to think of that, what that could look like." And I sought out for that, a guide. I sourced with a local community that I am a part of and just said, "Who do you know that's doing in-person guided experiences?" Because I feel like where I'm gonna go [laughter]

0:29:11.5 Dr. Melissa Barker: I'm gonna wanna have a guide." And I, again, very fortunate to be here in the Bay Area. It's such a privilege to have so many incredible medicine people available, even though underground still available. So I started working with a guide out of Oakland. We did a ton of prep work. We did a full macro journey with MDMA and MDA, and then a ton of integration work after. And that, for me, that macro journey that really, really big hit is what broke down some major, major walls and my body was actually able to release trauma it had been holding on for decades. I was able to actually just finally let it move through me. And I feel like that in itself could be a whole podcast. So [laughter] I'm happy to go deeper there, but it was just truly life-altering what came out of that journey and what I was able to integrate after that journey in my body.

0:30:10.1 Dr. Melissa Barker: And that's where I really started to see, these behaviors shifts start to happen, this level of awareness start to shift. But now it's I'm on this journey of I intuitively microdose psilocybin when my body calls for it, I still use ketamine, but in very, very small doses. What's interesting is the more I've been in the medicine, the less I need. And I've actually found ketamine and cannabis have been a really beautiful somatic journey for me that a ton of releasing can happen. And I feel like there's another journey coming in the next few months, and I'm literally meditating on it with some of my guides saying, "I am being called what's it gonna be? What's next?"

0:30:54.8 Joseph Anew: Yeah, I love that. And I think even that sort of patience and reverence around "what's calling me next?" I think that's, if people listening take something from this, I think that's a really wise way to go about embarking on a psychedelic journey really feeling into what's calling you. Because I think a lot of times people are... They hear Aaron Rodgers, the NFL MVP, is doing ayahuasca, so that's what I need. And I close my computer at five o'clock and fly to Peru or something.


0:31:31.2 Joseph Anew: So I love the path. And actually before we move on, Melissa, this, and I love ketamine as your first, I feel like, that was actually my first as well. And I think there's a lot of magic to be had there, and I'm curious on the psilocybin MDMA for trauma, what was different? What didn't you get from psilocybin that you got from MDMA as it relates? And I know you mentioned the physical and the body, the trauma releasing, but I'm curious what was the big takeaway from psilocybin from a trauma standpoint?

0:32:04.7 Dr. Melissa Barker: So, with psilocybin, I noticed pretty rapidly, and intentionally I found a guide that is rooted in... She literally is teaching me the indigenous ways of, "This is how you work with this plant medicine. This is how you build allyship." And so that entire experience, my dieta, everything was so curated that with psilocybin, I was learning that I was coming in allyship with this medicine, that this medicine is alive, this is a spirit, this is me getting to really call in this world beyond the veil and have that walking with me through life. And so psilocybin is obviously plant medicine, but it brings up more earthy, more... I feel more rooted in my nervous system.

0:33:00.6 Dr. Melissa Barker: I feel so much more regulated. It's been incredible. My brain feels like it's constantly getting a beautiful massage. It just feels good and earthy and held and there's so much depth there. But again, I intentionally [laughter] really realized I had to come to this medicine with reverence because I was not having that experience at first. I was trying different dosing and different protocols and was really in this rigid researcher mind of, "I've gotta get this thing right. I've gotta find the right protocol." And it's when I started intentionally working with this guide that I learned just the numerous layers that this beautiful medicine holds. And I feel when I am microdosing, I can feel into that network, that community. And the lesson that keeps coming up, that the medicine, that psilocybin gives me is, "Be of service, be of service, just keep showing up, live a life of service, live a life of community."

0:33:55.9 Dr. Melissa Barker: And that's just so much of who I am, my ethos as a human. With MDMA, I remember going into the session with my guide, and we did this, it was one of the, I don't know, first of the atmospheric rivers we had this year or last year or like on number 14, I think we have another one coming through in California. But it was storming, just pouring, pouring rain, crazy weather for her to get out to me out of Oakland. And I had fasted, we had done all of this really intentional prep work, and I remember as before we were about to go in, she said, "Hey we're about to turn off all those parts of your brain, all those protectors, and I just want you to know, on the other side, they could get really upset, [laughter] because you're about to shut them all down and really drop in."

