🫠 Psychonaut POV

[6-min read] Q&A with Jonathan “Quest” Brown, Integration Coach

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Jonathan “Quest” Brown found psychedelics while mourning the sudden, unexpected death of his mother. It took time, but that first trip eventually reconnected him to his spirit and his purpose—to help others heal.

We talked to Quest about processing grief with mushrooms, some unconventional techniques for integration, and practical tips for anyone making a major transition in life.

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Jonathan "Quest" Brown Psychonaut POV
Your journey with psychedelics began after your mother's passing. How did that experience shape your perspective on grief and lead you to explore psychedelics as tools for healing?

Initially, I was hesitant about psychedelics. In my community, the idea was weed and alcohol; that's it. Anything beyond that was off-limits. I never bothered to learn about psychedelics when friends experimented with them. So when my mom passed away suddenly and unexpectedly, I was lost. I'd never tried meditation or yoga, so I didn’t have a lot of tools to process my emotions apart from therapy. But the day after her passing, I could vividly hear her talking to me, apologizing for leaving and not realizing it was her time.

I had a tough decision: arrange her funeral or travel to Amsterdam as planned. I chose Amsterdam, knowing that's what she'd want and that I could focus on the funeral later. But I was a wreck. As I walked around the city, I kept seeing people coming out of magic shops. I was intrigued but terrified to go in. Eventually, I asked a guy at my hostel about it, and he sat me down to explain psychedelics. So I went back to the shop, still pretty clueless, and bought some psilocybin truffles. It took me a few days to actually take them, but eventually, my grief led me to go for it in this foreign country, far from familiar surroundings.

I had a wild trip, and some kind strangers at the hostel helped me through it. That experience sparked my curiosity further. When I got back home, I dove deep into meditation, yoga, and reiki and explored psychedelics some more. It all helped, but what really shifted things was realizing I could still connect with my mom through meditation. That discovery marked the true start of my healing journey and showed me my purpose — to help others find their healing. Just knowing I could communicate with her at any time brought me so much relief from the grief. And I was certain that these practices could benefit others, too.

Over time, psychedelics, especially mushrooms, helped me see beauty in my mother's death. It took about three years to truly grasp that lesson. I've faced several more losses since then, but these experiences all reinforced the understanding that life transcends this physical realm. Psychedelics taught me to think of death as a transition and a celebration, rather than an ending.

I understand getting laid off from your tech job propelled you further into your spiritual journey. How did that moment connect you to your sense of purpose?

First of all, I'm incredibly grateful for my connection with God. People call that higher power different names—Universe or Source, for example—but that communication for me truly began the day after my mom passed and has been a guiding light ever since. Still, being aligned with that guidance can be challenging as a human dealing with life's demands.

The day you’re referring to, my company was in the midst of layoffs, and I had a sense something was coming. I meditated before the meeting, and I got a message that I was “being moved.” It turned out I was being laid off, but unexpectedly, I was also offered a substantial severance package.

At first, I considered other job options through sister companies, but something inside me kept saying, "This isn't it." It took a few weeks of stress and anxiety to grapple with the idea of becoming a full-time entrepreneur. It was terrifying, even with the safety net of the severance. I'd always had one foot in the tech industry while pursuing other projects, so this felt like a big leap into the unknown. I was already teaching yoga and hosting men’s circles, but God kept nudging me, reminding me this was the opportunity I'd been asking for.

The timing was auspicious, too. It coincided with eclipse season, a time for clearing things from our lives. Before I knew about the layoff, I'd been accepting opportunities like attending conferences and retreats, not knowing how I'd juggle them with work. It all fell into place. Sure, I might return to tech eventually, but for now, this window of time was a gift I couldn't ignore. God had given me what I'd been seeking—a chance to fully pursue my purpose and make the most of this opportunity.

Now you offer integration coaching to help others bridge the gap between psychedelic experiences and daily life. What are some of the practices that you find most effective in this process?

In my role as a preparation and integration coach, consistency is key. But consistency doesn't have to mean the same thing every day. It varies for everyone. Some days, it might mean dedicating hours to spiritual practices, while other days, it could be as simple as a few minutes. For instance, you might practice yoga for 15 minutes on one day, take an hour-long walk the next, or spend time grounding in nature on another day.

