Four women – two daughters, their mom and their grandmother – recently gathered in Colorado for the emotional trip of a lifetime. They underwent psychotherapy supported by psychotherapya compound found in mushrooms.
The retreat, specially tailored for women, was a legal followlast year to decriminalize the use of psilocybin.
As three generations of one family came together, they hoped for a new and different path to healing.
Delaney Sanchez, 23, said she was diagnosed with anxiety as a teenager, which would manifest itself in panic attacks. Medicines for treatment, she said, were not effective.
“They made me feel like I was … kind of numb to everything,” she said.
Recently, her mom, 59-year-old Dana Sanchez, asked if she wanted to try the mushrooms — as a family, including her 77-year-old grandmother.
“We talked about it … because of my anxiety I was really interested and I felt like my grandma could do it, I could do it,” Delaney Sanchez said, laughing.
Magic mushrooms took root in the counterculture movement of the 1960s and found their way into research laboratories. About 200 types of mushrooms are known to contain an active component that produces psychedelic effects. But psychedelics, including psilocybin, were outlawed in 1970.
Some 30 years later, scientists began to look at psilocybin again and found that it increased brain activity. Today, clinical trials are underway at top research institutions, and some are now turning to them in search of a cure.
Heather Lee, who has been a therapist for more than 30 years, said she took one of the first trainings to become certified in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy afterto vote to create a regulated system for substances like psilocybin and another hallucinogen, psilocin.
“Mushrooms seem to be very gentle teachers,” Lee said. “They bring to light and bring to the surface the material that needs to be healed.”
Her recent therapy session with four women involved drinking mushroom tea, after which each woman retreated to a personal space for introspection, aided by eye masks and headphones with preloaded soundtracks. Lee said she can’t guarantee people’s safety, but that she screens “really carefully” during her sessions.
Not long after drinking the tea, Dana Sanchez began to feel uneasy, while Delaney Sanchez became emotional and became ill.
“I had a rough start, for sure,” Delaney Sanchez said. “I was struggling a lot with that…overwhelming feeling of anxiety and just, I felt trapped by my own panic. And then I just had to let it go. And I feel like when I did, it became a lot more peaceful.”
Danielle Sanchez, 25, smiled during the session and later said she found a deep sense of peace and love.
“I felt like I could face my own fears with, like, a smile on my face and just saying, ‘That’s stupid, just let it go!'” she said.
Donna Strong, a grandmother, faced darker thoughts, which she and the others shared more than four hours after drinking tea, in what Lee calls an integration session.
“Mine was a little dark. I just couldn’t move. You know, I felt, uh, uncomfortable. And I think maybe my whole life,” Strong said.
All the women said they felt healing — a shared experience Dana Sanchez was grateful for.
“The women in my family are a gift,” she said. “As strong as we are, but also growing together and releasing things together.”
Lee believes a psychedelic renaissance is happening.
“People are hungry for emotional and psychospiritual healing,” she said. “We need soul healing.”
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