0:34:52.6 Dr. Melissa Barker: And I was like, "All right, cool. Let's do it. I know what my resourcing is on the other side," etcetera, etcetera. So when I drank she put it in a orange juice for me actually. So I drank that, dropped into meditation, got really into meditation, started to feel the medicine come on. And I actually got really, really scared. And so she put her hand on the bottom of my foot, and immediately I was like, "Okay, I'm here. I'm safe."

0:35:15.7 Joseph Anew: Mm. Grounded you.

0:35:16.5 Dr. Melissa Barker: And that human touch... Exactly. She grounded me. That human touch in a moment when my nervous system started going, "We're about to lose control." My brain is starting to fire off all these neurons, like, "We're about to lose control. Ship's gonna go down. We gotta keep her up. We gotta keep her afloat."

0:35:32.2 Dr. Melissa Barker: "We gotta come in and flood her system to keep her out of this." That grounding helped me really drop in. And once I dropped in, I had actually this out-of-body experience. I could see myself lying on this giant sheepskin rug. It's like the going joke. 'cause I like to journey on this giant sheepskin rug that I literally bring with me everywhere. And I could see myself with the eye mask and the music is playing and it's raining, and my guide is there, and I was just rattling off all these traumas, just one after another, "This happened and this happened, and this happened and this happened." And in this experience, I was like, again, having this out-of-body experience, looking down on myself, going, "Why am I talking about all this shit? I know this story backwards and forwards."

0:36:19.4 Dr. Melissa Barker: "Why am I not getting in and doing the 'work'?" And what really happened was I wanted to be witnessed in my full entirety. And in that witnessing, there were parts of my story that on a somatic level, I always knew, but I could never say out loud. And that shifted with the MDMA, I could suddenly say them all out loud, I could let them be witnessed. I brought them all out, put them all on the table and said, "This is me. This is me in my entirety. This is everything that's happened to this body of mine, this soul of mine." And we used a booster for that journey. So 90 minutes in, I did take a booster and I remember her saying to me, and she was like, "I think we're gonna do MDA for the booster," which is more of a heart opener.

0:37:14.1 Dr. Melissa Barker: And she's like, "I just have a feeling this is where you're headed. So let's just go in. Let's just rocket-ship this thing [laughter] and go all the way in." [laughter] I was like, "Well all right." I'm sitting there feeling no pain. I'm like, "Yeah, sure, let's do it. I'm totally into this." Boop, knock that back. And I remember I was laying down on my giant sheepskin rug, talking through some stuff. And all of a sudden I sat up and I looked at her and I said, "I have to get on the ground." And I knew exactly what I needed. I was like, "I need a bolster under my heart. I need to open my heart. I need to be in Supta Baddha Konasana," with your feet touching. "I need to open essentially my womb, I need to be fully open to what's about to happen." And at the exact moment, she was playing this beautiful mantra. So when I peaked, when I really, really hit this peak, I felt my entire higher self embody my whole system. And it felt like I could feel in my...

0:38:16.0 Dr. Melissa Barker: In my cells, in my blood, in my soul, in every part of me, "This is what it feels like to live without these traumas. This is who I actually am at my core. This is who I am in my essence." And I remember I started crying and I looked at her and I said, "Oh, my gosh, I've been trying to find her my whole life." I'm actually getting a little emotional. And she said, "She's always been with you through everything." And right there, it was like, "go time". We just dropped right in and she's like, "Okay, you're in it. We're going to go with this." We did mirror talk. I ran outside, I was talking to the trees. I was dancing in the rain, I was just completely embodied in myself. And it was this experience of, "Oh, my gosh, I don't have to keep carrying these things along with me for the ride. I can actually... I can put them down, I can put them down. They don't have to be with me all the time. This is how I can actually live. This is my birthright to feel who I truly am on a soul level." And it was incredible. And I was also using a large amount of medicine to get to those parts. But afterwards, the integration part is I'm able to listen to those mantras and find her again. I'm able to walk back home to myself.

0:39:50.9 Dr. Melissa Barker: It was like I was given this beautiful key to myself and saying, "When you get lost, this is how you find her again. This is how you walk back home to yourself."

0:40:03.0 Joseph Anew: Thank you. That was a beautiful story and you're so fortunate that you've had and this is, at Third Wave, we're really trying to bring together these talented medicine professionals and make them accessible to the everyday person in the current landscape of psychedelics. Because the experience you've had was ultimately, it was yours, but it was supported by someone that clearly has the expertise and the experience and the wisdom and the intuition to know exactly MDA and MDMA, knowing the difference between the two and the applicability is just brilliant and so beautiful that you had such a talented guide. And just to recap as well for folks that may not have their own psychedelic experiences. So psilocybin, you felt, was very alive and very earthy and very rooted and was maybe more in-body processing. And MDMA, MDA felt like, to me, a synthetic medication for PTSD that allowed you to be almost an uninvolved witness to your own healing and which enabled your body to be free. If you stepped out, the body healed and then it sounds like you stepped back in and found yourself again. It was just such a powerful and beautiful story Melissa, so thank you. Thank you so much for sharing.

