Mr. Michael Dow is a psychotherapist and New York Times bestselling author. Well-known as “America’s Go-To Doctor,” Dr. Mike has hosted shows on TLC, VH1, E!, Investigation Discovery, and Logo, and is part of Dr. Oz’s core team of experts. He has admirably brought consciousness expansion and mindfulness to the forefront of mainstream culture. He joins Ronan to talk about his experiences with losing his brother at an early age, his study of sexology and mindfulness, his spiritual evolution, traditional therapy vs psychedelic therapy, growing up as a gay person of color, how genes can impact our mental health, and more!
Mr. Michael Dow is a psychotherapist and New York Times bestselling author. Well-known as “America’s Go-To Doctor,” Dr. Mike has hosted shows on TLC, VH1, E!, Investigation Discovery, and Logo, and is part of Dr. Oz’s core team of experts. He has admirably brought consciousness expansion and mindfulness to the forefront of mainstream culture. He joins Ronan to talk about his experiences with losing his brother at an early age, his study of sexology and mindfulness, his spiritual evolution, traditional therapy vs psychedelic therapy, growing up as a gay person of color, how genes can impact our mental health, and more!
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[00:00:00] Mike Dow: [00:00:00] I had this experience of feeling at one with the universe, and I saw these stars and- this was just a couple of months ago- and I knew in that moment that all the stars were living beings who had passed, and that one of the stars was my grandfather, and after I was coming out, uh, Dr. Randy, our director of consciousness, he said, "well, how's he doing? Is he okay?" I said, "yeah, my grandpa's okay."
Ronan: [00:00:38] Hello, everyone. And welcome to Field Tripping. Today, we have an incredibly special guest with us: Dr. Mike Dow, a New York Times bestselling author and also a Field Trip therapist. But before we get into the conversation with Mike, we wanted to give you an update and provide you with some news to trip over, some [00:01:00] information about recent developments in psychedelics and, and mental health. Uh, so you can be apprised of everything that's going on in the world, in this incredibly exciting sphere.
Uh, so first up: one piece of news is that cancer patients in the U.S. are increasingly seeking access to psilocybin, under the U S Right To Try Act, a law that allows people with life-threatening conditions to use drugs that may not, that may help, but have not been approved by the FDA. Psilocybin is one such drug.
The D.A. has rejected patient applications to date based on the controlled substances act, which lists psilocybin as a schedule- one drug, but a lawsuit, which we're actually indirectly supporting through Field Trip, has now been filed against the agency to enable access. So it's a very exciting development and in fact, I believe eight district attorneys in the U.S. are supporting the lawsuit, so there's a lot of momentum here. On the scientific [00:02:00] front, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Toronto have found that the experience of awe, which is defined as novelty and vastness, is shown to make us happier and contribute to greater life satisfaction, to make us care more about other people, and to increase our humility.
This research has shown that awe can make us think more critically, expand our perception of time, and lead to less materialism. The reason this is so interesting in my mind is because the experience of awe is one of the common experiences in psychedelics, that people after a psychedelic experience have a deeper connection to the profound. And I think so much of the value of a psychedelic experience can be found in that. And now we're seeing scientific evidence to support that, independent of psychedelics, but certainly it seems relevant for the overall emergence of psychedelic therapies.
Secondly, a research study showed that different people have different [00:03:00] capacities to metabolize LSD. Poor metabolizers, people who have non-functional CYP2D6 enzymes, experienced longer and more intense psychedelic effects than metabolizers with functional CYP2D6 enzymes.
As we get more data, pharmacogenomic tests prior to psychedelic experiences will likely become more important to determine an individual's ideal drug dose. In fact, personally, we invested in a company that has been doing genetic tests specific to cannabis use in a person's metabolism for cannabis, but they're now expanding that to include metabolism of psychedelics.
Classical psychedelics activate the serotonin receptor known as 5-HT2a to exert their effects. Some molecules that look very similar to psychedelics activate the same or similar receptors, but lack psychedelic effects, have recently been synthesized. One of these molecules, which I'm going to mispronounce entirely, uh, taburna- tho-, [00:04:00] taburnatho-,
I don't know, Mike, can you even pronounce that one for me? I don't know if you know that. Tub burnen- thothalog, has shown promise in animal models of depression and addiction. Uh, new study in mice demonstrates that it may also be able to combat negative effects of stress.
So with all that said today, joining us on the podcast is Dr. Michael Dow, psychotherapist and New York Times bestselling author. Inspired by his brother, who suffered a massive stroke when he was just 10 years old, an experience I can't possibly imagine, and I really don't want to bring up, bring up past traumas, but I'm really curious to understand the experience a lot more.
Dr. Mike has made it his personal mission to help others in their quest for health and happiness. While known as America's go-to doctor, Dr. Mike has hosted shows on TLC, VH1, E!, Investigation, Discovery, and Logo in as part of Dr. Oz's core team of experts. He has admirably brought consciousness-expansion and mindfulness to the forefront of [00:05:00] mainstream culture, and we are excited to discuss his unique background and wisdom in psychopharmacology, clinical hypnosis, and the importance of psychedelic- assisted therapy.
Mike, thank you for joining us today and welcome to Field Tripping.
Mike Dow: [00:05:13] Ronan, thank you so much for having me. I am delighted to be here on the podcast.
Ronan: [00:05:19] It's awesome to have you. I mean, uh, for everybody who's listening, Mike joined us, I don't know how long has it been now? I've lost all sense of time and frame in this universe, but -
Mike Dow: [00:05:28] Six months? I think about six months, yeah.
Ronan: [00:05:31] Wow. And all right. So how has it been? Give that, give us some real feedback so far?
Mike Dow: [00:05:36] Uh, it has been absolutely life-changing. It is everything that I hoped it would be. As you know, I stalked Field Trip because I had a colleague who is one [of] your, uh, heads, uh, in Toronto. And, you know, after hearing her experience, I stalked you guys, I begged for the job and I, it has honestly exceeded my expectations- sitting in the [00:06:00] Field Trip clinic in Santa Monica, helping patients through this journey, it is, talking about awe, it is awe-inspiring. I just, uh, the other day, I remember seeing this look of awe on one of the patients' face, uh, in her first medicine session. So it's just, it is awe-inspiring. I'll say that.
Ronan: [00:06:19] That's awesome. Thank you for sharing that. I'm glad the experience has been positive for you. But before we get there, I, in every podcast, I love to learn about a person's path, how you got to this particular moment and where you get to talk face-to-face with my ugly face about all things psychedelics.
So, uh, take me, take me on your journey, uh, and please share with us, uh, about that experience being a kid, um, and having your brother suffer a massive stroke, which I can't even possibly imagine, but it sounds like it had a, a major impact, but maybe in a good way, in some ways too.
Mike Dow: [00:06:53] I think so. You know, I think like all of the people who come to us at Field Trip, with every [00:07:00] post-traumatic stress disorder, there is also post-traumatic growth. And I can certainly say that the traumas that I went through and my brother went through certainly colored who I am, it made me, uh, more compassionate, it, it sort of birthed the seed in me, when I was just in high school, and I knew that I wanted to help other people. And I was also so fascinated with the brain's ability to heal. So, you know, my brother had a truly massive stroke, so massive that the doctors told us when he was 10 years old, that you're going to have to put them in a nursing home for the rest of his life-
Ronan: [00:07:33] Jesus.
