Doris Bersing, PhD
Blog

LGBTQ+ community and Pope Francis’ Blessings

“A rainbow shines over St.Peter’s Square at the Vatican, on Jan. 31, 2021”.(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Pope Francis grants priests the authority to bless same-sex couples.’. Read More. While it is a major step forward for a 1.378 billion-people organization, it is not considered equal to marriage and the blessings should not be included in any other church ceremony or liturgy.

The declaration states “When two people request a blessing, even if their situation as a couple is “irregular,” it will be possible for the ordained minister to consent. However, this gesture of pastoral closeness must avoid any elements that remotely resemble a marriage rite…” Read the full declaration. 

Chosen to lead the Catholic Church in 2013 following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, Francis has made notable strides in advocating for culturally progressive ideas within the church. This has included softening the church’s stance towards the LGBTQ+ community, as well as speaking out against consumerism, war and climate change. While these steps have been well-received by many, they have also been met with scorn by others, as was the case online in the wake of the same-sex blessings decision.

Following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, Francis was chosen to lead the Catholic Church in 2013 and has since made significant progress in promoting culturally progressive ideals within the church. In recent times, the church has adopted a more accepting attitude towards the LGBTQ+ community and has actively spoken out against consumerism, war, and climate change. Although these actions have been positively received by some, they have also faced criticism from others, as evidenced by the backlash on social media after the ruling on same-sex blessings. See more here.

It may prove difficult to please the vast population of 3 billion individuals in unison is a tough feat, but this serves as a positive starting point to terminate the catholic church’s discrimination and homophobia and become a part of a new reality. Whether one is in favor or not.

 


Getting Older? Do not Downsize but Upsize with Mindfulness

 

 

You know how they say seniors should downsize and simplify things, like moving to a smaller house or senior community? After working in senior care, I know from experience that downsizing is the good choice for many but here’s a thought – why not upsize, making it bigger and larger by introducing positive changes? Mindfulness can totally transform your daily life.

Mindfulness techniques such as meditation, Qi Gong, and gratitude exercises have been scientifically proven to enhance cognitive function and promote overall well-being in older adults. These practices can also help reduce negative emotions such as loneliness, depression, and anxiety.

Research shows that using mindfulness, as easy as focusing on your breathing and paying attention to the present moment — two things you can do anywhere and at no cost—can improve your overall physical and mental well-being. Therefore, infusing mindfulness into activities such as creating art, being outdoors, working out, or moving for fun or just moving around, going on with your daily routine can transform the experience for the better. Furthermore, it has been noted that there is a modest yet progressively growing body of evidence indicating that integrating regular meditation into one’s daily routine may potentially decelerate the aging process, particularly at a cellular level.  (Check out the piece featured in The Guardian about the positive impact of meditation on cellular aging).

Alright, I‘m convinced that seniors would really benefit from practicing mindfulness, so here‘s a few tips to get them going.

Embrace Nature’s Palette 

Nature offers a rich tapestry for mindfulness. Spend time outdoors, fully immersed in the natural world. Notice the details — the intricate patterns of leaves, the ever-changing canvas of the sky, the melody of bird songs. This connection fosters a deep sense of tranquility and mindfulness. Let this immersion in nature be a reminder of life’s simple beauty and the rhythm of the natural world.

Discover Art Mindfully

Art offers a unique path to mindfulness. Engage with art, whether in your home or at a gallery, with full attention. Notice the colors, the textures, the emotions it evokes. This mindful exploration can deepen your emotional connection to the world around you. Allow yourself to be lost in the artwork, finding new perspectives and insights with each viewing.

Listen with Intent

Music becomes a powerful tool for mindfulness, even assisted living facilities are encouraging the practice of mindfulness, when listened to with intent. Notice the blend of instruments, the rhythm, the emotions it stirs within you. This practice can be a profound source of relaxation and self-reflection, transforming the listening experience. As you listen, let the music wash over you, becoming fully absorbed in the sonic journey it offers. Mindfulness is not a distant concept reserved for quiet meditation rooms; it is a vibrant, accessible practice that can be integrated into the fabric of our everyday lives. By consciously choosing to be present in our routine activities, we open ourselves to a world of calm, clarity, and connection. The journey to mindfulness begins with a single, intentional step — a step towards a more aware, peaceful, and fulfilling life.

Moving Mindfully

When it comes to exercising, walking, and more, mindfulness can help you to seize the activity, and enjoy your life, fully. Bob says, mindful physical activity — whether yoga, running, or simply stretching — can dramatically enhance your awareness. Thus, pay close attention to each movement, the flow of your breath, the sensations in your body, just walk slowly and deliberately, paying attention to each step and the sensations you experience. Focus on your own movement and the sensation of the ground beneath you, and the sounds of nature around you.. Hey, taking a mindful stroll not only makes you feel refreshed and calm, but it also counts as a light exercise and a way to stay flexible and mobile.

