“Drugs are bad.” It’s a common notion that, if you grew up anything like myself, you’ve been told and taught from an early age. It’s a belief that is socialized into us through both societal expectations as well as education, but is it entirely true? In Canada, Marijuana was recently legalized countrywide because of a new-age view of this age-old question. More specifically, because of the reality that society as a whole is beginning to understand that not everything we were once told is necessarily rooted in fact. Fortunately for us, we now have science to back these questions. Canada’s adoption of “the devils lettuce” is, in my eyes, more of a symbolic move than anything else. It’s a sign of both change and progress. A symbol indicating that we, as a collective, are much more willing to consider all of the wild and endless possibilities of our world with an open mind. It’s a sign of the thriving sharing economy in action. The world where we are now able to inform and make decisions for ourselves, though this access to information is something we almost certainly take for granted. We’re entering an era where we are beginning to understand that just maybe, all these things we were once told are finally worth questioning.
As a more accepting view on new substances slowly makes its way into the societal norms of both Canada and many Western American states by way of new Marijuana legislation, so too has a new dialogue on the possible benefits of several other therapeutic, though restricted substances. Though there are several thrown in the mix of this discussion, one that particularly stands out is the use of psilocybin mushrooms as both a tool and treatment mechanism. Over the past half century, mushrooms have come and gone from the arena of mental health. I personally first read about their use in University, when reading an assigned book about the use of guided LSD & Psychedelic therapy to cure alcoholism in the post-war prairies of Canada. Since that time, the speculation of this science has become very solidified. Psilocybin is proving one of the most effective treatment options for addictions and depression to date. It’s a substance that many places, including the state of Oregon, are fast-tracking toward legalization. What else? It’s entirely natural, growing straight from the soil of our earth and is undoubtedly much less damaging for the body than it’s synthetic peers.
Several of my favourite intellectuals, from Andrew Weil to Tim Ferris to Michael Pollan are members of an enormous list of advocates for the use of psilocybin. These individuals preach both the scientific benefits as well as the psychological results from their own personal experiences. Experiences which many of these iconic individuals credit for massive changes in their own lives. For myself personally, I have found this substance to be an incredible tool for both creativity as well as mental clarity. In the past, larger doses helped me understand my automatic tendencies in ways I would almost certainly never perceive without. In term, helping me to adjust and even change them. As I got older, preferring smaller, more minute doses has assisted me in reinforcing entirely new and more productive methods of habitual thought into my regular everyday life. Your thoughts, whether directly or indirectly, certainly do create your reality. The key to experiencing a new reality lies in a new train of thought, and that is what the real benefit here is. A common explanation of the psilocybin experience is that it is able to provide a graduate level education in the obvious. It’s an experience providing a natural ability to tune in to the elements of our lives that tend to reside barely outside our sphere of conscious awareness, our blind spots. There is a simple and obvious reason creative professionals around the world have been micro-dosing and undergoing guided sessions with this special substance for years. It is both a powerful and effective tool for the mind in numerous ways, including a strong ability to promote new connections between relatively unrelated regions of the brain. New connections mean new approaches, which then mean new results.
I cannot speak for everyone, but I personally live in a strange world. One where alcoholism is often glorified on television as well as in person, and the use of natural substances that may actually help people is, for whatever reason, defamed. In particular, substances like psilocybin that are still indirectly defined by their distant connection with a partying hippy movement from over 4 decades prior. We still provide boundless validation to the drunk executive pounding tequila at the work Christmas party and we praise the depressed student who has courageously approached their doctor seeking opioids as a cure for their distress. Yet, we continue to view one of the worlds most ancient and revolutionary cures for the mind as an antagonist. I’m not exactly sure how to view this dilemma. To me, this seems like a classic case of wrongful socialization. Just because our norms have always told us one thing, does not necessarily mean they are rooted in the proper values. Though we are certainly catching up pretty damn fast, we still have a long way to go, and things are definitely still a little tiny bit old fashioned. For the most part, drugs really can be pretty bad, and that includes the legal ones. But that doesn’t mean that the statement is necessarily all-encompassing. We really do live in a pretty special time. Technology, science and our understanding of the human psyche are each at their pinnacle. Not only this, but they are now converging. It’s a point in time when an open mind may be the best asset any individual person can possess. Nowadays change is coming at us with rapid speed, all we have to do is be ready for it.
“Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life. LSD shows you that there’s another side to the coin, and you can’t remember it when it wears off, but you know it. It reinforced my sense of what was important—creating great things instead of making money” – STEVE JOBS
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor a professional researcher on this topic, and in no way am I promoting the use of state altering substances without professional supervision. This article is simply a reflection piece from a guy who is able to regurgitate some of the information and experiences I have collected on the topic of psychedelic therapy.
