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Insights into Inner-Space: An Interview with Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry, Dr. Rick Strassman

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope recently sent photos to earth of a previously unseen population of seven primitive galaxies that formed more than 13 billion years ago, when the universe was less than 3 percent of its present age.  These photographs present a primitive portrait of the universe, 350-600 thousand years after the big bang. As our technological capabilities increase, with the…

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope recently sent photos to earth of a previously unseen population of seven primitive galaxies that formed more than 13 billion years ago, when the universe was less than 3 percent of its present age.  These photographs present a primitive portrait of the universe, 350-600 thousand years after the big bang. As our technological capabilities increase, with the help of instruments like NASA’s next-generation spacecraft, the James Webb Space Telescope, astronomers and physicists will be able to penetrate even deeper into outer-space and pave the way for new insight into origins, primordial states of nature, and the history of physical reality to which we are descendents.
While physicists and astronomers reach further into the Cosmos, inching closer to the impression of the moment of creation, with eyes to the sky, instruments like the Hubble Space Telescope provide no vantage points into the invisible realities of dark matter and dark energy, which comprise 96 percent of the universe.  To physicists the landscape of inner-space or consciousness remains hidden and the contemporary models of physics that we use to think critically about reality, even those which acknowledge concepts like dark matter, dark energy, many worlds, and multiverses, lack the tools and vocabulary to describe the nature of the inferred invisible realities with any scientific credibility.

The field of psychedelic studies, however, is one branch of inquiry leading humanity to begin penetrating into the ocean of inner-space, which some hypothesize to be the house of much of the phenomena illustrated in today’s cutting edge theoretical physics.  However, psychedelic explorations fall awkward into the domain of science, religion, magic, and taboo.  And naturally, these violently adversarial superstitions germinate skepticism around ambitions of unification.

Psychedelic scientists study a colorful spectrum of topics.  From the effects of administered psychedelics on volunteers in spiritual, creative, meditative, therapeutic, etc, contexts to naturally occurring psychedelic experiences in similar sets and settings.

One special strain of psychedelic inquiry is the data collected on the effects of Dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, the chemical cousin of psilocybin (psychedelic mushrooms), ibogaine (psychedelic Tabernanthe Iboga root), mescaline (psychedelic Peyote cactus). In psychedelic circles the reputation of DMT precedes it.  DMT is known to be one of the most powerful and psychedelic compounds found in nature; and individuals who have experienced the compound vehemently testify to its unique effects.  For example, individuals have been known to experience a complete separation of mind from body, experiences of enlightenment, religious or mystical revelation, travel through multidimensional space, but also alien encounters.

Noted expert and pioneer of psychedelic studies Dr. Rick Strassman is the first scientist to revive psychedelic exploration in the United States since the 70’s.  Strassman’s research involved the powerful naturally-occurring compound, DMT – N,N-dimethyltryptamine. Led to this substance through his earlier study of the pineal gland as a potential biological locus for spiritual experiences, he administered several hundred doses of DMT to approximately 60 volunteers between 1990 and 1995. He wrote about this research in the popular book, DMT: The Spirit Molecule, which has sold over 100,000 copies, has been translated into 12 languages, and is now available as an audio-book. It also inspired an independent documentary by the same name, picked up by Warner Bros distributing in Fall, 2011. With three distinguished collaborators, he co-authored Inner Paths to Outer Space, which looks more carefully at the common ‘other worlds’ experience that volunteers frequently reported during his research.

In a recent conversation I was fortunate to have with Dr. Strassman we spoke in depth about the science and philosophy underlying his research.  According to Strassman, DMT exists in body fluids of every mammal that has been investigated, including those of human.  The fact that there is an endogenous [naturally occurring] compound that seems to provide access to, for lack of a better word, spiritual states, suggests that we are hardwired for such experiences. In addition, DMT may be the mediator between the physical and spiritual. By spiritual, I mean a complex of experiences that partakes of a number of variables which combined in a particular manner elicit a constellation of effects that people refer to as spiritual. For example, extreme emotions, novel insights, the seeming separation of consciousness from the body, visions, voices, and so on. A rabbi and I were talking about DMT several years ago and he wondered about its relationship to a particular Hebrew/Kabbalistic concept that has to do with the most spiritual of the physical and the most physical of the spiritual. Perhaps DMT fits into that definition.  Alex Grey [a visionary artist] referred to my labeling DMT as the ‘spirit molecule’ as a conundrum or a paradox. I think that is an accurate portrayal of the notion.”

