Ali Jafarian

The Psychedelic Parent with Aaron DeLand

Episode Number 020
Duration 62 min

Super duper pumped to share a new episode with my friend, Aaron DeLand. Aaron is a father, coach and entrepreneur bringing a lot of warm energy to the world.

In this episode Aaron and I explore the hot topic of psychedelic therapy. We navigate through identity, emotions, childhood, trauma and how plant based medicines play their role in a modern healing process. Aaron shares some insight into the science, learnings from his own personal experiences, and examples of how he’s helping parents today.

“The quickest way to become an effective parent is to deal with your stress.”

Guest details
Aaron DeLand - Father, Coach and Entrepreneur
Aaron DeLand


[00:00:00] Ali: Welcome back folks to the Pursuit of Something. Today I am excited. My guest is Mr. Aaron DeLand, who is a client, also a friend. We've gotten to know each other fairly well over the years. And, there's a lot that I could say about you, Aaron. A lot of good things that come to mind and the work that you've done in the world that you're still doing with children and some awesome new things that you have in focus that I'm sure we'll talk about, but as you know, on this show, you get to introduce yourself. So who is Aaron DeLand?

[00:00:38] Aaron: Ah, well, you know, I've been listening to a few of your podcasts and was thinking about this question literally last night as I was listening to one. And in the current work that I do, this whole idea of identity is really big. And so in the past, I would've said, well, I'm a play specialist that helps families with neurodiverse children understand how to use play to build deeper relationships and cultivate social development language. And, while I am able to do that, I would say what I've been trying to identify more with is how I wanna be as an example to my kids.

And so who I am lately is someone who is very mindful and practicing a lot of awareness around how I get up in the morning and how I meet my children, meet my wife, meet the day. And so right now, I would say I'm just a mindful parent who's really trying to live by example.

[00:01:43] Ali: That's beautiful. That makes plenty of sense to me. It sparked an initial question. How do you meet the day?

[00:01:51] Aaron: If I'm being honest, kind of inconsistently. What I strive for is to wake up and for my kids, do my best to be what they need at any given moment. And whether that's someone who is able to sort of just wake up and see that well, right now they just need to sit in my lap for a few moments. And do I have that to give. And are they hungry? Okay, well, do I have that to give. Do they need a, limit enforced? Well, then I can be that too. And I've been really aiming at getting up and being that guy.

Some mornings, if the stress has gotten to me and I haven't done a good job, upkeeping myself and my wellness, you know, sometimes I might yell. Sometimes I might do something that I, you know, have those moments as parents that we wish we had back. And so, getting up and being honest about that has led me down a really incredible path of self growth.

Not just for myself and how I present to my kids, but also, how I've thought about my parents and how over the years I've been really hard on my father. And seeing how this idea of forgiveness is so important because ultimately, probably all of us are gonna be wanting some form of that from our kids as they get older. Mm-hmm. So that's really been informing how I get up. And I would say, I have more good days than bad if we wanna frame it in that way. And on the days that I don't show up my best, I really have been modeling how to apologize and how to have ownership.

And it's really incredible to see all that reflected back at you. Cause as you know, our kids are little mirrors in so many ways. And so to consciously put that out in the world and then see it reflected back and see it reflected towards others through my kids, is immensely satisfying.

[00:04:03] Ali: Hell yeah, man. Not only do I find a lot of truth in that, but I have to share what happened this morning to honor what you've said. I wake up most mornings feeling pretty grateful and just positive energy taking into life. And today I was off, I'm not feeling a hundred percent and there's some things I feel I need to get done before we go on a, a family trip next week. So the task list is heavy and intense right now. And I know I'm processing that as I'm making my coffee and Sepia, my daughter asked me for something simple. She asked me if she could help make oatmeal and I'm like, no, I'm gonna make it for you. I got some things to do, you know, like the reptilian dad kicked in, just defense.

And then dude, like you said, I appreciate you saying this because the awareness and the mindfulness have been really big words for me as well lately. And I was like what did I just do? Especially when I think about it, what did I do from the lens of Sepia? She just wanted to make breakfast with dad. And he basically said, no, he's too busy.

And so to your point, you could do that. It's fine. There's no judgment. We all have these situations where we're operating from under stress. At least I was, and we do things maybe we're not proud of. But what I think is huge, which I wrote down is taking ownership, accountability, and even apologizing. And I did this morning, I stopped and I was like, hey girl, sorry. Daddy's not feeling well. And he has a bunch of things on his mind before our vacation. So I was kind of quick with you. Let's go make some oatmeal.

And I can't say I've always done that. I'm learning to do that more. Right. And it's like you said, it's a muscle, you gotta train because I don't think we're mindful when we're operating from under stress. Do you think about it that way?

[00:06:00] Aaron: Oh a hundred percent and there's actually science to back that up. There's a lot of systems in our body that shut down. We don't absorb nutrition. We can't learn. So yeah, there's all sorts of things, cuz you're essentially engaging your fight and flight like you said, your reptilian brain's kicking in, you're running from a bear. No, actually you just have some deadlines. But yeah, a hundred percent and uh we all know on paper making oatmeal sounds really like, that should be quick, but when there's a four year old opportunity.

[00:06:31] Ali: That's it man. Yep. I enjoy it most days, but yeah, it's just teaching yourself to hold some space and some grace and be like, you know what that stuff is gonna be there in 15 minutes, even if it takes a while to make some oatmeal.

[00:06:45] Aaron: Exactly. Yeah. And I think that's it those blinders that the stress puts on, that's really it. And one of the things I've taught over the last two decades to parents, is that the quickest way to become an effective parent is to, deal with your stress. Because what I've found over 20 years of teaching parents is that all of them instinctually know what to do to agree.

Now there's lots of variables within that, but if you feel accomplished in your life, if you feel you've taken action in a number of things, if you feel like you've taken care of yourself in certain ways, it's just like you fill yourself up so that you're there more fully to provide for others and you're not having all these things nag at you.

