I used to be very judgmental about plant medicine. Coming from a strong indoctrination in yogic and meditation traditions, I saw psychedelics as cheating. I then became involved in a more Christian-based spiritual group that expressly prohibited plant medicine, including marijuana, but not alcohol, interestingly enough. However, during this time, I was introduced to plant medicine and participated in a ceremony where I took a heart-opener. As a novice, the guide gave me the starter potion.
I had a blissful time. I experienced myself as a pure beam of white light the entire evening. I was love. Everything surrounding me was love. Even the wafts of breeze on my skin felt loving. Nothing was separate from love. I will never forget this experience. I can feel the beauty of it now as I write.
You would think that after experiencing something so unique, I would have jumped on the bandwagon immediately, but I wasn’t ready. I was still embroiled in the indoctrination of the group I was in, and I experienced low-grade nausea for weeks after the experience. That was enough to convince me plant medicine was not for me. Interestingly, I have taken many a heart-opener since and have never had that experience. I find it fascinating how wisdom speaks to us. At that time, my body was telling me, “No.”
Shortly after my first plant medicine experience, I was introduced to the teachings of Sydney Banks, commonly known as the Three Principles.
His teachings felt like a breath of fresh air. It woke me up from the rigidity of the hierarchical and superstitious group I belonged to. There is still a hierarchy in the Principles culture, but it is much less formalized, and there is the effort not to promote guru worship or create new gurus. There was also so much less fear and more freedom to be human. The teachers were comfortable sharing their humanness and fallibility. They could be touched and hugged. They actively encouraged new teachers and recognized it is through the generosity of people sharing their experience and wisdom that more is revealed.
I also had a powerful awakening from this non-dual understanding that continues to unfold and deepen within me. I realized experientially I was not broken. I understood all my feelings and thoughts are part of the normal human experience, and my feelings, especially my anxiety and unworthiness, don’t mean that I am actually unworthy. I felt such freedom, realizing I didn’t need to fix myself or my experience.
I felt the weight of judgment lift off me and experienced my heart opening to include myself. I was very high for several days and then stabilized around a new normal in which my life changed. I fell in love with my work again. I fell in love with my husband in a more profound way. I felt healthier and more vital. I was inspired to share what I learned with others and evolve my practice.
I shifted my work from hourly office-based therapy to an intensive format with individuals meeting me for four days in the beautiful nature of Topanga or Malibu. After Angus completed his 3P apprenticeship, we started working together with couples in this format. We created in-person and online programs and founded our brand, The Rewilders, helping people rewild themselves back to their natural state of love.
And then life like a cheesy late-night infomercial said, “Wait, there’s more!”
It started with me reading Michael Pollen’s book “How to Change Your Mind.”
It awoke a curiosity that led me to want to revisit plant medicine and psychedelics, starting with my experimentation. I reconnected with the underground guide who introduced me originally. My experiences were versions of bliss that felt heart-opening and mind-expanding. I was drawn to see how this would be of service to others. Through mentoring with her, I witnessed profound healing of trauma in small group settings.
The mentorship started to wake me up to how I still held dogmatic beliefs about there being a right way to meet the Self. Three Principles conversations were the right way. Maybe a Rupert Spira meditation retreat was allowed too. Substances were not included in this “right” way, even though my own experiences showed me psychedelics offer a powerful way to loosen identification with thoughts, feelings, and sensations and have a more profound experience of being.
I started to feel my indoctrination soften. I felt humbled by my arrogance becoming visible once again, with me thinking I knew what was right.
As my rules fell away, I started practicing breathwork again and trained as a practitioner. Through the couples’ work Angus and I offer, I saw what a pervasive challenge the area of sex and pleasure can be in long-term relationships. This led me to branch out into working with women wanting to rekindle their desire and increase their ability to enjoy sex. I engaged in further training in somatic sex education, sexological bodywork, and pelvic floor healing. The results have been dramatic and powerful for myself and my clients.