Mike Dow: [00:07:34] And he's not going to be able to be functional. Well, I can tell you today that my brother walks, talks, drives, is in a relationship, uh, has traveled the world. And so he really exceeded people's expectations. And I credit my father, um, who was a physician, uh, working primarily, uh, at the end of his career before he passed, uh, for the VA hospitals, uh, taking care of veterans in the United States. [00:08:00] And, you know, he really made sure my brother was getting high dose fish oil and a lot of things, and a lot of experimental therapies at the time. So isn't it so interesting that some of the things that my father was helping my brother with, that I witnessed and I saw my brother exceed expectations, when they told him and my family, there's nothing you can do or not much you can do. That sounds very similar to a lot of people who come to us with these mental illnesses, and they say, well, my, my so-and-so, you know- whatever the provider was- told me that's about all I could do for you, right? But they still want more, they still want more relief. They still want more peace. They want more happiness. They want the panic attacks to stop. They want to be able to sleep well. They want to feel good.
So I feel like that experience really shaped me. So of course I became, I got my master's and then my doctorate, um, you know, I had a private practice psychotherapy doing and then TV called about, oh gosh, 10 years ago. And then I started doing books, but then, um, so I, I trained to just about everything and then I needed some continuing [00:09:00] education for my license, and I saw this thing about clinical hypnosis, right? I'm like, well, okay. It was the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis. They train- it's sort of like the training center for mental health professionals who want to integrate this altered state, this non-ordinary state of consciousness called clinical hypnosis.
Well, I flew to Austin, Texas for this, I think it was like the beginning track was like four days or something. And frankly, I didn't really believe in hypnosis. I frankly just picked it because I needed hours. And my best friend lived in Austin, so I wanted to go somewhere, right? So, and then day one, we had to hypnotize each other. So I'm with this doctor, you know, this person is hypnotizing me and I fell so deep into trance like that, and it was beyond anything I'd ever experienced. I'd done mindfulness meditation for 10,000+ hours, I used to teach mindfulness meditation, two classes a week in the evenings, and it was like, what was that?
And I knew that the healing potential is great. So, you know, that was, so then I wrote a book about [00:10:00] hypnosis, Your Subconscious Brain Can Change Your Life, and then of course the next logical step was well, this non- and then I used it in my practice. So I'm I'm healing, trauma, depression, PTSD, this new bag of tricks that I had within the clinical hypnosis realm.
And then my partner, who's an ER doctor, and I looked at this training, this ketamine -assisted psychotherapy training. And I thought, well, this is sort of the next logical step. I had no idea what to expect. And I can tell you my partner and I were sitting in a room and coincidentally, the universe was speaking, the training was again in Austin, Texas. Uh, so we're there for, I think, five days in a room with 30 MDs and PhDs. And it was so life-changing, it was, you know, if, if talk therapy is, you know, uh, a three, hypnosis can take you, in terms of awe and wonder in this non-ordinary, non-ordinary state of consciousness to a six. Well, ketamine assisted psychotherapy takes it to about, uh, on a scale of one to ten, a hundred twenty six, right? So
Ronan: [00:10:59] Not [00:11:00] 127, but 126.
Mike Dow: [00:11:04] Yeah, exactly. 126. And the things that I was hearing other people say- my own personal experience, um, experiencing ego death and how that changed everything even today, you know, the way I see the world, the way I interact with others- hearing some of the things in that training. You know, I remember this one MD, she was probably, I don't know, in her fifties. And she said, I think in the session today, after, you know, 30 years of therapy, I think I just forgave my biological mother for giving me up for adoption.
Ronan: [00:11:34] Wow.
Mike Dow: [00:11:35] And I would like to say, what is, what is this medicine? What is, what is this journey when you combine the power of, of therapy with this incredible medicine? I heard another practitioner say that her, her husband, and she was pretty young, her husband- she must've been probably thirties, forties- her husband suddenly died of a heart attack two years before, was in weekly psychotherapy, and she said, this two hour [00:12:00] journey was as effective as, you know, I think a hundred sessions of talk therapy. And I'm not talking, I'm not taking away from talk therapy because there's a time and a place, and actually the work that we do at Field Trip deepens, traditional cognitive behavioral talk therapy and that's, and that's wonderful, uh, but for certain people and for certain conditions, I have now personally seen how we at Field Trip are really digging deep, deep, deep, the layers and layers. So if you look at the negative thoughts that we address with cognitive behavioral therapy, we are digging a hundred layers deeper to say, "where did that come from? Where did that start?" Um, so that's my journey and I could not be happier.
Ronan: [00:12:38] Cool. Thank you for sharing that. Uh, I have some deeper questions and some more fun questions, but I know in your bio, you're also a clinical sexologist or practice clinical sexology, and I have absolutely no idea what that is or how, what that entails. So would you mind sharing that? And then I really want to ask more questions about like the experience of, of your brother's stroke and all that [00:13:00] kind of stuff, cause I'm just deeply curious about it and for some personal parallels, but let's start with clinical sexology. What exactly is that?
Mike Dow: [00:13:07] Yeah, so it's basically my training to also be a sex therapist. You know, I'm a person of color. My dad is, uh, was born in South Korea. He immigrated to this country. I'm also a gay man. So, you know, I feel like, uh, my, my sexology training- and that by the way is actually my second doctorate- I first got a Sidi in, in psychology and then a PhD in sexology, um, and really working with a lot of transgender patients, a lot of non-binary patients and really helping people to color with every color in that Crayola box, their life, uh, and, and really helping people with all sorts of different disorders, uh, when it relates to sex, uh, fetishes, um, incorporating those into their sex life and how that can be a part of people's healing as well.
Ronan: [00:13:54] Oh, okay. Interesting. I, uh, I honestly knew nothing about it and, and clearly as evidenced by [00:14:00] my question, I didn't take it with the gravity that it, it sounds like it very much deserves. Sometimes it's so easy to have a very, you know, heteronormative white male perspective on things. And, and so I thought it would be something a lot more, have a lot more levity to it, but it does sound actually profoundly quite serious. Um, and, uh, yeah. Um, that's amazing. Um, uh, I'm curious to, we'll come back to that, but take me back to when you were a kid and, and particularly- I'm, I'm curious to know that when you had your first ketamine session and I assume, but I don't know that you've had subsequent experiences with it outside of training, but you can clarify that.
Did any of that stuff come up? You know, I, my, my wife, Stephanie, uh, her sister, uh, when Stephanie was, I think about 18 had a brain tumor, uh, and it, you know, it was removed and her sister's alive and doing well. And, you know, there are some consequences as a result of it, [00:15:00] but, you know, Steph every once in awhile, is pretty open about how probably a lot of her late teenage rebellion may have been triggered by the trauma and the stress that probably at the time she wasn't aware of in terms of the depth of how much it affected her. I mean, obviously, you know, there was a lot of concern and stress going on, but the depth of it is, is probably still coming to light. And so I'm curious to know. You know, through your ketamine experiences or otherwise, have you been able to unpack that and see beyond the inspiration that clearly your father- who sounds like he was an amazing figure in, in this experience- um, brought, you know, how, how did it affect you and how did it change your perspective on the world and how you view yourself?
