November 16th, 2021
OF THE PSYCHEDELIC LEADERSHIP PODCAST
Community, Boundaries & Deep
Liberation with Langston Kahn
Laura Dawn drops in with shamanic practitioner and author of Deep Liberation, Langston Khan about community, boundaries, rituals for grief, and the liberation process.
To create a world free from oppression, we each have to face the ways that we maintain toxic social systems within ourselves. In Indigenous cultures throughout the world, it's understood that true transformation starts in the body with a change of heart.
About This Episode:
Langston Kahn is a Shamnic healer that supports people through what’s called the Deep Liberation Process, a body-based approach that allows us to radically transform the range of fear-based stories we each hold in ourselves: from traumatic experiences, internalized oppression, and habitual emotional patterns rooted in old beliefs that hold us back from
healing, transforming, and freeing our authenticity and unique genius.
Bridging the shamnic wisdom of ancient spirituality with needs and demans of modern-day life, Kahn offers concrete skills to cultivate deep grounding, skillful boundaries, and a healthy engergy body; methods for authentic shadow work and healing our triggers; and tools for effectively tending personal and collective well-being in community.
Explored in this episode:
Episode #39: Langston Khan Psychedelic Leadership Podcast.
Laura Dawn: My name is Laura Dawn, and you are listening to episode number 39 of the psychedelic leadership podcast, featuring my conversation with the author of deep liberation and Shamanic practitioner, Langston Khan.
Langston Kahn: Deep liberation for me is a lot about feeling into the true vastness of who we are and bringing that truth into embodiment and how we live our everyday life. Embodiment is our ability to stay in relationship is the living process of the earth, moment to moment and really feels into what each moment is uniquely calling out of us and then allows what it’s calling out us to be brought into expression or just to be received for its more than just a moment of reception. For me community me means people that have agreed to work towards manifesting a shared vision and as they’re manifesting it, they’re also agreeing to hold certain shared beliefs and principles, it doesn’t mean it’s a [inaudible01:13] but as everyone has to believe the same thing, but we’re agreeing to sort of cultivate beliefs and principles that hold a common ground with each other and test those out, you know, be good scientists with them. Like when we have healthy boundaries that allow us to find our own space and we feel safe within, then we can communicate clearly and directly from the heart, which is intensely vulnerable, but possible when we have those boundaries.
Laura Dawn: To create a world free from oppression, we each have to face the ways that we maintain toxic social systems within ourselves, in indigenous cultures throughout the world, it’s understood that true transformation starts in the body with a change of heart. Those are powerful words written by Langston Kahn. Langston is a shamanic healer that supports people through what’s called the deep liberation process, a body-based approach that allows us to radically transform the range of fear-based stories. We hold in ourselves from traumatic experiences, internalized oppression and habitual emotional patterns rooted in old beliefs that hold us back from healing, transforming and freeing our authenticity and unique gifts and genius. Bridging the Shamanic wisdom of ancient spirituality with the needs and demands of modern day life, Kahn offers concrete skills to cultivate deep grounding, skillful boundaries, and a healthy energy body. These are methods for authentic shadow work and healing, our triggers and tools for effectively tending personal and collective wellbeing in community.
And so those are the core themes that we explore in this episode. We talk about community and the process of not just collectively holding a vision for the purpose of why we are in community, but actually how to take action in alignment with that vision and Langston shares what the deep liberation process is and offers a unique perspective on his definition of embodiment. We riff on shadow work, how to establish strong healthy boundaries, as well as what it means to work with triggers in more effective ways and we also talk about the power of calling in your ancestors and what it means to work with your helping spirits. He also shares his perspective on working with sacred plant medicines and how more is not always better and the necessity for integration. And in this episode, Langston shares a powerful ritual for making direct contact with and processing the powerful emotion of grief, which is definitely up for a lot of people these days, including myself.
And so I’m really excited to share this episode with you and I also just wanted to share a couple of very personal updates before we dive in. I just happened to be in the thick of such a huge transition right now, as some of you know, I just moved to Austin about a month ago and I have let go of my last portion of land in Hawaii through the divorce that I just went through and that’s where I’ve been living for ten years. And I have just been processing so much grief around this transition and letting go of that land and I have been really just missing that land in like the core of my bones, it’s like aching in my heart and I’ve been recognizing how much living off the land has really become a part of my identity, I have been living fully off grid for over fifteen years.
So I actually haven’t paid a utility bill for pretty much the entirety of my adult life and after we sold our retreat center that we built a few years ago after the volcanic eruption, I have been living pretty much between Costa Rica and the big island where I’ve been living out of this twenty foot long bus converted into a tiny home, you know, that didn’t even have a door. And I have been literally pooping in a hole under a mango tree for the past year, which is a visual that I am sure you wanted to have right now and waking up to the sounds of the jungle and soaking in the hot spring every single day, and just really living on the land in a way that’s deeply in sync with the rhythms of nature; and so this is my first time living city and gosh, it’s been over fifteen years now.
And so it’s really a big adjustment that I’m going through and so this emotion of grief has actually been teaching me an enormous amount in my life right now. I know we often associate grief to grieving the loss of a loved one and it so much more than that. You know, we’re often grieving what no longer is; having to let go of the past, having to make peace with impermanence and that really happens on a moment to moment basis. And a friend of mine, Amy commented on one of my Instagram posts saying that grief is the holy ground that we walk on and there’s so much beauty in grief. And this emotion of grief has really just been cracking my heart open and teaching me how to continue to lean into life and to live as fully as possible. And so as I’m simultaneously grieving and letting go of the past, I’m also really opening to new possibilities that are unfolding before me.
And there are some really big things happening in the psychedelic movement here in Austin. It’s like this interesting vortex happening here right now and I’ve been meeting such amazing people doing really amazing things. So that aspect has been really nourishing for me and I just keep reminding myself to just focus on all the goodness that is surrounding me in my life right now. And I just want to say thank you to everyone who came out to meet Delic last weekend in Vegas, oh my goodness it was a total joy to be the opening keynote speaker for that conference. And the whole event was just so much fun, I got to meet so many great people and I honestly couldn’t believe the amount of people who came up to express to me how much they love listening to this podcast, so that was really just so encouraging.
And I have honestly been amazed to see how fast this podcast is growing right now. And so I just want to say, thank you, thank you so much for listening and continuing to tune in to this podcast. It really means the world to me and if you’ve been enjoying this podcast and you haven’t yet a review on iTunes, I would so appreciate it if you could take a moment to do that every time I get a review, it really helps me reach a wider audience. And I also really appreciate your patience and understanding with the slower pace that I have been at with releasing new episodes, as I have just been moving through this massive portal of transition in my life. And I have only been putting out about two episodes a month, but once I get set up in my new space in December, I am really excited to be getting back into the one episode a week rhythm of things.
Also, it looks like I am going to be going to the horizons conference in New York at the beginning of December. There are a few events that are happening around the conference that it looks like I’ll also be attending and contributing to. So I’ll keep you posted on that and please hit me at up if you’re also going, I would love to meet you in person and I’ll include a link in the show notes to the psychedelic conference called horizons if you are not yet familiar with the work that they are doing, it’s really incredible. So check that out in the show notes and also next week, I’m going to be releasing a bonus episode with a really big announcement about the launch of grow medicine, which I honestly cannot fucking wait to share with you, so please stay tuned for that next week. Okay, so that’s all the updates from me, one more thing about this recording Langston was wearing headphones that kept just rubbing against his shirt and I’m at the point now where I just won’t record with guests unless they have an external mic and the setup that I require because it just compromises the sound quality too much. So there are sections where that muffling comes through, but it is what it is. And for this episode, I’m going leave you with a song called sitting in a circle, which just felt like such the perfect song for this topic, where we’re talking about community. And it’s a song by Avasa and Matty Love featuring Ryan Delmore. If you haven’t listened to their album called “love is king, love is queen”, oh my goodness, you are in for such a treat. At one point, I was listening to this entire album on repeat like all day, every day.
And so every song on that entire album is phenomenal and I highly, highly recommend checking them out. And it’s music like this that I feature on my four music playlist for psychedelic journeys and beyond, one of the playlists is great for micro dosing morning flows and if you haven’t yet checked out my free eight day micro dosing course, you can find that link in the show notes, along with the playlists and of course links to Langston Khans website as well as a link to his book, Deep Liberation that I highly recommend reading. Alright, without any further ado, here is my conversation with the author of Deep Liberation, Langston Khan.
