April 4th, 2022


Episode #48

Catalyze Change: An 8-Step Method for Leveraging Psychedelics, Neuroscience & Integration to Uplevel Your Life with Laura Dawn

In this solo episode, Laura Dawn dives into the neuroscience of psychedelics, sharing insights from the world’s leading psychedelic researchers. You will learn how you can leverage this understanding to interrupt old patterns and catalyze meaningful change in alignment with who you want to become.

“The universal challenge is to transform peak experiences into plateau experiences, epiphanies into personality, states into stages, and altered states into altered traits.”
Roger Walsh

Free Companion Guide For This Episode

Accelerate Change

Intentionally Shaping Your Identity and the Person You are Becoming: An 8-Question Self-Inquiry Method for Plant Medicine Integration. 


About This Episode:

When it comes to changing habitual patterns, especially behavioral patterns, we’re oftentimes focusing our attention on the wrong thing. This is why psychedelics can be such a powerful force of change in our lives, and while, the profound wisdom of our plant teachers offer us clarity and insight, amplifying our awareness and helping us reorient towards what we really care about, and illuminate the path before our feet, they cannot make us walk the path, they might inspire us to show up in a new way, but they can’t make us take action.

I’ve packed this episode full of research-backed neuroscience, wisdom teachings, and my personal experience over the last 5 years teaching plant medicine integration and I’m going to offer you a short-cut to implementing meaningful and lasting change that is seldom talked about and share with you how psychedelics catalyze change and how you can leverage this understanding to more deeply align and step into the life you truly want to be living.

Core Themes

Explored in this episode:
  • Habit Change
  • Psychedelic Neuroscience
  • Psychedelic Intention Setting
  • Shifting Identity
  • Catalyzing Change
  • Psychedelic preparation
  • Psychedelic integration

Links &

useful resources

Episode Transcript

Episode #48: Catalyze Change: An 8-Step Method for Leveraging Psychedelics, Neuroscience & Integration to Uplevel Your Life with Laura Dawn

If you are cultivating a personal practice with psychedelics or sit in plant medicine ceremonies, I’m curious to know why? What called you to these medicines? And why do you continue to show up to do this inner work that is oftentimes, quite frankly, really challenging? 

If I had to guess, I would say that it’s highly likely that at the very core of your why, which is essentially your intention, I would guess that you’re showing up because in one way or another you are desiring some kind of change to transpire in your life. 

Think about it for a moment. Is that accurate to say? Does this feel true for you? And if so, what is that change or transformation are you calling into your life?  

If you are choosing to walk this medicine path as a profound path of transformation, then this episode is for you. 

My name is Laura Dawn, and you’re listening to episode #48 of the Psychedelic Leadership Podcast. In this solo episode, I’m going to talk about how psychedelics catalyze change and how you can leverage this understanding to more deeply align and step into the life you truly want to be living.  And how when it comes to changing habitual patterns, especially behavioral patterns, which we all know are hard to implement let alone stick with, we’re oftentimes focusing our attention on the wrong thing and I’m going to offer you a short-cut to implementing meaningful and lasting change that is seldom talked about. 

This episode is part of a mini-series of solo episodes that I’m really excited to be sharing with you to support you in the process of working with plant medicines more intentionally, maybe even more strategically to implement positive changes that actually take root within your being, that helps you establish a new upleveled baseline in all areas of your life and that ultimately support you in expanding what you believe is possible. 

And there are 2 FREE PDF’s that accompany this episode that you can access at lauradawn.co/48 – I’m also going to mention quite a few very helpful resources throughout this episode which you can also access on this page, along with the full transcript if you prefer to read what I’m sharing here, which will accelerate your learning. 

(And these are helpful resources to do your own inner work, and also helpful if you are supporting other people on the medicine path. Because as I often say, we can only guide people to the depth we’ve gone ourselves. 

Alright friends, let’s dive in. 

Let’s talk about change and briefly cover some of the common reasons people seek out these medicines. And just take a moment to reflect on your own why, and core intentions. 

Maybe you’re calling in the healing of a relationship that has been causing a lot pain and suffering in your life.

