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What is Buy Nothing Day?

What is Buy Nothing Day?

In a world where the pursuit of material possessions often overshadows mindful living, Buy Nothing Day emerges as a poignant reminder to pause, reflect, and resist the allure of unchecked consumerism. This global movement, born in Vancouver, Canada, in the early 1990s, has transcended borders, urging individuals worldwide to reconsider the impact of their choices on the environment and society.

Origins and Evolution of Buy Nothing Day 

Buy Nothing Day was first conceptualized by artist Ted Dave, with the inaugural Buy Nothing Day being orchestrated in Canada in 1992 with the intention of prompting society to scrutinize the problem of overconsumption. 

The concept was later championed by the magazine and non-profit Adbusters and the observance of Buy Nothing Day was shifted to the Friday following American Thanksgiving, commonly known as “Black Friday,” a day that ranks among the ten most hectic shopping days in the United States, and now the world. 

Buy Nothing Day serves as a protest against consumerism. As Adbusters writes on their website, “This Friday, keep the credit card holstered. Keep your cash in your jeans. Don’t buy. Just breathe.”

They continue, “Step outside. Feel the pulse of the planet — the earth beneath your feet, the sun on your face. Listen to the wind. Watch a bird fly by. Give five bucks to a homeless person. Have a heart-to-heart chat with a friend.”

The Environment Impacts of Overconsumption

Buy Nothing Day is more than just a one-day break from shopping; it represents a conscious choice to alleviate the environmental impact of rampant consumerism. The consequences of unchecked consumption, ranging from pollution to resource depletion and climate change, underscore the urgency of reevaluating our purchasing habits.

A significant aspect of this environmental impact lies in the generation of waste. Fast fashion, single-use plastics, and disposable goods contribute substantially to overflowing landfills. Additionally,the production and transportation of goods for consumer markets contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, exacerbating climate change. By choosing not to participate in the shopping frenzy on Buy Nothing Day, individuals inadvertently reduce the demand for new products, thereby decreasing the carbon footprint associated with manufacturing and transportation.

Moreover, many consumer products rely on non-renewable resources whose extraction and processing contribute to environmental degradation. By practicing Buy Nothing Day, individuals indirectly contribute to the preservation of these resources, fostering a more sustainable and responsible use of materials.

While Buy Nothing Day serves as a concentrated effort to raise environmental awareness, its principles are worth integrating into our daily lives. A consistent and intentional approach to mindful consumption can lead to lasting benefits. It reflects a commitment to long-term environmental stewardship and contributes to a gradual shift in cultural norms. By making sustainable choices every day, individuals can empower the demand for ethical and responsible practices, encouraging a market shift towards products and services aligned with environmental and social values.

Looking to the Future

Terence McKenna once wisely articulated, “We have to create culture… the nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your universe.” This sentiment aligns with the essence of Buy Nothing Day, urging individuals to reclaim their minds from cultural diversions and materialistic pursuits.

As a brand committed to ethical practices and sustainability, we recognize the paradox of encouraging consumption on Black Friday while advocating for mindful and responsible purchasing. At Synergetic Press, we believe in fostering a culture of conscious consumption and making choices that align with our values. While we understand the significance of offering discounts and promotions, we choose not to celebrate Black Friday as a day of heightened consumerism. Instead, we are dedicated to providing value to our customers throughout the year, offering fair pricing and periodic discounts on our thoughtfully curated selection of books.

Honoring Veterans Day: Highlighting MAPS’ Impact on PTSD Treatment

Honoring Veterans Day: Highlighting MAPS’ Impact on PTSD Treatment

As Veterans Day unfolds, it prompts contemplation on the multifaceted challenges faced by individuals who have served in the military. Among the complexities lies post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition that affects a substantial number of military personnel. Recent years have witnessed a transformative development in the realm of PTSD treatment, with our co-publishing partners, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), emerging as a key player in reshaping mental health care for those who have experienced the harsh realities of war.