Mike Dow: [00:15:46] That is a great question. And I will say absolutely a hundred percent. It, it came up, so it came up in a rather indirect way. Um, and by the way, the other profound [00:16:00] experience that I had this year, um, losing my grandfather to COVID, um, that also came up in a recent, uh, ketamine assisted psychotherapy session that I personally had. I think it comes up in a, you know, if talk therapy is using the left hemisphere and logic and how do I make sense of that? Right? I feel like that's a very talk therapy way to process trauma. Um, ketamine kind of accesses things in a very different way. I think a more feeling way. Um, so one of the experiences I had, uh, the ego death and feeling at one with all living creatures and knowing not, not, uh, not, uh, well, somebody told this to me, so I believe it to be true knowing, but an experiential knowing that it's really hard to put into words. Um, I really got this sense that, oh, our bodies are simply garages for our souls. And I, I had that spiritual [00:17:00] experience and I, and I think I also, there are a lot of images and, and, um, metaphors that were very visual. So, you know the love of a mother and my brother and I, and now my partner in all of the love in the world, um, I could sort of, I was in it and I felt it. And that sort of in this indirect way helped me to come to terms with my trauma and, and how that shaped me in my attachment style, um, in, in my family, as a child, and then later in life in my romantic relationships and even my friendships. And then also, you know, I think this is a really sort of more direct example: I had this experience of feeling at one with the universe and I saw these stars and- this was just a couple of months ago- and I knew in that moment that all the stars were living beings who had passed, and that one of the stars was my grandfather. And after I was [00:18:00] coming out, uh, Dr. Randy, our director of consciousness, he said, "well, how's he doing? Is he okay?" I said, "yeah, my grandpa's okay." So isn't it so interesting that that feeling in that one moment was like, oh, that sort of healed and, and helped me to grieve in a way that is so, so different than traditional talk therapy. And again, and, and then of course I could take that to a talk therapy session as you and I are talking about it now, but I think it's a good example to see, and to understand how ketamine assisted psychotherapy works in a very, very different, deeper, more experiential way than any other therapy I think we have on the face of the planet.
Ronan: [00:18:39] Yeah. That totally resonates with me. Um, you know, I like to, I came up with a term- maybe I'm not so creative. Maybe some people have come up with this before, but, uh, the idea of effing the ineffable, right? Like how do we give context to, for people like people who haven't had these experiences, it's like, these [00:19:00] words are generally inadequate at, at expressing it, you know, th the, the feelings of it, right? And I just recently did a, a session with, uh, Irwin who I work with. Um, no psychedelics involved. This was just a session. I was talking about a very bizarre dream, uh, that I had. And he was like, "oh yeah, there's probably, you know, that, that girl from, from your grade school." and I'm like, "I didn't say that. How did you know that?" And that's just kind of Irwin. He can pick that stuff up. Um, but like the emotion associated with it, it's like just in the re-feeling of it, he talked about this idea of remembering, not being this idea of recalling a fact, but literally being putting back together. If you think about what dismembering is remembering is is the put back together. So those pieces of that you, that got lost either through childhood trauma or otherwise this whole process of remembering it's not a logical thing. It comes to those deep emotions, those experiences that [00:20:00] are quite literally ineffable. And it, and it sounds, um, like you you've had that experience. And, and one of the things I, I mean, Randy is fantastic. And for the listeners, uh, Dr. Randy is our medical director for our Santa Monica clinic, as well as our director of consciousness at Field Trip. And it takes someone who's got a special characteristic to look at you and say in all seriousness, "like how did it feel to see your grandfather up there?" Because, for most people in the western world, it's like, "oh, that's a nice idea, but my guess is, and what I'm picking up from you is that this is an idea- this was very real for you. You know, it, wasn't just this abstract concept, but real, and that's what, what moves it. And I think that's really special. How, how do you, I mean, it sounds like you're pretty open to, but how do you deal with those awe moments? Have you ever struggled as a, as a clinical therapist, you know, trained in a modern western [00:21:00] scientific perspective, incorporating those experiences of awe, or dealing with patients who have those, and was there ever any challenges with that or is it something that comes pretty naturally to you?
Mike Dow: [00:21:10] I think I've always been that sort of right brained, you know, my Myers-Briggs type is an ENF-J. I am open, uh, I love new experiences. I love sensation. I'm a bit of a sensation seeker. I'm a very spiritual, um, human being. When I had my, uh, when my buddy, Dr. Amen, scanned my brain, he told me that I have a God spot, uh, which, uh, has been, uh, published in research that people have these deep spiritual beliefs, you can actually see it in their brain, but then it's sort of the, what came first, the chicken or the egg, a question. So I think it's always been there. So, you know, I use a lot of these very dry models, uh, but I've- like cognitive behavioral therapy, which, you know, is, is sort of in 2021, still the gold standard. But I have to tell you, the, the downfall is if that's all you're trained in, it feels very [00:22:00] rote and mechanical and logical. And when you have a condition like depression or you're grieving, or you're starting over after a divorce, you know, I don't think you can have a full whole person centered way of healing without incorporating the spiritual. So, you know, earlier on in my career, I got trained in a lot of mindfulness-based therapies like DBT, dialectical behavioral therapy, um, MBCT mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, which sort of weaves CBT with mindfulness practices. Um, so I think I've always been that. And I think the people who see me know that about me and that's why they, they come back to me because they somehow find that really rewarding.
Uh, but I think if we- as scientists, as doctors, clinicians, researchers- I think we have to acknowledge that we are spiritual beings. So one of the assessments that is used in research with, uh, psychedelic ex uh, psychedelic-assisted [00:23:00] psychotherapies is that mystical experiences scale. And, you know, what is the correlation with having that awe-inspiring experience or mystical experience, uh, with happiness or negatively correlated with depression, anxiety, PTSD? Um, one of my favorite quotes was, one of the subjects in the psilocybin study who was a hardcore atheist, who said, "I felt bathed in-" I'm going to generally, this is what I think she said: "I felt bathed or held, um, in the love of God." And somebody has said to her, "but you're an atheist." She said, "I know that's, but that's somehow the only way I can describe it." And to me, I was like, oh, that is such a great story. And, and that I think is why we help our patients who come to Field Trip, Field Trip to us around the world to actually get better in a really deep and profound way.
Ronan: [00:23:54] Yeah, I completely agree. And I think that's amazing. I'm going to ask what may sound like a glib question, but [00:24:00] I think it's important and I'm just, I'm really riffing off questions because you're a therapist and I've never really sat down and had a conversation on kind of an intellectual level with a therapist about all the work you do and how it works and all that kind of stuff. But I know this seems glib but, two of the big reasons that I feel like people may be resistant to therapy. And the thing that excites me so much about psychedelics is not so much, um, the profound results that we're seeing, which are amazing and fantastic, but rather they are what I believe will be the springboard to open people up to their emotions, to spirituality, all these kinds of things. You don't need psychedelics to do that, they're just a very effective tool. But the real goal is kind of that last piece, open people up. But a lot of people I know are very resistant to that. And so, uh, one question I have is like, what is the purpose of therapy? You know, when you kind of really drill down, if you're going to sell me like on therapy, whether it's psychedelic assisted therapy or otherwise, what is the purpose of it? Because I [00:25:00] know, at least for me, even it comes up still, is that like, it feels like a never ending process, right? Like that's one of the big things. It's not like a, a conventional medical treatment or there's metrics and results that are very easy to delineate and communicate, it just feels like you're kind of on this long road and, um, that's, that's a big challenge. And, and because of that and because people are not necessarily sure what the purpose is like is the purpose to find happiness is the purpose to find, you know, relief is the purpose to end suffering. Is it all of them? Is it none of them? These are questions that often don't get discussed I don't think, in terms of, oh, you should see a therapist. Why, what, what, what's the purpose? I mean, on some levels it becomes an existential question of like, why are we here on Earth in the first place? What's the purpose of life? Um, and I think it ties into that, but I'm curious to know how you'd answer that question.
