Paul F. Austin is an entrepreneur, psychedelic facilitator, microdosing expert, and author. He is the founder of Third Wave, a trusted, research-based psychedelics education and community platform featuring psychedelics guides, courses, podcasts, blog content, etc.
Through his initial seven-month microdosing protocol, Paul experienced the tangible benefits of microdosing LSD, including accelerated learning, easier access to flow states, and a deeper sense of presence. Taught by over 10+ years of psychedelic use, Paul views psychedelic integration as a learned skill, one refined through intention, mentorship, and courageous exploration.
He believes mastering this skill will be crucial in the story of humanity’s present-future evolution.
Please enjoy my conversation with Paul Austin.
Listen to more great episodes at Next Level Soul Podcast
Follow Along with the Transcript – Episode 344
Paul Austin 0:00
It was that it opened this aperture of consciousness, right that in normal waking day reality, our aperture of consciousness is quite limited. So we can stay focused on the things that need to get done. But that that means we can't really tap into these other aspects of reality. And so when we take a psychedelic, it opens up that aperture, all of a sudden we experience sounds and sights and visions in a totally different way. And in many cases, we experience, you know, stories that maybe we forgot, or we go into trauma that we have repressed or we feel emotions that we've kept sort of tucked away for a very long time. And so that ability for psychedelics to open up
Alex Ferrari 0:48
I'd like to welcome to the show, Paul Austin man, how you doing Paul?
Paul Austin 1:01
Good, Alex, how are you, man?
Alex Ferrari 1:03
I'm good, brother. I'm good. Thank you so much for coming to the show, man. We're going to talk today about all things psychedelics. And when it does good stuff, the bad stuff, the in between stuff. I've been fascinated with it. Ever since I first discovered or heard about it. I have never partaken myself, I get high on my own supply, as they say. But, but I'm very, very interested in the medicinal the medicinal aspects of psychedelics and micro dosing and that kind of stuff, as well as the spiritual aspects of it, which are also fairly fairly profound. And now because they're you guys are allowed to do research now again, on LSD, which was recently I think, was how many years ago that they finally opened up back up because that was shut down. Because of what's his name?
Paul Austin 1:54
Alex Ferrari 1:56
Leary, Timothy Leary, Timothy Leary did not help the situation at all
Paul Austin 2:01
Two sides of the same coin. I mean, LSD became illegal in California in 1966. And then on the federal level in 1968. So still, it's illegal, right? It's a schedule one substance, nowhere is that accessible. There's been a little bit of research on LSD, but most of the research in the modern era has focused on mushrooms, psilocybin, psilocybin got it. So less stigma, you know, it's a shorter experience. It's six hours, LSD is 12 hours. So it just works better for clinical trials. And now what's interesting, I mean, we can delve further into this as the podcast goes on. Oregon is legalized psilocybin, Colorado has legalized a lot of these plant medicines. And California at the time of this recording, is about to send a bill to Gavin Newsom is desk to legalize mushrooms, ayahuasca and San Pedro. So there's been a lot of progress. And, you know, progress also comes with some dark sides in terms of irresponsible use and things like that. So it's a rich topic.
Alex Ferrari 2:58
It is, man, so So what got you involved? Like, what made you want to study or, you know, understand more about psychedelics in general?
Paul Austin 3:06
Yeah, I grew up in a traditional family in West West Michigan, Grand Rapids church, every Sunday pretty sheltered upbringing, couldn't watch, you know, rated our movies till I was 17, you know, no violent video games. And when I was 16, my parents found out that I had been smoking cannabis a few times. And I always had a little bit of a rebellious streak. You know, I wasn't necessarily the type who would just do what people told me to do as it's probably evidenced by my work. And so we sat down, it was a Sunday after church and my dad looked at me and my dad's a very sweet man, like kind guy, we have a great relationship, but also grew up in the war on drugs and had been raised in such a way to believe that, you know, any, and all illegal drugs were the sort of spawn of Satan. And so he looked at me and said, you know, this is, this is the most disappointed I've been since my brother passed away in a car accident 30 years ago. And that I think, that guilt and that shame was just representative of how I had been raised, you know, the sort of rigid Christian environment, their relationship to quote, unquote, you know, bad drugs. And what that opened up for me was a sense of, oh, like, I had a really great experiences early on with cannabis. They were fun, a bunch of laughter had a chance to really connect I had struggled with social anxiety in high school. And so I thought if I had such a great experience, and my parents were just like so in the you know, we're not even in the same ballpark when it comes to this understanding what's really going on here and so as I continue to grow and evolve and mature individually, as you would say, I looked into LSD and psilocybin mushrooms and I was 19. Under the same friend who introduced me to cannabis introduced me to mushrooms, I had my first experience at the age of 19. And in particular with LSD just had this kind of like, awakening, right, I did it in the woods with a few friends and a beautiful May Day felt connected to everything around me really was before LSD and after LSD moment in terms of that spiritual awakening, that recognition of oneness, that recognition of interconnectedness with all beings. And from that path forward from that time forward, I just came to realize that if used with intention and responsibility, these these substances can catalyze incredible, incredible insight, awareness, even performance in some ways. And so, at that point in time, I was still trying to figure out what am I going to do with my life in my career, you know, who am I? Where am I going, you know, I'm 1920 years old at the time. And one of the core teachings from those early experiences was, you know, I, I am the creator of my own reality, right, and I have the sovereignty, I have the autonomy, I have the ability to create my own life. So why, why live in any sort of conventional manner, why not just have the courage to build and create the life that I want to live so at the age of 21, and moved to Turkey, where I taught English. Soon after that, I moved to Thailand where I started my first business, and I just pursued this path of entrepreneurship, which led me to back to psychedelics. So in 2015, I'm living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, living the digital nomad lifestyle. And I hear a podcast about micro dosing. And I thought back to those early psychedelic experiences, and was like, oh, yeah, I remember that for a week or two weeks after these LSD experiences, I felt more connected, I felt more present, I was meditating more often, I was eating healthier, I was more mindful of who I was and what I was doing. And then inevitably, after, you know, three, four or five weeks, some of that would start to dissipate. And so I thought of micro dosing as a way to keep that window of neuroplasticity open for longer, to just make it easier for me to change and adapt on this path of personal development, and on this path of entrepreneurship, and so I started micro dosing in 2015, with LSD twice a week. And I found it to be very helpful. And it just happened to coincide with a timeline where more podcasters like Joe Rogan and Tim Ferriss are talking about psychedelics, more research was coming out cannabis was becoming legal. And yet, there was no sort of definitive educational platform that helped to recontextualize psychedelics in a way that wasn't too hippie in a way that wasn't too academic. That was, you know, well branded, well researched, but also well presented. And so I started third wave in 2015, eight years ago, is an educational platform, with the focus, how do we educate, you know, mainstream populace on both the benefits and risks of psychedelics rooted in science, rather than a propaganda and stigma?
