THE BLOG
16/10/2013 06:12 BST | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Breaking "Good": My First Psychedelic Drug Conference

If the popular rise of drugs in mainstream culture is any indication of the times - just think how many viewers caught the finale of Breaking Bad - perhaps we need to especially reconsider the use of psychedelic drugs.

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If the popular rise of drugs in mainstream culture is any indication of the times - just think how many viewers caught the finale of Breaking Bad - perhaps we need to especially reconsider the use of psychedelic drugs.

More method than madness, London's second Breaking Convention on psychedelic consciousness was - well, truly mind-tweaking. Thronged with neo-hippies, former addicts, and the academic elite alike (including the hands-down "rock star" of the psych science world, Dr. David Nutt), this multidisciplinary three-day conference felt less like nostalgia for Woodstock and more like an ultra-relaxed, neuroenlightened university of the future. Rather than just groovin' along to rainbow-dappled music or scrambling for spiked Kool-Aid, everyone that I met was overeager to discuss the revolutionary therapeutic and neurocognitive potential of psychs like MDMA, DMT, and Ayahuasca, to name a few.

Where else would I have been able to kick-start my morning with a Kundalini yoga workshop, before stockpiling on madcap lectures like "Altered States of Time: Faery and the Celtic Lunar Calendar," and "Drugs, Pleasure, and Sexual Experiences: a cross-sectional internet survey by the Global Drugs Survey"? All before catching a late-hour Neutrons to Nirvana screening?

Despite their diverse areas of expertise, all of Breaking's international nonprofit speakers, experts, and enthusiasts were in universal accord over one issue - that psychedelic drugs should be legalized in the UK. Here's why:

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Max Freakout, Psychedelic Philosopher

You spoke on "The Cognitive Phenomenology of Mind Manifestation"?

MF: Yes, its the study of what happens inside the mind of a person when they've taken mushrooms or LSD.

I appreciate how you break it down so clearly.

MF: Well, I try not to be too trippy. I want to be dry, rigorous, and logical. You can actually talk about psychedelic experiences in great detail and convey meaningful information. Its quite a lazy stereotype that these types of experiences are ineffable, beyond language.

Any advice?

MF: Terrence McKenna, a famous psychedelic bard, used to say: "Take five grams of mushrooms alone in silent darkness, and that will completely blow your mind."

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Terry, Retired Psychiatric Nurse & Psychedelic Enthusiast

Did you learn anything new at "Breaking"?

T: Yeah, the use of LSD helps people to accept end-of-life. You feel yourself becoming a part of everything, which detracts enormously from the fear of dying. I also heard some excellent lectures about treating addiction with Ibogaine, from West Africa. It induces extraordinary self-review. In small doses, it also stops withdrawal.

Would it have helped you as a nurse if you'd been able to use psychedelics to rehabilitate drug addicts?

T: Yes, most definitely.

Do you remember your best trip?

T: 1968. An LSD trip on top of Shooter's Hill, with British sunshine on the outside and Californian sunshine on the inside. Since then, life has never been the same...

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Ashleigh Murphy, Mindfulness Instructor

Should psychedelic drugs be legalized in the UK?

AM: For medicinal uses, definitely. Our society doesn't have a structure for the ceremonial healing use of psychedelics. If you look at festivals, they are unconscious outpourings of people coming together, letting go - that's the only setting we know to express that.

Were you disappointed with the lack of female speakers?

AM: Yes, I think there should have been more. There's a stereotype for spiritual guides - all the gurus in the world are mainly men.

What is your favorite psychedelic drug?

AM: Ayahuasca. I've drunken several times. It's used specifically for healing. Its important not to become too lost in all the pretty colors - you're there to learn, to grow. Ayahuasca is a self-evolutionary tool; if you don't go and act upon the lesson you've been taught, next time you'll be given pretty much the same lesson.

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Alexander Beiner, Psychedelic Theorist (right in photo)

Why are psychedelic drugs demonised in the UK and Europe?

AB: I don't know, since the UK has a strong pagan tradition and its certain druids took shrooms.

What do you think the government is afraid of?

AB: Any kind of substance that will make people question what they've been told. Tolerated drugs are the ones that let you forget for a while, like alcohol. Psychedelics don't make you hurt people, but alcohol does, obviously.

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Congo Binghi-Nyah, Rastafari Activist

Are you a Breaking speaker?

KM: Yes, I spoke about The Tree of Life, which is our true identity. It's a world concept that has been developed by Rastafarians.

Why is ganja your favourite psychedelic drug?

KM: When I was very sick with asthma as a child, I took it. It cured me after three days. Since then I've never had asthma again. People might call it a miracle, but others would call it an accurate science. Rastafarians are professionals at using herbal sacraments like cannabis for healing and therapy.

Would it be a better world if everyone smoked weed?

KM: Its not for everyone. Its a calling, a mixture of biology and destiny. Herbs inspire in us an "ecstatic trance," which you can only otherwise get through "privacy" - sexual intercourse.

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Andrea, Neuroscience Researcher

What brought you to the convention?

A: I came as a reminder for what I've done in the past...I was addicted to certain substances, but then the acid I took completely stopped it and my side effects. Even though the government tried to deny it, my suffering was gone. If it helped me, it can help others.

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Dr. Ash, Speaker on "Psychedelics and Amplification of the Observer Effect in Quantum Chaos"

What did you share at the convention?

Dr. A: How the consequences of the mind - being embedded or enmeshed in reality in a way that we don't fully understand - are amplified when there's more consciousness running through your brain. Normally you're walking around with a glassful of consciousness. When you take psychedelics, its like you're walking around with a tankerful.

Should academics like yourself include firsthand accounts of their research?

Dr. A: In an ideal world you would, but its career suicide. The establishment is very conservative and middle class, law-abiding.

What is your favorite psychedelic drug?

Dr. A: Well, I like to extract DMT from menosa hostilis root bark, and smoke it. I know its not contaminated, going to last for five minutes, and doesn't have any deleterious effects. I wrote some of my Phd thesis while on it.

Anything else?

Dr. A: England's got the Liberty Cap mushroom - you can actually eat it from the ground like a cow. You're still allowed to do that, but you can't actually touch it with your fingertips. It's a breach of human rights. To make nature illegal is fucking preposterous.

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The next UK Breaking Convention on psychedelic consciousness takes place in 2015.

All photos property of Christine Jun.