Many people ask me how I came to work with psychedelics and plant medicine. This is the story of how, I, a mother and a teacher developed a most unusual and unconventional profession.
I first learned about the healing potential of psychedelic plants several years ago. I had just graduated from college with a degree in psychology and a minor in Spanish. My two children were small then and to make ends meet, I was tutoring adult professionals Spanish. One of my clients, a respected psychiatrist, revealed to me throughout our weekly meetings that his purpose in learning Spanish was so that he could go to Peru and communicate with a group of elders called Curanderos. In Peru, he had tried the brew of a vine called ayahuasca which was an experience that changed not only his life but his view on humanity. He felt this had the potential to make him a better doctor. I was intrigued so I read some books he shared with me.
Despite my interest, going to Peru and leaving my young children behind was an impossible prospect at the time. I erroneously feared that altering my consciousness could threaten my ability to parent or function well in society. Had I known the breakthroughs that I would experience would have enhanced nearly every area of my life, I would have hopped on the first plane. But like many adults, I believed my life hung in a delicate balance that I dared not disturb with a foray into the unknown. I soon forgot about the curiosity and life went on.
I built a steady career and fulfilled my creative drives as an indie rock musician on the weekends. Life was busy, and the engagement of motherhood enough for me to ignore my mild dissatisfaction and low-level anxiety.
My first plant medicine journey was not until fifteen years later when my youngest daughter graduated from high school.
It changed everything.
Far from the manic, dissociative -party paradigm 0that stigmatizes psychedelic use, my experience was profound, peaceful and deeply spiritual. The beautiful unfolding of that night could fill the pages of a book. There was this sense that the plants had been there all along-waiting, as if no time had passed. The short story is that I felt the profound love of the universe vibrating in every cell of my body and wondered why and where I had forgotten this all-encompassing truth.
The experience was life-changing, but as many people do, I found it difficult to re-enter the life I knew. You can’t unknow the incredible truths that are revealed in a plant medicine journey. It can be frustrating when you see that the world is living in a state of unnecessary pain and suffering. The result can be sort of a healing-crisis.
Returning to work was painful. I looked around and wondered, “Where was the empathy? The compassion? The love? How could people not realize the benevolent consciousness all around us?” I saw the misery and exhaustion in the faces of those around me and it made my heart ache.
With newly open eyes, I could see the way that we often impose stress on ourselves and others. I saw people working themselves to exhaustion with little gain. I saw how many people heavily medicated themselves simply to get through the day. I could no longer be a part of it.
I knew I could not sustain this lifestyle. No matter how much love, authenticity, and passion I put into my work, it was never enough. I began to practice meditation and mindfulness as a way to cope with the challenges of a typical workday. But simply coping was not really the way I wanted to live. I knew I was capable of more; I knew others were capable of more. Our true nature gets buried beneath stress, negative thoughts and sheer exhaustion.
Changing My Career
My pursuit of mindfulness led me – reluctantly at first – toward the path of life-coaching.
My initial perception of life-coaching was that it was a somewhat corny, adult-cheerleader type of profession. I’ve always been a cheeky, irreverent soul with a strange sense of humor. I have a disdain for quixotic thinking. Good thing life-coaching is nothing like that. A great life coach will call you on your BS, identify limiting beliefs, make you laugh, and be present with you while you cry. She will help you break up destructive thinking patterns and help you to bravely look at your shadow material and perhaps even transform your darkest patterns into your greatest strengths.
I soon began to notice an awakening within me; a sense of purpose that Buddhists may call dharma. I knew I wanted to be a coach. I wanted nothing more than to unearth the brilliance inside others.
The Intersection of Life Coaching and Microdosing
This story begins in my body. After many falls as a figure skater in my youth, I had amassed scar tissue in my pelvis causing nerve pain and neuropathy to my left foot. The available treatments for that included opiates, steroid shots, or low-dose antidepressants. None of these things were remotely okay with me. My home is filled with organic foods, my medicine cabinet is all plant-based natural cures and I don’t even own a microwave.
Through my research, I found exciting studies about the abilities of certain mushrooms to stimulate nerve growth. I was unable to find stories about neuropathy but I just had a feeling that they could help me.
I concocted a mix of powdered psilocybin mushrooms and lions mane, and created capsules out of this mix. I took them with a large dose of alpha-lipoic acid and fish oil (two other compounds pro-indicated for neuropathy.)
I was wary. I didn’t want to start out a busy day by accidentally tripping. For many people who have had the technicolor mystical experience of a full dose of mushrooms, it can be hard to conceive of a sub-perceptual dose. But I had extensively researched the microdosing process, and I read many accounts of people who could microdose and function in their families, at work and in public.
