August 9, 2021

Beyond Mind and Body: Intersecting Sexuality, Spirituality, and Psychedelics

Beyond Mind and Body: Intersecting Sexuality, Spirituality, and Psychedelics

Sherry Walling - 0:00:09
Hello there. Thanks for joining me for another episode of the MIND CURIOUS podcast. Have you listened to all the episodes? What do you think? We, at the MIND CURIOUS team, would love to hear from you.

Sherry Walling - 0:00:16
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Sherry Walling - 0:00:45
Let us know what you are curious about. Last week, we brought you a conversation about integration. How are mental health professionals helping those who've had healing psychedelic experiences translate those experiences into their everyday life. Today's episode is a deep dive with one such mental health professional. Dee Dee Goldpaugh is a licensed clinical social worker.

Sherry Walling - 0:01:07
They have years of experience assisting clients as they are healing from trauma. Dee Dee has a special expertise, a special perspective about how to bring together the worlds of trauma, particularly sexual trauma, spirituality and spiritual practices, and traditional psychotherapy. They also specialize in helping with integration and helping people make sense, or find meaning in sacred plant medicine experiences and translate those into deep and lasting change. I loved my conversation with Dee Dee because they so clearly articulated the power and potential of sacred medicines and the ways in which these sometimes disparate fields can come together, spirituality, sexuality, and science. Dee Dee is also open and upfront about the deep and sometimes very, very hard work that's involved with healing.

Sherry Walling - 0:01:59
They start from the rawness of their own trauma and their own healing journey and hold that tenderly as a starting point from which to help others heal. I'm delighted to bring you this conversation. As always, please remember that this is a conversation between two curious individuals and it is not intended to be medical advice or legal advice that is specific to your situation. Dee Dee's experiences and wisdom are their own, and neither they nor I are making statements on behalf of our sponsor, Mind Cure Health. With that said, let's dive in.

Sherry Walling - 0:02:44
So, I guess I'd love to just start by asking what brought you to the field of psychedelic-supported psychotherapy?

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:02:58
Yes, thank you. Well, my story is unique in that a lot of clinicians started with an academic interest or they sort of got interested in research side of things, but I actually was a trauma survivor. I am a trauma survivor, and I had a lot of different kinds of traditional therapy that were not super effective for me, and this is before I was a trauma therapist myself, which is my clinical practice as it exists today. So, in my seeking my own healing, I came to psychedelic work, mostly in shamanic contexts and that really helped me to turn a corner from a life that was really mired in a lot of suffering and difficulties with relationships, depression and anxiety, and really gave me my life back. So, that was sort of my entry into the field. And primarily, my work clinically has been as an integration therapist because I learned in my own trauma healing that the ceremony or the experience is one thing, but what you do with it in your life is a whole other matter.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:04:01
So, I began to really try to develop tools and techniques that are specifically for people who had been survivors of sexual trauma based on my work with clients and also my own healing. Also, I'll just add that a dynamic to my work that I'm really embracing these days is, "Okay, so you are a trauma survivor, you had all these acute symptoms, and psychedelics have helped you to get through that period of acuity of suffering with PTSD or whatever was the result of your trauma, what then?" So, part of what I love about being on the other side of the psychedelic clinical field outside of research but more in clinical practice with folks is because I'm really so interested in working with creativity, with embodied joy, with pleasure and ecstasy, and these are things that are not really easily clinically quantifiable, especially in research studies that are looking at like treating very specific mental disorders and pathologies. So...

Sherry Walling - 0:05:03
Ooh, there's so much to talk about just in this first answer. I guess my initial curiosity hearing this bit of your story and without, you know, needing too many details but I'm curious like in that initial searching for you, I mean, at some point, you came across the shaman and, you know, it's not like that's easy to do like did you Google? Or I mean was there a piece of writing or literature or introduction that sort of helped you understand what this world might look like for you?

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:05:36
Yeah, that's a great question, and I'm going to give you a very nonscientific answer. My clinical practice with clients is based on evidence-based treatments and I, of course, solidly rooted in science, but I actually do believe that I came to a place where I was really in a spiritual crisis. And I-- my heart was open to the universe to please send me help. And it so happened that I was at a psychedelic conference and somebody literally who I trusted and knew came over to me and was like, "Hey, are you interested in having an experience? This person is coming into town, and I've worked with them in Europe and really trusted them," and that's how it unfolded.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:06:14
And I also want to say since I'm being upfront about that story, that this is why I think opening up avenues for people to safely access this work is so critically important because for me, that ended up being a safe and healing environment, and I took several trips to Peru after that to do work in a legal context. But the fact of the matter is that people are desperate for healing and clinical contexts are one really impactful place that that could happen. But I also think that the decriminalization movement and opening up more expansive opportunities for community-based healing, particularly for folks that come from minority communities, sexual or racial minorities, are incredibly important so that we can have transparency and ethics and safety within those contexts as well.

