Many still think of MDMA as a substance used by people in their early 20s going to festivals and raves. But new research has revealed MDMA’s promise as a treatment, amongst other, for PTSD and depression. And our guest today sees it as a medicine that can be used to foster connection and enliven and deepen relationships, all through the adult lifespan, even and especially in advanced age.
Charley Wininger is a licensed psychotherapist for over 30 years whose mission is to prove MDMA’s efficacy as a therapeutic medicine, saying the so-called chemical of connection can offer emotional as well as social benefits to people in all stages of life. Charley is the author of Listening to Ecstasy: The Transformative Power of MDMA. Part memoir and part guidebook, Wininger describes the profound effects MDMA has had on his practice as a psychotherapist, as well as enhancing his personal life and relationship with his wife Shelley, while providing data and advice for safe use and integration.
In this discussion with Charley Wininger, you’ll discover:
-How writing Charley’s book was a story of “coming out of the closet”…02:10
-How MDMA use has changed Charley as a person and as a therapist…04:45
-MDMA causes a “widening of consciousness” of the world around us and our reactions to it…08:55
-The history of MDMA, legal prohibition, and subsequent decriminalization of it…12:40
-Benefits that couples experience with MDMA therapy…19:30
-The co-creation and curation of a romantic relationship by way of MDMA…22:00
-How does accessing self-love change a person?…26:05
-Misconceptions and prejudices in society regarding MDMA and other psychedelics…30:25
-Connection with others is key to quality of life, and how MDMA facilitates that…34:40
-Why Charley believes psychedelics is a key antidote to many of society’s ills…38:30
-Charley’s opinion of Tim Leary…42:42
-Safety precautions when it comes to using MDMA…44:10
-What would the world look like if MDMA were more mainstream?…50:30
-And much more!
Resources mentioned in this episode:
Charlie, welcome to Gateway Sessions. We are so pleased to connect with you today.
Thank you, Arian. It's great to be here.
Charlie, your book is titled, listening to Ecstasy, the Transformative Power of M D M A, and I'd really like to know what compelled you to write it.
I was living. A a psycho knots life that is a life of somebody who uses psychedelic substances and living it like most of us.
Who or psycho knots back who were back in the turn of the century. We were doing it in the closet because of the legal ramifications and possible negative impact on one's career or alienation from friends and family. All the stigma in involved. And I was doing M D M A with my wife Shelly, my second wife, who I met in 2000.
We were doing it like four or five times a year, and we were realizing. This is an extraordinary, remarkable, and very versatile medicine. Not, we don't consider it a drug at all. It's really a medicine. And I got tired maybe because of the stage of life I was entering from middle-aged to being an elder.
I got tired of living in the closet. I got tired of pretending that I'm not everything that I am. And so the book was my coming out of the closet process. And it's really the story of how my wife and I ventured into this at time, at the time forbidden world of psychedelic drug users and found that world to be echa.
And it, we tell the story about how it opened up our lives to friendship and fun and freedom and how it deepened our relationship with each other and with ourselves and opened up new pathways of communication and intimate connection with the people around us. So for me, it was a story that had to be told.
Beautiful, and we're so grateful you did share this in your book, Charlie, and of course there's tons of really great information about M D M A, the usage and also the application, the circumstances when it might be very beneficial to use. You alluded to it yourself. You've been a psycho note I think for about 50 years.
You've also been a licensed psychotherapist for over 30 years. You've been in practice since 1989. And if you would look back at the past decades, how would you say you have changed, grown and evolved as a result of working with M D M A as a person and also as a, the.
As a therapist, it's helped me become more empathetic because M D M A opens up the heart and and empowers one to be more in touch with their innate talent empathizing with another human being. And of course, being a therapist, that's pretty important. And it's made me a better husband because partly for the same reasons and partly cause I could have more compassion and understanding for my wife and be more vulnerable and open to her and she to me.
So it's it's just helped in innumerable ways. .
, that sounds particularly promising. Looking at the times we're living through right now that are high stress for so many around the globe and what often, then is not part of our everyday life in India.
is our capacity to connect with empathy because we are so stressed, we're so focused on, sometimes even survival stressors, making ends meet and just getting through the day. So it sounds like MDM eight,
I'm gonna stop you right there because I actually not stop you, but join you because you're really speaking my language right now and I'm gonna, I'm very excited about what you're saying because it's it not just the powers of empathy that we need to deal with the stress.
