psychedelic therapy

After the popularity of my previous post, 6 Music Playlists for Psilocybin Journeys, I’ve decided to write a follow up with some tips on using these playlists in a psychedelic session. Below that, I’ve also included links and info for six more playlists from two creators.

How To Set Up Music for Psychedelic Sessions (+ 6 More Playlists for Psilocybin)

psychedelic therapy

Prepare to be Offline

Download the playlist so it is available for offline use. Then for the session, put your phone on flight mode.

If using your computer to play the tracks, close all applications other than the music player. If you need to leave anything open, make sure there are no applications other than the audio player that can make a noise (like dings from messages received or calls coming in. Like with a phone, I suggest downloading the playlist offline and then disconnecting from the wifi. If you have a mac, make sure your Facetime is disconnected and there won’t be any calls coming through.

I also recommend downloading 1-3 hours of pre/post session music so you have something to put on before/after and can be offline for the entire day. I have found it is nice to put on some music beforehand whilst preparing the space, to set the mood and begin the process of entering. It can be helpful to have a short period of silent meditation between setup and dosing to centre before the journey begins. Once everything is ready and you’ve checked in, you can start the playlist and take your dose. 

Sound Set up

Check and set your sound levels before the start of the session so it is ready to go. Check both loud and quiet sections of the playlist. Ideally the music should be at a comfortably loud volume at the loudest sections. It should not be overbearing or too strong, but loud enough to be immersive.

I would recommend high quality over ear headphones for immersion in the experience, especially if you are in a location where there might be background noise or distracting sounds. You might consider noise cancelling headphones.

If possible, have the music playing simultaneously through headphones and speakers from the same signal. This is a tip I picked up from Mendel Kaelen back in 2017 and still use to this day.  This allows for continuity of experience if/when the headphones are taken off and also allows the opportunity to remove the headphones if one prefers. 

Group Sessions

When in groups or with friends, decide the playlist together beforehand. For a group session, I advise having a quiet room. This means that if anyone has a very strong aversion to a track, they can leave the room for a bit. If you don’t have the possibility of a second room, you might all use your own pair headphones. Another option if using speakers would be making an agreement beforehand that anyone can veto any track at any time and it will be skipped forward without discussion. 

In the case of someone having a feeling of aversion to a track, I would suggest that they try to sit with it for a short time before leaving the room or requesting a skip. They can look at and explore the feeling of discomfort inside themselves that the track is provoking, and see if there is anything to learn from it. If the feeling persists and the track is unbearable, they can leave the room or use their veto.

Spotify Settings (or other audio player)

Make sure your play queue is cleared. 

Make sure the tracks will play in order and not on shuffle.

Check your audio player settings for how the tracks will transition. Decide if you want a fade between songs or a standard transition with one track fully ending before the next one beginning. On spotify you can find this in settings > playback.

If doing a manual sync with two or more devices, make sure the playback settings are the same on each device.

6 More Playlists For Psilocybin Sessions

Here are links to 6 more playlists for use with psilocybin with some info on them and their creators below.

1. Music For Mushrooms– East Forest
2. Inner Peace – Tommi
3. Trust – Tommi
4. Gratitude – Tommi
5. Release – Tommi
6. Opening – Tommi

East Forest

  • Music For Mushrooms: A Soundtrack for the Psychedelic Practitioner: Spotify

East Forest is an American musician who created this album live in underground ceremonies across the US. It’s a kinda neo ambient vibe with influences and instruments from world indigenous music. What I like about this as a soundtrack is its cohesion. Because this playlist is an album by one musician, it has the added bonus of it being curated as such and put together as an album specifically for mushrooms.

Its compositional shape guides, and is guided by, the arch of the experience.”
– East Forest

In this article, East Forest talks about how he feels the other therapy playlists out there miss the mark as they are compilations of lots of shorter tracks. By comparison, this album is just 13 tracks. Incidentally, East Forest is now one of the musicians working with Wavepaths, an organisation founded by Mendel Kaelen that is focused on creating music for psychedelic sessions.

I personally had a very beneficial session using this playlist for a medium dose journey last year. During the journey I was taken through people in my life, shown what I needed to say to them, able to appreciate recent personal achievements, and then given a directive on what I needed to do in my life (spoiler; it was clearing).

You can hear East Forest on the Psychedelics Today podcast here.

And, as an extra aside, Ram Dass was East Forest’s guru, and East Forest has used samples of his talks on his album, ‘Ram Dass’.

Tommi

Mysterious spotify user Tommi has created 5 playlists on different themes: gratitude, opening, release, trust, and inner peace.

They are generally a mix of styles and include ambient, neo classical, and classical music as well as more tribal and traditional music from distant cultures. 

Use of Silence

One thing that I really like about these playlists that is missing from the others is that Tommi has put short periods of silence into the playlists. I find these are good moments to re-centre and breathe during the journey, acting as ‘pit stops’. Interestingly, Mendel Kaelen inserted silence into the playlists on the original psilocybin studies at Imperial. Rather than Spotify playlists, they were actually mixed as one master audio file, with some tracks even faded out or mixed in to each other. These nuances and sections of silence were lost when it was converted to a Spotify playlist. So it is nice to see that Tommi has found a way to create a playlist with silence built in.