Langston Khan: Hey, Laura, aloha.
Laura Dawn: Aloha, so nice to see you Langston. Oh, so you know, it’s just such a funny moment in time. Well, first of all, it’s so nice to connect with you face to face virtually, it feels like so many things right now are just up for a lot of people and definitely feeling that way as well and so my internet is not working, so I’m actually on a hotspot, so we’ll see how it wants to work, but you know, it just feels like that just feels like what’s up, what’s been happening lately for a lot of people. Just some really wonky things going on so I’m like okay, what is spirit trying to tell me?
Langston Khan: Absolutely yeah.
Laura Dawn: Yeah, how are you doing?
Langston Don: Yeah, I’m good, I’m good I mean, definitely in that same wonky energy, a lot of ups and downs, but overall I have been in a really deep visioning process with my community recently and just feeling a renewed inspiration from that as we really work to sort of unpack some of the blind spots and misconceptions of the vision of our community that we held and we didn’t even realize we were holding and were getting in the way of us being the people we wanted to be, and really coming back into relationship with the essence of what the vision really is, and it’s true nature. And that’s just been, I don’t know just rippling out in my life in a lot of different ways that’s been feeling like a source of joy for me.
Laura Dawn: Oh, that’s amazing, I heard you on another podcast speak about this notion of community and who is really our community and not necessarily everyone, you know and so I really appreciated that perspective; I am curious if you would want to speak to this community that you just referenced and the visionary process.
Langston Khan: Absolutely that’s no problem with me, so the community I’m referencing is the last mask community which is based on the teachings that was founded by Christina Pratt. It’s a contemporary shamanic like tradition that’s really about how do we as people of the broken path, you know people whose culture has really failed us for the most part, intending the ritual thresholds and supporting us in feeling like we could live our purpose in a way that has impact and heart and meaning on behalf of our community. And as those people who many of us who don’t have true elders, and many of us who a lot of the adults in our life when we were growing up are more sort of children in a sense this is the tradition for how we initiate ourselves essentially; how we choose from within that broken culture to step into greater wholeness and a sense of spiritual adulthood and address the challenges of our time so that hopefully the next generations don’t have the same born problems to fix, but actually get to bring their unique to the new challenges that they’re facing.
Laura Dawn: And so what’s the, the visioning process, what does that look like? I mean, that’s a lot of the work that I do and this notion of cultivating a shared vision is actually such a central aspect to leadership training. So I would love to hear what, what that process has looked like for you and your community, and what’s been the culmination point of that process.
Langston Khan: Absolutely, so how I think about community, which you are referencing before is not just a group of people that are gathered together to do something like take a class together. I don’t think a class automatically means community or like an audience with a teacher means they’re there at that teacher’s community. But for me, community means people that have agreed to work towards manifesting a shared vision and as they’re manifesting it, they’re also agreeing to hold certain shared beliefs and principles. It doesn’t mean its dog, but everyone has to believe the same thing. But where agreeing to sort of cultivate beliefs and principles that hold a common ground with each other and test those out, you know, be good scientists with them and also learned shared skills that we hold to a shared standard for how we be in community together. So we’re not just assuming that community happens because we gather but we have understood we need skills to make community happen.
So that understanding of community really arose out of this process of asking our helping spirits at the time. I was in the community at this time, so the people in the community at this time, and the shaman of that community Christina asking, how do we actually bring these teachings into the world in a good way. And at that point she’d been teaching for about twenty years, you know, in this process. But the answer from spirit to how do we bring these teachings fully embodied into the world in a good way, was in community and they are like okay, we thought we already had community, what do you mean? And out of that continued questioning to the helping spirits of our tradition, we received this whole model of a non-local community that’s very much like the structure of what you might find in a pre-contact indigenous community.
So there’s different councils of people that are leading through shared leadership and those councils, that ten different energies on behalf of everyone in that community. And so sort of a long story, but I will shorten it. The brief version of this is that we worked really over the last ten years of me being part of this community to manifest that vision and we were trying to do that while we were also simultaneously holding retreats within teachings. And it was wonderful in some ways we were really successful people’s lives were changing and we were doing incredible things shamanically. From like a shamanic nerd standpoint, we were like getting really cool answers from spirit and bringing them into reality and they were rippling out in our life in interesting ways. But we reached this point in the community where we realized we actually needed to move the community through a kind of death process because we had been trying for too long to sort of keep the teachings going while also having a vision that was only half manifest. So we committed to coming to whoever felt a wanting and a desire to on the other side of that death process of really letting our relationship with the community die something new could be born to see who wanted to be invested in rebuilding and revisioning and completing that vision that we kind of had half manifested. So we could actually become those people that could be manifesting that vision in the world versus just kind of like half manifesting it.
Laura Dawn: Right and so in a very sort of concrete way, what does the manifestation of the rest of the vision like really look like?
Langston Khan: It looks like taking these visions that we already had a lot written out around. Like for example, let’s say shrine’s council that is this council that has to do with tending our relationship as a community with the elements and making sure we as a community are in right relationship with those energies and then balance those energies. And just seeing where are the holes in this vision? Where do we sort of half get things, maybe misinterpret them and doing, going into trans states, doing journeys together, where we engage a process of what you might call podification, where we are having three people at least journey on the same exact answer using the same sort of space and non-ordinary reality that we are going into and then taking those answers and feeling into the answer that’s bigger than the sum of its parts from those three, at least three journeys we just did. And then taking that back to the vision and building it up and then saying, what’s the next question we have to ask and really just on a sort of weekly basis doing that with each other, then worked to flesh out the fullness of this vision and also try to start living it in this sense as we’re manifesting it. So take the principles we are learning from our helping spirits and applying them to the work we’re doing; the vision is made in the way that’s going to alignment with the vision.
Laura Dawn: Kind of curious, just generally speaking how many people are we talking about in this community?
Langston Khan: So you know, that number changes a lot, but right now there is about like, as we are doing this kind of vision work, I think there’s about like thirty people doing the main bulk of the vision work and there is other people a wider group that’s holding just space for us and doing that work and sort of supporting.
Laura Dawn: That’s amazing, yeah I love this conversation especially I think right now people are flocking towards, this notion of let’s build community and there’s a huge influx of people going to Costa Rica, for example, and I’ve built a retreat center here in Hawaii and we were creating community here and I think there’s this like glorified vision of what community is and people are like flocking to rush into this community scenario and then being like, holy shit, this is actually really hard. And we weren’t taught in school for example, the real skill sets; how to show up for communication, nonviolent communication, how to give and receive grounded feedback, how to hold counsel, how to listen, I mean I am sure that there’s so much you could speak to in this process of just what it really takes to maintain right relationship in community.
Langston Khan: Yes, it is a lot of work, it does. The community doesn’t just happen. it happens because people choose to show up and make it happen and the answer I get again from my helping spirit, so this is actually the easiest way of doing things, if you really look at the long arc of things. So it’s like sort of like distinction between like from a classical shamanic standpoint of like sorcery, like the quick thing you can do to get the result that has a long term cost, a much higher cost in the long term. Whereas actual shamanism, which often involves this slower process, but that ultimately is much more energy efficient, like just being factory farming versus actually, engaging in permaculture on a farm. So for me, like just the nitty gritty of day to day community life, part of it is just showing up, literally you just showing up.
But what we have found is that most people from just like, for example, if you are in the US, you don’t come to community with a communal body, like a communal wisdom body, this sense of the self that is a self in community. So it really is a pretty steep learning curve to learn just how to embody that self and know what does it mean to think about the repercussions of your actions not just as an individual going it alone, getting your needs met as a consumer and then leaving if your needs aren’t being met, but actually attending to a vision larger than yourself and being committed to staying in relationship with people as your committed to bringing that vision into reality together. And so the basic foundation of that answer of how you do that for our community is actually a lot of what’s in my book deep liberation, in terms of we need skills for withdrawing projections. We need skills for withdrawing triggers and not holding up their people responsible for our emotions, but actually letting the natural friction and conflicts at arising community, be ways that we engage our lives as a teacher to come deeper into a sense of our most authentic self and how to embody that with other human beings.
