Heather Lee Medicine Woman Retreats

Talking Psychedelics: Heather Lee of Medicine Woman Retreats

Welcome to “Talking Psychedelics”, where Frshminds takes you on a deep dive with the driving forces shaping the psychedelics industry. Today we touch base with Heather Lee, a psychotherapist with a life long interest in altered states of consciousness, who has built upon her own experiences with psilocybin and sees it as an important tool in helping women navigate large life transitions. Take the opportunity to listen to Heather’s story and see how it could apply to your situation in life.

Read The Transcript:

[00:00:10.390] – John: Hello, and welcome to another edition of Talking Psychedelics from Frshminds.com. We bring interesting industry stakeholders from the psychedelics industry around the world to give us their stories and to share their opinions and points of view. Our users get a good understanding of what’s happening in the psychedelics industry and what the consumer experience is going to be. 

Today we have Heather Lee all the way from Boulder, Colorado. Thank you, Heather, for sharing some time with us in our audience today.

[00:00:37.310] – Heather Lee: Yeah, it’s a pleasure to be here. Thanks for inviting me.

[00:00:39.840] – John: My pleasure. I would love to hear a little bit just right off about your journey. How did you arrive at psychedelics? I know you’re a classically trained psychotherapist, and I’d love to know about how psychedelics started to become part of your treatment plan and your ethos.

[00:00:57.750] – Heather Lee: Many moons ago, in like 1981 (dating myself here), I started working in the field of mental health and as a therapist. I was always interested in alternative states of consciousness. I’ve always done a lot of work in the realm of dreams. I studied some Native American dream work, shamanic journey work and guided imagery. 

I mean, my language has always been helping people access their own inner wisdom. Flash forward as the field of psychedelics develops; that’s what we talk about all the time – guiding people to their inner healing intelligence. That’s been my focus from the get go. So I think it just was a really logical fit. 

I’ve had my own experiences with psilocybin starting back in the 80s when I was in college. I recognized right away psilocybin was the medicine I wanted to work with. The way that it connects you to nature and to yourself and to others. I felt how it just opens our consciousness and our ability to shift in a way that’s deep and meaningful.

All the talk therapy and being up in your cognitive brain just doesn’t access that same kind of inner wisdom.

[00:02:24.350] – John: Yeah, from personal experience, I can confirm the truthfulness in that. 

Can I ask you a question? When you’ve got somebody who’s fairly new to the psychedelics experience, and you see the opportunity there, and you sort of make the suggestion. But they’re a little reticent because it’s new, and it’s kind of scary – but it’s crossing that trench into accepting all the great stuff that they’re hearing. 

What advice do you have for folks who are newbies and considering psilocybin but are very concerned about side effects or something?

[00:03:05.600] – Heather Lee: Yeah, I’m glad you mentioned that because that’s actually one of my favourite groups to work with is the psychedelic naive. 

Much of my work focuses on women and women’s life transitions. This medicine is powerful and effective for women during times of big transition in life, whether it’s empty nests, aging, death of parents, illness, or divorce. 

I work a lot with women who have not had experiences with psychedelics. Much of the therapeutic relationship is building that rapport and safety and trust that is so essential. 

I don’t think somebody who’s psychedelic naive can just find someone and go, oh, I’ll just go do my experience with that. You have to really build this container, this connection, this relationship, safety, and trust

And I also think that one of the big components of this medicine being effective is the group container. I lead retreats, and I’m a big fan of how much power there is in people supporting each other on this journey. In a retreat-type setting where you build that rapport and community and are having this experience with the support of others who are also on that journey.

[00:04:22.890] – John: And do you need to be patient to also participate in the retreat or come one, come all? The two do not have to be synonymous.

[00:04:29.220] – Heather Lee: The two do not have to be synonymous whatsoever. Currently, because of the laws, I’m doing retreats in Jamaica, Mexico, Costa Rica and hoping to roll some out in the Netherlands. But I think we’re all waiting with great anticipation of being able to do this in the States sooner than later.

[00:04:50.820] – John: Yeah, and I’ll speak optimistically; hopefully, within the next 12 to 24 months, that will be the case.

[00:04:57.280] – Heather Lee: Absolutely.

[00:04:58.260] – John: Would you mind sharing with folks who obviously don’t know you haven’t been on one of your retreats? What is that experience like? What’s the experience for the first time, or how long is it? And frankly, for folks who have been along the journey with you before, what is their experience then? What have they shared?

[00:05:15.130] – Heather Lee: Well, I think what I enjoy doing when I create retreats is finding special magical places in nature. A big component of all of my retreats involves nature immersion and getting people into places where they can get out into unique and beautiful spaces and connect with nature in meaningful ways. Finding those special locations and having fabulous, healthy, nurturing, farm-to-table type food. 

And my retreats are pretty small. I like to work with groups of six to eight women at a time, so we create a very personal and intimate container and setting for that. So it’s usually anywhere from a four-day to a week-long retreat in a beautiful place where we’re spending the mornings doing moving meditation like a trail run, a hike, or swimming. 

Doing things that get us moving in our bodies, connecting with nature, being in the landscape. Learning about each other and creating this wonderful harmony between all the participants so that everybody is bearing witness and holding space for each other and having that relationship then go on after the retreat.

I think that’s an important part of psychedelics that sometimes gets overlooked. People will go off on this retreat and then kind of lose touch. I think we’re building community. You might not be able to just talk to your neighbour about the powerful psychedelic experience you had. It’s important to stay in touch with people with who you can talk about the experience and that understand it.

[00:06:54.410] – John: I think that’s absolutely true. It’s the reinforcement of it, and it’s kind of the same continuum of folks in the industry, quite likely like yourself, we haven’t had a chance to talk about this yet, but we speak to so many people who have said – you need a guide, right? 