Navigating Unseen Wounds

For veterans, the aftermath of war often leaves wounds that aren’t immediately visible. PTSD can manifest as a persistent and debilitating presence, affecting various aspects of an individual’s life. Conventional treatments, while beneficial for some, may fall short in providing relief for all. It is in this context that the innovative strategies employed by MAPS become particularly significant.Exploring the healing mechanisms behind MDMA in his book Changing Our Minds: Psychedelic Sacraments and the New Psychotherapy, journalist Don Lattin writes, “Scientists are still trying to figure out exactly how PTSD affects the brain, and how MDMA may work in treating that mental dysfunction. The neuroscience is still progressing, but it seems clear that it is related to how the brain detects danger and processes feelings of fear. MDMA makes people less fearful, and more trusting, so it makes sense that it would be a valuable tool for therapists treating people who are unable to process fearful memories in a way that does not overwhelm them.”

MAPS’ Contribution to PTSD Treatment

MAPS, a non-profit organization dedicated to research and education, has been at the forefront of investigating the therapeutic potential of psychedelics, notably MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine), in addressing PTSD. MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, has demonstrated remarkable efficacy in a controlled and therapeutic setting, aiding individuals in processing and healing from traumatic experiences.

In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration awarded “breakthrough therapy” status to MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD treatment, enabling an expedited development process for promising experimental drugs. Subsequently, breakthrough status was granted to psilocybin-assisted therapy for treatment-resistant depression in 2018. This designation accelerates the development of potentially impactful treatments in their respective therapeutic domains.

Clinical trials conducted by MAPS indicate that MDMA-assisted psychotherapy can lead to substantial reductions in PTSD symptoms. The approach involves carefully guided sessions in which individuals, under the influence of MDMA, explore their traumatic memories with the support of trained therapists. This process facilitates a deeper connection with emotions and memories, offering a potential path to profound and enduring healing.

Most recently, MAPS conducted its second Phase III clinical trial with MDMA, finding that the substance in conjunction with psychotherapy is effective in reducing the symptoms of PTSD. MAPS intends to submit the findings to the Food and Drug Administration as a component of an application seeking approval to market MDMA-assisted psychotherapy as a treatment for PTSD.

Involving a total of 104 participants, the study revealed that 86.5 percent of individuals in the MDMA group saw a measurable reduction in symptom severity. Additionally, around 71 percent of those in the MDMA group improved to the extent that they no longer met the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis, according to researchers.

In a recent New York Times article, Berra Yazar-Klosinski, the senior author of the study shared, “MDMA-assisted therapy would be the first novel treatment for PTSD in over two decades,” if approved. 

On this Veterans Day, as we contemplate the experiences of those who have served, it is essential to acknowledge the ongoing struggles they may face. MAPS’ pioneering work in the field of PTSD treatment offers a glimmer of hope, presenting an innovative avenue for healing the unseen wounds of war. By supporting organizations like MAPS and advocating for progressive approaches to mental health care, we contribute to a future where individuals, regardless of their background, can access comprehensive and effective support.

Understanding Interoception and Its Connection with Psychedelics

Understanding Interoception and Its Connection with Psychedelics

In our daily lives, we constantly receive sensory information from our environment. Most people are familiar with the classic five senses—sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell—but there’s another sense known as “interoception” that’s not as commonly discussed. Interoception is at the crux of our internal bodily sensations and plays a pivotal role in how we perceive and interact with the world. Adding another layer of depth to the concept of interoception is the theory of predictive coding, a fundamental framework of brain function. When we merge these concepts with insights from research into psychedelic-assisted therapy, we can cultivate a deeper sense of connection, improving our relationships with ourselves and others.

What is Interoception?

Interoception is our ability to sense, interpret, and integrate internal bodily sensations. It’s the reason we feel hunger, thirst, and the need to breathe. Author of the recently published book How to Change Your Body: The Science of Interoception and Healing through Connection to Yourself and Others, Saga Briggs, explains that “…interoception is like mindfulness for the body—it’s what allows us to be aware of our own well-being. And it’s unique for everyone, although it’s generalizable enough that we can often understand each other’s descriptions of interoceptive sensations.”

Interoception helps us be aware of our heart rate, respiratory rate, and even the sensations in our gut. All these internal signals provide feedback to the brain about the state of our body, playing a crucial role in maintaining physiological homeostasis. Beyond just physiological sensations, interoception is closely connected with our emotions. Ever felt “butterflies in your stomach” when nervous, or a “heavy heart” when sad? These emotional states manifest as tangible bodily sensations through the interoceptive system.

