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How to Embrace the Effects of Psychedelics Without the Drugs | by Tessa Love | Aug, 2020

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In an attempt to escape the ever-increasing stress of life in 2020, I laid down on the floor of my Northern Californian cabin on a recent Saturday afternoon and did something not uncommon in this corner of the world: I tried to enter a psychedelic state of consciousness. The catch is, I didn’t take any drugs.

Following a guided video, I did a practice known as “psychedelic breathwork,” a method of controlled breathing that’s meant to stimulate a psychedelic experience and spark a greater awareness of one’s emotional state. According to Field Trip Health, the company offering the sessions, the practice, coupled with a 50-minute integration session with a licensed therapist, could help relieve the particular anxieties brought on by life in the times of Covid-19 — and much more.

Based in Ontario, Canada, Field Trip offers in-person ketamine-assisted psychotherapy for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But like most clinical psychedelic studies and treatments (and, well, everything else in the world), the global shutdown has put their work on pause, potentially at a moment in time when people might need it the most. In response to this bad timing, Field Trip wanted to offer something virtual, legal, and easily accessible to help people cope. Enter psychedelic breathwork.

Using breathing techniques to release stress is not a novel concept. These days, things like mindful breathing, deep breathing, and measured breathing are all purported as helpful ways to deal with the anxiety and uncertainty brought on by the pandemic — or any stressful situation. A growing number of studies show that breathing techniques can help combat anxiety and insomnia on both physiological and psychological levels. Breathing can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which reduces stress, as well as divert the breather’s attention away from destructive thinking patterns.

Psychedelic breathing is a bit different than these more well-known methods, though. Unlike, say, mindfulness, which is meant to simply calm your body and mind, this practice is based on the idea that transcending consciousness can help facilitate deep emotional and psychological healing.

“When you take your analytical mind offline temporarily, the body is so innately wise. When we [accidentally] cut ourselves, for example, we don’t have to tell our bodies how to go in and heal,” says Amber Amendola, Field Trip’s psychedelic breathing facilitator and integration therapist. “So creating that space through the breath, you’re really able to hear yourself and guide yourself in what you need.”

It may sound improbable that breathing alone could have this effect, but Field Trip says it isn’t necessarily blowing smoke — reaching a psychedelic state through breath control alone has been practiced in the Western world for decades. What Field Trip calls “psychedelic breathing” is a mild, slightly altered version of a breathwork modality developed in the 1970s known as holotropic breathwork.

“Holotropic breathwork may seem innocuous, but it will blow your socks off.”

The brainchild of husband and wife duo Stan Grof, MD, and Christina Grof, MD, holotropic breathwork is an intense breathing technique that can allegedly induce a psychedelic state as powerful, vivid, and potentially life-changing as any substance. The Grofs were some of the original psychotherapists using LSD to treat various psychological disorders in the United States. While they (and many others) saw huge success with this method, LSD and similar hallucinogens were banned by the U.S. government in 1968, making it illegal to use them as treatment.

Many psychotherapists gave up on psychedelic healing at that point, but the Grofs began searching for a legal alternative to LSD that might match its efficacy. What they found was that, through certain breathing techniques, a person could reach a fully hallucinogenic state — and that in this state, emotional and psychological healing could occur. They named this discovery holotropic breathwork after the Greek words “holos,” meaning “whole,” and “trepein,” meaning “to move toward.” In other words, “moving toward wholeness.”

Holotropic breathwork uses intense, circular breathing and drum-heavy, up-tempo music to enter a trance-like state. Sessions are usually done in a group atmosphere and can last up to three hours. The breathing technique is essentially a controlled form of hyperventilating — a sharp, deep inhale through the mouth followed immediately by a sharp exhale with no pause between breaths. Do this long enough and eventually, practitioners say, you tap into parts of the psyche and subconscious that aren’t usually accessible in day-to-day life — and are usually thought to be accessible only through the use of psychedelic substances.