Dale Stephenson is a freethinker, an adventurer and a professional designer currently residing on the west coast of Canada in Vancouver. Ever since becoming great friends with both Dale and his brother Matt, I’ve always sensed a rare energy when spending time with both of these lads. It’s something I can only describe using the simple term, presence. Wherever these two are, they are fully there, and you can feel it. Whether that be in their careers, their friendships, their adventures or their activities. Not surprisingly so, their lifestyles have ended up incredibly well rounded as they prepare to exit their late twenties in the next few years. As far as I can tell, with nothing short of great things to come on their horizon. Both Dale and I share similar views and interests on a whole host of topics. Reading copious amounts of the same content, it’s always been a reality that we can ring off ongoing conversation on an almost endless basis. In this episode, we dive into a whole host of topics including Dale’s near-death experience, how to follow your intuition in creating a life by your own design, and a unique perspective on retirement I’ve rarely heard anywhere else.
Contrary to its popular understanding, modern mindfulness is, in fact, a topic that dives much deeper than the simple act of meditation. It’s a holistic view of mental wellness, rooted in the physical health of mind & body, meaningful living, and becoming conscious of the messages flowing through our mind. Learning to consciously guide or allow them, without providing them enough power to dictate our actions. It is human nature to experience reality in the form of emotions, although it is in the understanding that we are greater than these thoughts and feelings where our human power truly resides.
“We’re addicted to our beliefs; we’re addicted to the emotions of our past. We see our beliefs as truths, and not as ideas that we can change.” – Joe Dispenza
In our world, there is no problem that can be solved from the same level of consciousness as it was created. A change in results requires a change in approach. Being mindful of this reality is the starting point of change. It is a special form of awareness which we can then follow with action and intent. Without first developing an awareness for who we are, why we do what we do, and why we think what we think, the search for true purpose and meaning will remain an uphill battle. This special form of consciousness alone is a proven contributor to happiness and satisfaction. Slow and steady progress toward reinforcing new patterns, new beliefs, and new habits is how true transformation takes place. This is how we learn to live in accordance with our true purpose, following our intuition before succumbing to the influences in our external reality.
How To Practice Mindfulness
You can blend mindfulness into your life through a variety of methods. The only thing you have to do is choose one, or a set of them that is right for you. The following is a simple list of some of the top practices to help any individual person foster consciousness in their life, living more mindfully along the way:
Meditation. For myself and many others, this is #1 for a very good reason. It is the most powerful and direct way to become conscious of our thoughts. Forcing ourselves to slow down provides the opportunity to listen to our thoughts free of distraction. It’s an activity that over time, will strengthen our ability to then control and acknowledge these emotions, experiences, and states of being. In recent years, the physiological, as well as mental benefits, are beginning to become very clear, now backed by the science of health and wellness. Just like anything else, meditation is an art and a skill. Be patient with yourself and you will slowly but surely observe noted improvements in your practice. Improvements that will benefit all areas of your life.
Sport and activity. Being physically engaged, especially in any kind of intense activity has a special ability to lock our attention to the present moment. Sports bring our mind into a flow state where we can process information incredibly quickly. It’s a state where we are free of emotions, feelings, and attachments that reside in the past or future. They wake us into where we are in the ‘here and now’. As a general rule, if you practice any form of true presence often, your life will transform. Wherever you are, truly be there. Focus on the turns you are making while skiing, focus on the weights you are lifting at the gym and focus on the people you are with instead of the people on your phone. Presence is powerful, your brain and relationships will thank you.
Journal and foster self-awareness. Perhaps the best thing any person can do is work to understand and master who they are. Learn why you do what you do, and the patterns in your life you may be blind to. As humans, we truly are creatures of habit, and our thoughts are indeed the result of this aspect in our nature. Learn your habits, and learn how to change them. Teach your body and teach your mind what you want it to learn. Everything in life is a choice, choose who you are going to be by understanding who you are and where you are at.
Express yourself. One of the easiest ways to love yourself is to be yourself. We live in a world where distractions are abundant and they are everywhere. Expressing who you are and living in alignment with the things that truly make you happy is a really special thing. People who live like this are loved and appreciated for who they are, all while exuding rare and authentic energy. Whether you enjoy sport, community, art, or any other form of hobby, embrace your personal form of self-expression. You will learn to appreciate your inner guidance system and truly love the lifestyle of your choosing. Passions boost us in so many ways, and there is never anything wrong with indulging in a healthy activity of self-expression.
