There is a new approach to finding balance that may help artists who face obstacles to sustaining their creative expression: Psychedelic Integration. The work is to integrate spiritual experiences into daily living. The key elements apply to the artist mindset as well, with or without psychedelics.
When I discovered this emerging field at a recent Plant Spirit Summit, I felt a journey inside me come to completion. I’ve grown accustomed to disillusionment disrupting my flow of creativity but I never before considered integration as a solution. After hearing how psychedelic integration can balance transformative experiences, I realized that is what’s been missing from my own plight as an artist.
Surviving NYC for almost 20 years really leaves a jaded mark on an individual who refuses to play dirty, blur ethical lines, and/or trade favors for opportunities. And yet trying to overcome ethically questionable practices turned into somewhat of an addiction for me. “New York City is a Drug,” says punk band The Dirty Pearls, a relic of the Lower East Side in times past.
The city of dreams has shown me several lifetimes' worth of opportunities. There is always #AnotherWay. The city is alive with deviant art, desperate passion, and magical moments everywhere you turn.
For years I consumed the energy around me, including all the exploitative practices that suffocate artists. It was just a matter of time before that took its toll. Everyone handles disillusionment differently because it’s a personal experience. I sought metamorphosis at an Ayahuasca retreat in Peru and reclaimed a creativity that had fallen dormant. But how to sustain that upon my return to an exploitive environment?
Most people I’ve encountered in big cities don't speak the language of psychedelic love, the oneness of all things, living and not-living. That kind of thinking doesn’t jive with hustle culture. Unique dreams that find their way to NYC expect to break hearts, trample the competition, and “do what it takes” to succeed. That’s often what it looks like just to survive here.
Integration work teaches survival without the sacrifice of deviant sensibilities or artistic expression. Post Peru I was asking, “Do I lower my vibrations to match those around me or call attention to a higher path?” Integration asks, “How do you find balance with integrity?”
One side effect of my psychedelic experiences has been to turn away from the spotlight I once craved. Reflecting the light that shines from others feels more aligned with my purpose. But what I’ve discovered is that not everyone can handle their own light. Especially artists, who can feel more comfortable lost in a self-effacing ethos that culture often demands from them. (See my blog: Which came first: the exploited artist or the insecure artist?)
Succumbing to a dark ethos isn’t the answer, but neither is imposing ideals. There is a third option: integrating balance. Working in the Arts as long as I have, I’ve seen a lot of artists come and go. Finding sustainability for one’s creative flame faces the same roadblocks across mediums, across disciplines, and across industries.
So integration for me has three paths: integrating psychedelic 5-D learnings into my 3-D daily life, integrating a new mindset into communities that see deviant thinking as a threat, and integrating the artistic sensibility into business savvy. That’s #ArtsMeetsBiz!
Integration is what I’ve been seeking all along and just knowing there was a path for it turned my spiritual void inside out. This is a calling for me, the latest “Call to Adventure” that makes sense out of the conflict I’ve survived.
To that end, I’ve started a new MeetUp community to support artists seeking their own integration. The same struggles I faced as a creative in a city that’s more hustle than flow can manifest uniquely in every artist. Disillusionment is very real. If your experience of it is one and done, you’re one of the lucky ones.
People need supportive communities now more than ever. So please join us virtually to share and engage in a constructive dialog around what it means to be an artist today. Whether you’ve discovered your creative talent after a psychedelic experience or are reconnecting to a flame that was extinguished by exploitive practices, your story needs to be heard, recognized, and either celebrated or composted to build a better tomorrow for the Arts. #OneArtistataTime
Emileena is writing a book on artist development called ANOTHER WAY. If you are an artist looking for development, consider Emileena's E-Velop program.
Original Artwork by Dave Law, freelance visual artist and illustrator. For more, please visit www.davelawart.com.