Psychedelic Titan Profile of Neil Gehani
Updated: Feb 1
The future is regenerative capitalism for the psychedelic industry
The following is an interview with Microdose.buzz media:
This week’s Psychedelic Titan is Neil Gehani, Founder of Mindlumen. Mindlumen is a psychedelic experience platform for digitally facilitating connections and handling all the painful logistics for people seeking healing with vetted guides/therapists and journey spaces while protecting the safety and privacy of all concerned.
When did you first become involved in the psychedelic industry and why?
I started learning about psychedelics in late 2016. I did not get involved until early 2020. I read Michael Pollan’s book in December 2018 (have read it a couple more times since then). Then I started reading anything I could find on the subject, including writings from the earliest pioneers. Lots of things happened in 2020 and particularly after my Mom passed. There was a need to deal with my own things. My sister suffers from depression as well. We had our nephew that suffered from mental health issues growing up.
For me, the world changed in June 2021. The world needs to know about these substances. I wanted to help. That’s why I launched the non-profit: Mindlumen and started getting involved in policy work (CA SB519), to make it decriminalized. I also work with others in education and advocacy for the healing benefits of these compounds, if done in a natural, not only clinical setting, with a trained and experienced guide.
Do you, or have you taken, psychedelic substances?
Yes, only within a guided setting, with an experienced therapist. There isn’t a person I run into now in Silicon Valley that hasn’t. Most have done it recreationally though. There’s a lot of misinformation out there.
What’s your favourite psychedelic compound?
Whatever opens people’s minds and their hearts to healing, contributing, co-operating with their fellow humans while respecting nature and the indigenous people who have brought us these amazing compounds. The more plant-driven, the better.
Do your parents/family members know what you’re doing?
No, my parents both passed away before my experience. My Mom passed away in 2020. My wife knows and so does my sister who suffers from depression where none of the current pharmaceuticals have helped.
Have you had an experience with mental health/chronic pain?
No, I have had to deal with the trauma from my past and what my Mom had suffered from the loss of her sister and mother while she was living in a refugee camp when she was little. After her passing mid-last year, I had to confront some things in my life as well as what she had shared about hers. I was looking for meaning and purpose in my life.
What’s your vision of the industry in 20 years?
We’ll live in a regenerative economy where humans develop deeper and more meaningful connections with each other. This industry will be the poster child for how to do that well and ripple out. To achieve that, these plant medicines need to be accessible to anyone, anywhere, anytime for help and healing. It should be available without friction, with safety and security of an experienced guide/sitter/therapist in a guided setting that’s not clinical only – this is what we are focused on. Integration therapy will become the norm. It will be like getting preventive care and be covered by insurance. It’ll be built into our daily lives. All non-addictive substances will be off Schedule 1 here in the US. They should never have been there in the first place since there was no medical or safety reason. These will be normalized as “medicines”. We’ll be able to cure drug addictions with these medicines and save tons of money that goes to criminal justice rather than harm reduction. It is said that the Oregon law alone, will require 100K guides/therapists/facilitators to be trained. If CA SB519 passes, it will be 5 to 10x that. Combine that with Washington State and Colorado, the demand is going to explode. That’s why Mindlumen exists — to remove friction in this process for people seeking help and those providing the services and spaces. I see organizations like Dancesafe, Zendo, and Fireside at every major music festival and event ensuring safety of these medicines even in recreational settings. Guided setting is still the best way to experience these compounds. We’ll use technology as tools to build a distributed and co-operative world. This industry is best suited to that. Creative contributors will be valued more than pure tech. Incentive structures for compensation will change based on giving rather than extracting. Company structures will be less authoritarian and more co-operative. Radical transparency will be the norm. How we organize for valuing contributions will change drastically. All contributions including volunteerism, will be valued, and compensated. Why shouldn’t people who contribute earn a living and have a middle-class life? Everyone has something of value to offer. “Minimum wage” will disappear from our lexicon. “Living wage” (for middle-class life) will be the new benchmark of an equitable society. Tools to decentralize the power structures are now available, where before they weren’t. My hope is that if people experience these medicines, we’ll live in a much more peaceful and co-operative world. For that to happen, the ego must get out of the way, and these are the best substances to help with that.