0:41:30.1 Dr. Melissa Barker: You're so welcome, yeah. And I did not post that journey, while I had this incredible, incredible journey my integration on the other side was really, really hard because, just as my guide had told me, we had turned off these protective parts. We went full in for 6-plus hours. I have 6 hours of audio from that journey recorded.

0:41:53.2 Dr. Melissa Barker: And afterwards my systems were like, "Oh no, we got to put this... We got to put her back in the box. This is too wild, this is too out of control." And so I had to actually figure out what supports I needed for my integration. And ketamine was actually a really... Very micro doses of ketamine was a really big part of my integrating that journey because I had those parts come up that were like, "Why are you here? This isn't good. You should be full of shame." I had to really go back in, I equate it to traveling down into the underworld and I had to keep going and convening with these parts that did not want to be out of the shadows.

0:42:38.1 Joseph Anew: Right. And it's so important, the ego does come back online and I think this is sort of this really intentional and responsible journey that you're having. You've alluded to, you suspect there's another one coming up at some point soon and doing a lot of integration work is really where the magic is. Otherwise, in other words, just like you said a minute ago, you need to be able to take her with you. You need to be able to come out of the journey space and go to work on Monday morning sometimes. And it sounds like you recorded the audio and just really listened to yourself and used that to drive this integration and drive yourself deeper into yourself, which is beautiful. Melissa, I'd love to ask contextually. Of course you're super fortunate being near Oakland and decrim and you can get access to high quality medicines and facilitators. In most states, that's of course not the case. And do you see pros and cons of the present legal landscape? If all psychedelic use was above ground, how would that have impacted? Do you have any thoughts? Do you see what I'm kind of beating around here?

0:43:50.6 Dr. Melissa Barker: Yeah, I do.

0:43:50.7 Joseph Anew: I'm just curious on pros, cons of the current landscape and how it's... Because it doesn't sound like you were in a highly medical clinic, maybe you were in your home or something like that.

0:44:02.5 Dr. Melissa Barker: I was in my home yeah.

0:44:03.6 Joseph Anew: So, I'm just curious in terms of, your thoughts around the current legal landscape. And I suppose the specific question would be pros and cons of where it is right now, mostly illicit, but in some areas decriminalized?

0:44:19.3 Dr. Melissa Barker: Yeah, absolutely. This is something I have been really, really noodling on and I recognize that I'm not a psychedelic expert. I'm, in many ways, new to the "party" however, I can hold my own in trauma and all of those parts. So I get really excited when I think, "Okay, this is really, really good medicine that could help a lot of people. And this could really help people walk back home to themselves," which as a trauma survivor, you're living a fragmented self. Yourself has been fragmented. You don't have the self-agency and the self-leadership 'cause it's... Your autonomy, in so many ways, was taken from you. And so if there's medicine and there's protocols that can bring that back to you, that can help you fully integrate those parts of your trauma into a healed self, that gets me so excited for the future of the world. With that said, I really worry, and I think this is a lot of people have an eye on this and are doing this really important work. I worry about the colonization of this medicine and what that means for systems and for people that have been holding this wisdom and carrying this wisdom for a very, very long time. And it feels like the jury's still out. I know Oregon is doing incredible, incredible work right now and putting together truly, I believe, the first actual legalized protocols for working with these medicines.

0:46:00.3 Dr. Melissa Barker: Obviously, MAPS is doing incredible, incredible work in pioneering FDA approval of MDMA. And I think there are things being put in place for the longer-term vision, but humans don't always see the longer-term vision for numerous reasons. And systems can clog wheels, clog wheels, for lack of better words. But I really think there has to be this beautiful, delicate dance of being in complete reverence with this medicine and asking some questions of how do we address issues of access? How do we address issues of safety? How do we address issues of deeply honoring the indigenous practices and wisdom that this medicine has been carried through lineages with? How do we constantly weave that world? What does that system look like? And frankly, I don't think it's... I don't think she's here yet. But I will say I was actually re-listening to something Paul Stamets said at South by Southwest a couple of weeks ago, which is that we are one people and we need to remember that. We need to remember that we are all interconnected. We are all in this life thing together. And so I hope that that type of consciousness is carried through as these systems and protocols are put into place. I know, the academic, the researcher in me fully understands FDA approval can change so many things in this space and there will be give and take on both fronts.

