THE RELATIONSHIP OF CONSCIOUSNESS AND INTEGRITY

Article by Duncan Grady, D. Min, MS

Dec 13, 2019

I’d like to begin this brief article by quoting from the Psychedelic Psychotherapy Forum; “The word “psychedelic” loosely translates to “mind-manifesting”: an expansion of consciousness in both its inward and outward aspects.” What an incredibly clear and beautiful way of connecting “consciousness” to the practice of “psychedelic psychotherapy.”

As a retired psychotherapist, hospital based trauma worker and post-secondary educator for 38 years, and being of the Siksika-Sauk-Mesquaki and Scottish people from the US, I’d like to begin with a story. I’m in my late 60’s now. In my 40’s I sometimes had the incredible opportunity to be an attendant to various medicine people, mostly women. Basically this meant setting up their working space, getting them to where they needed to be for work, carrying their things for them, and so forth. They were all profoundly gifted, each in their own way. Some had very expanded consciousness and rather “mysterious” gifts that could be noticed, but words fell short of description. Interestingly, none of them would allow themselves to be called “healers”.

The Consciousness of Spirit within them had shown them what the True Healer was, and it was a “What, not a who”, which is a quote from many of them. Sometimes they would “receive” something pertaining to the person they were working with. They never spoke of it with the person, or anyone else. Their state of consciousness was such that they realized a number of things; what they received was for their own benefit in the context of providing care to the other,“telling” the other what they received was too tempting for their “false self” and self-aggrandizement, and “using” what they were made aware of would sound like, as one medicine woman used to say laughingly, “What, am I the voice of God? I don’t think so.” Thus the seduction of power and control would be enormous. Again, referring to the above stated quote, these incredible teachings and awareness that they spoke of came from “consciousness inward” then being spread “outward”. And, since mind and heart are not separate but interconnected, the “heart” of these men and women were also very, very expanded.

From the Medicine Wheel perspective, and for that matter, from the Perennial Tradition as well, the three twos can be very seductive; they are “security/survival, esteem/affection, power/control”. I have made many mistakes throughout my lifetime that were based in all three of these pairs. Blessedly, I had elders, medicine people, and in a couple of instances, two different very good therapists assisting me. And, as one medicine woman used to say to me: “Grandson, if you learn from the mistake, it transforms from “mistake” to “teaching”. But you have to learn from it, which doesn’t only include the mind, but the heart as well.” She was speaking of how to grow consciousness inwardly, and then outwardly.

In retirement, I sometimes travel to various communities where the healthcare providers are overwhelmed from the devastations of the fentanyl crisis and need care themselves. What’s astounding about this is that healthcare providers, and agency administrators and supervisors, actually become aware that they need help too! Our work is often driven by some odd beliefs, most of which I too have held, and they caused me harm. Here are some. “I’m too busy. I don’t have time. I don’t need help, I’m a helper! If a helper needs help, that person has got a problem. Buck up and soldier on. You’re letting it get to you!”

​Psychedelic medicine is invaluable. And, when taken it mixes not just with our psychotherapeutic strengths, but with our beliefs, our “false self”, and those other intrapersonal “inward and outward aspects” of ourselves that require our care so that they can be transformed from “mistakes to teachings.” And, from my experience, the medicine world is highlighting in very strong, unmistakable ways, our need as healthcare providers, to regularly “stop, turn around and go down and in.” Doing this is not weakness, but an incredible action of growth and humility. I give thanks to the elders and medicine people I spoke of. They’re all ancestors now, helping in a very different, and mysterious way!

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Dr. Duncan Grady’s professional experience includes over 20 years of post secondary education and 36 years of psychotherapy in addictions, trauma, death and dying. He has a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology and a Doctorate of Ministry. He is an elder of the Circle of Indigenous Nations Society, West Kootenays, BC. He currently co-leads retreats, works with communities impacted by lateral violence and provides training and consultation using western and non-western approaches to health, well-being, spirituality, trauma, dying and death. During the past year he has gone to communities in BC and Alberta to assist health care teams experiencing the overwhelm of working with suicide, fentanyl overdose and death. This work has primarily been with care providers who provide services, but has also included community presentations as well. 

He will be presenting at our upcoming 2020 Psychedelic Psychotherapy Forum, Oct 14 – 17.