Sherry Walling - 0:07:05
Absolutely, and that's very beautifully said. Obviously, I want to echo this sense that science and spirituality don't have to be mutually exclusive, right? That we can be thoughtful people with our prefrontal cortex and then also really embrace a sense of nuance and of intuition and of sort of a longing to expand. And I think that's a conversation that often happens within the psychedelic community is that yes, we're talking about treatment, yes, we're talking about symptom alleviation, yes we're talking about people feeling better and not experiencing so much suffering. But we're also talking about growth and expansion and connection and learning deeper ways to be human and learning how to have a greater capacity for love. And so, we can have that all mixed in the mixing bowl of this conversation.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:07:54
Right, and I think that's why the clinical research is absolutely amazing as it is. It's where the limitations exist, right? Because it's really giving you a very narrow picture of what is possible with psychedelic healing because you're looking at mostly folks, not exclusively, but mostly people who are treating very specific disorders or symptoms, and we're looking at the alleviation or the remission of those disorders and symptoms. But it is very narrow picture of what it actually means to heal as a human being.

Sherry Walling - 0:08:25
Yeah, and obviously the latter part of your point ties back into that is that when we're talking about legalization, we are talking about making an argument for why these substances do more good than harm. And clinical research sort of is part of that journey especially within the US and FDA approval and those kinds of things of making these medications more accessible to people.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:08:50
Absolutely. But I will also go on record by saying a very solid argument is that you should have the right to alter your consciousness in the way you see fit for your own spiritual growth and development.

Sherry Walling - 0:09:03
That it shouldn't be a right given to you by a governing body, that it is a right that exists just day one coming out of the womb.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:09:13
It is-- it is your inherent right as a human being to be able to work in conjunction with healing plants and molecules in order to evolve as a person and find healing.

Sherry Walling - 0:09:23
Tell me what integration means to you because you use that term, "I'm an integration therapist," or "I work in the field of integration." So, for those who are listening who may have heard that word or may not be totally sure what that means, like what does it mean to you?

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:09:43
Yes. Okay, well, I will first preempt that question by just sharing very briefly that psychedelic integration psychotherapy as a modality is a therapist helping a person to prepare for or process a previous psychedelic experience. So, the therapist is not directly involved in administering psychedelics and, you know, that can look like talk therapy. It can also look like behavioral therapy, art, and creative processes. So, that's sort of the nuts and bolts of it. But what I would say to speak directly to your question of what integration really is to me is taking a fleeting but powerful experience and learning how to keep it alive in your life.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:10:18
And we talked a little bit about-- touched on this idea of spirituality and science not being so mutually exclusive here. So, one thing I will say is like I have 20 years of experience as a meditation practitioner and experience with the Buddhist communities. And surprisingly, some of the biggest resistance I've seen to the psychedelic movement has come from different spiritual communities, and sort of this argument that psychedelic experiences are not authentic spiritual experiences, or it's not real healing because you're not doing the "hard work of it." And the reason I strenuously sort of disagree with this perspective is because, I think, it completely excludes integration. You have a time-limited, and it may be intense, it may be mind-blowing, it may be all of these different qualities, mystical with the psychedelic, but that ends.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:11:11
And then the very hard spiritual process of integrating it, which can happen over years of time, has to occur after the fact. And so that argument that like the real work is the daily practice of meditation. Well, I would say the work of psychedelics is the daily work of integration, right? So, to me, like the psychedelic is the spark that sets the fire and the integration work is you being the tender of the fire that has to keep the fire going in your life.

Sherry Walling - 0:11:46
That's a beautiful analogy. I really like that. So, what kinds of things go into tending the fire for you? For the people you work with?

