I had my second psilocybin mushroom trip recently.
My interest in psychadelics comes from their potential for helping me with my personal growth. In particular, I became interested in psilocybin (magic) mushrooms since reading about their supposed potential for healing PTSD. I still feel influenced by certain traumas, so the thought that a drug could help lift that weight sounds very appealing.
My first mushroom trip was complicated. (You can read about it here). The first half of that trip was very uncomfortable, essentially because I feared losing control and couldn’t just go with the flow. It got better when I went indoors, where I felt safer, and also after trying some self-love meditation. I’m not sure which factor was more important.
This time, I wanted things to be just right: I cleared up my bedroom to make it a comfortable environment for a trip, and had a friend come over to be a trip-sitter. I was also going to take a lower dose, 2/3 of what I had had before (actually, that’s all I had available, but it still seemed like a good idea).
In fact, on my first try it just didn’t work out. I stared at the bunch of mushrooms in the palm of my hand and tried to will myself to eat them. I hesitated almost comically long, before finally deciding to give up that day. It struck me afterwards that there is such a thing as “smart brave” and “stupid brave”; I knew I could have just thrown the drugs down my throat, but actually, there seemed to be something in my mind telling me not to, some voice that was more than simply fear.
So I scheduled a new time with my drug-sitter. This time, I knew that I had to make the conditions even more optimal. I decided it had to be on a Saturday, so I would have a day without work afterwards, and also wouldn’t be doing the trip straight after work. Because of having such stringent needs, I had to wait a pretty long time before my friend had a free spot, but it was worth it.
So, last Saturday my friend came over at around 6PM. I was feeling a bit weird as it happened, mostly, I think, due to forgetting to eat. I ended up spending a couple of hours trying hard to reach a neutral emotional state so that I would be ready to take the mushrooms. I did what I could to feed myself without spending too long cooking, and on an intuition took a hot bath as well. Afterwards I was feeling mostly okay but not quite perfect. I spent another five minutes staring at my mushrooms, trying to work out whether taking them would be the “smart brave” thing to do at that point. In balance, it seemed that my vague remaining emotional weirdness probably wouldn’t be a good enough reason to wait another three weeks for another free spot on my friend’s calendar, so I just went for it. I chewed the dry mushrooms, slowly and consciously (“stupid brave” usually means closing your eyes and pretending you’re not doing what you’re doing), and then lay back and rested.
Surprisingly, I started to feel some effects within five or ten minutes. I started feeling kind of warm in my body, and then after maybe twenty minutes I had my first hallucination: behind my closed eyes, I saw a little mushroom appear in a little puff of smoke.
I spoke some of my experiences aloud to my friend, which in retrospect was a nice thing to do because it made them easier to remember afterwards. One of the first things I saw was an image of a temple. Actually, I think the image was illustrating a thought that came before it: “We’re in the mushroom temple now. It’s a sacred space. We should be silent.”
My friend asked me what the temple was like. To be honest, it wasn’t very impressive; I saw something that looked a bit like the Parthenon from the outside. Somehow I think my friend was expecting really complex hallucinations. To me, the hallucinations were pretty much just my thoughts or imagination but more vivid. With my eyes open, I would rarely see anything unusual; at most patterns or objects seemed to kind of shift before my eyes, and colours seemed brighter. If I had a hallucination with my eyes open, it wasn’t really overlaid onto reality; it still felt like it was in my imagination. With this in mind I can’t imagine how anyone would end up jumping out of a window on mushrooms or whatever else you might hear in those scare stories. Perhaps on higher doses the line between imagination and reality becomes blurred, I don’t know.
Compared to last time, this was much more enjoyable. I didn’t experience any of the horrible time distortion I had experienced previously. Instead, for the first twenty minutes or so I was mostly experiencing waves of pleasure through my body – occasionally coming close to orgasm – as well as feelings of joy and ecstasy and deep meditative bliss. This was helped along by my own mindfulness meditation and self-love meditation. The world seemed very bright and oddly silent, and I felt fresh and new, unbound by the weight of the past or by worries of the future. In my first mushroom trip, I had also felt like I had no past or future, but then it had been an uncomfortable feeling, like a loss of identity. Here it felt natural and comfortable. I occasionally remembered that my “normal” self had a concept of past and future, while my current self clearly hadn’t. But this time the confusion and feeling of discord was minimal. I think being able to accept the experience and not fight it made all the difference.
I later went into a slightly more difficult phase. It started with me going to the toilet and seeing myself in the mirror. I felt ugly then, and thought to myself, “OK, can we try healing that thought?”. I thought that the mushroom trip might empower me to do just that. I don’t know if I did end up getting any processing done this way, but in the moment it just seemed that by focusing on this negative thought I got dragged into it. The thought “I’m ugly” seemed to sit in my stomach, not really moving. I soon got the impression that this wasn’t the right thing to do, so I tried to shift back out of this negative space. It helped to sort of stand up and move about a bit. Soon, I was back into a positive trip, if not as ecstatic as before.
In general, there was a very positive feeling in my body, which I relate to the feeling of waking up after a very restful sleep. In the last hour or so I mostly just savoured that feeling, laying with my eyes closed with dreams flowing through my consciousness too fast to keep track of. Eventually, there were only a few dreams flirting around my mind, and I just had that nice warm feeling there. I enjoyed it for as long as I could.
The next morning, I decided to go to my meditation group, with the idea that I had felt so connected with meditation during the trip that a bit more would be a good thing to do. However, I soon found that I had some kind of “hangover” from the trip, and wasn’t really able to concentrate very well. I felt kind of weak, and my mind was slow and clumsy as if I was absolutely drunk on alcohol. I soon discovered that going out wasn’t a good choice for me, and after stuffing myself for lunch I went home and spent most of the rest of the day sleeping and watching series.
As it turns out, having a day after to recover was an excellent choice. In fact, today, two days after the trip, I’ve still felt a bit weak and weird. This recovery period is definitely the worst part of this whole experience for me, and if I have it every time I do mushrooms I figure it will probably turn me off the experience in the long run. That said, I suspect a large part of my discomfort came from not being prepared for it. If I had had a lot of low-effort food available at home, a friend coming over perhaps, and an intention to take the day as slow and gentle as possible, things would have been better, maybe even cozy. That will be for next time, I guess.
I don’t have the impression that I gained a huge amount of personal development from this trip. Perhaps any venture into alternate reality can give us the ability to question our normal reality a bit more. I think I’ve learnt to go with the flow better, and can take that skill into other realms than drugs. More than any personal development, though, I found value in the beauty of the experience, this time. I would definitely like to give this another go, and attempt to let go even more, to go with the flow even more. And just to experience it.