Maybe you’re ready to kick an unhealthy habit or interrupt the cycle of a debilitating addiction, or you’re praying for the heavy weight of depression to be lifted from your mind, or maybe you’re ready to let go of a limiting belief that’s been holding you back from fully stepping into your life and you can see the pattern of self-sabotage but you haven’t been able to overcome that pattern that keeps rearing its head up in your life. 

Maybe you want to heal your relationship to food or your body and start treating your body better because the way you’ve been treating yourself is also causing self-harm and suffering.

 or maybe you need a deep reset around what you’re prioritizing in your life and how you’re spending your time or you want to feel more motivated and inspired. 

you’re calling in support, strength and courage through a time of letting go and transition. 

These are all ways we are calling in change in our lives. And so many more. 

And as we all know, sticking with change can be hard to implement, otherwise we’d all just be jumping to it, whatever that “it” is for you. You know, it’s one thing to think about quitting smoking, eating healthier, and hitting the gym at 6am every morning, and it’s another thing entirely to cultivate that as a daily habit. 

And oftentimes, the profound wisdom of our plant teachers do offer us clarity and insight, amplifying our awareness which can help us reorient towards what we really care about in our lives. As I often say, our plant teachers can illuminate the path before our feet but, but they can’t make you walk the path, they might inspire you to show up in a new way, but they can’t make you do it, or take action,  At the end of the day, that’s on you babe. 

And as this quote by Roger Walsh illuminates that you may have heard before: 

The universal challenge is to transform peak experiences into plateau experiences, epiphanies into personality, states into stages, and altered states into altered traits.”

And so the essential question here is how do we translate the wisdom we receive into the fabric of our everyday lives? 

How get more intentional about the work we do with psychedelics or sacred plant medicines to catalyze meaningful change that’s in alignment with the life we want to create for ourselves? Which is essentially what plant medicine integration is all about. 

And maybe we don’t need another ceremony, maybe we just need to show up and do the work and make a new choice in those very nitty gritty moments of our everyday lives. 

That being said, psychedelics can enhance our capacity to make that new choice or that better choice. 

So let’s take a moment to talk about how psychedelics and sacred plant medicines play a supportive role and how they lend a helping hand on our path of growth and transformation. 

According to Dr. Robin Carhart Harris a pioneer in the field of psychedelic neuroscience, he explains that: psychedelics are catalysts for change.  

So the word catalyst is defined as a “Cause to Begin or an accelerator”. I did an episode with Day Shuldkret all about the power of ritual, and he calls himself a word nerd and he’s been really inspiring me to look up the root meaning of words, and I found it fascinating that the word catalyst comes from the word “dissolution or dissolving” – And that right there makes me think of the process of entering the cocoon of metamorphosis which is what journeying with medicines often feels like. That sometimes we need to let something dissolve to step into a new, more aligned version of ourselves. 

Dr. Carhart Haris also talks about how when we take psychedelics, there is an overall enhanced effect of plasticity and describes “Plasticity as, essentially the capacity for change” – the ability to be molded. 

And Michael Pollan writes about this in his book How to Change Your Mind. And I’ll just read an excerpt from the book to set the stage here. 

“The myriad new connections that spring up in the brain during the psychedelic experience, as mapped by the neuroimaging done at Imperial College, and the disintegration of well-traveled old connections, may serve simply to “shake the snow globe,” in Robin Carhart-Harris’s phrase, a predicate for establishing new pathways. 

Mendel Kaelen, a Dutch postdoc in the Imperial lab, proposes a more extended snow metaphor: “Think of the brain as a hill covered in snow, and thoughts as sleds gliding down that hill. As one sled after another goes down the hill, a small number of main trails will appear in the snow. And every time a new sled goes down, it will be drawn into the preexisting trails, almost like a magnet.” Those main trails represent the most well-traveled neural connections in your brain, many of them passing through the default mode network. “In time, it becomes more and more difficult to glide down the hill on any other path or in a different direction. “Think of psychedelics as temporarily flattening the snow. The deeply worn trails disappear, and suddenly the sled can go in other directions, exploring new landscapes and, literally, creating new pathways.” When the snow is freshest, the mind is most impressionable, and the slightest nudge—whether from a song or an intention or a therapist’s suggestion—can powerfully influence its future course.