This consistency isn't just about doing the same thing daily; it's about chipping away at the psychedelic experience, integrating it into our lives in diverse ways. It's about making integration a part of our entire being, not just a post-experience to-do list. Indigenous communities have this philosophy naturally woven into their lives; it's a way of being, not a separate task.

Everyone is different, and I emphasize a variety of integration methods with the people I work with. Integration can take many forms: proper diet, journaling, art therapy—like drawing emotions to understand them better. Sometimes we draw out an emotion the way it initially felt, then revisit it later to compare changes. Integration can also look like scanning our physical bodies for the signs and sensations of deeper emotions. If we go beyond surface-level feelings, we can understand what these emotions want from us.

I’ll add that these practices can create space for people to integrate all sorts of experiences, whether they involve medicine or not. Psychedelics aren’t a prerequisite for paying attention to your emotions and allowing powerful insights to emerge. When we take the time to look beyond our immediate emotional reaction to an experience and try to understand what that emotion is telling us, we learn a lot about ourselves.

Has “coming out of the psychedelic closet” led to any tension in your personal relationships? What kind of challenges and rewards have you faced from sharing more publicly?

Navigating these changes has been challenging, especially with close friends and family. They haven't been upset, exactly—just unable or unwilling to understand my path. But as a Reiki master, I understand that growth often means shedding what no longer serves us. It's tough because we form attachments, be it to people or routines. I won't sugarcoat it. For me, letting go has led to feelings of loneliness at times.

Around two years into this journey, though, I realized it was creating space for my soul family, those walking similar paths. They've become the support network I needed. But my soul family is scattered, and Pittsburgh's wellness community, where I live, is pretty segmented. Finding like-minded peers has been challenging, but I'm fortunate my partner owns the yoga studio where I teach. We've built a wonderful community there.

As for rewards, the opportunities have been abundant. I feel truly blessed. But one especially remarkable one came up recently—reconnecting with my father. Despite his past struggles with addiction, he's become curious and supportive of my journey, even if he doesn’t fully understand it. In the past, he’s been skeptical of anything to do with my spiritual practice. But a recent change in his life—one that’s shifting his perspective on lots of things—might pave the way for an unconventional bonding experience: trying mushrooms together. It's not a sure thing, but I’m cautiously hopeful.

What advice can you offer to our readers who may find themselves at a crossroads in life, especially if they're considering using psychedelics to navigate that change?

Before diving into psychedelics, a few of the most important things you can do are to treat these medicines with respect and reverence, educate yourself about their risks and benefits, and practice discernment. Decide whether you plan to work with the medicine alone, with a guide, or at a retreat. If you are going to work with someone, vet and qualify them.

Collect information from reliable sources, and then question everything you learn. There’s so much content out there, and that’s a good thing. But not all of it is going to apply to you, and not everyone is meant for you. Checking in with yourself regularly will allow you to filter the information that resonates with you.

It's also helpful to find a local community where you can discuss your thoughts and questions about psychedelics. Sometimes, the information overload can be overwhelming, so having a supportive community to guide you can be invaluable.

Whether or not you’re considering psychedelics, consider finding a therapist or coach. If it’s accessible, having one (or both) of these allies as you navigate a big life change can be far more effective than seeking advice from friends or family, who tend to have their own biases. Just know that not all therapists are open to psychedelics. I have personal experience being shamed after opening up about my psychedelic use during a therapy session. With the right provider, therapy offers a unique space for exploration and growth, but picking the right person for you is absolutely critical.

Finally, having an integration coach, specifically, to help guide you through the entire psychedelic journey—from the preparation process to the intimate moment with the medicine through the continual integration afterward—can be extremely powerful. I think many people would be surprised by how much deep work can be accomplished before ever sitting with the medicine.

Want more from Quest?

Learn more about his integration framework, and book a free consultation for preparation and integration coaching.

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DISCLAIMER: This newsletter is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. The use, possession, and distribution of psychedelic drugs are illegal in most countries and may result in criminal prosecution.

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