We connected with Matt Zemon, serial entrepreneur, founder of ketamine clinic HAPPŸŸ, and author of "Psychedelics for Everyone." We discuss meditation, ketamine, psychedelic medicine, and how he found spirituality through psilocybin.
This is a big question! I am a person on a learning, healing, growing journey like everyone else. I have made my income as an entrepreneur. I am married with two kids- one in college and one almost there. My first experience with psychedelics completely changed the way I look at and interact with the world and led me to going back to school to get a Master’s in psychology and neuroscience of mental health and to taking a deep dive into the world of psychedelic medicine.
Most days start with a meditation. Ideally I also have time for a run or a walk. I try to do my creative work first before jumping into meetings. My time is spread out between my work with HAPPŸŸ, a telehealth company fighting the unhappiness epidemic with the help of ketamine-assisted psychedelic therapy, and my personal projects, most of which are also in this space.
I do, but I didn’t before psychedelics. Before psychedelics I didn’t believe in God. I couldn’t conceive of a life after death nor could I understand how a God could allow so many awful things to happen. Psychedelics completely changed my perspective on God and spirituality. I have challenges with some organized religions, but I no longer question that there is a higher power. On multiple occasions I have been able to leave my physical body and move into a different plane of existence. I have felt unconditional love and safety. I cherish my meditation time as an opportunity to get quiet and connect with this higher power. I now understand why many people consider psychedelics to be sacraments and to assist in their connection with God.
How do you spend your time? What’s something exciting you’re working on?
Again, big question. I believe that my life is about learning, healing, and growing. Sometimes, I am doing that while generating resources, sometimes not. What I have decided I want more of in my life is intimacy so I spend time trying to deepen my relationships and connections with others. I also believe in the healing power of psychedelic medicine so I spend some of my time trying to help others access this.
With HAPPŸŸ my business partner, Wolf Shlagman, and I are focused on reducing the cost while increasing the safety, and adding in evidence-backed exercises and support that increase the effectiveness of the medicine. I also continue to personally study and learn from different spiritual leaders, medicine people, and books as much as possible.
I keep an Evernote file open and do my best to keep track of everything I am supposed to do. Everyday, I repriortize those tasks based on what I think is actually the priority for the day. By putting these onto this list I am able to decrease my fear of forgetting things. By constantly re-prioritizing I am able to focus on what actually needs to get done in the context of the time available.
Immediately following my first psychedelic experience, I felt that there was a secret handshake I was missing. I found much of the available literature to be at two extremes- either written for people with science backgrounds or written for a Reddit-level reader. What was important to me is to put together a book that people could trust. A book that wasn’t too technical, too opinionated, or too woo-woo.
I felt so strongly about earning people’s trust, so I had most of the book medically reviewed for accuracy. The book includes first-person stories, an overview of psychedelic medicine, and a deep dive into eight of the most common psychedelics.
In 2021 I funded and helped put together a team of experts to create a directory of psychedelic-friendly practitioners. This included psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, guides, shaman, etc… As part of this process I put together a list of everything I wish I knew about psychedelics. Looking at that list I knew that this content should be a book.
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Writing and editing were my two roles with this book. On the writing side, my goal was to earn trust from the reader. To do that I felt like I had to be vulnerable. I went back through my various psychedelic journeys to select a few stories that were particularly powerful for me and then tried to capture them in words.
Since ketamine is the only legal psychedelic in America and my Master’s degree thesis was focused on ketamine, I wanted to include some research on ketamine and to make sure that there was a significant amount of information available on that particular medicine in the book.
On the editing side, the first part was deciding which pieces I wanted to write and which pieces I wanted to have written by other expert writers. After gathering all of the content, I went through the articles and added in the references to all the research cited. To be trustworthy I thought it was important for the readers to be able to read the source studies if they wanted to rather than just taking our word for it.
To understand my first psychedelic experience you need to go back to 1995 when my mom died. She was just 49 and her death wrecked me. It felt like a piece of my heart was ripped out of me. I could feel the emptiness.
24 years later, I reconnected with my mom in a guided magic mushroom ceremony.
I went into my psychedelic mushroom journey with no real expectations. I had no experience with psychedelics at all, but our guide assured us we would be safe and asked us to bring something important to us from our childhood to the ceremony. I brought a letter that my mom wrote to me while she was pregnant.
The day of the ceremony came, and our guide asked us to bring up our mementos to an altar he had created. We meditated. We ate the mushrooms. We meditated some more.
And then I was gone.
I had melted into the ground and was watching and feeling the world breathe.
In waves, I became aware of my grandparents, great-grandparents, and all of the people I was connected to in this world.
I felt connected to the earth, trees, and sky in a way I had never felt before.
And I felt loved.
And I realized I was safe.
And I realized I didn't remember what it felt like to truly feel loved and safe.
And I realized that because I didn't remember what it felt like to truly feel loved, I hadn't been able to truly share love. With my wife. With my kids. With my sister. With my friends. With the world.
I had been living my life scared.
I was scared of dying.
And then I saw my mom. And felt her. And I instantly understood that she wasn't gone; she was a part of me. And I was carrying her essence forward.
I could pull a string from her to me. And then through me to my kids. We were all connected. We were all carrying each other.
And I felt this in my heart.
I viscerally felt that I was connected to her and that we were united. That we had always been united and would always be united. The hole in my heart was, for the first time in 24 years, full.
And in that instant, I could see a world that was bigger than anything I had ever conceived. I could feel a connectedness that spanned time and space. I could understand in my soul that we are all part of something bigger. I could understand the truth that we are all brothers and sisters.
And I remembered joy. True joy.
And I was no longer scared.
And I was no longer afraid of dying.
And I knew that I was loved.
And I knew that I was safe.
And always had been.
And always will be.
Psychedelic medicine has shown me how connected we all are. That we are truly all “brothers and sisters.” Psychedelic medicine has taught me what true unconditional love is and has shown me that I am enough, right now, as is. Psychedelic medicine has helped me on my learning, healing, and growing journey.
Psychedelic medicine has also opened my eyes to the unjust and irrational drug laws we have in this country. Drug laws that are based on politics and not science. Drug laws that are certainly not based on the safety or effectiveness of many drugs. Psychedelic medicine has also opened my eyes to the uneven ways that religious freedom is allowed, or not allowed.
While I don’t believe everyone should take psychedelics, I do believe that they are good for society. This is what I meant by the title of my book, Psychedelics for Everyone.
I do microdose. I believe that these sub-perceptual doses enhance connectivity and creativity and reduce anxiety and depression. Microdosing seems to be a safe alternative to the existing pharmacological solutions that are available.
I think Dr. Carl Hart’s Drug Use for Grown-Ups book is a beautifully written and eye-opening look into the power of drugs and the misguided arguments against many of them that we have received over the last 50 years. I recommend it to everyone.
According to Paul Stamets at least 30,000 species of mushrooms, almost 3,000 of which are edible, and people have been using them for thousands of years. Fungi from the genus Psilocybe are found on all continents except Antarctica. I could go on and on with this question!
I am a huge fan of microdosing for a variety of reasons. I think for me this process makes me feel more interconnected to the people I am with and to the earth as a whole.
Always to pay attention to Source, Set, and Setting. Source relates to the confidence that what you are ingesting is what you think you are injesting. Set is your mindset going in. Setting is your physical environment. An experienced facilitator can help with all of these things but this also means it is extremely important to pay careful attention to whom you decide to work with for your journeys.
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