How Psychedelics Saved My Life, Part 1

Had I not discovered and experienced that profound sense of Oneness, Universal love, the interconnectedness of all beings in the web of life, that LSD can elicit, I would have offed myself a long time ago. If you’d like to hear the story of how LSD saved my life, and what ultimately led me to create this site, here’s my story.

Daily Racist Bullying Caused Me to Hate Myself as a Young Girl

I started off life, happy and in awe of the world around me. I had no brothers or sisters but could keep myself entertained for hours with dolls made out of tissue paper with black magic marker faces. I had a dog, and we’d play for hours and hours in the backyard of our suburban New Jersey home. My early childhood started off blissful, innocent, full of wonder and joy, until I started going to school.

I remember the day my descent into self-hatred began. It started when I walked into my new classroom, and everyone turned towards me, and immediately pulled their eyes into slits and started singing, “Ching chong, ching chong,” in unison.

I didn’t really understand why they were doing this. I didn’t know what the word “racism” meant at this time. But the message my 7 year old self got from that experience was that I was different, and there was something wrong with me.

Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, surrounded by assholes. ~ Steven Winterburn

Things only got worse when my family moved to Hong Kong and enrolled me into a British school. At this time Hong Kong was still a British colony and the racism was much worse here.

before-you-diagnose-yourself-with-depression-or-low-self-esteem-first-make-sure-you-are-not-in-fact-surrounded-by-assholes-40b9b“Stinky chogue.”

“Bloody Yank!”

The taunts were relentless, daily, and I endured them for 3 years. I was a quiet, bookish, shy kid who kept to myself. I never reported classmates who harassed me. I didn’t know I could, and I didn’t want to make my situation worse. My parents were emotionally unavailable and engrossed in their professional careers. When it became clear I was having problems at school, I became a “problem child”, “spoiled and selfish”. Their advice was that I should “Go to the library and study harder.”

I Routinely Cut Myself with Razors as a Teenager

I felt utterly alone. During this time a deep, simmering rage became my reality. My parents treated me like I was the problem. I began to believe that I was the problem. So I hated myself with a fury.

I hated myself for being Chinese. I hated myself for being the brunt of everyone’s taunts. I longed for plastic surgery so I could have a Caucasian nose, caucasian eyes, caucasian boobs…so I could finally be accepted. I started cutting myself with razors, cutting words into my forearms that said, “I hate you.”

It was around this time I started having recurring lucid dreams. I would find myself in a department store with floors and floors of merchandise fleeing some unknown pursuer. I ducked into shops and frantically searched for the fire exit stairs, so I could make my way to the roof. Or I’d try to find a window that I could squeeze out of. Whether it was the window or the roof, I had enough awareness in the dream state that I needed to fly out of there. I’d launch myself into space and transform myself into a bird or a sprout a pair of angel wings and fly off. Soaring over the grimy urban landscape, I scanned the Earth below for any signs of green. I needed to go the Forest. Eventually the lights of the city would fade away and I’d see more and more trees. I’d feel am immense sense of relief and freedom. I was finally going home.

I begged my parents to send me back to the United States, back home. I didn’t really fully understand that the feeling of “home” I longed for was not coming back. The New Jersey house had a new tenant, my dog had been shipped off to my uncle’s. But I somehow thought that going back to the U.S. would make it all the misery stop, so after months of their 13 year old daughter asking to be sent away, my parents relented and they decided I’d go to a New England boarding school.

Here I was, a teenager from Hong Kong in a New England college prep school where everyone looked like they stepped out of the Laura Ashley or the LL Bean catalogue. Yet again, I was the outsider that didn’t fit in, and the meanness continued. I wanted so much to be liked, but I was simply mocked and taunted more. I endured that for another 2 years.

Then, when I was 15, I tried to kill myself.

LSD Showed Me That There Was More to Life than the Accumulation of Wealth

Now I’m going to fast forward to the day that I did LSD for the first time, and why it saved my life.

MUST-READ 5 Ways Psychedelics Are Saving Lives

A few years had gone by since “the incident”. I was shipped back to Hong Kong where received some talk therapy that stabilized me, and then I went to the American school which didn’t have the level of racist bullying the British school seemed to have. It felt like, for the first time in my life, nobody was harassing me on a daily basis.