And then, yeah, you're not sitting there making oatmeal going, good god, I wish I had done all these other things, you're there fully. And then from there it's like, you're taking in the wonder that is making oatmeal with your daughter, cause it is, it's amazing, it's wonderful. And so, it's such an interesting way to look at it of like it can be something that's a nuisance or it can be one of the most beautiful moments I'm gonna have definitely that day, if not for the entire week or whatever, all in how we stop and look at it.

[00:08:11] Ali: Totally man. Yeah. Thanks. I have to share this with you as well. Is that more recently, I started this practice of journaling daily wins before going to bed.

[00:08:22] Aaron: Oh, that's a good one.

[00:08:23] Ali: And it's actually something I learned from the book by Dan Sullivan, Gap and the Gain. And what it does, is it just prepares your mind before going to sleep the gratitude and just really feeling into what was awesome today. And then you can even go as far and journal about wins you wanna have tomorrow, that's their model, but I kind of let off that cause it's like, ah, now I'm setting myself up for expectations. I'd just rather come to peace with the day on some awesome things.

And to your point, dude, if you looked at my journal, most of it's stuff I do with my family. Other people would be like, well, what about that thing in business? And I'm like, yeah, it's fine. But it's not what came to mind as I'm going to rest and like closing the day. It was that moment, whether it was oatmeal or something that happened that was hilarious. Or just one of those, like only a dad could appreciate what was just experienced.

Something else I wanted to ask you man that is kind of on this plane, as it relates, cause our children are both very similar ages. Is that, I don't know if this is exactly a question or a comment for you to build upon is that I've noticed I've been aware of how fast my children get over things. And I'm not just talking about like, tantrums, I'm talking about like, they don't store things like we do. You know what I'm saying? We can store things and then they can come back and we're still processing them the next day. Whereas they're just wired to be like, okay, I accept what happened. I'm moving on.

I talk a lot about how we are learning more from our children, which I truly believe right now at this phase of life, but they should be the teachers in most situations for how they handle like conflict and stress, because they can really just push it through their body. And actually tantrums are a perfect example. They throw a huge tantrum, so they get all of the emotion out. And then they move on . We can get a little bit upset or irritated, but then we keep the majority of it in and it just keeps nagging at us, to use your word. Do you feel that from time to time?

[00:10:35] Aaron: Yeah. I'm constantly amazed. I forget what it was the other day. I was a little short with Waylan. He'd like done something for the millionth time after I'd sort of set a limit with it. And I came back a little while later and I'd already apologized once. I was like, hey man, I'm still carrying this around. I just wanted to check in. And he was like, yeah, yeah, it's fine. Clearly he'd gotten over it ages ago. He was like, what are you even talking about? So yeah, a hundred percent. There's such models for that and I think, especially what you're talking about with how, like, if it's a tantrum or if they hurt themselves or whatever it is that causes some sort of big emotion and how letting them and helping them process that all the way to completion is actually the formula for not storing trauma in your body.

[00:11:20] Ali: Mm-hmm, Mm-hmm.

[00:11:21] Aaron: Right. That's what all that stuff leads to. I loved your episode on the somatic stuff because that's such a great way to get at a lot of what we store. Yep. And there's a really good book that I haven't actually read the entire thing, but The Body Keeps Score and I forget...

[00:11:36] Ali: Ooh, I've heard about this. Yep.

[00:11:37] Aaron: Yeah. I forget the author right now at the top of my head. But it talks about a lot of that and kids are so good about if they're angry, it's coming out. Right. And it's just, it's coming out no matter what, until they learn, you know, and I'm not saying this is what we should be teaching them, but when they learn to like I have to stuff that, or I have to stop that, I have to stifle that, that's when you get a problem.

Yep. Right. Cause then it's still in there. You know that energy's gotta go somewhere. And if they're just bottling it up, it's gonna pop out over here when some benign action happens. It's, you know, it's gonna come flying out anyway. But yeah, so like that same trauma response where, you know, the fawn in the forest gets away from a wolf and it sits there and it trembles, and it does its thing for a while and its body processes it and then it hops up and it walks off and it's fine.

And I feel like that's connected so much to any time I get frustrated feeling like I don't have a voice in something, or somebody's not hearing me. I attribute it to things like that where maybe when we were younger, we weren't able to, to really voice those emotions.

Mm-hmm. You know, I don't know what your experience was like. My parents were wonderful in a lot of ways, but there were times where it's just, that's a negative emotion let's shut that down. Mm-hmm. Because that feels not necessarily that I would be in trouble, but that feels better for the parent. They can be a little pat on the back, like, oh, I did my job. I got them back to a place of what looks like happy. Mm-hmm.

Versus sitting there and reflecting what you're seeing back at them. All that was really hard when that happened. I can see that was really upsetting for you. You're you're really angry. And then sitting with it, not trying to offer a solution right then. And just giving space and you watch that spill out and where they go with it and how they just turn on a dime.

I had this experience, this is such a great example of this, where I had just started learning about this reflective listening. And my son did not, this is sort of early on in school year and he was like violently not wanting to go to school. Tantruming, screaming, crying. And before that, we were like trying to be empathetic. We're like, but we still gotta go. And we weren't ever giving it a space, a stage. Cause I think we sort of viewed it as like, oh, this is permanent you know.

And I remember going in his room and just reflecting back on, you're really upset. You really don't want to go to school. I hear you. You're not in the mood. Right? And for 10 minutes Waylan just goes and goes and goes. I don't wanna go. With F bombs, like the whole thing. And then it just like got to a place and he just stopped. And he said, well, dad, you know, can we play for 10 minutes and then go to school? Yeah, magic. I was like, yeah, that's fine. Great. Um, we played for 10 minutes, he got his shoes on and he was happy to go to school.

I have callous examples of that, where you just take the time to listen and it can take some time, but they get it out and then options and possibilities and, you know, possible solutions and things like that can be offered up and they're actually taking it. Mm-hmm. Cause again, they're away from that stress response.

