August 15th 2022

Episode #57


Exploring Psychedelics as Psychoplastogens: Establishing Keystone Habits to Improve Your Life with
Conor Murphy

Get ready for a crash course in neuroscience as Laura Dawn interviews Conor Murphy about psychoplastogens, keystone habits, and flow.

"So instead of psychedelics; “psychoplastogens” because they promote this biological mechanism of plasticity…if you compare LSD to DMT to Psilocybin, LSD seems to be the most powerful at promoting plasticity."
Conor Murphy


About This Episode:

What is the secret for creating lasting change and becoming who we really want to be? How do we unlock our potential for more fulfillment, massive productivity, and life-altering insights? In this episode, we explore the leading research in neuroscience, flow state, and habit formation, and how psychedelic practices assist in unlocking a world of exploration and creativity for our generation of visionary leaders.

Learn how to work with your neurobiology to create more positive habits in your life with more ease and effectiveness, how to increase your ability to learn and retain information, how to unlock insights and ideas and enhance your mental wellbeing, and how to transform yourself.

Get ready for a crash course in neuroscience as I interview Conor Murphy who integrates AI, neuroscience, and venture capital as a Lead Data Scientist at Databricks and a Founding Limited Partner at Lionheart Ventures. In the field of AI, he is a subject matter expert in deep learning and distributed machine learning having held various positions such as a faculty role at University of New Haven’s graduate program for Data Science and lead consultant across various stage companies and industry domains.

Core Themes

Explored in this episode:
  • Psychedelics
  • Microdosing
  • Plasticity
  • Critical periods
  • Keystone habits
  • Flow states
  • Biology of mindset
  • Emotional set point
  • Psychoplastogens

Links &

useful resources

Accelerate Change

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


Episode Transcript

Episode #57 Full Transcript: 

Conor Murphy

Laura Dawn: Do you wanna share a little bit of your background and the work that you’re doing with flow states and the flow research 

Conor Murphy: collective? 

Sure, absolutely. Uh, yeah, happy to walk through it at a high level. And so my educational background was originally in philosophy and then from there went into nonprofits.

And so I spent about four or five years in nonprofits, mostly looking at the impact of different humanitarian interventions. And so I became really obsessed with data and AI in the context of. And wound up transferring my career more to, uh, focus in the AI space. And then in the meantime became very, very interested in neuroscience.

And so I came to neuroscience by way of action sports. Some people came to, uh, uh, neuroscience by way of meditation or by way of psych adults. But I came to it by way of action sports and became really, really interested in the biological underpinnings of action sports. Um, and. That really drove my love of flow.

And so became involved with the research collective. We co-founded the company a number of years ago, and we’re a research and training organization focusing on flow states. So a lot of what I do is kind of combine in different ways, the neuroscience side of things, with the data in AI side of things.

Laura Dawn: That’s awesome. I love it. Okay. So let’s dive into your thesis that you are submitting in T minus six days. 

Conor Murphy: absolutely. Um, so I I’ve been writing it on, uh, psychedelics and plasticity, and so I became really, really interested in this. Core met up high level idea of how systems change over time. Why do some systems change?

Why do some systems say the same? And when it came to psychedelics, there are some really good studies that have come out really within the past year. So most of this research has come out in the past year or two. And the core hypothesis is that the so-called monoamine hypothesis of mood disorders is somewhat insufficient.

And so the monoamine hypothesis has been around for decades and decades. And this is the core hypothesis that we’re probably mostly familiar with. Right. Which is the idea that certain monoamine serotonin in particular also maybe dopamine, no epinephrine, um, Lowered in those individuals with mood disorders.

And so how do you intervene in those cases while you want to be able to, you know, systematically improve your, your access to those different neurotransmitters serotonin in particular, but there are a number of different gaps here. And so what we know is that psychedelics have a lot of efficacy when it comes to mood disorders.

And so part of the question becomes, why is it that psyched are so efficacious when it comes to these disorders? And the core idea is that this is likely because of plasticity because they are reopening these particular windows of plasticity. And so the mono mean hypothesis is still somewhat accurate, but psyched only temporarily increased say sero.

And so like what we see coming onboard now, and this is really within the past couple years, some of this research predates it, but really a lot of the core seminal studies have come out in the past, maybe six months to a year. And these are really focusing on what degree and in what ways, uh, do psychedelic promote plasticity and do different psyched, promote it differently.

You know, how persistent are those changes? How can you leverage those critical windows? And so this is the stuff that I think is really going start to our understanding of mood disorders, assis, and get into this idea of. Because if you look at these various mood disorders, mood disorders are oftentimes correlated with the lack of plasticity.

There are a number of different markers you can use in order to gauge this. And so it seems like similar to in certain stages of development, right? The so-called terrible twos, uh, uh, when you’re in puberty, right? These are critical windows of change. Um, and it seems that altered states in general and psychedelics more specifically can open up these critical periods in order to allow you to REPA.

What we call pathological neuro pathways, right? So those neuro pathways that are associated with negative outcomes and mood disorders. 

Laura Dawn: Okay. I love how there’s so much to unpack there. Let’s just pause for a second critical periods for people listening that have not heard that term before you just kind of briefly overviewed that.

So just to really make it super clear, there are times in our lives where we are very adaptive to change high learning phase periods of our lives. And so what you’re saying is that altered states and psychedelics sacred plant medicines, they open up critical periods where we are more plastic. We’re a little bit more adaptable in the face of change.

Can we, is that accurate to say, can we unpack that a little bit more? Just like really lay it out for. 

Conor Murphy: right. A hundred percent. So, so one way of thinking about this is in terms of emotional set points. And so we develop these different set points, usually based upon our prior history. Oftentimes these are seminal moments within our childhood.

And so these really. You know, gauge the amount of, um, or the, the, the spectrum of emotional bandwidth that we have. Um, and so like these emotional set points, they’re pretty much fixed once you become an adult for the most part. And it’s really only a few things that can change these emotional set points.

And so to lower these emotional set points, we’re usually talking about divorce loss of a loved one, chronic unemployment, right? The real heavy hitters. Um, and then when it comes to improving those emotional set points, it seems like altered states is one of, if not the most powerful way of improving those emotional set points over time.

And so this really fueled my interest in flow states. And so flow states is one way of having altered states that improve those set points over time. Psychedelics is also very, very interesting in that regard. So you. So you’re setting these emotional set points and then it’s through this process of altered states that you’re really able to ideally improve and increase that emotional bandwidth that, you know, upper limit of the emotional experience that you’re having.

Laura Dawn: Okay. So interesting. I wasn’t expecting you to go into emotional set points when talking about critical periods, that’s really, really fascinating. So it also seems like as a part of integration and training that we need to learn how to regulate our emotions regulate our nervous system. Are you also looking at the intersection between critical periods and nervous system regulation and flow states?

Like if we were to just like throw up a Venn diagram here, 

Conor Murphy: I mean, it it’s fascinating. So like there, there are a couple different ways that we can talk about the biology of it. Part of it we could talk about in terms of autonomic arousal. And so for instance, if you look at the way that, um, these different states promote, uh, plasticity, oftentimes they’re involving some amount of parasympathetic engagement.

So we can talk about the auto autonomic arousal side of things. We can also talk about this at the level of different brain systems. And so this is what’s going on within your default mode network, right? This is your day to day mind wandering network and within altered states, you are contrasting from that default mode network and.

We call this the task positive network, the older literature calls it the executive attention network. Um, but basically like you’re, you’re kind of ping ponging back and forth between these two overall networks. And the default mode network is more of your baseline reality. Maybe that’s correlated back to this idea of, um, an emotional set point of emotional set point, um, idea comes more from the psychology realm.

And sometimes we struggle to match up the, you know, the, the psychology with the neuroscience. Um, but at the end of the. These, what seems to be characteristic of this process is these altered states, which is, you know, can involve the task positive network, um, can involve other networks as well. And that seems to be recoding what you have within your default baseline default mode network activity.


Laura Dawn: Okay. And is part of, uh, BDNF brain derived neurotropic factor, uh, an influence in what opens up the critical periods. Do you have a, a theory as to why altered states really open up this plasticity and you mentioned some seminal work. Are we talking Dr. Robin cart Harris’s work? What are some of the studies that you specifically said in the past, like six months to 12 months have really pointed towards this that has been new on the scene.

Conor Murphy: Yeah. Um, so BDNF is one of my favorite topics. So happy to do a deeper dive there. Um, uh, maybe I’ll start with one study in particular. And this one came from, uh, a number of years ago. I think this was at a UC Davis, perhaps back in 2018 if I recall correctly. But the, the, the core experimental method that they used was they were basically harvesting these neurons, these cortical neurons cortex.

Uh, putting them in Petri dishes and then applying different psychedelics to them. And so this is probably one of the coolest experimental designs, right? So you have this Petri dish and you give it, there’s a research compound called DOI, which is pretty common within these, uh, this research, but they also used L S D and psilocybin and M ketamine and DMT.

And then they looked at what were the relative effects, uh, to these individual neurons. And so they imaged them super high resolution in order to get a sense for whether there were alterations, the overall dendritic complexity, right? That’s one of the, the measures they used for plasticity. And you can then compare these different psychedelics in how they affect this really low level way of understanding plasticity, which is how are these individual adult mature neurons changing over.

And when they were looking at this, one of the things that they were looking at was BDNF. And so for those who are less familiar with BDNF, this is, as you said, brain drive neurotropic factor. This is one of the main growth factors within the brain. Um, and when they blocked BDNF, they saw no changes to these neurons.