We need something else that psychedelics in general and M D M A in particular helps imbue our spirit with, which is the spirit of a positive outlook of. And looking at what is going right in the world, there's certainly enough going wrong and we can talk about that all day long. But there's so much going and there's so much, so many reasons for hope now, and what I've found is that substances like M D M A have helped me see that point of view also and see the silver linings in every cloud, and how even in the darkest hours there are reasons to hope and to realize that there's a whole movement.
That you are arian are involved with that so many of us are getting on board with now of a new way of living our best life with intention and purpose and with the desire to not only be all that we can be, but to help the world do the same. And we're not alone.
There are and the US alone, hundreds of thousands of us and probably more than that. And it's growing exponentially. You asked me a little while ago about the changes of the last 10 years. It's been a sea change in the way psychedelics are viewed by the media in the past 10 years to have a city or a state decriminalize.
M D M A use or magic mushroom psilocybin use would've been unthinkable 10 years ago or just nothing more than a thought or a wish. Now it's becoming a reality. So many good things are happening and I'm very excited about it. I am
too. And I think, so many people are caught in this, in these loops of negativity and fear, and it's not like there's not a reason for it.
A lot of people find themselves in life situations that are truly challenging. And of course, we're bombarded by the, news cycle also with negative news all of the time. When it bleed, it leads whatever is negative or threatening. Our brains latch onto, that's just hardwired into our biology.
It used to help our survival, our ancestors. But today, of course, it only serves us to be in a perpetual state of fight or flight, which also keeps us seeing, the things that are negative or threatening. So it sounds like M D M A can really cause a seizure. And a seizure as in a break in this kind of pattern that a lot of people are stuck in.
I would put it as a widening of consciousness. So that we're not when we're scared, we're contracted, we can feel it in our musculature. And we have, our bodies are flooded with adrenaline and cortisol, the stress hormone. And we can zero in on what scares us. And it can have a self-perpetuating element to it where if there's a story in the news that makes us frightened or worried, we wanna learn more about it all the time.
And it keeps us going down that rabbit hole. Taking a day to. Stop all that and pull back and do the medicine intentionally can widen once halt, come right out of that rabbit hole to the bigger picture. And. I had to look at my own life and like I've always been very serious dude with a heavy head.
Like I was reading the New York Times every day from age 11 and I was always concerned about and worried about everything that happens that was going on. And I lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis and of course here in New York City nine 11 and all kinds of crises. I could, my mind I could paint a pretty bleak picture of the world, but when I take a good look and m Dmma has helped me do this pan the camera back and take a good look at my whole life.
, I've really lived a safe and sound existence my whole life. Surveils and some tragedy, like we all have. It's not like I'm living a Pollyanna existence, but I'm fine. I'm 73, I'm healthy, I'm happily married, I'm financially secure, and thank God nothing terrible has happened to my body or anything like that.
Or I'm blessed. I'm like I'm, I numerous blessings. And I can look at the world from that point of view, a point of view of, I have so much privilege in this society. Just by the accident of birth being male and white. I have, I'm very lucky and there's so many good things for me to look at and see my life in the world through that lens instead of, oh my God, look at what happened in Ukraine today.
I care about what happened in Ukraine today or any day, but I'm also looking at it from a bigger picture and realizing that. I don't, I, I don't have to go through down all those rabbit holes and it doesn't, nobody, it doesn't do anybody any good for me to do
, no. It keeps you from living your full potential and bringing your gifts into the world when you are, mired by constant dark thoughts or depression.
It's very hard. Yeah. To live out of your heart when you live based in fear and, yes. Yeah. And it's not just a belief. This is neuroscience from all the countless, I think it's even billions of input that our brains get every day. It only filters out quite a very few. And so when we train our brain to actually acknowledge and perceive the positive, it will filter out more.
And our worldview literally will change and we will become aware of possibilities of different, turns we can take on our path on the road. And What I've learned about M D M A it sounds to me like it can be a really fantastic reset amongst many other promising effects for those in the audience who are not that familiar with the history of it.
For example I M D M A first entered the therapeutic scene, I think it was in the 1970s and back then was used for couples therapy. Can you talk a bit about the history of M D M A and also how it came to M D M A prohibition?
