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Dr. Stephen O’Connor
From Atheist to Spiritual Soul
Hello and welcome to The Schapera Show where Viv and Neil explore this big adventure called Life.
Our guest today is Dr. Stephen O’Connor a former ER physician, whom I will say is a man that takes after my own heart, because he believes in balancing the best of both worlds, having seen the success of holistic approaches. I met Dr. Steve on our recent trip to Ecuador and I’m so pleased to introduce him to all of you. Welcome, Dr. Steve, I’m so grateful you could join us today and share some of your extraordinary insights!
Steve: Thank you Vivien, I’m glad to be here.
Vivien: Dr. Steve, please will you tell everyone what you do now, as you know, you have an Irish word in the title, and I’m not confident I will pronounce it correctly.
Dr. Steve: Haha, yes of course, Vivien. I am the head of Sláinte Health, Wellness and Longevity; I am Chief Science Officer at Liv Labs Premium CBD Products, and my wife, Michelle, and I coordinate plant medicine retreats in Ecuador through our business called Life’s Journey Tours.
Vivien: Dr. Steve, let’s begin with your background and how you came to what you do today.
Dr. Steve: Yes, that makes sense. Here’s my story in a nutshell:
After 33 years as an Emergency Medicine specialist, I learned much about human health and wellness. However, my holistic epiphany ten years ago turned my professional and personal views upside down.
Through several synchronicities and a critical look at how “modern” medical care is failing us, I understood that we could do much better using a more Naturopathic and Functional Medical treatment philosophy. So, in the last decade, I have become a student of “alternative” medical practices: Functional Medicine, Naturopathy, Herbalism, Mycology, Botany, Meditation, Grounding, Longevity, and Global Health. In addition, I have worked hard to develop an extensive background in nutrition, supplementation, and new health technologies, including stem cell and ketamine therapeutics.
My real-world experience was developed by participating in numerous Medical Global Health Missions —missions that brought me from the Caribbean and Central America to the Amazon Rainforest. These “missions” changed how my personal and professional passions evolved. These experiences taught me much about the difficulties of providing medical services in remote and challenged conditions. Additionally, I learned and appreciated how ancestral and traditional healing can change the world’s health trajectory. In my travels, I have met many of the most humble and grateful people along the way — people that have taught me that medicine is not all about Star Trek technology, costly procedures, and expensive pharmaceuticals.
My journey into the incredible healing capabilities of plant medicines began only recently. Working with several of the continent’s most talented and capable Curanderos, I dedicated my personal and professional life to the care and treatment of others using a combination of ancestral and plant medicine healing. Not content with a quiet retirement, we started Life’s Journey Tours to help others appreciate how nature, traditional ceremonies, and Spirit can heal, enlighten, and transform their lives. We can learn much from the keepers of wisdom and the healing arts and share this knowledge with many others.
Vivien: Wow, so impressive! Dr. Steve, can you tell us more about your “holistic epiphany?”
Dr. Steve: Indeed, I can. My holistic epiphany: my wife started taking supplements that I didn’t think would work, and she had amazing results and that forced me to rethink my attitude, and I began studying nutritional supplements as well as nutritional deficiencies as it pertains to health and wellness.
For example: magnesium is the most common one. 240 different enzymes and enzymes catalyze reactions in the cells. Without adequate magnesium your cellular metabolism can become sluggish. This shows up as bowel issues, muscle cramps, weakness, poor sleep, the repair mechanisms of the cells can be impaired.
Lithium is another element that is critically important for mood and mental wellness. A lot of people get it where Lithium is in the soil via ground water and the foods that grow there. But there are places where lithium is scarce so you need to take a supplement to regulate your mood – buy it as lithium as a supplement. Prescription lithium is a much higher dose.
Newer physicians don’t use lithium so much. Problem with lithium is that you can get lithium toxic. You do have to manage the levels, so this isn’t an instruction to run out and buy Lithium.
Vivien: And, Dr. Steve, how did you get interested specifically in plant medicine?
Dr. Steve: I struggled with some personal problems and I knew that I was emotionally blocked. Since I had done global medicine since 1996, I knew about the Amazon and I decided that I wanted to try plant medicines in a holistic natural way.
So, I went to the Amazon to experience Ayahuasca and Wachuma. I didn’t have hallucinatory and visual experiences but I had deep, empathic conversations with myself under the influence of the medicine.
For example: during one of the Ayahuasca experiences I felt like I had a conversation with my subconscious – it was like there were two “me’s” and I had a devil’s advocate conversation with my subconscious that was profound. This opened me up to a different way of thinking about what I was capable of doing – I was capable of healing myself. Instead of looking for outside ways of healing I saw that I can work internally and resolve these conflicts just within myself. This was about 18 months ago.
Here’s what has unfolded since then: I quit my job, I sold my house, I bought a house in Ecuador and started the plant medicine tours. I felt so profoundly moved by my plant medicine experiences that I felt called to provide a venue for others to experience this.
Essentially, I’ve gone from being a scientific reductionist/atheist to being an open-minded, spiritual soul that believes in the power of the universe and connection with the universe.