My Experience

I have tried Opening, Release and Trust and my sessions to these playlists have been very helpful.

I journeyed to Trust on the third and final psilocybin session of a 15 week course last year that was a study replica of a John Hopkins clinical study with psilocybin. The session was a beautiful rounding out to what turned out to be a somehow cohesive trilogy, and was one of the best psychedelic experiments I’ve ever done. During this final session I was able to grieve and cry in the first half, and as the cleansing section ended I was given a refreshed clarity and renewed inspiration, and a clear path forward. 

Tommi has also created banks of music based on different themes, so you can put together your own playlist too. You can find these on his Spotify user profile.

 





Do you know of any more good playlists for psychedelic journeys? If so, please get in contact!

Safe Journeys!

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Legal in the Netherlands, psilocybin containing magic truffles are one of the only legal psychedelics anywhere in the world. The problem with them is that they can get rotten quite quickly, growing a nasty mould and becoming inedible and unusable. As such, it’s very useful to dry them when they are still fresh as this extends their shelf life for a long time, meaning they can be stored for many months. The good news is that the process of drying magic truffles is actually very easy and takes only a few days.

How to Dry Magic Truffles

psilocybin magic truffles

Take your truffles out of whatever packaging they might be in and lay them out on a sheet of paper, leaving space between each of the pieces. The spaces allow air flow, which aids the drying process. The paper should be kinda absorbent (e.g. not fine printer paper), newspaper works fine.

Break up bigger truffles into smaller pieces as this will also help to speed up their drying process. As best you can, leave this in a place where there is a good air flow. For example, somewhere out in the open, or in the middle of a room is ideal.

If you aren’t able to leave them in an open place which is well ventilated, they will still dry but will just take longer. If this is the case, just fan them with some air from time to time to get the air around them flowing, making sure there isn’t any stagnant air around them.

Be sure to occasionally let fresh air into the room and to allow air to flow through. You can keep a fan over them but it’s not necessary.

psilocybin magic truffles dry

If you have them, put packets of silica gel by them which will help to absorb moisture in the air around them and can help to speed up the process.

Left like this, you can expect your truffles to dry completely in 2-3 days. In some cases, it might take up to a week. If you can, it is best to leave them out for a day or two longer to make sure they are completely dried.

You will know they are completely dried by the fact that they become extremely hard, to the point that it’s not possible to break them by hand. Half dried, they will be harder, but completely dried they become like stones.

Once they are dry, you can store them away.

How To Store Magic Truffles

Put your dried truffles into a container and keep them in a cool, dark place. Kept like this they will maintain a shelf life of many months.
dried magic truffles powder

Dried and powdered magic truffles

How to Take Dried Truffles

Because they are so incredibly hard, chewing dried truffles is not an option as it is with fresh ones. I’ve found easiest way to consume dried truffles is to grind them into a fine powder, mix with water, and then drink the whole mix. It doesn’t taste great, but it works.

A coffee grinder works well to grind the truffles. After grinding, wait a few minutes before opening the grinder to allow the truffle powder dust to settle.

Dosing with Dried Truffles

psilocybin magic truffles microdose scales

The process of drying truffles makes them lose a lot of their weight. It is important to take this change into account when calculating your dose with dried truffles. As a general rule of thumb, dried weight equates to one third of fresh weight, so 30 g fresh truffles becomes 10 g of dried truffles. However, it is best to weigh batches of truffles when they are fresh and then dried to know exactly the quantity that you have as the dried weight can vary depending on how thoroughly they have been dried – it can be that truffles are partially dried, becoming hard, but still carrying some water weight, meaning that they are closer to half of the weight of fresh truffles.

Weight your batch of fresh truffles and make a note of their weight.

After drying them, weigh them again to see the change in weight.

Then when it comes to calculating your dose, weigh the powder before (I recommend weighing the powder directly before preparing the dose rather than the dried truffles as parts of the truffles can get caught in the grinder).

An Equation To Calculate Desired Truffle Dose

Here is a useful equation you can use to calculate your dried truffle dose from your fresh truffle dose.

N/B*F = D

N = What truffles weigh now

B = What they weighed before

F = Desired dose fresh

D = Dose with current truffles

For example:

Say you had a batch that was 55 g of fresh truffles.
They have been dried, and now their total weight is 19.5 g
You want a dose of 25 g of fresh truffles.

So,

19,5/55*25 = 8.86 g

So your dose is 8.86 g of dried truffles.
psilocybin magic truffles

The material

Prepare well, set your space, and journey well!

psilocybin magic truffles microdose

Interested in microdosing with psilocybin truffles? Want to know more about it? This is a guide covering all the basics you need to begin your exploration.