Furthermore in scientific observations throughout Strassman’s research he subtly points to DMT’s chemical simplicity, as well as its apparent necessary role in the body.  Discussing the results of his study of DMT, Strassman …

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Stapleton, Polis jab each other over energy differences

The two candidates traded the usual barbs with the Republican saying the Democrat will hurt oil and gas jobs and the Democrat saying the industry needs to be a better partner with communities.

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Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton warned Wednesday that Democrats want to impose job-killing restrictions on oil and gas development in Colorado, while Democrat Jared Polis said the state has to try to settle persistent conflicts between the industry and neighborhoods. Polis was interrupted three times by protesters as he and Stapleton made separate pitches to the Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s annual Energy Summit in Denver. The protesters stood and asked Polis about fracking and climate change. The audience booed, and the protesters were escorted out. Polis didn’t address the protesters directly. But he drew laughs when he pointed out the third interruption came just as he was lamenting the strident tone of the debate over oil and gas in Colorado, where drilling rigs and storage tanks intermingle with schools, homes and hospitals. That proximity fuels disputes over public health and safety. Polis, a five-term congressman from Boulder, and Stapleton, in his second term as state treasurer, are campaigning to replace term-limited Democrat John Hickenlooper Stapleton and Polis both said they oppose a ballot initiative that would increase the minimum distance between new wells and occupied buildings — called setbacks — to 2,500 feet (762 meters). The current minimum distance is 500 feet (150 meters). Both said the measure would essentially ban new hydraulic fracturing or fracking wells in Colorado. Hydraulic fracturing uses a pressurized mix of water, chemicals and sand to loosen underground rock formations and release oil and gas. Stapleton, who spoke first, said Polis once financed …

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Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton warned Wednesday that Democrats want to impose job-killing restrictions on oil and gas development in Colorado, while Democrat Jared Polis said the state has to try to settle persistent conflicts between the industry and neighborhoods.
Polis was interrupted three times by protesters as he and Stapleton made separate pitches to the Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s annual Energy Summit in Denver.
The protesters stood and asked Polis about fracking and climate change. The audience booed, and the protesters were escorted out.
Polis didn’t address the protesters directly. But he drew laughs when he pointed out the third interruption came just as he was lamenting the strident tone of the debate over oil and gas in Colorado, where drilling rigs and storage tanks intermingle with schools, homes and hospitals.
That proximity fuels disputes over public health and safety.
Polis, a five-term congressman from Boulder, and Stapleton, in his second term as state treasurer, are campaigning to replace term-limited Democrat John Hickenlooper
Stapleton and Polis both said they oppose a ballot initiative that would increase the minimum distance between new wells and occupied buildings — called setbacks — to 2,500 feet (762 meters). The current minimum distance is 500 feet (150 meters).
Both said the measure would essentially ban new hydraulic fracturing or fracking wells in Colorado. Hydraulic fracturing uses a pressurized mix of water, chemicals and sand to loosen underground rock formations and release oil and gas.
Stapleton, who spoke first, said Polis once financed a similar measure that would have set a minimum distance of 2,000 feet (610 meters).
“As a numbers guy, I know that 2,500 is not 2,000, but it also isn’t too far off, either,”…
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Bistoro changes locations but maintains Mediterranean magnifique

The Dhamo’s change of location for the bistro doesn’t change their unique European sensibility

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“Eat well, live happy” are the words printed on the sign above Bistoro – a Mediterranean-style bistro located at 109 Central Plaza in Pueblo, owned and operated by Pellumb Dhamo and Joetta Ucar-Dhamo. Joetta attended high school and college in Pueblo, while Pellumb is a native of Albania. The couple met in Rome, and travelled and lived together in Europe for many years before moving back to Pueblo to raise their family and open their restaurant.