0:47:34.6 Dr. Melissa Barker: So for myself, I recognize how lucky I am to live in a place like the Bay Area where I can send a couple WhatsApp or Signal-messages to friends and be like, who's doing what? And we can find our guides and our people. But what's interesting is as I've been going through my own healing and much been pretty vocal about it because everything I do, I use to inform what I'm building, which I'm sure we'll get to and we can talk about. But I had friends turning to me going, "Okay, can I get that guide's info?" Or, "Does that guide work with someone like me?" So there's also this underground world of, from my lens, survivors working together to try to put together protocols that don't fully exist yet above ground. And that's a really interesting intersection to be sitting at and watching because it's led and driven from the survivor as their own subject matter of expert. However, that can easily be co-opted into, "Well, this is the protocol that you have to follow because this is what's been approved." If that's making sense.

0:48:46.2 Joseph Anew: Makes perfect sense it's... Yeah, I resonate a lot. And I think also, Melissa, what you're getting us toward, and I know this show so far it's been amazing and thank you again. And it's been highly relevant to, of course, both genders, but I know the work you're really doing at the moment is predominantly directed at women. So I want to get into some of the healing and what you're creating in the world and before we do or as a segue and you kind of alluded to it a minute ago. I know community-based healing is something that you're a big believer in, and so I'm curious to tap into that a little bit more. What role does community play in people's healing? And how do you envision community weaving in with psychedelics and specifically for trauma healing?

0:49:41.1 Dr. Melissa Barker: Yeah, and I could talk about this all day. So thank you for bringing it up. I truly believe we need to heal in community, we need... Trauma on its own can not remain in the shadows if it's witnessed. That's actually how you move trauma through the body, the spirit, the soul, all of the things. It has to be witnessed. So when you have community and you have intentional community and that co-witnessing can happen. I've seen massive transformative breakthroughs happen in people real-time where someone feels like they were seen, another person held that space, saw them, was in reverence with the witnessing. And just like that, it's able to move through. It's incredible. So I really believe in community collective care needs to be a core piece of any and all mental health. And so when I started the Phoenix Project, it was on the heels of MeToo. Part of my story is I was one of the 31 survivors that filed a Title IX suit against lawsuit Berkeley for mishandling sexual assault back in 2014. This is pre MeToo movement. I'm using scare quotes right now because Tarana Burke was and has been doing the work much longer than when MeToo went viral. But it was this really interesting place of consciousness where survivors were starting to be seen more and speak up and say, "This happened to me. It's not okay."

0:51:04.6 Dr. Melissa Barker: "We have to change these systems. There are systems in place that are creating these continuous outcomes." So I rode out a four and a half year-long lawsuit against UC Berkeley, which is a whole other gnarly story, while also stepping into my doctorate and coming to academia saying, "Okay, I can see the systemic flaws. I can see the reasons we have these traumas that perpetuate and continue over and over and over, how do we stop this? How do we solve for this?" And so I founded my company, the Phoenix Project, in response to that in saying, "We need to build something for survivors by survivors." And I, up until 2020, was very quietly working on just a community-based app where we could have this digital collective witnessing. We could crowd source healing together. We'd have different healing modalities. So breath work, cold plunges, these things that are just incredible for the nervous system, trying to create this access and education component. And then the pandemic happened and the Bay Area was one of the first spaces to shutter. And so it felt like overnight our whole world was flipped upside down. And trauma research for me is going, "Okay, we're about to be in collective trauma and we don't have any of the resourcing for the most part, people don't know how to get through this."

0:52:25.6 Dr. Melissa Barker: So I pivoted Phoenix and said, "Let's make Phoenix available to anyone and everyone having a hard time," which was an understatement. And we, just super grassroots, we're like, "Let's find a bunch of healers," we put together a COVID response team...

0:52:39.1 Joseph Anew: 7 billion people.