Highlighting this connection between physiological sensations and emotions, Briggs writes, “You may have noticed that emotional and physical feelings are part of the same list. That’s because the interoceptive process that allows us to sense the state of our internal organs also allows us to experience and regulate emotion.”

According to neuroscientific research, it has been found that body sensing and emotion processing take part in the same part of the brain, the insular cortex. Briggs explains, “We tend to think that signals for emotions like joy or anger have nothing to do with signals for body processes like hunger and thirst, but this is a mistake. They are part of the same interoceptive system. Body and emotion are inseparable.”

Predictive Coding: A Brief Overview

Adding to the notion of interoception is the theory of predictive coding, one of the most commonly accepted accounts of human brain function. The brain is an incredible prediction machine. Instead of passively receiving information, it actively predicts what’s coming next and generates a reliable model of the world based on past experiences. Predictive coding suggests that the brain constantly creates a model of the world to forecast sensory input.

“According to this theory, the brain creates models for our perception, concepts, and feelings based on experience, and anything falling outside these models results in a ‘prediction error,’ which is then either updated by new information (adapting to the temperature of a hot bath) or by prior beliefs (the feeling of having a real limb where one is missing, as in phantom limb syndrome),” writes Briggs. “Although it’s meant to serve an adaptive function, too much prediction in the wrong direction can trap us into destructive belief systems and habits, including substance abuse.” 

The Interoceptive System, Predictive Coding, and Psychedelic Research

Our understanding of how our early life experiences shape our connection to our own bodily sensations – or interoception – has expanded over the years. Briggs highlights the work of Dr. Kristina Oldroyd, at Utah Valley University, which calls attention to the significant impact of early social experiences on the development of interoception. As our caregivers recognize and validate our bodily experiences during childhood, our sense of interoception becomes more precise. However, if these experiences are denied or devalued, our connection with our own bodily signals can become distorted. This connection with our bodily signals, known as interoceptive awareness, plays a crucial role in our emotional and mental well-being.

Psychedelics offer unique insights into the mechanics of our brain. Instead of merely amplifying brain activity, they alter the predictive filters, allowing us to experience the world around us in a richer, more detailed manner. This alteration in perception can be beneficial, especially when dealing with mental health conditions such as depression. Depression often traps individuals in a loop of negative self-perception and rumination. 

Introducing psychedelics into the system can disrupt this cycle, allowing for new patterns of thought, and pulling individuals out of their mental, emotional, and physical ruts. 

“Psychedelic science offers some of the best evidence for predictive coding by showing us what happens when it is compromised,” writes Briggs. “Instead of simply increasing brain activity, substances like psilocybin and LSD loosen the predictive filter that’s normally in place, allowing us to perceive other possibilities—for example, being arrested by the incredibly vibrant detail of a daffodil rather than passing it off as just another flower in the garden.” Furthermore, research emphasizes the close interrelation of mind and body, revealing that our feelings about life and our well-being are deeply connected with our bodily sensations.

This intimate connection between mind, body, and society challenges the traditional labels and understanding of mental illness. “Not only is the mind inseparable from the body, but the body is inseparable from social relationships,” shares Briggs. “Human afflictions are biopsychosocial, closely tied to emotion states arising from relational bodies. This is something long known by clinicians and scientists, but still the notion of a ‘chemical imbalance’ dominates narratives of illness, just as the meaning of thought patterns tends to outweigh the significance of bodily signals in psychiatric settings.” 

Rather, Briggs suggests that most illnesses are failures of connection to ourselves, our bodies, and others, positing that psychedelics help us “expand the social-embodied possibility space” by improving interoceptive awareness and breaking our deeply entrenched predictive coding.

Tools for Cultivating Interoceptive Awareness

In Saga Briggs’ How to Change Your Body the profound connections between our internal bodily sensations, our perceptions, and the world of psychedelics are masterfully explored. This deep dive into our internal navigation systems uncovers how they influence not only our physiological responses but also our emotional states, behaviors, and connections. 