Alex Ferrari 8:14
Yes, that's a pretty amazing answer, sir. That's a, there's a long journey we just went through. So alright, so with psychedelics, and psychedelics is a generalized term. And a lot of people don't know what that means. Can you kind of give the the names of what that encompasses? We kind of talked a little bit about that out there like psilocybin, things like that, can you kind of just give just a brief understanding of what psychedelics are, and honestly what they do to the brain chemistry.
Paul Austin 8:46
So the word psychedelic comes from two Greek words psyche, which the Greeks interpreted as meaning mind, or even Soul because they saw the relationship between those two, and de los, which means manifestation. Right, and these these these substances were termed psychedelics. In the 60s, when Aldous Huxley who's a well known author, wrote Brave New World, but also was a Vedantic, teacher and philosopher, and was on that deep path of spirituality. So, Huxley's exchanging letters with this gentleman named Humphrey Osman and Humphrey writes back and says, I think we should call these psychedelics meaning again, psyche mind Delos manifestation because they do something to manifest all aspects of the mind. Right so much, especially in Western culture, we're conditioned to think the mind is only the ego the conscious, but there's so much in the subconscious and the unconscious that can be tapped into right as a result of awakening. And so what these early pioneers and experimenters in the 50s and 60s realized I'm working with LSD in particular, but also mescaline, which is in San Pedro and peyote was that it opened this aperture of consciousness right In a normal waking day reality, our aperture of consciousness is quite limited. So we can stay focused on the things that need to get done. But that, that means we can't really tap into these other aspects of reality. And so when we take a psychedelic, it opens up that aperture, all of a sudden, we experience sounds and sights and visions, in a totally different way. And in many cases, we experience, you know, stories that maybe we forgot, or we go into trauma that we have repressed, or we feel emotions that we've kept sort of tucked away for a very long time. And so that ability for psychedelics to open up the subconscious and the unconscious, it's kind of like, you know, we have all these skeletons in our basement that we just don't want to look at, or we don't want to confront or we don't want to face. And so when we take a psychedelic, there's really no choice but to confront those demons, right? There's really no choice but to look the dragon in the eye, and go, okay, like I see, I see who you are, I see what you want, and have the courage to actually face it. So and that's why a safe container is so important. That's why it really needs to be held in a responsible way. Because if you're if you're going into those dark places, those dark crevices of the mind and in any way you feel unsafe, it will lead to paranoia, it will lead to anxiety will lead to a quote unquote, bad trip. Now, what's going on from a neurochemical perspective is when we take especially a high dose of psychedelics, you know, we have these two hemispheres of the brain, one hemisphere is responsible for logic, you know, and analysis, getting things done, the other half of the brain was responsible for creativity, for art for music, right? These sorts of things. So often times, you know, when people come into working with psychedelics or any spiritual path, they have over indexed on the hemisphere of the brain that's overly analytical, that's logical that needs to get things done. So essentially, what happens when we take a psychedelic is it helps to balance, rebalance the brain, for lack of a better term, it helps to develop greater connectivity between those two hemispheres of the brain by activating neuronal pathways that have sort of, they haven't died necessarily, but they just haven't been used in a long time. And when those neuronal pathways haven't been used in a long time, that's when we feel depressed, that's when we notice there's a lot of rumination, that's when we feel overly contracted. And so working with a psychedelic sort of reactivates, those neuronal pathways opens us up to be more expansive, which allows us to feel a little bit more creative, feel motivated, feel like oh, I actually, you know, especially if we're depressed, or we have an addiction, we feel like, oh, I actually have sovereignty to make a change in my life, to heal this. And to to integrate this.
Alex Ferrari 13:05
So it's kind of like you're taking the blinders off. In normal life, you only can walk, you can only see maybe 10%. And then this opens up, the you can see 100%, which is overwhelming to someone who's been only seeing 10% their entire life. And then that also then triggers a lot of foundational shaking up, where as you were taught or brought up with your programming, like you were a Christian, I was raised Catholic, that there is certain things and you know, the stories and all that kind of stuff that we hear in our religions, when you take a psychedelic, it shows you a truth that completely changes the perspective of what you've been taught. And that alone could throw somebody off for loop because then now you have to ask yourself, Well, what was that? So it's not just a It's not the brain just making stuff up, you're actually tapping into other aspects of reality, which, depending on the person can be really scary, or really pleasurable, depending on what you are dealing with. Is that a fair statement?