Design an Inspirational Visual

Elevate your meditation environment by crafting a personalized inspirational poster. Select an online template that resonates with you and make it uniquely yours. Add your own text and photos to infuse it with personal significance, creating a visual symbol that anchors you in your mindfulness journey. This tailored piece serves as a daily reminder of your dedication to the practice of awareness. This visual creation not only beautifies your space but also serves as a constant source of motivation and reflection.

For those who enjoy “surfing” the webthere is a wealth of articles and advice on how to cultivate mindfulness.  Discover a more tranquil and mindful way of living with the help of 21 Mindfulness Activities For Seniors & Older Adults published by the Mindfulness Box. One of those are published by the Mindfulness Box as that can help you navigate your path to a more peaceful and mindful life. Learning to be mindful could really help old folks deal with all the tough parts of getting older and make them feel better both physically and mentally.


Deepak Chopra Shares How Psychedelics May Help Treat Depression, PTSD, and More

Deepak Chopra Deepak Chopra, an Indian-American author and advocate of alternative medicine, is a prominent figure in the New Age movement. His books and videos have made him one of the best-known and wealthiest figures in the field of alternative medicine. In an interview in early December 2023, he claimed that psychedelics could help people experiencing mental health illnesses.  In the article titled “Deepak Chopra Shares How Psychedelics May Help Treat Depression, PTSD, and More he said, Psilocybin has been used for thousands of years in cultures across the world for depression, but also for the expansion of consciousness. He added that there is increasing evidence that psilocybin may enhance neuroplasticity, which refers to the brain’s ability to undergo adaptive structural and functional changes. Take a look at the complete article.

To support the growing interest in the use of psychedelics in mental health, the California Institute of Integral Studies, a graduate school in San Francisco, has launched the first graduatelevel training program in Psychedelic-assisted therapy, which is expected to revolutionize clinical mental health treatment.

Consequently, all advocates for this treatment must grapple with an important question regarding appropriate training and ethical standards; this matter continues to be a concern. Approval for therapies incorporating MDMA and psilocybin is a possibility, but it is imperative that we have competent guides to steer us through the experience.

 


Evolving laws create new psychedelic opportunities for seniors

During my search for insights on the use of psychedelics in promoting mental well-being, I learned there has been a significant increase in the amount of favorable attention given to psychedelics as a potential remedy for a wide range of psychological disorders through various media outlets.

Studies on the use of Psychedelics  like psilocybin, ketamine and MDMA are at the forefront of pioneering treatments for depression, PTSD, cancer, and other disorders. The emotional impact of cancer patients, who participated  in clinical trials and received psilocybin-assisted therapy  for extreme depression and demoralization is particularly profound.

While describing their “journeys”,  they frequently share a profound experience of boundless love, forgiveness, and resolution of traumas carried throughout their lives. Positive transformations have permanently impacted their remaining days, months, and years.

As we grow older, we may find ourselves reflectingdelving into spirituality, and seeking purpose; a carefully crafted psychedelic trip can address all of those factors.  For a whole cohort of aging baby boomers, the chance to partake in a psychedelic ceremony  has the potential to revolutionize our perspectives on aging and mortality. It may be time to reconsider our views on psychedelics. Abby Rosner stays on her article Are Hallucinogens for You? how ” a changing legal landscape opens psychedelic opportunities for older adults…”. I also chanced upon a compelling article from The Guardian that was passed along by a colleague. The topic of Shayla Love’s “Long-lost Best Friends” and the impact of psychedelics on the longevity movement caught my eye. Learn about the compelling correlation between psychedelics and aging as the article delves into the world of individuals who are turning to these substances for their anti-aging and mental health benefits.

Psychedelics can be safely administered to healthy adults but  The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, on its article  The Safety and Efficacy of Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies for Oldr Adults: Knowns and Unknowns “calls for caution”…However, both psilocybin and MDMA can increase blood pressure and heart rate, which could be a concern if used in older adults with cardiovascular disease. Very few older adults or patients with serious comorbidities have been included in clinical trials of psychedelics to date, raising the question of how generalizable study results are for the patients that most gero-psychiatrists will be treating…” The potential benefits of psychedelic compounds for older adults are significant, but more research is needed to ensure they are safe and effectiveespecially for those with multiple health challenges. While aging can be a challenge, those who embrace it with courage will find limitless opportunities.