Mike Dow: [00:25:50] I think therapy is connection and caring and it's interesting to think back, uh, hundreds of years before therapy [00:26:00] was a profession, how did we get caring and connection when we lived, you know, let's go back thousands of years when we lived in, you know, first small villages and, and before that, tribes. It, it was not a quote, profession. It is a fundamental part of the human experience.
Ronan: [00:26:17] RIght.
Mike Dow: [00:26:17] So if you have somebody who, you know, in an object relations, uh, psychotherapy model, would function as a surrogate caretaker. And the relationship you have with your therapist is, is somehow, uh, helping you to form a better attachment because you didn't have that. Or in CBT, it's sort of more like the therapist is the expert in the teacher and and the scientist helping you to, uh, identify, um, negative thoughts and correct them by talking back to them. But across all therapies, it's about a relationship of caring and trust, which is why I think it works right? Don't we all want to be cared for? Don't we all want to be listened [00:27:00] to? Don't we all want to say that the way I'm feeling is valid and to have insight and to drill down? Shouldn't we give ourselves that gift? And isn't it fundamental to the human experience? Are you going to, on your death bed, regret not doing that extra two hours of work from, you know, Tuesday from five to 7:00 PM, or- you're probably never going to regret that- but if you go through your entire life without leaving for, for work and, and maybe going to a therapy appointment and you discover something about yourself, something that maybe you forgot. Um, and you feel this, this real connection. I, I do feel in some way, I mean- in another way, not- but in some way that all the patients that I've ever treated in some ways are sort of like children. I formed, most of my people have been with me, uh, for, for years. Some of them have been with me for over a decade. I would say most of them. And you form these long-term bonds and you, you know, you get the sensation of: I'm cared for. I'm not alone in the [00:28:00] world. Um, a lot of people come to me in the highs and the lows of their life. They don't come to see me every week, but certainly I get a text or a call, uh, when they lose somebody. So I am that guy for these people and you, you simply know that you are cared for and not alone. And that I think is what therapy is truly all about.
Ronan: [00:28:19] Yeah, no. As soon as you started answering the question, what came up for me, uh, was being able to be yourself, and not be in fear of judgment, you know? And almost every other relationship in your life, there's a, there's a fear of judgment. Um, uh, less so, you know, with sort of a mother and child, but, um, in almost every other relationship and even with mother, you know, the mother-child relationship, it's hard, right? Because you don't want to disappoint your mother, but with, uh, with a therapist, you can sit and be yourself and not be in judgment. And at least for me, that's an incredibly powerful, powerful experience. And I guess it speaks a lot
Mike Dow: [00:28:59] It's [00:29:00] authentic, and also- as you're talking, isn't it also so pure to not have to posture, to not have to ask, "oh gosh, I've been talking about myself for 20 minutes. Now I have to give 20 minutes for you." It's just so pure too, right? There's- it's so pure. There's no posturing. There's no, I have to wear this hat or be this person. Uh, it's just so organic.
Ronan: [00:29:19] Yeah, no, that's beautiful. Um, thank you for that. That actually helps crystallize my thinking of it because like, so it's so easy to get lost in the words and the terms like therapy, cognitive, behavioral, dialectical, behavioral therapy, and it loses meaning. But at the end of the day, it's really about having an opportunity to really be yourself without fear of judgment or shame or anything along those lines. Um,
Mike Dow: [00:29:45] Yeah.
Ronan: [00:29:47] Uh, I have a, I have a long thing I wrote down and I'm going to read it because I think it's actually, um, really relevant and I'd really like to dive into it. Um, but I want to sort of articulate it in the way that, um, I think I can most [00:30:00] effectively communicate it, which is a couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine, uh, posted something on Facebook that was critical of the state of Israel and the situation with the Palestinians. My instinct, when I saw this, was that his posts that he didn't really know what he was talking about. And truthfully neither did I. So I started to read up on Israel, the formation of his Israel, the history of Israel, even though I'm Jewish, I should know this stuff. I don't really, um, and what I found was fascinating and, and I don't propose to engage in a debate about Israel in the Mid-East conflict or anything along those lines. But what it did reveal to me that it was almost impossible for anyone who's non-Jewish I think, to write accurately about the Jewish experience or Israel, becasue almost all modern Western history has been informed by anti-Semitism. You know, if you think about the core of the Bible, uh, blaming Jews for social ills is literally the central theme of it, you know? If you think about the new Testament and, in some ways, and certainly I'm not accusing every Christian or every person who's read the Bible as being an anti-Semitic, but literally no one in the modern western world, since [00:31:00] 2000 years ago, hasn't been taught that narrative, and from an early age, it can't help but affect someone's worldview. The reason I raise this is because it reminded me of a podcast I heard about, uh, one of the fathers of modern conversion therapy for gay men who didn't want to be gay, who initially argued, uh, that he had no opinion on homosexuality, but who was he to decide whether a gay man should have access to conversion therapy or not. Uh, truthfully it was an argument that resonated with me initially, and like, who am I to judge what a person wants, uh, until this particular doctor realized that at least to this point in humanity, there could be no gay men who could truly make that decision freely and of his own volition because of the eons of shame and degradation and ridicule that had been born by the gay community in many ways, similar to the Jewish experience. Um, you know, if, if true suffering is the source of true art, maybe it's no wonder that so many gay Jews are so prominent in Hollywood. But, but seriously, it [00:32:00] made me realize that on a deeply personal and spiritual level, I have really no idea what it's like to be a gay man in this world. And I would love it if you could try to articulate really on the very subtle, subtle levels, like those emotional levels, what it's been like, you know, growing up particularly, and I didn't realize that you are, uh, partly Asian heritage as well, where I think, you know, the perspectives on it are probably even more severe than in the west, which aren't necessarily that friendly, certainly friendlier than they have been. I mean, I think it's better than it's ever been, but still probably miles and miles to go. So I know that's a really, really tough question, but it's a, it's a genuine question that I've had for while a long time. But that's really, it. It's like, I'm starting to appreciate on a, on a personal level, on a very, a different way that the world we live in and my experience by virtue of growing up Jewish is actually different, and my worldview is different, and how people treat me is different and I, I was really curious to, if, if you [00:33:00] could try to articulate what it's like, you know, uh, being a gay man, um, because that's something I really don't understand. Um, and I think it's really important as we continue to advance the dialogue around any, any minority, any differences, any way you want to articulate how people are different, that people have an understanding, you know, this comes down to the, the essence of what trauma-informed care is, which is like, I really don't know what it's like to be in your shoes. Um, and if we can get better at sharing what it's like on a deeply personal level, then it's going to help bridge that divide. Um, so it's, it's a hard question, but I, I thought there's no one in the world better equipped, I think to try to answer that.
