185: The Power of Psychedelics


“Different plant medicines will help you dive deeper into your psyche.”

This week on ONKEN RADIO, we’re going far out, guys. As you all probably know, I recorded a podcast episode at the end of last year about the 21 things I learned in 2019. This year, I’ve dedicated one entire episode to each item on that list, and this week, we’re on number three: the healing power of psychedelics. 

A few years ago, I went through a dark time. I no longer had the desire to be creative, and I barely had the drive to do even mundane tasks. I began searching for meaning in my life, and that’s when I first started my foray into the mystical world of psychedelics and plant medicines. 

You may remember that I talked about all things mushrooms and creativity with Tero Isokauppila, the founder of Four Sigmatic — a food and beverage company that specializes in mushroom-based drinks. I also had an interview with Gerry Powell, the founder of Rhythmia, discussing how plant medicine can change your life. To follow up, I had Dr. Jeff McNairy on the podcast to explain how plant medicine works in your brain. 

Today, you’ll get my take on the power of psychedelics and plant medicine — what I’ve tried, what my experience was, and how it’s helped me heal from a difficult time. I’ll also provide some information from different scientific resources, which show that some psychedelic drugs and natural medicines may help heal depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. 

Without further ado, let’s get started.

My Experience Trying DMT Psychedelics for the First Time 

A couple of years ago, I was going through my very own “dark night of the soul.” I had lost purpose in my life, and I no longer had the creative drive I used to. I was in a lost space, and so I decided to try something new — psychedelics.

The first one I tried was 5-MeO DMT, which is crystalized toad venom. I smoked it, and it took me on this crazy journey outside my body and through my consciousness. Everyone has a different experience, but for me, it was like I left my body and ventured into the universe. I saw all these colored fractals and found myself amongst the stars. It was a beautiful experience during a dark time in my life.

At that point, I really didn’t know what to expect. And more importantly, I didn’t know how to interpret my psychedelic experience afterward. As beautiful as it was, I came back from that experience sort of shell-shocked. I had experienced this beautiful 5D reality, and then all of a sudden, I was back in the 3D physical world. That contrast was so abrupt for me, and afterward, I experienced somewhat of an existential crisis. 

Looking back, I know that experience served its purpose. It showed me that I didn’t know how to integrate my psychedelic experience into reality. I didn’t even know I needed to integrate that experience into my life. 

When you do psychedelics or plant medicine, it takes you to a different place. You experience and see things that are not in the 3D realm. It’s important to integrate that experience back into 3D reality so that you’re not using it as an “escape” but as a way to understand the world and yourself on a deeper level. 

After my first experience, I realized that I had a lot to learn about psychedelics — I didn’t know how to harness their power. That’s when I came across an invaluable resource: a book titled How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan.

Psychedelics 101: How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan

This book completely revolutionized my point of view on psychedelics. You all know that I’m really interested in the concrete science behind things when I’m trying any new modality to improve my life, whether it be religion, healing, or spirituality. This book by Michael Pollan provided all that for me. It gave me the grounding to really understand how psychedelics work, their history, and their benefits — especially for people who suffer from PTSD, depression, and even addiction. 

In this book, Michael shared that he interviewed 15 to 20 different facilitators for each different type of plant medicine — including DMT, psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, peyote, LSD, and a few others. After the interview process, he asked a couple of the facilitators to walk him through the process of taking their drug. In the book, he shared his personal experience and how he experienced healing and a spiritual reality he never thought existed. 

Next, Michael explained all the new neuroscience behind how psychedelics affect your brain and how people have been healing PTSD and depression using psychedelics in a therapeutic context. But probably the BIGGEST distinction I took from the book was the difference between drugs and plant medicines. I grew up believing that all drugs are bad, and this book really created a difference for me. 

To sum it all up, there are drugs like meth, heroin, cocaine, and others that will absolutely destroy your life. They cause life-threatening addictions and are toxic for your body. Then there are plant medicines such as psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, and LSD that actually have healing powers when used in a controlled environment. They can actually help treat those suffering from a meth, heroin, alcohol, or cocaine addiction in the right context. 

When using these plant medicines, getting the correct dosage is extremely important. In his book, Michael Pollan really stresses the necessity of safety — i.e., being in a controlled environment and taking the correct dosage. 

You may hear of people saying they experienced a “bad trip,” and usually you’ll hear that from people who are at musical festivals with people they don’t know. When you’re not in a controlled environment, you can encounter all sorts of weirdness and different energies that can really destroy an experience. And when you’re not educated about the medicine you’re taking, you can easily overdose. 

But when used correctly and in the right context, psychedelics actually have lots of healing properties! In the latter part of the book, Micahel Collan discussed the studies that have been done using plant medicines, and the results are incredible.

The Healing Properties of Plant Medicines 

When someone is struggling with PTSD, their brain is stuck in a negative loop — the trauma is replayed over and over in their minds, like a faulty record player. And the more this happens, the stronger those neural networks become. The same sort of thing happens with depression. Your brain starts repeating a story about yourself — “I’m not worthy, and no one loves me” — and those thoughts integrate themselves into your neural networking, making it extremely difficult to think otherwise. 