Then he goes on to say: “The therapeutic value of psychedelics, in Carhart-Harris’s view, lies in their ability to temporarily elevate entropy in the inflexible brain, jolting the system out of its default patterns.”

 Ok, so at the same time that psychedelics are catalysts for change, they are also pattern disruptors, which is really helpful to initiate change. Right, shaking the snow globe, fresh blanket of snow. It becomes easier to choose a new thought, make a new choice, that’s the essence of it.  

So we know there are these windows of heightened mental flexibility that open up for us after the psychedelic experience where we’re a little more malleable, and a little more shapeable so we want to take advantage of these windows post-psychedelic journey, which is really the theory behind psychedelic-assisted therapy. But we can also leverage that time to catalyze intentional change – intentional being the keyword here. And I’m not saying don’t go to therapy, if you need it, go for it, but there’s a large portion of the population who are working with psychedelics who don’t necessarily need therapy, or maybe can’t afford it, who can still greatly benefit from doing their own integration work. 

Ok, so if you want meaningful change to transpire, this essentially means that it’s also helpful if you have clarity around the kind of change you’re looking to catalyze in your life, right? As a wise person once said, when you know your why, you know your way, which is why there’s so much emphasis put on setting intentions, which of course change and evolve over time as we deepen on this path. 

So it’s worth highlighting that intention requires the cultivation of clarity. 

Fun fact and side note: cultivating clarity is a daily habit of peak performers. Cultivating clarity is daily habit of peak performers,  which is something I speak to at great length in my mastermind programs and we’ll talk more about this in subsequent episodes in this series. It’s not something you do once, but it’s a daily practice. If you’re not clear on what you want your life to look like, how are you going to create it? And shaping our lives is a daily process right? And we can bring more intentionality to that process to consciously shape it in the direction of our choosing. 

Ok So, here’s the crux of it and one of the key takeaways of this episode: ready?  

Oftentimes when we look at catalyzing change in our lives we look at behavioral change, and focus on changing habits, quitting old habits, or adopting new habits – which is the outcome of what we want.  

But this will only get you so far, and likely not as far as you’d probably like to go. 

If you want to achieve long-term foundational change in your life, I encourage you to stop solely focusing on the specific habits you want to change, although it is absolutely helpful to be clear on what those are as well, but I encourage you to start focusing on consciously shifting and shaping your IDENTITY, which is your sense of self, and how you make sense of yourself in the world. Also known as your self-concept in psychology. 

In his Book, Atomic Habits, New Youk times best-selling author James Clear, talks about the importance of identity-driven change versus behavior-driven change, 

Atomic habits is such a great book, highly recommend reading it if you haven’t yet. I’ll Link in the shownotes. 

In his book James Clear says: 

 “True behavior change is identity change. You might start a habit because of motivation, but the only reason you’ll stick with one is that it becomes part of your identity.” 

Now, this is essentially the exact same thing that many spiritual traditions and teachers have spoken to, one of those teachers being Byron Katie who’s been a big inspiration in my life, who’s said “Change Your Story, Change Your Life.” 

Because that’s essentially what your identity is: it’s an internal story or narrative you tell yourself about who you are and your identity is tightly woven together by your beliefs and everything you believe to be true. Your self-concept is a collection of beliefs you hold about yourself, within the context of the story you tell yourself about the world around you. 

And I like to think of beliefs as hidden contracts that we have with life, a contract that we signed a very long time ago and have completely forgotten about, but yet this contract still dictates the outcomes of our lives. 

Now the thing is, you started adopting this internal narrative about who you are at a very young age, and you’ve repeated this story to yourself so many times that you believe the story to be true. And so it’s kind of like being a fish in water your whole life. You’ve just been immersed in it for so long, and you don’t know any other way, so you just take it at face value and it’s outside of your conscious awareness. 

And this story has become deeply embedded in your subconscious and your identity, the story you tell yourself about who you are has this cascading effect, influences everything else, including your perception of reality, it influences the thoughts you think and the behaviors and actions you take. This internal narrative influences your mindset, how you approach challenges, how you transition through change, it influences what you believe you’re capable of, how deserving you are, all the way down to your self-worth. 