And the last thing I'll add to that is if there's tears involved because they're really crying that's actually one of the ways the body gets rid of cortisol. The stress hormone. So your tears, when you're upset, actually are partially made of cortisol. It's getting rid of that stress hormone in the brain. And so if we shut that down, we're shutting down part of that body's natural ability to destress, which is very important.

[00:15:23] Ali: Man. I didn't know that. I didn't know that last piece. I just went through a very hard week last week in losing my dog where there was an abundance of tears. And there was something about, well, this was grief based, but it still felt like a release.

Yeah. I also shared on the somatic breath episode and then at that event I had another major release of tears. So much of a release, Aaron, that like for a week after that event, because I hadn't cried like this in years, I was just in this state of peace and also not even ready to be back in the hustle of what everyone else demands.

I could tell internally I still needed some space to be with that. And, this is so interesting, how these awesome ideas are colliding. Like there's the, the release of emotion, which clearly you've done your work cause one of the things I've learned from Conscious Leadership Group is we have an exercise of making it bigger. Make it bigger and get it out, which is exactly what you described with Waylan.

Then what you mentioned too, there's the reflective listening. A lot of times it's like one of our most powerful techniques as coaches or parents is just truly empathizing and being, like you said, wow, I can understand how that sucks or how that hurt. Because usually you give a prescription on how to make it better or you say, ah, just bottle it up. Which I used to do early on as parenting like, just be strong, you know, it'll be fine.

So those two things are amazing. Thank you for sharing those. And then yeah, this last piece, it's just like the tears. I was just thinking this the other day. So it's so just apropos we're talking about it right now.

There's a part of crying that I feel makes me better. Makes me more free. Like the way I was describing it to Everest the other day, cause he saw me crying. I was like, buddy tears are just the body's way of showing you how it wants to respond to something.

Sometimes it's happiness. Sometimes it's sadness. Sometimes, maybe it's anger if you're really upset and you start crying. I appreciate tying that together. How you brought in the biological component that it's helping with cortisol.

[00:17:36] Aaron: Yeah. And kids are so just naturally because their intelligence is so much in their feeling. Yeah. You know, their emotions are sort of developing, but they just like, this is here, I'm getting it out. Right. Don't think about it. You know?

[00:17:52] Ali: Yeah. I know. On that same note, I was noticing how quickly Sepia can cry. And it's not to say that I would label her as a cry baby by any means or how we define that. But it's that she's quick to show her true emotion. Yeah. Whereas even Everest at six is starting, I can sense he's starting to learn how to hide it a little bit. He's starting to get a little bit tougher. So there's a part of me that's a little sad and just wanting him to honor like, hey man, if you need to cry, you need to cry. That's what your body is telling you. Yeah.

[00:18:29] Aaron: Yeah. Waylan does something interesting only when he is hurt. He doesn't do this if he's upset about some, you know, toy being broken or something like that, but only when he is hurt, he can only be with one person. And if other people so much as look at him, he will get very angry at that particular person. So watching him to your point, you have just like seen how he manages certain emotions and feeling vulnerable and just being able to kind of trust him to walk through that process. Don't always have all the answers, but it's just like, okay, here I am a container for you now.

[00:19:04] Ali: Yes. Dude, that's it, like being a container. All right. So I feel like we'll jam on these dad stories all day. I'd like to get to what's in focus. What are you jamming on right now?

[00:19:17] Aaron: So, a collision of two big passions in my life. And the first one we sort of touched on, which is the last 20 plus years of me working with parents of neurodiverse, mostly children with autism and teaching them how to use play to bring themselves closer together and also develop social and language skills.

And a big part of that had been working with parents on being comfortable, meaning, you know, all the discomforts that come up with parents and sort of examining that. And what's underneath that and helping them remove those sort of blockages so that they can more effectively be there for their kids.

And a few years ago, I had an experience where I was having trouble with my parenting experience. And that was really sending me down sort of a dark path. And I feel like I was sort of spiraling with what seemed to be depression. And I had been in traditional therapies before, and it just wasn't quite doing its thing. It just felt slow. And, you know, just kind of chasing my tail. And I had read up on psychedelics as therapy. Using them for therapeutic use.

And it led me to a ceremony with a substance called 5-MeO-DMT. And this experience for me was so incredibly profound and changed my life in a way that to that point like I didn't really know was possible.

And the way that it did this, it gets your ego out of the way so that whatever things are under there sort of at the roots of what's going on for you can come to the surface, they can be exposed and we can see them more clearly. And for me, it was this whole sort of trauma of my father leaving when I was very young and then sort of being back in my life intermittently and sort of emotionally unavailable, I'd say.

And all of the sort of trauma that went along with that came to the surface and allowed me for the next 10 months to actually make peace with that in a very real way, and to find forgiveness for that and understanding that he was also just a human being, also dealing with traumas that were passed down to him from a person who was also dealing with traumas. Mm-hmm.

You know what I mean? So it's just this realizing of this sort of intergenerational trauma that wasn't so simple is like, my dad did this, it hurt me in this way. It gave me this sort of global understanding and fundamentally changed how I was experiencing my life and how specifically parenting.

And that was the intention I went in with whatever I need to do to get back to the dad I know I can be, I want help with that. And that's what it showed me. And it pulled all that pain to the surface that I was feeling from the time I was one till the time I was, you know, five or six or whatever it was.

And, that brought me to psychedelic integration therapy for parents. And by the way, it's no coincidence that I went into a field where I'm now teaching parents to be closer to their kids and to be there for their kids and to play with their kids, because that was a thing my inner child had been seeking. Mm-hmm.

Our traumas, although they're viewed as sort of negative and they are in a lot of ways, can also spark real beauty in the world. So as a sort of a healing response to that, I brought this play therapy to hundreds and hundreds of families and helped them be closer to their kids. So it's been this fascinating rabbit hole, but just to like, bring it down to a bit of clarity is psychedelic integration for parents combining that with exploring their relationships with their children, is something that I am squarely focused on.