Manager your circle of influence. You become are the sum of the greatest influences in your life. Whether consciously or not, the people, the activities, and the idols you choose in life WILL rub off on you. Become conscious of how you spend your time. Who do you communicate with? How do you spend your day? What consumes your energy? Each of these will be important when choosing how you want to be as an individual. For myself personally, this process has improved my life in ways I could never describe with words. Cutting negative forces from people to time on social media can elevate your mindset in ways you previously thought to be impossible.
Although this list is certainly far from exhaustive, it is a great starting point when it comes to transforming your thoughts, beliefs and your mind. So often in life we believe we are at the effect of the world. I personally know this to be untrue. We, as individuals, are the cause of our world. Our thoughts shape our intent, our actions and our energy. Great things come to people who exude great energy. Focus on being happy and healthy and you will draw more of this toward. Mindfulness is not an end, it is a means to an end. Use it as a tool to living your authenticity and embracing your purpose. The science is out, mindfulness is good, and because of this, it is growing.
To sum all of this up, I think there is one question that lays this out very simply and effectively: if there was one thing you could do for a few minutes every day to change your life, would you? And if not, why?
“Our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think” – Buddha
I met Adam about a year ago when giving him a ride up to a video shoot in northern Ontario. As a really young guy at the time, I was really surprised by his maturity and rational awareness when discussing all things pop culture, personal development and creative expression. From what I have seen so far, he is an incredibly passionate creator with an eagerness for continuous learning and connecting with inspiring people. In this episode Adam and I had the chance to dive into a lot of different topics. In particular, I was curious about his process in creating a highly regarded short film that is currently touring across the United States. We also discuss his views on the current state of the movie-making industry, his creative process and how he has come to prioritize self-awareness in his life, a topic I honestly wish we spoke about a lot more.
In this episode, my friend Chris and I had the chance to rant about one of our favourite topics, technology and the overstimulation it creates in our mental patterns and behaviours. In specific, we dive into our view of how modern dating is impacted by smartphones, dating apps, and hookup culture, a topic we’ve recently collaborated on for a hopeful creative project. In his work life, Chris is a renowned videographer known for his work in the music industry covering events and directing music videos. Give this episode a listen to catch up on Chris’ views on all of the above topics as well as success, happiness and his personal story of career expansion in the world of cinematography.
I first met Rodrigo at a remote tree-planting camp in northern Ontario about 7 or 8 years ago. From day one it was pretty obvious to me that he was someone who saw the world from a different perspective than most people I ever meet. His outlook on life actually rubbed off on my a lot, becoming a major influence behind my choice to start writing about mindfulness, self-awareness and personal growth. Years and lots of major life changes later, I finally had the chance to catch up with him for a conversation. Listen to this episode below or click HERE for an external link to the podcast.
Whether we like it or not, what we experience during childhood plays a massive role in who we become as adults. Our upbringing in and outside the household creates our perception of the world around us, and shapes most of our habits and behaviours. Obviously this happens in school, in organized sports, and on the playground, but most importantly it happens in your household with your family.
I honestly believe I had an awesome childhood. My parents put a huge amount of dedication toward us being able to explore all of our interests and passions (big shout out to mom and dad!), but as a result, the one thing they weren’t able to do was dedicate as much time to themselves. My parents separated while I was in highschool. The one thing my childhood actually didn’t have was a healthy relationship between parents for my siblings and I to learn from and model in our own lives. It’s something that many people understand subconsciously through seeing their parents interact with one another while they grew up, but for children who do not witness this, it can sometimes be difficult to understand and model properly. This does not necessarily mean children of divorce are emotionally fucked up, it just means we have to do the real life learning to figure this out on our own. Learning through experience, observation and conversation. It’s a dynamic we are actively trying to figure out by working to be more self aware, breaking and recreating habits we may have learned as kids. At some point we all have to face the fact that we are a counterpart of our parents, and we are a lot more like them than we may sometimes care to admit.
Right now our world tells us that when we have children, they become the absolute priority. They are to become the end all be all of our time, energy and thoughts. Parents often place their hobbies, social life and even relationship with one another on the back-burner while working to provide for their kids in every way imaginable. They neglect their own emotional and physical well being and it really is quite admirable, though probably not so good for themselves. I’ll be the first to admit that I have no idea what this kind of sacrifice may feel like, but I can certainly speak from the perspective of someone who watched his parents live out this scenario. I believe that at times, modern parents should consider embracing a slightly more selfish outlook than they may want to.
