The Seeker At The Grocery Store: Camp Death For The High Life

Ethan Lipsitz
5 min readMay 20, 2022

I’ve spent the last hour lying on a yoga mat on the floor of a tech startup in Venice surrounded by 100 near-strangers hyperventilating on purpose. My entire body is in shock from all the oxygen, my hands are curled into claws and my chest feels like it’s caving in on itself, we all pause our fast breaths for a deep inhale and a long exhale alongside the booming instrumental music. I feel amazing.

This is breath work, you’ve probably heard of it if you haven’t practiced it yet. It’s one, of a long list, of wellness / meditation / medicine practices designed to take us to an altered state. Throughout this breath work journey I’ve been focusing on an intention, a vision for personal growth, while breathing along with the rhythms of an eclectic mix.

As the music shifts and we’re eventually guided back to our normal breathing pattern, a familiar feeling creeps into my psyche; how will I maintain this ecstatic state now that I’m back in my regular breath, eye mask off, sitting up amongst the crowd?

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I’ve been seeking weird, altered states of consciousness and awareness since my early 20s when I was introduced to alternative healing modalities while living in Australia. I was never particularly interested in drugs or plant medicines but I was always curious about spiritual, mystical or alternative teachers and healers who could offer new ways of experiencing life, if only for hour-long tai chi, energy work or breathing practices.

The challenge with these experiences, whether they’re medicine ceremonies in the Amazon or group breath work in Venice, is that they inevitably end. As normie seekers, we return to our normie lives. In ‘normal’ life we’re not walking around town hyperventilating with claw hands blasting binaural beats in our headphones or hallucinating on plant medicine singing Mayan prayer songs while we push our shopping carts through the grocery store.

Many shamans, healers and guides will create time for an integration process; crossing the threshold between an altered state and ‘normal life’. They will hold space for conversations, journaling, quiet meditation or time to process the experience before going back to the before times, the day-to-day. Integration is extremely important…

Ethan Lipsitz

Ethan Lipsitz is an artist, host, brain cancer survivor and love extremist dedicated to elevating actionable love in every aspect of life.