Sure. A brilliant scientist and chemical prophet named Sasha Shulgin in California brought M D M A out from the shelf that had been on chemically since 1912 when Merck developed it in the lab and put it away.
And he started experimenting with his friends and realized that this was a an uncanny compound and started offering it to psychotherapists in northern California in the 1970s who immediately saw its usefulness. And they would take these two pills that Sasha made and give them to their couples and say, we call this drug empathy.
, go home, take it together. Come back and tell me what happened. And the couples would very often, have this revelatory experience where they got back in touch with the kind of love that brought them together in the first place. , and reoriented their whole mindset away from the bickering and squabbling that they had been doing towards.
Yeah, we might have issues to work out, but we're in love and they can feel. Not just wasn't they high, but for days, weeks, and often months, if not years afterwards, it has a ripple effect over time. So eventually what happened is that a a priest had a decided, a very experimental priest decide to do this drug on his own, on a beach in Mexico, and had a revelatory experience and said, You know what this has amazing potential.
And so he made himself an exp priest and went and started manufacturing this drug himself and went to Dallas and started giving it to people in the nightclubs. And they realized that they could dance on it all night long. And then it was, then he called it ecstasy . And and but of course what happened is that people didn't know because they just, it was so new that.
there are protocols that need to be followed to do this safely. Even when the drug is pure. You can do too much of it. You can do it too often if you don't hydrate adequately, especially in a dance club or at a rave, et cetera. So people wound, oh, or drank alcohol during it. You shouldn't do that.
People wound up in the ER and people got concerned and politicians got wind of this and they shut it all down. . And they put it at a schedule one drug. . , even against it advisors in their own committees. It was either the DEA E or the f d A that had a committee looking into this, said, no this actually is a, there's a very benign substance.
They said, Nope, we're shutting it all down. It's Schedule one, which means a high potential for abuse and no medical use. , and that's where it's been since 1985. Fast forward now, of course, in the last 20 years, it's had a resurgence mostly due to one person named Rick Doublin. The head of Maps, a multi-discipline association for psychedelic studies, and he decided to devote his life to making this legal and guide himself a PhD and learn the ropes for the Federal Drug Administration and that whole process.
And started applying for permission to experiment and he was very clever. He knew that it was politically irresistible to go the route of let's experiment with and help people who are veterans and victims of sexual violence. , who have terrible cases of post-traumatic stress disorder and give them M D M A with a certain protocol in place. Sandwiched in between lots of sober therapy and see if it can help them because it, we think it should they've had phenomenal results. It's now in phase three of these studies, so no doubt has saved many lives and. At the last statistics that we're in it was that after three sessions of M D M A, Sandra, in between many sober sessions of therapy, two-thirds of these people who had intractable forms of P T S D of post-traumatic stress disorder, who the medicines didn't help, nothing helped them, they were often close to suicide or just terrible despair, upsetting their whole lives and their family's lives.
Two-thirds of them after the treatment, no longer met the qualifications for p t s and after I, I dunno if it's six months or a year of no further treatment, that figure went. So it's now in phase three and at the current rate of progress, if things continue to go well, M D M A will become a prescription medication by early 2024.
That is uh, what we're all waiting for. I personally know individuals who these compound literally saved their lives and done in a safe environment by people that guide you through the process of, especially when you're dealing with profound trauma. Sounds like such a great alternative to lifelong of taking certain pills that have tons of side effects and may not even, or actually do not.
Heal the root cause, right? What is troubling you. And of course there's many other applications for an anxiety for depression, for eating disorders, and all that further down the line will hopefully be explored and then also become available for treatment as well. But once it's legal in the, within the legal landscape for P T S D, then I know that it may also be prescribed off-label, such as it's the case with Ketamine, for example, right?
Yes. , yes. . So once it's once it's taken off that schedule classification. It'll be used for off-label uses like to treat social phobia, for example. . And they're considering it for use with autistic people too. I don't know what, they don't have results for that yet, I don't believe.
And and of course for couples counseling,
and that is something that I would really love to talk in more detail about. People that you actually counsel, before or after they and experience with MD and M D M A couples what are the benefits that can be expected or typically what does a couple wish to resolve or work on when they get in contact with someone such as you, who has great experience with this?