Scientists are discovering that psychedelics, especially psilocybin and ayahuasca, help people pull out of that default networking in their brains to experience healing. They help you detach from traumas and experience a new reality that’s disconnected from that past pain. And when you combine these plant medicines with meditation or breath work, it helps you integrate that experience back into reality. 

I recently watched this incredible documentary called From Shock to Awe that I recommend to anyone who wants to learn more about the healing power of psychedelics. It’s about Iraqi war veterans who are experiencing severe PTSD — to the point where if somebody closes a door, they think a bomb is going off. They can no longer connect with their families and friends because the war traumas are just on replay in their brains. In order to heal from PTSD, they partner with therapeutic professionals who take them through an ayahuasca journey, and the results are fascinating. By using the psychedelic, they can start detaching from the traumas by experiencing a beautiful, 5D reality. It pulls them out of that default neural network of pain, and they’re able to experience love and healing. 

So personally, I really do believe that psychedelics possess incredible healing properties. And it’s not just me — there is so much research happening around this topic. Entrepreneur Tim Ferriss has been investing tons of money into this research in partnership with John Hopkins Medicine. And I think that really soon, these plant medicines will be legalized for professional, therapeutic use because they have so much healing potential.

How Psychedelics Have Helped Me Heal

Last summer, I did an ayahuasca journey down at Rhythmia, and it was a beautiful, healing experience. I’ve always been committed to personal development, but I’ve struggled with this fear of judgment — what are other people going to think of me? But when I did this ayahuasca journey last summer, I realized how this fear of judgment has really kept me from experiencing the fullness of life, love, and expression. 

I’m still working through those things, but the ayahuasca journey definitely helped me push through some mental blocks this year, including telling my parents that I don’t have the same worldview as they do. And for me, that was huge because I’ve always subconsciously felt judged by my parents, which has inhibited me from doing a lot of things. 

I’ve also been doing psilocybin mushroom journeys right here in my living room. When you can craft the intention and environment around the experience, they can provide you with some really great healing. They personally help me remove those subconscious blocks that I didn’t even know existed! 

For example, a year and a half ago, I would write out a script for each one of my solo podcasts. I always had problems talking in a flow state, and that’s one reason I even started the podcast — to conquer my fear of speaking. I really think that psychedelics have helped me move past that fear. I can now record solo episodes in a constant flow, and it’s been amazing. 

At least 95% of the way we operate is from our subconscious mind, and the only way to really create long-lasting change is to rewire our subconscious. There are several different modalities you can use to do that, including hypnosis, mediation, and breathwork, but plant medicines really help you dive deeper into your psyche. 

Ayahuasca specifically has helped me dive into my childhood traumas and work through those. If you don’t do that inner work, then those experiences are going to run the way you operate. You’ll get triggered 24/7, and nothing will change until you can get past those subconscious blocks. I want to live a life that fully expresses what I believe, and personally, I think that psychedelics are a really great tool to help us do that. 

Are Psychedelics Right for You? 

To sum up, I think psychedelics are definitely worth looking into, but you have to do it under very controlled conditions and with the right intentions. Definitely educate yourself before you try anything. Michael Pollan’s book, How to Change Your Mind, is a great place to start. It will give you a great historical context along with scientific studies on how to approach plant medicines. 

You can also check out my interviews with the founder of Rhythima, Gerry Powell, and the chief medical officer of Rhythima, Dr. Dr. Jeff McNairy, to hear more about Rhythmia, the power of psychedelics, and the science behind them.

Alchemy is defined as the process of taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary, sometimes in a way that cannot be explained.

With that being said, I define Creative Alchemy as using the process of creativity to create a lens of which to perform alchemy. These principles not only apply to artists and creatives in their own creative processes but to anyone who wants to create an extraordinary life in color for themselves. I’ve found that 80% of creating is alchemizing the thoughts, emotions, and other inner blocks that keep you from putting the pen to the paper. Navigating to the act of creation takes alchemical processes, and personally, psychedelics help me do this at a whole different level.

I think that once you heal from your past baggage, you can really activate your own creativity and connect you closer to the universe. Psychedelics have helped me create a better podcast and create an elevated flow state even in my photoshoots. I’m excited to keep reading more research, and hopefully see these plant medicines used across the world for healing and therapy. 

Thanks for reading! If you want to hear more about my experience with psychedelics, make sure to listen to the full episode. Please share this episode on Instagram and tag me, @nickonken. I’d love to answer any questions you may have about plant medicine and my experience. And if you love this podcast and want to support me, please leave a good review on Apple Podcasts. Every review helps.

I’ll leave you with this: My mission is to help you become the better version of yourself by creating in every small moment. To do that effectively, we often have to heal from past trauma to overcome subconscious blocks. In whatever modality you choose, I hope the best for you and am here to support you along the way. 

I’ll talk to you later 

Nick Onken 

You can Subscribe and Listen to the Podcast on Apple Podcasts. And please leave me a Rating and Review!


Some things we learn in this podcast:

  • What DMT is made of [2:30]
  • How to ingest DMT [2:40]
  • The distinction between drugs and plant medicine [6:40]
  • What book to read before doing psychedelics [8:00]
  • How psychedelics heal [9:20]

Links Mentioned:

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  • .. PLUS! You’ll get access my brand building book recs and favorite resources

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