Laura Dawn: I love that perspective, and I love what you said that the slow and steady process is actually the quicker route, and I have had that insight before or journeying with medicines where I could really see clearly places that I was out of integrity for example, and it was easy to be out of integrity in that moment. It was like the easier route, but caused so much more energy to come back into right alignment after that. And it was like oh, okay, actually sometimes the deeper effort is the easier path that it actually has, that the sense of, of commit meant to write relationship. And I do, I want to get into some of these practices in your book, I really love your book, deep liberation. There’s definitely a very similar thread with your teachers and teachings and just the teachings that I have been, you know, delving into in my life as well. So it was just that deep resonance was already there and I want to highlight something you said, you said bringing these teachings to the world in a good way. I want to just like emphasize the “in a good way” before we get into the teachings and maybe this can also just be a segue into this conversation about what the deep liberation process is, but why do we need to emphasize in a good way?
Langston Khan: Yeah well I guess there’s lots of ways to bring things into the world and when I say in a good way, the big answer to what that means is really in right relationship with the earth and it’s dreaming. And that sounds kind of abstract, like I don’t know if the average person feels a resonance, their heart with that, that phrasing. But for me, what I mean when I’m saying the earth and it’s dreaming is there’s this idea that you find in many different traditions cross-culturally that we are part of the Earth’s dreaming in a sense; that the earth has a dream of life and in a sense, the earth if we are lucky enough to have a body on the earth, the earth is not something like we need to ascend from or escape, but not everyone gets that ticket you know, it’s something rare and exciting to get, to have a body with a human heart on the earth because our hearts are these sort of manifestation machines.
And it costs an enormous amount of resources to make a human being on the earth and just especially, if you think about like the amount of resources we consume in like contemporary capitalist culture. And so the only way we can repay the debt that it takes to give us a body on the earth, from my perspective, and from a shamanic perspective is to actually live that unique dream that we felt so in love with that we decided to come to the earth to embody it. And that dream is something that’s unique to us like what you might call our purpose. It’s an energy that’s never been seen before and will never be seen again and if we don’t embody it, the entire of the universe is depreciated by it not being embodied that this specific facet is not embodied of like the great mystery, the divine, whatever you want to call it.
And so we can do that energy in a lot of ways that aren’t necessarily in service to all of life. So it’s not just in doing our unique thing, but doing that unique thing in a way that is in service, this larger dreaming, because just as we, as a human being on the earth, have a right to be here and take up space. So does everyone else in the shamanic cosmology? So how do we actually manifest our dreaming in a way that we are not preventing the many other life forms on earth that are engaging in their own dreaming from doing what they are here to do? And other human beings too, so that is what I mean when I say in a good way.
Laura Dawn: I love that perspective, thanks for clarifying that and yeah, I would love to, I mean I definitely want to get into the topic of triggers. I love talking about how to work with triggers. Oh my goodness. It’s so juicy, but I want to ask you why the name deep liberation, I know that comes from your teachers process, Christina Pratt, but what does deep liberation really mean? How can we define it?
Langston Khan: Deep liberation for me is a lot about feeling into the true vastness of who we are and bringing that truth into embodiment and how we live our everyday life. So sometimes engaging in psychedelics or in ecstatic dance or other types of trans states, we might have these peak experiences where we experience that, how much love there is available to everyone, always trying to help us to be that thing we’re here to do, where we experience this deep sense of being held and belong in home. That we have never felt before, whatever it is, we experience something that rocks us a bit and opens our heart in some way. And so, one response to that is to be continually chasing that experience again and again and again.
But another response is to ask the question of, if I accept that this is true, this wasn’t just an experience because I was doing something, but it’s actually a which truth I was opened up to, how might I show up to my life differently holding that truth is the foundation of my life? What daily consistent actions that might I take to live my life as a story of that truth? Like story grounded in that truth, and so for me, deep liberation means moving into the parts of ourselves that are trapped in old coping mechanisms we learn to survive and rescuing those parts of ourselves and the wisdom of medicine they carries, then come back into relationship with the vast living process that we are just the earth is this vast living process. And we can begin to liberate our ability to freely express all of who we are and all of our complexity in each moment, not having to compartmentalize or having to wear mask or having to you know, be reactive to the people around us. We can truly express who we are in the right relationship with life, around us, with other human beings and with other more than human beings.
Laura Dawn: That’s beautiful, it makes me think of [inaudible29:55] teaching and [inaudible29:57] teaching. I saw you had a couple. Pema Chodron’s quotes in your book and so, I love her so much, just this notion of sky like mind; you know that, that is our true nature. It’s just the vast openness and everything else is just the weather that comes, you know, the clouds in the sky, just the, the turbulence, but actually the base is this sky like mind and that’s what it sounds like you’re pointing to.
Langston Khan: And maybe that’s where I think I differ a little bit from maybe more Buddhist conceptions of thought. Not that I think, like fundamentally there is huge differences but, what I hear what you’re saying is a little bit of a privileging of that sky mind a bit; which is understandable, because that that is a beautiful, important experience to have. And I think the weather is just as important, the deep liberation process very much is about freeing us to be in that elemental weather to let a big anger come and be expressive and needs to be expressed to let ourselves really feel a jealousy or an envy or rage or a deep grief, and have that feeling be about what the present moment is calling out of us versus being decontextualized emotion that we’ve repressed in the past that’s suddenly bubbling up with no actual relationship with what’s going on in the current moment and preventing us from perceiving reality clearly, but to actually be in the elemental nature of our emotions, let them arise up, give us the messages about the relationship between our body and spirits are trying to give us and then fall back down in the next emotion rise up to be in that beautiful weather and sometimes experience that brilliant blue as well as part of all of that; but not privileging that as the good place to be.
Laura Dawn: Right yeah, I really appreciate that narrative, you know, it’s nuanced and, and I guess part of those teachings too, are also this notion that whatever arises is the essence of liberation, you know so, and that I think speaks a little bit closer to what you are speaking to, is that in moment, if anger is there it’s also the essence of liberation and so is sadness and so is grief and so is joy and it almost also sounds like the narrative of being in right relationship to shadow. How would you frame that? Or if we were to weave in the concept of shadow work into what you are speaking to, what’s the narrative for you around that, how do you think about that?
Langston Khan: So how I describe shadow work in my teaching is a little bit different than how most people use that term right now and so it’s not that they’re wrong and I’m right; it’s just a difference that I want to speak to because people use that term to mean, a lot of different things. And so I think what many people call shadow work, this kind of self-inquiry process of going inward and seeing things that we are unconscious of and bringing them into our awareness is sort of the more the clearing aspect of the deep liberation process that what I was talking about in terms of withdrawing our projections, tracking the energy to its root, where it started in our body and working with it there not analytically to the mind, but really to the wisdom of the heart.
And so I think that’s what many people sort of refer to as shadow work. When I talk about shadow work, I’m kind of talking about what I would conceive of as like the next layer of that, where it’s not just that a self is stuck in that moment or that choice he made to survive, but actually our mind has sort of thrown away a whole part of ourselves into this kind of what you might call shadow closet and thrown away the key. They’ve given them an unfair trial, they have judged them as like unacceptable, they are going to get us killed if we embody this part of us, probably because of messages, adults in our life were giving us at the time and then that part of us, of course, after being given an unfair trial and thrown in a, lock in a closet is going to start to grow twisted and monstrous over time.
So it’s this perfectly authentic, brilliant, important part of us that has own sideways because they’ve been abused by us in a sense. And so the only way that part of us in that sort of unconscious shadow closet space can operate is through the unconscious and so through patterns of self-sabotage, through patterns of intense fear, through patterns of intense attraction end up like really messy, hard relationships; and so in my way of thinking about that, that type of energy we can’t necessarily engage through a process like that involves self-inquiry, but we actually need to engage things like ritual and dance and creative processes and work with certain helping spirits and certain constructs in my teachings that allow us to find the back door into our own shadow and rescue those parts of ourselves and transform them into the allies they were always meant to be in our life and then being integrating that.
Laura Dawn: Right, yeah and it’s such a conundrum, right? Because it’s in the shadow, so how do we find that back door? Do you feel open to sharing a couple of real rituals or practices that you recommend people go deeper into on a daily basis, a weekly basis?