And so this seemed to be a strong indication that this is a BDNF mediated process. So you can get BDNF elsewhere. You know, one of the best ways of improving BDNF is through exercise. As many of us know. Exercise is anti-correlated back with depressive symptoms. And so that could be part of its mechanism for a while.

There was the so-called BDNF theory of depression, uh, which is BDF is, you know, the, the main target to look at when it comes to depression, because you take individuals who are depressed, you’ll see much lower BDNF, um, levels. And so that supports this idea, that mood disorders are associated back with a lack of plasticity.

Um, and so for a while, that became, you know, one of the big targets when it came to different depression interventions. Now the, the, the consensus is that BDNF is highly correlated, but it might not be the main causal factor involved there, but it’s definitely worthwhile to look at, um, and. All that to say is like, this is like one of the piece of research that came out a number of years ago, really seminal in that space.

And then a number of additional papers came out, looking at these different components of neuroplasticity and what brain regions are involved. Um, one of the ideas that’s so interesting within this domain is whether you need some sort of conscious involvement in order to have those benefits, at least when it comes to mood disorders and this.

Controversial, a lot of people have some heavy opinions surrounding this, but it’s a fascinating, fascinating conversation to have because, um, if you look at specific brain regions, a lot of this is going on in deeper brain regions, most specifically the hippocampus. Um, and so if you have the ability to affect mood disorders without cognitive involvement, um, then like, you know, things that, that has a lot of implications for how we start to understand psychedelics, because so much of the psychedelic experience is very subjective, right?

It’s you like you’re very much there and in it. Um, however, there’s an argument that’s coming online now, especially when it comes to some of the ketamine therapy that this has to do with deeper brain structures that don’t necessarily need the same subjective involvement, um, that we might assume given, you know, that the average person’s experience with psyched.

Laura Dawn: Oh, my gosh. That is super interesting and is I can imagine very controversial and looking at, you know, how do we work with psychedelic journeys to initiate change? I feel like we, we kind of stepped over like a very base foundational understanding for people listening that maybe we should just back up a second and make this super relatable and build on it from there.

Okay. So why is change so freaking hard? maybe we should just start there stability versus change. And you know, when we go through these rapid growth phases as children where we’re so molded and shaped into, you know, certain set ways, and then as we get older, where, you know, we deepen in the groove of who we are, our belief systems, our thought patterns, our emotional set point, as you referenced earlier, And that medicines and psychedelics can open up those critical periods, but let’s start like at the base.

Why is change so hard and how do we navigate this conversation of stability versus growth and 

Conor Murphy: change? Oof. I mean, that, that’s a very loaded question and so I’ll do my best um, so like, as we go on through our development, we start off in, we are in these critical windows and. At least in the context of AI, you always talk about the exploration mode versus the exploitation mode.

The exploration mode is, you know, you’re looking at these different potential action plans. You’re weighing them. And exploitation is, you know, I’ve already learned this much about my environment. I’m gonna exploit the knowledge that I already have. And I think as humans, we go through this process as we get older and we start off and we’re in much more of exploration mode.

And then as we get older, we become much more, you know, in, in exploitation mode. And one really interesting example of this is if you look at elderly people in the way that they form friendships, generally speaking, they’re not out there trying to meet new people. They know the people that they really enjoy spending time with.

So they exploit those relationships that they have, and they don’t necessarily explore new relationships outside of that. And so part of it, I think is a natural process of learning. As, as we go on in life, we kind of figure out what works for us. And then we start to exploit that more and more over time.

Um, However, oftentimes you want to go through this process of change and you become, you know, somewhat victimized by your own, but by your past identities. Um, and th this is not to say that change is necessarily good and there’s problems. If we disregulate, if we have too much change, right. That can be really compromising to our sense of identity.

That can be really overwhelming. There are, you know, like plenty of, um, Uh, different mental health indications that are associated with that inability to maintain consistency. But if you’re a so-called healthy, normal, then odds are, you’re looking for maybe a little bit more change in your life. You’re looking for the ability to layer in that new habit, that ability to form new relationships, that ability to pivot your career, your, your company in a certain direction.

And so these are the types of problems that I think are just so relevant for such a broad spectrum. People. Uh, and so if we understand this process better, then we can more effectively go through this process of change. Mm-hmm 

Laura Dawn: okay. That makes sense. And I, I like your, your, you reference something that I say it quite a lot is like slow and steady wins the race.

Mm-hmm I think if we just try to change too much all at once, and there’s too much of a, a radical break in the narratives that we tell ourselves of who we are and our sense of self, that we could really look at that as being more like a psychotic break. Although I don’t love that terminology, but you know where it’s actually just.

Slow incremental change is really helpful. And I do think that that’s where psychedelics and medicines do come in to help shake up that the neural snow globe. And so that analogy, I’m, I’m curious if that feels very relevant to bring into the conversation at this stage of, of you mentioned default mode network and there’s, um, in Michael Poland’s book, how to change your mind.

He uses the, the analogy that I think he referenced from Mendel Kalin around, you know, a blanket of snow, fresh blanket of snow. That’s what a psychedelic journey is like. And when we think the same thoughts over and over and over again, they become deeply ingrained grooves like magnets that we just keep sliding down that same thought mental rumination.

This is what depression is. Addiction anxiety. PTSD, very strong grooves, strong tendency towards mental rumination. And when we go through a psychedelic journey, there’s more of that, that fresh blanket of snow. There’s more of a chance that we can think a new thought step off that hamster wheel of rumination shake up the neural snow globe.

And is that, does that feel like an accurate analogy to what is actually opening up these critical periods? Again, a hundred 

Conor Murphy: percent so, so I, I do really like that analogy, uh, because like the, the ruts are still underneath that snow, once you have new snow. Right. Um, but you’re in a place that you’re much more empowered to be able.

Actualize some sort of change. And so not to throw too many analogies out there, but I think, you know, the exploration versus the exploitation, you, you can also refer to this as, you know, convergent versus divergent, right. Divergent or you’re planning out a bunch of different potential action plans and convergent where you’re choosing one of those action plans and moving forward on it.

And I think. Like these different binaries that we have are really essential to the human condition. And so it’s helpful to know where you are, um, on these different spectrums so that you can better leverage the tools in order to allow you to do the that’s through, of change or commit heavily and focus attention to something that is much more convergent to nature.


Laura Dawn: so interesting because I have had this conversation a number of times with Monash GN. Who’s a friend of mine. He’s a psychedelic neuroscientist. He’s great. And he’s written some, some great papers. He actually wrote a paper, uh, updating the dynamic frameworks of thought psychedelics and creativity.

It was one of the papers that actually inspired me to go back to graduate school and really explore the intersection between psychedelics and creative cognition. And we talk a lot about this exploration versus exploitation. And then you just mentioned convergent and divergent thinking. I’m really curious to ask you about your thoughts on this topic of a parallel.

The, the underlying neural mechanisms that point to the reasons that psychedelics are efficacious for the treatment of depression. To me, a lot of the work that I did and the, the thesis that I wrote in graduate school that I just finished last month. Hallelujah. Congratulations. So grateful to be through that threshold.

And I’ve had this conversation with other people, and I’m curious to hear your thoughts on it. Do you think that there’s a similar underlying neural mechanism for which psychedelics are so helpful in the treatment of depression are also the same reasons that we can point to that are helpful in helping us to enhance creative cognition and creative thinking, creative problem 

Conor Murphy: solving a hundred percent.

I, I think many of these things exist on a spectrum. And what was really helpful for me coming from a background in flow science was that within flow, you really have the epitome of the human experience that I think most of us are driving towards whether consciously or otherwise. And for me, it was really helpful to have that as kind of the, the, you know, um, the exemplary experience that you’re working towards.

And then you can see other states relative to that. And especially when it comes to like flow research, when, you know, you’re intensely focused on the present, that very much stands in distinction from say a very Ru depressive state. And so one of the questions that I find to be so motivating is if flow is what a lot of people are targeting, um, what is the opposite of.

And so is that a depressive state, is that a traumatic state, like, you know, what is really the opposite of this? And so many of these things I think exist on this type of spectrum, and it’s really helpful to, um, understand that, you know, the, the, you know, healthy, normal experience is, you know, on, on the same spectrum of that, you know, you know, depressive experience or whatever other, you know, disorders might be at play there.

Um, and that gives us, uh, a language that we can use in order to get outside of this, this mentality of, you know, the opposite of depressed is just like neutral. Whereas, you know, really what we’re looking at is, you know, what’s the, like the vector you can use for human thriving. And a lot of that comes down in my mind to, you know, these moments of intense, you know, focus and presence that I associate back to flow.


Laura Dawn: Okay. Maybe we should just define flow. What’s your definition of flow? 

Conor Murphy: Sure. So, so flows in optimal state of consciousness where you feel your best perform your best. And so flow is really about being deeply immersed in the present. And there are nine main characteristics of flow. Probably the one that is most easily easy to relate to is the transformation of time.

And so, um, that’s time either massively speeding up or slowing down, depending on the situation you might find yourself in. And one of the other core ideas within flow is the challenge, skill balance. And so that’s the so-called golden rule of flow, but that’s, um, um, the idea that you are experiencing flow when the challenge that you have is an optimal relationship back to the skill that you have.

And so as your skill, uh, continues to increase, you wanna increase that challenge level about 4% above the skill that you currently have. And that seems to be the optimal attention, uh, the optimal ability to focus your attention in the present. 

Laura Dawn: Hmm, I love that. And I also love how you went, uh, into the, the spectrum of consciousness earlier, before we dove into defining flow, because I, I really see it the same way.

And actually that is what really inspired me to reframe the question and really focus my studies on. Okay. Instead of 90% of the conversation in the psychedelic space is how do we work with medicines, these very powerful substances to help reduce mental illness and reframe it to say, okay, how can we work with psychedelics and sacred plant medicines to enhance mental wellbeing?