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:11:54
For the people I work with, you know I have developed a sort of specialization in the course of my career as an integration therapist of working with folks around sexual trauma issues. So, it's not everybody I work with. Sometimes, I just have people come into my practice who have, you know, difficult experiences with psychedelics or ecstatic ones, and they want to talk about it with a knowledgeable therapist. But I have developed a lot of skill in working with survivors of sexual trauma and in working with the LGBT community as well. I identify as a queer and nonbinary person and those are communities that I feel really strongly about serving.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:12:27
So, you know, for me, I think, fundamentally speaking, effective integration somehow extends beyond just talking about the experience, right? A lot of Western psychotherapy is about mental processing. I'm going to talk this thing to death and I think that's an important entry point, right? Because you're taking a psychedelic experience, which can be expressed to you in symbols and in felt states and trying to put that to words is a really good first step. But I think effective integration help is about taking that knowledge and translating it into action, right? Translating into something that makes a difference in your life, and for the clients that I work with who have experienced sexual trauma, a lot of what that looks like is actually around pleasure, you know, I don't mean generic in a negative way, but a more generalized approach to integration might be somebody developing a meditation practice or a practice working in with nature for example.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:13:19
But with folks that I've experienced who have had a lifetime of dissociation from their bodies, of sexual shame, of not being able to feel safe in their sexual experiences, a lot of what I'm doing with them is helping to reconnect to their body in a safe way and find the parts of the psychedelic experience that actually helped them to feel embodiment or bliss or a connection to something greater than themselves and really capitalize on that experience for their own healing.

Sherry Walling - 0:13:59
It is so beautiful to hear you describe that because I do think if we shift back to our medical model in our formal training as clinicians, often we're looking at PTSD was there and now it's not. And I think, especially when we're talking about sexual trauma and the kind of injury that sexual trauma causes is, of course, involves a lot of symptoms that are terrible and we want to get rid of. But also involves this really deep injury to our identities as a sexual being. And so (inaudible) about...

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 00:14:31
Absolutely.

Sherry Walling - 0:14:32
How you're working with folks to work to restore that, to see themselves as a sexual, sensual human again, and then to think about what that means in terms of capacity for pleasure.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:14:44
Yes, I mean, beyond what you just said, when sexual assault or abuse occurs in childhood, a person can become so fragmented that they are not even in touch with themselves, and that is certainly something that I have direct experience of. Like, I didn't actually really even know that I wasn't feeling my body until I started to feel my body. And you know what? I think something I really love with clients is to get people thinking that, "Yes, certain kinds of psychedelic experiences can help us to directly confront trauma," right? So, we look at this like staggeringly gorgeous research around MDMA, and we know that there's this neural hormonal response that allows people with this medicine to be able to directly confront the trauma, or for example, with more tryptamine psychedelics like psilocybin or ayahuasca, you may have these experiences of being able to come back directly into contact with traumatic events.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:15:36
That's all great, that's useful, and some of the most effective healing experiences I've had and some of the experiences I've worked on with clients is not looking at the traumatic event. It's actually restoring joy and restoring of quality of bliss or embodiment. Some of the most effective trauma healing I've experienced hasn't dealt with trauma at all.

Sherry Walling - 0:16:04
Dealt with play or dancing or joy or silliness.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:16:07
Yes, absolutely.

Sherry Walling - 0:16:10
Yeah, early on in my clinical training I worked with someone who had a really significant history of trauma, and one of the things that we started to do in our work together really looked a lot more like play therapy like you would do with a child. But one of my best interventions as a clinician was taking those little parachute guys, you know. They're attached to like a little army guy who's made of plastic and we would just throw them off the top of the stairs in the building that we worked in as this form of like, "Look at that fall, look at this playful moment. We're doing this for no other purpose than it's funny."

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:16:42
And that's a sweet story but the shadow side of that story is that perhaps that person never got to have a childhood.

Sherry Walling - 0:16:50
Exactly. So, it's restorative, right?

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 00:16:51
It's restorative.

Sherry Walling - 0:16:53
It's corrective experience-- the corrective experience of inviting people into play once there's a sense that that could be safe for them. What about psychedelics do you think holds maybe particular promise for folks impacted by sexual trauma?

