Read and Reflect: Embracing the Unknown

Our residents are exploring the topic of mental health this semester by reading and reflecting on the following books: How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence by Michael Pollan, Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig, #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso, and Everything is Horrible and Wonderful: A Tragicomic Memoir of Genius, Heroin, Love, and Loss by Stephanie Wittels Wachs.

Written by Karina Baffa.

There is solace in the solutions science uncovers. We all have an urge, at times motivated by fear, to understand the unknown. But we are human beings, and our experience on Earth is artistic, expressive, and subjective. Lows allow us to feel highs; growth forces us to change whether we want to or not; and in the midst of all this noise, if we’re quiet enough to hear, the whispers of our intuition guide us.

Michael Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind shines a light on the fact that there’s an undeniable gap between the scientific world and spirituality. When it comes to studying psychedelics, the majority of researchers place their focus on the therapeutic effects, rather than the spiritual ones – but why?

It may be because psychedelics’ effect on spirituality is seemingly impossible to study objectively – for it opens up doors to realities that are impossible to examine without the bias of our own experience.

But again, we are only human, and we must accept that we cannot always analyze our experiences through quantifiable data. So when the time is right, there is something magical that comes with accepting the unknown and welcoming the raw subjectivity that is the human experience.

As I’m approaching college graduation with absolutely no game plan, I am facing two options: to panic or to trust my process. And I choose the latter. The key to contentment is to step away from what does not serve you – negativity in all forms, mundane thoughts, fear, and worries about things that have yet to occur. What’s important is knowing what matters most ­– the present moment, kind intentions, genuine human connection, and what a special deed it is to let go and embrace the unknown.