Expanding Beyond Mental Health with Radical Wholeness, Psychedelics, and Interbeing
Health is not defined by our health systems, according to Jamie Harvie, PE, Executive Director of the Psychedelic Research and Training Institute based in Fort Collins, Colorado. Rather, he said, 90 percent of health is defined by where we live, work, and play.
Sharing his insights at the 2023 Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine Annual Conference, Harvie emphasized our deep-seated ties with the universe and every creature within it. He explained that our culture is built upon stories, some of which are centuries old, that place certain groups of humans above others and humans above the natural world. And to Harvie, these narratives need re-evaluation. “Our culture is just our story,” he remarked.
It's clear that when the living animals and plants surrounding humans are unhealthy, so too are humans. In a survey by the American Psychological Association, which assessed the prevalence of climate-related stress, 47 percent of respondents aged 18 to 34 said climate anxiety affected their daily lives. Everything is alive and interconnected, Harvie explained. And when that goes unacknowledged by humans, everything suffers.
Humans are not the only species that experience emotion, Harvie explained. Studies have indicated compassion in rats, love in octopuses, and conscious plant behaviors and reactions. “Emotions are widespread in other animals. We humans don't own love and grief.”
When humans recognize consciousness in other living beings, we can open ourselves up to a whole new world with a new level of appreciation. Harvie pointed to a study looking at animal relations that found ego dissolution was negatively associated with speciesism and positively associated with animal solidarity. “These lessons help us see ourselves as part of something bigger.”
Harvie said that participating in grief ceremonies for animals and plants that have died, engaging in active dialogue with nature, and embracing the emotions of plants and animals can significantly improve feelings of interconnectedness with nature, which can provide a source of calm in a world riddled with burnout, depression, and anxiety.
Harvie also discussed psychedelics and their emergence as tools for enlightenment and deep connection. He acknowledged that while psychedelics are being commercialized, “there’s a lot of people pushing back, monitoring, and saying we have to preserve the sacredness,” he said. According to Harvie, psychedelics should serve as teachers. “They help us tap into the magic.”
In this community, we talk a lot about grounding ourselves, Harvie said. “My invitation is to go beyond the grounding and touch into the soil and the beauty and the aliveness of this time.”
Something as simple as sitting with a plant, whether it can be a houseplant or a plant in an inner-city park, and asking it questions, “How are you doing?” or “Do you have anything to share with me?”, can deepen our relationship to the planet, Harvie explained. “And it may feel totally weird, but I can guarantee that at the end of the week, you will be changed.”
Editor's note: This article is part of our live coverage of the 2023 Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine Conference. Click here for a list of full coverage.