Briggs suggests some helpful tools in order to cultivate a greater sense of interoceptive awareness including focusing attention on the body through practices such as rhythmic breathing, body scans, physical activities such as yoga, respiratory practices such as slow, deep breathing, somatic practices such as Hakomi Experiential Psychotherapy or the Feldenkrais Method, as well as social justice approaches which understand that interoception might differ for those with marginalized bodies such as Nkem Ndefo’s Resilience Toolkit.

Ultimately, as Briggs illuminates, the journey to self-awareness and healing is one of reconnecting with our bodies, breaking away from restrictive patterns, and expanding our understanding of our own possibility space.

Artwork by Rafael López.

What is Psychedelic Integration and Why Does It Matter?

What is Psychedelic Integration and Why Does It Matter?

Psychedelic Integration: Understanding Its Importance

The resurgence of interest in psychedelic molecules, plants, and fungi for therapeutic, spiritual and personal growth purposes has been steadily growing over the last couple of decades. As research unveils the potential of substances like psilocybin, LSD, ayahuasca, and MDMA as mental health treatment, the concept of “psychedelic integration” is becoming increasingly significant. But what is psychedelic integration, and why does it matter?

What is Psychedelic Integration?

Psychedelic integration refers to the process of understanding, embodying, and enacting the insights, wisdom, and experiences encountered during a psychedelic journey, and subsequently applying them in one’s daily life. In essence, it’s about “carrying over” the lessons learned and any revelations uncovered during the journey into one’s everyday reality.

Defining the term, author of Psychedelic Integration: Psychotherapy for Non-Ordinary States of Consciousness, Marc Aixalà explains, “In the context of psychedelic therapy and the psychonautical or neo-shamanic use of drugs, integration is usually understood as the higher level understanding of the experience and the proper application of the insights and lessons derived from it in our daily lives.”

A psychedelic experience can be profoundly meaningful, destabilizing, and, at times, deeply challenging. Integration is the bridge between the mystical and interpersonal insights gleaned from psychedelics and our day-to-day lives, ensuring that inner revelation translates into actionable and beneficial changes.

Why Does Psychedelic Integration Matter?

Even though psychedelic plants and fungi have been used for millennia by Indigenous communities world-over, their use in the global North is relatively new and there are no shared frameworks about how such experiences ought to be contextualized and understood. 

Kile Ortigo, author of Beyond the Narrow Life: A Guide for Psychedelic Integration and Existential Exploration, explains, “As knowledge of psychedelics spreads to people who never before would consider partaking in such experiences, we’re faced with the challenge of needing inclusive and robust models for preparation and integration. We lack, however, what indigenous communities have—a shared understanding about what psychedelic experiences may mean to one’s life.

Additionally, Aixalà cautions against skipping the integration phase or not giving it enough time or attention, suggesting that there are negative effects that may occur including not taking full advantage of the experience, ego inflation, spiritual bypassing, and attachment/addiction to peak experiences. 

Despite the fact that these risks are often not grave and generally do not involve significant suffering/discomfort, he shares, “These risks, however, can be a serious obstacle to our personal and spiritual evolution. Therefore, although they usually do not involve any type of clinical complication, they must be taken into account by psychonauts and all people who seek access to non-ordinary states of consciousness as part of their spiritual and healing path.

Similarly, Ortigo explains, “Without conscious efforts to integrate such fleeting experiences, they remain ephemeral—or worse. If not prepared for and respected, a quick taste of the boundless mysteries can be like drinking from a firehose. One can become overwhelmed by the sheer force of the unconscious. The greatest risks then are either disintegration or despair. Alternatively, even a full-blown mystical experience, with its swift dive into profundity and rapture, can lead to overconfidence in one’s sudden ‘enlightenment.’”

How to Integrate a Psychedelic Experience?

Aixalà explains that integration is idiosyncratic and looks different for each individual depending on their unique needs as well as the context and lens through which they approach the experience. 

He shares, “The practices aimed at maximizing the benefits after a psychedelic experience can vary significantly. There is no recipe for this integration. The personalized application of these techniques will depend on each person’s situation and context. For a participant in a clinical study, the first phases of integration will probably be done through an interview with their psychotherapist. In contrast, integration will probably be based on a group sharing circle for a participant in an ayahuasca retreat.”