I am not a therapist, a counselor or a psychologist, but I do believe I have read and experienced enough to understand that the best way to lead is by example. The family sphere is no exception. The best way to show your children how to be healthy, happy people in the world and their relationships is to show them. Children absorb what they see between parents while growing up and whether good or bad, often remodel some side of it in their own life. The more I observe the relationships all around me, the more I see this to be true. I understand the feelings and emotions behind it, but I believe the cultural narrative of putting your kids above everything is not as healthy as we all assume. The best thing for your family is for you to be at your very best so that your children can understand how to do the same.
Parent’s, don’t be afraid to put you and your relationship first. It may be the very best thing for everyone, including your children.
Earlier this week I was lucky enough to attend a meet and greet event and have a chat with the CEO of my new workplace. Though he had a lot of really interesting thoughts and concepts to share, one sentiment from his closing speech really caught my attention.
“My biggest advice for you guys is that you can only control the things that are within your influence. The best way to live in your personal and professional life is to leverage those factors as much as you can, but consciously allow the rest to happen as it will. You have to put in an effort, but at a certain point the chips are going to fall where they are going to fall, and the right people and opportunities are going to happen however they are supposed to.”
Though someone residing at the pinnacle of success may have been one of the last people I expected to hear this from, this statement was actually one of the best explanations of a concept I’ve been wanting to verbalize for quite a long time: the balance between consciously creating our reality and allowing circumstances to unfold naturally. Both of which are common lessons of modern spirituality, but where exactly do we draw the line between taking action and stepping back to observe a situation while it turns out exactly how it is meant to?
As modern humans, we falsely believe we are entitled to absolute control over our lives. It is actually quite an unhealthy way to make decisions, and often creates much more friction than ease. As any high achiever will tell you, nothing worth having is easily accomplished. This is simply a truth. Success, appreciation and happiness are things we create and earn, but there has and always will be a special place in the process for the art of allowance. Resisting things we cannot change is much like swimming against the current, and you can bet humans loathe that as much as the fish.
Life is not supposed to be easy, but it is supposed to be simple. We complicate processes that truly are quite basic: great goals are worth the effort, always prioritize the things that bring you happiness and be grateful for almost everything in between. Anything within your control is where conscious creation is at work. Allowance is not about holding back on actions well within your scope of influence, but it is reserved for those that are not. Certain parts of life always have and always will require a certain amount of dedication. If you want to be a CEO, you have to put in the hours. If you want to surf big waves, you better be ready to get your ass kicked by the ocean A LOT. But this does not apply to everything. You can never hustle your way into a friendship, or force someone to appreciate you.
Just as the right occupation will be fun and enjoyable, the right people will be effortless and straightforward to spend time with. Difficult scenarios are not the sign of a natural experience. Be mindful of the resistance you may feel and why you are experiencing it. You will never be able to control how others and situations appear in your world, only how you are approaching them.
Your reality is nothing more than a reflection of who you are being.
I recently was invited to join Lee Mann as a guest on his new podcast: The Infinite Game. I met lee about six months ago at a digital marketing conference where him and I had the chance to dive into some deep topics together and really explore some interesting concepts that I rarely have the opportunity to discuss. Luckily, he extended me an invite to continue our conversation behind the microphone. This was a ton of fun and I’m already looking forward to exploring more chances like this in the future.
I have always had a curious edge to my personality. Though I’ve been affirmed of this since I was a child, it was later on that I truly came to understand the presence of this trait in all areas of my worldview. This idiosyncrasy sat in the driver seat for most of my adult life, steering my world in every which direction, until at a certain point, the path became slightly more clear. My explorative nature fostered a tendency to delay aspects of life that many people deem important, though this same habit provided me with a vibrant form of clarity I may have never found elsewhere.
The self understanding that curiosity has provided for me is truly invaluable.
Taking the time to travel has humbled me. It has forced my mind wide open, throwing me beyond outer reaches of my comfort zone. Pursuing a list of passions has made me realize what personal success means for me in specific, and what genuine dedication feels like. A highly assorted work life has taught me the meaning of hustle, while demonstrating to me which kinds of duties cause me to disengage. It has shown me a new set of interests, skills, and exactly how I can shape a professional life that truly excites me. Dating has taught me which qualities and tendencies I value in others, which I do not, and how I want to act as a partner. It has shown me how to demonstrate strength for the sake of myself, for the sake of another, and how to let go of pieces that may not fit in my puzzle. Each and every one of these lessons has taught me how to move forward with courage and a ‘take action’ mindset on the leading front of my desires. All the while, utilizing careful discernment for when my gut has something important to say.
Experience truly is a moving force.
