Recently I flew to London for the 4th edition of Breaking Convention. I knew it was going to be an exciting trip because Breaking convention is not your usual conference. As one of the 1000+ Breakeros I spent three days meeting and greeting the most enthusiast psychonauts on the planet (among which Dennis McKenna, BBC Tribe presenter Bruce Parry and many more) and discovering what’s going on in psychedelics research, shamanism and spirit journeys, herbalism, drug legislation, poetry and art.
If this happens to be your cup of tea, you wouldn't want to miss the next edition.
These are the five most prominent reasons why Breaking Convention should be on your bucket list:
1. An incredibly open atmosphere
Whether you come as a presenter, artist, visitor or volunteer, everyone is just as much part of Breaking as the others, as the name tags which all say 'esteemed delegate' imply. Everyone chats with everyone without barriers or boundaries. One of the most heard comments was: “We’re amongst each other”, “we’re all brothers and sisters”. And because of this high level of trust people share the most interesting and intimate stories. From how they’ve conquered their fears and decided to go against the grain to, for instance, how they gave birth while high on psychedelics.
2. Cutting edge research
The renaissance in psychedelic science is in full bloom and this is a chance to hear the most prominent researchers in this field speak about their findings. Among the 150+ speakers were:
Neuroscientist Robin Carhart-Harris who leads a team at Imperial College in London researching the potential of LSD and psilocybin as a tool for the treatment of depression, trauma and anxiety.
Ben Sessa and Julie Holland, psychiatrists who advocate for MDMA as a tool to be used in psychotherapy.
Ethnobotanist and mushroom expert Dennis McKenna gave a lecture on DMT.
And to name a few more: biologist Rupert Sheldrake, neuroscientist David Nichols, psychologist and theologian Bill Richards, and microdosing researcher James Fadiman.
3. Psychedelic culture at its finest
The convention is about so much more than science. It's a place were artists, film-makers, occultists, botanists and modern day witches show us the real power of the divine. Workshops, lectures or installations taught us how we can engage with this power, for instance through psychedelic journeys, breath-work, meditation, et cetera.
Example: the Seed Sistas are two modern day witches who aim to empower people using medicinal and psychoactive herbs that their own land provides (ranging from dandelion to datura). Apart from teaching herbalist courses they've developed sensory balms with a psychoactive effect.
Furthermore, this edition of Breaking Convention was housing a VR installation where you get to experience the most beautiful and touching near-death experiences, a research project by David Luke and the world's one and only Psychedelic Museum (a pop-up museum seeking a home base).
4. Meet people and make new friends
This one is pretty self-explanatory! The Greenwich University is surrounded by sunny yards where everyone sits down for a chat while having lunch or a smoke. From the start, you know that everyone there shares your interest in psychedelics and altered states. We've met people from all over Europe, the Americas and Australia and found it never easier to connect with each other.
5. Break from ‘society’
Breaking Convention has all the elements of a conference but it definitely has the feel and vibe of a festival. An inspiring bubble, providing a break from our society if you will. Which makes you realise that we should aim to make our society a little more 'breaking'. It all ended on Sunday night with an after party until sunrise. Heading back to Amsterdam the next day, despite the lack of sleep, we felt blissful and energised. As if we'd just returned from a vacation or jungle retreat...