[00:23:08] Ali: Wow. You've never given me that overview. So I get some breaking content from Aaron, thank you, man.

[00:23:20] Aaron: It's one of those things where if I say to people, oh, I do psychedelic integration for parents. What does that mean? But also there's such this stigmatism around psychedelic, still that people look at that and they just think, oh, you do drugs. Or, you're just, you're sort of partying. And what the vast majority of people in this space will tell you. And these are clinically trained psychologists, psychiatrists, that it is, and I'm badly quoting somebody here, but it's basically the equivalent of the microscope and how it changed science. Psychedelics to mental health.

Mm-hmm. There's still a process involved. These aren't you know, magic pills, silver bullets, anything like that. There's still grieving that comes into like all the processes of processing traumas come to light. It's just something about it cuts straight to the heart of the thing and allows that.

And so I've really been putting together this program and focused on putting together an offering coaching parents who are interested in that path and want some guidance and want some support in preparing and navigating those things and the hopes that they have similar breakthroughs.

[00:24:38] Ali: Awesome. Let me take a stab at this and then let you fill in some of the blanks from your experience, because I agree with you that not only is there stigmatism around psychedelics or plant-based therapies as we like to refer to 'em. And for the record, I'm still kind of an aspiring student of this. I haven't been on a medicine, a plant-based journey or experience yet, but I definitely intend to, I will say that.

And it's because people that I trust have explained it to me in a way. And then I read a book called A Dose of Hope where it was presented in a much different way than I think most people interpret it, or at least their, their initial filter. Right. They hear it. They're like, ah, psychedelics. That's not for me.

But this is what I will say as I continue to learn and, share from people that I trust, who've documented or relayed their experiences. Is that, there is a recreational use, which is obvious. And a lot of us, including myself, did that when we were younger, because it was about recreation. Can I entertain myself? Does it enliven an experience? Which to me is not intentional.

Right. Or maybe it was intentional for those reasons. Whereas a more intentional utility of it, especially in your world is that I'm using this as a therapy, which can also be integrated with talk speech therapy or other forms of like, this is just a tool in me trying to do my work. That's a nice way to put it right. And to just go deep, figure out what is going on, what are these issues, trauma, something we'll definitely talk a little bit about in a second.

And then the other piece, aside from it being a more intentional practice or experience depending on volume and how much you intend to do it, is that I think what's so unique about this, which you pointed on with a microscope metaphor is that you can still call the drug for the purpose that it helps us get through things that our mind normally doesn't want us to get through.

Going right back to our initial convos around children, like they did not build up all these walls and this mechanism to block things and to fight 'em and resist them, which is why they're so in tune with their emotions. Whereas we've built all that up. So it's fair to say that we might need some psilocybin or whatever your choice is some DMT to break through and face what we're not facing.

That's the way I think about it, cuz my mind is like, nah, you don't need that or no, that's just, you know, it'll tell you all these stories. Whereas the drug or the plant-based therapy is like, here you go. I gave you a free pass right in here so that you can face this. Does that align with kind of how you think about it? And if not, just please improvise.

[00:27:29] Aaron: Yeah, that's a great way to think about it, actually. In different substances, we'll do this to different degrees in different ways. And you know, there's a lot of research going on now in terms of trying to figure out well, psilocybin is great for depression and PTSD. So is MDMA. Ketamine for depression.

And there's a lot of overlap, but yeah, essentially, to speak about it very generally is that they're softening or completely dissolving your ego. Yes. Because your ego, one of the, the things that it does is it protects you. Mm-hmm. Right. It's been blocking out a lot of these things and what happens to a lot of us, this is what certainly happened to me is that, like, we all know our story for the most part.

If there's something very traumatic, acute trauma, we might be blocking that out. But overall, generally speaking, we know how we were raised. We know our family story, but we compartmentalize it and over time we sort of build this ego structure that one of its uses is that it keeps those painful memories down in the subconscious to the degree that we really experience them. And we go on and we pursue our careers and our passions and we're busy in our twenties and thirties, just like, yeah, I'm, I'm awesome. And just exploring all this stuff and it's great. But part of what's happening is you're also not attending to that inner child where the traumas happened, and it's still there.

And then we reach sort of this pinnacle of what we've been doing. Me it was after this sort of 20 plus year career in autism and felt like I had sort of done that and my attention started to go inward. And this is what our society calls midlife crisis most of the time. Yeah. Right. Right. They sort of get tired. They they've done it all. And now it's like, oh, maybe I need a Porsche or whatever it is. And so when you get to that point, that's the inner child rattling the cage. It's time to see what's under here.

And so the psychedelics come in and they soften the ego. So when you look at whatever's behind that curtain, it's not gonna be as painful. You know, this is big in PTSD treatment for veterans. Part of their PTSD is they just can't relive what they relive. They just can't. Mm-hmm. That's why the alcoholism so intense, like suicide rates are so high. But you give them a heroic dose of MDM, a with proper trip sitters and therapists and they can go back and they can revisit that and they can get close to that again, to process and actually go through the steps they need to get it out of their body. And, a lot of that is sort of somatic based. Mm-hmm. Is getting it out and talking about it, but also sometimes their body will just shake violently. All these sort of physiological things will happen as they're getting that literally out of their body.

So yeah, it's inviting you in, it's creating a space. A lot of people believe that each of the plant medicines has its own spirit. There, there might be sort of scientific terminology for what that is, but it does seem that each medicine really does have kind of a, a personality in a way. But yeah, they're all sort of working towards the same goal of allowing you to get closer to those things and, and truly hitting that reset button and just allowing you to get back to sort of your truer self.