0:52:42.4 Dr. Melissa Barker: 7 billion people. We were... When I think back to the days, the early days of Phoenix, it was wild. We would be on Zooms with 60 people all over the world on all these different time zones. Everyone sheltered in place and we're teaching meditation, we're teaching somatic, we're teaching tapping, we're teaching, "This is how you regulate your nervous system in 30 seconds with this breath practice." We're just like, "Give them the medicine, give them the info, give them everything." This is pre-psychedelics too, on Phoenix's journey. And I thought, "Okay, that's the solution. That's the thing we're going to build, it's community, it's access to these modalities that are "non-traditional" maybe we'll have a therapy arm." And Phoenix started to take shape and then it was me having that assault in Austin, March of last year that really humbled me. Literally brought me to my knees and I realized there's more here that we have to start figuring out. And so it's been as I've been moving through my own journey and in my own healing. This new iteration of Phoenix is being visioned, and the idea is that it's an audio-only experience. So I equate it to Clubhouse for psychedelic integration. We would have audio spaces, audio chatrooms, and then audio pathways that have really, really well curated trauma-healing content.

0:54:05.5 Dr. Melissa Barker: So someone can actually take these deeper pathways if they're doing their integration work or when they're doing their integration work. And at the center of it, at the core, is a community. But the reason I'm choosing audio is because as a trauma survivor, you don't always want to show your face. Sometimes you also just want to be in the room and listen. And there's incredible medicine that happens just from listening and hearing and witnessing someone else work through their stuff. And I'm just... I was actually talking to an advisor this morning because I was like, "Oh, I'm doing this podcast but the product's on... " And I'm like founder moment. And he's like, "Yeah, but the product is coming. We are literally building it as we speak and we are putting together this ecosystem of guides, of leaders, of doctors to also build this beautiful marketplace, because there needs to be easier access points to this type of healing. And I am a believer that you can build tech for good, that conscious technology can exist and that you can actually use it to help people rather than harm them." And that's what we're working on.

0:55:18.0 Joseph Anew: I love that Melissa and...

0:55:19.9 Dr. Melissa Barker: Thank you.

0:55:21.5 Joseph Anew: I think from a Third Wave standpoint, this podcast, I think there's a lot of our CCP coaches, our graduates from our coaching program that would probably fit nicely in your community, as well. What's coming up for me it's this amazing fractal where trauma eats you alive and it takes so much courage to step into the open and so does psychedelic use. And the good news is that courage is contagious. And as you said, the core being community, that means there's this contagious, courageous community at the core and everything branches out from there and brings people together, gives them a voice, gives them that power. As you said, even just stepping in and not having the camera on or just listening to the audio and just letting it into your body and letting it into your cells and letting it sort of blossom and in time bring courage in where it didn't otherwise exist and give people that power to step into themselves.

0:56:21.9 Dr. Melissa Barker: Exactly. Exactly and out of my doctorate, my dissertation was on how are trauma survivors finding sustainable healing when they're in times of collective trauma. And I dissertated through the pandemic, which is a wild experience in itself. But I created this entire... Because at the end of the day I'm building tech, so we're always saying, "Okay, how do we move someone through these different phases? What does that look like?" And we created 7 stages of healing for a trauma survivor and recognized the 7th stage being, "I'm ready to be seen, I'm ready to share my story and I'm ready to give back. I'm ready to... " I saw this beautiful quote the other day that said, I'm going to mess it up, but it eventually alluded to "the real heroes are the ones that survived the fire, came out and turned around with water to go back in and save those that were still in the fires". And that's what trauma survivors do. There is a shared empathy and connection that... I have studied, I have researched, we have quantified, I've done all the things. That is so beautiful and so innately human and so full of hope that I have watched time and time again that when a trauma survivor gets to this place in their own healing. The first thing they do is say, "How do I go back and help those that haven't come here yet?

0:57:41.4 Dr. Melissa Barker: How do I bring them to where I am?" And I believe in the power of voice. I believe in the power of community. There's so much that can happen when you're intentionally in these spaces. And so Phoenix 2, as I'm dubbing her, it's so creative right now, is really at the center.

0:57:58.1 Dr. Melissa Barker: The core is to help people have this collective community care approach to their healing, to their curiosity, to their integration, and then to have this beautiful marketplace also holding them and guiding them where they can step into their own autonomy and say, "I'm called to work with this guide. I'm going to do a discovery call," or, "I want to work with this coach," or, "I want to put together... This is what my integration looks like." It's sound baths and it's this, or it's... It's truly bringing someone back to their true autonomy of self. So they can go and lead in the world.

