Mary Cosimano, MSW, is a pioneer of modern psychedelic therapy.
She is the Director of Guide & Facilitator Services at the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research. Additionally, she has served as a Session Facilitator and Research Coordinator for all psychedelics studies conducted at Johns Hopkins. Mary has personally facilitated over 450 study sessions.
Education and Career
Mary Cosimano earned her Master of Social Work degree from West Virginia University. She began working at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2000, at the genesis of its psilocybin research program, and has participated in all psilocybin research studies. Mary was also involved with the Club Drug Study that was conducted in 2010.
In addition to guiding psilocybin sessions, Mary has been cultivating the next generation of psychedelics therapy guides. Accordingly, part of her role is to train and supervise all session facilitators. Meanwhile, she has also been part of the instructor cadre in the Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies & Research program at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS).
Mary’s professional influence extends beyond the realm of psychedelics. She has also conducted meditation sessions for breast cancer patients in a Johns Hopkins research study. In addition, she has conducted behavior modification counseling for weight loss patients.
Inspired by Love
Since she was in college, Mary has been on a quest to confirm her belief that “love … is life,” and that “love is the ultimate healer.” She believes that our suffering comes from a sense of being “disconnected” from ourselves, from everyone, and from everything. Thus, Mary feels that “reconnection” is the key to healing our emotional pain. For this reason, she has searched her soul to understand the fundamental existential questions.
“Who am I? Why am I here? What’s the meaning of life?”
When we ask with an open heart, the universe sometimes answers. Thus, early in her career, Mary found her inspiration when she tuned in to a talk called Love, hosted by Dr. Leo Buscaglia.
Dr. Buscaglia was an Education Professor at the University of Southern California (USC). A student in one of his classes took her own life. Of course, Dr. Buscaglia was devastated, and he made it his mission to prevent another such human tragedy. Thus, he began writing, teaching, and giving talks on the importance of love and human connection.
Mary was deeply moved by Dr. Buscaglia’s message. As a result, her life’s practice has been to help those whom tragedy, depression, and despair have an impact on—everyone—by guiding us back to love and connection. Eventually, Mary’s good work would culminate in a leading role in psychedelics research at Johns Hopkins University.
Mary Cosimano: Chief Psychedelics Guide at John Hopkins University
In addition to guiding the numerous psilocybin sessions mentioned earlier, Mary has participated in over 1,000 preparatory and integration sessions. These studies have explored the effects of psychedelics in treating addiction, anxiety, depression, and other conditions. Mary has also been involved in studies that seek to further understand mystical psychedelic experiences.
In her TEDx Talk titled Psilocybin, Love, and the Meaning of Life, Mary emphasizes that “good study design” is a key determinant of positive and sustained results. In addition, Mary highlights the key elements of the Johns Hopkins study protocol.
Preparatory Meeting Session
The session guides first meet with the participant to establish a trusting relationship. It is essential that participants feel safe and secure about sharing intimate details that could surface during the psilocybin session. The preparatory meetings are powerful sessions where participants often share personal stories that they have never shared before, including deep emotional wounds.
Guided Psilocybin Session
During the actual psilocybin experience, the guide provides the participant an assurance of safety, helping them to navigate challenges that arise and to deeply relax into the experience. In turn, it is this degree of care that allows the participant to expand into non-ordinary states of consciousness. Many participants report a profound mystical experience. While not all patients encounter the mystical, almost all report a meaningful and transformative experience.
It is critical that the Johns Hopkins psychedelics guides continue to work with the study participants after the psilocybin session. These sessions help the participants integrate their profound psychedelic experiences into everyday life. In turn, this gives the participants the best chances of sustained positive results.
The Essential Result: “We Are All Love”
Mary reports common themes that have emerged in the hundreds of sessions she has facilitated. For example, most participants report a significant increase in the quality of their lives, and a stronger sense of meaning and purpose. They also report less anxiety, relief from depression, and a loss of their fear of death.
Although Mary was initially skeptical of psychedelics research, participants consistently reported a sentiment that Mary has been on a quest to confirm—that “love is life.” In her TEDx Talk, Mary elevates the following participant quotes to support her findings:
“It really struck me vividly that love is home, it is natural and present when obstacles are removed.”
“It is a total connection with the universe … a state of awareness that is beyond description, profound, yet one has a deep knowingness that it is our true reality.”
“Such an amazing gift that I’ve been given … the feeling of connection that has been reestablished for every human on this planet.”
“I am love, I am in love, love is in me, I breathe love, I am loved.”
The path that started with Dr. Buscaglia’s inspirational message of Love, and culminated in her work with the psilocybin study participants, enables Mary to state with great conviction that:
”We are all one, we are all connected, we are all love.”
Mary Cosimano: In the Media
The following talks and appearances are an opportunity to experience Mary’s potent message of Love and Connection:
- TEDx Talk: Psilocybin, Love, and the Meaning of Life
- Psychedelic Science 2017: Love & Connection in Psilocybin Facilitated Mystical Experience Research
- Fungi Day 2020: Women Psychedelic Leaders
- Film: Fantastic Fungi
Mary Cosimano Quotes
“Our true authentic nature is love … and by love, I mean connection, connection to ourselves, to others, and to everything.”
“Psilocybin can offer a means to reconnect to our true nature—our authentic self—and thereby help us find meaning in our lives.”
“I believe that what humans really want is to receive and to give love. I believe that love is what connects us to each other and that such a connection is brought about by being intimate with each other, by sharing ourselves with others.”
Take a Journey with the Professionals
Many of us have psychedelic experiences similar to the Johns Hopkins study participants. Although we approach the medicine with good intention, and are diligent about set and setting, we must acknowledge that we are limited to our own experience. Thus, depending on what we, or someone we know, are seeking from our plant teachers, working with a professional could be beneficial. Accordingly, in her TEDx Talk, Mary invites us to participate in a study at the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research. Visit the website to learn more about these studies, or contact the Center if you have questions. Perhaps you will have a chance to journey with Mary Cosimano by your side.
RS Contributing Author- BA Wesler
B.A. is an industrial chemist, aspiring Stoic philosopher, practitioner of Vipassana meditation, and all-around problem-solver who fills his time with activities that are aimed at elevating the human condition. He loves to explore the role of psychedelics at the intersection of science, spirituality, consciousness, and overall well-being. When he is not writing or working, he relishes in the simplest of pleasures such as trail running, staring into a campfire, and dishing out big hugs. B.A. would love to hear from you at B.A.Wesler@gmail.com