“It’s always been a dream of mine,” said Joetta, “When I met my husband that was one of the first things we talked about was owning a restaurant. Pueblo wasn’t necessarily our first choice. But after travelling around and everything we’ve found, it suits a family lifestyle – we have a four and a five year old – so we’re kind of rekindling our love for Pueblo so-to-speak.”

Formerly known as Neon Alley Bistro in the Union Avenue Historic District, Joetta says business has improved at Bistoro since the change in location. “That was a beautiful location. And we dreamed a lot outside those cast iron gates. But it was out of sight out of mind for most people. It was incredibly hard to get people through the door. So we realized it wasn’t sustainable.” Bistoro’s new location at Central Plaza is closer to Pueblo’s Riverwalk area and downtown hotels – keeping it on the radar of locals and tourists. “It’s been much nicer,” says Joetta of the new location.

The restaurant is closed Sundays and Mondays, making Tuesday the start of the couple’s workweek at the bistro. Both are hard at work after the short weekend, with Pellumb preparing orders in the kitchen and Joetta greeting customers and taking orders. Light music trickles through the air of the cozy dining area dominated by a large bar top with classic black and white stools, with booths lined along the opposite wall. The ambiance of the whole place is quaint, cool, fresh. There is an intimate charm about it that separates it from the typical Pueblo eatery.

!– BEGIN THEIA POST SLIDER —

“Eat well, live happy” are the words printed on the sign above Bistoro – a Mediterranean-style bistro located at 109 Central Plaza in Pueblo, owned and operated by Pellumb Dhamo and Joetta Ucar-Dhamo. Joetta attended high school and college in Pueblo, while Pellumb is a native of Albania. The couple met in Rome, and travelled and lived together in Europe for many years before moving back to Pueblo to raise their family and open their restaurant.
“It’s always been a dream of mine,” said Joetta, “When I met my husband that was one of the first things we talked about was owning a restaurant. Pueblo wasn’t necessarily our first choice. But after travelling around and everything we’ve found, it suits a family lifestyle – we have a four and a five year old – so we’re kind of rekindling our love for Pueblo so-to-speak.”
Formerly known as Neon Alley Bistro in the Union Avenue Historic District, Joetta says business has improved at Bistoro since the change in location. “That was a beautiful location. And we dreamed a lot outside those cast iron gates. But it was out of sight out of mind for most people. It was incredibly hard to get people through the door. So we realized it wasn’t sustainable.” Bistoro’s new location at Central Plaza is closer to Pueblo’s Riverwalk area and downtown hotels – keeping it on the radar of locals and tourists. “It’s been much nicer,” says Joetta of the new location.
The restaurant is closed Sundays and Mondays, making Tuesday the start of the couple’s workweek at the bistro. Both are hard at work after the short weekend, with Pellumb preparing orders in the kitchen and Joetta greeting customers and taking orders. Light music trickles through the air of the cozy dining area dominated by a large bar top with classic black and white stools, with booths lined along the opposite wall. The ambiance of the whole place is quaint, cool, fresh. There is an intimate charm about it that separates it from the typical Pueblo eatery.
The signature menu item at Bistoro is the bocata, which is a Spanish-style sandwich. The bistro offers a selection of steak, pork, chicken or eggplant bocatas. The most popular dish, Joetta says, is a steak bocata topped with Pueblo chile. There is also a diverse selection of tapas (appetizers) as well as a broad selection of Rustic salads that offer farm-fresh vegetables instead of lettuce. So obviously, locally sourced ingredients are an important feature of Bistoro.
“Eat well, live happy is our mantra. Really what we’re about is putting those famili…
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Music

Acoustic heartbreak in the Colorado San Juans with John Statz

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John Statz by Veronica Holyfield

Songs about heartbreak should resinate. And with John Statz they do. They’re equally soft and striking. His new full-length album “Darkness on the San Juans,” available May 11, takes an acoustic turn from his other recent work. Then, he had full bands in studios. With this project, he gathered a few friends in his living room to record. Like heartbrea…

