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As we evolve in this day and age, we are discovering more creative and innovative methods on how to heal from anxiety, depression, PTSD, addiction, and trauma. Thanks to our guest today, Matt Zemon, you will learn about a revolutionary approach to overcome the pain and suffering from mental health issues. You will also hear my story and how these groundbreaking methods revealed the key to unlock my higher self. I hope it does for you, too! Enjoy the show!

The Nuggets of Midlife Wisdom from today’s show:

  1. There ​are ​literally ​hundreds ​of ​psychedelics ​out ​there, ​but ​the ​most ​common ​ones ​that ​we’ve ​heard ​of are ​magic ​mushrooms, ​LSD, ​​Ayahuasca, ​Ibogaine, ​ketamine, ​DMT, 5-MeO-DMT ​or ​Bufo.
  2. Ketamine ​is ​our ​only ​lethal ​psychedelic ​here ​in ​America, ​in ​all ​50 ​states. ​It’s ​actually ​a ​disassociative ​anesthetic ​that ​when ​taking ​in ​sub anesthetic ​doses, ​allows ​people ​to ​have ​a ​psychedelic ​experience ​for ​40 ​minutes ​or ​an ​hour.
  3. Ketamine ​does ​a ​number ​of ​things ​to ​your ​brain. ​First ​thing ​it ​does ​is ​quiet ​down ​the ​default ​mode ​network ​or ​that ​inner ​narrator ​that’s ​always ​telling ​us ​we’re ​not ​good ​enough ​or ​we ​have ​to ​do ​more. ​It ​turns ​that ​voice off. The ​second ​thing ​it ​does ​is ​it ​allows ​neurons ​to ​fire ​together ​that ​haven’t ​fired ​together ​in ​years. You ​don’t ​have ​to ​think ​the ​way ​you’ve ​been ​thinking ​and ​that’s ​incredibly ​freeing.
  4. The ​research ​says ​if ​you ​want ​the ​optimal ​effects ​from ​a ​psychedelic, ​spend ​time ​in ​preparation ​and ​spend ​time ​on ​integration. A great way to do this is by buying Matt’s journal, Beyond the Trip.
  5. If ​psychedelics is ​calling ​to ​you, ​if ​it’s ​calling ​for ​you, ​then ​it’s ​something ​to ​be ​curious ​about, and ​to ​entertain ​doing a psychedelic treatment, ​so you can live your ​life ​fully. 
  6. We ​are ​very ​good ​at ​numbing and ​trying ​to ​normalize ​people, ​but ​we’re ​not ​great ​about ​getting ​to ​the ​root. ​And ​psychedelics ​allows ​you ​to ​remember ​who ​you ​are, ​that ​you ​are ​loved, ​that ​you ​are ​enough, ​that ​you ​are ​beautiful, ​and ​that ​you ​don’t ​need ​permission ​from ​anybody ​to ​be ​those ​things.
  7. If you are considering doing psychedelic treatment, make sure you ask these questions: How ​are ​you ​going ​to ​help ​me ​prepare? ​What ​are ​you ​going ​to ​do ​for ​me ​during ​the ​session? ​Who’s ​going ​to ​be ​in ​the ​room ​during ​the ​session? ​What ​are ​you ​going ​to ​do ​for ​me ​after ​the ​session? What ​are ​you ​going ​to ​do ​in ​case ​something ​goes ​wrong?

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Check out highlights of our convo below!

Matt Zemon studies the effects of psychedelics on the mind

Wendy Valentine: Our guest today is Matt Zemon. He is a dedicated explorer of the inner world and a passionate advocate for the thoughtful and responsible use of psychedelics with a Master of Science in Psychology and neuroscience of mental health with honors from King’s College London. Matt has studied the effects of psychedelics on the mind and the potential for those experiences to serve as a catalyst for positive transformations. His work in this field is motivated by a profound desire to help people navigate the sometimes challenging terrain of the psychedelic experience and emerge from it with a deeper sense of purpose, connection, and understanding. Here’s my favorite part, which is something I can definitely vouch for ––to reclaim their true self. 