[00:30:52] Ali: Wow. That's perfect. At least in hearing this being explained several ways. That was very powerful. So thank you. And I, double highlighted in my notes, inner child. I think that some of these things you shared around, like how the ego will protect us, but the inner child just wants to erupt. Not only do I think that's true. I know it's true for me. And it's, interesting, Aaron, that I hit a very similar wall as you, that maps back to this. And whatever we call this, I've been calling it a purpose journey. Some people might call it a midlife crisis. I'm finding it's happening earlier. This used to be something that hit predominantly men in their forties and fifties.

Yeah. Whereas like it hit me a year or two ago. It sounds like you had the same experience where it's coming faster and it doesn't always have to be associated with some of these more normal, societal expectations. It can literally just be what you described, which is like, yo, your inner child is trying to tell you something and it's ready to break free. So you need to face this stuff. Yeah.

Something else I wanna mention because I do kind of feel strongly about the ways we can leverage psychedelics and plant-based medicines for good, for the self work. I wanna mention that it's ironic to me that people can be averse to this or be like, wait a second that's drugs. Yet, we'll go pop the stuff without even asking that numbs our brain. So we can't feel pain. Right? Yeah. The things that are just shoved down our throats, on TV from big pharma. And again, I'm not gonna go too far into this. You can sense my energy. My voice is raising because that world to me is toxic. Yeah, you're telling me you wanna pop these pills to sleep better. You wanna pop these pills to avoid pain. You wanna pop these pills for et cetera, et cetera, fill in the blank. Yet, you're scared to try something that comes from the earth that is designed to help you feel your feelings.

I just see some irony in there. And I think it's shifting. I think people are waking up and being like, oh, there's drugs and there's all different interpretation for what a drug is. And then there's some of this what I'm calling, these are new tools. They're new tools to help us. If again, we have the right intention and we're going in for ourselves and not just the, the old, recreational abuse, let's say.

[00:33:25] Aaron: Yeah. Yeah. And, that all started back in the sixties when sort of the, hippy movement was happening, you know. Timothy Leery and all these guys that were out there who sort of discovered it and it was actually going in down the research channels, like at Harvard and then they all started taking it. Yeah. But what that ended up doing is set us back 40 years of research. Cuz now it all just got channeled into this. I mean, that's how the drug scheduling came about was . Yep. You know, they couldn't get anybody to fight the wars because all the, the younger generation was taking acid and realizing, well, I don't wanna kill humans. And so now we're just coming around to like, oh, well actually there's a lot of benefit here and we have a mental health crisis in this country.

Right. So yeah, the next three to five years is gonna be huge in terms of people accepting that. And, say what you will about the pharmaceutical industry, which I am no huge fan of. They will have a hand in the mainstream. Totally. There's always a, you know, pluses and minuses of everything. There's always a shadow side to everything. And my only concern is I still want the actual mushrooms and the actual, Bufo like those substances to be available. Cuz there is gonna be these highly processed pharmaceutical forms of it.

Not to go too far down this tangent, but, one of the things that they're trying to do is pull the trip out of it and just sort of isolate this thing that's gonna be therapeutic. Which I've always felt that the trip is what makes it therapeutic. Yeah. Right. You know, and it's also makes it this sort of enjoyable adventure. And I'm not really a fan of the idea of pulling that out because feeling good and having this really bizarre, amazing experience is part of it.

Right. And I think in some ways also actually keeps people from abusing it because if you've ever had a really sort of deep, intense psychedelic trip, that medicine trip, you have to kind of work up the courage to go back. Mm mm-hmm. Because as positive as it was, it was also super intense at times. I still get nervous before I partake in some ceremony. There's still lots of growing pains with it.

[00:35:38] Ali: Yeah. All good points. If, something comes to mind, can you think of a short story, with keeping any personal details anonymous where you've seen the benefit. Cause I think that's the next question people have like, great, I've heard this before, but like why would I do it? And if not, that's, that's fine. But I'm just wondering if anything short and concise comes to mind where you're like, this is an exact use case of where mushrooms or whatever really helped "so and so" we can use fictitious names.

[00:36:14] Aaron: Yeah, actually, somebody I know very well who I diagnosed with depression, would be considered treatment resistant depression, was very much at the end of his rope. Mm. Started to contemplate suicide, lots of abusing alcohol. Using ketamine, five ketamine sessions and he's not on any meds for depression, nothing. And he is happy. Not that he's always happy, like challenges come up, which make it even more incredible because clearly his life has a lot of challenges in it, but he doesn't spiral into this dark depressive place.

Mm-hmm. And those five initial ketamine therapeutic ketamine sessions, which is completely legal right now. Anybody could go out and get a ketamine session. And then maybe once every few months he goes off in the woods and he eats three and a half grams of mushrooms and reconnects to that place. He doesn't take pills every day. He's not crushing his insurance premiums. Like he's, you know, he is happy guy and, um.

[00:37:20] Ali: He's in the woods, eating mushrooms, like what are humans supposed to do?

[00:37:23] Aaron: Exactly. And there's, there's loads of that. I just graduated from well, six months ago now, but I graduated from Psychedelic Integration Coaching School. Yes. That's a thing. And pretty much everybody in there had a story of how they have benefited from it. And you know, for me, the, the use of depression and PTSD and these sort of heavier, diagnoses I think is amazing. But I also think what's equally amazing is that most of us, even though we couldn't maybe go in and get diagnosed as, okay, you've got some diagnosable PTSD or, or depression or whatever it is. Most people are carrying around some sort of general traumas from their childhood. Mm. That may not be completely messing with their lives. They probably have careers and hold jobs and are functioning.

But if I had a nickel for every father that I've met, who talks about, god, I get triggered all day, every day by my kids. I love my kids. But they're clearly not enjoying their parenting experience to the degree that I see myself and others sort of tapping into. And they're either smoking a whole lot of cannabis to sort of get through it or drinking or just losing themselves in their work, which they're not that crazy about.

