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Psychotropics and psycho-spiritual encounters with death Local writer and transpersonal researcher Dr G. A. Lahood has been asked to contribute to a collection of papers in honour of the legendary LSD and psychotropic plant researcher, Dr Stanislav Grof. The book, A Festschrift (a collection of celebratory papers from colleagues) is for Grof’s ninetieth birthday, and includes notables and luminaries such as mythologist Joseph Campbell, world renowned professor of Religion Houston Smith, Rick Doblin founder of MAPS (The Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies) the late Ralf Metzner (associated with Ram Dass and Tim Leary) and cultural historian, Rick Tarnas, author of Cosmos and Psyche. Dr Lahood says he is a ‘transpersonal anthropologist, a psychotherapist and a new paradigm researcher’ and has lived in Byron since 2006. He trained under Stan Grof in the late ’80s. ‘I was the youngest trainee back then’, says Dr Lahood, ‘And soaked up everything Stan had to teach – which is a lot’. ‘Grof has been at the forefront of psychotropic research for almost 50 years, and the resurgence of interest in psychotropic substances (ayahuasca, psilocybin, LSD, ketamine) for healing of trauma would likely not have happened without his influence.

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8 The Byron Shire Echo ĕżƐĕŔćĕſ ǨǬǽ ǩǧǩǨ

‘Grof and Abe Maslow started the transpersonal psychology movement in

Dr G. A. Lahood. Photo Jeff Dawson the heyday of psychedelics in 1969, when powerful arms of the American Government banned legitimate research into psychotropic healing’. Dr Lahood has given hundreds of holotropic workshops (in NZ, Aust, UK), published two dozen papers and book chapters on childbirth trauma and shamanism, action research (relational inquiry), spiritual emergencies, and gestalt therapy. Dr Lahood’s papers are read as course work in many transpersonal (spiritually) oriented university counselling courses. After being asked to contribute to the book by Rick Tarnas, Dr Lahood says he thought he was the ‘runt of the litter’ when he read the list of luminaries contributing. ‘Rick was kind and replied, “Not in our view”.’

The paper was partly researched in Byron Bay, where Dr Lahood interviewed 100 mothers, and was supported by midwives in Australia and NZ. The focus was on the psycho-spiritual encounter with death, a topic some women speak about while giving birth. Dr Lahood’s research suggests that if ‘birth giving’ women think they might die, then they can clamp up, inhibit or stop labour, which can call forth more invasive medical interventions. The encounter with death can open a door into profound transpersonal phenomena.

Birth trauma Dr Lahood says, ‘The paper also has to do with the use of the holotropic ritual (breathwork) to heal birth trauma created by

medicalised hospital ritual’. ‘As such it can create PTSD’, he says. In the past 10 years, Dr Lahood has also developed ‘relational inquiry’, a form of new paradigm action research. ‘Its not psychotherapy by any means, as the social handshake is “mutual care” so obviously, not psychotherapy’. ‘It’s about to be published as The Rainbow of Desire: Seven Years Practicing Seven Relationships in Relational Inquiry (International Journal of Transpersonal Studies). ‘When the first COVID-19 wave hit, we closed the group down as a safety measure. ‘However, when covid is under control, I will do another seven year cycle of co-research. ‘Relational Inquiry is researching spiritual subjectivity with the hypothesis that Nature has an interior subjective experience’. It’s the far-out end of eco-psychology, which comes back round to many Indigenous worldviews. ‘And if that sounds a bit crazy (which it might to someone sporting a strictly materialist worldview), we can remember that New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, in response to longtime Maori activism, has accorded a river the same status as a person – so rivers, lakes, seashores, sand dunes – are people too! ‘Coming back to Grof’s amazing research, I think that is one of the remarkable things that has come with the psychotropic research – a more participatory relation with Nature’.

Policy Exhibition Draft Policy 5.52 Commercial Activities on Coastal and Riparian Crown Reserves Byron Shire Council resolved (21-336) at its 26 August 2021 meeting to amended Policy 5.52 Commercial Activities on Coastal and Riparian Crown Reserves and placed the Policy on public exhibition for 28-days for the making of public comments. The amended Policy is available for viewing on Council’s website at: www.byron.nsw.gov.au/public-exhibition Submissions open on 15 September 2021 and close 12 October 2021. For information on lodging a submission, and where to address it, refer to the “Lodging a Submission” section within Council’s website.

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