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Dean Pomerleau

CR Mini-Retreat in Costa Rica?

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Hi Dean and Gordo!

 

Nice!

 

One thing that I personally would be inclined to avoid is ayahuasca and pyote ceremony.

 

The rest of what your experience sounds great!

 

My course schedule, plus Spring Break at the University of Rochester, leaves me free from Thursday, March 8 until Sunday, March 18 inclusive.  That doesn't match either of the week long retreats that you mentioned  --  but I guess that I could fit in a week during that interval.

 

(Costa Rica has a lot better climate, and vegetation, then the US Northeast during that time interval.)

 

  --  Saul

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Wow from both of you so much of the good stuff is here, Gordo and Dean. Thank you again for the bright beautiful colors and descriptions, intensity and honesty. And these are tough experiences to describe without sounding like damned fools (which neither of you do). Words are only hints -- one gnarly finger pointing at that dead moon.

 

I did ayahuasca with my girlfriend in Peru a few years ago -- I was in a much different space back then, not "happy" (ahem, never have I known what consistent happiness could possibly mean to anyone) but certainly much, much happier then than now.

 

So I wonder what going through the ayahuasca experience all over again now -- while injured and nearly completely miserable -- would work out for me. Would it twist me down deeper into more terrifying honesty? Or would the purging be a long term benefit? Back then I thought similarly to how Dean is expressing it now: I had no need -- zero -- to ever venture into this powerful medicine's kingdom again.

 

Now, I feel differently, more cautious, yes, and even more respectful.

 

Many aspects of both of your experiences, Gordo and Dean, dear ones, resonate. This one from Dean sings to me

 

 

 

At one point I believe I was holding my arms outstretched and intertwined over my head. I felt I had become the movement of my arms, and I thought "this must be what Kendall feels when she dances."

 

Uliana Lopatkino moves her arms, this is how:

 

https://youtu.be/-T2UeKKac-s

 

As if her motion is yours, my motion is hers, his movement is theirs, ours is one, all of us, we're all one, we don't seem to get that truth in normal every day living, the grind, but we are connected by motion and divinity, as if these invisible energy strands bind us, everything is the same. Like Dean's puzzle pieces. Again, I sound the damned fool -- my ancestors were court gesters, according to family lore -- so trying to wrap words around insights -- no -- but I can dance it out plainly. Grace: that's enough.

 

 

 

... I had two other overriding feelings throughout the experience. First, there was a sense of certainty that this is how things really are; my everyday perception of things was just a shallow glance, a pale reflection of how things really exist - or don't exist, at least as individual, distinct entities.

 

Yes I like this, I felt the same. Has the experience lasted for you at all now that you're a few weeks removed from it? Sure, medicine sweet in the short term -- but the long term affects should stand on their own two feet, too. Do they? Will they? Was this just a one time cool, transformative experienced blessed upon you in the moment that's now fading fast? Or do we carry it through to the ends of our lives and possibly farther, if you believe in that sorta thing?

 

 

 

Second, there was a calm sense that everything was ok and exactly as it should be. Several times people were purging and I could seem them on their hands and knees at the edge of the ceremony site. I knew in the back of my mind I would normally feel badly for them, but I knew at that moment that it was exactly as it should be. It was ok that they were retching.

 

Neither you nor Gordo were (eek:violently) "sick" during the initial episodes. I was. Oh boy was I! My stomach ain't iron like yalls'. Retching itself was a powerful experience in and of itself, standing alone it was enough. It wasn't the terrible vomiting of a drunken state. It was more the release darkness inside that felt bottomless, and I could choose to stay there for hours, purging darkness that seems without end. Or stop it. Now. Rise toward the light. The visual fun you both describe is like following the light up and out of this deep well. And to me, oddly, this was one of the chief benefits of the ayahuasca experience: flying trapeze with dark ghosts. Again, sounds like nonsense.

 

 

 

The most powerful medicine on the planet.