And so I see this as a common experience and I think if that could be normalized where I can go to my mushroom store and I can go get some psilocybin mushrooms. And I can go off into the woods, or I can have a time by myself, in my room listening to a playlist and I take a four hour trip, three or four times a year and that helps me become more aware, put traumas to rest. I'm happier. I'm more effective with my children. I'm not stressed out about everything. That would change the world. Right. It just would, if you had millions of parents who are all of a sudden, happier and there for their kids more how that generation's gonna grow up, you know?

So, I'm really passionate about it. I, by no means thinks it's a panacea, cuz it's not. And just beware everybody. Cuz that's the other side that's gonna come down the pike with all this stuff is people are gonna be selling it. Yep. And you already see it all over social media and stuff, but people are gonna be selling it as the end all, be all. Still requires work. It's an amazing tool, but you still have to show up.

[00:40:01] Ali: Yeah. Hell yeah man. Thank you. Yeah. Thanks for sharing that. Something you mentioned too, that I circled here is patterns and trauma and the relationship there. Mm-hmm. I've been paying really close attention to patterns, especially as they go up the chain.

We talk about this in Front Row Dads a lot. Like, are you going to continue or break the cycle? Because a lot of therapy, even though I still don't necessarily consider myself like super well educated, but I've studied different things and read up a lot on like, well, how do we navigate our stuff? How do we do our work?

A great tool is to look up the chain, like you said, well, what did my dad do? Yeah. And then go further. What did his dad do? And keep going? And it starts to fill in the blanks. It starts to just gracefully answer. Well, like, no wonder I do this because he did that. And it becomes these aha moments where the clarity's there and there's at least what I've been realizing more is like, there's no blame. It's just understanding. It's just awareness to be like, ah, no wonder. And so what is interesting to me, Aaron, as it relates to these patterns is like, as I learn this, I'm wanting to run and tell my parents and be like, hey, I know why you do that.

But , it's not quite that simple because their wall is up. And a lot of times their wall is even stronger than ours cuz they haven't done their work. How would they even know to do it? They weren't raised in an environment where it's like, hey, let's experiment with these things. Let's really tap into our souls. Like who are we? Mm-hmm. Why are we doing these things? Like they've got this other generational friction around being raised in a whole different like suppress your feelings. Like don't, don't talk about that stuff. So it's really interesting. I'm actively working on like, well how do I open this dialogue with my parents in a way that creates trust?

Yeah. At first I went lecture mode. I was like, let me tell you exactly what's happening here. Right. And then you could, you could tell they're just like sure, sure, ali that's great. Yeah. Whereas now I've been starting to use question frameworks and more what you talked about earlier, like modeling by example.

And I can tell I'm starting to peak their interest. So like, huh, that's interesting. Cuz if you tell someone how to do something, it's like, Hmm. Whereas if you lead by example or you ask the right question. And then I I've been doing that a little bit with my dad. And I'll feel his body language when I ask a question and he'll block me and I'll be like, hey, I get it. You don't really wanna answer that question. I understand. That must be a hard question, but I just want you to know I'm seeing that you don't want to answer that. And there's a reason for that. You know what I'm saying? Yeah.

So I think that's really cool that you recognize that. Cuz I, I talk a lot about patterns with people when they're talking about, you know, dealing with their shit. I'm like, well, what does your pattern suggest? Let's go up the tree and see what happened previously. Yeah, exactly.

[00:43:14] Aaron: Right. Yeah. And part of my process with, my journey and my childhood trauma was actually talking to my dad and my mom, two very different experiences. Understandably so. Like I don't think my dad was particularly proud of how he operated when he was younger. And my mom she showed up and she showed out the best she could. Wasn't perfect. Mm-hmm. So she was happy to just like, tell me everything from my childhood, anything of significance. My dad on the other hand, it was more of like you're saying bit defensive, a bit, trying to like, well, I've got a reason for that.

You could tell he was feeling very judged, even though I was just coming from a place of already kind of understanding, like without knowing the, the nuances of like, well, that must have been very hard, he was dealing with his own traumas. But not really getting a straight answer, which for me in and of itself was a great lesson in healing. Cuz it was just like, well I'm not getting what I thought I needed there, mm-hmm, necessarily to, help heal, but that's not gonna stop me.

And the real healing for me was actually coming to my own place of truly forgiving. And so what I found was, yeah, it would've been great if he could have been like, oh God, yeah, I was just a, whatever, a knucklehead kid who wasn't ready for kids and the stress got to me and I was dealing with my own, like, you know, there wasn't this avalanche of ownership and that's okay.

Yeah. Right, right, right. And so, it was useful in that way actually of not getting it. I feel like if I got that from him, it almost would've been like an illusion anyway. Sure. I gave myself permission to heal because he said that where actually, no, it's empowering. I can go and handle that myself.

[00:44:57] Ali: That's a great point. Cuz there's definitely, an aspect of what you said in needing to heal. It takes time. If it was that fast you're right, it'd be almost an illusion. It's usually not that easy because if there's anything I've learned from uncovering trauma, there's the awareness and we all have it.

Let me say that on air, we all have some form of trauma. It is not to be confused with like only things that happen to war veterans or people who are sexually abused. Like those are known, and those can be extreme examples, but like, it can be little stuff and it can completely shape a way in which you view the world is how I've been interpreted, you know.

[00:45:43] Aaron: And to give an example to sort of give that some life, it can be something as simple as a preverbal infant who has a dirty diaper in their crib and they're screaming and their parents are asleep and they simply don't hear them.

Mm-hmm. That trauma of feeling because that little baby feels like that's an existential threat that's happening in their world. Mm-hmm. Right. And so a parent might come in after a couple hours or however long even if it's ten, five minutes, that can feel like an eternity. And that particular trauma can stay with somebody. A birth trauma. There's a whole thing. A really nice documentary to check out for the psychedelic space is The Way of the Psychonaut. Cool.