Paul Austin 14:15
And that's, I think, why preparation before going into these experiences, ritual ceremony, all of these are very important, important elements, right? Like just taking a bunch of acid and going to a music festival. You know, for most people, not the best idea because there'll be potentially even more traumatized after that, because they might have a very, very challenging experience. So it really is important that there's preparation that's put in preparation, and when challenging emotions come up, let's say in the throes of a psychedelic experience, how do I really anchor in breath, regulate my nervous system through breath and come back to a place of sitting of presence of awareness, right. And so when we're looking You know, especially these higher doses of psychedelics, microdosing is a bit different, which we'll get into, I'm sure, but with these higher doses of psychedelics people to feel very, very safe. Because even if they're going into these, you know, like someone who's had early childhood trauma, you know, maybe they've had an alcoholic parent, or they were subjected to abuse of some sort, or, you know, there was some other really traumatic event that happened early on, oftentimes, when you take a high dose of psychedelics, you have to confront and go into that event. And that catharsis is what leads to a lot of the healing rather than just I'm going to take Prozac and Zoloft and keep it pushed under. When we open that aperture of consciousness, all of a sudden, the things that have been stored in our subconscious in our unconscious, come into the light of day, and we have to go Oh, like how do I? How do I deal with that.
Alex Ferrari 15:49
But the difference is, though, when those things come up, you are also gifted with the knowledge that you are much bigger than this little brain and this little ego and this little body that we're in. So at the same time, you're giving a great challenge, but you're not understanding like I am sovereign, I can make I can make decisions, I am much more than just this. So then there's a balance. So people listening, go, like I don't want to deal with this, I don't have the tools to deal with that kind of stuff. You're gifted both the opportunity to heal, and the tools and understanding and to be able to deal with this kind of trauma, correct.
Paul Austin 16:28
And that from a neurobiological perspective, the reason that's happening is because we have this little almond shaped thing called the amygdala that's deep inside our brain, right. And so the amygdala is that fear response center. And so oftentimes, when we are choosing or when we go into these challenging, emotions are stories that have come up, that amygdala freezes up and actually won't allow us to access it, which is why some people could go to talk therapy for 10, or 15 and 20 years, and they'll make a sliver of the progress of what they might make after you know, a few high dose psychedelic experiences. Because neurobiologically when we take something like psilocybin, or MDMA, it's mitigating that fear response in the amygdala, it's turning that fear response off. So we don't have that sort of fear and contraction, we actually can open up, we can feel expansive, and we can hold our presence as we go into. That may be difficult event or experience. And of course, that's also why it's so great to have a therapist or a guide, or someone who is there present with you. Because sometimes things need to be talked about. Sometimes there needs to be an emotional release, sometimes, you know, the presence of another human makes us feel safe enough so we can really go into those difficult and challenging aspects.
Alex Ferrari 17:45
So I want to get I want to tell you a story. And I want to hear from from a professional standpoint, someone who's very experienced with LSD. I had a guest on the show. He is an Oscar winner, and he wrote the movie Ghost. Back in the 90s. If you remember ghosts, he also wrote Jacob's Ladder, which you'll understand more why he wrote Jacob's Ladder after the story. He was in Berkeley during the time of Timothy Leary, and his buddy, and he had never tried anything. his buddy's like, Hey, Tim, is Tim, he needs you to receive a package from Switzerland. Or I think it's Switzerland or Sweden or wherever the the LSP was good. It was. So he had a pure bottle of LSD, raw from Switzerland that just showed up. And like, do you TMS? Can you put it in your refrigerator, and he'll pick it up in the morning? He's like, cool, no problem. So he puts in the refrigerator and his buddies, like, I think tonight's the night you should try LSD, not die even thinking about Tim's just his own. He's like, Here, take a tab. He took a tab. And it just didn't do anything for like, nothing happened. He just didn't do anything. And he's like, Oh, look at the thing with Tim. I mean, should we just try some attend? He's like, Well, this isn't working. So let's give it a shot. So he takes a dropper. It takes a dropper of LSD, like of the pure LSD, like a little dropper. And he's supposed to do a drop on Bruce, his name is Bruce his tongue. He accidentally the entire dropper into his mouth. So it's like, you can't call anybody you can't do anything. It you're you the train left the station. So he just like sit down and let's see what happens. So from your point of view, how many how, how much of a dosage? Did he partake? Let's say it's a normal size dropper of LSD. So like, what would it look like? 60 drops, maybe he drops? What is that on dosage wise for and from your experience?
Paul Austin 19:50
Yeah, there's an interesting anecdote when LSD was discovered by so Albert Hoffman is a Swiss chemist who worked for Sandoz pharmaceuticals. He was the one who invented LSD in 1938. didn't realize that had psychoactive properties until 1943. When he took it off the shelf, tried like a tiny, tiny, tiny bit, and was like, Oh, I feel sort of something from this went back the next day, took what he thought was going to be a miniscule amount, which is 250 micrograms. So there's 1000 micrograms and one milligram and there's 1000 milligrams, one gram, right. So 250 micrograms is tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny, like, oh, ends up having a full blown experience, because he doesn't realize that LSD is the most potent substance, psychedelic known demand. And so something like that, if you're getting pure LSD from Sandoz, right, because even a lot of
Alex Ferrari 20:47
1964 65 the purest. Yeah,
Paul Austin 20:54
Because a lot of the LSD, today it's diluted, you don't necessarily know how much is in it, it's under. So it's like pure and diluted LSD, you know, and probably just a single drop, there was 100 micrograms. So you figure if he did 40, drops, 50, drops, 60 drops, you're looking at 4000 5000 6000 micrograms, that's which is, you know, like 50 to 60 times what a normal high dose would be five to 600 times with a micro doses. And so at that stage, like, had I been there, putting myself in that place, like one there are actually substances you can take that will kill the LSD experience, right, and so, so I think niacin, B, vitamin will pretty much mitigate it. And there's another type of pharmaceutical prednisone, I think it might be, that can also help to mitigate it or kill it. But assuming neither of those were available, you know, the best thing is just like to stay with your friend, you have to provide a lot of love to make hot tea. And I think the constant assurance that you're not going to die, right, I think that's the most important thing is a lot of people are like, Oh my god, I just did all these mushrooms or oh my god, I just did all this acid, there has only been one death from taking too much acid. That was that was physiological right? There actually have been quite a few deaths of people who take a bunch of acid and you know, jump out a window or jump in front of a car do very dangerous things, right. But in terms of physiologically, there was an elephant in the 50s, or 60s that was injected with the equivalent of I think, must have been 30 or 40, or 50,000 micrograms. And that amount of LSD ended up I think, somehow killing the element like a ridiculous ridiculous ridiculous.