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:17:08
Well, I think, first, we can look at the clinical, right? So, I alluded to the MAPS study, that's the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies that's doing significant work on PTSD and including sexual trauma survivors and has had, you know, tremendous results with dealing with MDMA therapy. We also have really interesting emerging research that seems to suggest that mystical experiences that are occasioned by certain psychedelics create increases in the domain of openness in our personality that are not normally-- normally only seen over decades of life experience, and we also know that those same psychedelics, psilocybin specifically, can increase creativity and empathy. And to me, as a therapist that deals with sexual trauma, I feel like these substances can really offer people an opportunity to re-narrate their very rigid stories about themselves and their trauma and their lives. So, I also again want to just touch on like that's all really powerful within the clinical realm, and there's also this quality that can occur in psychedelic experiences that-- specifically around sexual trauma, and that's like the reconnection to the sacred or the reconnection to something greater than yourself.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:18:22
This idea of being alive in your body and being reintegrated where you may have been dissociated before. You know, I haven't seen those particular things talked about in exactly that way in the psychedelic research because sexuality has really not been looked at as a discrete arena in psychedelic research at this point. So, I do think that psychedelics can offer this opportunity to regain the ability to be present with pleasure. When you're having a psychedelic experience, you are not thinking about the dishes or, you know, the mundane things of life. You're really alive in that experience.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:19:09
And hopefully, that experience, I mean, it can be very challenging and those challenging experiences can be incredibly helpful too, but it may also have aspects of real joy and bliss and positive feeling in them, and being able to reconnect with that in your daily life to be alive and present with pleasure in the world, present with sexual pleasure in your life. That is kind of what makes it worth being alive as a human being, right? We are here to feel and we're here to feel joy.

Sherry Walling - 0:19:43
Have you seen it kind of go the other way? Have you seen experiences in your clinical work where people have, you know, engaged in a psychedelic experience, and it has either brought to mind the trauma that they weren't aware cognitively of having memory of or of even watching people kind of further dissociate or feel further disconnected from themselves?

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:20:07
Oh, I'm so glad you asked that. I was actually slightly hesitant to bring up this topic only because I didn't want to scare listeners into thinking that this necessarily would happen, but I have developed an approach to working with survivors of sexual trauma that recover memories of sexual abuse during psychedelic experiences. So, I want to be careful in how I talk about this. In the history of psychotherapy, there are dark chapters of therapists suggesting that clients recover memories in various ways, and this is a dangerous and unethical practice. And I have also seen clients come to my practice who say, "I have had a lifetime of sexual dysfunction, I've struggled with substance abuse, I have these weird feelings in relationships I can't explain." They have a psychedelic experience and because of the way certain psychedelics can affect memory, they begin to have flashes or full memories of things from childhood that they did not have access to before.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:20:59
This can be an intensely distressing experience. So, for some clients, it's turning on a light bulb, right? They just didn't know what was wrong and then all of a sudden it's like, "Well, this is what's wrong," and they have more material to work with. I have also had plenty of clients that come in a state of confusion saying, "I actually don't know if this really happened, I don't remember it, but this seemed like it could have." And this presents an even trickier situation for therapists, and so, it's not necessarily that the material you see in a psychedelic experience is "real." It can be a concretization of very intense feeling states from childhood.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:21:37
So, it could look like sexual abuse in terms of what you see in the visions in the ceremony, but it actually could have been feelings of invasion or emotional abuse that sort of concretize in that way. And my approach with clients across the board is really to work somatically. What is your body saying to you? Okay, so this image is linked with the sensation but what can we do with your body to help you process the sensation? So, the medicine is giving you this image because it's giving you an anchor to work with and now will work with that anchor, and the clients that I see who have the best outcomes are the ones that can tolerate not knowing per se and focusing on, "What I'm experiencing in my life right now and how can I make that better?" Now, as to your question of further dissociation, you know, psychedelics, they carry risk, right? So, some folks it can exacerbate mental health issues, it can cause real internal crisis.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:22:33
And I think that really rigorous screening and support, that's where the integration piece really comes in. Because for a small number of folks, psychedelics are not a good healing root for them because it can really exacerbate previous mental illness. But people can have really difficult experiences with psychedelics and it has nothing to do with that. It can be that they're not prepared to deal with the overwhelming nature of the experience or the overwhelming nature of the trauma that might be unearthed, or that the experience itself didn't feel safe to them, which can mirror the experience of trauma and be extremely overwhelming. I think all of those things are situations that a good integration therapist should really be prepared to support a client through.

Sherry Walling - 0:23:23
I think one of the additional concerns is even the possibility that there is sexual impropriety or confusion in the context of the session, and in training as clinicians, there's lots and lots of conversation around boundaries and complicated even romantic and sexual feelings back and forth between clinician and client. And so, there's a lot of language around the ethics of that and that doesn't necessarily exist in the sort of underground community or the places where people may go to, you know, meet with a shaman or even meet with a trained therapist. But it gets a little funky. I guess I would just like to, you know, sort of ask about that and how you see that potential danger and what kinds of recommendations you have for people in terms of avoiding them?