It's the story of Stanislav Grof who's one of the psychedelic godfathers in a way. And he had this whole theory about people who were heavily into sort of "S and M" and bondage in their sex life. He theorized and he had enough cases that it seemed legit where they all, almost without fail had been stuck in the birth canal for long periods of time in that tight, tight space. And the contraction of the muscles and all, that's like a very violent sort of way to come into the world. And then all the chaos of when they do come into the world. And, he could track a lot of our behaviors today back to something that happened then. Mm-hmm. So even if that same child came out of the world, had wonderful parents, received all this love, probably went a long way to mitigate that, but there's still gonna be people where it persists and where it shows up in some way.

So to your point, yeah, it doesn't have to be something extreme and, you know, that's the difference between acute trauma and I'm forgetting the other term, but it's basically this more generalized trauma where you just didn't feel heard every day of your childhood for a few years or, you know, these little tiny death by a thousand cuts sort of a situation.

[00:47:44] Ali: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Nice man. No, thank you. Yeah. Thank you for distinguishing, cuz that is important. Yeah. And I'm gonna check out that movie.

So I feel better educated. I think, I feel like we've also probably shared some cool stuff. Anything else in this world? I know you've transitioning well, there's, some context around transitioning and doing this and helping people because as you mentioned, a lot of experience working with children and now you're almost flipping it on its head. You're doing work that is of the same importance, but you're almost teaching it to the other side, the parents, right? Yeah. So what's that like? Yeah, because I know with the pandemic and now we're moving into this world where some of this stuff is gonna be legalized and more let's say marketed soon, what's it like as you transition here. Challenges, opportunities, et cetera.

[00:48:41] Aaron: Yeah. Well, the bigger challenge is sort of what took us back to the beginning is where I had to like realize how much of my identity was wrapped up in being this autism superstar and helping families and everything. So kind of letting myself be a beginner, cuz even though I had this really tremendous wealth of experience, that's very helpful in doing this.

I don't get to go in and rely on the fact that I can walk into that playroom and I can just like, bing right. Make it all clear, make it all shine. Like this is what you're looking for and teach off of that. Cause that was the thing is like, I'd go in, I'd play. They'd be like, oh, let me go try to do that.

And they'd sort of fall flat and all these discomforts would come up. We examine those discomforts and then they're comfortable when they go back in and they're a lot more effective. And so I'm kind of being a surgeon and going to that part and you know, helping them. It's like the saying that's been said to death of like teaching somebody to fish versus giving them a fish. Mm-hmm.

And so I feel like using this sort of psychedelic integration therapy is taking something we were trying to do in terms of this dialogue process we would use with the parents where we're looking at that stuff. It's like, digging a tunnel with a butter knife versus an excavator.

And, and so now we're bringing in the excavator and we're just saying here, let's just get to the core of this for yourself. Right. But in some ways it's very, very new. You very much gotta really trust the person that you're coaching because I'm here as, like I can prepare you. I can answer questions about the process. I can listen to you and I can ask unbiased probing questions that will help you get to where you're going, but ultimately go have your, you know, go to Mexico or wherever you're gonna go, Jamaica to have your psilocybin session, have this experience and who knows where that's gonna go.

So there's this dynamic of unknown. Cause even if we prepare for a month, we get to the ceremony, it could just go in a completely different direction. Mm-hmm. And so there's definitely a learning curve for me with that. But I would say so far, as long as I go back to trusting and listening, it's a lot of that reflective listening that they know the client knows they're the ones that live that life and they're the ones that are gonna have those answers.

And so the part that I'm really starting to learn is listening to them in a way where I can take that and offer up some actionable steps for them as a coach. So with that, I'm helping them get to their, their ultimate destination, but it's a new skillset for sure.

[00:51:19] Ali: Totally, man, I appreciate that. I appreciate the humility and just the candor, because you're right. Like you had this previous rockstar identity that was easy because of all the time and energy you put in and now learning something new, there's an art to it after years of doing something and helping people and creating value. I've experienced a little bit of that recently as well.

And part of it's fun, I suppose, cuz you're like, cool. I get to be a kid again, but then there's the fear that kicks in like, well, are adults gonna trust me? And they're gonna have all these questions. Mm-hmm. So that's pretty cool that you're willing to embrace that and share it man.

[00:52:00] Aaron: But that's just it, I've always said in the work I've done with families, how can we ask these kids to change themselves in these tremendous ways, if we're not willing. I don't ever want to get to the point where I'm feeling like, well, I know it all in this field because that'll be false anyway. And, you know, offering myself up, it's like the way I kind of look at this is I don't have to do it perfectly.

Cause I don't think anybody is coaching perfectly. I don't think that's a thing. What I can do is my best to bring compassion and empathy and acceptance and truly listening. Mm-hmm. I'm so present. I'm not thinking about, oh, what's the great piece of advice I can give or, how is this gonna reflect on me of no, truly this is what they need.

You don't actually have to be this incredible superhero. Most people just need a place for their uninterrupted thoughts and feelings to land. That's 95% of that, you know? And so if I can hold onto that, that's what I always remind myself before each session is like, be what this client needs. Open yourself up, support, acceptance, loving, empathy. As long as I can tick those boxes, I find the other stuff sort of takes care of itself and we sort of create it together. It's not all on me. And so I think that's been a really useful way to look at it too.

[00:53:29] Ali: Definitely. As you speak, I just want to give you some feedback, some props that, like you're saying a lot of the things, and I feel just your warm presence that you're on a track to really help people. You already said earlier, like creating the container, a place for the thoughts to land, the vulnerability to be exposed and shared.

And I love that you're keen to not just create that space, but also listen. It's one of the things I can share from different experiences being coached over the years in different realms - business, leadership, sports is like, there's these coaches that you can tell really want to be the hero and their presence is known. There's a lot of how to what I call prescriptions. And these can work for specific things. I'm not saying prescriptions don't have value.

But then there's these coaches that at least lately in life I've been really gravitating towards and are a model for me where like, they really listen. And then they decide when to ask the right questions or when to ask questions that steer an experience even it's just a conversation. And that to me has been very powerful.