Alex Ferrari 22:48
In an elephant, an elephant, an elephant, another human. Yeah.
Paul Austin 22:53
And so there's no there's no known level of toxicity for LSD. And so I think the important thing is like, you're safe, you have tea, and then just allow someone to go in because at that level, they're experiencing total and complete ego death and ego dissolution like so absolutely.
Alex Ferrari 23:12
Want to you want to hear what his trip was. I do. Yeah. His trip was as he goes, Alex, I went in, I looked at my body, and it started to deconstruct one piece at a time, my nails were pulled out of my fingers, fingers were pulled out, I saw my muscles deteriorate, my bones deteriorate. I was literally dissolving into the universe. And then yeah, and I forgot the details in the middle, who's yada yada yada, I met God, yada, yada, yada. I had, I had a conversation with him. And then was thrown back in at the end of the trip, and my body reconstructed itself to where it was before. And then I came out of it. And of course, after something like that, he never was the same again. And everything from that point on. He was is all spiritual like it. There's always spiritual aspects to everything he did. So he wrote a script called Jacob's ladder with him, it turned into a movie, which is about his trip. And if you watch that movie, you understand, to trippy s movie. He goes, that's the closest I've ever seen. Even remarkably, even minimally close to what a trip is. And anyone who's watched Jacob's Ladder will go, oh, yeah, that makes sense. And then he wrote ghost. And then he did another movie with my life with Michael Keaton. And I think he did about 30 movies. And all of them had some sort of spirituality aspect to it. Now he teaches Tibetan meditation. And he's, like, full blown, like, I don't want to deal with Hollywood anymore. And I'm just I'm just finding enlightenment. But that was his that was his path. So I was always fascinated by that and interesting to have had so I've spoken to a couple other people who's had trips and they said that there was one trip there's I forgot who told me this story. But they got they took LSD, or psilocybin, one of the two, I think it was LSD though. And they were like, shot into the universe. And they were just going at the speed of light, and they got to the end of the universe. And there they saw a being a be a being an alien being who turned to him was like, you're not supposed to be here. What are you doing? You gotta go back and like, just shoot him away and went back. years later, he took another trip, went back to the same place, and the guy was the alien being was still there. They was like, Dude, what are you doing here? I told you, you're not supposed to be here yet. Go. So it's, it's really, really kind of fascinating. And that kind of leads us into the next part of this conversation, which will be the spiritual aspects of it. You know, we've kind of danced around a little bit about it. You know, it's been known that everybody who goes on LSD, psilocybin, Ayahuasca, they're transformed many times spiritually. Not all the time, but it opens things up, because you start to understand that you're not just this, you can see in other realities, I've spoken to, literally last week, I spoke to a guru from India. And I asked them, what do you what do you think about LSD and like psychedelics to find enlightenment to find, you know, the other side? And he was like, No, I'm against it, because it's just, it's dangerous if you don't do it, right. And he said, he used to work with Marashi Maharishi. And he said, which is this is the most beautiful way of putting in Marie, she was asked about psychedelics, because it was in the 60s, and everyone was talking about it, the Beatles were hanging out with them and everything. And he said, taking a psychedelic is like taking a sledgehammer to a wall, to let the sunlight in. Meditation is like putting in a window. And I was like, because it's a pretty psychedelics can be, like you just heard in there, another Yogi told me, you're walking into a door that you weren't invited into. And you might not be prepared to see what's on the other side. When you meditate, or when you do these longer processes to kind of open these doors up naturally. You are kind of acclimating yourself to what comes like you're not just like, boom, there's God. Boom, there's, you're like, Oh, there's the darkest dark level of the Soul right there, I You're gonna thrown into it. So their perspective is different. But I was talking to Aubrey Marcus about it. And his perspective is really interesting, because he said, what the yogi's don't understand is that there are some people who don't believe that there's something on the other side, and they need a psychedelic to open the door to give them an idea that you are more than just this. And in that sense, it really opens up the awareness. And it changes their life to the point where then they might go down to meditation, or might do a dark retreat, or might do a floater, you know, all this kind of other stuff to get to that same place. So I'd love to hear your thoughts about what I just said.
