Healthcare has changed significantly over the past few decades, especially in the areas of mental and physical health treatment. The Neshama Psychedelic Wellness Clinic in New York City caters to people looking to get high on purpose, legally, under the guidance of trained professionals who help them understand how marijuana, ayahuasca, and ibogaine work and how they can use these powerful psychedelics to better their lives. We talked with founder Jay Godfrey about her unique clinic’s vision and why she decided to embark on this kind of business venture.
What is it?
The state of California’s decision, announced earlier today, has legalized psychedelic drugs in a medical setting. The decision is being called a watershed moment by members of the substance abuse treatment industry and is sparking excitement among healthcare professionals. Proponents are hopeful that offering psychedelic therapy in clinics will become an effective alternative or supplement to other drug addiction treatments.
Given these benefits, it’s easy to see why there was so much public pressure for change and why regulators have moved quickly to approve its use as a therapeutic option for qualifying patients. In Los Angeles County alone, more than 3 million people may be eligible for legalization based on their income and existing healthcare coverage with Kaiser Permanente alone accounting for almost half that total number.
The clinic is located in West Hollywood, California, one of many cities across America where cannabis is becoming increasingly accepted. This is a long-awaited space that’s needed by everyone, especially as we move into a more open conversation about marijuana and other psychedelics, said Mr. Godfrey. When he and Mr. Meloff first started talking about what they wanted their business to look like, they chose vibrancy as their guiding light. The interior of their wellness clinic has a pink-and-purple geometric design with lots of flowers and plants; it’s brightly lit during both day and night sessions. There are two white couches for patients who want to relax before or after a session.
There’s something deeply relaxing about walking into an office that is designed with a focus on harmony. Although medical professionals don’t typically design their own offices, Godfrey and Meloff thought it would be better for patients if they could come in and feel relaxed. There are no sharp corners in our office, said Godfrey. It’s much more round, soft corners…it feels like a journey through color and light. We tried to get all these different textures throughout, so it would make them open up and become comfortable.
We really wanted [the place] to have an impact on people who came here so we spent a lot of time making sure everything was just right; from finding artwork by local artists as well as art from India. The walls feature images of Brahma, Mahesh Yogi (India’s father of yoga), Guru Nanak (the founder of Sikhism), and Krishna—all looking happy or smiling which I loved! A small amount of space is also dedicated toward current events with posters listing work being done at Esalen Institute as well as pictures of kids protesting against gun violence outside South African parliament buildings.
While psychedelics aren’t exactly new, they certainly haven’t been legal in most of America until recently. While technically not legal in Canada yet, laws are changing and a psychedelic renaissance could be on its way. The interesting thing about psychedelics is that some studies have shown that these substances, which were once thought to cause schizophrenia, can actually help people with mental illnesses like depression and anxiety.
In other words: if your friends or family members suffer from mental illness, these drugs could actually save their lives. For example, one study found psilocybin—the active ingredient in magic mushrooms—helps stop cluster headaches for several months at a time. It’s fascinating stuff!
Why you should care
It doesn’t feel like a hospital or a clinic, but more like a journey. It might be little consolation for those who are sick, but what has been lost in modern healthcare’s obsession with diagnosing and prescribing is understanding that we’re all part of something much bigger.
We can look at Western medicine as dull and primitive compared to shamanism, which looks at our bodies as energy systems open to possibility, confusion, uncertainty, and mystery. What they have in common is that both seek out healing through experience (travels) instead of received knowledge (books). In other words: You need fewer chemicals when you can overcome mental ailments through psychedelics.
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