This additional training reminded me that anything can be used to fortify misunderstandings in consciousness that have us forget who we are and look outside of ourselves for fulfillment. And anything can be used as a vehicle to wake us up to the truth of who we are.
Sex is a powerful entry point to experiencing oneness.
Psychedelics are as well.
So is breathwork.
So is sharing spiritual understanding.
There is no one way.
Even though I no longer qualify as a Three Principles practitioner because I’m not a purist and use different modalities in my practice, I don’t see myself as mixing my approach. Everything I do is in service to waking people up to the truth of who they are. Any technique I use is always pointing to a deeper understanding and experience of who we are. The power is never in the technique or substance. Meeting our shared being of Self and experiencing our true nature is always the answer and the source of healing.
There is one answer, and there are infinite ways of pointing. There is no primacy. There is what works for you.
Everything is an expression of divine source. Nothing is separate.
No matter what approach is used, judgment is what gets in the way of experiencing the happiness of our being.
Judgment creates suffering.
Judgment has us forget what Rupert Spira summarizes: “Peace and happiness are the nature of our being, and we share our being with everyone and everything.
Or what the ancient Vedic teachings remind us: Sat Chit Ananda: The knowing of being is happiness itself.
Non-dual understanding is interested in the knowing of being, and presence is the doorway.
Opening to experience and allowing it to be, allows for happiness to be felt.
One of the times when presence is hardest for people and when judgments run rampant is when they are experiencing painful emotions.
Difficult feelings can feel scary to be present to. We develop conditioning and coping mechanisms to avoid them. These coping mechanisms are often unconscious and range from seriously harmful behaviors, such as addiction, to societally condoned actions, such as workaholism. We even create habits out of thought and use thought to escape our experience, keeping our minds busy to numb our feelings. We can distract ourselves with more comfortable emotions. For example, some people feel more comfortable with angry emotions than sad ones, so they will be conscious to act from their anger and be oblivious to the feelings of hurt and sadness underneath their anger. For others, it might be the other way around.
Most of us did not have a safe caretaker when we were young who could feel comfortable holding space for us to feel safe with big feelings. As children, it is scary to be with big feelings alone. It was too much for us, but unfortunately, our feelings were often too much for our caregivers as well, so we learned to tamp them down and find ways to numb them.
And on top of that, add the echo of intergenerational suffering transmitted genetically and epigenetically, and who knows by what other means?
We can’t escape the impact of trauma on our biology and nervous system.
But resistance and judgment create more suffering.
Spirituality can be misunderstood as a reinforcer of resistance. Its message of love, oneness, and awakening and the myriad techniques and practices used to evoke these states can be co-opted to bypass difficult feelings.
But wholeness beckons.
Integration is healing.
The invitation is to allow the experiences we want to resist. Let them breathe. Feel them.
Allowing them space does not mean they overwhelm us. Instead, they soften and shrink down to size so we can be with them and also feel the being from which they arise.
Happiness is the space of aliveness within which all is felt.
By opening to what arises, we feel the space around it and can relax into knowing we aren’t limited to our thoughts, feelings, and sensations. We are also the space within which they arise.
Our shared being: the field of pure potential and possibility.
By embracing what feels limited, we can experience what is not.
And however you do that, I wish you Godspeed.
Rohini Ross is co-founder of “The Rewilders.” Listen to her podcast, with her partner Angus Ross, Rewilding Love. They believe too many good relationships fall apart because couples give up thinking their relationship problems can’t be solved. In the first season of the Rewilding Love Podcast, Rohini and Angus help a couple on the brink of divorce due to conflict. Angus and Rohini also co-facilitate private couple’s intensive retreat programs that rewild relationships back to their natural state of love. Rohini is also the author of the ebook Marriage, and she and Angus are co-founders of The 29-Day Rewilding Experience and The Rewilders Community. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To learn more about her work and subscribe to her blog visit: TheRewilders.org.