0:58:30.7 Joseph Anew: I love that. And there's something to be said for this. You walk in, in pain and you get some relief and you feel that sense of belonging. And as soon as your cup is full, you want to come back and support the people that are entering at that pain relief phase. You want to contribute and in some way, and I'd be curious, Melissa, if you could give us a little bit more of a sneak peek at the seven stages, so people can feel into maybe where they're at or give them some... I imagine as this is coming through people, it can be very challenging to know where you're at. It's such a courageous journey, but I think maybe at the end, that final stage seems to be giving back in many ways. And that's how when you see people coming in at the place you were and it's just a beautiful sort of circular system. It feels like you're building here.

0:59:35.7 Dr. Melissa Barker: Exactly. And I'll make sure that we actually get these all to you as well. So you can have them maybe in show notes, but it's such fancy language, the survivor trajectory of healing. That's the framework that I created. And so these are the stages. And this, again, this came out of countless interviews, listening sessions with trauma survivors, studying myself. I'm a trained autoethnographer. So I'm actually trained to study the self and say that holds data, which is a wild story to also tell in academia. But basically, the first stage is 'I'm not ready to think or talk about it'. Then you move to, 'I'm ready to think about it, but not talk about it'. Then move to, 'I'm ready to consider talking about it'. Move to, 'I'm ready to talk about it'. Move to, 'I'm ready to talk about it with close friends/family'. Move to, 'I'm ready to start healing'. And then the final is, 'I'm ready to be seen'.

1:00:33.3 Dr. Melissa Barker: And what I want to say is trauma healing or healing in general is far from linear. So this trajectory, a trauma survivor could go through all those in one day. You could be in a therapy session. I know this from lived experience, in a therapy session, sitting there looking at, "I don't want to open that door. I'm not even ready to start talking about it. I'm not ready to think about it. Okay, I'm ready to start talking about it. All right, let's start healing. I'm ready to be seen. No, I'm not. I'm going to go back." This trajectory is not a linear experience. It's an ever evolving and moving organic experience. And what my dream is, what my hope is, is that we teach people to truly integrate and move with their trauma in a way where they don't feel broken. They lean into the strengths. Post-traumatic growth is a thing. It's studied. It's a real body of work that you can come through the other side and you have these almost like superpowers.

1:01:33.6 Dr. Melissa Barker: But we want to normalize that all of you is welcome in the house Of Phoenix. That's our running joke. I always equate to Phoenix as it's like, "Let's make it feel like you're in my living room. And you're just, you're eating good food. You're with good company. You're feeling nourished. Your nervous system is at rest." That's the house Of Phoenix. And then all of you is welcome. Every single part of you is welcome. And that we understand, because we're a community of peers, we understand what it feels like to move through this trajectory in all of its various ways.

1:02:02.6 Joseph Anew: I love that, Melissa. Can I ask where did the name come from? Phoenix. What inspired it?

1:02:11.8 Dr. Melissa Barker: Sure. So it's a great story. I was in this lawsuit with UC Berkeley. I'm in my doctorate, MeToo happens. And it was February of 2018. And I had an opportunity to meet Tarana Burke. And I actually went and I met her and we just dropped in. We talked about all the things. And I remember I told her, I was like, "I'm building this thing. I don't know what it is. It just hasn't totally presented itself to me, but it's going to be a community for survivors. We're going to have these things." And we just talking, talking, talking. That night I came home and I was taking a shower and suddenly just got this very clear download, all pre-psychedelics, by the way, the Phoenix, the Phoenix. And I was like, "Okay, I get it." The mythology, the Phoenix has to burn itself down to rise up through the ashes to come back stronger. And I just got my journal out and I started journaling and free writing, which is a practice I lean on a lot and just let my mind go into this void of what am I doing right now? And it just was The Phoenix Project. And that was it.

1:03:21.7 Dr. Melissa Barker: And now I'm at this really interesting juncture with the company where we're moving into a C corp. Phoenix at the end of the day is a technology company. So we're looking at venture and putting together who we're going to be approaching and talking to. And so the company actually has to have a different name at the corp level. But it's truly at the heart, it's this story of inner transformation and an understanding, it's okay to burn down. You will come through that. You will come through and we will rise together. We will literally embody the Phoenix and come back stronger through all of it.

1:03:55.3 Joseph Anew: So beautiful.

1:03:56.3 Dr. Melissa Barker: Thank you.

1:03:56.4 Joseph Anew: Yeah. The Phoenix, 'cause the Phoenix is it's reborn. There's a... And isn't that the process of healing and to some extent my last name, Anew, is not a mistake and it's not genetic. It's a name that I chose and it's related to some of this work and this rebirthing and this inner transformation. And so I love that. And yeah, the Phoenix of this it's immortal and it's reborn and it's beautiful, as someone... If someone is in trauma, it's this idea of, "If I could only be reborn, I could start again." And gosh, I just love that overlay there.