You need that advocate for your health who’s been trained and certified and can walk you through that journey for you to get the benefits, right? 

I don’t know how many users we’ve got in Boulder in particular. But certainly, around Denver, there’s quite a following, quite a passion for the subject. For folks who might be interested in coming to you for treatments on a one on one basis, maybe just give us a sense of what that experience is like. What separates you and your practice?

[00:08:02.400] – Heather Lee: So I do some ketamine work here in Colorado because that, again is our only legal psychedelic. So I do ketamine work, and I do individual and group work. 

Again, a lot of my focus is on women and also with couples, and I do integration work. So people who are doing their own medicine work or having their own psychedelic experiences and wanting to really deepen working with that information that arises. 

I do quite a bit of work with folks with integration, and sometimes that’s with visual journaling and with guided meditation. Finding ways to really stay truly and intimately connected to the material because there’s so much information that comes up for us when we work with these medicines. It can really get lost if you don’t make a very intentional practice of using and bringing and making that material manifest in your own life. 

I recently just got a cancer diagnosis which was this random out-of-the-blue thing that came the same week I completed my psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy certification

I got a breast cancer diagnosis, and I got a call from Mike Arnold, from Silo Wellness unbeknownst, saying, hey, we want you on our advisory board looking at cancer and consciousness in plant medicine. So I thought, wow, the universe is trying to tell me something here. 

So for myself, I thought, well, I need to do a psilocybin journey and find out what’s going on, what is this disease about, what’s occurring in my life? And I got a lot of interesting information about that. 

For me, this is some fear-based thinking that’s intergenerational that I inherited from my mom, and it turned cellular. So fear-based thinking turned cellular is the message I got from the mushrooms about what this cancer is. 

And I also got the message that I needed to go into nature, I needed to go to healing water, and I needed to prepare myself for surgery by getting into nature and getting really in this deep, calm, meditative space. 

So I hopped in my van, I went out to Escalante, I found this incredible sacred waterfall, got myself naked in that water and that was taking the message from the mushroom and making manifest what the message was and working that into part of my own, like personal palliative cancer care program for myself. And that’s the type of work that I’m developing right now is cancer and consciousness programs.

How to work with women with a cancer diagnosis, using plant medicine, using nature immersion. That’s a long answer to your short question.

[00:10:45.910] – John: No, I mean, it’s quite a recent journey that you’ve been on, and I certainly wish you all the best with the diagnosis and with treatment. 

It’s interesting to hear you talk about how your personal journey was informed and how you look to psychedelics to help to draw out some of that subconscious or other conscious mind that is otherwise buried. And it’s something that I know for folks who are new to the space and psychedelically naive; as you put it, I like that by the way. It’s hard for them to assess is that you talking, is it the person, or is it actually that you have that experience? Once you’ve had the experience, you start to get it right. I mean, it starts to build on itself.

You’re like, oh, okay, there is something there. But when you have a conversation like that, again with something psychedelically naive, how do you get them to sort of accepting that what you’re saying is based on experience? And it’s very much true for you and your personal sort of interactions with the products.

[00:11:52.710] – Heather Lee: Well, I think it speaks to getting people to trust themselves, to trust. So when they have that experience and that information and wisdom, they connect with that. We live in a culture where we’re so disconnected from ourselves and trusting ourselves. 

I mean, psychedelics aside, I would say that most of the work I do with people is getting them to trust their inner voice, intuition, and wisdom

So it’s working, and some of that is somatic too. Does that feel right? Let’s test that out in your life. Let’s take that wisdom and information and start making some lifestyle choices and behaviour changes based on that and let’s see if that brings about positive shifts. I think this medicine helps people start to trust themselves again. And we need to learn to do that in a big way.

[00:12:46.450] – John: That’s very well put. 

We’ll probably wrap here what I do want to make sure that I provide for all of our users who have been sticking with us right through to the end. You will be on the overlay in front of you, but for those who are interested in visiting you as a practitioner, it’s www.heatheralead.com. And for those who might be interested in coming along for the retreats, which sounds awesome, I have yet to do one, and they sound like a transformative experience that I’m going to have to participate in. Www dot MedicineWoman retreats.com.

[00:13:22.000] – Heather Lee: Correct. And my new passion project is consulting and guiding the spa industry as they try to tiptoe into the psychedelic space. I am really hoping to be there to support them in doing that in a safe, appropriate and effective way.

[00:13:39.660] – John: Yeah, that will be very interesting. We haven’t spoken with anybody who’s plotting that out. 

I’m sure you have. I’m curious to know what that looks like for a typical series of treatments, how administered under what setting, and what the cost typically will look like? Do you have a therapist sort of working alongside or some sort of practitioner to sort of bring you along on that journey? I’m curious to see what it will be in a spa setting as opposed to a therapeutic setting or retreat.

[00:14:13.950] – Heather Lee: Well, it’s going to take them a while to get it right. I’m hoping to consult with that industry on really being really cognizant of all the nuances of this as a powerful medicine and not just a spa treatment.

[00:14:27.690] – John: Yeah, well, if we have anybody amongst our users who is actually looking at setting something up, I’m sure Heatheralead.com is a place to go to get your advice and consultation. 

Thank you very much, Heather. I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with us today. 

And for those users who have followed us through the journey, please stay tuned for additional installments. I’m Talking Psychedelics from frshminds.com. We will again continue to bring very interesting points of view and stakeholders from across the industry so that you get a review of what’s happening in the psychedelic market globally. Thank you very much, Heather, and I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day.

[00:15:07.850] – Heather Lee: All right, thanks. Bye.

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