Though it isn’t known for sure, entering this trance-like state is likely due to the change in the balance between carbon dioxide and oxygen in the body caused by hyperventilating — which is also why some believe it could be dangerous. Hyperventilating can cause dizziness, fainting, spasms, and even seizures. However, this is usually caused by involuntary hyperventilation, which happens in response to fear or stress. With holotropic breathwork, the breathing is under control and can be stopped at any time.

What’s even less understood is why prolonged periods of rapid breathing coupled with intense music can induce a psychedelic experience on par with some of the most powerful hallucinogens out there. A 2018 review of the psychophysiological effects of breathing speculates that it could have something to do with a change of activity in the default mode network (DMN), the area of the brain associated with other altered states of consciousness, including meditation, psychedelic substances, and sleep.

Anecdotal and clinical reports suggest that holotropic breathwork could help conditions like depression, addiction, PTSD, and anxiety. Though there aren’t many clinical studies on the efficacy of holotropic breathwork, a 2015 study that examined its effects on behavior found that the technique can increase self-awareness as well as positively alter certain undesirable characteristics, such as novelty seeking, reward dependence, and anger.

In another study, 482 psychiatric inpatients were led through holotropic breathwork sessions at the Stress Center of Hyland Behavioral Health in Missouri. Eight-two percent reported having “tripped out” experiences, according to the study’s author, James Eyerman, a California-based psychiatrist. Another 16% said they relived past life experiences, including two people who experienced their life before birth. Though the study did not record levels of recovery for specific disorders, Eyerman did follow the experience of one 14-year-old boy who suffered from severe major depression and had attempted suicide twice. Nine months after a holotropic session in which he experienced his death and “became the universe,” he was no longer depressed or suicidal, according to Eyerman.

“The psyche heals itself when given the chance, just like the body heals itself when given the chance,” Eyerman says. “Mindfulness breathing and things like that, they work too. But it’s not deep work. It’s not like going to the moon. Holotropic breathwork may seem innocuous, but it will blow your socks off.”

The esteemed Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research is launching a pilot study examining holotropic breathwork as a potential treatment for PTSD. “There’s a really good bet that psychedelic substances are helpful for PTSD,” says Matthew Johnson, a psychedelic researcher at Johns Hopkins who is leading the study. “The breathwork study is really promising. And if there’s something there, then there’s the potential for perhaps even broader dissemination than you would get with psychedelic substances.”

Using psychedelics (particularly MDMA) to treat PTSD is proving to be more effective for some people than any standard treatment. And while it’s still not fully understood why these substances are effective, it’s fairly well established that the strength of the subjective experience is linked to the level of efficacy. In other words, the hallmarks of a typical psychedelic experience — such as meeting a God-like entity, feeling that you are one with the universe, or experiencing ego death — could be the key to their ability to heal.

“We’re connecting the dots and saying, okay, people say you can have a similar psychedelic experience with breathwork,” Johnson says. “Therefore, however you get to that experience, maybe that can lead to positive therapeutic outcomes.”

Johns Hopkins and its partner in the study, the Psykia Institute, are still seeking funding and have yet to establish a start date.

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Man, I feel like a woman! – brunch feature

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Pink is for girls, blue is for boys. This is where the narrative for gender identity begins. Wrapped in a colour specific blanket, the newborn is welcomed to a world where a gender stereotype is ready for them.

So, when iconic designer Gaurav Gupta opened FDCI’s India Couture Week this month with an inclusive show titled Name is Love that incorporated people of all genders, body types and sexualities walking in his trademark sculptured silhouettes, it brought the focus to the fact that fashion has no gender and love has no gender.

Personally, I don’t fit the standard sizes for menswear. And as much as I love neutrals, I don’t fear colour or prints. So quite naturally, it becomes easier to shop in the women’s section for better fit. But every time I rummage through the racks in a store, a polite store executive walks up to me and says, “Sir, the men’s section is that way.”

To bring to light that gender neutrality in fashion isn’t an alien idea, I picked six different outfits by six friends who have cracked the concept. Take a look.