And I notice this in raising young kids that are starting to play sports. It's so easy to be the first type, the hero type. Well, this is all the things I've done. So listen to me, cuz I'm gonna tell you how to do it. Just be quiet. We'll answer your questions later. Right? That's like the model for coaching instead of flipping it and like said, I already feel your approach aligning with this where it's like I'm just creating space.

You've got all the answers. How can I guide you? Guide is such a strong word to me in being synonymous with coaching, right? Yeah. Yeah. And relieving that more of that hero label, cuz it's our instinct is to be the hero. We wanna help, you know, as a coach, we wanna feel like we help. And when, in reality, if you switch that, you're like, I'm just the guide. You're gonna figure all this out. I'm just here to support as a guide. It can be this, at least I've experienced it be a lot more liberating. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:55:39] Aaron: Yeah. I was a river guide for like six years. Really? Yes. And I knew these stretches of river, like the back of my hand. But I wasn't there giving them an experience of the river in a way, like they were having their experience. I was keeping them fed. Mm-hmm. I was making sure they got down safely. I knew where to put the boat. Like I knew all those things. So it's a similar thing of like let's make sure you've got medicine that aligns with what you're looking for, that you feel good about.

Mm-hmm. Let me just ask you some questions about how you were raised, so you can start reflecting on that and just sort of putting all these ingredients sort of in the area. Yes. And then sort of backing out and being like, okay, let's see where this leads us. So yeah, like just I'm there to guide, I'm there to be supportive in whatever way I can, but they're the ones taking the journey.

[00:56:34] Ali: Love it, man. Yeah. All right. How about this? You wanna wrap with a few fun questions? It sounds like Waylan is ready for dad. So he's doing his best. Let's honor that. No same thing here. I'm gonna be ready to check out into dad mode here shortly. So few fun, rapid fire questions.

What's the best book you've read lately.

[00:56:55] Aaron: Staying in the psychedelic genre, I would say that there's actually a tie for two. There's Psychedelic Psychotherapy, mm-hmm, which is a very easy read that sort of explains psychedelic therapy in a nutshell. And then the really kind of one blew my mind is called Tryptamine Palace. And that's by James Oroc, OROC and it's all about tryptamines are what, a lot of the, the sort of molecular makeup of the psychedelics. And so that particular book is about 5-MeO-DMT. There's just great trip reports. He breaks it down really, really, really well.

[00:57:30] Ali: Yeah. Sweet dude. Awesome resources. I'm gonna probably check those out as well. Next question. What's one of the funniest things one of your kids has said lately?

[00:57:43] Aaron: This is perfect timing. So the other day Waylan is like this impressively deep thinker for a six year old. And he came up to me and he is like, dad, what's gonna be here after people? And I said, oh, that's a really great question. What's your answer? And he's like, well, it's gonna be people only they're gonna have two heads and a butthole on their back. And I kinda understand maybe the advantage of two heads, what's the deal with the butthole on the back. And he says, so that they can lie down when they're pooping. And I thought, oh, I'll sign me up.

[00:58:27] Ali: Just amazing. I'm gonna continue asking this question. And our sons have to meet soon for the record because, oh my God. I know there's been a lot of discussion around butt holes and nonstop just there's like this. It's funny at first, Aaron, I was like, what is it with young kids obsessed with privates, but it is just funny. They look at them in such a different way than we do. And if I had to track back and think about how I'd answer this, a lot of my answers would relate to something around butts.

[00:58:57] Aaron: Exactly. Yeah. It's a big topic in this household.

[00:59:00] Ali: Big topic.

[00:59:01] Aaron: Farts and butts.

[00:59:02] Ali: Sweet. All right, one more. Where would you live if you could choose anywhere in the world?

[00:59:09] Aaron: Oh, man. That's funny you should say that cause we've been eyeballing different places. Yeah. I figured that. Um, anywhere in the world I would probably take a place in Australia called Burleigh Heads. Mm. And it's this beautiful world renowned surf spot, first of all. And it's just this really quaint little beach community near the gold coast that is just, and the people are lovely. The coffee is amazing. It's Australia, so that's gonna happen. Mm-hmm. But yeah, if you ever get a chance go to Burleigh Heads.

[00:59:43] Ali: This sounds beautiful. And you've been there. So you are a testament that this is an...

[00:59:47] Aaron: Yeah. I had a client there when I was traveling all over for my autism work. I went there maybe six to eight times maybe more. And I always looked forward to that, that spot for sure.

[00:59:59] Ali: Very cool. All right, brother. Anything left unsaid?

[01:00:04] Aaron: No, just thanks for having me on. I've been enjoying the podcast man, and a lot of respect to you for doing it. I know it's not a, an easy thing to do so.

[01:00:13] Ali: Well, thank you. Yeah, no, you're right. It's not, it's not easy, but it's so much fun. And it, that, that specific statement aligns with something I've talked about before on an episode is that you can have "hard choices, easy life" or "easy choices, hard life." And so I was just telling a friend, few days ago, who's thinking about a podcast, just sharing anything I could. I'm like, yo, this isn't gonna be like a 30 minute a week thing. Like it takes time. And for me it's about art. It's about having meaningful conversations like this. It's about sharing knowledge and it's also self-serving.

I get to wrap some of my story into this and document it. So one, I appreciate you listening. Two, thank you very much for jumping on with me because this was something I wanted to jam on and definitely covered a lot of awesome ground. And who knows, there may be a part two. We didn't even talk about a lot of stuff. Like I know river guide. I didn't even know that. So I'm gonna hold my questions for the next one.

[01:01:14] Aaron: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, we'll chat more. We're in each other's lives, so that's, uh, that's a good thing.

[01:01:20] Ali: Yeah. Definitely. All right. All right. Well thank you Aaron. It's time to check out, go back into dad mode. Yes, I appreciate you man. All right, man. See ya.

Ali Jafarian

Ali is a father, husband and serial entrepreneur with a deep drive to create. He writes, records, codes and builds things to inspire the artist in all of us.

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The Psychedelic Parent with Aaron DeLand
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