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:24:15
Well, I'll answer this question in two different ways. So, first, I will say that unfortunately there are many instances in unregulated contexts of people experiencing sexual misconduct and unfortunately, there are some documented cases of this happening in research contexts as well. So, even though there are all these therapeutic boundaries and training, unfortunately, these things have still occurred. So, I think when you're dealing with survivors of sexual trauma, psychedelics can sometimes for some clients cause certain acting-out behaviors or reenactments of trauma scenarios. Clients can experience intensely erotic feelings towards a therapist or facilitator and facilitators or therapists need to be extremely well trained and grounded at how to deal with those erotic projections so they are not causing harm. And that's a really hard thing to do and it takes a lot of clinical supervision, it takes a lot of support, and it takes a lot of sort of honesty and then of course, the more common and more, I don't know, sinister is the word coming to mind because, you know, to me when we violate a vulnerable person, it's a deep spiritual trauma, right? So, I think that, you know, in research settings, the psychedelic guide or facilitator is presumably a sober guide.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:25:34
Meaning, the therapist is not taking the psychedelic, just that the client is. And that may or may not be true in more unregulated contexts, right? So, I think that a lot of honesty and oversight is required for people to know what to do with the power they have when they are facilitating an experience like this for someone. And unfortunately, for a certain number of people, psychedelic use seems to increase their narcissism, and I'm choosing my words carefully, and perhaps create an even more difficult situation in them seeing how the power that they wield over a vulnerable person. So, I think the answers to this are, first, community accountability.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:26:27
What do we actually do with people who create harm? How do we create venues for them to heal themselves, to make amends, and to be removed from the community, if necessary, or to be prevented from creating further harm. In clinical arenas, I think we need way more supervision. Because I'll tell you, like my fundamental training as a therapist was more psychodynamic, and we talked about erotic transference and erotic feelings, but you don't really learn in a structural behavioral way what to do with clients in these intense situations until I was doing sex therapy training because you're literally sitting and talking about sex in a really frank way with clients. And like, we need new disciplines to come into psychedelic therapy, and who know how to deal with these situations because sex therapists get a lot of training like how to deal with these things.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:27:21
And that's really, really necessary, and I think the last thing is ending illegality because things fester in the dark, right? If we were able to have these ceremonies happening not in underground context but in community contexts where there was an actual community of people that had accountability to each other, I think you would see far less opportunity for exploitation.

Sherry Walling - 0:27:47
Absolutely, that makes a lot of sense. I guess I'm imagining someone listening to this conversation who is thinking, "I've had some rough experiences in my past and psychedelic sound like a really interesting healing opportunity for me." The way that Dee Dee talks about it, it sounds so hopeful. There's possibility of restoration of pleasure. I can enjoy sex again, like it sounds lovely, but also it's kind of scary. It's kind of scary. How do you kind of navigate that conversation with someone?

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:28:18
Well, I mean listen, there are actually multiple layers to the conversation that you're alluding to because the first thing is, as a licensed therapist, I can't give people referrals. Who's going to get into a research study, right? I mean, people get into research studies but it's extremely arduous and it's very few people that actually have access to these medicines in a clinical context. So, you're looking at being really hamstrung as a therapist because you are ethically unable to make referrals to any kind of nonclinical context, right? So, the first thing is helping clients to decide on their own whether that is for them and helping them to ask the right questions to find out, especially as a trauma survivor about, "Is this context I'm choosing going to be a safe one for me?" So, pre-pandemic, I had a lot of people who would leave the country and go to retreat centers in various places, Jamaica, Peru, that can work legally with different medicines and there are variable quality. So, really helping people to understand and know how to ask what they need to ask about whether I'm going to be safe here is a preliminary step to the the question about scary, right? 'Cause you asked about like-- you know, it can be scary, and I think what happens in the experience itself is often unpredictable.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:29:33
But what we can know is that clients who experience less anxiety generally have more positive experiences going into psychedelic work. Clients that feel well prepared and feel like the people that will be there that the set setting and cast who will be there, where is it going to happen, and what's my mindset going in, when those things are aligned and feel positive, they have a much better chance of having an experience that's healing for them. So, I think validating that it is scary, you are taking a substance that is going to alter your consciousness in some way that might be unpredictable to you, acknowledging that that in itself takes a lot of bravery. And if we look through a more animistic or shamanic lens, we want to acknowledge that you're welcoming a nonhuman presence into your body that may have its own agenda for you, its own ideas about healing, and what it's going to offer you. And, you know, again, we're talking about that science spirituality piece, somebody could believe or not believe that to be true.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:30:37
But in the experiences I've had, the sense of being met with a sentience that is not human and coming into very intimate contact with you is an experience like nothing else that you've ever had, if it's new. So, to help clients prepare and develop a sense of curiosity, you know, validating fear and trying to transform what's possible into a sense of curiosity, I think is a good approach.