And from what I’ve witnessed over two decades of working with these medicines, the core of so many people’s struggle and suffering comes down to people telling themselves a narratives that is rooted in unworthiness, a story of not good enough, or some version of that, which manifests itself in soooo many different ways for different people. 

So when we talk about catalyzing change and transformation in our lives, if we only focus on behavioral change it’s like addressing the symptom rather than the cause. 

I like how James Clear puts it so succinctly: he says: changing our habits is challenging for two reasons: we try to change the wrong thing and 2) we try to change our habits in the wrong way. 

Which essentially he’s talking about changing from the inside out. He has this 3 circle approach, At the core or the center of the circle is our identity, processes and outcomes, – outcomes being habit change. 

Trying to change through focusing on behavioral habits only is like trying to change from the outside in. 

So when it comes to implementing change, most people are focusing in the wrong direction. They try to change the behavior first, rather than consciously changing their core identity, which includes crafting a new narrative around our sense of self. 

So again: this is emphasizing identity-driven change versus behavior-driven change. 

The key to building lasting habits is focusing on molding a new identity first. Your current behaviors are simply a reflection of the story you tell yourself about who you are. 

And when we focus on our internal narratives that make up our self identity, behavioral change becomes more of a by-product because we like to stay coherent and congruent with the stories we tell ourselves about who we are. 

If you want to quit smoking and someone offers you a cigarette, there’s a difference between someone who says: “I’m trying to quit” versus someone who says, “I’m not a smoker.” If you want to start running as a daily habit, focus on the narrative that you are a runner. 

See the difference? We don’t like to act out of alignment with who we think we are. Change your personal narrative, and you’ll support your behavioral change.

Ok, so I want to build on this by adding one more layer to this. So we’re going to circle back around to psychedelic research one more time. 

So we talked about how psychedelics are pattern disruptors and offer us these windows of heightened mental flexibility where we’re a little more malleable. And that’s because they influence our “models” of reality because of the neurochemical changes that take place in the brain when we ingest hallucinogens. 

Psychedelics are called “serotonergic” because these molecules are similar in structure to serotonin. As a result, they act as “agonists” following similar pathways primarily at the level of the 5-HT2A receptor which the majority of those receptors are found in the neocortex. 

Now, I’m going to simplify here, but I’m going to add a link to a youtube, created by psychedelic neuroscientist Manesh Girn, on his channel the psychedelic scientist, who explains the complexity of this. 

But essentially it seems that due to the flooding of the 5-HT2A receptors, psychedelics knock a very important network called the default mode network (DMN) offline. The DMN is considered to be somewhat like the neurological correlation to our sense of Self, often referred to as the “Me Network”. 

And Michael Pollan also talks about the Default Mode Network in How to Change Your Mind, 

This is the part of the brain that lights up when you get “likes” on social media, when you’re thinking about your past or future, or when you’re engaged in self-referential processing, or wondering what other people might think about you. This is called the default mode, because it’s where your mind wanders to when not doing or focusing on anything in particular. 

So there are 7 main networks in the brain that shape our models of reality, and The DMN is like a boss that sits at the top of a hierarchical brain, so the model of reality that sits at the top of the hierarchy is the story of ME. The model of self, and self identity, the story we tell ourselves about who we are. And this network, the DMN directs (and suppresses) the flow of information in order to maintain a cohesive storyline about reality. And what psychedelics do is they essentially flatten the hierarchy of the 7 networks in our brain. 

And there’s another article that speaks to this published in Aeon, that I’ll also add to the show notes, and it’s definitely worth the read called: Model hallucinations: Psychedelics have a remarkable capacity to violate our ideas about ourselves. Is that why they make people better?

So because the DMN gets “knocked offline” during psychedelic journeys, what happens is that our “models of reality”, including our “models of self” — essentially the stories that we tell ourselves about who we are as well as the world around us—become “violated”, and the integrity of the story begins to degrade.

“One of the most robust mental models is that of the self. It is exactly this sense of self that psilocybin and other psychedelics seem to disrupt.” ~Merlin Sheldrake, Author of Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures 

And it’s through this process that we might start to question: maybe I’m not this person, or maybe this identity I’ve been clinging to and defending for so long is just not in alignment with who I want to become. 