Sheer joy

Sumiran Kabir Sharma, creative director of the non-binary label, Anaam, has fearlessly worn what may conventionally be perceived as womenswear. This confidence in himself sparks a reaction that says, “Why can’t men wear sheer?”

“The most noticeable change of this decade is that menswear has become fluid” —Akshay Tyagi, Celebrity stylist

“I believe in the connection between the artist and his art. When I was in design school, I used my body as a canvas instead of a mannequin. But this actually started in my childhood, when I started exploring neutrality by trying my sister’s clothes or draping table cloths and curtains over myself. My label started very clearly as a movement, not as a business. I’m glad that non-binary fashion has made a noise but it still reaches a niche market. To create a more sustainable impact, gender studies need to be actively introduced in schools,” he says.

Sumiran Kabir Sharma’s non-binary label Anaam offers sheer outfits for men too

Sumiran Kabir Sharma’s non-binary label Anaam offers sheer outfits for men too

My true confession: Earlier this year, I wore a sheer jacket but over a fitted black tee because I wasn’t fit enough. This gave me an incentive to workout so I can wear just the sheer without fear!

Marilyn Monroe moment for men

Siddharta Tytler recently shot his campaign with male models in skirts. “They were on the fence when they saw the outfits, but once they wore the skirts, they were twirling all over the place!” he says about the models. “Today, men wear kilts with fitted jeans under them and closer home, the lungi is a pallu-less sari or a wraparound skirt in a way.”

“Today, if a man wears a suit and teams it with a pussy bow, for me that is progress towards neutrality. In the last few years, the lines are getting blurred and hopefully this trend is here to stay,” he says.

Siddharta Tytler’s campaign features men in skirts

Siddharta Tytler’s campaign features men in skirts

“Today, if a man wears a suit with a pussy bow, for me that is progress towards neutrality” ­—Siddharta Tytler

My true confession: The only time I’ve worn a skirt is probably as a contemporary dance costume as a performer with Shiamak Davar. While it may not have found its way into my wardrobe, I’ve seen some men who are inspiringly comfortable in them.

It ‘suits’ everyone

Suket Dhir, whose design aesthetic defines the subtlety of Indian culture, gives a nod to the pantsuit and blazer. “They are a hundred per cent neutral. Men and women both look amazing in them; in fact, women look even better!” he says.

“I believe in the concept that the individual is a sovereign. The only thing we have control over is our own body and mind and that too in the now. For me, it is not about gender or sexuality, it’s about an individual.”

According to Suket Dhir, women look even better in suits than men!

According to Suket Dhir, women look even better in suits than men!

His journey towards incorporating neutrality in his collection began at home. “My wife starting taking clothes from my wardrobe and that got me thinking, why don’t I make them in women’s sizes? While the label is clearly menswear, it can easily be adapted for women. Fashion isn’t about segregation, it’s about beautiful clothes for beautiful people.”

My true confession: I’ve never been able to walk into a store and find a suit my size. So, I go to the women’s section and buy an oversized blazer and getcustom-made trousers!

Take the plunge

For singer, performer and iconic drag queen Sushant Divgikr, deep necks and plunging necklines are for everyone. “Not only in the entertainment industry, but everywhere.” Men with great bodies drop a couple of buttons on their shirt or even wear a deep V-neck tee, so this does fall under the purview of fluid fashion

Singer,performer and drag queen Sushant Divgikr says deep necks and plunging necklines are for everyone

Singer,performer and drag queen Sushant Divgikr says deep necks and plunging necklines are for everyone

“Millennials have a stronger world view with easier access to information. Closer home, gender neutrality has been part of our culture forever; just revisit our scriptures to understand the acceptance of fluidity,” he says. “No one has the right to tell you what you must wear. Of course, there needs to be public decency but beyond that personal expression is subject to interpretation.”

My true confession: I’ve seen gym-fit boys wear “cleave showing” tees with absolute ease. So, I adapted my own version of a V-neck oversized shirts that work very well!

The whole nine yards

Celebrity stylist Akshay Tyagi gives us a historical insight into the dhoti as “the most neutral piece of clothing that exists in India. Our fabric history started from there.”

