The 175+ journeys I’ve taken with psychoactive plant medicine have done more to accelerate my healing and spiritual awakening than anything else. So I took notice when mega-popular author Michael Pollan published a book on the healing power of psychedelics. I devoured all 477 pages … then went back to the beginning and read the entire book again. It’s that good!
Pollan doesn’t need a lot of help from me to promote his book. How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence is a #1 New York Times bestseller, a New York Times Book Review 10 Best Books of 2018, and a New York Times Notable Book. Time Magazine once named Pollan one of the 100 most influential people in the world. When he gets excited about something, so do a lot of other people. And I’m excited that he’s excited about psychedelics!
Pollan did extensive research for How to Change Your Mind, and he covers a lot of ground. He describes how LSD was a universally acclaimed wonder drug in the 1950s and early 60s, producing far better psychological and psychiatric healing than any other therapy … and how substances like LSD, psylocybin and MDMA are once again involved in highly promising, government-approved medical trials. He even describes the benefits he personally receives as he does guided journeys with holotropic breathwork, LSD, mushrooms and ayahuasca.
One of the things I found most fascinating was how Pollan, an atheist who went into all this believing that the universe was only dead matter, deals with altered state experiences that he can only call “spiritual.” He doesn’t know what other word to use when a psychedelic temporarily obliterates his ego, yet consciousness remains.
But Pollan’s materialistic worldview makes him the perfect person to introduce the huge numbers of other people with the same mindset to the numerous benefits of psychedelics … which don’t require any particular belief to be effective, just an appropriate set and setting. He dives deep into the latest psychedelic brain science, and is introduced to the underground community of psychedelic therapists … many of whom are respected mainstream healing practitioners, but discreetly use psychedelics with some patients because they’re so much more effective.
I also came away from Pollan’s book with a new respect for synthetic psychedelics. I’ve been biased toward medicines such as ayahuasca, magic mushrooms and San Pedro, since they open me to a living plant spirit and are part of indigenous ceremonial tradition. But Pollan makes a powerful case for the profound, life-altering benefits many have experienced after just one dose of LSD or MDMA.
I was certainly aware of Pollan and his other best-selling books, but had never read his work until now. His popularity is well-deserved: he’s an excellent writer, with a gift for making even the most technical points engaging and entertaining. If you have any interest in the benefits of psychedelics, I cannot recommend How to Change Your Mind highly enough!