Langston Khan: You know, I don’t because it’s very deeply work and in my experience it’s not something you want to sort of just like touch into, but if you are going to bring out a shadow self, it’s something you really need to be committed to transforming because if it goes right back into shadow, it’s going to sort of like amplify the messiness that it was already creating, so we were creating through our dynamic of relationship that we were in with it. And so for me, there’s one online class that Christina offers that I help teach as well, which is the shadow transformation protocol which I find is a very useful process for doing that work, working with this destroyer goddess in our tradition to really go deep into this, into your shadow realms and working with others to help retrieve your shadow cells for you as well.
Because you can work with a practitioner also, who’s trained in this type of work to retrieve that kind of shadow for you; and so that’s one possibility, but I think the best foundation for being able to move into that kind of work with integrity is something like the deep liberation process, where we are just starting that basic step of working with life as a teacher to begin to track these energies that our life’s reflecting to us throughout our day and so much can be done just in with those techniques and they’re very fractal. So as you grow, and maybe even as you engage like a process, like a shadow process, you can use those same tools to help navigate that process.
Laura Dawn: Yeah and it seems like, so from your book, the first sort of foundational baseline is the cultivation of presence, and talking about embodiment and which is so interesting that it’s so extremely profound and yet incredibly simple and yet we miss the mark on moment to moment basis, almost all the time. Yeah. I would love to hear your definition of embodiment and how that’s related to the deep liberation process.
Langston Khan: Yeah I feel like I have different definitions all the time of embodiment, but the one on my heart today is that embodiment is our ability to stay in relationship with the living process of the earth moment to moment, and really feel into what each moment is uniquely calling out of us and then allow what it’s calling out us to be brought into expression or just to be received if it’s more, just a moment of reception. And for me, I think a lot of the struggle with embodiment is that it’s not like a fixed place. Like, oh now I’m embodied like I did my work, I went to yoga class and I’m an embodied person.
But the grounding for example, like when I talk about grounding, I am talking about a deep connection to our body and through our body to the earth itself, really to the center of the earth, through our body and just the grounding cord that works for us when we’re in high school is very different in the grounding cord that works for us when we are a parent with kids or, you know, have a job with many people working under us, you know, like there’s different levels of that same grounding cultivation that we’re going to need as we grow and evolve. Our grounding does too, so it’s the same with embodiment I think our ability to move into that state of presence and death ideally deepens over the course of our life. So what was authentically deep and embodied for us at one age, hopefully is not what’s deepen embodied for us in a decade after that, that we’re continuing to grow in our ability to be open to that living process of the earth and be part of that living process.
Laura Dawn: For people listening, can you just explain what a grounding cord is and how to cultivate one?
Langston Khan: Yeah absolutely and so the basics of cultivating a grounding cord in my approach has to do with first cultivating some kind of energy that you can use to make that cord real, you know energy for lack of a better word. For me, that’s my Qigong practice, so there are certain Qigong forms that are very helpful, both for settling our Chi and moving it out of where it is spinning in our head and then cultivating Chi in our lower Dan Tien, so we can take that Chi and with our intention, with our mind form it into a chord that stretches down into the earth. And so how I engage the mind comes out of the teaching to the psycho transformation through this visualization process of really imagining this chord that extends down from your body and then touches into the bedrock, the foundation beneath you, and really engaging with a unique wisdom that bedrock holds as this foundation that teaches a lot about the foundation of our life as well.
And then from there, moving down into the earth, being itself, this sort of center of the Earth’s wisdom and just feeling into what is the earth doing right now, where I am on the earth. Like in New York right now, it’s we are just starting to approach falls, so it’s still hot. It’s like dog days of August, but you are still feeling, you’re starting to feel that little hint of like a breeze of Christmas coming in. And so I’m feeling to the way the earth creates this balance through these small incremental changes and maybe dialoguing with the earth about how do I do that in my own life right now better? How do I sustain change through small incremental ships in my life right now? And do it in a way that actually supports the diversity of the ecology of my life and not just one part of my life at expense of all others.
The Earth does that so well and then going from there into this, we might call the true ying center of the earth, this sort of original dream of the earth, this place of stillness and that silence and darkness, and the energies of that needed for restoration and anchoring our ground decor in that place. And beginning to breathe up the energy of the earth into our body and beginning to form this kind of in [inaudible11:50] terminology would call it the microcosmic core, but this flow of Chi that’s moving through your body and down into the earth and through your body and down into the earth. And that’s for me, the basics of my grounding practice, first cultivating Chi with Chi Yong, and then shaping that Chi through visualization, and then just making the daily choices that allow me to stay in a state of grounding as I move throughout my day, like the psychological choices.
Laura Dawn: And so for people listening, who haven’t yet read your book, which I highly recommend people get a copy and read it, it’s a really great read. Would you say that this grounding chord is a part of your deep liberation process amongst other practices?
Langston Khan: Absolutely yeah and that particular technique of grounding is the first step in the energy body mastery classes I teach, which then move into also sort of cultivating our central channel and our connection to the above, which often triggers a lot of different stories. We hold about the divine [inaudible42:53] or male energy in our life that we have experienced, just because of the ways our culture sort of constrains who gets to be identified with a divine energy in a sense, And then moving from there into boundaries and how do we form these healthy, flexible, intelligent boundaries that can move with us throughout our day, versus just like having a wall up or taking down a wall and having nothing, how do we actually let our boundaries be this kind of living so well that is giving us information about our environment, it can be moving with us, whatever we encounter during our day.
Laura Dawn: Yeah, you know it’s so interesting because I’m such a huge fan of Brene Brown’s work and she talks about compassion and, and vulnerability. And she mentioned this notion that really struck me that actually having compassion is inherent in having healthy boundaries. And it took me a while to like, actually really unpack that and get that, and that it’s actually kind to have healthy boundaries and yet many people don’t know how to assert healthy boundaries. And in terms of, you know, framing this notion of cultivating healthy boundaries. And do you do that from like an internal perspective through visualization? Or is this something that you’re also practicing, you know, in community?
Langston Kahn: I mean yeah, all of the above, definitely and I think that that goes for all of my techniques that there’s always internal component. It’s an also external choice that needs to be made to reflect those energetic choices you’re making. But for me, boundaries have been a huge struggle in my life. Like that was probably one of my biggest Achilles heel which actually brought me to shamanism because I had real chronic health issues because of my total lack of real boundaries and ways I had found of like coping without having boundaries, but still getting through my day; that were actually really harmful to me and, and hurting my relationships too. And the way I think about that idea of like compassion and boundaries is that if we don’t have boundaries, then we are going to constantly be walking around in this state of brittleness and not really being willing to be intimate and connected to people because to be intimate is asking us to merger them that if we don’t have boundaries completely and we don’t want to still merge with everyone.
So then often we would cover that brittleness with this mask of niceness, which might like be the illusion of kindness and compassion, but isn’t actually the feeling of this actual care and connection and intimacy. And so when we actually have strong, healthy boundaries we get to, okay, this is where I stand. This is where you stand. We get to like bump against each other. And we first meet maybe like there’s a little friction we’re figuring out like, okay, how am I going to be in this space? How are you going to be in this space? What do we feel like together in this space? What new third energy do we create when we come together? And then we can start connecting and relating to each other in a way that’s authentic and compassionate, loving to both of us, because there’s not a requirement that one of us subsume themselves in the other, or that we find ways of getting our needs met through these kind of like codependent, manipulative ways of kind of like courting and sort of hinting at what our needs are like guilting someone into giving us what we need or whatever other ways people might use to manipulate. Like when we have healthy boundaries that allow us to define our own space and we feel safe within, then we can communicate clearly and directly from the heart, which is intensely vulnerable, but possible when we have those boundaries.
Laura Dawn: I feel like it’s such a necessary conversation, especially today. And it also goes so hand in hand with like what you were speaking to earlier and some of Brene Brown’s other work around who we choose to give and receive feedback from and this notion of, of community. And I love how, how your framework of community is like who we choose to hold accountable in our lives and, and who we allow to hold us accountable. And you know in this realm of social media, and there’s definitely a lot of judgment that gets thrown around in the psychedelic space, the plant medicine space, the shamanic space and so there is that notion of like okay, who am I going to let in to offer me this feedback? Renee talks about other people in the arena with her, I’m not going to take feedback from someone sitting in the cheap seats, just throwing shit at me because you’re not also in the arena putting yourself out there being vulnerable.