And as soon as we reframe that question and actually completely changes what we look for, how we study them, preparation, integration, set, and setting it completely changes everything, which is what I, I focus. You know, the majority of my, my graduate degree on, so I do wanna go into more around flow, but I kind of wanna still wrap up this area of, of leveraging critical periods.

And I’m curious if you wrote anything about this in your thesis, what do we do when those critical periods are open and whether that’s, you know, through research or through just your own experience. And this is also pointing to integration and maybe cultivating a practice that allows you to tap into flow states as a part of that integration.

It’s, it’s definitely, you know, practices that I weave into my own life. Did you explore in your thesis or do you have anything that you wanna contribute to this conversation of like, okay, these critical periods are open now? What? Right. 

Conor Murphy: Well, I’m happy to walk through what the science currently seems to indicate there and then happy to provide, you know, just anecdotes for my own experience as well.

And maybe I’ll start on the anecdote side. So when COVID first happened, And we were looking at lockdowns. I was looking at the timeline of those lockdowns and I was like, holy shit. Like this is, you know, habit formation territory. And so initially those are maybe two weeks, but they were quickly extending into a month.

And so, you know, we know that there’s a, a very specific window associated with habit formation, maybe on the 30 to 60 day, um, range. And so there’s actually an interesting story as to why most people think it’s 30 days to a habit. It actually comes from, um, uh, individuals who are getting plastic surgery.

And so they were coming outta plastic surgery, not recognizing themselves. And it was, you know, 30 days until they like really started to, uh, internalize this new identity that they had. And so that’s where like the 30 days to a habit thing comes from it’s a little bit off it’s really, you know, a little bit closer to 60 days.

Um, but regardless, going back to the COVID example, So I knew that that was gonna be a heavy dose of new habits for, uh, virtually the, the entirety by virtually every American let alone, you know, the vast majority human population. And so like, understanding like that habit window is probably the first place to start when it comes to this.

Um, When it comes to research itself. So if you take a look at ketamine, for instance, ketamine seems to open up this window of plasticity at about five days. There’s a lot of back and forth to how sustainable, the changes that you experience within that window are specifically when it comes to ketamine, where it seems like, um, Uh, within other, we call ’em psychos, right?

And so instead of psychedelic psycho pathogens, because they promote this idea of plasticity, they promote this, um, biological mechanism of plasticity. But if you look within other psycho plastics, they seem to have a stronger effect on plasticity relative to some like ketamine, which still is efficacious in its own.

Right. And so if you compare, say LSD to DMT, to psilocybin, um, LSD seems to be the most powerful promoting plasticity. And it’s unclear if that’s because of the specific mechanism, uh, or the specific, uh, pharmacokinetics of LSD, namely the fact that it, you know, lasts for eight hours, eight to 12 hours, um, or if it has to do with the fact that LSD has action across multiple receptor sites, it’s active in serotonin pathways, but it’s also active in dopamine.

Um, Uh, the Norrine pathway and then the Sigma one pathway as well. And so like, it’s unclear as to what that underlying mechanism is, but at the end of the day, like if you envision these different compounds, um, in these different interventions, not just, you know, psychedelics or psychos, but also the different habits that you have, you can understand the different windows associated with each one of these and then best leverage this in order to promote some idea of change.

I think the, uh, probably the most mundane example is when we come back from vacation, we seem to be much more plastic. I don’t, I don’t have any data behind that, but like by and large, that seems to be, that seems to pretty consistently be the case. And that could be because of all the parasympathetic engagement, when you’re, you know, in a, in a more relaxed state where there could be other mechanisms at play there.

But at the end of the day, like if, if you observe your relationship with these different tools, then you can understand the time windows that you’re opening up and how best to go try and. Go into one of those critical periods when you need to go into one of those critical periods, but also not to always want to be in those critical periods, because it’s also really important to take care of that, you know, default baseline state as well.

Laura Dawn: Okay. Super interesting. So people listening, they’re like I got bad habits. I wanna upgrade to better habits. You’re gonna go sit in Ayaka ceremony on Friday night. You know, how long are these critical periods open, whether it’s psychedelic assisted psilocybin therapy, or maybe, I don’t know, maybe we’ll, we’ll put this aside, but it just occurred to me also to ask you about Bufo in particular, where it’s like really high DMT blast.

For me personally, I, I like the arc of an eight hour or a 10 hour journey where there’s more time for introspection and really being able to like process the, the, the arc of the ceremony. I’m kind of curious. Okay. So people listening, they’re like, uh, we are, a lot of people are called to psychedelic journeys because they want to initiate some kind of change for the better in their lives, praying for healing, whether it’s, we’re talking about emotional set points or.

Implementing better habits. So we have these windows open up and then what can we recommend for people? Are you recommending that people start by setting a clear intention before they even enter that journey? And then how long are those critical periods open for? What do we actually recommend for people to do during that time?

Maybe nothing. Maybe rest is the best thing to do and get as much sleep as possible. But I’m kind of curious to like really go deep into. Integration 

Conor Murphy: here. I don’t know if I can go too deep in terms of the, what the science specifically says about that, but going back to this idea that LSD is more efficacious relative to something like DMT or psilocybin.

I think one of the reasons why iowaska seems to have such effects is because oftentimes you’re doing multiple ceremonies over multiple days, and that is in general different from the way that you approach many other psychedelics. And so that could be part of the underlying mechanism is that there’s just more of that, you know, process that you’re going through.

I think also what’s so unique about Iowa in, in particular is that you’re oftentimes going through this DF process as well. And so you’re really. Extending that experience far before. And then, you know, you usually extend your integration experience far afterwards as well. And so, like I think those have a significant effect on the overall outcomes.

And one of the things that I think is so interesting is I, if you are trying to go through this process of change, really what you’re doing is, you know, you’re building up this split identity in yourself of like, you know, this is my identity before this process. Um, this is the new identity that I’m trying to embody.

And then I’m going through this process in order to make that, you know, new identity, that dominant identity. And so I think like at like, I think a lot of what happens within these preparatory steps is really you’re, you’re getting a sense of like what that new identity is understanding the nuance of it.

That’s not fully feeling like you yet, but then once you go through that transition, um, And then you’re able to make that more of, you know, the dominant side of yourself. And so I, I, I think that’s part of the underlying mechanism. And so really it it’s about creating, you know, that, that new identity and as firm of a way as possible.

And there’s plenty of, you know, research going back to this idea of visualization, the science behind visualization. Um, and so like what seems to be happening there is you, you’re starting to depart from, you know, that default you’re going into like this, uh, novel identity. And then you’re incorporating that back to your default baseline state.

Laura Dawn: Hmm. I love that you went into identity, you know, I’m such a huge fan of, uh, James Clear’s work, atomic habits. Mm-hmm he says identity change is the north star of habit change. I recorded a 45 minute long solo episode. That was an eight step process to how to leverage this understanding of identity change the stories that we tell ourselves, the, the sense of this is who I am and how do we work that as our north star towards habit change.

And so I’m gonna link to that again, if you haven’t listened to that episode, it’s really just packed with all of this that we’re talking about and also bring brings in the understanding of neuroplasticity into that episode as well. But I, I love that you went there because it’s so much of it has to do with the story we tell ourselves of this is who I am.

I’m a person who values. Fitness. And so I’m a person that works out every morning. It’s part of my self identity and that when we actually shape the story of who we are, it actually does have such a huge influence in the, in terms of the habits that we show up to embody, because we don’t like cognitive dissonance.

We don’t like to, to be a certain way. Then we tell ourselves of who we are. So getting that into alignment. Um, so I, I love that you actually just went right. 

Conor Murphy: right in, in, in like playing off the identity piece a little bit more. I, I think the, the idea that’s most systematically, um, under explored within habit formation is the idea of Keystone habits.

And I think that’s tied up with this ID idea of identity as well. And so like a Keystone habit is really one habit that causes these different downstream habit changes. And I, especially with habit formation, it can get overwhelming to form a lot of new habits in a short period of time. But it’s really those Keystone habits that really matter.

And the rest is kind of fluffed. And so like those Keystone habits are exercise. Exercise normally causes all sorts of downstream changes. You sleep better, you wanna eat better, you wanna consume less alcohol. Um, and so it’s really those Keystone habits that really matter. And those Keystone habits do seem to meld a lot more with our sense of identity and then any sort of downstream habit becomes a lot easier because you’ve already enshrined that one thing that actually really matters.

And then one thing about James Clear’s work that I think is. Helpful is that, um, I don’t think he always uses that language of Keystone habits, but he does, you know, talk about combining habits through your long standing habits. And really, I think a lot of what experts are doing is they’re just drilling the basics over and over and over again.

So they’re drilling those Keystone habits and then they’re worried less about all of these, you know, secondary tertiary habits, um, because those are a lot easier to accumulate back to one core set of habits. 

Laura Dawn: So when let’s say there’s like a five day after glow iowaska after glow period, five, seven days, do you think that that’s a good time to start one habit?

Two habits. Is that even a good time to start a habit in that open critical period of, okay. And then do we start earlier? Like, okay, I’m gonna go into this Ika ceremony this weekend. I really wanna get healthier in my body. I’m gonna start identifying the, this sense of, of story that I’m telling myself are stories, create our reality, they shape our sense of identity.

And then do you think it’s actually helpful to start walking or working out in those five days post ceremony, whether whatever ceremony we’re, we’re working with, whatever medicine we’re talking 

Conor Murphy: about. A hundred percent. My saying is always fast, slow and slow is fast. And so like focusing on just one major thing that you’re looking to change over that critical, uh, period seems to be the optimal way to go about it.

