“I am a winged creature who is too rarely allowed to use its wings. Ecstasies do not occur often enough.” -Anais Nin.
This week on the radio we talked about the human desire for ecstasy or ecstatic escape. This is our need to go beyond the physical world into a realm of bliss, relaxation and oneness. We live in a society where we have been conditioned to enter this ecstatic realm only once or twice a week, and often with the use of drugs. As a result, the use of drugs is widespread, with tobacco and alcohol the most abused, and heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and ice the least abused. Interestingly, around 10% of the general population regularly use cannibis. 80% of the general population consume alcohol and 15% smoke cigarettes each day. 1-2% of the general population regularly use drugs like cocaine, ice, heroin and ecstasy (Roxburgh, A., Ritter, A., Slade, T. & Burns, L (2013). Trends in Drug Use and Related Harms in Australia, 2001 to 2013. Sydney, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales).
We need to shift the conversation away from drugs and addiction, so that we can acknowledge this fundamental human need for ecstasy. In an ideal world, we would all experience bliss at least on a daily basis. This need is an honest and pure desire; we just feed the desire with the wrong highs. We need to give people a viable alternative to drugs.
Drugs simulate a feeling of bliss and ecstasy by flooding the brain with the chemicals that generate these feelings. But taking a drug is a back door to true ecstasy. And while a user may feel high while they are on the drug, after their acute experience, they encounter:
– the come-down;
– physical side-effects of the drug, which can last for a lifetime;
– the addiction that results from connecting a feeling of bliss with a drug;
– a diminished ability to experience natural pleasure and ecstasy in the future.
There are safe and natural ways to experience more enhanced states of ecstasy and bliss that can be called on at any time.
SHAMANIC JOURNEYS & VISION QUESTS INSTEAD OF DRUG HIGHS
When teenagers and young adults are experiencing the natural intensity and urges for exploration that come with their age, our society (parents, education, media, government) tries to repress their natural desires and asks them to conform. They are told to just be normal. Just be obedient. Don’t fall off the edges. Suppress your urges.
When I was completing my transformational coaching course, I had a shamanic journey. A shamanic journey is an ancient practice of meditation based on the healing traditions of indigenous peoples throughout the world. It was a Saturday afternoon in an office building and I had a completely safe and natural hallucination. It was induced by an intense guided meditation and the shaman used rattling, drumming and whistling to induce an altered state of perception where our imaginations were able to run wild. I had a heightened experience of being interconnected with every living thing, and felt ecstatic.
It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life, and afterwards I felt clear, positive, and excited. I would love to share this with people seeking alternative forms of ecstasy, especially young people in an age of curiosity and pushing boundaries. Rites of passage and vision quests, which I have written about here, can also be a healthy form of exploration and escape.
A NEW CONVERSATION ABOUT ECSTASY
Basically, we need to have a new conversation about natural ecstasy. To have this new conversation, we must:
1. Replace the shaming and judgmental attitude around drugs. Don’t demonise the addiction. It is simply the part of us that wants to live out a conscious and whole human experience, but it has lost its way.
2. Acknowledge the desire for ecstasy as a healthy and normal part of human life. Realise that you don’t need to give up the experience and sensation of pleasure and escape once you give up your addiction.
3. Adopt a natural form of ecstasy that can be drawn upon at any time.
Next week on the show, we are talking about natural forms of ecstasy, and how to meditate.