Vivien: As a doctor with a holistic perspective, what do you think people really, really need to understand about health in the modern world?
Dr. Steve: Our society, culture, way of life compresses our ability to heal and repair our bodies by constantly putting us under stress, and under the effects of the difficult side of our ANS. Plant medicines release those cultural blinders and open up our bandwidth to self-healing.
We need to apprehend the effects of stress: Stress is the leading cause of 90-95% of medical illness in our western world. Traditional medicine has a pill for an ill but that’s just putting a band aid on the problem. Functional medicine looks at the root cause and the root cause is stress which then leads to inflammation, a compromised immune system, impaired cellular energetics, and then ultimately impaired cell repair.
Vivien: Can you explain what you mean by “the difficult side” of the ANS?
Dr. Steve: Yes, we constantly have our foot on the gas – our sympathetic nervous system is in a constant state of overload and this is contrary to our design. The sympathetic nervous system is the Fright, Fight, Flight system, and that is meant only for critical moments – emergencies – we should rarely be in sympathetic mode, yet this is how we are living on a daily basis. Not good! Our parasympathetic is the RRR – Rest, Repair and Restore system and this is basically “switched off” because it is being overwhelmed by the hormones being produced by the adrenals in the Sympathetic Nervous System.
Vivien: So, is there anything people can do for themselves to help with this?
Dr. Steve: First off, in sympathetic mode, the body is disconnected – therefore the body is unable to recover itself and repair itself. Meditation and mindfulness can be done to help the body reconnect. Just a few minutes per day has an echo effect that lasts for hours.
Vivien: Thank you, Dr. Steve, for explaining all this important information in a way that is easy to understand. Let’s go back to plant medicine because this is also your expertise. Why is plant medicine so powerful?
Dr. Steve: Plant medicine gives us the experience of how we are all connected.
In plant medicine ceremony you are not only in touch with people in this world, but also beings throughout the universe, including distant worlds. What we think is not bounded by time or space, our thinking, our way of being is interacting with simultaneous and parallel dimensions. Via our consciousness we are interacting with other beings and galaxies – all is simultaneous, all is happening now. This is what the plant medicines have taught me.
Vivien: And what is the significance of this?
Dr. Steve: With all the divisiveness that exists in our world, if you harm or exploit another person you are harming and exploiting yourself. If we can incrementally improve our behavior in this regard little by little, the world will become a better place.
Vivien: And Dr. Steve, you have a rather special house in Ecuador, don’t you?
Dr. Steve: Yes, we have a very special house in Ecuador! At the back, we have a labyrinth composed of 900 families of San Pedro cacti. The plants are all connected underground via their root system, and we use the labyrinth for conducting ceremonies and encounters with self. As you know, because you experienced this yourself, these experiences are of a profound nature. But that’s not all. The story of how the house came to be built is an extraordinary story in itself.
Vivien: Dr. Steve, will you tell us the story?
Dr. Steve: Of course. A woman, named Aya, living in Switzerland, had a dream. In the dream, she saw a house, in a very specific landscape. This dream was very, very detailed, showing every architectural detail of the house. When she woke up, Aya documented every detail – and then set about researching where this house should be – because it clearly was NOT in Switzerland.
Aya took a map of the world, and using a pendulum, she managed to determine that the house was supposed to be built in Otavalo, Ecuador. So, she flew to Otavalo, to look for the specific landscape – and the location of the house. She did indeed find the specific piece of land, and she did indeed acquire the land, and she did indeed build the house according to all the details in the dream.
But that isn’t all. Aya was no ordinary woman. Aya was born without any arms or legs, and when she was born the doctors said she wouldn’t live more than a few months. In fact, Aya lived into her fifties, doing humanitarian work and manifesting extraordinary dreams.
My wife and I now have the privilege of being the keepers of Aya’s dream house, and we are doing everything that we can to share Aya’s legacy with future generations.
Vivien: OMG, thank you Dr. Steve. I have to admit that the house, the labyrinth and Aya’s story will forever be in the Top 10 Highlights of my life … and I think this is a good moment to let everyone know how they can get hold of you – please can you tell us?
Dr. Steve: Yes, the easiest way is to go to our website: https://LifesJourneyTours.com
Vivien: Well, that’s straightforward enough – how wonderful! Thank you everyone for joining us here on The Schapera Show. We need to take a break now, and when we come back we are going to find out more from Dr. Stephen O’Connor about the wonders of plant medicine.
Vivien: Hello and welcome back to The Schapera Show. Our guest today is Dr. Stephen O’Connor a former ER physician who has “converted” to a holistic perspective and has a significant perspective for this era. Thank you, Dr. Steve, shall we continue?
Dr. Steve: Thank you, Vivien, yes, let’s do it.
Vivien: Before the break, we were talking about your unusual house, and also the shamanic ceremonies and plant medicine experiences. You must have witnessed some very interesting transformations via these dynamics.