And then, you know, as I was saying, you can start to associate these different subroutines back to that main habit that you’re trying to, uh, change. And it’s really like, there are a number of different rules of film. It’s actually really interesting to look in some of the addiction research. And if you look at say like AA protocol, right.

And AA protocol, it’s, you know, you’re, you’re not quitting alcohol forever. You’re just quitting it for it today. Um, and it’s a really nice rule of thumb and I think that’s really helpful for habit formation as well. Whereas. It’s a lot more difficult at the beginning of that habit formation at the beginning of that change.

And so it’s really about committing heavily to that. And then everything gets easier from there. Um, but a hundred percent you wanna leverage these critical period know when you’re most receptive to that change and then know that you know, that the, the difficulty gets a lot easier over time. 

Laura Dawn: Hmm. Can you say more unpack this saying fast is slow and slow is fast 

Conor Murphy: I, I think for a while, for me personally, I was going through an immense amount of change in a short period of time.

And so I was switching careers from non profits into high technology and, you know, switching like where I was living and, um, all of these different aspects of myself. That works really well at a certain period of your life. And then as time goes on, you realize that like, like once you’ve kind of gone through that exploration, like the, the, the heavy lift of the exploration mode, and you’re more in like the, uh, exploitation mode, um, there, you start to like, identify the specific things, the, the specific force multipliers that really matter, and those become the focus over time.

And so it’s less about speeding through some process. Um, and it’s more about, you know, focusing on those specific. For small multipliers and really like spending your efforts there and not worrying about the fluff outside of that. Mm. 

Laura Dawn: Yeah. I love that. I like to say sometimes you oftentimes you need to go slow to go fast, slowing down, allows us to go fast in the long run.

And so I’m sure you’re a fan of Andrew Huberman podcast. Do you listen to his podcast? Sure, sure. Yeah, I know Andrew. Yeah, I really love, I feel like every time I listen to his podcast, it’s like going to a two hour Stanford lecture. So I, I do get a lot out of it. And there was a, an episode that he did with, I forget her name now, but it was all about the science of visualization.

And sometimes when I’m really often times when I’m in ceremony, I, I really tap into the power of visualization and the power of the mind. And he also mentioned in that episode and the, the research behind just visualizing ourselves, it, it kind of sat at odds. I listened to this episode a couple of days ago, right after I sat with the medicine and in that.

Ceremony. I was really going into the power of my mind and creating my reality, like from a visual perspective. And then I listened to this episode with the, the woman that he interviewed. And I’ll, I’ll include that link in the show notes. I wasn’t familiar with her work, but I had heard some of those studies where it’s not always beneficial to just imagine yourself like doing the thing that is in alignment with like the habit or the goal that, that actually can create, uh, a scenario where you are.

It’s not, it’s not, it, it sits at odds with the, the dopamine and motivation system in the body. So it’s like, if you just imagine yourself like arriving, then there’s not like, Propelling drive to like, do the thing to get you there. And so I thought that that was really interesting and that it’s actually more beneficial to see yourself overcoming the, the, the obstacle that we arrive at every day.

That’s gonna like prevent us from eating healthy or getting your shoes on, going for a walk. So I’m, I was kind of curious, cuz you mentioned vis visualization. Are you familiar with some of that research and are you, do you ever work with psychedelics or sacred plant medicines in your own personal life to visualize yourself embodying the habits or the belief systems of what you want to be embodying in your life?

And do you actually try to see yourself overcoming the, the hurdles, the obstacles and finding mental pathways to overcome those, to align with the success that you want to create for yourself? 

Conor Murphy: Yeah. I mean I’ve seen, uh, like one of the core ideas that’s so motivating for me is just target fixation. And it’s crazy the implications of target fixation.

And part of this is because my background’s in action sports. And so target fixation. I mean, it, it’s basically the, one of the core ideas behind, you know, how we teach, say a 16 year old, how to drive, right? Which is, you know, focus on where you want the vehicle to go. Um, and oftentimes under a sense of pressure will focus on where we don’t want to go instead.

And then target fixation still works. And so we go into that target and especially within parachute sports, it’s highly, highly problematic. Um, because if you’re under a state of stress and then you focus on the thing that you’re not supposed to be focusing on, you collide with that thing. And, uh, the physics has a tendency to catch up with you.

And so I, I do like think a lot about like target fixation in general and, you know, like what are the things that we’re focusing on because it’s usually under a stress state that we focus on those things that we shouldn’t be focusing on, and that doesn’t necessarily enable you to get to where you wanna go.

Um, and so. Like, that’s something that I try and think about, you know, with some regularity. Um, and I, I do, like in my own personal practice, it it’s important for me to like pretty heavily differentiate like these like, uh, explorational modes from the, these like exploitation modes or these convergent from divergent modes.

And so I try and know very specifically where I am over the course of the year, and I really plan much of my year around this. So I know when I’m going into like hardcore exploration mode, for me, that’s a lot of travel that’s adventures. That’s time in nature, that’s action sports. And then my more convergent mode is usually inspired from that divergent mode of like the, the things that I know I really need to do.

Um, and that frees up the cognitive load. So I can really focus on those things because that’s, that’s another big part of the way that we create these identities to the point that you made a moment ago, which is this idea that. There’s cognitive load associated with not doing the thing that, you know, you really need to do.

And it’s through like these moments of, you know, inspiration and, and, um, exploration that we really kind of get a lay of the land, understand all of the potential realities that we could potentially find ourselves in. Um, and then choose those that are the highest ROI, the most aligned with ourselves. Um, and then, you know, going into that, you know, process that’s much more convergent in nature, super 

Laura Dawn: interest.

Yeah. So while you were saying that was like, okay, that’s exactly what they were talking about in that episode. It was episode number 83 with Dr. Emily B, I think she’s a perceptual neuroscientist and looking at actually how to focus on targets and like for example, runners that can focus on like the, a set point and see that that actually narrowing focus allows you to get towards your goal and accomplish that goal.

So I it’s very similar to what you’re talking about, um, which I, I, I find super interesting and then how to actually visualize like overcoming obstacles so that you can achieve your goals. So really, really, really interest. I’m gonna include that, that link in the show notes. Are you familiar with her work, Emily, be bees?

Conor Murphy: Um, not by name. I mean, I’m familiar with some of the visualization work, um, involving, um, like increased muscle mass. I, I like associated back to visualization, which is fascinating. And then going back to Alia Crum, I think she’s one of the most interesting researchers right now, at least in the mindset space.

Cuz a lot of what she’s done is. Biology back to mindsets. And so her famous, you know, so-called milkshake experiment where you can literally see your hormonal response based upon whether you think you’re drinking something that’s savory versus sweet when it’s, you know, the same underlying milkshake.

And so like there, I think that’s like, we’re, we’re just starting to unravel that piece. And this is, what’s so fascinating within neuroscience. Not only do we know so much about neuroscience, but we also know so little and so much of what we see within neurosciences, the so-called hard problem of consciousness in different ways, but more specifically in this case, how can we link that subjective experience back to our underlying biology and physiology?

And I think a Crum has been just such a pioneer in that space. 

Laura Dawn: Yeah. I’ve been a fan of her work for a long time in a, in a past life. I wrote a published book on food addiction. So I was very much in the, in the addiction space and that’s how I actually came across her work. And that. It milks over milk over milkshakes.

That’s a pretty old, I mean, at this point it’s pretty old and she’s done a lot of, a lot of studies since then. And recently I just read, um, Kelly McGonigal’s book on the upside of stress, which is also an incredible, it’s such a good read. She references a lot of Aaliyah Crumb’s work in that as well. And now it’s interesting because it’s like, Joe Des Benza is weaving a lot of that in of like, how does the mind impact our biology and where can we actually start working with, you know, from my, my narrative of like, okay, how do we start working with psychedelics that actually enhance our power to visualize, we know this, we know that we can work with psychedelics to enhance visual.

Perception with our eyes closed. So that’s, that’s a very interesting sort of Venn diagram to throw up, like, how do we work with medicines, enhance our capacity to visualize, to influence our biology and how we can actually determine, or, or influence our physical reality from that experience. And. Yeah, from here.

I’m kind of curious, like what, what your own personal practice with psychedelics is. Do you feel open to sharing any of that? Do you have a practice with, with a particular medicine and do you work with medicines in that way to help sort of shape your reality on, on various 

Conor Murphy: levels? Sure. I, so I I’d be part of my, um, like exploration mode does definitely involve psychedelics.

And so for me, I think a lot about this upper limit problem or like the emotional set point problem. Right? So like how can you increase the upper limit of like the, the, you know, amount of potential that you have in your life? And so for me, psychedelics are a pretty significant part of that. And so like whether that’s sitting with iowaska or whether that’s.

A number of different compounds as well. Um, and so I, I do try and have more structured, a more structured ability to go into that state, um, be able to use that information and then combine it back with my default state. And like, that’s, you know, for me, I don’t make a hard like distinction between say flow states and what you see within psychos and some of these other behaviors, because they seem to have similar underlying mechanism.

Now we know a lot less about the, um, way that flow impacts say learning and development in this process of change. Um, but it’s one of, you know, my core hypotheses, which is something we’re actively exploring, which is in what ways does this, you know, provide. This a comparable opening of these critical windows relative to what you see, uh, within something like psyched.


Laura Dawn: interesting. I’m curious when you say your upper limit, are you talking about your capacity to navigate stress and to hold like the discomfort of emotional stress in the body? Like, what exactly are you referring to when you say that? 

Conor Murphy: So in, in terms of like that upper limit, it’s really, for me, I noticed that there becomes a contradiction between what you intellectually know and then what you intuitively feel.

