The scientific community worldwide uses the term ‘mystical experience’ to describe the journey-life experience that psychedelic substances can trigger. Ego dissolution can cause drastic changes in the perception of the self and may represent a psychedelic challenge: In this article, Alexandre Perrella is defining the concept of Ego-Death, and how to go about integrating Ego-death.
Integrating The Psychedelic Ego-Death
The Oceanic Feeling — feeling that we are part of everything and everything is a part of us — often follows ego death. It is which is more related to interconnectedness and communion than to self-extinction.
I would say that the part of the self that disappears during the ego death is not the self. What disappears is the separation between ourselves and the world. At the Imperial School of London, the use of psychedelic substances has been linked to ego dissolution and the psychedelic experience. With the right preparation and proper set, setting, and guidance, even the inexperienced psychonaut may be able to navigate the psychedelic landscape and potentially induce an ego-dissolution experience.
In fact, there are coaches end even entire companies dedicated to conducting psychedelic retreats and assisting the participant to achieve this stage of the mystical experience with the responsible use of legal entheogens.
Once the psychonaut has had a glimpse of this state of union with the universe, the real question becomes obvious:
How can I apply the ego-death to my life?
I mean, why would anyone want to go through a death experience? Well, scientists think that psychedelics offer a relatively safe journey-like way for people to face their anxiety related to death.
Furthermore, going back thousands of years, historians now know that in Greece existed the rites of the Eleusinian Mysteries, an ancient ritual based on a brew that some historians and chemists now suspect to have contained psychoactive alkaloids derived from the ergot fungus theoretically capable of generating similar effects to LSD.
The Eleusinian Mysteries rites were based around generating a death-like mystical experience to help their initiates to witness the state of ego-dissolution.
The initiates of the Eleusinian rites were better equipped to face death in a positive way after the experience.
In the words of reputable historian Will Durant in his book “The Complete Story of Civilization” about the Eleusinian Mysteries:
“In this ecstasy of revelation…they felt the unity of God, and the oneness of God and the soul; they were lifted out of the delusion of individuality and knew the peace of absorption into deity”— Durant, 1989
In addition, folklore expert Waverly Fitzgerald reinforces the idea that the initiates in the mysteries had a changed perspective on life and death after the rites:
“It was said of those who were initiated at Eleusis that they no longer feared death and it seems that this myth confirms the cyclical view of life central to pagan spirituality: that death is part of the cycle of life and is always followed by rebirth”— Fitzgerald, 2020
One of the reasons why going through an ego-death experience induced by a psychedelic experience may be beneficial is that it may prepare the participant to understand and deal with their mortality with hope and curiosity in place of fear and anxiety. Just altering your consciousness and having this experience is not enough to achieve this goal. After the psychedelic experience, the journey continues during the stage of integration. However, Ego-death integration can be as challenging as the experience itself.
Ego-Death Integration: The Most Powerful Tool of Empathy
Integration is the most critical stage of the psychedelic experience, and one could argue that it is an endless process. To integrate means to become whole. With every psychedelic experience, I become gradually more aware of the pieces of myself that I had never noticed before. During the integration process, I have the opportunity to incorporate these newly discovered pieces of myself in a permanent way.
Let’s think about the Oceanic Feeling that we talked about before. In the same fashion, this experience is not very different from ego dissolution. It is impossible to identify the self if you can’t identify the other. Let go of the boundaries of the skin and expand your self-identity to include even other people. By doing this, the participant may come to the insightful conclusion:
— “We are all the same person!”.
Bring this knowledge with you in the back of your mind in normal life and pay close attention to how your posture towards others changes because you see them as an extension of yourself. Realize that other people carry with them the same fears, insecurities, and shortcomings that you also carry, and then you will have in your hands the most powerful empathy tool in the world.
Very few people can reach this level of ego-death integration without proper guidance and the presence of a supportive community.
Talk with experienced coaches to help with your psychedelics integration, check our integration coaches, reach out, schedule a conversation, and join our community.