I like preparing a couple for an M D M A session and to help them integrate it on the other side of it. , part of the preparation is to help the couple understand that this is not a magic bullet. You don't just take a pill and the problems go away. You might have to do it several times in the course of several months or a couple years and dispersed with a lot of good couples counseling.
But often what I counsel couples to do is spend that time alternating between being just in their own bodies and just understanding what the medicine is saying to them. Often with eye shades on and certain kind of music in the background, And also then being together and speaking to each other from the heart and maybe having some statements written out beforehand that they wanna deliver in this state.
And it's, it's really best done with an underground therapist, which of which I am not. But there are underground therapists all over the country who do this. And then, Too hard to find and, but if a couple doesn't wanna go that route, or, it can be a little pricey they can do it themselves.
And many couples, of course have thousands of couples have done it over the years to their own benefit. And what I hear is that couples have found that they come to me afterwards to, to help them integrate this that, that time together and to come up with specific rituals and habits and tools to integrate that experience into their lives.
And it does have a forward moving ripple effect where, Couples will come to me who I've been working with will say six months, 12. 12 months later, say, we get through arguments that would've had us. Down and depressed and angry despair for days now we can get through it in three hours.
, and it's all because of that day we spent together. So it does have an effect that ripples across time and can be cumulative if you do it more than once. ?
Yes. You mentioned before that with your wife, with Shelly you have multiple experiences over the course of a year.
You also called M D M A, the glue of your marriage. And what is interesting about Shelly's background is she was a nurse, right? Correct. And she stayed away from all kinds of drugs, and I think I read she even would leave the room when somebody would pass around a joint. So how did this actually become a part of you and Shelly creating, co-creating and also curating your life together as a.
Co-creating and curating our life together as a co. I love that sentence. That's a . I love that. The way you just put that. It's true. We did co-create it and we did curate it and it cured us also of some of the downside downsides or potential downsides of growing older. . But when I met her it was in 2000, I was 51, she was 49 years old, and she was out of a repressed marriage and she wanted to A repressive stultifying marriage, and she wanted to spread her wings.
And when she heard of my hippie past and and still being a psycho knot she wanted to experiment and she wanted to try M D M A for the first time. And so I I had. Put it aside for myself because I had some negative experiences because I didn't know about the protocols, and this was in the late nineties.
I didn't know about adequately hydrating, et cetera. So I educated myself and found out how to do it right, because now I felt responsible for her wellbeing and made sure that I found something a small stash that was pure by somebody through the, an underground network here in New York.
This was in about 2001. And and we did it together for the first time. To watch her come up on the M D M A for the first time was like, she was in my mind, beautiful to begin with and wonderful to look at always. But it was a, she has a, she had a very stressful job at the time.
Not only a nurse, she was a critical care nurse. He was in post-op and she was in the er. And it would be life and death situations often to watch that the layers of stress just fall from her face and waking up as if from a long sleep and just touching her body in a, not a sexual but of essential way stroking her arms and her face and wanting to stroke my arms and my face and just blossoming in front of my face, like a beautiful flower.
It was inspiring to me and a wonderful thing to behold and over time. She realized that this was her favorite medicine and that it helped her improve her relationship with herself. She's had and I can talk about this cause she's very open about it. She's had a weight issue all her life and and one of the bad parts of that for her has been a negative self-image.
And M D M A had helped. She said, it helps mother me, she said in a, in a good way, it helps it, it nurtures me. And she, to take the M D M A and look at herself in the mirror and take off all her clothes in the bathroom mirror and look at itself and say, I'm beautiful. I really am. And she is.
And and it helped her really. Change her relationship to her own self, her own body and self image in a positive way. And so she just kept blossoming as time has gone on and became a real inspiration for this book that I wrote especially after she retired from nursing after 40 years.
And so didn't have to worry about getting found out or anything like that so we could, not only I could come outta the closet, but I could have her come out too. And and then writing the book was really a labor of love wanting to. Joyfully spread the word.
Charlie, and you just mentioned it, so sh your wife Shelly was able to connect with and to access self-love, which I believe so many of the problems that we personally experience or also experience as a society is because of an absence of self-love. Yes. So many of us suffer from this. So how does accessing profound self-love change you?
Whoa. How many hours do we have ? Many as the, you give me . Wow. I can say how it's changed me. , I've been a person who, have my own issues and always riddled with doubts and fears and some self-loathing too and things that I and carry amount of shame and like a lot of people.