Um, and like that becomes a pretty strong indication that there’s some sort of issue with upper limit where you’re not necessarily, um, like fully integrating those two different ways of understanding reality. Um, and so for me in general, um, like, like I understand that upper limit problem as the amount of positivity that you led into your life.

I think that’s one way of languaging that another one is just like understanding that you’re, you’re within some sort of simulation, some sort of self-imposed simulation where you’re self-limiting in, in, in strange ways and you need to kinda get to the root cause of that. Um, and so those are some of the ways that I kind of understand that core problem and then, you know, systematically, you know, having a ritual for introspection and for me initially, that was meditation.

And so I’ve been a daily meditator for eight plus years at this point. And so like, that was a big part of that, um, introspection that allowed me to understand more about those processes, but these are all just tools and different tools resonate, you know, better with different people and at different points in your life.

And so for me, like, you know, like being in a, um, a psychotherapy context was really helpful for a number of years. And then meditation became a dominant form and then, you know, really through, uh, different. Uh, pursuits of, uh, altered states, whether it’s, you know, flow states or otherwise also started to reinforce that process because that’s really in my mind, you know, that’s how you Recode this default baseline state into something that is, you know, more aligned with the direction that you’re going in.


Laura Dawn: Oh, I feel like I could talk to you for hours. There’s just like so much. I’m like, oh gosh, we could dive into this. Did you say like the amount of positivity that you’re willing to let into your. 

Conor Murphy: so, so, so that that’s, uh, uh, coming from guy Hendrix. And so in, in the great leap, which, um, I think is a, a really, um, like an interesting way of framing that problem that I think many of us deal with.

And so that, that book a little bit on the self-help side of things, but I think it, um, you know, frames a problem that, you know, in, in psychology, we know going back to this emotional set point point idea, or going back to just, you know, like fundamental difficulties with change, you know, like the, these ideas are all intimately bound up, but like the, the way that guy Hendrix specifically, uh, languages, this is yes, about the upper limit of positivity that you led into your life and, and in his framing.

Um, I dunno if I fully agree with this, but in, in his framing, um, you have this upper limit of positivity and once you start to get too far above that, then you start to self sabotage. Um, and so I don’t know if I fully agree with that language, but I, I, I think it’s, it’s definitely a, a very interesting motivating idea.

Yeah. Super 

Laura Dawn: interesting. Because recently when. Just sitting with medicine. This was actually, it was similar to, this was coming up for me. I was like, how much joy can I open up my heart to in this moment it was like, how good can I feel? And it was almost like I had to train my body of like, it’s okay to feel this good.

It’s okay to feel this way. Just allow open it’s O you know, it was like interesting to just witness that, that there was like this set point and like how much can we template and really open up our being to feel good and to feel joy in our lives, without it being like, whoa, this is a lot. This is a 

Conor Murphy: lot to feel.

right. And what’s the origins of you trying to limit that. Um, and so it’s, it’s a complex equation. It’s a very complex equation. 

Laura Dawn: Right. And do you notice as part of your practice when you’re opening up to feeling a certain way, or when you notice like really big changes are happening or like really sort of the, the devastating moments of our lives, um, do you like really actively work with your sort of thinking, feeling, loop, noticing how your body feels and then noticing the, the narratives that you’re telling yourself and do you actively try to work with like mental self talk to back off from the edge?

Conor Murphy: Yeah, there, there’s definitely an element of that, that like, There is the saying that, you know, so many of our problems are caused by the fact that we listen to ourselves rather than talking to ourselves. And so I think that’s definitely the case. And, and I, I do find that either being in that witness state, um, or, you know, like talking to yourself more is helpful.

Um, if I’m being completely honest though, I definitely get a little bit macho about it as well. And, uh, just want to like, drive really hard towards like, you know, that, that like state that I’m, I’m looking for. Um, and that’s, I think such a, so, so much of the research on the biology of mindsets. Um, has effectively in some way, been inspired by, um, looking at sex hormones, because like we, we know about, you know, different behaviors and how it relates back to say testosterone release.

And I do think that this is something that we, we, we don’t talk a lot in the domain of psychedelics. Um, yet we know that there’s, you know, for instance, big gender distinctions between, uh, dosing of psychedelics, um, and part of that seems to have a strong correlation back to sex hormones. Um, and so if, if you look at say Ilia, Crums.

When it comes to encoding of traumatic, uh, um, uh, memories versus something that’s more empowering. Um, some of that comes through as you know, this relationship between D H a, which is precursor to different sex hormones and cortisol. Um, and so I do think that so much of this component, like so many of the different aspects of this can, you know, be looked at in terms of, yeah.

That those lenses of introspection and then also, you know, self talk, um, but can also be looked at from this very particular, you know, perspective of sex hormones, which is something that, you know, I, I think that there’s, there’s a big there, there, especially in a psychedelics realm, because this does affect the way that we process psychedelics.

Laura Dawn: Okay. This just opened up like a whole can of, OK. So there’s a lot to say there. So, um, yeah, for people listening, highly recommend reading the upside of. They, and she goes into a lot of aah Crumb’s work. She also talks about, um, for example, if you are feeling stress and the narrative you’re telling yourself is like, calm down, like your, your palms are getting sweaty, like just suppress it, push it down versus like, wow, I’m feeling really excited.

And I really care about this thing. And this is why, like my body’s having an emotional reaction to this. And it’s two very different narratives that it actually does influence D H E a and you reference the milkshake study and that had to do also with the way that our perception and the narrative of what we’re drinking, for example, uh, just because we, we already mentioned this, I feel like it’s, it’s helpful just to say what the, the study was that if you’re looking at and about to consume like a low fat versus a high fat milkshake, this was what her study did, essentially, even though they were the exact same.

Substance fluid that people were drinking that their hunger hormones changed Graylin versus leptin was released differently based on the fact that people believed they were drinking a high fat versus a low fat milkshake, just based on the label. Same with this. Um, with this other study around D H E a, which you just mentioned as well.

And the way that we tell ourselves and relate to stress, uh, basically influences, uh, what, what is being released in the body and how much cortisol is being released. Okay. So I wanted to lay that foundation. Now you’re adding this whole other element of gender and sex hormones. so can, can we like unpack this just a little bit more and how, how does that influence.

Let’s unpack that first and then like talk about, because then you also wove into like psychedelics and, and dose into a psychedelics. I was like, wow. We’re, we’re really diving in deep here. So I didn’t realize what you were mentioning about the sex hormones was, was like an added factor here. Cuz you mentioned you were like, well, I, I noticed that I get like a little bit macho about it.

So can we just like unpack that first and then we can add the other layer of psychedelics in 

Conor Murphy: there. um, yeah, so, uh, for, for me, I find like when I’m dealing with that like upper limit problem, um, A lot of what I do is kind of systematically look through like different ways of effectively building additional exposure to like those particular, um, states or experiences I’m looking to have in my life.

Um, and so I usually go through that pretty systematically and charge pretty hard into that. Um, and that really helps me in different ways, like increase my overall tolerance for as weird as it sounds positivity. Um, because otherwise there’s, you know, this, this desire to self limit. Um, and so like, yeah, going.

Back to the, the, the stress piece. So I actually just pulled up the statistics, cause I thought this was like, this is such a fascinating study. And I, I know exactly when you’re referring to this was the like so-called perception of stress study. So it’s 30,000 people and it was, uh, following them over a number of different years and seeing, um, what their changes in terms of all cause mortality were relative to their perception of stress and how much stress they felt that they had.

Um, and so what they found was that like the. Amount of stress. So if somebody has a high degree of stress and the perception that stress negatively affects their health, they will have a 43% increase in risk of premature death over eight years. So again, this was a study with 30,000 people, 43% increase in risk of premature death over eight years.

Wow. And so like, this was, this was the perception of stress. Um, and then people with high stress, without the belief that it negatively affects health, had the lowest risk. Of all cause mortality in that group and those people with low stress. Um, and the believe that stress caused us, um, uh, or sorry that that stress caused health concerns had a 34% increase in, um, uh, risk of premature death.

And so like the, the, the core point there is that that perception, that mindset surrounding stress is so massively important. And we don’t fully understand the underlying mechanism, but at a sample size of 30,000 people over the course of eight years, you can start to, you know, trust that. Um, and then in, in terms of like the, the D H E a piece, and so some of ale Crumb’s work was focusing on military survival school.

And so why is it that some people have a stressful situation in military survival school and have traumatic PTSD. Symptoms or PTSD like symptoms afterwards and why are some people more resilient? And so the core takeaway was that the relationship between D cortisol was predictor your response. And so cortisol, right?

Our main stress hormone D are related it’s, um, precursor to a number of these, um, sex hormones. And so if you had relatively high, D H E a relative to cortisol, then that was a strong indication of your resilience against traumatic events. And so that’s one fact that like, you know, seems to point at this relationship between, um, uh, sex hormones back to this idea of, you know, like our, our sense of resiliency, um, and.

Our understanding of the relationship between like sex hormones and like psychedelic dosing is still pretty, uh, preliminary. Um, so a, a friend of mine recently, uh, published a systematic review, looking at cannabis in particular, and this is a systematic problem across, you know, much of our pharmaceutical research, um, is the problem that we, you know, normally use, like middle-aged men for it.

Um, and there was a very famous example of ambient where Ambi. Was like many pharmaceuticals developed specifically with, uh, men and women respond to it significantly differently, so much so that women should basically be taking maybe a third or half of the dose that men should be taking. And you had cases of all of these women who were waking up in the middle of the night, sleep, walking, driving their cars and getting into accidents.