At first, I didn’t really feel anything. I had played it too safe. Another time, I overdid it and felt incapable of accomplishing anything but a profound wonder at the dew on the yuccas and the changing fall colors in the park. It was pleasant but not functional. Eventually, through trial and error,I found the right balance.
The tingling and numbness in my left foot seemed to subside (to be fair, since I was also taking alpha-lipoic acid and fish oil, it was hard to be sure which of my efforts was helping). I became aware that I was returning to myself somehow. I felt a quietness deep inside that gently resonated in all of the parts of my body. I had more patience and an easy sense of empathy for those around me. There was an emerging calm, kindness and focus. The natural curiosity I knew as a child returned as judgement subsided. That feeling was both familiar and new.
It occured to me that pervasive kindness and empathy could heal not only individuals but possibly even humanity.
Inventing a Career
I immersed myself in learning about therapeutic psychedelics as I walked myself through the process of healing. I searched resources and sought advice from experts. There was a great deal of information but much of it was scattered. The plethora of Reddit inquiries reinforced my awareness of the need for clear guidance. People who were asking for advice received a myriad of responses, often contradictory. What I needed was a coach.
The etymology of the word coach comes from the actual drivers of coach carriages whose job it was to get you from where you were to where you wanted to be. In the modern sense of the word, a coach is someone who will clearly know your destination and help get you there. There are coaches who can help you navigate divorce, forge a new career, become a better boss, lose weight, and any number of things. A coach can help someone be successful at whatever they want to do. What I wanted to do was use psychedelics to help create my best life.
I couldn’t find a coach in my area with this specific niche, so I became one.
Through my research, I found The Third Wave and got to know the founder, Paul Austin. I did twelve weeks of extensive coaching, which focused on microdosing and my own healing journey. Through this program, I learned more about psychedelic theory. I became clear about what I did and didn’t want, and learned the best ways to recognize and use expanded states of consciousness.
I experimented with how I could use diet, meditation, and supportive herbs and mushrooms to fine-tune the microdosing process. I attended meetings, lectures and conferences on consciousness, plant medicines, and psychedelics.
From what I learned, I created a working model for helping others. As people learned about what I was doing, I gradually began to attract clients. While I worked with people I kept careful observations on their experiences and individual needs.
People are drawn to microdosing for diverse reasons. Some are seeking better focus, others want to overcome addiction, or find relief from depression and anxiety. Some are just curious. I made it my purpose to learn how to support those who sought my services and help fulfill their diverse goals.
A typical session
Microdosing is process of transformation. I usually work with clients weekly for a period of 5-12 weeks, sometimes longer, sometimes shorter. Before I work with a client, I send out a few basic questionnaires to get an understanding of where they are mentally and physically. Life stressors, environmental toxins and traumatic experiences can cause patterns of imbalance that prevent us from enjoying life and realizing our potential. I help people to find balance and uncover that potential.
During our first session we get to know each other and develop a clear picture of their goals and intentions. Since microdosing can create a state of increased neuroplasticity, we want to make sure we shape the experience in the way that we want it to go. Intentions are an important part of microdosing. Once we’ve clarified intention, we go to work on the protocol. Over the ensuing weeks we work on bringing out the magic.
Impact and Results
Here are some of the things people report from their microdosing experience.
“I noticed I felt anxiety today but it didn’t bother me as much since I wasn’t wrapped up in it, I could identify what was triggering me and it wasn’t that big of a deal.”
“Something happened today that normally would have made me furious, but I found myself feeling more curious than angry.”
“I feel more empathy and patience for others.”
“I feel like going outside more.”
“I feel more connected to people.”
“I feel like myself again.”
Microdosing creates a marked state of openness toward life. This fluid mind-state helps people consider alternative and creative solutions to life problems. When people feel more patience with others they feel more patience for themselves. This a perfect climate for positive change.
Microdosing is not for everyone but, more often than not, people find the experience surprising, rewarding, and transformative. My love of coaching continues to grow with every client. I get to witness miracles happen as people peel back the layers of trauma, disappointment, fear and judgment and see them uncover their true genius.
I am committed to empowering people around the process of microdosing and psychedelic integration working with clients is my passion.
_Sarah Hope is a spiritual teacher, professional life coach and certified nature retreat leader. She is an interfaith minister, ceremonialist and trained guide of entheogenic (soul awakening) journeys. She has degrees in Psychology, Spanish and Education and is the author of the blog Souldaring.
As a coach and instructor, she works both individually and with groups. Her unique approach to this practice is to guide people back to themselves and so that they may fulfill their unique contribution to humanity. In this work she is committed to the expansion of consciousness, not only for the individual, but for the good of humanity.