Yeah. And M D M A has given me this visceral experience. It's, this is how it's different from. Such substances. This is L S D or psilocybin mushrooms or ayahuasca. Can't do what M D M A does in one respect, which is that it's mostly a physical experience. It's closely related to amphetamine after all.
And so it, it floods the body with your own serotonin and oxytocin. These feel good and bonding hormones and gives well to speaking for myself. It gives me the experience of feeling absolutely wonderful. And and, we are chemicals. That's what we're made of and to, so to have that, even if it's just for four or five, six hours to be flooded with these feel good chemicals.
It helps realign the synapses in my brain and realize, okay, I can, I can be an afraid person and a person who has some shame and guilt, but that's not my definition. That's not who I am. It's something I have. I also have a lot of love. I also have a lot to offer. I also have all kinds of positive and motivations in the world and positive ways of contributing to people.
So that all helped shift me into a a realization that I'm, I might have my, my neurosis and my hangups, but I'm basically a good human being. I'm not perfect. I'm always a work in progress, but I'm basically a good human being and I might as well take a, take responsibility for that. Might as well tell myself the truth.
And I tend to do good for the people around me, and I am positively motivated and I try to help. And often, more often than not, I succeed. And and these problems that I've had and issues that I've had, have been really ways of grow. And ways of making me stronger, they say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
That's true. And and and all this has helped me have a better self regard and and more self-respect and more self-love. That's beautiful.
And of course, when we have more self-love, that is something we can also extend to others.
Yes, of course. That cliche about you can't love others.
Unless you love yourself. Is a cliche because it's generally true. And you, when you love yourself more, when you give it to yourself, you can give it to others. And and it's often a matter of. Remembering. , in the course of a day, it's easy to forget all your all one's good qualities.
Like it's easy to forget all the good things going on in the world and tune into just a negative. But substance like M D M A has helped, helps me remember and remembering is, is a good part of the whole game. Ariana because that's why the Hindus have ma beads and Catholics have rosary beads.
It's to touch something that helps you. Oh yes. I'm spiritually connected. That's right. I'm really connected with something bigger than me and something more important than me, and something wiser than me and higher than me. That, that, that connects me to the greater world and the greater purpose and higher purpose for being alive.
Yes. Remembering, basically putting back together what has been thrown apart in a sense. And of course when we remember that we're part of something much larger, it's reconnects us to our That's right, innermost. And this not being connected as what is the cause disconnections the cause for so much pain.
What I really like about your work and your mission is that you talk about using psychedelics across the adult lifespan. And how, I'm curious to hear what were, or maybe even still are some of the misconceptions and prejudices that you may have encountered with regards to M D M A use in a more advanced age.
And then also how do you counter this ?
As I put it in the book was having a discussion early on in writing the book or having dinner with some old friends and were not into these medicines at all. And one of them said, aren't you a little old for this Be fooling around with drugs at your age, psychedelics.
And I thought about it for a minute and I thought, and I said, I'm glad you asked me that. Because at this age and stage in my life to worry about what other people, even people I like, like you think about me, if anything, I'm too old for that. Excellent. Yeah. So I'm glad that these substances have helped me realize that.
Aging is actually it's an asset or could be or should be. . And certainly all traditional cultures , older people are revered for the accumulated knowledge and experience and hopefully some wisdom that they've accrued , in modern American life, not so much.
So we have to be aware of how in obvious and also subtle ways we are devalued a as we get older. And I'm speaking as a man, but women know this more than men. Women are more subject to being devalued as they age. And and it's good to be aware of this because in many subtle ways that it happens.
And we tend to internalize that and tend to devalue ourselves and tend to look at ourselves as less valuable when we age. And it can be really subtle because I, and here I'm pretty radical, I must say, because I don't know anyone else talking like this. But we can be shamed without even knowing it.
When somebody says, you look good for your age. Now take. Sentence, which we hear a lot. It's supposed to be a well-intentioned compliment. And I'm sure it's well-intentioned, but think of any other demographic, racial, sexuality, gender, and say, you look good for and fill in the blank. People would take it as an insult, right?
Yes. So it's, I'm careful now. I don't wanna accept that as a compliment anymore. , if I look good. Great. You look. Thank you. Thank you. Yes. You
look good. Period. You look good for your age implies that there's something wrong with your
age and there's something wrong with looking older.