So yeah, I just, I love this whole conversation and really, I just wanted to like tie it back to this other community piece and, you know, this notion of giving and receiving feedback as well. And yeah I am also curious, you know about, about working with triggers. I mean, I really love this conversation, it’s so there’s something about it. That’s actually really juicy and having a reframe around it, I find is really helpful that it’s not this like thing that we need to be afraid of, but when triggers happen, it’s like yes, let’s rejoice in the opportunity to like, look at our shit you know?
Langston Khan: Yeah, exactly and it never feels like that in the moment obviously it feels, you know, it’s like you don’t, it’s not something you’re looking forward to but, I have reached a point. And is not because I’m like so evolved or something, but it’s just because these tools work, I’ve reached a point where it is exciting to encounter trigger, because like, oh I see this pattern. I can feel this viscerally it’s not something like unseen thing that’s affecting my life and causing problems. I actually really feel acutely the pain of this pattern in this moment and if I can feel this pain acutely, that means I can track it and I can find what’s at the root of it and I can transform it or unpack the gift that is inside of it waiting for me.
Langston Khan: Do you have a process for that? Yeah, so the process I described in the book is called flipping stones. And so you might look at the trigger as like a stone you tripped over during your day and we want to first pick up that stone that we just tripped over and look at what’s on the other side of it, like what’s at the core of the energy we just tripped over. And so one of the ways we do that is through and there’s many ways to do this, but one way I can share now is that we put ourselves back in the situation that we were in, not literally, but we sort of in our mind’s eye and our heart, we’re sort of feeling back into the situation when we see where we were triggered and how I define trigger is that it’s us reacting out of proportion, either amping up or shutting down to what just happened.
For people who shut down versus amping up, that could be a little trickier to track. I’m definitely a person who’s more on the shutdown spectrum, but what we can do in those moments to track it is just notice, how we continue to think about something that happened long after the fact are we noticing the energy suddenly drained out of us in the middle of our day, are we noticing a feeling of depression rising up, like just pushing down in our emotions or heaviness, are we noticing sudden judgments that are arising or sudden desire to like cut ourselves off from certain people? Like all those are good signs that we have been triggered in a way, that caused it to shut down. And of course like a common shutdown experience of dissociation and numbing out, so that’s why it can be hard to track at first.
But if we start to look for those signs, we can begin to scan back in our day and see those triggers. So once you have noticed a trigger, I’ve amped up or shut down in response to something that was sort of out of proportion, what was actually happening then what we can do is feel into that experience and ask that question of what does it feel like was being done to be in that moment? So there was this moment I had where, and be like I don’t know, eleven years ago or something, I was in this going into this gay bar and at the time I still had a lot of internalized homophobia and fears around my sexuality and this, I saw this boy who I thought was cute and he looked at me and I looked at him and I clearly was interested in him and he was clearly interested in me.
And in that moment I felt like I was going to die, like I was like what? I left the bar, I went outside and I was like basically having like a mini panic attack. And so first this was like me doing this flippy, no process in real time, you don’t have to always do it in real time. But in that moment later that night I felt into, okay so what did it feel like was being done to me? And in that moment, what it felt like was being done to me, this isn’t like what rationally it feels like you know is being done to you or like analytically, you know it’s like, what did it feel like? And that viscerally, it felt like he is belittling, it felt like he, I was being stabbed in the back. I felt like I was being betrayed.
It felt like I was being having the energy of my inner child just cut off or feeling into what does it feel like is being done to me. And so for me in that moment it really felt like I was being seen in my desire. And that felt really bad in that moment, whatever. So it’s like who and me thinks they’re going to die if they’re seen in their desire and that’s how you begin to track this trigger into your inner landscape. So you take whatever it was that it felt like was being done to you and you ask, how am I doing this to myself? This is not victim blaming, it’s acknowledging that if there is a trigger present, that means that there is some way that external dynamic we’re experiencing is being mirrored in our internal dynamic.
So this is a way through asking that question. How am I doing this to myself? We can track that energy into our body. Again not analyzing, not trying to figure out oh yeah this thing my therapist said before, like no, letting the felt sense in your body communicate to you, where is that energy? Like, I feel it in my heart, I don’t know what it is there is something in my heart or there is this like tension in my gut when I say that. And also who, so once I go into that tension in my gut, I feel this sense of like, you know tension isn’t quite the right word; it’s more of like a cramping no, that’s not quite right. It’s like a pulling no, it’s like a bracing. And I’m seeing there is this little kid, this little me that’s like bracing, like for an attack. And so then I have a who and aware this seven year old me bracing for an attack in my belly. And then I can go in as my adult self, as my compassionate, present adult self, and begin to dialogue with that younger self and see how do they feel from that point of view? What are they needing? What are they afraid of? What are they bracing against and just engaged my compassion and curiosity to begin to allow that energy to unfold and reveal itself more to me.
Laura Dawn: Yeah which inherently is this somatic awareness process of being willing to sit in the discomfort and not move away from it, you know? And I think we’re just so conditioned to just boom bolt at every moment, like move away, cover over, push it under the rug, I don’t want to feel this. And it takes courage I think, to really go into that kind of process. The narrative I have around triggers as well and I am curious I like talking to other people about like, how do you frame in this conceptual framework, is that the trigger is actually an open wound and you said something in your book that gosh, I wish I could pull it up right now, but it was something along the lines of like inherent in the wound is like the feeling of healing that you can be able to heal because of that, that it’s like, you know, the double two different sides to the same coin. And in a way I kind of think of triggers like that, where if it wasn’t an open wound, it wouldn’t be agitated and so there’s an opportunity to find that healing of the sore spot.
Langston Khan: Yeah, absolutely that’s very much our perspective. I think that the quote you’re talking about, I don’t remember the exact quote, but it’s this principle that a wound wouldn’t know it was a wound, unless it also knew what healing felt like. That there is this way that these, these places in us that are painful, they wouldn’t know that they were in pain, unless they also knew how they were wanting to feel that they weren’t feeling. And so if we are willing to really listen to this pain, not try to bypass it or just like, hit everything with a love hammer, but actually really listen and see what it’s actually wanting to communicate to us when it’s actually needing and misidentify with the parts of us that are wanting us to like fix it quickly, or like judge it, or push it away and welcome those parts too. But just not be those parts, you know, bring them into the conversation. Ah, there’s this wound in my heart of this betrayal and there is this other self that is really a shame that I let myself be betrayed that way doesn’t want to look at it. So do both of those and see which things my attention first, I am not going to try to bulldozer either one of them.
Laura Dawn: Are you familiar with Carolyn Elliot’s work existential kink?
Langston Khan: No, I’ve heard of Carolyn Elliot, but I am not really familiar with her work.
Laura Dawn: Oh, I recommend checking it out; I think you might really enjoy it. And then there’s this part of her process that is, her form of shadow work, but also looking at the ways that that pain and painful process is actually pleasurable that we gain pleasure out of the ways that we self-sabotage that there is some part of us that’s like, Ooh, this feels good even though it’s like, oh this keeps hurting, I keep hurting myself in this way over and over again. But there’s like this subconscious way that we actually gain some kind of pleasure out of it. And it’s kind of also speaking to that a little bit is like really just being able to also drop the storyline. I think so much of the triggers and the pain that we feel is just fueled by narratives.
And you talk about that in your book, a little it and narratives create our reality. And so one of the techniques that I teach people, you know, in my programs as well is one of Pema’s techniques, which is drop the storyline connect with the underlying energy of what we are actually feeling and playing with that a little bit. And I had a deep experience around this with jealousy and arousal, where I really jealous and I dropped the storyline and tapped into the raw core energy. And I was like, wow, this is just one heartbeat away from pure arousal. And so, yeah, I’m curious like your perspective on the ways that narratives play such a role in this like perpetuation of suffering in our lives.
Langston Kahn: Yeah well, I think from a shamanic perspective, it’s all stories, everything is a story. And so the question is what stories are in service of life, if it’s all story and everything’s true, what stories are in service of life and those ones who might choose to hold onto. And so, yeah everything inside of us is a story to some extent. Not to dismiss anyone’s experience a very real trauma that they have survived, which you know I myself have survived many traumatic experiences. I think most people have to some extent and yet there is a way that once we are no longer actively in that same traumatic experience what’s harming us is not the event that happened, but the story we made up to survive that event or the story made up about that event that we survived. And that was a great story at the time because it got us where we are, we’re still alive, so we did survive, it worked to make that story and hold it.