Quite recently I’ve began to recognize a set of new qualities in myself. I notice that I have come to observe and pilot my actions through new guidelines, ones that lack the ambiguous nature of my old tendencies. I see a path forward and what I would like to create, a vision I previously neglected to consider. I understand what red flags mean, while regarding the green ones with equal importance. Right now, I feel as though I am entering a stage I’ve seen many others arrive at before me, and I’m sure to see many others enter later. A stage I’m choosing to call: the crossroads of everything. It’s the point that lies at the juncture of confusion and certainty, where things suddenly begin to make some sense. I’m about to turn 27 years old, and right now, the world looks like a big ole’ oyster.
“I don’t know what my path is yet. I’m just walking on it.” — Olivia Newton-John
I started writing as a way to add credibility to my resume. Beyond a few published articles, I had no intention of continuing. What I wanted was an interesting work life, and my lack of success in finding this prompted me to search for new, self sufficient methods I could utilize to build my skillset. My first article was simply the result of being struck by a thought while spending time somewhere unfamiliar, and figuring that I may as well try something new and unfamiliar while I was at it. In that moment, the sole purpose of writing was to function as a tool for building myself up. A lot has changed since then.
Although I first started to write over two years ago, it was only recently that I decided to put forth a commitment to regular writing. My writing used to be absolutely sporadic, only occurring when a wave of inspiration came into my reality. Organizing my thoughts was difficult, as I stewed over pieces for ages before they were of any quality worth sharing. One of the biggest changes I have noticed since I first started is the actual improvement of my content. First, my grammatical ability has been amplified, but most noticeable for me is my greater ability to connect and articulate thoughts with increasing accuracy. These are just the ways in which my writing has improved, but there are things outside the act of writing that have improved as a result as well.
Writing is an inherently creative process. What I have learned is that creativity is like a muscle. It starts small, but grows with practice and new challenges. I was recently listening to a podcast with Canadian author Malcolm Gladwell where he states that the best thing for his creativity was having daily deadlines. It forced him to generate ideas and write frequently. This process helped him develop an instinctive ability to brainstorm and in turn, create. Writing often has enhanced my ability to think in new, alternative forms. In an interesting way, expressing my ideas often is actually fuelling my ability to conceive them as well. The “ideas” note in my phone grows daily, far faster than my ability to even produce articles. Adopting the mindset of a content creator has helped me break into projects that are beyond the realm of creative writing alone. It’s exciting. I now work in a creative industry and am now experiencing opportunities to work with creatives and outspoken individuals of all sort. It has become another source of inspiration and is allowing me the chance to get involved in new modes of production I have never experimented with before now.
“Every creative act, however small, enriches our species and the world around us. To find and nurture talent, is to be truly wealthy.” – Stewart Stafford
As a writer, reading and writing go hand in hand. The things I read and the things I listen to are often the source material for new projects. Books and audio content consume a generous amount of my time which, consequently, inspires the bulk of my articles. Writing more has catalyzed me to read and listen more. It’s kind of like a positive feedback loop of new knowledge and (hopefully) greater skill. During university I neglected books and many forms of reading. Endless amounts of school work shaped a personal belief that reading was always and exclusively a chore. After, when outside that learning environment, I found the absence of a learning process instilled within me the urge to find new ones. This spurred me to start writing and reading again, with the amount of reading increasing equal to the amount I started writing. It still amazes me how much my passion for learning has changed since my days as a 16 year old with an unhealthy obsession for snowboarding and nearly nothing else. Reading, writing, and vulnerability are all things I now enjoy and continue to have more and more fun with the deeper I go.
Writing started small for me and has evolved into something entirely different. I write often, I write better, and that’s because I enjoy the process involved. For myself personally, the benefit lies in the opportunity to be a creator. Before I started writing I only consumed. I read, I watched, I listened, and I bought. Everything was taken inward but I had nothing to reflect outward. The new ways of thinking involved in writing regularly stimulates the mind in a unique way that can truly shift our mental schema. I think we live in an era where this is becoming an incredibly valuable ability. Creators innovate. Creators lead, and creators mold their own path in a world where everything seems to be pre-defined and pre-destined for us.I began creating as an early step toward an eventual ability to avoid typical corporate 9-5 life, but many others do the same to thrive in that environment. It all depends what you are looking for.
From the beginning, I began writing to bring value to my situation in whatever way I could. What I didn’t realize was how much value this interest would truly manifest. Creation is an intangible skill that will change your life over time through repetition, through working that creative muscle. It can be as simple as knitting scarves for your friends or cooking new dishes. Finding a way to express yourself outwardly is something that needs to be taken advantage of and not for granted. Becoming a creator will alter and grow your mindset in ways that are difficult to describe, and this is not exclusive to writing or any individual art form for that matter. Any creative interest that brings value to your life is good.