1:04:42.6 Dr. Melissa Barker: Thank you. Thank you. I had a Kundalini teacher years ago in LA. I told her, I said, "Okay, I finally named the company." And she just looked at me and she said, "I see what you did there. Good job." But on a spiritual front I've had these wild life experiences of my own Phoenixes, my own burns, my own living through... 2022 was the year of the Phoenix for me. It was like everything in my life was crumbling around me. And I had to... I was suspended in the ashes for a really long time in 2022. I had to really, every time I kept trying to get out of it, something would happen. And I was like, "Nope, I gotta just sit here." And it's been, 2023 where I can start to feel me coming through as this new embodiment of self, truly the new iteration of the Phoenix. And as I'm going through that surprise, surprise, the company is going through its new iteration. So I am a huge believer in self-transformation and the power that it holds for all of us and for the collective, which we're living through some interesting times. We definitely need some collective consciousness to be helping us heal together.

1:06:02.3 Joseph Anew: I agree. And I have to ask Melissa, who was your teacher in LA?

1:06:07.0 Dr. Melissa Barker: It was Guru Jagat who has since passed.

1:06:11.6 Joseph Anew: Yeah. She was beautiful.

1:06:12.8 Dr. Melissa Barker: She was beautiful.

1:06:14.2 Joseph Anew: My wife and I were very... We were regulars at Rama for many years and Tej was our teacher and you probably know Tej.

1:06:20.8 Dr. Melissa Barker: Tej is phenomenal. Yeah.

1:06:22.8 Joseph Anew: Just a powerhouse. And she's so amazing. And I have so much love for her and we miss her so much. It was literally... When my wife really wanted to move back to Austin and Tej was the thing that almost kept us in LA.

1:06:40.8 Dr. Melissa Barker: Oh, I get it.

1:06:42.0 Joseph Anew: And I think for folks listening, for me, Kundalini was really an on-ramp to psychedelics, even though I've never met a Kundalini teacher that would advise psychedelic drug use. But in terms of that, I'm curious, and this maybe is how we'll close, but the fearlessness that comes out of a Kundalini yoga practice and the moving of energy, especially from the lower chakras and stuck energy that is liberated in those classes is... We talked a little bit about non-psychedelic modalities and it's so wild that Kundalini came up because it's just been such a part of my journey as well. And I'm curious if you have any final thoughts on Kundalini and then we'll...

1:07:26.6 Dr. Melissa Barker: Oh, so many, so many. And the Kundalini community there's been a lot moving through it. There's been a lot of shifting. There's been a lot of...

1:07:34.5 Joseph Anew: A lot.

1:07:34.5 Dr. Melissa Barker: I've met teachers that won't even tune in anymore. And so I think that brings up this systemic piece. The system piece that we all live within but Kundalini for myself, I found Kundalini in 2009 and I was living in Berkeley and getting to practice with amazing, amazing teachers. And it was shifting so much for me so rapidly on a cellular level, talk about transformative and moving through trauma that it felt like a rocket ship. It, in many ways, felt similar with psychedelics of like this rocket ship of skipping the line of, "I'm going to go right there and it's going to get me to where I need to go so I can really work this thing through." So having it as one of my, and that's why I have a giant sheepskin rug, having sort of my...

1:08:28.6 Joseph Anew: I almost mentioned it. Melissa, when you said that an hour ago, I almost said you must've had it in Kundalini.

1:08:35.8 Dr. Melissa Barker: Exactly. It's my Kundalini, yep, that's why I sit on a giant sheepskin rug when I journey.

1:08:41.1 Joseph Anew: That's right.

1:08:42.2 Dr. Melissa Barker: But it's been, for me, what I found so incredible is, and I choose to still tune in. I choose to still... I clear my field and I really intentionally tune in and tap into this ancient, ancient technology through breath and mantra. And I find it's this absolutely beautiful ally to psychedelics and to journeying. I've been in journeys where I'm doing breath of fire, where I'm moving stuff through, where I'm doing some of these movements and practices. Yeah. Ketamine, especially, I get really, really I want to move a ton, which is interesting. But I have been able to alchemize and move that energy and tap into these practices that my teachers have given me and that I've been able to learn and have in my wheelhouse. And so, I think though my core takeaway with any and all healing is it truly is a choose-your-own adventure. What is working for you? What is your soul called to? What is the medicine that uniquely fits your vibration and your path? And Kundalini, I know is not for everybody. It can also be extremely activating. So I've had to... There are times where I have to do gentler practices or gentler mantras where I'm not moving as much of the energy, but it's your life force. This is our true pull-it-all-back life force of self, of the soul. And when you can tap into that you're unstoppable. So I selfishly would love to see more of humanity get to tap into those parts of themselves.