Mike Dow: [00:33:43] I love deep questions and I love, from a Jewish man to a Asian gay man, you know, having this deep conversation. You know, for me, it's really interesting. And I'm gonna talk to you about a movie, I saw a very pop culture movie, Crazy [00:34:00] Rich Asians. And I was in the movie theater and I realized that that was the first time I was seeing Asian men portrayed in a way that was not the dominant narrative. And he was a sex symbol. And I realized, oh right, all of the things that I've seen my entire life were telling me something about myself, and gay men as well, right? So it's so interesting when we go back, you know, you know, you got into this question by talking about these narratives and the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, which is formed by society, stories, stories from, everything from the Bible to Crazy Rich Asians, right? And of course, with COVID, crimes against Asian people, hate crimes have gone way up. Uh, it's so interesting, I thought, living in West Hollywood, which is sort of this gay Mecca in the United States, uh, that things were getting better, and I was okay. And then one time I was sitting in the middle of West Hollywood, uh, [00:35:00] with a friend of mine and we were just enjoying our dinner and we heard this car screech and somebody rolled the window down, curled this huge rock. It flew by my face. It missed us, but it shattered. We were sitting right- we were sitting outside in the first table, right in front of this big window, and it shattered the window. And it's funny because those experiences tell you, "oh right, there are people who don't like me because who I am." And these narratives on a, even a subtle level, even for me, they do change the world the way I feel about myself. What do I tell myself, right? And so it's been interesting in these. You know, in trauma, we talk about the big-T traumas and the little T. So, you know, for me, was having a rock thrown at my head, a big-T trauma? It was probably, you know, more like a small-T trauma. Had it actually hit me, it would have been probably more in the category of a big-T trauma, but it's interesting because it has to go back to the beginning. [00:36:00] It has to almost be a reset and a blank slate and the divide and the conflict of me versus you, or I'm of this culture I'm of this religion, I am of this nationality, I'm a Palestinian, I'm a gay man, I'm Is-, I'm Israeli, I'm Israeli-American. You know, it's, it's all of these divisions. And for me, The work in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy has really helped me to not only put down and shut down or dim the volume and the colors of my own ego, but I think egos in general. And if separate-ness is the core issue that we are dealing with, do I think that because of that, that psychedelic assisted psychotherapy could heal divides and families where you have like a left and a right, uh, you know, a Biden supporter and a Trump supporter, or, you know, a gay Asian man and a, uh, you know, white, straight man, like you, and, and, and looking that we have a [00:37:00] lot more in common than we do the things that set us apart, you know, it's, it's interesting because it does affect us, even if you don't realize it.
Ronan: [00:37:08] Totally. I appreciate you saying that. And two thoughts. One is, it's interesting that having a rock thrown at your head, you identified as a small-T trauma. I couldn't help, but feel like it's a small-T trauma for you because that was only one of a series of experiences that you've had that I would not have, um, as, as a straight man, right? And so it got diminished, it's like, oh yeah, it's like, it's not okay, but this was the world we live in as a, as a gay man, so I, this is what I have to endure, so okay, fine. Um, and, uh, and you know, it's, it's, it's shocking and it's terrible that if that happened to me, I'd probably be much more of a trauma because I'm not as used to it, but maybe I am because, you know, I've had pennies thrown at me as a Jew, but, uh, you know what I'm talking about. Um, and then, you know, the, the power of psychedelics to really [00:38:00] kind of get at breaking those divides. And, you know, I, I really struggle having now have kids myself and seeing them run around, and, you know, you look at using the Israeli-Palestinian equation or any kind of Middle East terrorist equation. It doesn't, it doesn't matter. You look at those children and those children all evolve, almost identically, you know? They all go through those stages of learning to walk, learning, to talk, um, you know, those stages of asking really annoying questions over and over and over again and all that kind of stuff that is literally a universally common experience of having children, you know? How can anyone, after watching that and witnessing that firsthand, ever look at, you know, a gay man or an Asian man or a Muslim, you know, someone of Muslim descent or anything along those lines and be like, oh yeah, we're really different. I, I hate you. It just, [00:39:00] boggles my mind, but then you get into the generational trauma, which seems to be more and more something that's validated by science, you know, this is the epigenetics of, of what comes through and, and, you know, it's, it's super exciting and I think powerful that psychedelic seem to be able to help people unpack some of that generational trauma as well, and let it go. It really is, you know, I think quite, quite magical for lack of a better word, in my mind.
Mike Dow: [00:39:27] Yeah, it's interesting. The cherry blossom study is one of my favorite studies and looking at how through epigenetic expression, that generational trauma can be passed down through this way. So, you know, I, uh, was just in a session two days ago with a, she's the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor. And we were talking about generational trauma and, you know, I've worked with lots of Jewish people who have relatives who survived the Holocaust. And isn't it so interesting that- and if people don't know what [00:40:00] this study is, they basically in a laboratory, it was, uh, the smell of cherry blossoms and giving animals and electric shock. And they found, and of course we know, uh, in psychology, what that does in the brain, right? If you get a shock and it's paired with this smell, and every time you smell this, you're getting a shock and what that does. But it was interesting. I forget if it was rats or mice, but it wasn't just the children, but the grandchildren of those rats or mice that also feared cherry blossoms. So isn't it fascinating that if you uncover it- so I'm going to make a little bit of a theoretical jump that I don't know if some of my colleagues are going. If you see something in a psychedelic journey, is it possible that you have some generational trauma that you're not consciously aware of? Well, I think that cherry blossoms studies show that maybe there is something so, um, you know, woo-woo and mystical about that, and you know, why do I have a, you know, obviously some people have a fear of something [00:41:00] and we see clearly the root of that, you know? I got trapped in an elevator- I have a fear elevators. What if you were never trapped in elevators? What if you just have this paralyzing fear of something, or relationships, but you had a really good, healthy, secure attachment with your caretakers. Where does that come from? It's interesting that it goes to this very sort of spiritual, generational route that I think we all in our culture right now need to heal. And, you know, it's, I have a lot of healing to do myself. You know, growing up after my parents got divorced, we moved to Ohio, which is where my mom was from, and there was a lot of shame being one of the only non-white kids in this neighborhood, in the school. And I really had to work through that, you know, and it really affected the stories that I told myself and my self-worth and my lovability and all these things, you know? So do I have trauma from that? Absolutely, I do. You know, and then having a disabled brother, you know, so able-bodied versus disabled. I feel like I grew up in this family where it's like, oh, okay, great. So I know that, um, I knew I was gay by the [00:42:00] time I was probably nine or 10 and I'm an Asian guy in an all white neighborhood. And now I have a brother with a disability and the stigma of, you know, able-bodied versus disability. I feel like I'm almost this triple minority. And so I, I, but that gives me this really unique perspective and, and being able to relate to people, even if their story and their heritage is very different, I feel like the feelings of shame or hatred or anger are universal. I understand it. I felt it.
Ronan: [00:42:29] Yeah. I like to think about genetics. People think about your genetics as, as a roadmap of the past, right? You know, this is where you came from. We can track that you're, you know, Asian that you have, you know, whatever, the brac-2 gene, and all these kinds of things. But I find it much more informative and constructive and instructive to think about your genetics as a roadmap of the future. You know, we talk about how there's all this junk DNA, but it's not actually junk DNA. It's just DNA that's not being utilized, but we do [00:43:00] know at least on some level that mindset, attitude, outlook affects the genes that get expressed, right? So, um, so the extent you experienced trauma and, and you don't heal it, naturally, the genes that are going to get expressed based on that worldview, are going to be the ones that show up in your system and show up in your kids. It's just kind of logical. It makes it a much more intuitive, thoughtful, I think, exercise. Now, this is not based on any clinical research by any stretch of the imagination, but my, my instinct says that more and more, we're going to see that genetics and all the work we're doing as psychedelics are actually very deeply interrelated.