Different types of psychedelics

Wendy Valentine: So what are the different types of psychedelics?

Matt Zemon: Yes, there are literally hundreds of psychedelics out there, but the most common ones that we’ve heard of, or that maybe you’ve heard of are magic mushrooms, LSD, Ayahuasca, Ibogaine, ketamine, DMT, or Bufo, and then of course, ketamine. Those are the things most people are talking about. Ketamine is our only lethal psychedelic here in America, in all 50 states. It’s actually a disassociative anesthetic that when taking in sub anesthetic doses, allow people to have a psychedelic experience for 40 minutes or an hour.

Then we have things like MDMA, which should be legalized here in America maybe the end of this year, beginning of next. And that’s had tremendous results with people with post traumatic stress disorder, specifically treatment resistant post traumatic stress disorder. And then we have psilocybin or magic mushrooms, where the FDA has granted that as breakthrough therapy designation. And some really well known schools are studying it. And the results have been pretty significant.

Wendy’s ketamine experience

Matt Zemon: Now, you said you’ve had some ketamine experience. What was that experience like?

Wendy Valentine: Yeah, I’ve actually had two. I learned about it when I watched the documentary, Fantastic Fungi. And for me, I’ve done therapy. I’ve done EMDR. My audience knows a bit of my story, but when I had my midlife meltdown, if you will, I had one loss after another. My dog died, my cat died, my brother died, my marriage died, and in a sense, I felt like I had died. I lost Wendy and I wanted to bring her back to life. When I was trying to rebuild my life, in my mid-forties, I decided I was going to take off in an RV by myself and start my own show.

I felt there was one thing that was standing in my way, and I knew what that one thing was, and it was me. I couldn’t quite figure out, even with all the work I had done and the books I had read, I just felt like there was one little piece that I could not quite get to. When I heard about ketamine, I researched it. I’ll be honest with you, I was a little nervous about it, and a little scared. I was like, oh my god, what if I totally lose control? Or what’s going to happen? I got connected with a psychologist and a guide at Ten Thousand Waves in Santa Fe, NM.

For me, it was important that I felt safe, and that I felt guided, and I felt secure. And they did such an awesome job. And so that actually was my first destination, if you will, on my solo RV journey across the country.

Matt Zemon: What a great place to start.

Wendy Valentine: It was a gift to me. It sounds really corny, but it was a gift to my soul. And I thought, you know what, here I am, almost 50. I’m like, I’m so over this. Like these crappy limiting beliefs that are just fully engrained in my brain. I’ve done meditation, I’ve done it all. I’m like, what is it?

So then it was two or three days worth of preparing for it. By the time I did get to it, I felt so relaxed, so ready. Let’s do this! And I’ll tell you what, when I came out of that, I felt more like Wendy. Actually, I felt like everything that I had feared had just fallen away and I felt like I had this nice, clean slate. I’m not holding myself back anymore, because, I mean, I feel like that’s really what it is. We hold ourselves back. We’d like to blame others. I did it. It was quite an amazing experience and much different than I thought it would be.

Matt Zemon: So much of what you say resonates. I love what you’re saying there.

When you take ketamine, you feel like the anxiety has just been lifted.

Matt Zemon: It works right away. One treatment.

Wendy Valentine: One treatment. Yeah. And then I think, too, the most important thing, as you know, which I want you to tell them more about the neuroplasticity, the rewiring of the brain that takes place even weeks after the treatment. So it was critical that I kind of stay in this good state of mind, and I had a great guide and the psychologist that helped me, even after the treatment, to make sure that this sticks. We want this to stick. Tell everyone a little bit more about the actual neuroscience, the neuroplasticity of it.