This is the primary reason that psychedelics can be so transformative; they help us to degrade (in a helpful way) our sense of Self–which means we become less sure of who we thought we were, opening a window of self-inquiry around who we might want to become.

So in a way, psychedelics are like putting on a new pair of perceptual glasses with a different colored tint that supports a different way of looking at yourself and the world. And even if putting on this lens might be temporary, let’s say 6 or 8 hours,  sometimes once we see something in a new light, from a new perspective, it’s hard to unsee it. 

We also know that psychedelics can often offer us a mystical experience of “self-transcendence”–a literal “moving beyond the self.” In the words of Matthew Johnson, a psychiatrist and researcher at Johns Hopkins, he says psychedelics like psilocybin “dope-slap people out of their story. It’s literally a reboot of the system…” 

That points again to psychedelics as pattern disruptors and at the highest level they are disrupting our models of reality.

 Now, I’m also going to share with you a clip from a conversation I had with psychedelic neuroscientist Manesh Girn, whom I interviewed all the way back for episode #5 titled This Is Your Brain on Psychedelics – but this particular clip is from an unreleased conversation where I asked him the question: how do psychedelics help to catalyze change and if you listen for it, Manesh directly speaks to these models of reality. 

SO all that being said, if we’re offered a reboot, as Matthew Johnson calls it, we might be wise to reset in a way that’s in conscious alignment with who we want to become. 

So how do we do that? 

We’re going to focus on a process that emphasizes identity-driven change versus behavior-driven change. This is a simple process, but it does require showing up to engage in it. So often we learn about the tools but we don’t always use them or implement them. 

And this is a version of one of the tools I draw upon in the work I do when I’m supporting leaders and entrepreneurs, peak performers and executives. 

Here’s the 8 part process: And I wrote these questions out in a Free PDF that you can download if you go to www.lauradawn.co/48

  1. For the first part of this process, I invite you to write down your core intentions for why you are choosing to walk this medicine path. Why are you choosing to go to the next ceremony or whatever psychedelic container you are showing up for. And in this process of asking why, keep peeling the layers back, asking why one more time, until you can’t go any further.


  2. What is the core change or the core changes you’re calling into your life? And there’s something really important I want to say about this question. Root the intention or desire for change in self love and self compassion rather than a desire to get from A to B because you don’t like who you are at point A. Transformation can come as a result of loving ourselves through the portal or metamorphosis. Guilting and shaming yourself through change actually prevents you from passing through the portal and can become a form of self-sabotage. Chogyum Trungpa, used to say that awakening is inherently a path of befriending ourselves, which is incredibly profound to contemplate. And I think about that all the time. 
  1. Who is the person I am becoming? Who am I intending to become? And I’m curious to know when was the last time you asked yourself this? And if you do ask yourself this, how often do you reflect on it? This question, framed in this particular way, who am I becoming and intending to become –  is super powerful to weave into your daily practice of self-reflection because you’re implementing a current self narrative around becoming, which in turn influences the process. Remember I said that cultivating clarity is a daily habit of peak performers, well if you make asking yourself this question a daily practice, you will bring more intentionality into shaping the person you are becoming.  

So much of our present moment experience is shaped by our past. If you want to really understand this, just tune into Joe Dispenza’s work, and you can start with reading becoming supernatural. 

And when you’re writing, frame it in terms of the present moment, this is how we create a bridge between our future selves of who we are becoming and anchoring it now. 

So imagine yourself in a year from now, what is the story you are telling yourself about who you are. And the reason I started this process with the first two questions is to create a story or a narrative around who you are as the person who is embodying the changes you wish to see take root in your life. 

So let’s say for example you’re experiencing challenges in your marriage or a relationship you value, and you’re receiving a reflection that you’re unkind. And you’re coming to this medicine to heal that relationship because when it’s out of alignment it’s causing you a lot of suffering in your life. And in a ceremony your perceptual lens gets dusted off and you see the ways that you are actually being unkind. 

So in this writing exercise of who you are becoming, you write out a vision of your future, writing in present tense, of what it means to identify as a kind person. You want to self-identify as a kind and caring person and have that also be reflected back to you. 

Now the second part of this question is asking yourself: what is one new belief I need to adopt to become this kinder person? And maybe this inquiry leads you to realize that you were taught that the world is an unkind place, not an uncommon storyline shared with children. 