Mike Dow: [00:43:40] Oh, a hundred percent. I, you know, I do a lot of genetic testing on my patients. I'm also trained as a functional nutritionist. So, you know, this functional medicine lens is really interesting and genes are not your destiny. So, you know, one, isn't it so interesting that if you have a copy of the quote, Alzheimer's gene APOE-e4, that there was actually a reason that that [00:44:00] developed. So if you have increased inflammation before the age of antibiotics, or maybe even before the age of shoes and you step on something and you have more inflammation, that means that you are more likely to survive that infection than somebody who doesn't have it. Of course, in the modern world, that sets us up for, um, an increased risk of dementia. But it's not about your past, it's about your future. It is about, okay if I have this gene X, Y, Z, this is what I need to do. I need to watch my glycemic index, my fasting insulin. I need to watch my, um, hs-CRP, uh, which is a measure of inflammation systemic in the body, both the body and the brain, but isn't it also so interesting that this functional genetic and epigenetic sort of testing that we do, and we go to the root-cause it is theoretically to me in line with what we are doing a Field Trip, because it's, it's a root-cause oriented approach. You know, a lot of the people that I work with, it is a relief, I [00:45:00] remember one of my patients cried when you saw, "oh, I'm not just a weak person. You can see the depression in my brain genes?" I'm like, "yeah, it's, here, look, look here at this part, do you see this?" And he cried, you know, this, this straight white man, um, successful and you know, intelligent. And it was the 'oh, here's a reason and this is what I can do about it.' It empowers people. It's not scary. It is something that you can handle. It is something that you can actually change. And if you go to the root, go back to the root, I think, you know, all functional medicine practitioners, their mindset is very similar to psychedelic practitioners, because we're trying to figure out not the symptoms, not on the surface, not medicating the symptoms, but how do we go back to the root and see, oh okay, I have the MTHFR gene, which increases my risk for depression. Therefore this is going to affect the way I need to increase certain methylated B vitamins or B vitamins are fully in my diet. And how does that integrate with what we are doing? It it's all the same [00:46:00] sort of lens.
Ronan: [00:46:01] A hundred percent. I I'm a, I'm a big believer, um, I try to believe it on a deeply spiritual level. Sometimes it's just intellectual, but on, on the capacity of reality creation, which is, and we can talk about the science of it. And I know I've touched on it before, but, you know, we're all choosing everything that we experience, and whether you believe that on a factual basis or not, what it does empower is that makes you no longer a victim. You're no longer a victim of your circumstances on some cognitive level, you've chosen your circumstances, as hard as they may be, and as traumatic as they may be, because there's something to come of that. And when you take that on, uh, then you're empowered, you have the choice to affect how you evolve. Um, I don't, I don't know if, if you, uh, if you perceive the world through that lens, but, uh, curious, you know, if you were going to reflect on that, about why you chose to be a gay Asian man with a disabled brother in the state of Ohio, which, you [00:47:00] know, I'd probably argue it's just by virtue of being in Ohio is potentially a traumatic experience, period. Um, you know, uh, does anything come up for you as to like, why maybe you chose that path on a, on a spiritual level?
Mike Dow: [00:47:15] It does, you know? I know that the adversity, the struggles, the having to beat to my own drum, all of that affected my path, who I am, I am stronger for it. It allowed me, or forced me to my knees at certain points. And that struggle, and you know, you talk about this shift from victim to survivor or empowered warrior. It is the, okay, this is my- this is the circumstances, my identity that the world has given me or the world sees me as, and, you know, I think it is up to you, if you get a genetic report back and you have anything from, you know, ancestry, [00:48:00] it's like, 'oh, okay, this is where my ancestors were from.' Or a specific gene. Like the Alzheimer's gene, it's the, oh, this is empowering. There's so much that I can do. And I am not, you know, my father and I are actually quite different. I am not my father. I am not my mother, you know, do I have some DNA that's similar? Yes. Uh, but do we all have this, this path? And I knew- I applied to two colleges is when I was in high school. One was in New York City and one was in Los Angeles and then I visited both and I decided that it was going to be USC for me. Um, so, and I just knew that I had to find my own path and it was scary. I remember flying by myself on TWA in 1997 from Detroit airport, that was the closest airport to us, to JFK with a four-hour layover with my bags, flying from JFK to Los Angeles, taking a super shuttle to my dorm. And it was scary, you know? And, and, but everything that I've done in my life, I have forged [00:49:00] my own path. I have said, um, I said to my friend one time when I was, I think, 21 years old, I said, "I really want to help people." I, I volunteered for so many different organizations and college and high school. I want to help people for a living. I want, you know, the compassion that I had to develop through my experiences as a child, I want to do something with that. I don't want to go to a nine to five and maybe volunteer like once a month. I want that to be my bread and butter, my life, my calling. Um, but I also told him, oh, and by the way, wait, I think maybe I want to be like the young Dr. Phil one day. I have no idea how I'm gonna make it happen, but that's, I want to be like the nicer, warmer, transformative, you know, integrative whole person model kind of guy, not the guy who yells at people to try to get them to change. And sure enough, the universe conspired in my favor. Cause that guy, so that was, I met, he was my friend when I was around 20. Um, he became, he got a national contract and he was a national reporter for ABC and moved to New [00:50:00] York. I didn't see him for like 10 years. I run into him at the gym in Los Angeles. And he said, "oh, you, oh, hey man, I haven't seen you for 10 years. Didn't you, like, say you want to like be the young Dr. Phil or something? Or did you ever like go to grad school?" And I said, "actually I just finished my doctorate. I finished my master's. I'm in private practice." And he's like, "man, that's incredible, man. You just really want for it." I'm like, I" guess I did." And the next day he set me up with a meeting with his agent and she signed me and three weeks later I went on an audition, an audition, and then I had a couple auditions then a screen test for the show on TLC, that was a hit in the UK, and I got it. And it was the look at how, you know, if luck is, oh gosh, what's a quote where preparation meets opportunity. You know, I can kind of look back on a spiritual path from my brother's stroke, growing up in Ohio, leaving, um, getting the scholarship to go to USC. Um, you know, saying I wanted to be the young Dr. Phil and I had to believe in [00:51:00] myself, but I was the master of that destiny. Where were there some intersections where the universe was, in my belief, conspiring in my favor? Yes, but I had to step up to the plate, you know, to say, this is what I want to do, and I'm going to fight for it. I fought for my job at Field Trip. I said, this, "this is where I want to work." I'm nobody approached me. I said, this is what I'm going to do. This is where I want to be, you know? So yeah, it is empowering. It is.