!– BEGIN THEIA POST SLIDER —

Songs about heartbreak should resinate. And with John Statz they do. They’re equally soft and striking.
His new full-length album “Darkness on the San Juans,” available May 11, takes an acoustic turn from his other recent work. Then, he had full bands in studios. With this project, he gathered a few friends in his living room to record.
Like heartbreak itself, the album is more personal, more raw and more intimate. The Wisconsin native who now calls Denver home said he hasn’t done something quite as stripped down in a while, and when it came to get back into songwriting after the release of his last album last summer, there was also a reason to write.
It was the aftermath of a breakup.
“We retrace our steps. We look at what we thought we knew. We ultimately discover and face the truth under the stories we told ourselves along the way,” he says of the album.
In addition to the post-love songs, the album features a few songs Statz previously worked on but didn’t have a place on an album, and songs that are meant to be more acoustic. “Presidential Valet” is the story of Armistead, President John Tyler’s valet, or slave, who died alongside seven others in an explosion after Tyler and members of cabinet were watching the firing of the “peacemaker” in 1844.

So, this album is about heartbreak. Did that change how you wrote or approached the album at all?

Yeah. It just kind of comes out more — I don’t know — when you’re writing about heartbreak it’s just seems like the easiest type of writing. It’s just pouring out of you. You don’t have to come up with a concept or a story or any of that.

In the bio you released ahead of this album, it references a pretty famous Ernest Hemingway quotation: “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” Maybe as a writer I hear about this all of the time, but there’s definitely a writing style associated with Hemingway — to write very concise and clear. Did you take any of that with you into the songwriting or was it all about the emotion?

You know, it was the emotion part. I didn’t think about that, but the songs are fairly concise and short. So I appreciate that might also be relevant there even though I didn’t intend that.

The title of this album is “Darkness on the San Juans.” Explain that a little bit.

It’s a line in the song “Highways.” Geographical references are all over my songwriting. On every album I’ve ever written. So it’s a song about driving places with someone and either ending up back at those places later and having other memories being their previously. The San Juans was one of those locations that was important.

Why do you think you end up writing about places so much?

I mean, an obvious answer is that I spend a lot of time driving around to gigs, and I’ve been a lot of places because of that. And just for fun. I love roadtripping around Colorado, and camping and that sort of thing. So it’s not a planned thing. I’m living and breathing this lifestyle from A to B to C and that infiltrates the writing. But also, it’s a convenient rhyming scheme. Sometimes it can be hard to find a word, but there’s usually a city that will fill in.

How long did it take you to finish this album, being that the concept is fairly raw?

It all happened pretty fast. The two non-heartbreak songs, “Presidential Valet” and “Old Men Drinking Seagrem’s,” were older. They’re social commentary tunes. But I just hadn’t recorded them to yet and I was waiting for an acoustic album to do that. I started writing in the summer. I decided in December to record them. I called my friend Nate, flew him out in January. And we recorded it in three days in my living room.

Had you recorded like that before?

It’s been a while, but yeah. My first couple albums that I made when I lived i…
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Acoustic heartbreak in the Colorado San Juans with John Statz
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One more thing...

Local and independent journalism is under threat in the West and you can change that.  With corporate raiders slashing newsrooms across the West, the PULP is one of the "Last Locals" in Colorado to produce original, compelling journalism missing in today's profit hungry world. But that costs money, time and hard work. We don't believe in spamming you with ads that's why we need your help.

For every contribution, we put 100% back into producing original and amazing journalism. That's a promise only a local and independent newsroom can promise. Take heart because you will fuel stories just like this one and the future of journalism.
Continue Reading

One more thing...

Local and independent journalism is under threat in the West and you can change that.  With corporate raiders slashing newsrooms across the West, the PULP is one of the "Last Locals" in Colorado to produce original, compelling journalism missing in today's profit hungry world. But that costs money, time and hard work. We don't believe in spamming you with ads and that's why we need your help.

For every contribution, we put 100% back into producing original and amazing journalism. That's a promise only a local and independent newsroom can promise. Take heart because you will fuel stories just like this one and the future of journalism.

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