And so they had to redo the, uh, research associated with Ambien specifically for women. Um, and so this is again, one of the core prejudices we have in a lot of this research. Um, and I don’t think it’s something that we’ve SU um, uh, sufficiently enough accounted for within the cannabis research or within the psychedelic 

Laura Dawn: research.

Interesting. Okay. I’m just gonna throw in like one other thing, Amy Cutty, mm-hmm, that embodied posture. Like I’m gonna stand wide-legged with both of my hands on my hips and my chin high and my chest up. And that actually influences, um, sex hormones as well. Testosterone, for example, um, are you familiar with, with her work as well?

It’s like the embodiment of, you know, different of different hormones, 

Conor Murphy: right? Well, so I, I mentioned that I have a background part being nonprofits. And so part of with the research, like part of what got me into neuroscience originally was the psychological dev, um, dimension of poverty cycles. And so part of, um, the research that was done in development contexts, right?

So think Sub-Saharan Africa, uh, was to what degree does say a power pose influence, um, your financial decision making , which is. Fascinated. Right. So, so literally like one of like one, the study that really turned me onto this idea was, um, I think was a Yale researcher whose name now escapes me, but it was looking at, um, this metric called temporal discounting.

And so would you rather have $5 right now? Or $10 tomorrow? And it’s, it’s a proxy for your like economic decision making. And so they would go into Subsaharan, Kenya, um, with farmers and give them cortisol swabs, um, and like then do temporal discounting and get a sense for how this is affecting their decision making process.

And more specifically, if you’re a farmer in Subsaharan Africa, Um, there are certain windows where you’re flush with cash, right? Because you just had, you know, you just cultivated your product. Um, and one of the things, one of the, uh, variables you could play around with was when you made fertilizer available to them.

So it’s the economically rational decision for a farmer to buy fertilizer because it increases the overall yield. Um, however, because of the stress associated with it and these different other dimensions that you could play around with, um, it became really important to like understand a mechanism of this process so that you could help promote economically rational decision makers among this group of like poor Sub-Saharan farmers.

And so, like, it was similar to like, you know what you’re seeing in Amy Cutty’s research. There there’s been some mixed findings on, on some of that mm-hmm , but at the end, but at the end of the day, like, you know, there’s like these things impact us in a very, very real world way. Um, and especially if you’re in a poverty cycle, one of the most, you know, valuable things, um, That you can look at in terms of like the neuroscience research is the stress research, because we’re all under what it seems to be increasing stress over time.

And one of the most empowering, um, uh, dimensions of the neuroscience research is specifically in the way that we process stress. And part of it has to do with, you know, the way that we’re, you know, have our mindsets surrounding this and, and really like the way that we’re activating sex hormones in response to this 

Laura Dawn: super interesting.

I’m so happy. I brought that up. Oh, my gosh, there’s so many different threads here. Um, one of them is so an area that is really interesting to me is embodied cognition. I also did, uh, the embodied leadership training at srosy Institute. I don’t, I don’t know if you’re familiar with srosy, but they have some pretty interesting, uh, it’s somatic embodiment, you know, understanding somatic awareness different than somatic experiencing, which is like more focused on somatics for healing trauma.

This is more like somatics for leadership development, doing my degree in creativity studies and also really interested in embodiment practices. And this notion of embodied cognition is really fascinating to me, which kind of I’m gonna bridge this back to, uh, flow states because when we’re in flow and that is a, also a physical experience, or it can be a physical experience, it definitely impacts the way that we think.

And. I mean, I’m such a big fan of Steve Kotler’s work and you’ve had just like such a, an honor to get to work with Steve over many years now, the art of the impossible, that’s such a great read and where we look at how flow states influences productivity, influences creative thinking with the nine dot test.

Um, you know, there, there are real implications that the body being in flow does impact the mind. We’re not, we’re not separate. So there’s this whole notion of embodied cognition and, and how that does influence. And so I’m ki I’m kind of curious. I’m just gonna, not even really put a question on the table, but is there any direction you wanna like run in with that before I do ask you about like the real connection between flow and, and psychedelics.

Conor Murphy: So, so, uh, flow is a very high information state mm-hmm and you’re, you’re, you’re you’re processing information in a very particular way. And so one of the main, you know, hypotheses, at least for flow, um, in many contexts, but especially, um, in, um, Uh, physical applications, we may say athletics for example, is that you’re offloading a lot of processing to lower level brain regions.

Um, your basal gangly in particular, which is freeing up your ability to do lateral reasoning. And so it’s, you know, increasing your ability to, you know, creatively interpret your surroundings. Um, and so all that to say is like when, when it comes to like flow states, flow states do seem to be intimately bound up with this idea of, um, And so, because you’re, you’re effectively in a much more information rich state and you are, you know, limiting your over you’re, you’re increasing your automatic processing of information and thereby, you know, like, um, uh, increasing your ability to free up cognitive resources and more creatively interpret your surroundings.

Laura Dawn: So why, why, when we’re in flow, it’s like we’re opening up the thalamus. Maybe that’s also a, a connection between flow states and, and, uh, psychedelics. But why is it that when we’re in a flow state, we are just able to process it’s, it’s big data for the mind as, as Steve Cotler says, and then there’s this ability to, you know, be in hyper pattern recognition and hyper associative thinking, which again is very similar to psychedelic states.

But why is it that when we’re in that flow state, that we’re able to like process a lot more data. 

Conor Murphy: So I, I associate it back to awe states. Whereas like in awe you have so much complex information that your normal way of reasoning about that information no longer applies. And so within like flow states, you’re at an evolutionary advantage to be able to tap into flow.

Um, and because when we tap into flow, we perform at our best. We feel our best. We’re able to, you know, connect with groups. If you look at you. Like, uh, pack animals. Like you can like see at the point that they start to like mold in that way. And so it seems to be an evolutionary trigger when we have, um, something important at stake, right?

That’s the challenge skill balance, right? There’s a challenge there. And not only is there a challenge there, but it actually matters. It’s not like, you know, I have to move this rock cuz you know, I like moving rocks. I have to move this rock because there’s a baby. The, so there’s a challenge out there that matters.

And so it allows us to, you know, like leverage the resources that we need optimally in order to respond to that challenge. 

Laura Dawn: And it’s usually something that we really deeply care about. 

Conor Murphy: Right. So, yeah, so there, there has to be something at stake. Um, and this is something that, you know, like the flow research has looked at more recently is, you know, how much we actually care about the thing.

Cause a lot of the flow research, um, uh, experimental designs will be like Tetris and like, you know, these other tasks, like, you know, like solving mathematical equation, which I don’t know about you, but if I’m in an experimental context, I don’t really care that much. Um, but like, you know, it’s really that combination of the things that like we do actually care about, which seems to, you know, really hone our attention to the present.


Laura Dawn: And so what does it for you? What are some of your flow triggers? 

Conor Murphy: Uh, for me it’s a lot of action sports and so I’ve over 500 skydives at this point I’ve been involved in skydiving for, um, probably six, seven years at this point. Little bit into bass jumping, some motorcycle, riding, that sort of thing.

And so it’s, it’s really like these like heavily involved gravity sports, um, skiing is something that has been really interesting for me, but coming from a background in parachute sports, um, it’s hard to feel like things are at stake in the same way as when you’re, uh, jumping off of a cliff, let’s say. Um, and so those are a lot of the activities that I, I find a lot of flow in.

I also find a lot of flow in very heavy, heavy. Cognitive tasks as well. And so part of my background’s in the AI space and so coding is excellent. Excellent for flow. Um, and then, you know, doing a survey of the literature and stitching everything together in, in the context of neuroscience is also something that, uh, surprisingly enough, I actually enjoy 

Laura Dawn: mm-hmm

Yeah. And it’s so interesting to think about flow triggers. I mean, for me, one of my primary flow triggers is stepping on stage or being very immersed in dialogues like this. I just get into such a flow, but when I’m doing a keynote in front of a large audience, it is such a profound, altered state. Like it’s like unbelievable.

It’s, it’s really so much of what I do is actually just to put myself in those situations so that I can experience that again, because it is like really profound. And I I’m curious. So with flow states, does that also open up critical periods? 

Conor Murphy: Unclear. My, my assumption is yes. Um, and that’s mostly anecdotal at this point.

Um, and so this is something that, you know, like I I’ve been particularly interested in and like the reason why psychs are so interesting is because you have a compound that you can use to, um, uh, alter experience. Whereas flow state research is inherently difficult, um, because it’s very difficult to get people into flow in an experimental context.

So I mentioned, you know, the math equations and like the Teris is what, you know, some people are using. Um, one of the, probably the best studies that have been done in this, uh, regard was done on lyrical improv improvisation. And by that, I mean, freestyle wrapping in the context of an fr F M R I scanner, um, which, you know, from a creativity perspective, I’m sure you’re familiar with that study.

And so like, these are the types of like experimental designs that I find to be quite helpful. Subjectively. I would say that, that seems to be the case that seems to match up with the biology of the state as well. Um, because flow is intimately bound up with learning and memory. And so it makes sense that, you know, you’re, you’re promoting this process of learning and memory and you’re introducing this ability to be receptive to new ideas through like the flow experience.

Um, but we don’t have conclusive data on it. Okay. So 

Laura Dawn: we’ve covered some of this already, but if we’re going to, we’re talking about cognitive load here. So we’re gonna put psychedelics in one circle flow states in another circle. What are all the ways that they intersect? What are all the parallel lines that we can draw between psychedelics and flow states?

From whatever lens you wanna look at it from, from a neuroscience lens, from a cognitive lens. 1, 2, 3 go 

Conor Murphy: all right. You you’re really testing me here. I love it. Um, so it, in terms of all of the overlaps, so. The the way that we normally language flow is that it’s this four stage process where you have this initial stress response, right.