Exactly. Yes. That we're not, this is such a youth centric culture that past the age at 25, it's supposed to be all downhill for us physically. Yeah. Which is nonsense. Yes.
And especially nowadays, imagine, I mean there's there's some forecasts. You There's scientists that say it's, unless something terrible happens to us, of course.
And if we do take good care of ourselves, we may very well live 120, maybe even 150, would the Oh boy. Okay. . So if you think about that, then, of course you are not even at the half marker of your lifespan. Yeah. And I'm at about, what would I be now? I'm 45 now, so at a third or something like that.
And so why would we want to live feeling bad about ourselves? Simply a chronological number.
So when somebody says to me, excuse me for interrupting. , so somebody says to me, now, so I, they say, how old are you? Telling them I'm 73 years old, and they say oh. You don't look day over 65.
I say, excuse me, , I'm 73 and I'm very happy about that. I'm proud of my age and I've, I'm, I've survived a lot and I'm proud of where I've become and I own all my years. Yes. That's wonderful. And there's another aspect to aging, because you used the C word a little while ago. Arian and I call M D M A the chemical of connection.
Yeah. And being connected has a long way to go towards a predictor of good mental and physical health as one ages. And when you get older obviously you want good physical health. But how old you're gonna live, how long you're gonna live, how well you're gonna live long has a lot to do with your social supports and the how connected you are, not just to family, but to friends and the community.
And what Shelly and I have found is that these substances, M D M A in particular, but psychedelics in general, opens up our lives to wanting to connect and more of a confidence that. We can and I it, m d m a sort of coaxes us to connect to other people and gently protest us in that direction.
And these days with the psychedelic renaissance, there's so many other people who also are out there who also want to connect. So we have been nurturing the local psychedelic community in New York City here for the past 20 years. Or specifically more accurately 19 years. So as we have gone from middle aged to Elderhood every year since 2004, Shelly and I have hosted potluck dinners sober, except for some wine and beer.
Potluck dinners for the psychedelic community here in New York that have been fabulously successful. And from that we've met so many wonderful people who become our friends, an extended family. And this has helped our social wellbeing and and just joy for life that makes us healthier overall.
absolutely wonderful. And I think it is such. Profoundly important, especially when we look at how many individuals, when they move, from middle-aged to become elders are isolated, yes. And they're alone. And that is, it breaks my heart to think about that and to actively build communities is a beautiful thing.
And interestingly enough in many of the indigenous traditions, certain psychedelics are taken in community. Yes. And so it's, I think that's something really beautiful that is growing there and helping a lot of us getting out of this isolation. Also, younger people I have some friends who, especially since the pandemic, have hardly left their home.
To fear of course, or to certain physical apprehensions. And I think it weighs heavily on the collective psyche, this feeling of disconnection that just that we all went through, when all this started two and a half
years ago. And that isolation makes us more privy to those selling us fear.
Yes. In the media on the left or on the right, or in the cable news or wherever who want to keep us afraid of the other guy. , or those people over there who are, who believe this and that. And we get, and then we want to belong to. Political tribes, although we don't feel so isolated, but we can get sucked into some dark spaces there.
It's the isolation that we are suffering from is a big problem in the nation, but certainly in, in millions of individuals in this country.
Yes. And it's a poison. And there's something interesting you said that the antidote to all poison in the world is psychedelics.
Can you elaborate on that,
please, Charlie? , that's not exactly how I put it, but close to it. , I like I like to point out that often in nature the close to the poison grows the antidote. And at this time with all the the poisons in the world of fear and hate and greed and and which of course metastasizes into war and all these horrible things at the same time.
And not a coincidence. There's an antidote that's growing, which is the current psychedelic renaissance. And that, and I'm not saying these medicines in and of themselves, is the answer. They're they're the, they're not the answer. They're the finger that points to the answer. That helps us realize that the answer is not in fear, but in love.
The answer is, and not in division, but in, in realizing. Yeah, we might have a lot of people in this world or in this country that we disagree with, but we really have more in common Yes. Than we have differences. And our, what we have in common is more important and significant than our differences, and we have to focus on that.