Thank you again for your words, both of you are special people, we should probably meet in person some day. I hope that happens, anyway, life is strange. Please, I hope you'll both write more because I'm here to tell you that the experience will keep turning inside of you. And those upcoming shared insights may carry their own beauty and intensity.

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Thank you again for your words, both of you are special people, we should probably meet in person some day. I hope that happens, anyway, life is strange. Please, I hope you'll both write more because I'm here to tell you that the experience will keep turning inside of you. And those upcoming shared insights may carry their own beauty and intensity.

 

 

Yes, for me the "aya night" was the most important, most meaningful, most beautiful and wonderful, favorite part of the 12 days I was in Costa Rica (although the rest of my time in Costa Rica was also phenomenal, and I loved every day there, especially exploring the rainforests, volcanos, waterfalls, and rivers).

 

Dean mentioning the Om Mani Padme Hum that was played at one point during the ceremony aroused my curiosity since I had no idea what it meant:

https://youtu.be/owL1HNAV8qs

It turns out there is a wikipedia page for it:

"Oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ is the six-syllabled Sanskrit mantra particularly associated with the four-armed Shadakshari form of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion. The first word Om is a sacred syllable found in Indian religions. The word Manimeans "jewel" or "bead", Padme meaning the "lotus flower", the Buddhist sacred flower, while Hum represents the spirit of enlightenment."
 

I thought that was pretty cool, since the major lesson within my visions was almost completely focused on compassion, and the most emotional vision that brought me to tears (which so far I have only described to my wife and have not yet written about) prominently featured a living, jewel encrusted scorpion (before she turned into the beautiful jeweled scorpion, she was a very sick girl named Phara that my wife and I cared for in real life years ago, she touched our lives in a very special and unexpected way before leaving our world):

Scorpion-on-page.jpg

The spirit of enlightment portion (of Oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ) goes without saying ;)

I really did not expect the aya experience to be so personal, so vivid, or so moving.  Believe me, I will never forget it, and I will apply those lessons to my real life in a lasting way.  As for my comments about never doing aya again (i.e. if it was so great, why would you never want to do it again?) -- I elaborated a little more on that topic on my personal webpage (toward the end just before notes on safety)1.

Edited by Gordo

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By the way, the effect of psylocibin and analogs on human psyche has been scientifically studied and is detailed in one of Rhonda Patrick's podcasts, which I listened to recently and reccomend:

In Ayahuasca DMT is the psychoactive compound though.

I wonder if DMT can cause 'bad trips' like reported in the case of psylocibin and analogs. According to Dr. Griffiths, dosage is crucial to bad trips.

The 'good trips' recounted above by Gordo are inspiring trips into the higher astral realms. The bad trips, according to a metaphysical interpretations, are outings into the astral hells and can have long-term negative deleterious mental effect to the persons which had such experiences. In other words, your mental sanity can be compromised.

I googled 'Ayahuasca + bad trip' and numerous pages showed up. So apparently DMT is not without its dangers.

As far as I can reason, preparation and dosage is the absolutely basic point. An experienced Shaman knows by millenial experience that, beyond a certain dosage (which is admittedly difficult to adjust by empirical means), the inspirational, heavens-like trip becomes a nightmare.

I never tried hallucinogenic substances but what I heard from Dr. Griffiths about bad trips is enough to discourage me to ever try that.
 

Edited by mccoy

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The above messy post is caused by a bad site certificate and the apparent impossibility to deal with it with the Chrome settings. I'm goign to try and edit it on my home station in another browser.

 

 

Certificate updated, I was able to fix the post!

Edited by mccoy

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Thanks mccoy, I'll check that video out later.  As for bad experiences on aya, yes, it might even be the "king" of bad trips, haha.  The most epic one that I've read about was from Tim Ferriss (he is an author and minor celeb if you've never heard of him).  He described one of his trips as “the most painful experience I’ve ever had by a factor of a thousand. I felt like I was being torn apart and killed a thousand times a second for two hours.”  I would imagine such a thing could cause PTSD.  The crazy thing is that most people who have a negative experience still seem to think it was still worth it, and many of them, including Tim, go on to do it again (and again).  To me the repeat trips kind of indicate something wrong with the person doing this, but who am I to judge?  I'd like to know though if they are actually learning something new and useful from all these trips, or if it's just something they do for entertainment or maybe even self loathing in some cases.  

