The Synthesis Institute run immersive courses and workshops designed to equip participants with the foundational training required to become a more ethical, educated, and intuitive Psychedelic Practitioner.
In a world that values knowledge and definitive answers, we underestimate the power of saying “I don’t know.”
“In the beginner’s mind,” quotes Zen monk Shunryu Suzuki, “there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s, there are few.” The Greek philosopher Socrates is credited with stating that true wisdom is knowing we know nothing – because the more we know, the more we know we don’t know.
Problem-solving and decision-making under uncertainty are vital elements of a more aligned approach to life. The traits that allow the best Psychedelic Practitioners to thrive include intuition, compassion, embodied wisdom, and attuned presence. However, without a deeply embodied personal practice, these elements may remain elusive, limiting a practitioners ability to guide truly rewarding and transformative experiences.
Introduction To An Embodied Container
Led by Rev. Konrad Ryushin Marchaj, MD, and Lama Elizabeth Monson, Ph.D. the Synthesis Institute’s free 3 part workshop series, Path To The Practitioner, is designed to help you navigate ineffable experiences using methods that go beyond the rational, logical mind. This includes relational, embodied, cognitive and sacred wisdom practices and philosophies.
The facilitators discuss their personal and professional backgrounds, alongside the experiences that have fostered their journeys into the unknown. From Anthropology, Psychiatry and Academia to Tibetan Buddhism and Plant Medicine ceremonies – Elizabeth and Ryushin provide holistic approaches to integration through intuitively and cognitively bridging paradox.
Elizabeth is the co-director of the Natural Dharma Fellowship and the Managing Teacher at Wonderwell Mountain Refuge in Springfield, NH. Expanded states of consciousness encourage us to find new ways of relating and existing in the world. Here you will be introduced to the path of the Dharma student, and what it means to bring a lifelong contemplative practice into the modern era.
Throughout the Path to the Practitioner series, you are walked through foundational elements of the 9 modules from the Psychedelic Practitioner Core Training program – which are experience-based investigations into what it means to embody the essential elements of psychedelic facilitation. They explore the relationships between the individual and the environmental, by working towards integrating the parts within the whole. Cultivating our conscious attention and awareness allows us to better appreciate this on-going, emergent process.
Psychedelics often increase our openness to experience, through ineffable realities that cement a feeling of uncertainty. This workshop will encourage you to continue to ask the hard questions, by sharing stories and experiences that will challenge you, inspire you or change your worldview. They will also provide an introduction to some simple and practical techniques including Loving Kindness Meditation, which can deepen the relationship with self and enhance your everyday life.
Continuing To Explore The Practice Of ‘Not Knowing’
Navigating the unknown is an integral part of meditation techniques, and constitutes the foundation of the Synthesis training programme. This orientation and openness towards experience is an innate part of any spiritual path, and is a powerful way to step into the mystery of awakening, maturing, growing and learning.
Magic (enhanced vivid experience) and mystery (questioning) are often discarded as ‘non-scientific’ in a reductionist Western paradigm, relegating them to the realms of fantasy, falsity or illusion. But looking beyond the world of scientific materialism nurtures a way of being that is fertile and connected – both to self and other. This half of experience acknowledges that the whole is more than the sum of its parts.
Becoming curious about sensations that exist beyond the rational mind (the embodied animal self), allows us to reinvigorate the wild parts of ourselves that have been lost to cultural conditioning. Language and logic have their limits, requiring us to move from our minds into the intuitive wisdom of our guts and hearts. How this experience unfolds is unknowable and emergent, but we can structure the ways in which we hold ourselves during this process.
Co-creating a Mandala in which each of us interweaves the threads of truth is characterised by shifting from a general ethos of greed and acquisition, to one of radically letting go, enabling a profound relaxation and ability to embrace the universe in the present moment. This interconnected transformation has never been more vital during such a time of planetary crisis.
Lama Elizabeth Monson Ph.D. speaks out of the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition, sharing her journey and experiences, including insights from Oppenheimer that challenge our perspectives and reshape our relationship to the energy, flow and impermanence of the world around us. In the second part of the trilogy, Elizabeth shares a training practice that will help you ‘feel to heal’, by beginning to access the experience of something greater than our sense of self, with the intention to foster compassion, acceptance and peace.
Opening Up The Dialogue Between Expertise And Wisdom
Rev. Konrad Ryushin Marchaj, MD, is a Psychiatrist and Zen Priest that has studied under various teachers and immersed himself in Ayahuasca ceremonies since 2014. He possesses a profound experience of the mind, and intends to convey unconditional love through compassionate expression. The third session begins with a brief grounding exercise led by Ryushin, rooting you into the conversation.
Ryushin discusses the interface between the mystery and a sense of expertise, suggesting that the dialogue between Buddhism and Western Psychotherapy continues to expand. Psychedelics shed light on some of the power dynamics at play between patriarchal and personalised approaches to care, highlighting the need to focus on asking better questions over seeking absolute answers.
Encouraging the spirit of inquiry, the final session begins with a Q&A on fostering a sense of trust and safety during negative and traumatic experiences. Ryushin touches on his experiences with Ayahuasca, and the need for patience by letting go of expectations. Over time, it is this deeper and more grounded sense of self that will allow us to hold space for others.
Embracing experiences that allow scientific, religious and spiritual dogma to be released activates innate healing processes, which enable us to re-examine our cultural conditioning. This manifests differently for everyone, and may include involuntary bodily sounds or movements. Stepping into a liminal space that encourages greater freedom of expression requires an openness that doesn’t judge what healing should or shouldn’t look like.
Ryushin and Elizabeth explore everyday techniques that can be used to deepen the relationship with self, highlighting the need for commitment and regularity of practice. Breaking out of the cycle of overwhelm could be as simple as starting with just 10 minutes a day. This cultivates the intention, orientation and direction necessary for a more aligned personal and professional life.