Ronan: [00:51:27] Yeah. I mean, you talked about it as the intersection of, of luck and sorry, what was it? Opportunity, um, and preparation. Yeah, I call that magic, right? Like that is, you know, and I've been trying to articulate, um, a more functional definition of magic and Dr. Mark Short, who is also at Field Trip, I think articulated it in a great way, which is, uh, magic is creating something in the future, right? Creating something that you want that's not immediately present. It's the future. And magic is the energy that connects the present to the successful moments. So, [00:52:00] you know, that that's magical that you had that interaction. That's pure reality creation, in my mind. It doesn't happen immediately, but if you keep your mind to it and, um, it, you know, it'll happen. And I have a sort of similar experience where I was a lawyer I was working at Biovail a, uh, pharmaceutical company, which is fine. I didn't really like it. I remember watching the MTV movie awards or video awards and lying on the couch and I was like, you know, fuck it. I want to work in the music industry. And I didn't know how I was doing it, but the next day I emailed everybody. I knew who worked in the music industry or was peripherally related to it. Uh, and like just started trying to make it happen. And long behold, nothing happened initially. And then randomly out of the blue, like three months later, there was a job posting at MTV Canada being represented by the exact recruiter who put me in the job I was in at that point, who had a great relationship with, and it all kind of happened. And I still recall that moment of like, yeah, I made that happen and [00:53:00] you know, some may call bullshit and just luck and all that kind of stuff, but you can't convince me that that was just a function of circumstance. That it was, it was something much more magical, quite literally.
Mike Dow: [00:53:11] It's magic. [inaudible] with Dr. Short tomorrow, I'm gonna, I'm gonna tell him how much I love that quote.
Ronan: [00:53:19] Awesome. I've got some other questions for you. So one of the things I've been curious about, again, not being a therapist, but obviously working very close with therapists. What is different, when you sit with someone in conventional therapy, as opposed to sitting with them in ketamine-assisted therapy or psychedelic therapies? Like how, how do you show up differently? What do you do differently? How do you quote unquote hold space as the term of art is often used?
Mike Dow: [00:53:44] A lot of the tricks, tips, protocols that you've learned, you can integrate. However, I would say it is extremely different. It is more intimate. It is more profound. [00:54:00] Uh, there are moments of deep connection in talk therapy that I sometimes have that, you know, and it develops right? That intimacy. But when you are lying on the floor with somebody or in one of our zero gravity chairs, but I was with a patient the other day, she really wanted to be on the floor and we have these great double mattresses. So we're literally lying on the floor. I'm sitting on the floor, she's lying. And she's in the fetal position, and she reaches for my hand with this look of awe and vulnerability. And she looked like a, a seven year old, or maybe even like a four year old child, just sort of, I could tell that there was things that she was experiencing in that moment, but also just so happy that she was having them. And I knew non-verbally because I work primarily, I would say non-verbally, I feel like I'm very intuitive with the people that I work with, I knew that she just, there was something about holding her hand and she held my hand and she didn't let it go for about five minutes. That is so different than the way most [00:55:00] therapists are trained. And time goes by like this in a ketamine assisted-therapy session. you know? I was in the room with her for hours and it's, it's, it's different. It's more intimate. Uh, you know, therapists are taught not to touch. You use a lot of touch. It is going back to the, to the core, to the root. It is opening people up. They are raw, they're vulnerable, and yes, you can access that with traditional psychotherapies, but this just goes so much further. And it also is, you have no idea what to expect. I can also say that, um, every patient really responds so differently. So it's also a little bit, um, exciting and surprising when you're doing this work because you really, I mean, I remember going back to my Austin training, there was, you know, it's interesting because it's basically a group model where, you know, 15 of the doctors are having the experience of the other 15 are acting as a therapist sitting next to the person. And it's so interesting that the universe conspired and, [00:56:00] you know, our head of group therapy at Field Trip, Tatiana was the person who, um, was my sitter. Um, uh, and I sat for her on days three and four. And, you know, looking around the room when I was Tatiana's therapist, I could see that one person is very verbal and yelling, and re-experiencing a trauma, another person's laughing and other person didn't say a word for two hours and it just sitting there emotionless. So it's also quite surprising. You never know what they're going to say on the other side. There are so many raw emotions. There are so many, it's like, wow, all of the stuff that I think therapists are hungry for the, I want to go back to the core issues. I want to use sort of this downward arrow approach to drill down and just keep asking, where does that come from? Well, where does that come from? Imagine if you had a process that would sort of just be years in the making, you know, five years or, you know, if you could go on a year-long, silent retreat, what if you had a medicine that could help you to access those parts of the [00:57:00] brain, our heart? Um, that's what it is. So it's man, it's fun. I mean, when I, when I wake up and I drive to Santa Monica and I have a session, you know, and a lot of my days are split while have, you know, a couple of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy sessions and then a preparation session, and then a standard talk therapy session. I am the most excited by far when I'm driving to Field Trip. I can tell you that. It is so exciting. It is so profound. The work is so deep. So if that's you, um, or if you're a patient and that's the kind of work that sounds exciting to you, that's what we do.
Ronan: [00:57:34] I could, uh, I mean, not everybody has the benefit of, of watching this interaction, but I could actually see your energy change when you talked about how exciting it was. Like there was a part of you like that inner nine-year-old of like just pure, you know, ecstatic joy kind of started to come out as it was really cool to actually watch that happen as you were talking about this.
Mike Dow: [00:57:54] I just got chills when you said that. And I don't know, I feel like the little boy in me is alive when I'm doing this work and [00:58:00] that's, that's really special to me. It's really special, you know? Wow. What you just said actually made me tear up and it's, it's, it's really, we all have to take care of our inner child, you know, and there was something in my inner child that was called to be a healer and a helper. And that's profound. And if you're somebody who had trauma and sexual or physical abuse, when you were a kid and I can be there to hold your hand through that, that is, that's like, that's the stuff of life, right? That's like the, 'wow, my life meant something,' you know, like I'm doing something every day that I get up in the morning and I'm like, 'wow, I can't believe I get to do this work,' you know?
Ronan: [00:58:41] Oh, that's amazing. It's it's, it's, it's a theme that's been coming up for me recently. I was like, how do you, how do you live in the passion? How do you tap into like that passion, you know? I just, it just came out of you. I witnessed it coming out of you right now. And it's like, it's so easy to get caught up in the mundane aspects of life, of driving a [00:59:00] work and paying taxes and doing your bills and all this kind of stuff. But how do you make sure you find an and some of it can be from the child, right? Like that level of exuberance, but that's exactly kind of what everyone was talking about to me before, which is how do you remember that? How do you reintegrate that not being a child, but how do you reintegrate that feeling? Because it's a wonderful feeling. It's a passionate feeling. It's a powerful feeling and it gets you out of bed in the morning. And, uh, you know, I think that's the, the exercise that, um, that we're all going through right now on many levels. Um,
Mike Dow: [00:59:34] Amen, well said. Well said.
Ronan: [00:59:37] Thank you. Uh, I have two more questions and then I'm going to let you get back to your life. But, um, if there was, if, if you could have people come away from this podcast, knowing just one thing about psychedelics or psychedelic-assisted therapies, what would it be?
Mike Dow: [00:59:53] It's going to be everything that you thought it was going to be and nothing that you thought it was going to [01:00:00] be, and no amount of literature or Googling, can you prepare you for what you're going to encounter, and that is part of the magic.
Ronan: [01:00:08] Well said. Um, and, and this is part of the exercise, and I'm asking this particularly for some of the stuff we're doing with our app, Trip. Um, but if I'm a person just starting a psychedelic-assisted therapy, or maybe just trying psychedelics for the first time, you know, on my own, what advice would you give, specifically, how would you set an intention? Uh, what's your favorite music to listen to while having a psychedelic experience, and uh, as a functional nutritionist, which I didn't know about you, what would you suggest people eat before and after? Like, what is the sort of meat and potatoes knowledge of what I should know before I get into this from your perspective?