Paul Austin 28:12
Yeah, I mean, my own story tracks with this in some ways, right? Like I was, I mentioned that I was raised in a more traditional Christian Protestant environment church every Sunday from the age of, you know, when I was probably baptized at three months old until 18, four hours, and that whole entire time, I just said the prayers and did the things because I was young my parents wanted me to and you know, you're told to do it, but I never believed any of it. I was just like, This feels weird. It was like, What is this? And so this friend, the same friend who introduced me to cannabis, and then mushrooms happened to be an atheist, which was very rare where I grew up most kids were, you know, Christians and don't so he happened to be an atheist, very independent thinker. And so I remember towards like the age of 16 17 18 19, starting to more get into atheism and reading Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. And, you know, folks like that just being like religions totally. Like, you know, there is no God. There's no such thing as spirituality, right life is everything as we see it, in that I did acid. And I did acid a lot, you know, like, you know, it between the ages of 19 and 21. I did acid and mushrooms probably 20 to 25 times at higher doses, not super high doses, but anywhere from like, the equivalent of one to three hits of LSD. And I just kept coming back to this sort of ground of reality that I was like, there is something here that my mind can't figure out. And so that actually put me into this path of trying to understand what it was seen sort of the the substrate that informed a lot of mainstream religion being able to get in touch through that, and so I read this phenomenal book called the perennial philosophy by Aldous Huxley. And in the perennial philosophy, Aldous takes all these aspects of sort of religion, and shows how all of the mystical elements of Judaism and Christianity and Islam and Hinduism and Buddhism, like they all have these commonalities in the mystical traditions, and so I started to go, oh, like there's something that I tapped into, when working with psychedelics that has allowed me to see beyond the veil, but has allowed me to see beyond this sort of reductionist worldview that I was starting to become overly attached to. And so that that is what then opened up for me the sense of there's, there's, there's something else out there. Right. And I think that is particularly important for for a western society, that the core Metaphysic of Western thought and culture is materialism, reductionism, that everything can be sort of boiled down to a physical item, right? That the the Eastern philosophies and Eastern kind of ways of being are much different. They recognize this truth to think interconnectedness. There's a lineage there. And what happened in the 60s just to continue to, to go with this story. What happened in the 60s is you had all of these teachers, or all of these people who were becoming teachers who are now the main meditation teachers, you have like Jack Kornfield, and you have Sharon Salzberg, and you have Tara Brach, and, you know, the story of ROM Das, right, you have all of these people. And almost every single one of them without exception got onto the path because they did psychedelics. And that's what opened them up. And then of course, as they grow and evolve and mature, they realize, okay, psychedelics are these really potent tools, these really potent vehicles, I don't necessarily need them anymore, because I get it. And I know how incredible of a practice meditation can be to continue to bring me back to that space. And so I think the reason the yogi's and the reason the gurus don't necessarily grok it is because their culture and their lineage is totally different than the culture and lineage that we've been raised within it is, you know, you go to India, you go to Nepal, you go to Tibet, it is baked into the fabric of their existence, right. And when you look at the history of Western thought, we've been cut off from plant medicines for 1700 years, you know, since the Christian church crackdown on the Eleusinian mysteries, and so I think there's a way in which mushrooms are coming back into our consciousness, if you will, into our reality in a really big way. Because there's this, we're reaching a precipice, where our way of life is potentially going extinct. And if you look at when, and how psilocybin mushrooms show up in environments, they always show up in environments that are stressed, that are toxic, that aren't doing well. And they come into those environments, and they help to re vivify them. And so there's a way in which psilocybin mushrooms are coming back at this point in time, as a way to help us quickly adapt. So that way we don't sort of go full bore into, I would say, killing ourselves as a species. And so that's also kind of the way that I look at it is you can sit on a cushion and meditate. You can even do things like breath work. But I say Sam Harris had a really poignant essay that he wrote maybe 10 years ago called the meaning of drugs, there's no guarantee that you'll reach any sort of nirvana or any sort of expansion or any sort of seeing beyond the veil, if you take five grams of mushrooms, or seven grams of mushrooms, or if you take 300 micrograms of LSD, more times than not, you're going to experience something, and something significant. And so when I look at kind of culturally, how do we compress time in such a way to address this sort of meta crisis that we're facing? I see psychedelics as that tool that can really help us as a culture to quickly wake up and actually address and confront the sort of, oh, that we find ourselves and and this goes back even, you know, everything is everything is in fractal. So the same way that psychedelics help an individual to overcome that fear response to face things with courage to confront reality as it is rather than how we wish it were. Right, psychedelics are also going to help us my sense, is to do that on a collective level. Right and really give us the courage and the capacity because of how they help with creativity, how they help with outside the box thinking, even how they help with things like chronic inflammation from a physiological capacity gave us the capacity to actually confront crisis that we find ourselves in and adapt to, to come out the other side in a way that's more resilient in a way that's more integrated in a way that's more connected. You know, all these sorts of things.
Alex Ferrari 35:12
Yeah, it's interesting. And Ram Dass actually said, the same thing that you said is that he, you know, started, he was doing a lot of LSD with Timothy. And he was just like, Man, I'm kind of tired of having to take LSD to keep going back to this place. And then he met the Mirage and Maharishi and just said, Oh, this guy's there all the time. Okay, I want to I want to, I want to learn what he's learning. So you're right, it opened the door, he would have never ever in a million years with his upbringing, ever discovered this without LSD. So for certain people, it's needed. For others who might be more spiritually open, might be doing meditation might be doing breathwork other or other practices that open them up a little bit, they might not need it. So it is a case by case basis. And I spoke to a veteran the other day, who is doing he did two or three trips, I think he did two or three trips with psilocybin. But he also did Ayahuasca doing it for real in Peru with a shaman, you know, because there is dangerous if you do it the wrong way as you as you've said, and he said, my PTSD is gone. It's gone after one or two trips, with Ayahuasca, I think. And then he's actually now become a proponent of psychedelics, specifically psilocybin to help veterans with PTSD, because it's, it's not a pill you take for the rest of your life. It's, there's not a, there's no a lot of money in it. On the pharmaceutical side is that you do one or two trips, in a controlled environment with therapists and, and you're in you're cured. That's really remarkable. You know, and I know a lot of the pharmaceutical companies aren't happy about that, because that hurts their bottom line. But there is a there is a place for it. And there is a place for it. And well, I want to ask you now because you've kind of studied this area so much, how does modern psychedelics use compared to the indigenous traditions like peyote? Like ayahuasca, which, by the way, can we just say real quickly, the miracle that Ayahuasca is that there's a vine and a leaf from two sides of a jungle, that without each other will never create the psychedelic experience, and some magical way? Some somebody connected these two from 1000s of miles away, to create ayahuasca, that's what the odds of that happening are, like, one vine, one leaf. And this year juggler. Like, it's pretty remarkable. I heard that it was like, Well, I mean, there has to be some divine intervention that I never heard it.