That seems to be this necessary loading phase. Um, and if you look at, say the relaxation research, like oftentimes in the re like relaxation research, you talk about what’s called an anticipatory stress response. So imagine, you know, an, I don’t know, an, an animal out in the wild is gonna go, you know, lay down.

Um, and the idea is that anticipatory stress response is a re stress response that comes before the relaxation response. Um, so that, you know, that you’re like comfortable relaxing that, you know, that you’re, you know, physically safe. And so within flow states, we talk about this anticipatory stress response, which is kind of this loading phase of all of the information that you have and subjectively like you, you feel that as, you know, the, the stress reaction, another way of languaging, that is that, that seems to be this initial, um, promotion of entropy within the system.

And so you have radically new information and you kind of have this initial stress response. Um, then you go through this relaxation response where you’re down regulating your initial stress response. And so you can think about that as sympathetic activation. And then you can think about that as co of the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system.

And so sympathetic and parasympathetic are not obvi not always opposed they can be Cod as well. Um, and then you go into the flow experience itself and then the recovery afterwards. And so you can think about like within the domain of psychedelics, it seems to, you know, follow a similar, uh, process.

Whereas I won’t say that psychedelics are particularly fun, right? So there’s definitely like a, a a, like, there can be very much like a, a stress response, especially initially, um, through that experience. Um, but that seems to be part and parcel with the same process. Um, and then if we were to look at this in terms.

Like neurotransmitter involvement. There’s going to be some overall similarity, but it really depends on the psychedelic we’re talking about as well. And so I mentioned that L S D like, you know, seem like is active both in S Andic pathways, but also, uh, within dopaminergic pathways. And that seems to be one of the characteristics that makes, um, uh, LS distinct relative to something like DMT or psilocybin.

Um, and so I think it really depends on the specific psychedelics that we’re talking about, but there seems to be, you know, uh, activation of both and serotonergic systems within flow sites. 

Laura Dawn: Super interesting. Um, Yeah. Okay. Gosh, there was a couple of different thoughts that I had there, you know, there’s that, uh, quote from Molly Crockett, who was like, whether you are at burning man or you are experiencing psychedelic experience, it’s all very similar to the flow state experience.

Um, I’m gonna find that quote. I was gonna just pull it up here, but I didn’t have have time to, to, to drop that one, but it does seem like there are sort of a similar pathway and that’s why I kind of wanted to ask you about microdosing as well. Because for me, when I have a, a microdosing morning routine where I’m combining medicines with music and movement, I can sort of like create this channel where.

I’m opening myself up to more of that flow experience. And I’m curious, do you have a microdosing practice? 

Conor Murphy: Um, I have in the past, um, and I think on, on the microdosing front, one of the things that’s, I think really important to call up call out is the effects of caffeine on microdosing. And so some of the findings on microdosing have been mixed.

And I do think that one of the core limitations of the way that, um, a lot of the psychedelic research has progressed is that it has not sufficiently controlled for caffeine consumption. And so for instance, there have been microdosing, uh, studies that have been published that have no findings. And I assume one of the underlying resource, uh, reasons for that is that, you know, coffee is a hell of a drug.

Um, and we systematically discount how much that affects our experience, whether that’s microdosing or sleep patterns or anything else. Um, and so. Like there, there seems to be a there, there for sure. Um, in, in terms you also asked if I, if I have a similar practice for, for me, it’s physical exercise, you know, for me, it’s, you know, getting a barbell with some weights on it and just having some fun.

Um, and so like, that’s that, that’s a place where I can really tap into that embodiment, but embodiment is such a important trigger, because think about how much information you’re propagating through your system, through being in a more embodied state. And so anytime that you’re, you know, twirling off of normal axes, right?

That’s one of the reasons why skydiving is such a compelling sport from a flow perspective. Um, you’re really, really. Honing your attention into the present moment. Mm, 

Laura Dawn: okay. Super interesting. When I look at the overlap between flow states and psychedelics, for example, when we look at the flow state research, we can look at different regions of activity.

So there’s the quieting of the prefrontal cortex and the default mode network. There’s a shift in brainwave states and there’s also a shift in neurochemistry. So my theory and my understanding of like working with, obviously it’s different with microdosing, cuz we’re talking about like small amounts, but when we start looking at like the neurochemistry changes and the, and the brainwave state changes that happen with when we listen to music, when we combine that with movement and when we add whether it’s like a micro dose of LSD or maybe a mini dose of LSD, that we’re actually.

Really paralleling a flow state experience, and that we’re at least sort of setting like a fertile ground for us to open up into more of a flow state experience, where we can go into transient hypofrontality, where we can reduce that, that activity and the default mode network, where we can go into phase synchronous, alpha, and where we can potentially have an experience where we’re releasing dopamine, Nora epinephrine, amine, maybe oxytocin, and the serotonin and the endorphins.

And this is actually some of the work that I’ve done with my, my combining microdosing with the daily practice, to be able to open ourselves up for, um, you know, more of a flow state experience and where you mentioned the skills to challenge race ratio. So where it’s like, I’m actually in my morning practice, I wear like my apple watch, where I’m actually monitoring my heart rate where I’m like pushing myself.

And I’m, I’m using that as. Feedback to get myself in that zone where I am, you know, in that 5% challenge, did you say 4% earlier where I’m like really pushing myself beyond my limit? And I do find that that’s a, a really powerful daily practice to open up to the, that experience of flow, because it’s also like raising my emotional quotient as well, where I.

And then if I’m somewhere where I am here, where I’m like looking at the mountains and I’m like, overlooking this like beautiful landscape, it’s also like awe inspiring. And then we go into those experiences where, to me that’s also another overlap with like selflessness, timelessness, richness, big data. I add that.

There’s another one, like the S T E R. And then I add like D for like divinity or awe, you know, that, that like sense of, of, of really connecting to that higher. So am I on the right track with thinking in this way of, okay. Movement releases, endorphins music, and then there, there is that sort of unfolding cascading effect that then can propel us into these flow state experiences, whether the microdosing research is there or not.

I feel like when we look at small amounts of psychedelics as well, that there is some kind of mapping, we can combine these building blocks to set a stage that opens us up to experience more flow. I, I, 

Conor Murphy: I, I would not disagree

I, I, I wanna see the, um, uh, the research on the Laura Don practice. Uh, but I, I, I mean, I, I do like, you know, agree that that’s, um, Like the way that I languages is probably a little bit different. Um, because you’re, you’re looking for these information, rich experiences, um, and part of what seems to trigger these flow experiences is this propagation of entropy within the system.

And chick sent me high, right? The godfather of flow, uh, spoke about this idea of psychic entropy and how within the flow experience, what you have is this reduction of psychic entropy. And so that, I think that’s one of the reasons why, you know, people who oftentimes come from work, traumatic backgrounds are actively seeking out flow experiences.

Is this idea that it quiets some of that psychic entropy that you might have otherwise. Um, but I think it’s through that embodiment practice that you are having one additional, you know, modality that you’re propagating some degree of entropy through the system, which is causing you. Really pay attention to it.

Laura Dawn: Okay. Define psychic entropy. What are we, what are we saying here? Exactly. 

Conor Murphy: disorder and consciousness. So like, you know, there like disorder and consciousness and like chicks Athi talks about religion in this light, basically saying that religion is our oldest technology for managing consciousness. Um, and a lot of, you know, what he is talking about is, you know, the psychic entropy like associated.

Not knowing about these larger order issues. And so, so much of what you see within flow states is, you know, really like this reduction of entropy that you have within the system, because objectively what you experience is something that’s, you know, very present and coherent, but the condition of possibility of that is the fact that you’re promoting this entropy within the system as well.

Laura Dawn: Right. Super interesting, which comes back to a lot of Dr. Robin cart Harris’s work, you know, and looking at. So it would make sense that flow states would, uh, open up critical periods as well. Um, Yeah. And so to sort of like build on this point that I was making, um, Molly Crockett, what, what a name? Um, and, and this was from a quote from stealing fire that Steven Cotler co-authored with Jamie wheel, where she said attending festivals like burning man practicing meditation, being in flow or taking psychedelic drugs, rely on shared neural substrates.

What many of these roots have in common is activation of the serotonin system, which is what you were expressing earlier. So in my theory is, okay, let’s take these different building blocks. This experience of subjecting ourselves to awe, to meditation practices, to being in a flow, whether it’s a movement practice and working with microdosing psychedelics, or maybe it’s mini dosing or macro dosing, that if they have a shared neural substrate, that we’re actually combining these building blocks in a way to really open up that channel to experience flow.


Conor Murphy: I, I, I think that makes a lot of sense and I think you can really. Language this as like you’re more default baseline reality versus many other things. And so whether you’re talking about meditative states or flow states or psychedelic states, there’s a lot of underlying commonalities. There are, you know, obvious distinctions or sometimes not so obvious distinctions between them.

But at the end of the day, when, once you’re within this domain of altered states, there are many of these that you can, uh, address, right? So an a state is different from a flow state, which is different from a clutch state. If you’re familiar with the, the idea of clutch, which is basically a flow state, but you’re, you’re really pushing yourself full all hell.

Um, and so it’s a much more, you know, driven flow state, which is what an athlete might experience at the height of competition. Um, and so like there, there are a number of these different states that all have very similar, very attractive underlying chemistry. However, you know, that there are distinctions among them as well.

Laura Dawn: Right. And if we understand what the sort of cascading effect is on different levels in the brain during flow states, my, my inquiry and what I’ve been just in my personal practice exploring is like, can I construct a daily practice that allows some kind of mapping to that unfolding of that cascading effect through specific.