Even so, we’ve included a brief list of practices below that may be considered helpful in the integration process:

Journaling: Writing down the experience can help in processing emotions and insights.

Verbal Processing & Talk Therapy: Sharing about the experience in community with trusted friends, peer-support groups, or therapists can help provide a sense of clarity and make you feel less alone in the process. 

Artistic Expression: Drawing, painting, writing poetry or making music can help in expressing and processing the experience.

Meditation & Mindfulness: These awareness-based practices can help in grounding oneself and further exploring insights.

Movement Practices & Physical Activity: For many it can be helpful to regularly engage in a movement practice like yoga and dance, or a physical activity like running, in order to help process insights and move any residual emotions through the body. 

As the paradigm shifts towards accepting psychedelics as powerful therapeutic tools, emphasis on integration in Western contexts is paramount. It’s not just about the journey itself, but how one engages the journey to create and sustain positive change in their life.

Artwork: The Fool on the Hill by Tù.úk’z (Arthur Machado)

What Trees Can Teach Us About Regeneration

What Trees Can Teach Us About Regeneration

I have spent the last 30 years of my life living and working in west Sonoma County at a place called the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center (OAEC). I am one of the founders of this 80-acre community and retreat center. It is also a center for the study and practice of permaculture. It was there that I came to love oak trees and also came to know Erik Ohlsen, the author of The Regenerative Landscaper, which features my art on the cover.

It was at OAEC that Erik was introduced to many of the core concepts of his natural philosophy. Over the decades, our friendship has deepened as our roots have grown in the ground we share. Fundamentally my Great Oak series and Erik’s new book spring from the same source; many years of close prolonged observation in nature, decades of study in and out of the field and countless hours of practice. I am so happy and honored to see one of my oak portraits on the cover and to feel such profound alignment between the image and the content of the book.

The Summer Oak painting on the cover is one in a series of 33 large portraits of ancient oak trees. All of the works can be seen in this gallery. This work is undertaken during a perilous time of species loss, deterioration of whole ecosystems, climate change, war, pandemic, and economic inequality and uncertainty. We are also experiencing dramatic social polarization and disconnection, health-threatening stress and trauma and an epidemic of Nature-Deficit Disorder in our youth. For me, this context is part of what makes this work relevant and interesting.

In the context of current multi-crises, the symbolism of a mighty ancient tree seems especially potent. Images of great trees are filled with meaning in cultures and religions throughout the world and far into the past. For me, these trees symbolize life, wisdom, growth, abundance, generosity, prosperity, community, and healing. Like so many artists before me, I am aware that when I paint a tree, I engage in an ancient practice. I hope in this time, in this society, the paintings represent not only great oak trees but models to emulate and a set of important values. These include conservation and regeneration, resilience, and community. These trees nourish and shelter us, offering shade, water, and food to whole communities of organisms. They increase the biological carrying capacity of place. They clean the air and share their resources. They teach reciprocity. They live and die in integrity with place, connected and interdependent. Trees show us how to be good citizens in the web of life.

These paintings are large oil paintings either 4’x6’ or 5’x7’. Fundamentally this work is rooted in deep, prolonged observation in the presence of the trees. In time this leads me into relationship and even into love. When I come into relationship with these trees, I know we are both part of a greater whole living system. I hope the viewer will share some part of my experience of slowing down and connecting in this way. In one sense the subject of the paintings is as much my relationship to the tree as the tree itself.

These paintings honor the living but also memorialize the dead. Starting in the mid-1990s thousands of great oaks in northern California have died of Sudden Oak Death (SOD). Part of the inspiration for this series has been witnessing the dramatic disappearance of these beloved beings. It has been shocking to see how vulnerable these mighty ancient trees are. In many locations they are irreplaceable. In this way, the work moves me to feel more in touch with the true nature of the world. Perhaps it gives me a container to both honor and grieve. Of course, the natural cycle of death and rebirth is integral to all natural systems but in this case, there is a serious imbalance. In spite of these and other challenges, we can all be inspired and filled with hope when we read Erik’s book and open our eyes and hearts to the vast regenerative power of nature and of our collaboration with her.

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