EP285 Ken Breniman on Mortality, Therapy and Sacred Psychedelics (Entheogens) on Exploring Possibilities

Ken Breniman, LCSW, C-IAYT, Licensed Psychotherapist, Certified Yoga Therapist & Thanatologist (http://www.kenbreniman.com) talks with host Sheryl Sitts, MPA, BA, Possibilities Coach & Holistic Practitioner (http://www.sherylsitts.com) about:

  • As we enter what is widely viewed as a happy time of year, the holidays, many of us are carrying grief from real and imagined losses we have experienced during this COVID-19 pandemic, and many families are divided over how we should proceed from here. Ken discusses how we can manage this grief, and what he has learned as a student and therapist on thanatology (the study of mortality) and further states that much of the tension and pain we feel during this time is our unresolved grief.
  • Ken shares how we are all here learning about our own mortality and how to cope with loss, something that can be even more difficult in our Western “death-avoidant culture”
  • He mentions a term from psychology called “object relations” and how the very youngest among us (and even our own inner child) struggles to understand the pain of physical absence
  • How do we work through our grief? Ken discusses how we tend to push it away out of fear, and yet the only way to resolve it is to sit with it. He shares and explains how to engage in beneficial ancient technologies, specifically heart-texting, meta-meditation, and tonglen meditation
  • They discuss the technology and “apps” within us and can work with technology to recognize and develop our own abilities and even upgrade our gifts
  • They discuss how we can work with sacred plant medicines to navigate our own mortality. Ken shares using caution in how we work with these enlisting our best “harm-reduction” approach in bringing such powerful things into the mainstream. Ken references the headline with a former heavyweight boxer who claims working with these several times a day, and they are so strong and sacred, so we may want to reconsider our approach and discover the benefits of less-is-more. Sheryl admits to getting a bit “lost in it” when she began journeying because it was so powerful, beautiful, and sacred, and then recognized the power of integration to space out ceremonies and bring more forth over time using daily practices.
  • Ken correlates our culture as being in its “pre-teen phase”, trauma-inducing, death-avoidant, and trying to make sense of our world, and how sacred plant medicines can help us with that
  • Sheryl shares her own experiences in ceremony that have brought her a deeper knowing of the Divine, reincarnation, and more. She no longer needs texts and teachers or clinging to beliefs because she has been given a direct experience in ceremony.
  • Ken references the research on the ten phenomenon shared by most during near-death-experiences (NDEs) and how most of those are also experienced in ayahuasca ceremonies, and how we return back into normal conscienscious integration as a gift. Sheryl speaks to the peeling away of the layers of identifies, programming, and beliefs until we are left at the core essence of I AM, free to choose our own course forward instead of being unconsciously trapped in our stories and identies
  • Ken explains why he wanted to work with psychedelics to help clients. He shares losing his mother at 18 and being taught to avoid his grief until he discovered recreational use of MDMA in the gay community of San Francisco and later had close calls and near-death experiences with DSM. Later as Ken trained in yoga, he was invited into “circles of clear men” in ceremony and he accepted when he was ready. His ego guided him that there would be healing possible in that work and to stay with it. Later he found ayahuasca enabled him to stay with it longer and witness his final time with his Mother. There he found compassion and forgiveness for others and himself. He calls ayahuasca his “grief teacher” in comparison with the “prolonged grief disorder that DSM promotes”, comparing numbing out against finding deeper love to feel and heal.
  • Ken talks about the dual track model of berievement: one side being work (active grieving) and the other is rest(oration); when do we lean into the work with plant medicines and when do we integrate
  • Sheryl asks Ken how he can be so peaceful and serene as a grief-worker when that would seem such sad work. He responds very personally about befriending the parts of himself that he left behind. The earliest versions that get tracked or lost, it is a rather soul retrieval/remembrance to hold and love those parts of ourselves that were once so confused and lost. In doing this, we can also have some to share with others by being that possibility. He also admits that he is still working through things himself, having spent this summer in his own grief cocoon to do deeper self-healing. “We show up the best we can and remind ourselves when we need to care for ourselves.”
  • Sheryl talks about how this show has helped her learn to go with the flow and trust natural timing.
  • Ken adds the importance to him in realizing what he is capable of doing and when he needs to say now. He is happy with what he can offer to his community and grateful there are others building their dreams so we can all be of service in our own innate ways.
  • When asked who he attracts into his community, Ken responds that his inner circle is his queer community he feels committed to serving, and that ripples out to reach those who are “psychedelically inclined or curious”, even if they have never worked with those substances but may simply sit in a sound bath and have visions
  • In ceremony, Ken considers himself a lifeguard, saying you already know how to swim, so even though he can be a swim coach a little bit, he’s an energy cheerleader rallying around seeing you become the hero of your own story
  • Ken seems surprised when Sheryl tells him she sees him as someone living on the fringes of society as a gay man working with psychedelics and talking openly about grief, and says she also sees herself on the fringes. Their conversation turns into how they can each blend in and go unnoticed and others can’t, and the universal nature of being unique. We are all misfits and we can all shine in that uniqueness!
  • Ken expands on being a gay white male learning to live in that identity and conversely letting go of what the ego wants to hold onto around those identities
  • Ken is excited for Matrix IV and what that might reveal to influence society during our great awakening. He is eager to learn whatever important messages may come through that; and what is the new normal on the other side of this? Sheryl says our new normal is change and we are learning not to need to get back onto solid ground; they aim to stay open to whatever may come and sit with the question, “So…now what?”
  • Sheryl speaks about learning to balance those events and activities that must be planned with keeping enough openness in her schedule to sit with her guidance around new ideas and energies that want to manifest through her.

…and so much more. Enjoy!

Sheryl & Mario Rosales (https://www.MarioRosales.com) invest time, money and energy into this show with the intent that it help us all remember who we really are. Your financial support is deeply appreciated at https://www.JourneyOfPossibilities.com/Support. Thank you!


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