Paul Austin 37:57
Well, I think the shaman say are the people you know, the people that granted data, those who work with Ayahuasca, say the plants told them, right? And so I think this, this speaks to sort of the indigenous or the Animus or the pagan traditions, it's like in these in these societies, it there's a deep reverence and relationship with the Earth and the intelligence of non human species. And so I think when we look at the indigenous use, it's not even indigenous, like indigeneity is, it's interesting, but also just ancient use. Sure, right? Like, not only was Ayahuasca using the Amazon, and you know, the MAS attacked us psilocybin in the withdrawal, US peyote and, you know, but you also
Alex Ferrari 38:42
Egypt, go back to Egypt go back to the Vikings, I think they all had something that they took that
Paul Austin 38:49
Has written about in Vedanta, you know, ancient Greece, it's written about in, you know, Plato and Aristotle supposedly partook in the Eleusinian mysteries. So there was always there was always ritual, there was always ceremony. In ancient Greece, it was always kept a secret, meaning you didn't tell anyone, what happened in the actual experience. And there it was, it was often used, especially in indigenous lenses. This is not so much the ancient Greeks, but indigenous lenses, it's often and has been used to heal what they call soul sickness. So a lot of Shamans in indigenous societies, are there the doctors of the indigenous societies, right and so I Alaska is a tool that they use a scalpel that they use to heal the different sickness, the sicknesses of the soul, right? And so that is how they look at it. That's how they use it. And that, of course, is way different than, you know, a modern psychotherapeutic context, which is something's wrong with your dopamine. Something's wrong with your serotonin something, you know, even something happened in your childhood or something happened and you know, it's It's a totally different lens, right. And so I think the the sort of task of this third wave of psychedelics, which is where the name third wave came from first wave was ancient and indigenous use. Second wave was the counterculture. When psychedelics resurfaced in, let's say, Western lineage and reality, this third wave is what is the middle way between ritual ceremony, animism, indigenous use, right, the recognition of these plant medicines and psychedelics as intelligent in a way, and science, precision medicine, medicine, protocols, best practices, ethics, even you talk to a lot of people who go, you know, in a more modern lens, they go down and they sit with the Shipibo, who are an Amazonian peoples in Peru. And then there's still a lot of, you know, patriarchy, there's still a lot of ways in which the male shamans maybe are sometimes an unethical in ceremony. So I think there's also this this sense of, how do we find the middle way, in those between those two paths. So we can honor the ritual and the ceremony and the lineage. But we can also ensure that people are safe, that it's effective, that protocols are optimized, because we're really looking at now more than ever, a new paradigm of not only health care, or mental health, but what it means to be well, and, and you were speaking to this a little bit, it's like we could take Prozac and Zoloft, and Xanax and benzodiazepines. And those will mask a lot of the symptoms of the underlying sort of Festering Wound, if you will, or we can take a psychedelics, we can go straight to it, have that catharsis, integrate it. And it's maybe only, you know, you do that one high dose, maybe just two or three or four times. And then it's healed. And so this, this is a totally new paradigm, where we don't necessarily need to be on quote unquote, drugs, the rest of our lives, we can actually have the sovereignty and autonomy of choice to really go, Okay, this, this is how I want to heal, this is how I want to transform. And these are not only the medicines that will help, but also the practices, the behaviors, the habits that I can weave in that will help me to be more present, more loving, more connected.
Alex Ferrari 42:29
Well, it's really interesting, because the pharmaceutical companies and society in general is like, you can't be on these drugs, you have to be on these drugs, right? Because these are the drugs we're making money on, we can't make money on leaves, we can make money on these these drugs. So it's really interesting. And there is a lot of, you know, negative propaganda. I mean, I mean, just on weed alone, for God's sakes is the most beat up plant on the, you know, in the western in Western history. We're finally it's starting to come out. And yeah, it can be abused, anything could be abused, water could be abused, you drink too much water, you're gonna die. Like, you know, everything could be abused at a certain point. But it's, it's really interesting to see how the truth of these things are starting to just come out. And very respected scientists are now are doing many studies in major universities on psilocybin. Specifically, you're right LSD, not as much, but psilocybin. And the other DMT is another one that I heard so much about, there's like documentaries, I could see people talking about this, and they see the reaction of what people do. And by the way, in those studies, 100 thing was 100% said that they had a top five life experience. Wow. 100% 70 or 60%. It's the number one lifetime experience it like it's like beyond birth of the child beyond marriage. It just it opens them up. They said it was it was fascinating to see how people react to this because it opens them up to a truth that they just thought was gone before. Now, let me ask you this. We've been talking about micro dosing. What is specifically micro dosing? Is this a long term kind of way? To keep like you're saying keep the window open a little bit, but in a very, Spock's ever have a window as opposed to a giant door? Is that kind of where it is? Can you explain it to people?