 

I completely understand the perspective of not wanting to take certain risks, but at the same time, there is something to be said for experiencing all that this world and life has to offer before your life is gone (as long as there isn't excessive risk that said activity is going to shorten or compromise your life ;)  

 

While in Costa Rica my wife and  I also rafted a river with class IV rapids, where several people have died over the years - this was another one of my top highlights of the trip, we also stayed in a hotel at the foot of a very active volcano that has launched huge boulders through the air just weeks prior, we could smell the sulfur, they even gave us evacuation routes, a major eruption could have killed us, and guess what, that too was a top highlight!  I also got incredibly close (probably too close) to a deadly viper in the jungle, and yet, you guessed it, exploring the rainforests were another top highlight ;).  I even got attacked by blood sucking ants, not once, but twice (no, not a top highlight! haha).  

 

If you want to spend your life holed up and avoiding all risk, you will probably die sad and lonely, and to top it off, you probably won't get the longevity you had hoped for.   All this said, I am not encouraging anyone to do anything they don't feel good about doing, caveat emptor.  If everyone I know did all the risky and/or crazy things I've done, I'm sure at least one person would get seriously harmed.

Edited by Gordo

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Gordo, if Tim ferriss has recounted his experience in a podcast I'll most surely listen to it! His podcast to celebrate the anniversary of the discovery of Rapamycin on the Easter Island, together with David Sabatini, the discoverer of mTOR, Navdeep chandler and Peter Attia is one of the absolute best I ever listened to.

 

Re. Dangers of ayahuasca: I can only guess you guys did your homework and found that the ceremony you were in on was led by experienced and cautious people. Those guys go back millennia in experimenting those concoctions so I figure they have a way to estimate an optimal dosage, even though empirically. 

 

Re. experiences in life. Probabilistically, I credit the model of multiple lives.That is, I find highly probable that this is not our only life, albeit it's the only one we remember. Across history, we've already lived most experiences.That's why I feel old sometimes. I must thank this forum which has given me the right attitude to feel young again. In this life. 

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Re. Dangers of ayahuasca: I can only guess you guys did your homework and found that the ceremony you were in on was led by experienced and cautious people. Those guys go back millennia in experimenting those concoctions so I figure they have a way to estimate an optimal dosage, even though empirically. 

 

When it comes to dosage, experience is very important.  The guy we went to is actually from Israel, and I don't consider him a "shaman" by the traditional definition of that word nor do I have any interest in such things.  He has been doing this for many years (I think 10 years total) and grows the 2 plants himself, we watched him making the drink (although that process actually takes days and involves repeatedly boiling down then adding more water, we didn't drink what we saw him making that night, ours had been prepared beforehand).

 

Its also quite wise to take it in increments, it peaks in your blood/brain after 1 hour and slowly dissipates for about 3 hours after that, so after 2 hours you can either drink a lot more if nothing happened, or a little more if you were good but coming down, or drink no more if you are in another world ;)  That's how they did it at the place we went.  I was first in line for drink #2 and feeling very energized, I remember when drink #3 was offered though, I was in another world, my visions had just told me I didn't need any more, and it was funny because Dean kind of jolted me back to this world for a minute and said something like "Hey Gordo, you want a 3rd cup?" and I remember just looking at him and shaking my head and saying "NNNNoooooo!" like a 3rd cup was the last thing on earth I would want, haha. I don't think I could have gotten up for it if I had even wanted to.

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Gordo wrote:

If you want to spend your life holed up and avoiding all risk, you will probably die sad and lonely, and to top it off, you probably won't get the longevity you had hoped for.   All this said, I am not encouraging anyone to do anything they don't feel good about doing, caveat emptor.  If everyone I know did all the risky and/or crazy things I've done, I'm sure at least one person would get seriously harmed.