But that story is not necessary in alignment with who we currently are in the world right now. And that again, coming back to that idea of us being this living process, I think what forms these triggers and these open wounds you described them are these times we make a choice out of fear to survive that’s not an alignment with our true nature authenticity, which allows us to escape the moment we are in or to survive the moment we’re in. But that part of us, because it made a choice not an alignment with that larger living process that we are, it gets stuck making that same choice again and again, and especially whenever we encounter similar situations in our life, we project that past experience onto the present moment. And so if we’re willing to go in and listen and follow the threads of these stories and tease out the story, enter into the story, we can also actually change the story, not through some idea of dominating with a mind, like change the story, change your life kind of idea, but really honoring the logic of that story and honoring the agency of that younger self who made the choices that created this story and seeing what did they need to act in alignment with their authenticity from within that story, which of course changes the story and allows us to free them from that.
And we might say like, oh I’m not willing to go there, I don’t want to like start the path, but if we are not willing to go there, we are choosing to hold that self-hostage in that past trauma, in a sense that’s to some extent. Obviously we all have to follow our own pacing and the pacing, our legs reflecting to us; that makes sense for us in the moment, there’s no point in some sort of spiritual ambition, I’m going to go into all the things and fix all the things you know, but because it does not work. And yet I think there can be a point where even the fact that we are a person who has survived a certain kind of trauma can become one more story that we are using to other, that part of our who survive. And to truly bring them back into the wholeness of who we are, we need to be willing to go in and be with that story as a story and see what new perspective can we gain from the adult self that we are and not just insight based perspective, but what new perspective can we bring energetically to actually shift and change that story.
Laura Dawn: Yeah I recently interviewed Dr. Simon Ruffell who is doing epigenetic research with Ayahuasca and showing, and he just recently got published in the journal of frontiers of psychiatry. And that was one of the things that he was talking about; you know the healing of trauma through the change of the narrative. And that’s what they were finding. I know you talk so much about shamanic practices and I don’t think I have really heard you talk about plant medicines, I am just kind of curious and it’s okay if you don’t want to speak to this, but do you have a personal practice with plant medicines in your life, in the shamanic framework that you work with?
Langston Khan: Yes and no I mean, I work with lots of different plant allies in different ways, not necessarily ingesting them you know but in terms of cleansing, in terms of other types of work of my spiritual practice, I have a lot of plants that are very close to me. And in terms of sort of what you might more term psychedelic plant medicines I have worked with some, but they aren’t a center of my practice. What was interesting is actually, I engaged in, ceremonial engaged with some mushrooms about a couple of years ago and that was the first time in fifteen years I had done that cause I actually had a really strong message from Shaman I went to for a healing when I was pretty young about not engaging those anymore, because there was a way in which they were deeply throwing off my kind of cycle.
Like, it’s the thing not just women have cycles like men have, like all of us have these kinds of cycles in a sense that the shaman was saying to me and when I was engaging in psychedelics at the time in high school and kind of like, messy fun ways. It was totally throwing off my alignment in a sense and so I stopped for fifteen years and then like a couple of years ago I tried again and it was amazing to me to realize, to feel the depth of ability I cultivated through just training myself in different navigate different trans states through my Shamanic work, how different the experience with that plant medicine was and how much more of a co-creative experience it was and so I mean, I think plant medicines are wonderful teachers.
I get a lot of clients coming to me for help with integration of plant medicine experiences, because they have some really intense experiences with Ayahuasca in the jungle, and then they come back to their life and they don’t have a cosmology or a framework or a way of engaging spirit on a daily basis outside of the context of those plant medicine experiences. And so I think there’s a danger in diving into transformative experiences of plant medicine without a structure that holds that transformation for you because on one level, and it’s something I was just recently talking with Christina about; actually like on one level, everything is energy, you know, it’s all energy, we experienced that leak gauge in plant medicines, like the level at which everything really is just energy here there’s no reality, objective reality.
And yet we chose to have this experience of having a physical body on this earth, which certain rules to it. And if we don’t have a structure and a cosmology that actually attends the fact that we are humans here with a body on the earth with specific purpose to live, then we can just keep transforming and transforming and transforming into that energy until we like lose all the structure of our life that actually contains that experience. It’s like the plant medicine does not necessarily have the agency that’s going to choose for us because they would never overrun our free will in that way to choose for us, like push us into our destiny in a sense, they are just going to keep working with us in the dissolving [inaudible01:05:08]; let’s do more transforming, more transforming until we find that maybe we are unmoored we are an anchor from what we are actually here on this earth to do as humans with a body. So I love plant medicines and I just love plants; I think they are incredible intelligences and I would like to see more engagement with them with cosmologies that actually have teeth and grounding in the contemporary lives, that many of us who are engaging these live.
Laura Dawn: I honestly couldn’t agree more, I work a lot with plant medicines and I hold very much, a very similar perspective and a lot of the programs that I teach, the mastermind programs, it’s actually all about cultivation of daily practice and how to create the scaffolding in our lives. That if we really want to walk the medicine path is one way to put it that having the structure, and I really, that’s why I think I resonated with the deep liberation process so much because there are so many parallels and similarities. And I actually think that your book is a really powerful roadmap for plant medicine integration for people and having that as the baseline. And I think the more that people cultivate daily practices, the less that people really do need to journey. And I still think, you know, both and I think going into deep journeys is really powerful, but what I feel like is even more needed right now is this the cultivation of presence and daily practice.
And so there’s so much that I really, really agree with there and so that, that brings me to this, this question and this topic of ritual. And I would love to hear your perspective on what ritual means to you. And maybe we can offer listeners a couple of rituals that they might be able to take into immediately implementing into their everyday lives and just with the framework that a lot of people who listen to this, are leaders in the psychedelic space and a lot of my message is, how to cultivate our own practice so that we can lead in a better way whether we’re in the psychedelic space or beyond; so yeah, I would love to ask you about ritual.
Langston Khan: Absolutely, so ritual to me, how I define it is different than ceremony. In my tradition we call ceremony those energetic engagements that reinforce the status quo. So like for example, your daily alter practice, we were calling in certain energies, so you can continue to show up your day in your day, surrounded by the entities that you need to embody your best self in that day, and really do what you are holding that intention to do. Whereas ritual, I think of as this container where we’re calling the lightning bolt of spirit down to strike in a very specific place, and we have no idea what the result of that lightning struck down in that place is going to be exactly, but we are precise as is possible; we are as precise as possible in choosing the target for that transformation.
And we’re choosing the kind of energy to engage that transformation that we think will be most helpful for what we’re working to shift and transform. And it’s always different every time there’s no set sort of way that a ritual looks if it’s true ritual in my teachings, because each time you have to divine what’s needed for this particular group of people in this moment to make this ritual effective. And so there might be certain forms that we lean on that you’ll see repeated again and again, but that there can be differences depending on who is showing up that day and one of the helping spirits that needs to happen that day. And so, one powerful ritual that does have a pretty concrete form that I engage a lot is a grief ritual. I think right now I see a lot of people doing beautiful grief work, and I think it’s so needed.
And for me, like a basic structure that people can follow for this ritual and kind of flesh out using their own cosmologies or ways of approaching ritual and how they, you know like to cleanse. So they like to create their own container who they like to call into support a basic structure of the ritual can be after you called in your support, you know having a fire in the center somewhere, and that could be a candle or tea light it doesn’t have to be a big bonfire, but they could also be a bonfire outside; and away from the fire, a pit in the earth the whole that you have dug doesn’t have to be very deep, but a hole and a kind of canopy over that whole. I have done this with like chopsticks, like taking four chopsticks, stuck in the earth and put a little black fabric over it, but some kind of canopy that makes the whole a dark hole.
Like there’s not light shining in there and you take an object for what you are grieving and you, and this can be anything it doesn’t have to be about death. It can be, it can be a person you have lost, but it could also be an end of a job or an end of a relationship or, any number of things that are kind of a certain way of life. And so we take that after we have called in our spirits support and created our container for the ritual. We take that object of fire and we are king to the fire, what we want to let go of what we are grieving. And we invite fire as a helping spirit as an energy if you have a relationship with fire where you can do this, we ask fire to bring up maybe the unfelt emotions, the things we have left ungrieved into our expression, into our experience.