And so psychedelics help us understand that. And you have a good experience with a good medicine like M D M A or L S D or mushrooms or, or ayahuasca. And you realize that this idea of separation , that I am a distinct individual apart from you is an illusion. And that I, yeah, I might have this skin, ack and you have your sack of, of skin that we reside in, but we're really very profoundly connected and interdependent.
And that psychedelics help us. Experience that viscerally and help give us an experience of that, set that so we can know that in our bones. And once you have an experience of that, you can't look at the world quite the same again.
Very true. And what you just said, the term skins sac, that reminds me of column walks and uhhuh, he of course said that, this perception that we're these separated egos in our skin sacs moving through a hostile universe, yes. So many of us are caught off and that kind of perception of the world and self, that, as you said, it's an illusion and to be able to live from a source of love versus being ground by fear, I think that's what these medicines are here to teach us. And it's such
a happier way to live. . Yeah.
It's just so much more happy and fulfilling. .
And I think, I believe also that when we see the good or the best in others, or a situation, we may just call it forth.
Yeah. It's called the power of AC acknowledgement. , of acknowledging the good that we see in somebody else.
, can wake them up to something that they've been exuding for years that they might not have even known that they're exuding and or not have never been appreciated for it. . And when you say, I see that and you, I see what you just did there you're really being very generous.
You're really being very benevolent. You're really being very loving. It it helps them re it helps reinforce that. , in, in, in others.
Yeah. And it is a profound human desire. We want to be seen, yes, be seen. And when somebody sees us in a way that we may have not been perceived before, but truly sees something that is part of us, it actually gives us permission in a sense to also bring that particular gift into the world.
. Yes. And the great thing about these qualities is that con they're contagious. , they're a positive contagion. When you're generous, it helps spark other people's generosity. , and when you're loving, it helps call forth that in, in other, . . And that's how we make the world a better place.
Yes, indeed. And, speaking about making the world a better place, and some people who had that as their intent and mission, who comes to mind is Timothy Leary or Richard Alford, also known as Rom das. Have you ever met them, and if so, would you mind sharing your opinion and experience
I. I have a lot of opinions about Tim Leary, like a lot of people do, but I've never met him. I've met Ramdas however many times. Yes. And I had him sign many of his books and he is been a he continues, even though he's no longer in his body, he continues to be a spiritual teacher for me because of his books and his lectures on tape and all that.
And he was always a very, very charismatic speaker very effective speaker and just honest. About his own foibles. And he didn't wanna pretend he was like some kind of, at first he called himself Baba Ramdas and had these white robes and all that, and then realized that's all nonsense.
And so he started dressing normally and and just called himself Ramdas and would always talk and write about how about hi his own flaws. And and that's always not inspir only inspiring, but very helpful. , and also a great sense of humor. Just a very funny man. And and I'm a man of the heart.
And such wisdom. I I'm glad to have met him many times. . .
Yes. And as you said, he's still amongst us as a teacher with his Yeah. All the wisdom that he left for us to explore. For people who would like to wrap their minds a little bit more about, experiencing M D M A.
Of course, they can read your book, but if you could perhaps to also tie this conversation up in a nutshell let us know about, for example, when people set up for this you call it actually a celebration also, right? Celebratory experience with M D M A. What are some of the dues and don'ts okay.
Experience. Sure. I do, write about this in a chapter of my book, listening to Ecstasy. Which I'm gonna give my shamelessly, give myself a plug here that yes, you can pick up a copy on online and Simon Schuster and and maybe get it as a gift for somebody in your life who you wanted, to have exposed to a a story like this.
. But now, okay, now I lost my train of thought. What was your question? Oh,
basically, what are the safety protocols
for? Oh, yes. Okay. I'm sorry. Like I carried away with myself there. Dos and don'ts. Do make sure that it's pure. That's the most important thing. And you can dance safe.org, just like it sounds.
Dance safe.org. Online sales are not very expensive and legal to access. Testing kit. Don't buy it until you, unless you test it, and certainly don't use it unless you test it and only use it if it's pure. You're also gonna get a scale cause you won't probably get a powder, not a ta a tablet, cuz if you got a tablet, you don't know how much is in it.
You get a scale so you can weigh it. And that's also very cheap to get online. A milligram scale. And you take no more than 120 milligrams. And and and you can boost. And after a couple of hours into the high, with half of that, another 60 milligrams, these are protocols. You don't mix it with alcohol you don't mix it with any drug and.
