In this episode of Vital Psychedelic Conversations, Kyle interviews Sam Gandy: researcher, science writer, Ph.D. ecologist, and collaborator with the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London.
Gandy is most interested in the capacity of psychedelics to amplify or ignite our relationship with nature. He talks about our skewed relationship with nature; David Luke’s study on nature interconnectedness after psychedelic experiences; and ways to add nature into the integration and prep stages, from VR to planting seeds to even just looking at pictures or videos.
He talks about the challenge of maximizing the benefits of the psychedelic experience and the need for more knowledge on how to integrate, asking how we can use psychedelics intentionally as creativity-enhancing agents. And they discuss James Fadiman and Willis Harman’s 1966 “Selective Enhancement of Specific Capacities Through Psychedelic Training” study and how the directive priming that was used in it is similar to intention-setting today.
They also discuss the communal aspect of the music festival psychedelic experience, dream states and creativity, how more research is needed on the context around the chemicals (not just the chemicals), and the complications of trying to step into a newly-discovered life purpose while living in a capitalist society.
“People are maybe slightly focusing too much on the chemical substances themselves when the context around the usage of those chemicals is probably much more important and in need of much more attention, I think. And I feel like more exploration there could enhance the potential benefits of psychedelics in a variety of different ways.”
“Some scientists have argued, as I do in this paper, that perhaps we’ve become a little bit over-reliant on analytical thinking. Like, I’m in no way shooting down the importance of analytical thinking. It’s absolutely essential. But perhaps [these] more slightly dynamic, free-flowing, unconstrained states of consciousness that you can access through these altered states – perhaps they’ve got a place.”
“There’s not that much known, really, at this stage, about how to maximize the benefits in terms of people bringing those insights back and integrating them into their life and acting on them. That’s something that I feel needs more attention.”
“Prior to people going into an experience, you could maybe tend a bit of soil, like you’re preparing your psychic soil before going into [the] experience. And then plant a seed that you then take away and you nurture this young plant as you’re hopefully nurturing and grounding the insights in yourself.”
About Sam Gandy
Sam Gandy is a lifelong nature lover and has been fortunate enough to conduct ecological field research in various parts of the world. He is a Ph.D. ecologist, researcher, and science writer, and has experience of working within the psychedelic field as a past scientific assistant to the director of the Beckley Foundation, and as a research assistant with the Synthesis Institute and a senior science writer with Wavepaths. He is a Project Manager with Norfolk Rivers Ecology and a collaborator with the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London, with a research interest in the capacity of psychedelics to influence our connection to nature.
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