Ricky's Riffs:

Random Thoughts on Travel, Education, Health, and the World in General


On Creating Sacred Space

April 12th, 2022

We all sense the “feeling” of a space when we enter it. We might feel comforted, or irritated, sedated or energized. Whether it’s a friends living room, a doctor’s office, or a mountain landscape, every space generates a different reaction.

Solidity and emptiness: a paradox

Although the world appears to be solid, modern physics has revealed that it is essentially, and mostly, in fact, empty space. At the subatomic level, the atoms that comprise matter, are both particle and wave, solid as well as vibrational.

As human beings, moving through space and time, we are also both material and energetic. We perceive the material world with our senses: touch, smell, sight, sound, and taste. Our perception of the energetic realm is more subtle and mysterious, often unconscious, but just as real as the material realm.Read the rest of this entry »


Bufo Alvarius and the Entheogenic Revolution

March 4th, 2022

“Relax and take three deep breaths,” my guide instructs. Then, bringing the pipe to my lips: “Now take in little bits of smoke…sips. When your lungs are full, just hold.”

Within seconds of that hold, the room and I dissolve into a vision.

On Entheogenic Medicine

5-MeO-DMT is a powerful psychedelic medicine. Derived from glandular secretions of the Sonoran-desert toad, Bufo Alvarius, it is in the category of psychedelics now called “entheogens.” These are substances, that, when ingested, produce non-ordinary states of consciousness. They can invoke a spiritual experience that many people report as a oneness with the universe, or communion with God.Read the rest of this entry »


Book Review: “Aya: Awakenings” by Rak Razam

November 17th, 2021

There are at least two types of journalism. There is the classic detached, distanced, “objective” journalism. And then there is “Gonzo” journalism; most notably practiced by the likes of Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Wolfe. In this style, there is no need for distance; rather, the journalist is fully immersed in the story and reports it from the inside.

Aya: Awakenings is the story of gonzo journalist Rak Razam. In 2006, Razam was on assignment for Australian Penthouse magazine to report on an ayahuasca conference taking place in the city of Iquitos, Peru, in the Peruvian Amazon.Read the rest of this entry »


Techniques of Transcendence

September 4th, 2021

Who are we? Who am I?

We are daughters and sons, mothers and fathers; we are our jobs, our homes, our educations, our nationalities; we are our ethnicities.

We travel through life attached to these identities; composites built, brick by brick, with the answers to these questions.

These identities are not just useful, but necessary. With the recognition that we have a self that is separate from the world around us, we can divide our experience into “I” and “it,” subject and object, reducing the external world into pieces to be taken apart and put back together again. Our sense of self– of separateness–enables us to navigate the vicissitudes of life.

Yet something nags at us.Read the rest of this entry »


Three Books on Race: A Review

February 18th, 2021

One of the things coinciding with the COVID pandemic, has been the explosive growth of social justice movements, including “Black Lives Matter.” Perhaps it was the spate of police killings of unarmed Black men and women–combined with the racial inequities in health care and economic opportunity laid bare by the pandemic–that sparked the conscience of our nation, leading to mass demonstrations.

As a self-identified “progressive” I sympathized with the cause. But at the same time, I realized there was just so much that I really did not know.Read the rest of this entry »


COVID Diaries, Part Two: Naming Our World

January 27th, 2021

COVID intruded into our world last Winter, then raged through the Spring and Summer of 2020. After taking a small break in the Fall, it exploded again–predictably–on the heels of reckless Thanksgiving and Christmas travel.

So here we are, rounding the turn on our first full year of COVID.Read the rest of this entry »


On Impermanence and Illusion

June 25th, 2020

We spend so much of our lives constructing stories; narratives to make sense of our worlds. And we usually cast ourselves as the heroes, the center pieces of what are, all too often, tall tales.

As I watch my boarded-up city of San Francisco slowly re-open, I know that it will not be what it was before. Like a tidal wave washing over the city, sweeping away lives and livelihoods, COVID-19 has destroyed so much.

I, like millions of others, was comfortable with my illusions of stability and permanence. I have had a practice for more than 30 years on quaint, tourist friendly, Union Street. I was part of an integrative, holistic health center with chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists and many other types of practitioners who have come and gone over the years. But now, just a few years from retirement, I am caught in the wake of a flood.Read the rest of this entry »