Sherry Walling - 0:31:10
Is there anything more that you want to say about the intersection between spirituality and sexuality, and you touched on that a little bit, and it's okay If not, but I'm just curious if...

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:31:22
Yeah, yeah.

Sherry Walling - 00:31:22
You seem like you've thought a lot about it.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 00:31:24
Yes, yes.

Sherry Walling - 0:31:25
I want to just suck all of that wisdom.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:31:28
Yes, I actually have a significant piece of writing that is in the process of-- it's in the editorial process as we speak. So, I don't want to say too much about that but fingers crossed, there will be something published soon, upcoming, specifically looking at the role of the sacred in psychedelic integration work with sexual trauma survivors. So, what I can say about that is spirituality, as I work with it in my practice, means expanding the frame as big as you need to to help clients plug into it, right? And what I mean by that is many people's sexuality has been deeply, deeply impacted by religious upbringings, right? And so first of all, separating out sacredness or spirituality from their experience of organized religion is a first step. But some people have been so deeply traumatized by that, they don't want any-- they can't see that there could be any connection between sexuality and spirituality.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:32:29
So, I might start by thinking about qualities that a client might experience not only in psychedelic healing, but just in their own sexual experiences of ecstasy, of connection to something greater than themselves, and in some cases, what it might feel like to feel divinity within themselves, whatever that means for the client. People who are survivors of sexual trauma can often be very, very anchored in negative self-referencing beliefs like, "I am dirty, I'm broken." And you can gently begin to question, " So, if you have this sacredness in you and you can feel this deep sense of bliss or joy, how can that possibly be compatible with you also as a broken person or as a person who's dirty in some way?" So, you can really begin to break down some of these perceptions. You know, I also think that many, many people carry around aspects of their sexuality that because of socialization or religious shame are repressed, sometimes even to themselves for their whole lives, right? And that could be around queerness, that might be around kink, that might be around gender identity. And sacred work can also be making a space to begin to look at yourself with curiosity, free from shame. So, you know, my idea of sacredness and spirituality as it, you know, connects to all of this is really about seeing that we can love ourselves divinely, and we can accept everything that we are as being beautiful and sacred.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:34:07
And, you know, again with clients, it's really just about kind of cracking apart any kind of calcified notions that spirituality has to do with religious shame and expanding that framework as wide as they need to for them to feel that they're connected to some kind of sacredness in the world including their sexuality.

Sherry Walling - 0:34:34
Sort of like reconnecting with the cutoff parts, the parts of you that through your socialization may have been seen as not sacred or is dirty as wrong as broken.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:34:45
Right. And you know, I will say it doesn't have to be all love and light, right? Because there is this kind of perception that sacred sexuality looks a certain way. That it's heteronormative, that it's loving and tantric and connected, and I actually think we have to throw that entirely out of the window, and we have to welcome all forms of gender expression, of sexual expression including the ones that we really like to stigmatize.

Sherry Walling - 0:35:15
Vilify.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 00:35:15
Yeah, as being sacred expressions because they are part of us and we are sacred beings.

Sherry Walling - 0:35:23
And part of our exploration of pleasure and delight and even sometimes pain and pressure and the full range of what we feel in our bodies and in our spirits. Beautiful. Anything else that feels incomplete or...

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:35:40
Oh, I think we covered a lot.

Sherry Walling - 0:35:43
I was going to say that. We kind of nailed my questions. I love it when the questions get asked in a like totally out of order, just very fluid way. But if I look at the list, they're all there.

Dee Dee Goldpaugh - 0:35:57
Yeah, yeah, no. I think we really covered a lot today.

Sherry Walling - 0:36:06
Thank you so much for listening and for joining me in that conversation. You'll hear more from Dee Dee in future episodes of this season of MIND CURIOUS. To keep tabs on future episodes and on all that Mind Cure Health is doing in the world of psychedelics, you can follow us on social media or check out mindcure.com.