Artwork by Craig Anthony Miller

Introduction to Hero’s Dose: The Case for Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy

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IN THE FOURTH century before the modern era, a student from the Hippocratic school made an observation that would reverberate through the millennia. Some people continue to deny his thesis today. This enterprising thinker pushed back on the popular notion that epilepsy is divinely created. Though the cause of this disease remained mysterious to his peers, he cautioned against attributing this or any ailment to the heavens. “Men think it divine merely because they do not understand it. …


Barber Karl Manke of Owosso cuts hair at the Michigan Conservative Coalition organized “Operation Haircut” outside the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan on May 20, 2020.

I.

The philosopher Alan Watts observed, “We do not ‘come into’ this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree.” Trees rely on underground mycelia networks and diverse bacteria spread throughout the forest floor as much as rain and sunshine. Humans too often gaze skywards when the essential action occurs below.

Societies, designed to contain one of the most social animals ever, also rely on a host of invisible factors. These unseen agents were not created for our benefit. They long predate us. In many ways, we’re the product of these forces. Without them, we would not be.


Photo by Pretty Drugthings on Unsplash

There are knowns and there are unknowns, but the hardest to stomach occurs when the evidence is revealed about the thing that you know and still it steals your breath.

We knew about the relationship between opioid manufacturers and distributors and the public, but now we know: over a seven-year period, 76 billion pills flooded American pharmacies. The question, of course, is what do we do?

Before I share a personal experience with opioids, followed by potential solutions, let me mention I take no issue with pharmaceuticals or doctors. Both play critical roles in extending and bettering human life. In…


Liliana “Li” Saumet of Bomba Estereo, Celebrate Brooklyn, 07.26.10. Photo by Derek Beres for National Geographic.

The Young Pope

Thank goodness Topsify Italia took the time out to assemble the music from this HBO limited series. Beyond the stunning set and wardrobe design—and a hell of a story—the music made the show. This is likely the most played playlist out of my entire collection.

Haruki Murakami’s vinyl collection

There are two threads the Japanese novelist weaves into every novel: cats and music. I know this because I’ve read everything Murakami has written (at least what’s been translated into English). Someone even more fanatical than myself uses every Murakami resource at his disposal to construct the man’s vinyl collection. …


Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for Bob Woodruff Foundation

Though obvious a sentiment for most, music is as necessary to life as breathing. If that sentence seems absurd you’ll likely want to stop reading at this point. But for fans obsessed with the music they love, let’s dream forward.

Because it’s not only the sound rising from the speaker. It’s the connection. The way an artist gets inside your head, tells your story for you in a manner you could never quite express yet immediately recognize.

The origin of language likely began as music. It makes sense. I need to express something to you. What is the best vehicle…


For a long time, I discounted the validity of a new year. It’s just another day, I’d think, we can change at any time. Don’t wait for a specific day to discipline yourself, that’s only an excuse. Just do it now. And so on.

Perhaps I grew so frustrated by the holiday that I lost sight of the ritual. Every holiday is monetized; intention, usurped by presentation. I’ve spent many years studying religion, specifically mythology, yet the ancient rituals that formed the basis of beliefs always seem so far away from modern celebrations.

That, too, I realized was an…


Photo: Olivier Miche / Unsplash

#1: Be comfortable with silence

A few months ago I was chatting with one of my managers at Equinox. She informed me that, by far, the top complaint by members is that instructors talk too much.

What instructors talk about ranges. Some talk philosophy, others empowerment, then there’s an acute focus on alignment or breathing or both. Whatever your approach, own it, but also, be quiet. Or at least quieter.

What I’ve found is that instructors, of yoga or any other form of movement, feel that if they’re not chatting away, they’re not teaching. Their class becomes filled with unnecessary tics and repetitive instruction.

I…


Amber Mark

When I was young I loved cassingles. The Wiz in East Brunswick stacked a towering wall of them near the cash register. As a lifelong Repeater of Songs Until Destroyed—my wife never fails to comment, “you’re playing that album again!”—the two tracks featured on a cassingle were perfectly utilitarian. By the time I scored a sweet 1986 Chrysler Laser in 1993, the automatic cassette flip function meant I could drive for hours on less than three dollars of music.

The tape inevitably outlasted the cheap cardboard it was sandwiched inside. Soon my glove compartment was overflowing by the sea of…


Mos Def at Delacorte Theater, Central Park, August 2004. Photo by Derek Beres.

Recently I received news that Mos Def is performing in Los Angeles. I’m a longtime Yasiin Bey (as he’s been known since 2011) fan. Black on Both Sides remains one of my top five desert island albums. He lost fans after that classic (post-Black Star) debut, with the release of The New Danger—“Ghetto Rock” and “Zimzallabim” were a bit too rocking for the hip-hop set.

But the Black Jack Johnson tour in support of that record was phenomenal. Personally, I like it when artists experiment and leave their comfort zone. I was fully on board when he decided to explore…


Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash

Years ago, a former head of group fitness at Equinox mentioned a recent audition she conducted. While interviewing a potential instructor for the club, my friend asked about the format, to which hopeful teacher replied, “I teach the hardest class in New York City,” to which I replied with same facial cringe my friend was expressing as she recounted this event.

In certain conditions, “hard” is an appropriate term. If a movement class isn’t challenging in some capacity you have to question its value. What sort of challenge, however? Is it cardiovascularly taxing? Are you throwing a 48-kg kettlebell over…

Derek Beres

Media. Movement. http://www.derekberes.com.

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