What are your biggest worries for the industry?
If we are not careful about how we decriminalize and legalize, the same extractive capitalism of today will take over and co-opt the community’s ethos. If you want to see a preview of that, just look at the Cannabis and Organic food industries. The other concern I have is not many people of color, indigenous cultures’ voices are being heard in the decriminalized process in this country or being adequately represented in this industry. People, particularly people of color, who have experience with these medicines (including voyagers and explorers) should have 75% of the seats at the table when the laws and regulations are written. The medical and law enforcement community, 25%.
To mitigate that we started mindlumen.org and work with organizations to advocate for policy like SB519 in California. They are crypto and blockchain tools if leveraged for good, can also help mitigate that, but we also see the power centralization happening there. It’s chaotic for now, but that’s also an opportunity.
We are requiring current rules and regulations to be something that’s proven to work when none of these rules and FDA trial processes existed. The indigenous cultures used these medicines for healing, and they work! We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Take that data and the data from the early 20th century and supplement.
Allowing patents on nature or processes will not be good for the industry and the community is already resisting it. It will not be welcoming to them, and rightly so. We need everyone to co-operate rather than compete. Sharing is caring. They are many companies that are based on open science, open nature, and open source and those are the ones we need to support and promote. This is the first program we are supporting with our non-profit. We welcome people to join us by contributing their time, money, and ideas and getting paid for them in return. You earn by giving.
Who are your heroes?
All the people that came before us to expose us to these medicines. These are not “drugs”. They are medicines. The indigenous people who have been using it for centuries, Maria Sabina, and the eastern world’s healing and meditation practices showed the way to the western world.
The many women who don’t get recognized – Valentina Wasson, Kat Harrison, Mabel Luhan, Gertrud Paltin, Ann Shulgin, Susi Ramstein (Hoffman’s assistant), Adelle David, Betty Eisner, Lisa Beiberman, and their current contemporaries: Shelby Hartman & Madison Margolin of DoubleBlind magazine, Amanda Fielding of Beckley Foundation, Bia Labate of Charcuna, Kim Kuypers, Dr. Rosalind Watts, Dr. Julie Holland.
The early research pioneers like Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert (Ram Dass), Ralph Metzner, Aldous Huxley, Stanislov Grof, Huston Smith, Albert Hoffman, Humphrey Osmond, Alan Watts, The Shulgins, and many more.
The people who brought it out of the shadows when it got buried for no good reason, like Michael Pollan, Paul Stamets, Terrence and Dennis McKenna, James Fadiman, Rick Doblin. All the research organizations (MAPS, UCSF, Johns Hopkins, Imperial College of London, et al) that are going thru the approval process, as ridiculous as that is, working to make this available for mental health treatment for those that are suffering from PTSD, addiction, etc, and yes, healthy normals.
The companies that are promoting open science, open-source, natural plants as opposed to those who are using IP and patents for extractive use rather than building a regenerative economy with the community.
All the guides, integration therapists, journey space providers who are working underground to help people heal.
To the advocacy and legalization groups who are working to decriminalize and legalize these plant medicines.
The education, training advocates, who are sharing their knowledge to help people understand the benefits and reduce risks with an emphasis on guided therapies with intention, set, and setting as key tenets for a positive experience with these medicines.
Lastly, the people that need the healing. That’s who should be listened to first, like the vets and others who suffer from PTSD. The people that have experienced it firsthand are the ones that should be represented, by a wide margin, when laws and regulations are being considered. They are the ones that must go through a very difficult journey to even consider using these compounds and then having to find, filter, and select a guide/therapist while everything is underground, are the exceptional heroes.
If you could create a psychedelic to do anything you wanted, what would it do?
It would get people to appreciate, develop, and deepen in-person human connections where ego is out of the equation. Easier said than done. It takes experiencing this with a qualified guide and integration work, preferably in a natural setting.