Dr. Steve: Yes, that’s true. Actually, I would even say that you’re one of them – your experience in the labyrinth. I saw you dancing in our labyrinth – dancing and twirling – because being in those surroundings offers us opportunities to step outside of our conscious constraints.
Vivien: Dr. Steve, you’re right. There is no question that I went through some kind of portal that day that affects the entire rest of my life very positively.
Dr. Steve: Yes, that’s what we see – a lasting effect on the entire journey of life – because one finds a new path, a whole new understanding of one’s life.
There was one girl in one of the Ayahuasca ceremonies. She was socially petrified of being out in public. In the healing process, she went through an extremely intense experience where she felt all the pain and anguish of every person in WW2. This was a young woman – only in her twenties – and from a completely different culture, so she had no knowledge of the history, but she could describe WW2 experience accurately.
She helped to release that pain for all those people. Afterwards, she became a different person. She was ebullient, joyful, smiling, interacting with all the different people in the group, and her words were: “I feel absolutely released.” This was all Spanish to English – very powerful to hear this translated.
Vivien: It must be interesting to see people from different cultures using plant medicine together.
Dr. Steve: Yes, but the similarities are very interesting. A poor farmer from the highlands of Ecuador can have the same experience as a doctor from N. America – coming from very different landscapes yet we have very similar experiences – and this shows that there is an underlying truth that the plant medicines are connecting us to.
Vivien: Underlying truth! Dr. Steve, I wonder if I may ask you this: Obviously with your scientific background, and your self-described atheism, you needed to have had some pretty powerful experiences to convince you that there is more to the universe than what is currently deemed scientific. Would you mind sharing such an experience with us?
Dr. Steve: Yes, that’s true, I do have a very special story: One of the shamans that we work with, Oscar Santillan, has a wife, Xemena. One day, Xemena had a dream, and in the dream I was looking at their antiquities and I started crying. They invited me over to their house, and brought me down to their guest house where their antiquities were displayed.
I looked at the curio cabinet and said: “Wow, these are fabulous.” Oscar talked about his dream to open a bigger museum. While he was talking, I saw this tiny figurine, felt immediately connected, to the point where I got tears in my eyes. This was a clay figurine of a shaman transmuting into a crocodile, over 5,000 years old. The figurine actually vibrated in my hand. One tear dropped down my cheek and “that was it.” Oscar wanted to gift me with the figurine, and I said: “No, this is a priceless artifact.” Oscar explained that since there was a dream, and therefore a prophecy, this figurine now should come to me.
I placed the figurine on my altar, and said: “I need to know your name.” The name “Chaka” came to me very clearly. I looked up “chaka” and it means bridge. I was flabbergasted and gob-smacked by this bridge. I spoke to Oscar and he said “Yes this means bridge. In my lineage, when we are designated as the Healer we are given the name Chaka.”
If there was any doubt that there is a supernatural power that connects us, it left me then. No way, I could have come up with that name by chance.
Vivien: Dr. Steve, you’re really committed to making the world a better place – I can see that – so I have to ask: What’s next on your list?
Dr. Steve: To grow the plant medicine program, that will allow me to do some of the other things I care about – for example, I have a tremendous passion for developing a center for trafficked women – to help them with life skills, education, funds for starting their own businesses, empowerment – change the world from a hopeless place to a hopeful place. That’s my big dream – a place where such women can come and be safe. They are often taken as pre-teens – taken or sold – they never had a childhood. Their childhood and innocence was stolen. I want to see that returned to them. I can’t do that myself because they have lost all trust. By putting them with others who have gone through such an experience, perhaps they can rebuild new lives. Instead of selling trinkets or turning to prostitution they can have careers, have their own business – have passion and dreams – give them skills and opportunity. I can’t save the world, but if I can assist even 5 people, they may impact another 2-3 women and that can expand, and gains its own momentum.
Vivien: Dr. Steve thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your experiences and expertise with us. Please can you tell everyone one more time how they can get in touch with you?
Dr. Steve: Yes, the easiest way is to go to our website: https://LifesJourneyTours.com
Vivien: Thank you, Dr. Stephen O’Connor! Everyone, you have been listening to The Schapera Show where Viv and Neil explore this big adventure called Life. When we come back after the break, Neil will be reporting from the spirit realm.
If there’s time:
Vivien: So, did the plant medicine tap her into the collective unconscious?
Dr. Steve: Yes, this must be the collective unconscious. She connected to 80 million people, this must be the collective ancestral “ennagram”
The effect was lasting, yes. She came back and did a second Ayahuasca ceremony, and she was very excited, she’d been out of the house, engaging with neighbors and even strangers. She completely changed her life. She was now on a totally new path.
This is what plant medicine helps us to do. We’re so worried about everything. We put on a face for a world that is very damaging. The plant medicines help us to see what we really look like. Most of us haven’t seen what we look like since we were children. Plant medicine connects us to our souls and connects us to the birthright of being our true selves, by releasing our minds from the usual limitations that have been put there via socialization
Generational Healing: We heal 7 generations back and 7 generations into the future.
Epigenetic changes in the genome – transferred maternally – can be traced generation after generation after generation.