Paul Austin 44:32
Yeah, micro dosing is about a 10th of a regular dose of a psychedelic and the thing is, with micro dosing is it's a sub intoxicating dose level. So there's no visions, you know, there's no major changes in your everyday reality. You can still, you know, have conversations go for walks, you know, sometimes people feel life when they're living like this is live your life. You know, live your life. And what's what's important with micro dosing is that the the sort of concept of micro dosing is not necessarily that you just take a low dose of a psychedelic once and see what happens that there's a protocol to it. And similar to mindfulness meditation, right, like Jon Kabat Zinn is a great teacher he has MSBI, right mindfulness, are MBSR, mindfulness based stress reduction, which is, I think, a six to eight week program, where if you commit to meditating every day, for a period of time, you'll notice that after those six to eight weeks, your nervous system is more regulated, you're less stressed, you're less reactive. microdosing is very similar, where it's not necessarily okay, I'm just going to take a little bit of a psychedelic today and see what happens. I mean, you certainly can do that as an opener. But it really is doing it two or three times per week, for a month or two months. And getting clear on what is the objective, what is the intention in working with, you know, a micro dose of LSD or a micro dose of psilocybin. And oftentimes, people notice that at the end of that initial protocol, they are a little more present, they're a little more aware, they have a better mood, they may have more energy. A lot of people are looking to microdose seen as a way to wean off certain psychiatric medications like Prozac and Zoloft. And then a lot of folks notice that it helps them just to be a little bit more creative, a little bit more inflows. So the, the use of micro dosing is quite, I would say, widespread, there are a lot of people were interested in this. And I think the important thing is to emphasize our protocol, a protocol still requires an intention. And that microdose seen is not necessarily a magic pill, you know, we've been conditioned in sort of the age of Prozac to think that if I just take this pill, it'll fix my problems, opiates, you know, all these sorts of things, right? If I just take this, okay, my depression will go away, I'll feel better, whatever it is. And what we emphasize is that rooted in the sort of scientific lens of neuroplasticity, when we microdose, consistently, it's helping to create something called BDNF brain derived neurotrophic factor, which is a precursor to neuroplasticity. And so, as we microdose quite a bit, it becomes easier to meditate more often it becomes easier to, you know, eat healthier and make better decisions. And the microdosing helps, but when we become sort of psychologically dependent on it, where it's like, okay, if I don't take this, then I'm in trouble. That's when some of the challenges can arise. So it really is a process of coming into relationship with it, working with it, understanding it, but also not necessarily becoming dependent on it. And I think this is also like what we've talked about already in this this episode. It's like, psychedelics can really help with awakening, they can help with that realization, but you shouldn't necessarily become dependent on just always taking a bunch of acid. After you have the awakening, that's when you know, for me, especially when I started doing acid, I was like, Okay, I need to meditate every day as a way to continue to integrate this. So I think that is also true with micro dosing. To have that, like, it's a useful tool, but don't let the don't give up your power to the tool, continue to hold that for yourself on your path of you know, sovereignty and creation.
Alex Ferrari 48:28
That's beautiful, man. Now, let me ask you this. What would you say to the skeptics of, of psychedelics, I mean, there's, I'm sure if someone's listening this far and are skeptical about all of this, you obviously are interested? You bet your programming is not allowing you to really open yourself up to this. So what what kind of assurances or advice? Or what would you say to people who, because I'm assuming you run into people who are skeptical of psychedelics in your line of work, how do you approach that?
Paul Austin 49:05
Like my parents. I mean, when I first told my parents, yeah, that I work with psychedelics they were, you know, like, oh, my gosh, I can't believe you take LSD or do mushrooms. And I mean, I definitely
Alex Ferrari 49:19
The Devil's weed. It's the devil's weed, obviously.
Paul Austin 49:22
Yeah, I didn't finish my story. But just a few years ago, I came back home and actually guided my dad through a mushroom experience. And it was sort of like, a full circle moment where, because I was showing up the way that I was, I hadn't read a book about psychedelics, Michael Pollan's how to change your mind. Yes. And he became open to that he started micro dosing, and then I was like, Look, I'm happy to do a higher dose journey with you and sort of SIP for you. And he was super open to it and ended up having a really beautiful journey and experience. So I think, look, the truth is like, psychedelics aren't for everyone. Some of the skepticism is is is well done. served, right? Like there could be people in here who are listening, who maybe they have a family history of schizophrenia, or you know, they've had a family member who has had a psychotic break with psychedelics, right? Like, it is important to tread lightly to do your diligence to know, kind of if it's right, and if it's not right for you, because I think the most important thing is that you yourself are fully making that choice to engage with us that you don't feel sort of convinced or pulled into it by, by by someone else, there has to be that full choice and that willful participation, I think the other thing that is knowing that these are not addictive physiologically, knowing that just because they are illegal doesn't make them bad, right. The reason they became schedule one substances in the first place, is because the Nixon administration couldn't make being a hippie illegal, but they can make the drugs that the hippies were using illegal like cannabis, and LSD. So knowing that these are anti addictive, knowing that they have a long, long lineage of use, we as humans have been using this for these medicines for 1000s and 1000s, and 1000s of years. And that as long as the use is safe, intentional, responsible, it's, it's more likely than not going to be beneficial and may be difficult, right? Just like getting in a cold plunge is difficult or just like doing, you know, certain types of therapy is difficult. But that that challenge, that confrontation is where a lot of the healing and transformation often comes from.
Alex Ferrari 51:29
So we kind of touched upon the bad trip, when things become challenging, or under an environment that's not, you know, ideal. What advice would you have for somebody who's having a bad trip? And if someone's sitting, or guiding them through a trip that just happened to be bats on both perspectives? Is there any advice you can give?
Paul Austin 51:52
For any challenging experience, bad trip, this goes back to what we talked about with the example a little bit right, really creating a feeling of absolute safety. And bringing someone deeper and deeper into their breath. Right. And we have done a lot from a business perspective in this space. But the thing that I'm most excited about now is we have a training program for practitioners. So coaches, facilitators, therapists who want to learn how to work with psychedelics, right, we bring them through this process of even before you are guiding someone else, to make sure that you assess what is what is their background, what medications might they be on? What are maybe some challenging experiences they've gotten through? How can we help them prepare for an experience, either by sitting in meditation for an hour or doing some breath work, where I find anchoring in the breath is really important. And that way, once you come into a journey, itself, even if you're sitting for a friend, or whoever it is, to just remind them again and again, that they are safe, that they are loved, that this will pass and to come back to the breath. Right. And I think in a worst case scenario, having, you know, maybe a trauma zone on hand or having, you know, niacin, iron or having something on hand where some therapists who do psychedelic work, if it gets really bad, they'll have someone take, like a benzodiazepine, or, you know, like, like an anti anxiety medication to just sort of calm down and calm down. So there are, there are sort of like worst case situations and scenarios that will require that but I think as long as there's some level of assessment and preparation, and that dose level isn't too high to start with, right, like a lot of the just general paranoia and anxiety that can come up can really be navigated by anchoring in the breath and encouraging a deep feeling of safety.