Types of meditation, open focus, awareness being one of them through movement practice that is, you know, conducive to endorphins. For example, is there a way to combine that? And can we bring psychedelics in there? And my experience has been a resounding emphatic. Yes. And it’s been years of practicing different ways of being in like a morning practice.

And that actually does also usually include caffeine because I, I drink tea with my, my microdosing practice in the morning, which is caffeinated. So your comment about that, I’m gonna, I’m gonna think about that as well. so, you know, considering the fact that flow states are so associated to life satisfaction and to.

Transcendent states of being, um, do you have a daily practice is cultivating a practice that, that allows you to drop into flow on, even if it’s like micro flow moments throughout your day, but are there any tips that you weave into your, you know, the scaffolding of your daily reality, whether that’s a morning practice or just turning your phone off, when you sit down to work, are there suggestions that you implement in your own life that help you enhance 

Conor Murphy: flow?

Yeah. I mean, rule number one is, you know, make sure you have blocks of uninterrupted time. And so I’m, I’m an early riser, um, meditate first thing each morning, uh, try and get some sunlight if possible, and then go into a longer period of time. Ideally you. No distractions whatsoever. And so it’s helpful to, you know, really set the tone for what that is.

There’s so much cognitive noise, cognitive dissonance associated with, um, uh, not knowing what you should be working on. And so really being able to exit your day with a to-do list so that, you know what you’re. Um, that flow session that you’re going into the next day, you know exactly what that’s gonna look like.

Um, that becomes really important. And so in terms of the cognitive side of things, that’s, you know, how I, how I focus on, um, cultivating flow states in a daily, um, manner. And then also on the exercise side of things, that’s been a big part of my life as well. And so having that degree of embodiment, uh, for me, I really like heavy things and so like, you know, that, that seems to resonate with me quite well.

And so I, I more appreciate doing something that’s a bit more convergent in that sense of something that’s much more prescriptive rather than. Improvisational. Um, but that’s also something that’s a, a pretty heavy part of my practice. There’s a lot more nuance to it than that, but that’s, you know, a, a big part of it.

And then, you know, each like, like at least one day the week, I’m trying to have a much larger flow experience. And usually for me, that looks like action sports. 

Laura Dawn: Interesting. Cool. So flow follows focus is a mantra that I always remember on the, the cognitive side of things, but then there’s also that deep embodiment.

Um, and so do, do you experiment with microdosing at all? Is that part of your. Your reality or 

Conor Murphy: not so much. So I, I have experienced, uh, or experimented with it in the past and have seen quite a bit of, uh, benefits from it. And so like for me, that was, you know, a relatively standard protocol. I preferred microdosing with LSD over psilocybin personally.

Um, and part of that was just the pharmacokinetics, like the, the halflife associated with LSD being a little bit longer. And then part of it’s also, you know, just the dopaminergic involvement of LSD relative to something like, uh, psilocybin. 

Laura Dawn: Hmm. Yeah. Okay. Well maybe we’re, we’re going to, uh, have to actually study my, my Laura Don protocol of microdosing and, and flow states.

I’m down, 

Conor Murphy: I’m there for you 

Laura Dawn: more. I think we really should. Okay. I feel like seriously, we could talk for hours and, uh, we’ll have you back on the show and we can dive deeper into all of these topics. Anything else that you want to share before we wrap up here? Anything that you’re working on, that you wanna share?

Any other closing thoughts here? 

Conor Murphy: Yeah, I think it’d be great just to close out with the larger model of change, because change is something that’s so inherent to the human experience. And it’s really through that back and forth notion of like a default state versus an altered state that seems to allow us to move in the trajectory that we want to move in.

And so at the end of the day, keeping that back of mind, and it doesn’t matter if it’s, you know, or it seems to not matter, obviously through the experiment yourself, whether we’re talking about flow states or psychedelic states or meditative states or all states or clutch states go on and on. But at the end of the day, it’s, it really seems to be the, um, back and forth process between our alternative reality and our default reality that seems to allow us to mature and grow and develop in the trajectory that we wanna.

Laura Dawn: Super interesting. So it’s like titrating between waking consciousness and altered states. 

Conor Murphy: It’s like a lifelong ping pong game. 

Laura Dawn: right. Well, one of the things that I actually wanted to ask you is like how important is rest and sleep in the critical periods, 

Conor Murphy: incredibly important. You, you need that integration period.

And if, if you look at what’s actually going on, when you sleep, there’s this beautiful image that I’m, I’m sure we could put in the show notes as well as to when you, when you sleep like these cascading waves of electrical activity of cerebral spinal fluid of blood flow, that, that happens over your neurons in order to, you know, really, um, Um, kind of in different ways, integrate the stress and load of the, the, the day before you.

And so like those recovery periods are intensely important. The vast majority of people optimize over optimize for their, um, uh, uh, daily reality. And they under optimize for that, that recovery period. And so it’s the, the, the saying is it’s both the, the logs, the logs, the space between that.

Laura Dawn: Right. Active recovery. So important. I know for me, I absolutely cannot tap into flow or do my best work when I’m exhausted. It’s like recovery and rest is more important for me than anything to like feel inspired 

Conor Murphy: and you practice core habits when you like, try to insert yourself when you should be in a recovery period.


Laura Dawn: I’m so happy that we ended on this note and that we got this in there. Cuz if we wrap this up, I was gonna be like, we needed to talk about sleep yeah. And, and actually Andrew Huberman has some really great episodes on sleep and Matthew Walker’s work. Why we sleep has been really interesting too.

And you’re wearing an aura ring. Two. So 

Conor Murphy: I, I, I wore an order ring for a number of years. This is actually a meteorite ring. Um, but yeah, so I, I wore an order ring for quite some time before I felt like I internalized that metric so much that I, I actually stopped checking 

Laura Dawn: the app. Awesome. And did you make any changes?

Like what, what did you internalize and, and change are you on like a very regular sleep cycle? 

Conor Murphy: So I, I am on a very regular sleep cycle at this point. Um, I’m, I’m not sure if I’m embarrassed or proud to admit that I normally go to bed a little bit after 8:00 PM each night. Um, but oh my 

Laura Dawn: God, I love that. 

Conor Murphy: I love that.

Um, but a lot of like some of the earlier work I did on sleep, this is long before aura, um, was looking at, uh, my own relationship with alcohol consumption and how it affected my sleep over time. And one of the most compelling things from that was just a graph that I built of my mood, you know, three to four days, post alcohol consumption.

Um, and, you know, I was not a heavy drinker by any means, but I was so surprised by how much that was affecting me on a pretty consistent basis. And so I think the, the aura data, you know, somewhat corroborated that fact, but you know, like those are, you know, I love Michael polls, uh, expression of duh realizations of the things that like, you know, in hindsight it’s like, oh duh, obviously that’s the case.

Um, but like, those are like, you know, the basics that, that really really matter. And so a handful of things, you know, change in terms of sleep hygiene. Also making sure like a bed is only a place to sleep and have sex, nothing else. Um, because those associations do really matter. Um, and so, you know, no TV in bed ever, I, I, that’s one thing that I’ve always kind of struggled to empathize with is, you know, people have like, you know, TV in their bedroom.

Um, and so like, those are the types of, you know, basic things. And it’s really like the, the nuance behind the basics that like really. Promote the best overall change. Yeah. Do you drink coffee? So I, I gave it up a number of months ago in part, because of the research behind caffeine. Um, and there’s, there’s a lot to it that there in terms of carcinogens and all of that stuff, but the most specifically it has you with the, uh, vasoconstrictive nature of caffeine consumption.

Um, and. Really built this, you know, let this skepticism I had, you know, was already building towards caffeine. Um, and so based upon that research, I quit caffeine that day and haven’t looked back. 

Laura Dawn: Wow. And are you feeling, do you feel good? Are you sleeping better without drinking any 

Conor Murphy: caffeine? I would say my baseline stress is lower.

Um, and the quality of my sleep has gone up. Because if you give somebody caffeine at, you know, say 7:00 AM and then do a blood draw at 11:00 PM single cup of coffee, like you can still see the effects on their biology. And so at the end of the day, like I think we systematically discount, you know, how much we built society to be, you know, caffeine during the day, alcohol at night and how problematic that that 

Laura Dawn: is.

Oh my God, I could keep asking a question. I don’t let you go Connor, cuz like we could just keep going forever, but I just so appreciate you. I love being able to riff with you. I love being able to bounce ideas and being like, okay, this is how I’m thinking about it. Does this make sense? Cuz you just have such a depth of, of understanding of neuroscience and flow states and psychedelics as well and critical periods.

It’s just like such a joy to be able to bounce ideas around with you. So thank you so much for taking the time. I really appreciate 

Conor Murphy: it. Yeah, this was great. Yeah. I really appreciate your perspective on everything. You know, I, I have a lot of respect and admiration for you, so thank you so much for having me on the show.

Laura Dawn: Thank you. Oh my gosh. Such a joy.


Conor Murphy


Conor integrates AI, neuroscience, and venture capital as a Lead Data Scientist at Databricks and a Founding Limited Partner at Lionheart Ventures. In the field of AI, he is a subject matter expert in deep learning and distributed machine learning having held various positions such as a faculty role at University of New Haven’s graduate program for Data Science and lead consultant across various stage companies and industry domains. In neuroscience and venture capital, he has held a variety of roles including Principal Investigator on academic research, Chief  Science Officer leading larger researcher programs, and an advisor for neurotech startups.


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Episode #57 of the Psychedelic Leadership Podcast features a song called “Astral Dawn” by Adrian freedman, Ayla Schafer, and Susie Ro


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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.