College gave me the freedom I yearned for. I could choose my friends and I had a lot of hedonistic fun. But I was ultimately a materialist with a really jaded sense of humanity. I believed that ultimately the planet was full of shitty people and it was a dog-eat-dog world. As an international student, I found myself socializing with the elites of my university – the sons and daughters of diplomats and royalty – and I only wanted to hang around rich people. All that mattered to me at that point was wealth and power, because in a dog-eat-dog world, the weak are preyed on, and wealth and power had the ability to keep the vultures and hyenas away.

That changed when I was introduced to LSD.

MUST-READ The History and Future of LSD

Somehow my LSD experience ripped away a veil from my eyes and I could perceive how utterly uninteresting the pursuit of material wealth actually was. Hobnobbing with University high society suddenly felt both fake and distasteful.

Practically overnight, I transformed from elitist to hippie, and I started going to Grateful Dead shows.

But the most important thing that LSD did for me was show me something worth living for.

Universal Love & Cosmic Unity Are Worth Pursuing

I experienced my first LSD trip at an underground warehouse rave. My boyfriend at the time dosed me, but since he was a Deadhead and I was a techno raver, I went off with my friends to the warehouse party without him. In retrospect, as a practitioner of shamanism, that was totally irresponsible of him and the set and setting was suboptimal for me. But I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen to me, and what happened was amazing.


I saw trails everywhere. The lights and the music were all moving in perfect synchronicity with the Cosmos. I felt as if I was One with the Universe. Everything felt like it was playing out according to divine destiny. And the fabric of existence felt like it was created from Love.

I danced ecstatically all night long. The experience of Cosmic Unity in that dark, gritty urban warehouse was the most amazing experience I had ever had in my life.

And I wanted more of it. More Universal Love and Cosmic Unity.

But it soon became clear to me that doing more psychoactive drugs, without the right intention, set and setting, was not taking me back to that profound, sacred place. The more I experimented with psychedelics, the more the drugs destabilized me. After a couple of years of experimentation, I decided to stop taking anything that was made in a lab.

I Found My Spiritual Home in Tibetan Bön Shamanism

Instead I immersed myself in Tibetan meditation and yoga. I became a serious student of Tibetan Buddhism and spent 3 years in a Tibetan retreat center in Berkeley. Eventually I connected with my tribe in Tibetan Buddhism – the Bön shamanic lineage, which is the indigenous religion of Tibet.

Bön shamanism incorporates practices with the 5 elements, nature spirits and soul retrieval. Under the instruction of my teacher Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, I studied and practiced Tibetan Dream Yoga and Dzogchen.

MUST-READ Experience Lucid Dreaming With Tibetan Dream Yoga

I devoted myself to plumbing the depths of my mind through formal meditation practice and the study of ancient teachings. Through these practices I discovered how to access Universal Love and Cosmic Unity, and experienced altered states of consciousness, without the drugs. The most important gift I received from my meditation training was understanding the nature of your thoughts and Nature of Mind. And experiencing the pristine, primordial quality of Buddha-nature cured the self-hatred that had plagued me since childhood. Gaining control over my thoughts and my mindstate was what ultimately what took me out of the danger zone of self-destruction.

I practiced Tibetan meditation diligently for 10 years (and did not use any psychedelics at all during this time) building a solid practice in meditation, prayer, mindfulness, and yoga, until I was introduced to ayahuasca.

MUST-READ How Psychedelics Saved My Life, Part 2'

About Lorna Liana

Lorna Liana is a new media strategist and lifestyle business coach to visionary entrepreneurs. She travels the world while running her business as a digital nomad. Lorna's boutique agency provides “done for you” web design, development and online marketing services for social ventures, sustainable brands, transformational coaches and new paradigm thought leaders. She is also a personal development junkie, and 20 year practitioner of shamanism, with extensive training in Tibetan Bon Shamanism and the ayahuasca traditions of the Amazon Basin. A self-professed ayahuasca snob and perennial ayahuasca tourist, Lorna has been drinking ayahuasca since 2004. She's been in approximately 150 ayahuasca ceremonies (from terrible to fantastic), and tasted wide variety of ayahuasca brews (from awful to exquisite). Her ayahuasca experience spans 30+ different shamans and facilitators, 7 indigenous tribes, several Brazilian churches, and a host of neo-shamanic circles, in Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Europe, the US, and Asia. Through this widely-varied background, she hopes to shed some perspective on the globalization of ayahuasca.

1 Comment

  1.' Bruno Ouellet on August 15, 2020 at 6:06 am

    This is amazing to read.

    I am trying to follow the same journey.
    I was really touched by your story. It was some kind of revelation to find this information right now.

    God bless


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