Alex Ferrari 53:55
In your experience, are there any psychedelics that are more or less spiritual, meaning that they open up different doors? Because, you know, some are pretty solid, some could be pretty soft and slow to get into and others could be a rough ride. For my understanding. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Paul Austin 54:12
So what kind of in modern psychedelics I would define MDMA, ketamine, mushrooms, LSD, Ayahuasca, peyote, San Pedro, five Meo DMT and DMT, which is the active ingredient in ayahuasca and he Boga is like the 10 major psychedelics, right. And so the ones that are endogenic, plant medicines like ayahuasca, you Boga, even mushrooms, those I think naturally have a slightly more spiritual context, because there's this way in which they bring us into deeper relationship with the earth and where they came from, whereas MDMA can be very healing. But MDMA is much more about love, and connecting with another human which, of course has its own spiritual aspect, and ketamine. can certainly bring someone into total ego dissolution. But the feeling of ketamine can be a little I find synthetic, and a little like, just bliss and joy and love, but not necessarily. You know, with Ayahuasca, sometimes the teaching is the shadow. Right. And I think some of these plant medicines bring us deeper and deeper into the shadow, which, in many ways is where a lot of the quote unquote enlightenment and can can kind of rise. So my sense is the plant medicines are really the best tools for the spiritual path. That's how I would frame it.
Alex Ferrari 55:35
Now, what is your what is your stance on synthetic versus natural? You know, what would you do? Because LSD to my understanding is synthetic at this origin. Explain what the difference are and what isn't that and what's natural.
Paul Austin 55:47
So the ones that are synthetic would be MDMA, ketamine, and LSD. Right? The ones that are natural are psilocybin, Ayahuasca, the other
Alex Ferrari 55:59
On the planet, right?
Paul Austin 56:00
So I would say, Look, this whole synthetic versus natural conversation, there's a lot of fallacies, like there's a lot of things that are natural that will kill you. And there's a lot of things that are synthetic, that I found to be safe. You know, beyond beyond comparison, sure, psychedelics, I think are a little particular in that oftentimes, the synthetics can have a somewhat a feeling where it's a little bit too much just bliss and joy, and kind of the light without the balance of, of, of the dark in the shadow. And so sometimes, if people are taking too many synthetics, there can be this aspect of spiritual bypassing, we find, and if they're taking too many synthetics, I think there's a higher likelihood of becoming manic or becoming taking too much. Right, you eat it, you can't eat too many mushrooms, I mean, you can but you'll just puke and vomited up. Right. So with a lot of these natural, the body has sort of a baked in physiological response where it can sort of keep the body in some stage of have a balance. But with the synthetics, as your friend experienced or the guy that you interviewed, right, you can take a lot of synthetics, like LSD, and that could potentially lead to a massively imbalanced state, or you could take a bunch of MDMA. But that could lead to a potentially like, like, really, really intense experience. So I think there's just not as much baked in balance to the synthetics that the natural substances really just sort of have and allow for.
Alex Ferrari 57:38
Fair enough. Fair enough. Now, I'm going to ask you a few questions. Ask all my guests Austin. What is your definition of living a fulfilled life?
Paul Austin 57:46
There has to be this beautiful marriage between the individual Why Why am I here? What is my mission? What is my purpose? Why am I showing up every day? And that really has to be paired with how am I in service? How am I steward in how am I creating or creating something that is that is having an impact and helping other people live a really beautiful life. So there has to be the the eye and the why behind the eye. But there has to be just as much the we and the sort of desire to serve the greater collect.
Alex Ferrari 58:22
If you had a chance to go back in time and talk to little Austin, what advice would you give him?
Paul Austin 58:28
The same advice, I would give my current self which is patience, and to know that everything will happen in the time that it's supposed to happen. And that, that that sort of presence of patients actually allows for a more an unfoldment that is more in integrity and more aligned. So patients, patients patients, I think that's that's for me, always the reminder and the reminder that I would also like just what my dad always told me growing up and it's what I'd continue to come back and emphasize.
Alex Ferrari 59:04
How would you define God?
Paul Austin 59:06
I mean, God is the paradox of existence. God is the undefinable sort of ineffable ground of all being and, and God is also the vitality that is imbued in all life altering and all things
Alex Ferrari 59:34
And what is the ultimate purpose of life?
Paul Austin 59:39
Self transcendence, to realize that the the, the eye is limited, to realize that there is this path towards greater awareness and knowledge and that it lies in the capacity to transcend and that is the sort of path of the Bodhisattva. This path of enlightenment, while remaining in service, I find to be sort of the the greatest purpose of of existence.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:11
And where can people find out more about you and the work that you're doing my friend?
Paul Austin 1:00:15
That's a much easier one. So if there's any coaches, practitioners, those who want to get involved in this space or interested in about it, just go to our website, The Psychedelic Coaching Institute, and that psychedeliccoaching.institute, if folks are somewhat new to this, and they just want to learn more about micro dosing and psychedelics, that is the third wave. So that's our educational platform, we have an app that folks can download, that's a community where you can start to meet and connect with others who are on this path. That's thethirdwave.co and if folks are interested in a podcast that goes deep into this topic, I've been hosting the podcast for the last seven years. And that's the psychedelic podcast. So the psychedelic Coaching Institute, third wave and the psychedelic podcast, those are the best next steps to for folks, they want to learn more.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:10
And awesome, do you have any parting messages for our psychedelic friends listening,
Paul Austin 1:01:15
Just to start low, and go slow to know that these are tools, but they aren't the thing itself. And that we're all in many ways, doing our best to live a life of happiness, fulfillment and purpose. And that psychedelics are one of the tools and modalities that can help us on that path.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:37
Paul, man, I appreciate you coming on the show and sharing your knowledge with all of us. And hopefully this will help somebody who's interested in this world to step lightly. Put the step forward if it's right for them. So I appreciate you and the work that you're doing in the world, my friend so thanks.
Paul Austin 1:01:54
Thank you, Alex, for having me on for being such a gracious host and asking some incredible questions. It was fun.
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