And you don't boost more than once. . And you don't do it on a Sunday where you have to go to work the next day. No. You do it on a Friday night or a Saturday, so you can have the rest of the weekend to recuperate because it takes something outta your body. So you need to sleep it off. And you need to eat very well for the next few days and have time to bask in the afterglow and integrate the experience and and understand that in our community, the mantra is set and setting.
So it's about your mindset going in. And it if if you've had a tragedy in your life in the past week, that's not the time to do. A big, horrible problem of feeling suicidal. That's not the time to do it. That's the time to go into, let's see, a good counselor, a good therapist. But if you have a good mindset and and realistic expectations and intentions, that's this good set.
A good setting is your surroundings and there, especially the first time you wanna be at home where you are in total control of your surroundings. And understand also that who you are with is the most important part of your setting. You don't wanna be with anybody who doesn't know what you're doing or anybody who does know and is gonna judge you.
You only wanna be with somebody who's gonna be supportive of you. And that can be other more than one person, but people who are who know what you're doing, who appreciate and approve what you're doing, and maybe we're doing it with you. So these are the most fundamental protocols, and then others that I describe in the book about how you need to screen yourself for contraindications with a certain, if you are depressed and on an S R I, you just won't feel m d.
So you have to be off the S R I and that you can only do with the guidance of a psychiatrist or an MD who can help you taper off and who knows what you're doing and approves of what you're doing as far as the tapering is concerned. And if you have a history of epilepsy, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, you shouldn't be doing M D M heart condition, bad heart condition, heart attack. You shouldn't be doing M D M A. So you need to screen yourself for these various possible problems. But if all these things are, if you're clear for all these things in the set and setting and the dosage and the purity is right, and also you understand about, you need to adequately hydrate.
Like I've been talking about here for through the whole time. I figure if you're not dancing the night away and sweating but just sitting and going through a normal time, physically about a of water for the day. Maybe a little more, but not too much more than that is necessary.
So these are fundamental protocols and if you follow these protocols statistically speaking, you're gonna have the chances of you having a positive experience are wonder. There's a major chance that you're gonna have a very positive experience. And I think the best way to do it is with a partner.
And if you don't have a romantic partner, then with a friend or a family member who you feel close to and wanna feel closer to.
Excellent. Charlie. And of course, also integration is very important so to anchor the experience and any insights that come throughout the experience. That's
right. And that's a whole art in itself.
Yes. And there are a lot of integration therapists out there. And you can go online to maps the organization I mentioned before, maps.org or psychedelic.support, and and look for integration therapists in your vicinity. And and they list themselves and that's a good therapist to kind connect with before you do the M D M A, so you have them at the ready to go to when you're done, because they'll help you weave that, weave those lessons and insights and and increased qualities into your life going forward.
Excellent. Thank you for your sage advice, Charlie. And lastly, I would like to finish this conversation with a question. Since you have been immersed in this for many decades of your life as a therapist, as a psycho kau, in your mind's eye, what kind of a world would we live in your opinion? Once M D M A treatments do become legal and accessible to all, what would be the biggest shifts we would
It'd be people more like you, Arian. Oh, you're most kind. No, I mean it, I'm in it. I've known you for now for about 65 minutes and I see the kind of dedication and love oriented energy that just pours out of you, and it's very touching to me actually. And that's contagious
It's, and you're bringing it out of me. And and this is the kind of world I believe we're headed into in spite of all the crap that's going on in the world. More and more people are turning on, not just through psychedelics, but through meditation through exploring their consciousness and in many ways, through healthy food, through healthy living.
Living their best lives. And that has a ripple effect. It ha it's a positive contagion out into their families and their communities. And this is the real world that's happening right now. And so I foresee that in another five and 10 years, especially as these medicines become legal and the less vestiges of stigma fall away and more people do them, that there's gonna be a there already is starting to be a shift in the culture.
, and towards a more love oriented way of looking at the world, looking at other people, and solving the world's problems. And that's what we're here for. We're here to bring heaven to earth. And we're in the process of doing just laugh.
Beautiful. Charlie, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom, your experience, for your kindness, and for your forthrightness with all of this and this fantastical journey that we all share together.
It was such a pleasure and privilege to connect with you. Thank you for being a guest on Gateway Sessions.
Thank you. Ariana was real privileged to be here and I'm very grateful to you for it. So thank you.