 

You hit the nail on the head Gordo. You only live once, at least as far as we know.

 

In two weeks I'm taking my daughter skydiving as a final father-daughter adventure before we pack her up for college.

 

--Dean

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Gordo wrote:

If you want to spend your life holed up and avoiding all risk, you will probably die sad and lonely, and to top it off, you probably won't get the longevity you had hoped for.   All this said, I am not encouraging anyone to do anything they don't feel good about doing, caveat emptor.  If everyone I know did all the risky and/or crazy things I've done, I'm sure at least one person would get seriously harmed.

 

You hit the nail on the head Gordo. You only live once, at least as far as we know.

 

In two weeks I'm taking my daughter skydiving as a final father-daughter adventure before we pack her up for college.

 

--Dean

 

Awesome, have a great time!  I've done it before and it was amazing, its funny because when I did it they took video of every jumper then showed the videos back at the base when everyone was done... everyone else looked terrified, I was the only one with a huge grin as I jumped out of the plane.  Although to be honest I think I got more thrill out of bungee jumping, they actually shut down the operation I did that at after someone died.  We drove by this place in Monteverde Costa Rica called "Extremos" that has the longest bungee jump in central america:

extremo-park-bungee-1.JPG

I think my days of doing stuff like that are over, hah.

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I too have skydived once before - the fall of my own freshman year in college. I consider it a right of passage. That's why I'm taking my daughter at exactly the same age. 

 

We're both looking forward to it, but my wife is nervous for both of us. 

 

Dean

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Gordo wrote:

If you want to spend your life holed up and avoiding all risk, you will probably die sad and lonely, and to top it off, you probably won't get the longevity you had hoped for.   All this said, I am not encouraging anyone to do anything they don't feel good about doing, caveat emptor.  If everyone I know did all the risky and/or crazy things I've done, I'm sure at least one person would get seriously harmed.

 

You hit the nail on the head Gordo. You only live once, at least as far as we know.

 

In two weeks I'm taking my daughter skydiving as a final father-daughter adventure before we pack her up for college.

 

--Dean

 

Dean, I appreciate your and Gordo's POV, every decision in life is highly subjective and dependent upon one's own risk appetite, which is the same concept in business, investments and everyday's life.

 

Of course subjective mortality ratio increases when practicing dangerous activities (although I imagine the increase for a single dangerous event is very small or negligible compared to a frequent dangerous activity).

 

Besides, there might exist a mentally hormetic effect, that is we need some emotional stressor which shakes us out of the usual routine and makes the same routine more efficient, once back to everyday's activities. Providing we make it back, LOL!

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If we were ( more precise) biological machines we may compute the risk / benefit / probability / magnitude & distribution of consequences to the degree feasible in rea-time ( or with a statistical approximation given incomplete data for any choice). We aren't and don't though with borderline orthorexia we may get closer to that or an illusion of this in the domain of health optimization for some of us

 

Sure, we ( mostly heuristically) factor some of this to greater or lesser extent depending on the circumstances and person. In the end though many of our choices are a bypoduct of the the evolutionary biology intersecting with circumstances and the psychology and neuroscience behind it.

 

While the physiological contributors to that final neuron action potential achieving the point of no return, leading to a behavior is far more complex than we can fathom,as it is experienced, life is a journey, and the mystery of where it takes us is half the fun.

 

Back down to earth, this week it took me to a dinner get together in another city with other CR members - no parachuting involved, but it was way cool and a lot of fun! Great to meet everybody.

Edited by Mechanism

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Wow, what an inspirational trip and set of experiences all of you had. Please, anyone going there again keep us posted on your plans and experiences. And, if anyone wants to invite others to join in, then please let us know. I wouldn't feel comfortable going alone for my first trip there, but I'm convinced this is exactly the kind of trip that I need.

 

I just skimmed this thread, so I'll be studying it in detail. But I know I need to do this kind of trip sooner or later, and, hopefully, sooner than later.

