Mark never imagined he’d be taking something like it at the heart of one of the most prestigious universities in the world.He had been told to bring a few objects that had meaning for him, so he brought pictures of his parents, who had both died, and of his new girlfriend, Jean.He also brought a chestnut he had found on the ground the day his divorce came through, which he had kept, though he didn’t know why.I could feel my mind getting looser, he said to me.He didn’t know what was happening to him.He stood up and said he wanted to leave.He realized he hadn’t been totally honest with his girlfriend about how he felt about her.He wanted to go and tell her.Bill talked to him gently, and after a few minutes, Mark decided he wanted to sit back down on the sofa, and he began to chant his mantra, to center himself and to relax.He realized he had to let this experience go deeper and deeper, he said, and to trust it.The scientists had explained to him in the long preparation process that calling these drugs hallucinogens is a bit of a mistake.That’s actually very rare.What these drugs do is draw things out of your subconscious and bring them into your conscious mind.There’s no visual experience of the walls turning or anything like that, Mark told me.He started wandering up and down, and he could see there were different coves around him, and that there would be inlets from those coves.He decided he was going to explore one of these coves.He hopped from rock to rock, all the way up the stream, and he felt something was calling him to keep going, deeper, deeper.He realized that he could swim up it, and he thought that when he got to the top of the waterfall, he would be wherever he wanted to go in life, and the answer would be there for me.He told Bill, his guide, what was happening.Drink it in, Bill said.When Mark reached the top of the waterfall he saw a little fawn in the water, drinking from the stream.It looked at Mark and said, There’s some unfinished business here for you to take care of, from your childhood.I had these experiences early in my life, and I had been trying to cover them over and just get along in life as best I could.Now, at the top of this waterfall, Mark felt for the first time in his life that it was safe to approach the grief he had hidden away since he was ten years old.He followed the fawn farther down the river and he found an amphitheater.And there, waiting for Mark, was his dad, as he had been that last time Mark saw him.Mark’s father explained that he was going to tell him some things he had wanted to be able to say to him for a long time.First of all, he wanted Mark to know that he was fine.This is not the drug bringing something with it.This is just the drug opening up another space in me, a space that had been there all along, beneath his loss.And then he began to feel the drug wearing off, and it was like you were back in your own ego, as he puts it.He had arrived at Johns Hopkins at nine o’clock, and he left at five thirty.When his girlfriend, Jean, picked him up, she asked him how it had gone, and he had no idea what to say.In the months that followed, Mark found he was able to talk about his father in a way he never had before.I felt I was able to be a little bit more human with people, and he even started to go to ballroom dancing with his girlfriend, something he would have had to be dragged to kicking and screaming before.It was three months before his second session.He felt disappointed.But it was the third session, he says, that just totally changed my life.When you take part in these experiments, they don’t tell you if you’re getting the low, medium, or high dose, but Mark feels sure he got the high dose that last time.When the effect kicked in, he felt himself to be in a very different space again.But this time, it wasn’t a landscape that felt familiar, like the waterfall.It was something radically different, and far from his experience.Mark instinctively knew that this being was going to help him through the experience.We know.And the we know seemed to him so much stronger.You have protected him.We need to make sure you’re okay with taking these [walls] down so you can experience what’s next.’And it was done with such love, Mark says.And then Mark felt he was open to whatever wisdom the universe had to offer him, and he could feel it flow through him, and he felt happy.And I was [at that [moment]](https://www.recentstatus.com/read-blog/36022_business-leased-lines.html) in this place where my ego was just gone.But ‘I’ didn’t have any place in this.It was just totally shut off. And for the first time in his life, Mark could feel there’s no judgment.There’s compassion, an incredible sense of compassion for yourself and everyone else in the universe. And he had an intense sense of the oneness of all living things, bonded together through nature.But we don’t know that. And they all laughed, and Mark laughed with them.When he came back from that experience, Mark never quite felt like the same person again.He feels, he told me, that the experience made clear to him that people need a sense of being accepted, to have some sense of importance, and to be loved.And I can give that to anyone at any time, and it’s that simple.It’s just paying attention.It’s just being with people.It’s loving.And then, later, something else happened with Mark.These people would come in, one by one, and their answer was almost always the same.Routinely, they would say it was one of the most meaningful [experiences] of my life and compare it to the birth of a child, or the death of a parent.It struck me as kind of wildly implausible at first, Roland said to me.I didn’t have any way of capturing it.Some 80 percent of people who were given the highest dose of psilocybin said, two months later, that it was one of the five most important things that had ever happened to them.Roland and his team were measuring changes in the people who took part in the experiment.A large majority had more positive attitudes about themselves and about life, better relationships with others, [and they [became]](https://www.fooos.fun/social/read-blog/51791) more compassionate. It’s precisely what has been shown to happen with meditators too.Roland was dumbfounded.When I interviewed people who had gone through this program and the other experiments like it, I found it strangely energizing.Many of them wept with joy as they described it.This was just the first of dozens of new experiments.That’s a higher success rate than any comparable technique anywhere.A team working at University College London gave psilocybin to people who had severe depression15 and hadn’t been helped by any other form of treatment.These positive effects were dependent on one thing.16 Your likelihood of recovering from depression or addiction was dependent on how intense a spiritual experience you had during the drug experience.The more intense the spiritual experience, the better the outcomes afterward.All the scientists involved correctly warn against generalizing from small samples.And what’s the catch?What do both these practices do?What do they have in common?As we sat over dinner in a Thai restaurant, Fred gave me an explanation that stopped me in my tracks.They both, he said, break our addiction to ourselves. When we’re born, as babies, we have no sense of who we are.If you watch a newborn, before long, she’ll hit herself in the face, because she doesn’t know the boundaries of her own body yet.As she grows, she’ll develop a sense of who she is.She’ll build up boundaries.A lot of that is healthy, and necessary.You need some boundaries to protect yourself.But some parts of what we build up over time have a mixed effect.But as he grew older, those protective walls became a prison, preventing him from living fully.Both of these processes, Roland told me, create a whole new relationship with mind. Your ego is part of you.It’s not the whole of you.You gain a radically different sense of perspective on yourself.They were the opposite of the junk values we’re soaked in.They feel more motivated to care for themselves in healthy ways, rather than destructive ways. As he said this, I kept thinking about the seven social and psychological causes of depression and anxiety I’d identified, and the parallels were obvious.They allowed people to see their childhood traumas in a different light.It’s not that it flipped some chemical switch in their brains.I’m bigger than that.It also helps us to understand why the small early trial at University College London seems to have shown such remarkable results with severely depressed people.Depression is a kind of constricted consciousness, Bill Richards, who also led the experiments at Johns Hopkins, told me.It takes down the walls of your ego and opens you to connecting with what matters.And in spite of the fact that the [drug] experience fades, Roland told me, the memory of that experience endures, and it can become a new guide through life.