Matt Zemon: So ketamine does a number of things to your brain. First thing it does is quiet down the default mode network or that inner narrator that’s kind of always telling us we’re not good enough or we have to do more. It turns that off. And many people, including myself, when you take ketamine, you feel like the anxiety has just been lifted. That’s an incredible feeling, because at least for me, Wendy, I’m curious how you felt. I don’t think I realized how much anxiety I was carrying until it’s like, oh, wow, that feels great.

We don’t have to think the way we’ve been thinking and it’s incredibly freeing.

The second thing it does is allow neurons to fire together that haven’t fired together in years. So the analogy I always give is imagine that you’re skiing down a mountain and as we get older, we keep skiing on the same track over and over and over. The track gets deeper and deeper and deeper to the point it’s the only track we ski on. When we take the psychedelic, it throws a fresh coat of powder on the mountain and we can ski all over it again like we did when we were kids. Those neurons firing together is the remembrance of different ways of thinking. We don’t have to think the way we’ve been thinking and it’s incredibly freeing.

People really have profound behavioral and lifestyle changes following psychedelic experiences.

Matt Zemon: And then as you were talking about with the neuroplasticity, as you emerge from the psychedelic experience, your brain is in a very neuroplastic state. If you have a good integrator, in your case, it sounds like you had both a guide and a psychologist, you have someone who can help you cement your ideas or come up with a plan of how you’re going to move forward, and take advantage of that plasticity. It’s incredible. What I’ve seen time and time again is people really have profound behavioral and lifestyle changes following psychedelic.

What’s interesting about yours, and again, just for your listeners who don’t know a lot about ketamine, what you did is not the norm. What most people do with ketamine is they’re going to do four to six sessions within about six weeks. Then after that initial dosing of all of those sessions combined, maybe it’s once a quarter, maybe it’s once a month. It just depends on the person and what brought them to the medicine. But some people, you being one of them, can have one experience and can really change and make a huge difference in their lives. So I’m super happy that that happened for you.

If you want the optimal effects from a psychedelic, spend time in preparation and spend time on integration.

Wendy Valentine: I know, me too. And you know what, even leading up to it, I did a lot of journaling and set a lot of intentions. So I went into it with this intention of I’m going to set Wendy free. I’m going to relieve myself of all this worry and the pain and the suffering and the anxiety and the PTSD, all of that.

Matt Zemon: But so I have a journal out there called Beyond the Trip. In the journal, it starts with a section on preparation, which is all about documenting what are your intentions, why are you choosing now to do a psychedelic? What do you want out of this? And it helps you write it down, maybe gather your resources. Who can talk to about these things? It then moves into the actual journeys themselves and it has different exercises for right when you’re coming out of the journey to quickly document, so you don’t forget it. And then it goes into four weeks of homework with an activity each week that asks you, when this came up, how did it make you feel about whatever that is? And it does those activities while doing Gratitude journaling so that you’re kind of retraining your mind on the positive. The research says if you want the optimal effects from a psychedelic, spend time in preparation and spend time on integration.

Is this safe?

Wendy Valentine: If it’s calling to you, if it’s calling for you, then it’s something to be curious about and to entertain doing it. If that’s something that you need in order to really live life fully.

Matt Zemon: People say, well, is this safe? And I don’t love that word because all drugs, aspirin, every type of drug, has a risk. So this is an easy way to explain this, I think. Dr. David Nutt out of Imperial College London said, let’s forget about how drugs are scheduled and just look at the danger of self-harm to self and harm to others to different drugs. The most dangerous drug in his chart, it’s like a 73, was alcohol. Heroin is is like a 55. Crack cocaine is like a 54.

For perspective, alcohol does serious harm to yourself and serious harm to others. On the far end of his chart are mushrooms. It’s like a six, LSD is a seven, MDMA is like a nine. So are there risks associated? Absolutely. Relatively these have lower risks.

So a lot of people these days are looking at ketamine compared to antidepressants. If you’re taking an antidepressant, they work for you. That’s amazing. Great. If they don’t work for you, you’re not alone. They only work in like 40% of the population. So it’s not you failing the medicine, it’s the medicine failing you. On top of that, the side effect profile is significant. The price tag is high. The example I often give is sexual dysfunction. 73% of people on some of these antidepressants have some type of sexual dysfunction. That’s a huge percentage.

