This article was written by Sara Gael, M.A. and appeared in the MAPS Bulletin Winter 2019: Vol 29, No. 3


This August marked the Zendo Project’s eighth consecutive year at Burning Man. Over the course of the event, Zendo Project volunteers served 546 guests in Black Rock City, providing around-the-clock psychedelic peer support services in a safe space. We are proud to share that the Zendo Project was highlighted in the official event materials provided to attendees upon arrival. The two Zendo Project locations were prominently located at the 3:00 and 9:00 keyholes next to Medical and Rangers.

For the first time this year, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) / Zendo Project hosted a psychedelic speaker series—EntheoGeneration—which brought in over 30 speakers across various disciplines for honest and responsible conversations around psychedelics. The four-day series focused on topics including current major psychedelic research projects, mysticism and spirit, visionary art, spirituality, plant medicines, and indigenous and marginalized perspectives, with talks from Rick Doblin, Alex Grey and Allyson Grey, Paul Stamets, Android Jones, David Bronner, and many more. Recordings of the series will be available at zendoproject.org/entheogeneration.

In the spirit of our community model, we’ve collected a variety of anonymous testimonials via our website from guests who have used the Zendo Project’s services at events this year, of which we are sharing a selection below. Thank you to all who offered to share about their experiences.

“At burning man 2019, the Zendo Project tent…has transformed my life and my burning man experience.”

“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 a Zendo offered beef jerky snack, 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. Yes, I could have forgotten about the trip, put it under the carpet, and moved on with my life accepting a break up and loss of the love of my life, however with the understanding of why we broke up during the LSD trip, life is easy.”

“I am transformed, I now share my LSD experience with others and the lessons that I have learned, and I am ultimately a better person towards my future wife and community.”

“I have learned to be compassionate to myself. I know I have fears. It is important to recognize your fears for what they are and observe where they are coming from and how I want to react to them. Learn that these fears want to protect a part of me. Be compassionate to yourself and others and take the lessons learned from these fears and bring them back to your tribe and teach others. I love you!”

We also received the following testimonial from Kai Chotard, Operations Manager for High Rock Security, one of the leading festival security companies.

“I have been working for years at events where Zendo Project also performs their duties. I have deep gratitude for the Zendo Project’s existence and support. Zendo Project’s assistance is immeasurable. Their presence bridges the experimental needs of certain festival-goers with a highly professional program that allows individuals to feel safe and secure while exploring new ways. Zendo Project has always been there anytime we have needed them, adaptable and courteous. In short, Zendo Project is the best!”

If you would like to submit a testimonial or feedback about your experience volunteering with the Zendo Project or any support we may have provided to you as a guest, to your friends or community, or assistance we were able to provide for your official department (medical, law enforcement, security, production, etc.), we invite you to do so (anonymously if desired) at zendoproject.org/feedback.

Thank you to all the volunteers, guests, donors, and supporters who helped us make 2019 a success. We look forward to continuing to provide support in 2020 and way beyond.

Sara Gael, M.A., received her Master’s degree in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology at Naropa University. She began working with MAPS in 2012, coordinating psychedelic harm reduction services at festivals and events worldwide with the Zendo Project. Sara was an Intern Therapist for the recently completed MAPS Phase 2 clinical trial of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD in Boulder, CO. She maintains a private practice as a psychotherapist specializing in trauma and non-ordinary states of consciousness. Sara believes that developing a comprehensive understanding of psychedelic medicines through research and education is essential for the health and well being of individuals, communities, and the planet. She can be reached at saragael@maps.org.