1:10:25.1 Joseph Anew: Absolutely, Melissa. Well, thank you so much. I want to just ask if there's anything in closing that we didn't dive into that we missed or that you'd love to share with our audience before we call this episode complete? Is there anything we missed Melissa?

1:10:45.6 Dr. Melissa Barker: I just wanted just say, 'cause I know intimately what it feels like to be on your healing journey in different stages and to have moments of, "What am I supposed to do next?" Or, "I don't even know where the door is. I'm in the room and I don't even know which way is up." That you are not alone. That there are people here to help you heal, that these lessons, these things that you've lived through and you've had to live through these, now I call them initiations in my life. They don't have to make up all of you. They are catalysts for growth and transformation. And that the most courageous work I think any human will ever do is leaning into their healing. And it's... Deserves to be celebrated and cheered along. And I hope that as we build Phoenix and we're putting this new iteration into the world, just for anyone listening we are truly building a home for healing that you can bring your whole self to. And I'm so excited to be in that with our future community that's coming together.

1:11:52.5 Joseph Anew: I love it. Bring all of your parts.

1:11:52.6 Dr. Melissa Barker: Bring all of your parts, bring them to the dinner party. Let's get weird. They're all welcome. And let's truly do this whole wild healing thing together collectively and show up in our lives differently, which I believe will ripple into the other parts of the world and communities that need it.

1:12:15.8 Joseph Anew: I love it. And I wish you just all the best and so much success.

1:12:19.8 Dr. Melissa Barker: Thank you.

1:12:20.9 Joseph Anew: And I know you're going to help just so many people and it's such a beautiful mission and you have such a, just passionate, energetic voice and an experienced one too. And I just think that that's what people need. And so I just, I wish you all the best, Melissa. And yeah, this has been so great. Maybe before we close and I probably said it in the intro, but your website where people can find you, where do people go, Melissa?

1:12:46.0 Dr. Melissa Barker: Absolutely. So right now we're at iamphoenixproject.com. We're building a newsletter. We're in that space of one product is being sunset as we step in and build the new product, true Phoenix moment, burning down to rise through the ashes and build something new. So please sign up for our newsletter and that will basically take you along for the ride as we're working on... We're really, really excited with what we're working on.

1:13:17.0 Dr. Melissa Barker: We're, in classic tech fashion, keeping quiet about it, but it is... I'm really lit up about what we're going to be launching into the world. And I would love any and all that are interested to follow along and get updates. You can also follow me on Instagram. I'm not really big into social media, I actually fully pulled away for the last year-plus, but I'm slowly sharing parts of my journey more and more on there. And I'm @drmelissabarker and just please say hello. I love meeting people. I love being in community and would love and be honored to have any and all that are interested in what we're working on. And we will, I know we talked about this, we're starting with women because I identify as a woman and that's where I'm building from, but we have an entire, just, world of amazing men that are also going to be building on Phoenix. So there will be... We want all and all representation to be held and put into this tech solution where we're creating right now. So more to come.

1:14:19.6 Joseph Anew: Yeah. Thank you so much, Melissa. This was a real joy and it's so nice to know you...

1:14:24.8 Dr. Melissa Barker: Thank you.

1:14:25.9 Joseph Anew: And thank you for all you do.

1:14:29.0 Dr. Melissa Barker: Likewise. Thank you. Thank you for everything. It was my pleasure. So thank you so much for having me.

1:14:37.2 Joseph Anew: Hey listeners, Joseph here. I hope you enjoyed our episode today with Dr. Melissa Barker. Remember to head to thethirdwave.co/podcast to go deeper into today's show with full show notes, transcripts, and all the links we may have mentioned in this conversation. That's thethirdwave.co/podcast. What moved you in today's conversation? What inspired you? What new insights did you gain? Or do you have questions for Paul or myself? Continue the dialogue with us at community.thethirdwave.co. Once you're logged in, navigate to the Psychedelic Podcast menu and leave us a comment. And while you're at it, check out the rest of the amazing platform to find support, meaningful discussions, high quality education resources, and of course, providers across our global ecosystem. You can sign up for free at community.thethirdwave.co. We hope to see you there.

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