 


CIIS Spearheading Research and Clinical Training in Psychedelic Treatments

The U.S. may approve therapies using MDMA and psilocybin. Long-awaited trial data show drug is effective at treating post-traumatic stress disorder in a diversity of people. Nature,  a weekly international journal publishing research in all fields of science and technology, published the news of an imminent approval of these drugs by the FDA. “Psychedelic drug MDMA moves closer to US approval following success in PTSD trial”

National Geographic’s May 2023 issue examines the world of psychedelic-assisted treatments: what’s propelling this new and growing interest in treating a variety of mental health issues, who will most benefit from psychedelic-assisted treatments, and who is leading the way in helping to make these drugs safe, affordable, and accessible to people all over the world. Later in its August 2023 issue, states “Psychedelic drugs such as DMT and Ecstasy may offer a unique treatment pathway for various brain injuries and diseases because of their potency, helping patients learn lost and new skills.”

Psychedelic-assisted therapy is poised to revolutionize clinical mental health treatment, and we are leading the way.”It was the realization that psychedelics might one day be integrated into mainstream medical care that spurred the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco to become the first in the U.S. to offer a psychedelic-assisted therapy training program seven years ago, says Janis Phelps, director of the school’s Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Research.”

CIIS is training the psychedelic researchers of the future; driven by a passion to understand the human mind, and supported by decades of rigorous inquiry, CIIS created the Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Research (CPTR) in 2015. This included the first-ever university-affiliated certificate program, which continues to serve as the gold standard for safe, effective professional training.

The use of these psychedelic substances has shown promise in therapeutic settings, offering hope for those struggling with mental health conditions. As we continue to explore the ethical and legal implications of their use, it is essential to approach these substances with respect and reverence. For those who embark on this journey, the potential for personal growth and self-discovery awaits, unlocking the doors of perception and unveiling the true essence of the self.


Magic Mushrooms: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psilocybin

 Magic mushrooms, also known as shrooms or psilocybin mushrooms, have long captivated the human imagination with their ability to induce profound psychedelic experiences. These mushrooms contain the chemical compounds psilocybin and psilocin, which have the power to alter one’s perception, leading to hallucinations and a journey into the depths of the mind. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in the therapeutic potential of magic mushrooms, particularly in the treatment of addiction, depression, and other psychiatric conditions.

As I embarked on my own exploration of the world of psychedelics, I discovered a transformative and enlightening experience that has left an indelible mark on my life.

The Ethical and Legal Implications of Psilocybin

Before delving into my personal experience with magic mushrooms, it is essential to acknowledge the ethical and legal considerations surrounding their use. While psychedelic drugs have been used as therapeutic tools for centuries, they faced temporary prohibition in the United States during the 1970s. However, in recent years, a resurgence of clinical trials involving psilocybin has shown promising results in the treatment of various mental health conditions. As a result, there is a growing interest in further researching and designing ethical guidelines for the clinical use of psilocybin. This interest prompted my involvement in qualitative research, where I interviewed individuals who had firsthand experience with magic mushrooms.

An Enchanting Journey Begins

With a notebook in hand and a mix of excitement and curiosity, I decided to personally explore the realm of magic mushrooms. I wanted to uncover the truth behind the transformative experiences people claimed to have had. To ensure the purity of my research, I sought out a “psychedelic healer” through a family connection. Clad in white, a color believed to channel positive energy, I embarked on a journey into the world of psychedelics.

Thank goodness for not knowing, because I had no idea what awaited me behind the doors of this otherwise spacious and beautiful place in a privileged neighborhood in Barcelona. Upon entering the room, I was reminded of  the healing power of women’s circles and engaged in exercises to define my intentions for the journey, and examined my sacred gifts and skills. To prepare for the journey ahead, we stimulated the pineal gland with “Rapé“, a traditional Amazonian shamanic medicine. This medicinal powder-composed of various plants and tobacco-is known for its healing and cleansing properties. However, the experience of inhaling the powder, after being blown into your nose with hollow pipes was unpleasant; the powder reached my brain and everything else that was on its path leaving me with a burning sensation and a newfound appreciation for those who indulge in substances through their nostrils.

Letting Go of Emotional Baggage

To soften the blow of the Rapé inhalation, we engaged in a cathartic exercise of verbally expressing our resentments, blame, regrets, shame, and anger toward individuals in our lives. This task served as a preamble to the magic mushroom ceremony, which aimed to help us let go of the emotional burdens that hindered our personal growth and fulfillment. These burdens often manifest as distorted thoughts and beliefs that shape our identities and limit our potential. The magic mushrooms, it is believed, have the power to reveal these distortions and guide us toward a more authentic and liberated sense of self.

