Creating Communities of Compassionate Care
The Zendo Project provides professional comprehensive harm reduction education and support for communities to help inform and transform difficult psychedelic experiences into opportunities for learning and growth.
We envision a world where communities are educated, resourced, and engaged in applying harm reduction principles to support individuals exploring psychedelic states; recognizing that challenging experiences can be opportunities for self-exploration and healing.
Zendo Project at Burning Man 2022
The Zendo Project celebrated 10 years of providing services at Burning Man this year, providing peer-to-peer support for nearly 600 guests! We are so grateful for the dedication of our 450 volunteers who made this a possibility. Stay tuned for more information about the Zendo Project and future opportunities to get involved by signing up for our newsletter!
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How we help
Psychedelic Peer Support. Education. Consulting. Resources.
4 Zendo Project Principles of Psychedelic Peer Support
If someone is having a challenging experience try to move them into a comfortable, warm, and calm environment. If possible try to avoid noisy or crowded spaces. Ask what would make them most comfortable. Offer blankets and water.
Sitting, Not Guiding
Be a calm meditative presence of acceptance, compassion, and caring. Promote feelings of trust and security. Let the person’s unfolding experience be the guide. Don’t try to get ahead of the process. Explore distressing issues as they emerge, but simply being with the person can provide support.
Talk Through, Not Down
Without distracting from the experience, help the person connect with what they are feeling. Invite person to take the opportunity to explore what’s happening and encourage them to try not to resist it.
Difficult is Not Necessarily Bad
Challenging experiences can wind up being our most valuable, and may lead to learning and growth. Consider that it may be happening for an important reason. Suggest that they approach the fear and difficult aspects of their experience with curiosity and openness.
After doing psychedelics the night before, I felt I needed to talk to someone about what was happening in my head. My friend was sleeping so I knew that people at the Zendo would be able to help out. All I wanted was to talk to someone that could listen. I found that at Zendo. Thank you. This has been an important part of my journey at Burning Man.
For the first time in a long time, I truly felt safe. I woke up in a brand new world. I embraced the vulnerable feelings and integrated the experience by relaxing with friends and family back at camp. Thank you, Zendo!
Zendo was an amazing resource. It transformed what could’ve been a physically risky and emotionally devastating night into a powerful experience of growth and an emotional cleansing.
It was one of my first times using psychedelics, and I was not fully prepared at the time for the experience. I was so grateful to have reached the Zendo. I felt safe, away from the chaos. I was able to talk about the emotions that I have suppressed for so long.
After learning from Zendo Project, I am now more responsible. I practice and spread harm reduction practices among my social group.
My sister was in a bad place and you guys gave us a great place to get back a more normal place. Thank you so much. I would be interested in doing a volunteer shift to learn more.
The Zendo staff has welcomed me into the safe and calm space. They have turned their entire attention towards me throughout the entire experience starting from me coming, entering, talking, napping for three hours, eating Zendo-provided snacks, and leaving.
I am very grateful for you. You have changed my entire life. I did not know who to turn to after my LSD trip and did not know anyone who could decipher the meaning behind my experience until this day.
I knew that my sitter had helped because before going to Zendo, all I wanted to do was get drunk at a random bar so that I could pass out early in my tent. After talking, I wanted to spend time with my friends and go explore, which I did. I had a really nice night after visiting Zendo.
Positively transformed a difficult psychedelic experience through the attentive and compassionate care provided by the stellar team of volunteers maintaining a comfortable space amid the overwhelming environment.
I just wanted you all to know that what you all are doing is greatly appreciated. Please keep up the good work and hopefully society will begin to see the capability that psychedelics hold in bringing the individual personal peace.
Zendo is great. Everyone I spoke with during the burn about Zendo was very appreciative about this service. It is very helpful to the people who come, as guests and as volunteers. I was really glad to have a role at Burning Man and the opportunity to meet cool people and do a valuable service. The philosophy of Zendo is right on and totally works, and is very simple to learn.
The Zendo was perfect. I came in feeling desperate and dry, like the only thing I knew how to do was ask for help…You made sure I had food and water. That I was alive and that I could keep on being alive. So warm, so open, so gracious and human.
The moment I walked into the Zendo I started crying – as I do when I’m hurt and I see my mother. I found release here to be open enough to be exactly where I was at.
Just wanted to say a heartfelt thank you for your attention and empathy late Tuesday night at the Zendo. That night ended up being a real turning point for our camp and for me, with everyone reuniting at the temple at sunrise. The crazy experience and crazy weather really brought us all closer together in the end. It made a huge difference to have your help processing reality when it was a bit challenging to figure out what was real.
Do You Have a Testimonial or Feedback?
The Zendo Project is always interested in hearing more from our community about your experiences with our services, volunteering, and our trainings. You can choose whether to share your information or remain anonymous.
Zendo Project in the Media
*Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity* Dr. Andrew Tatarsky is an internationally recognized leader in the treatment of problematic substance use and a psychobiosocial process model for understanding it. He has developed Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy (IHRP) as an effective treatment for the full spectrum of substance use issues. IHRP has […]
Chelsea Rose Pires, MA, LMFT and Sara Gael, MA, LPCC have over 17 collective years of harm reduction and peer support expertise with MAPS Zendo Project. Chelsea, a CIIS Counseling Psychology graduate has a passion for harm reduction as a therapeutic and practical approach to drug use and abuse prevention while Sara, a Naropa University […]
Clarity Project is a Hawaiʻi-based organization working on psychedelic access through education & advocacy. Wesley was part of volunteer harm reduction Sanctuary Team with smaller Burning Man events. He started writing for Psychedelic Times and became editor-in-chief. He now works with Fireside Project, started in April of 2021. Fireside is a totally free service and nonprofit for people to […]