So we can let those tears begin to flow at the anger come, let whatever it needs to come into expression that way that grief just empties us out when it’s really working less. And when we feel that starting to move, it helps if you have friends who are like easy criers, or maybe even like people that are professional, like keeners, or they are really good mourners, you know people who can start bringing spirit into the emotions and helping getting everyone’s emotions, flowing are really helpful; music can be helpful. And then when you feel that, you go to that pit in the earth and you just sort of vomit up that grief to the earth, you give it to the earth because when grief is innocent, it’s unexpressed it becomes a poison it’s meant to flow it and let us feel our true longing through that emptiness.
And so then when you are ready, finished vomiting out the grief, but not literally vomiting, but really you could potentially, but just crying, snorting, whatever you need to do to get that grief out, then making a few offerings of water or some kind of libation to the earth and then going back to the fire. And if there’s a lot of people doing it, there’s this steady flow back and forth from the fire, the voice, some people at the fire, some people at the pit and you just go back and forth and it might be waves of grief that come, it’s not necessarily one and done thing. It could be hours that you spend doing this. It’s very simple structure, but it can be very profound and go very deep, very quickly. And when you’re finished then you just thank the earth, you thank fire, you take off the canopy. You give offerings of beauty and sweetness and richness like candy, flowers, spices, whatever it reminds you of the sweetness of riches of life that makes life worth living and then you bury the hole in the earth of those offerings. And then you close the ritual and that’s a little mini structure for a grief ritual that comes out of the last mass community.
Laura Dawn: Oh beautiful, I mean I think it’s such a huge topic speaking to grief right now. So thank you so much for that. Oh my goodness yeah I am a really big fan of Sandra Ingerman’s work as well and I have interviewed her for the podcast and she speaks to this notion of unbroken focus, you know when we come to our prayer rituals to really cultivate that deep sense of presence and that when our minds kind of go off in different directions that are sort of like breaking the link in the chain from our connection up to spirit and I really like how she speaks to that, it just deeply resonates with me and just weaving in more ritual into our everyday lives; and also this notion of like dancing in the ceremony of our lives and bringing more celebration alongside the grief and that grief is actually so beautiful; and to see the beauty in that, and also the celebration in that as well, I think is really powerful.
Langston Khan: Absolutely yeah I mean, you mentioned dancing in the ceremony of our lives, but I also think just that’s another easy ritual to engage in is dance itself. Like I work a lot with ecstatic dance and just like, you know making a playlist for a certain energy, when a dance for me, it has to be at least 25 minutes to actually move into an altered state with it. And ideally it’s more like an hour, but as I dance, you begin to move into this more liquid state, of this like sort of unification in your body and we can engage that liquid state to give us information about certain entities are actually to shift and move certain energies. Like we can feel our body communicating to us like what we were just talking about grief, like we could let our grief dance us.
Or we could let this feeling of like, I’ve been needing to mother everyone in my life recently, I’m really feeling my body showing that to me in this like weird baby position I have as I’m dancing. And so, what would happen if I just don’t like, sort of throwing away the baby, letting them go, letting it all go, everything I’ve been holding for everyone else, you know and then seeing then how can I supplement that in some way after that dance with ritually, letting that go as well, maybe giving it away in a fire, or to water or burying it in the earth or finding some power objects to put that energy into. And that’s for me a big way of how I like you dance in the ceremony of life and dance in their ritual life of just when we feel the shifts that need to happen calling in support from the earth and the elements around us to facilitate that shifting and not making it just dependent on the earth to do it, but we start to take the new act and then make the new choices, but asking for that help proactively and remembering that we are not alone in this.
Laura Dawn: Yeah and you have mentioned helping spirits so many times throughout this conversation; and so for people listening who are like, huh I don’t have helping spirits, or I don’t have a connection to that. Do you think that engaging in ritual or practices can help even open up the dialogue? And do you think everyone has helping spirits? I think I know the answer to that.
Langston Khan: I do believe everyone has helping spirits yeah, I do believe none of us are here just alone on this earth, wandering around. I think that, how I think of helping spirits are these sorts of messengers sent by the divine and the many divinities to reflect back to us our own power, to really help us remember certain aspects of our power that we are meant to be embodying in this life. And then to choose consciously to use that power, not in a particular way I don’t think the spiritual very moral, but it’s about helping us to be conscious of the choices we are making. And so I think we all have those energies and many of us, you know when I work with clients in my shamanic healing practice, often when I retrieve helping such people, because they show up in these sessions, people already knew they were there helping spirits, even with no engagement.
Like I had this one client recently who I literally saw this almost like rainbow white tiger; I almost didn’t say the rainbow part it’s like that’s kind of weird, but I guess it’s showing up, it’s showing up and no matter how many times this would like send the image away and call it back, it’s still a rainbow white tiger. So I am like, okay. So I share that with the someone and she is like yes, I have that poster right off my bed. Like she knew she was calling in the energy herself, even though she had no engagement with that spirit that was conscious in her life, but it’s just paying attention to like the energies they feel drawn to already; it can help us begin to open that dialogue and then we can engage things like shamanic journeying or going to practitioner or different types of trans date begin to intentionally work to connect with those energies that are our allies, but I think we all have that.
Laura Dawn: Yeah and I think really even just like being open to the possibility that it’s true, that it’s possible to connect with our helping spirits, you know, and maybe even just journaling of okay if I was to be having a conversation with helping spirits right now, what would come through and just maybe being open. Do you feel like moving into a trance state is really necessary to connect with the helping spirits?
Langston Khan: That’s a good question I don’t know I mean, I think there’s many different ways that information can come. Like for example, in most indigenous traditions you don’t pray with your eyes closed, you pray with your eyes open because you’re looking to see how the world’s responding to your prayers. And so that’s a way just like asking a question and going out and seeing what’s responding to us can, can give us clues and you know our intuition. But I do think there’s a beauty and elegance to the shamanic journey state of, you know going into a trance state with some kind of sonic driver in that, it really fits in well, I think to a day. Like for example, to really get a good answer through trance and dance, it takes a significant amount of time. Whereas a journey can take like maybe fifteen minutes just to go in and see like it obviously takes time to cultivate that skill, to be able to do that.
And there’s a way that when we journey, we receive an answer that’s bigger than what we could have conceived on our own if we were just walking through our day, there’s this way that it stretches us beyond our current capacity to see or receive solely through the mind. So I do think that can be really useful in forging a reliable, trustworthy relationship where the helping spirits are feeling intimate. It’s just like a tool for holding our own intimate conversation with spirit, that we can rely upon. And then of course, how we get past that sort of crushing collapsing doubt that gets instilled in inspired culture. I find it just by asking questions, interpreting the answers, taking action based on that interpretation and seeing how the world responds to the action we took and noticing just did what we thought was going to happen or not.
And if not, you know keeping a record of what we’re doing so we can go back and see was my action off, based on that interpretation, was the interpretation kind of off based on what I actually saw on the journey now that I know what happened when I did that action. Or was by journey off that I like miss a detail that was really important that I forgot to write down or forgot to really pay attention to now that I remember, or was the question asked, have too many assumptions in it. And as you begin to cultivate those disciplines of the question, the receiving of the journey of the interpretation and the action, we begin to improve our signal clarity and begin to gain trust in that relationship.
Laura Dawn: Do you have a morning practice or an evening ritual? Do you have like habitual practices that you engage in on a daily basis?
Langston Khan: A lot of practices, I mean on one hand, our practice is what we do every day. So I don’t like to make it too, like strange and rarefied seeming your daily practice, but at the same time for me, she, Qi Gong is a huge part of my daily practice. That’s what allows me to show up to my day, knowing I have the resources I need to get to that day without resorting to addiction or things you know, also an altar practice is a part of every morning when I say alter practice, I am talking about a space where I can interface with my whole cosmology and all of my helping spirits and sort of call in the energies I want around me as I move through that day instead of honor, I do it by boundaring the four directions, boundaring the elements, and then by calling in certain architectural teachers in my tradition as well to be with me as I move throughout my day.