 

I'm just blown away... way to go Dean!

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VeganCarbSmart,

 

Please, anyone going there again keep us posted on your plans and experiences. And, if anyone wants to invite others to join in, then please let us know.

 

Gordo and I have been toying with the idea of going back to Farm of Life. If our plans solidify, we'll definitely let you and everyone else know.

 

--Dean

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Funny this thread hasn't been touched in a long time, but I was just about to come and post to it when I find that it was already "reactivated".  My original reason for coming here today to post, was to thank Mccoy - I just got around to listening to that podcast he recommended (above) of Rhonda K. interviewing Dr. Griffiths of Johns Hopkins who has been conducting research on psilocybin.  It was a good interview, some of the things that stood out to me were the fact that his research subjects describe their experiences as some of the most important moments in their lives (I can identify).  Another thing that stood out was the discussion about neurogenesis.  It could be do to MANY factors like rest and relaxation, a stimulating environment with interesting people and activities or it could be related to the ayahuasca, but after that Costa Rica trip, I feel like my brain was somehow "reinvigorated" and stimulated in ways I haven't experienced in a long time.  I've just been filled with a thirst for knowledge, and I've started up several interesting hobbies, and I created a written 'bucket list' and goals, I've even started tracking dreams for fun and just all 'round changed my behavior.  I've felt like my brain is firing on all cylinders if that makes any sense, so much so that I decided to look into joining Mensa - I took one of the tests they accept for membership which said I was in the 99 percentile. I will probably join that group just to meet weirdos like myself and even further stimulate my mind and life experiences. 

 

Anyway, after listing to that interview, I thought, hey I'm not that far (2.5 hr drive) from Johns Hopkins, I should see if they are recruiting for any interesting new studies with psychedelics.  Much to my surprise, after a quick search today, I found:

https://www.reddit.com/r/shrooms/comments/70luud/johns_hopkins_is_recruiting_volunteers_for_a/

They actually ARE recruiting "healthy" as well as "depressed" people for two psilocybin studies RIGHT NOW.  I immediately called the number on the flyer, and talked to their research department (minutes ago).  Unfortunately they told me that my recent ayahuasca experience disqualified me from their study - they are looking for people who have not had a breakthrough experience yet.  Darn, I think it would have been pretty surreal and amazing to be administered high doses of psilocybin in their hospital while hooked up to an MRI watching my brain activity.  If anyone else is into furthering the science there, and is driving distance to Baltimore, check it out (and don't wait to sign up!).

 

In another wonderful coincidence, the place Dean and I went to (Sound of Light) for that ceremony, it turns out, actually documented the full process of making the very brew that we drank, I have a new appreciation now for how much work, time, and passion is involved, this is a 5 day time lapse:
(you have to right click to unmute or click a speaker icon at the bottom to turn on the sound)
Dean and I were there when this was being recorded, I wonder if I looked at the timelapse frame by frame if I could find a pic of us, that would be pretty funny, we did go back where they were brewing both after dark on June 22 and in the morning June 23, both times seem to be represented in the video briefly...
 

As for a return trip to Costa Rica - I am definitely interested, but I still need more time before I can do another ceremony.  To me it was just so intense and powerful I don't feel like I should do it again for a while (not sure when I'll feel otherwise).  I don't know how people do 3 or 4 ceremonies in one week (which is common if you go to a "retreat"), my body & mind would not accept that.  I wonder if there is some connection between "higher order thinking" and the way a person reacts to these compounds, I'm also an INTP Myers-Briggs personality type which probably plays a BIG part in the experience as well now that I think about it... This leads me to think it would make for a great study to examine to role of personaltiy type and IQ in the psychedelic experience, I should hook up with Dr. Griffiths although I don't care much about psilocybin, dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is SO much more interesting, unfortunately Johns Hopkins isn't currently doing anything with it.  An amazing thing about DMT is how pervasive it seems to be, it is produced in countless plants and animals, and also quite easy to legally obtain or grow, none of the plants that contain DMT are regulated in any country as far as I know.