And I’m not believing that that’s really explained to people before they get prescribed the antidepressant and then really not any path to get off of an antidepressant. It’s never meant to be a decades long solution.

Johns Hopkins is doing multiple studies on terminal patients using psychedelics

Matt Zemon: A lot of us listening to this show are in our midlives. We have parents who are getting older. Johns Hopkins is doing multiple studies on terminal patients using psychedelics. What’s fascinating doesn’t change the prognosis, it doesn’t change that they’re going to die. What it changes is how they experience this last chapter. What it changes is how they experience the relationship with their children and their grandchildren, this last chapter.

I’ll take it a step further and say, I think it’s not only beautiful for the person in the active state of dying to take the psychedelic, I think it’s amazing for the family to take a psychedelic during the same process and have this combined experience. So again, I’m not telling anybody to do anything. And I think it’s beautiful when people choose to do that.

Wendy Valentine: Now there’s so many alternatives, there’s so many different ways, which I love that somebody like you has done this research. You’re providing those different ways that we can feel better and be better. Just like said, you didn’t even know some of the issues that you had before you even went into the experience.

Matt Zemon: Every experience is different with a psychedelic and every experience we talk about. The medicine has something to show you. I’ve seen Blind Spot after Blind Spot revealed during these journeys. I don’t believe it’s a one and done for many of us. I think it’s something that can be a part of your life as a way to continue to explore your inner self, the different masks that we put on, the different choices we make. Many of which are not for us, they’re for our parents or they’re for our spouses, or they’re for our children, but are they necessarily for us? I think psychedelics gives us an opportunity to explore those things.

It’s nice to be able to get unstuck from those things so that you can move on and really be the person that you truly are.

Wendy Valentine: Again, we’re all here at midlife, right? And think about the things that have held us back in our lives. It’s nice to be able to get unstuck from those things so that you can move on and really be the person that you truly are. There’s that quote of what will you do with your one wild and precious life? And this is it. And it’s never too late. It’s never too late to go ahead and rewire that stubborn brain.

Matt Zemon: I’d go so far as to say that it’s all perfect. Whatever happened in your life, whatever you created to get to whatever point you are sitting here today having this conversation or listening to this conversation, that’s all beautiful, right? And the only direction is learning, healing, and growing, moving forward. There is no possibility of failure. There’s just moving forward until you stop moving forward. So you have this life. What are you going to do with it? What do you do with whatever time you have left? Whether that’s one day or 50 years, what do you want to do with that remaining time? And I think psychedelics really helps you remember, I’m in control. I don’t need to hand my agency over to anybody else. I’m in control. It’s my life.

Besides your book, is there just one spot where you can find out how to do this?

Wendy Valentine: I think that doing an experience like that, it is important to feel safe. I mean, it was for me, but like you said, this is what I needed. And so I made sure that it was all set up. Besides your book, is there just one spot where you can find out how to do this?

Matt Zemon: Yes, I’m a huge fan of educating yourself first. So whether it’s my book, which is Psychedelics for Everyone, or whether you reference Michael Pollan’s book How to Change Your Mind, I think those are two great places to start. And if you don’t want to read, How to Change Your Mind, it’s a four part series on Netflix. It gives you kind of 4 hours of introduction in a super easy way to digest and then from there, if you’re looking for ketamine, you’d Google ketamine providers near me and bring in your questions.

If you’re looking to do psychedelic tourism, you can look at the Netherlands, Bahamas, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Peru, and then if you’re looking at psychedelic churches, you can Google those as well. For your listeners, if they have questions, I’m very accessible. My goal is to provide information so they can go to, they can put in a question to me and I absolutely will respond. In many cases I even set up a time to talk with them, no charge. I’m just trying to provide information to help people have as risk reduced and optimal of an experience as possible.

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