I also do shrine tending, I start every morning with my ancestors and that was kind of a hard one relationship. Because then we collect reminding people at the beginning of my relationship, my ancestors, it felt like indicated with them to the bottom of like a murky swamp. It felt like a burden, it felt annoying, it’s an obligation. Like I know it’s supposed to be my ancestors, but I didn’t like it. But that was because there was so much energy of unresolved death in my field and as I began to engage in ancestral healing and really getting to the root of where those problematic patterns started in my lineages, it became one of my greatest sources of resource and joy is to start my morning communicating with those family members, you know, and the ancient ones. I just tell what I’m going to do in my day with like I share some of my intentions for the day and then they give me feedback what they are thinking and warnings potentially, or just, you know, encouragement.
Laura Dawn: That’s beautiful yeah, well we are almost going to wrap up here and I kind of wanted to ask something that might feel a little crunchy, but, I am grateful that we are talking on a cultural level so much about race these days, you know it feels good and then there’s also this place where I’m like Go, it feels so archaic to talk about something based on the color of someone’s skin, and I’m just kind of curious with Christina Pratt, your teacher, if she’s received a lot of criticism from being a white woman, bringing shamanic practices to contemporary culture, you know, I am just kind of curious the story around that.
Langston Khan: Absolutely I mean, I think it’s definitely been an uphill battle for her; I don’t want to speak too much for her experience, that’s her story to share. But in my perception, I really appreciate her as out of many teachers I have had and people have engaged with this is one of the teachers with the most integrity of every scene, it’s one of those human beings, the most integrity. And she will be the first to speak very openly about being a white lady from Oregon, or, you know, take on some name that’s like sounds indigenous. Or like using the authority and the initiative, traditional tradition, her tradition, the tradition of that is black tradition as well. The tradition of the cycle teachings and the last mass center for somatic healing came out of her initiatory experiences as a contemporary person. And I can’t speak to those, that’s not my story to tell, but she had a very, in a sense classical symphonic initiation of being brought to the point total point of like death and madness and through really translating what our helping spirits were showing her, finding her way through that threshold, giving birth to an entire cosmology of teachings that work, that she had no idea they had worked for people more than her, but they did.
And now it’s been, you know thirty plus years of these teachings and watched them transform people’s lives and the world and this deep resonance of truth and it’s going to have a deep depth. That’s not great but that’s real gravity to that, they feel so much older than they are in a sense; thirty years is nothing for Shaman tradition, obviously it’s like a baby truth when compared to whether it is the [inaudible01:25:05] or the [inaudible01:25:06] or like in a Siberian or Mongolian shamanism, we are children compared to them. And she is often very clear that this is not some ancient teachings I am bringing forward; this is coming out of my initiatory experiences on my relationship with these spirits and this is a tradition that’s uniquely for people in this time coming out of the broken path, who did not have an intact tradition, who does not have elders teaching them and training them.
And I am just totally happy when adults in their life that really can guide them; that is what the tradition is for, to help us in this little crisis, we’re in a contemporary Western culture sort of like being a plane in the air flying, and you need to rebuild that plane without crash landing it. That’s what we’re into so these teachings are proud to do that; and so I think that has helped. I am sure some people still completely dismissed her just because she is a white face, they don’t want to see another white face talking about shamanism, that’s understandable, like absolutely with all the harm that has been done in the name of shamanism or all the appropriation of the word shamanism and using it in a really harmful ways [inaudible01:26:12] ways for marketing. But to me, I think she has been, even if some people might dismiss certain people actually know her in her teaching, there is this just depth of authenticity and clarity that this is an authentic contemporary tradition and it’s not an indigenous tradition and her authority does not come from the fact that you would initiate an indigenous tradition.
Laura Dawn: Yeah, I appreciate that perspective, and there is so many different nuanced approaches we could take to this conversation and it’s not cut and dry and one of the things that I really appreciate about Sandra Ingerman is that she says, you know we all have roots back in ancestry that practiced shamanic practices, no matter what color skin you are, pretty much everyone on this planet today can be traced back to cultures and ancestry that practice shamanism. And so I appreciate that perspective as well. Well Langston, you are just such a delight to drop in with. I really just, I appreciate your perspective and you are so well-spoken, and I’m just grateful for all the work that you’re offering this world. So thank you so much for taking the time to drop in with me today.
Langston Khan: Thank you, Laura it’s really wonderful to speak with you.
Laura Dawn: Thank you.
Hi friends, thank you so much for tuning into another episode of the psychedelic leadership podcast. If you have been enjoying this podcast, I would so appreciate it if you could share it with a friend or share one of your favorite episodes on social media, or if you feel inspired, please leave me a review on iTunes. If you would like to be in touch with me, please reach out through my website at livefreelaurad.com, or send me a message on Instagram @livfreelaurad. I am going to leave you with this song called “Sitting in a circle by Avasa and Mattie Love featuring Ryan Delmore off of their album called “Love is King, Love is Queen” once again, my name is Laura Dawn, and you are listening to the psychedelic leadership podcast until next time.
Music: Close my eyes, I feel on the other side, spinning, spinning spinning the colors of life. Open my heart, you are always welcome inside, we are all living, living, living the colors of life. Gently, we hold hands; we were gone, gone, gone; now we are together again. All the world in the palm of our hands, when one song is ending a new one begins. There’s a world outside, there’s a world inside; let’s spin em, spin em, spin em together tonight. [inaudible01:28:58] Let’s spin em, all together, all together. We’re sitting in a circle wearing all the colors [inaudible01:28:58].
In a circle sharing all the colors of the world, sitting in a circle, yeah, yeah. Gently we hold hands we were gone, gone, gone now we are together again. Hold the world in the Palm of our hands, when one song is ending, a new one begins; sitting in a circle wearing all the colors the world, sitting in a circle yeah, yeah. Sitting in a circle seven, million wonders of the world the world; sitting in a circle, yeah yeah. See you on the other side, I’ll see you on the other side, see you on the other side, I feel you on the other side. Gently, we hold hands, we were gone, gone, gone, now we are together again Hold the world in the Palm of our hands, when one song is ending a new one begins.
Langston Kahn is a Shamnic healer that supports people through what’s called the Deep Liberation Process, a body-based approach that allows us to radically transform the range of fear-based stories we each hold in ourselves: from traumatic experiences, internalized oppression, and habitual emotional patterns rooted in old beliefs that hold us back from
healing, transforming, and freeing our authenticity and unique genius.
Bridging the shamnic wisdom of ancient spirituality with needs and demans of modern-day life, Kahn offers concrete skills to cultivate deep grounding, skillful boundaries, and a healthy engergy body; methods for authentic shadow work and healing our triggers; and tools for effectively tending personal and collective well-being in community.
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Laura Dawn rocks her Psychedelic Leadership Podcast with so much style and grace! Her guests are innovative thought leaders and she asks them the most illuminating questions. She shares a wealth of knowledge and inquiry as well as her passion for the arts and music. I always appreciate how LD conducts herself.
Each time I tune into an episode I get chills all over my body! This podcast is my personal new favourite, I’ve expanded my awareness around these topics so much just tuning into these conversations, from each episode I walk away with a new teaching! Im also deeply appreciative of the way Laura Dawn structures her episodes and interviews.
The psychedelic leadership podcast is blowing my default mode network!!! Episodes include revolutionary science, as well as practical steps we can all take to creatively make change to help heal the planet and ourselves. Laura Dawn is an amazing speaker, and most definitely a thought leader.
I am absolutely hooked on this Podcast. Laura Dawn presents her topics and guests in a stunningly beautiful, heart centered format while weaving in the most relevant topics in psychedelics today.
Laura Dawn’s experience and service to the healing journey is a recipe for humanity, through modern science, plant medicine and ancient wisdom is amazing. She attracts the best of the best leaders in the space of science, psychedelics and spirituality, I love every one of her podcasts. Thank you LD!
Wow what a powerful lineup of speakers and guests sharing profound experiences and wisdom. So relevant to our times and not just with plant medicines and psychedelics but with just being a human being in these changing, evolving times. May we all grow together. Thank you Laura!
I’m obsessed with this podcast and I’ve listened to every episode. This is the kind of podcast that has the potential to change humanity if we all listen to these interviews and Laura’s wisdom.
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.