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A journey into psychedelics: The Health Stack with Dylan Beynon

February 08, 2021 -
Posted by Matteo Franceschetti
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Health is based on three pillars: sleep, nutrition and fitness. I chat with some of the most interesting people I know to discover more about their Health Stacks: the behaviors and products they use to stay healthy and fit.

Recently, I had an hour-long Zoom conversation with Dylan Beynon, founder and CEO of Mindbloom, a psychedelic therapy company. Dylan shared how he developed his interest in psychedelic therapy and more.

Highlights

  • Dylan is an avid practitioner of Vipassana meditation

  • 11 years ago, Dylan began his journey into the psychedelic medicine space after taking MDMA for the first time

  • Dylan is passionate about helping others achieve the same pivotal changes he saw in his life through psychedelics

  • Dylan focuses on eliminating products from his life, instead of adding them, to improve his overall wellbeing

My journey to health and wellbeing

I’ve always been an active person. I started playing football at 7 years old, and I continued playing throughout high school and then into college. In college, I began to take a holistic approach to my health and wellbeing rather than only focusing on physical fitness.

Why I recommend Vipassana meditation

7 years ago, I committed myself to 45 days of meditation using Headspace. If I did not see any changes in my health and mental wellbeing, I told myself that I would stop and never do it again. After 30 days, though, I started to gradually see the benefits. Ever since that experience, I have been meditating consistently and it is one of the most rewarding aspects of my life now. While I have a regular practice spending at least 15 minutes/day “on the cushion,” my primary practice is spending as much time as possible in mindfulness from the moment my eyes open in the morning to the moment I lose consciousness at night.

If you are looking to start meditating, I always recommend the Waking Up App by Sam Harris. I enjoy that app because it focuses more on teaching vipassana, or insight meditation, rather than apps such as Calm or Headspace, which seemed to focus more on samatha, or concentration meditation, at least when I used them. Samatha is a great place to start, but I found that the rabbit hole goes much deeper with vipassana meditation, and I’ve seen others build a meditation habit that sticks when they get into vipassana.

When practicing Vipassana, your overall goal is to accurately and quickly identify anything that is coming in and out of your consciousness.

Within that overall goal, there are 3 key characteristics of reality that you gain insight into when practicing vipassana. One is that everything is impermanent. You will begin to observe that nothing lasts and all that arises, passes. Two is dukkha, or suffering. Dukkha is an important concept in Buddhism that refers to the fundamental belief that nothing ever satisfies. Three is the idea of no-self. The idea of no-self will make you more conscious of the fact that your thoughts and sensations are not you, they are merely happening to you. 

When you start practicing vipassana, you will begin to become more skilled at revealing new, deeper insights that you may not have seen before. These practices you learn will help you become more aware and mindful throughout your day.  

How I got into psychedelic therapy

I grew up in a family that experienced a lot of challenges with mental health and illnesses. About 11 years ago, my close friend convinced me to try MDMA, an empathogenic psychedelic currently in phase three clinical trials for PTSD. At first, I was against the idea of using any drugs because I grew up with a mother who suffered from severe addiction. However, I trusted my friend and decided to try it. The experience was a catalyst for a fundamental emotional transformation in myself. I could better connect to others, and it catalyzed a journey of tremendous growth in my emotional intelligence.

Before my experience with MDMA, I was an overachieving, straight-A student athlete who would sleep 5 hours a night. I was consistently pushing myself and I was so busy that I did not take the time to do the emotional and mental work that I needed. However, MDMA was a pivotal part of my journey to self-awareness and emotional, psychological, and social health.

I don’t know where I would be now if I didn’t begin exploring psychedelic medicines 11 years ago.

How psychedelic therapy works

Psychedelics create this ineffable experience that is indescribable. Psychedelic medicines induce a state called transient hypofrontality where the prefrontal cortex dims down while creating a state of synaptogenesis, which allows the brain to create new, healthier neural connections and pathways. 

Some people feel as if they feel as if they are not able to process as much as usual when they are in this state, but they can also feel extremely creative at the same time. Some people also experience cathartic, emotional, cognitive insights that they have never been able to feel before. 

At Mindbloom, clinicians prescribe guided ketamine therapy for treating symptoms of anxiety or depression. Currently, ketamine is the only legally prescribable psychedelic therapy available today. It was FDA-approved about 50 years ago, and it's still used in every single ER and hospital in the country. It's on the World Health Organization's list of essential medicines because it's one of the safest anesthetics that you could possibly use.

Mindbloom's platform is currently available in California, New York, Florida, New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and soon, we’ll be available in Texas and other states. You’re able to use the platform to conduct hour long psychedelic therapy treatments at home with the assistance of a psychiatric clinician who prescribes and oversees your treatment. In addition to a psychiatric clinician, we pair you with a psychedelic Mindbloom Guide who helps support you throughout your journey with guided sessions, group integration sessions, and message-based support. During the one hour sessions, you put on eye shades and headphones to ensure that you are in a positive, expansive mindspace in a safe setting.

The most common feedback we receive from Mindbloom members is that they experience what feels like the benefits of years of therapy compressed in a few weeks. Ketamine therapy is generally a little gentler and lighter than some other psychedelic therapies, such as psilocybin.

Psychedelic therapy is serious medicine and should be treated like serious medicine.

Clinical studies are conclusive that if you are able to help an individual create a positive, expansive mindset before starting their treatment, as well as conduct it in a safe setting, then there is a very low likelihood of having a negative experience.

How psychedelic therapy works

Every morning, I love using my Luminette white light device on my face. The bright white light from the device helps me quickly become alert and ready for my day. 

Throughout the day, I take around 30 supplements. 

Overall, my philosophy around most products is elimination rather than addition. For example, I have my iPhone on dark mode all the time and I don’t use social media or watch TV. These small changes are important to me because I believe it gives me the mental capacity and freedom to focus on what’s most important.

One thing I've been doing more over the last few years is spending less time trying to optimize with more things, and more time trying to live spontaneously and subtract possessions to create more mental space. If you would've asked me three years ago, I'd give you a laundry list of devices and wearables that I was using to track every part of my life, but now, I focus on the essentials.

I love my Kindle for reading before I go to bed each night. Oftentimes, I wake up with it on my face because I fall asleep reading. 

I use myFitnessPal for calorie tracking. I also sleep with an Oura Ring and Dreem 2, a cephalogram headband. I recently purchased an Eight Sleep Pod Pro Cover so I’ll be using that to improve my sleep, as well. 

The product I would build if I had a magic wand

I would love a product that would notify me every time I lose awareness. Whether that be a push notification, buzzer in my ear or any other way to notify me, I would want a way to be made aware of any sleepwalking through life. I believe that we have a finite number of sensations and moments in life that we get to fully experience. There are plenty of moments I have had where I completely miss out because I am not there mentally. That’s something that I’m constantly working on.

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