“Historically, we’ve had shared silhouettes, that became rigid over the years” —Urvashi Kaur

“Till the 1980s, men were wearing crop tops and women were wearing oversized blazers. Then, through the ’90s and early 2000s, the concept of neutrality lost its identity. Over the last 10 years, people have wanted to embrace their individuality. The most noticeable change of this decade is that menswear has become fluid,” he says.

Does he feel that the barriers of gender specific shopping sections will break? “Currently, this may seem like wishful thinking. The sections are more about stocking and organisational convenience than anything else. But niche boutiques and designers are moving there, which does give us hope.”

Ashim Gulati in a gender fluid outfit styled by Akshay Tyagi

Ashim Gulati in a gender fluid outfit styled by Akshay Tyagi

Some of Akshay’s A-list clientele may or may not embrace non-binary fashion, he says. “If gender neutral clothing doesn’t resonate with their personality, it would come across as gimmicky.”

My true confession: As a child, I’d watch my mother dress and make my own sari with a dupatta. Though I may not wear a sari in its literal form now, I don’t shy away from using the yardage as a lungi or a dhoti.

A ‘cover up’

While most of what designer Urvashi Kaur makes is gender fluid, the concept of duality is visible in her campaigns. So any form of outerwear, whether jackets or dupattas, is for all genders.

Outerwear created by Urvashi Kaur is gender-fluid

Outerwear created by Urvashi Kaur is gender-fluid

“The concept of fluidity has been around since mythological times. Like most things, this idea of neutrality in terms of gender is also cyclical and has gone through a metamorphosis. Historically, we have had shared silhouettes, which over the years became more rigid. Deeper issues such as toxic masculinity and the suppression of women also found their manifestation in this segregation. We continue to rely on societal norms dictating how we dress, thereby limiting our perspective on gender fluid fashion,” she says.

My true confession: Whether it’s a pashmina or a cape, a trench or an overcoat, there is something for everyone. My wardrobe is packed with outerwear bought from around the world from every section!

Bharat Gupta is a fashion commentator, consultant and stylist

From HT Brunch, September 27, 2020

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Kendall Jenner Leaves a Fitting While Out in Milan | Kendall Jenner

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Sat, 26 September 2020 at 10:16 pm

Kendall Jenner Leaves a Fitting While Out in Milan

Kendall Jenner is in Milan for Fashion Week!

The 24-year-old model made her way back to her ride after leaving a fitting with Versace on Saturday afternoon (September 26) in Milan, Italy.

PHOTOS: Check out the latest pics of Kendall Jenner

For her day outing, Kendall was seen with wet hair while wearing a long, brown dress paired with boots and tan face mask.

A few days before, Kendall stepped out wearing a “VOTE” mask while on a juice run in Los Angeles.

Earlier this month, Kendall was spotted out on a dinner date with her rumored boyfriend.

Kendall recently gave a tour of her stunning home in L.A. – watch here!

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Tired of dressing down? McCord Museum’s Dior exhibit gives taste of high fashion

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MONTREAL —
More Montrealers may be dressing down these days while they work from home, but the McCord Museum is giving visitors a taste of high fashion.

A new exhibit is dedicated to the famed designer Christian Dior.

“Dior opened 17 months after World War II. There was still rationing, no textiles and what he was suggesting is the antithesis to wartime style,” said Alexandra Palmer of the Royal Ontario Museum.

Palmer credited Dior with helping to restart many smaller industries that had been dormant during the war.

“There were beaders, embroiderers, textile makers, manufacturers. All these people come together and make the dress,” she said. “You can’t have fabulous fashion unless you have access to amazing materials.”

The display includes 40 garments on loan from the Royal Ontario Museum, as well as the McCord’s own well-preserved collection of 11 dresses.

“The silk satins of the 1950s are today blended with rayon or acetate, modern synthetic fabrics,” said curator Cynthia Cooper. “It’s very difficult today to fidn something that replicates fabrics used in that period.”

The Christian Dior exhibition runs until Jan. 3, 2021.  

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