 

Costa Rica is a fantastic place to visit either way though, I know I'll go back.  Airfare for me is also so reasonable ($250 round trip) and there are endless things to see and do plus great places to stay (Peace Lodge for example was the nicest place I've ever stayed, they also had wonderful buffets with lots of good vegan options).  Foodwize, you can get fresh produce all over the country, in the South they had really great, cheap, fresh picked strawberries everywhere, there are rambutan stands all over the country, people selling mango and fruit even at toll booths. Also found possibly the best vegan burger place on the planet, "Vurgers", wish I could get their recipes, they make their patties from scratch using garbanzos and quinoa as the foundation.  Of course I also highly recommend Farm of Life, a really peaceful place complete with a quirky owner and fresh vegan options all you can eat every day included, can't really beat it... 

 

 
Regards,
Gordo
Edited by Gordo

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Gordo, and I thank you for your hints to the Tim Ferriss experiences into Ayahuasca, which prompted me to listen to one of his podcasts. That episode mainly deals with the medical use of some psychedelic plants like Aya and the African Iboga. They describe ayahuasca as one of the most powerful hallucinogens, it is especially known to create extremely vivid visions. One thing which I didn't understand much, is its purgative effect. It is also called la purga in spanish, does it mean it acts as a powerful laxative, or an emetic, or both?

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One thing which I didn't understand much, is its purgative effect. It is also called la purga in spanish, does it mean it acts as a powerful laxative, or an emetic, or both?

 

Both, but more commonly emetic.  Some people say this is actually an important part of the whole experience, whereby the vomiting is considered cathartic, many describe it as negativity or even disease (metaphorically?) leaving their body.  Some believe it is even required to bring on the visions (as in, the visions don't kick in until they've purged).  Personally I think that's mostly a bunch of hooey.  If you fast before drinking (which Dean and I both did), there is basically nothing to vomit up except a shot glass worth of liquid.  In one of the aya articles in pubmed, they reported that less than half of aya drinkers in their study purged.  I remember reading somewhere that people who ritually drink ayahuasca rarely purge. 

 

Personality, Psychopathology, Life Attitudes and Neuropsychological Performance among Ritual Users of Ayahuasca: A Longitudinal Study

Looked at people with a mean frequency of ritual attendance of six times per month. The estimated average lifetime exposure to ayahuasca in this group ranged between 360 and 1080 times (OK, so they may not know what an average is, but still, 1080 times?  :unsure:  )

 

The traditional recipe is thousands of years old, and maybe could be improved.  The whole queasiness aspect is a HUGE barrier to many people, and may be unnecessary, the active components (DMT & harmine) probably do not cause this, and there are plenty of MAOIs out there that likewise do not have this side effect.  This has led to what some call "pharmahuasca".  I've never tried this alternative, it sounds like it might be an improvement over the "jungle version" however by removing some of the alkaloids you may also be removing some or possibly most of the beneficial compounds).   

 

Dr. Rick Strassman just injected his study group with pure DMT (in a hospital setting), which compresses the whole experience into 15 minutes, no getting sick.  Others vape/inhale it which apparently only takes 3 deep breaths and results in the same type of experience that Strassman's study group reported - an experience best summarized by Joe Rogan (note that he promotes some theories like DMT's role in dreaming as if they are fact, but that's really just speculation and probably not correct, would be great to see someone actually investigate that scientifically).

 

Joe: "There's no need to go to the rain forest".

 

(Note: The 15 minute experience is not comparable to an all night ayahuasca ceremony, I'm skeptical of the benefit and suspect there is much less, if any, personal integration possible with such an experience, but the descriptions are highly intriguing and entertaining nonetheless.  The alkaloids responsible for many if not all of the beneficial effects of ayahuasca are not present in this case).

 

Here is a relevant to this group, study just published:  

Nourishing the Spirit: Exploratory Research on Ayahuasca Experiences along the Continuum of Recovery from Eating Disorders.

Edited by Gordo

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