And then ask yourself: as a kind person, how would I think? What are new thoughts I would need to think to identify as a kind person. 

What new words would I use and how would I speak differently? Remember words shape our reality and have a huge influence on our self concept and identity. 

And then ask yourself: how do kind people behave? What are new habits and behaviors I would need to establish as a kind person? What new actions would I take?

This is creating change from the inside out. 

Then the last question as part of this process is asking yourself why does this matter to me? And this is where we align vision with values, and these do need to be in alignment for that change to get rooted. So again, why is this important to me? What do I truly care about and what do I value in my life and how is this change in alignment with those values?


  1. Core intentions for why you are choosing to walk this medicine path. 
  2. What is the core change or the core changes you’re calling into your life?
  3. Who is the person I am becoming? Who am I intending to become?
  4. What is one new belief I need to adopt to become this person? 
  5. What are new thoughts I would need to think to identify as a kind person. 
  6. What new words would I use?
  7. What are new habits and behaviors I would need to establish as a kind person? What new actions would I take?
  8. Why does this matter to me? What do I truly care about and what do I value in my life and how is this change in alignment with those values? 

Ok, so I don’t just recommend thinking about it or reflecting on it, I encourage you to write it out, ideally by hand in a journal, or you can print out the pages I created for you in that free PDF,  and try writing as much as you can, so when you feel like stopping, try going a little further. And see if you can strike a balance between intention and surrender in this writing process. Stepping out of your own way, while still engaging your intentions. I find a good window for this is first thing in the morning where my brain still has one foot in the dream realms.  

Which I suggest committing to this process for at least 14 mornings in a row, because you’ll be amazed at how the process changes for you and evolves.

“Identity change is the North Star of habit change.” James Clear

As Brené Brown says: “When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending.”

We’re going to talk more about visionary mindset in an upcoming episode, but I’ll just say for now that going through this process as a tool for integration and asking yourself these questions is a powerful visionary practice and aligns mind, body and hear. 

The power to create your life starts in your mind led by a change of heart. 

What direction is your internal compass pointing? How intentional are you about influencing the direction of your life? 

Alright friends, I hope this was helpful and informative. And if you did find this episode beneficial and you know other people who might benefit from listening please share it with your community. I would also so appreciate it if you feel inspired and uplifted by this content to please leave me a review on itunes and subscribe wherever you listen to podcast. 

I will be leaving this episode off with one of my all time favorite songs…I was obsessed with this song in 2021, it’s called Cellular Upgrade by Equanimous, Activation and We Saw Lions and you can find a link to more of their music on this episode page as well. www.lauradawn.co/48

Once again, my name is Laura Dawn and you’re listening to the Psychedelic Leadership Podcast, until next time.

Laura Dawn


“Host of The Psychedelic Leadership Podcast and founder of Grow Medicine Laura Dawn is a microdosing mentor and plant medicine integration guide for change-makers, thought-leaders, entrepreneurs, and creators.


Laura Dawn has been a life-long entrepreneur and has over two decades of exploring altered states of consciousness. Currently, she is completing a Masters in Science specializing in Creativity & Change Leadership, exploring the intersection between psychedelics and creative problem-solving, helping leaders and teams unlock innovative solutions to the complex challenges we collectively face.


Through her signature mastermind programs and retreats, Laura Dawn weaves together science with the wisdom teachings of Eastern philosophy to teach you how to mindfully explore psychedelics and sacred plant medicines as powerful visionary tools for inner transformation and creative manifestation. Through mindset, mindfulness training, and somatic awareness, she inspires you to expand the boundaries of what you believe is possible and embark on the path of heart-centered leadership to influence meaningful change.

Featured Music

This Episode of the Psychedelic Leadership Podcast features a song called Cellular Upgrade
by the Equanimous, Activation, We Saw Lions


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About Laura Dawn

Through her signature Mastermind Programs and Plant Medicine Retreats, Laura Dawn weaves together science with ancient wisdom. She teaches business and thought-leaders, entrepreneurs, and creative professionals how to mindfully explore psychedelics and sacred plant medicines as powerful visionary tools for inner transformation, fostering emotional resiliency and unlocking new depths to our creative potential.