A Bonfire of Release and a Bowl of Fire

Continuing  our agenda, we embarked on the next step of the journey – the burning of resentments, shame, and blame. In an urban space devoid of a traditional fireplace, we improvised with a stainless-steel bowl, fusing the sacred act of release with the mundane surroundings. This fusion of the ordinary and the extraordinary encapsulated the essence of the psychedelic experience – a profound transformation occurring within the ordinary fabric of our lives.

As the ceremony progressed, we underwent a complete chakra balancing using essential oils. This process aimed to align our energy centers and create a state of relaxation and receptivity. The chakra alignment revealed an imbalance in my fifth chakra, responsible not only for communication but also self-expression and the ability to speak our personal truth. This discovery shed light on my struggle to articulate my thoughts and feelings in my own words, leading me to realize the importance of finding my authentic voice.

The Chocolate Infusion

The next phase of the journey brought forth a delectable treat for my foodie soul – the ingestion of magic mushrooms infused in exquisite Guatemalan dark chocolate. The chocolate, cultivated and harvested by a group of empowered women, added an extra layer of meaning to the experience. Supporting these women entrepreneurs through micro loans added a sense of social justice and equality to the journey. As I savored the chocolate, I couldn’t help but reflect on the interconnectedness of our spiritual and earthly lives, finding beauty in the integration of both realms.

Following the chocolate ingestion, we drank a tea prepared with herbs and magic mushroom extract, and then, my friend, the journey truly began. A kaleidoscope of perceptions and colors was available to me. The music filled the room, inducing a range of emotions, setting the stage for a perceptual feast. As the effects of the mushrooms intensified, the ceiling came alive, transforming into undulating branches and serpents. The plants in the room radiated vibrant auras, and a medley of images and patterns danced before my eyes. Voices emerged, seemingly from nowhere, speaking to a part of me that I struggled to comprehend. Time lost its grip, and I found myself in the presence of unknown individuals from different eras. A group of women encircled me, compelling me to deliver something, akin to the birthing process.

The Birthing of Self

In that moment, fear and self-doubt gripped me as I embarked on a journey of self-discovery. The physical sensations overwhelmed me as my body contorted, mimicking the experience of childbirth. I felt supported by the presence of the nameless women, shadows filled with light, who guided me through the labor. In that sacred space, I birthed something from the depths of my being, something that had long been repressed and forbidden. The experience transcended rationalization, leaving me awash with a sense of lightness and liberation. As Marianne Williamson aptly observed, “It is our light and not our darkness that frightens us.” I felt a deep sense of interconnectedness, ego dissolution, and a heightened appreciation for the beauty of existence. This experience  manifested as a catalyst for self-discovery, confronting inner fears, and gaining a fresh perspective on life.

A Transformative Journey of Healing and Love

As the journey continued, I found solace in the lyrics of a beautiful song that spoke of healing and love. The words resonated within me, filling my heart with a sense of love for myself and all those who had played a role in my life. The experience opened my heart, allowing me to see relationships for what they truly were, and not what they had become. I reflected on past experiences, both the good and the challenging, gaining a deeper understanding of how my background and circumstances had shaped me. It became clear that while these factors influenced who I was, I held the power to shape who I would become.

As I emerged from the psychedelic journey, I found myself imbued with a renewed sense of purpose and direction. The experience provided me with a fresh perspective on life and allowed me to set new goals and aspirations. The journey reminded me that it is never too late to dream a new dream or set another goal, as C.S. Lewis eloquently stated.

While I still try to make sense of the feelings, insights and memories that emerged while on the psychedelic journey, I re-examine beliefs about myself, reviewing past experiences, the good ones, and the not that-good ones as well—at last l I’ve learned that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become. The insights gained from the psychedelic experience surpassed decades of psychotherapy and spiritual practices, leaving an indelible mark on my life. It empowered me to live authentically and embrace the fullness of my being.

Lastly, the journey into the realm of magic mushrooms proved to be a profound and transformative experience. Therefore the importance of approaching these experiences with reverence, intention, and proper guidance to maximize their potential for personal growth and spiritual exploration. Additionally, responsible and informed usage is paramount to ensure personal safety and minimize potential risks. Proper dosing, set, and setting are essential factors to consider when embarking on a psychedelic journey with magic mushrooms.

The use of these psychedelic substances has shown promise in therapeutic settings, offering hope for those struggling with mental health conditions. As we continue to explore the ethical and legal implications of their use, it is essential to approach these substances with respect and reverence. As we navigate the evolving landscape of psychedelic research and society’s perception of these substances, it is crucial to approach their usage with respect, responsibility, and a commitment to personal well-being. For those who embark on this journey, the potential for personal growth and self-discovery awaits, unlocking the doors of perception and unveiling the true essence of the self; a priceless experience!


Top