Mike Dow: [01:00:46] Yeah. So there's actually a lot of research on this. Uh, well maybe not a lot, but at least a little published research and the cleaner you are, and, and the more, um- in the ketamine papers, which is this book and this collection, there's [01:01:00] one of the researchers, I think talking about how he suggested before these journeys to go plant-based and, you know, at least for a couple of days- and the more you really prepare yourself and are sacred with this time, the greater the potential for you to realize your intention. So, you know, if you can make this time and a space of healing, um, I was just on the phone with somebody who was referred to me, who, um, may start our, uh, just, uh, a patient who went through something. Um, and I really gave her this advice to make this time intentional and to make this healing be about you. And the more we do that, and the more we are conscious with our eating, um, the more we are, um, really setting a beautiful intention, the more this medicine has the potential to work, you know? So I, uh, in my most recent, uh, session myself, I had a much lower dose, uh, and it felt like a high dose because I think I'm eating cleaner. [01:02:00] Um, I have addressed my genetic mutations, you know, I take a methylated folate for my MTHFR mutation. And what's really interesting is that 25 milligrams IM, felt to me like a high-dose experience. And, uh, somebody said to me, it's like, well, that says something about the way that you've prepared yourself, right? And we know that, that the cleaner you are, the more you set your intention spiritually, emotionally, moving the body, how do you then connect it to the future and creating more magic? And, you know, it's interesting talking about behavioral activation and the integration of CBT with psychedelics, because I think in many ways people have that awe or that sense of connectivity and that allows them to, you know, when you began this podcast talking about the relationship between a feeling of awe and improved interpersonal dynamics, it's the, oh, there's something about that that translates into this very real world stuff. And if you want to quit [01:03:00] smoking, you've been smoking for 20 years, you know, I could tell you from a scientific point of view, why, you know, enhanced neuroplasticity, uh, as a downstream result of ketamine and glutamate and the NMDA receptor, how that maybe makes, you know, theoretically a behavioral change, more likely, but it's also, so, you know, that's, that's boring. Let's talk about the spirituality. Let's talk about how that feeling of being connected makes me excited to be in this garage, that my soul is in for this very short time, and to do the stuff that you should do that we all know we should do. It's more the, well, why am I going to do that? Why am I going to get off my butt if I'm 300 pounds or, you know, my labs are bad or I'm smoking every day or I'm drinking every day or I'm in this toxic relationship, that's abusive, you know, it's the, oh right- my life is important. It's important. And that is, is why I think we have these outcomes that are just, you just, can you study them? Yes. [01:04:00] But on another level, it's like when I read these studies, it's like, it's also the, you lose the richness of the individual experience that, you know, the end of one, if you do this study on yourself and you come to the Field Trip, the study that you do on yourself will probably be nothing like the literature because you're having this really profound experience yourself.
Ronan: [01:04:19] Yeah, absolutely. Um, I am going to ask one question, uh, just beyond which is, if you could send a message to yourself one year from now, what would you want to say?
Mike Dow: [01:04:29] Oh gosh. Uh, I think I'd want to say, um, I hope you are continuing to live a life every day where you want to get out of bed, um, and with purpose. So keep on keeping on, and this is just the beginning. And if you have days where you feel like your dream is impossible, or there's some new, um, you know, related chapter, that's even greater than what you're doing now, just look back on everything that you have accomplished, and it'll give [01:05:00] you the confidence to do what you need to do to create that next great sub chapter of what you're doing.
Ronan: [01:05:08] Awesome. I couldn't end on a better note. So thank you so much, Mike, for being a part of this. Sorry, so much for the technical issues. Um, but I think it turned out in the end. Okay. And, uh, if I have to go back and record some questions, we can do that. That's the magic of editing, uh, as it was beautiful. Thank you. Thank you for making the time. Thank you for being part of Field Trip. Thank you for not taking no as an answer, uh, and [inaudible] because, uh, you know, you've been an incredible asset, uh, and an incredible friend, uh, to, to, to me, to, to the company, to the work we're doing, which is much more important than either me or the company itself. So thank you for being part of it.
Mike Dow: [01:05:48] It's my true honor. Thank you for asking great questions and thank you for changing thousands of lives with this really noble company.
Ronan: [01:05:57] Thank you,
[01:06:00] Tom Robbins once wrote: "don't let yourself be victimized by the age you live in. It's not the times that will bring us down any more than it's society. When you put the blame on society, then you end up turning to society for the solution. It's not men who limit women. It's not straights to limit gays. It's not whites to limit blacks. What limits people is lack of character. What limits people is that they don't have the fucking nerve or imagination to star in their own movie, let alone direct it. Now, one can certainly, and validly argue some of those statements, particularly about one group limiting another. But the point I'm trying to make is about character. And if there's one person we've had on this podcast, who has no shortage of nerve or imagination to start in their own movie, it's Mike who, through grit, determination, a great attitude, has taken what could have been challenging circumstances [01:07:00] and created magic. So if you want to know what I think you should take away from this podcast, it's as follows: one, don't be afraid to star in your own movie. Mike is and will continue to do so. Two: if there's anything in your life that you should concern yourself with, it's magic. And three: if you're exploring psychedelics for the first time, remember it's going to be everything and nothing like you imagined.
As you know, we've recently launched a new segment, which enables people like you, who are listening, to send in questions either via email or through SpeakPipe. Uh, and last week we got a couple of great questions of which I'm going to answer one, which was, "Hey, Ronan, I've heard you say that every day is a field trip. So what is one thing you've taken away from a trip that you've integrated into your every day?" And if there is one thing that I've taken away from a trip that I try to integrate into my every day is that [01:08:00] every day can actually be a field trip. Meaning that we are wholly and exclusively responsible for our own emotions. So next time you're out there and you feel happy or angry or sad, instead of blaming someone, if it's a negative emotion, or giving them responsibility, if it's a positive emotion, stop and take a moment and recognize that what you're feeling is exclusively yours, you are the author of it, a person's actions could trigger an event that led you to respond in a certain way, but that response is always your choice, and that is one of the most powerful things I've ever taken away from psychedelics. It's one of the most powerful things I've taken away from all the work I've ever done is that we are the authors of our own fortune or misfortune, and the more you accept that, the more power you have, the more power you have, the more you have the capacity to make of life what you want it. [01:09:00] Thank you for listening to Field Tripping, a podcast that's dedicated to exploring psychedelic experiences and their ability to affect our lives. I'm your host Ronan Levy. Until next time, stay curious, breathe properly, and remember, every day is a field trip if you let it be one. Field Tripping is created by Ronan Levy. Our producers are Conrad Page, John Cvack, and associate producer is Sharon Bella. Special thanks to Kast Media, and of course many thanks to Dr. Michael Dow for joining me today. To learn more about Mike's work, check out drmikedow.com or follow him on Instagram, Dr. Mike Dow in both cases, not spelling the whole word doctor. Finally, please rate, review and subscribe to our podcast and sign up for our newsletter at fieldtripping.fm or wherever you get your podcasts or leave us a voicemail at speakpipe.com /field tripping. Or send us an [01:10:00] email to email@example.com. Please note that Kast Media is spelled K A S T M E D I A. Thanks for listening.