Contents
What Is A Microdose? | Benefits | Negative Effects | Short Term vs. Long Term | Psilocybin vs. LSD | Microdosing Psilocybin | How Much Is A Microdose? | Finding Your Sweet Spot | Microdose schedule | Tolerance Buildup | When & How | Drying & Storing Truffles | Self Blinding Study

What is A Microdose?

psilocybin magic truffles microdose

A microdose is a sub perceptual amount of a psychedelic substance. This means that the effects are very subtle and are barely noticeable, if at all. Generally a microdose is approximately 1/10 – 1/20th of a medium dose, so you won’t see any walls melting.

Benefits Of Microdosing

As well as a generally improved sense of wellbeing, there are many reasons why people are microdosing psychedelics and, despite my concerns on the trend, the list of benefits people are reporting is impressive and includes:

Improved mood, alleviation of anxiety and depression, enhanced creativity, productivity, problem solving, improved energy levels, quitting nicotine and other addictions.

Interested in experiencing psilocybin in a legal and private setting? Contact me to find out more and set up a discovery call.

Negative Effects

There is the other side of the coin too, and negative effects reported include: increased anxiety, impaired focus, and cognitive interference.

Below is an image from a survey study by The Conversation which asked microdosers about their main benefits and challenges that gives a good general overview at a glance. Visit their summary article on the study here.
microdosing benefits challenges

Note: If you drink coffee and experience anxiety, try stopping or at least reducing your coffee intake. Something about coffee combined with microdosing seems to increase the chances of anxiety.

Short & Long Term Effects

The benefits of microdosing are reported over two time spans: short and long term. Short term is seeing an improvement or benefit directly and immediately; on the days one microdoses and maybe a residual effect on the day after. Long term is seeing a general improvement over time, a cumulative effect after weeks and months of regular dosing.

Psilocybin vs. LSD

psilocybin shrooms lsd

A survey study found that people microdosing psilocybin (magic mushrooms or truffles) were less likely to report anxiety and other unwanted side effects than those on LSD. The same study found that those who microdosed LSD were much more likely to report cognitive enhancement and effects such as focus and creativity.

You can see a presentation of the study on youtube here.

Microdosing Psilocybin

Psilocybin truffles, AKA magic truffles, are legal in the Netherlands and you can walk into a store and buy a pack or order them online. There are now even special packs with pre-measured microdoses. 

psychedelic microdosing pack psilocybin magic truffles

Smartshop Zamnesia sell a ‘psychedelic microdosing pack’ with pre-measured doses. Click on picture to visit their site.

For more info on psilocybin truffles:
Explorers Guide: Taking Magic Truffles in Amsterdam

How Much Is A Microdose?

Generally, a microdose of magic truffles will be:
0.5 -1.5 gram fresh truffles
0.3 – 1 gram dried

psilocybin magic truffles microdose scales

Finding Your Sweet Spot

As everyone is different, I’d recommend trying different amounts over a trial period to find your personal sweet spot.

For example, trying doses at various weights within the scale, for example:

0.5, 0.7, 0.9, 1.1, 1.3, 1.5 grams.

It’s probably wise to try higher microdoses on days when you have no professional obligations or can work from home.

Compliment With a Journaling Practice

Keeping a simple journal during this period will help to track the effects and find your personal sweet spot. It will also enable you to compare microdose days with non microdose days.

journal

Take 5-10 minutes each day to check in with yourself, writing down, without judgement, feelings and thoughts (rather than simply what you’ve done each day). Similarly to meditation, this practice can be of great help in increasing awareness of your internal state. Its not exclusive, and can be an excellent companion to a meditation practice alongside your microdosing protocol.

You could do this 1-3 hours after taking the microdose, or if easier, as an end of day review.

You could also include some simple data collection, depending on how much you’d like to track. Some ideas for simple measures you could give a 1-5 score on are: mood, tranquility, focus, creativity, presence. If you are hoping to quit something, such as nicotine or sugar, you could also rate the strength of your cravings, or if starting a new habit, the level of ease in which you were able to do it e.g. sit down to meditate. These will make it easier to review the effects at a glance. Keep it simple so it doesn’t become a chore.

If you’d like to take part in a self blinding microdose study, read more at the bottom of this post or visit the site here

What Is A Good Microdose Schedule To Follow?

There are differing opinions on this so I’ll share a few.

Fadiman Protocol: 1 Day On, 2 Days Off

James Fadiman, the current grandaddy of microdosing and author of The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide (which includes a chapter on microdosing), recommends a schedule of one day on, two days off. Something like this:

fadiman microdosing magic psilocybin truffles

The following week would then begin with 2 days off.

You can see Fadiman and his colleague Sophia Korb’s talk on youtube: Microdosing – The Phenomenon, Research Results & Startling Surprises

Stamets Stack: 5 Days On, 2 Days Off

Mushroom maestro Paul Stamets has spoke of a heavier approach; 5 days on a 2 days off. However, the microdose of psilocybin he recommends has a lower bottom dose (something equivalent to 0.03g fresh truffles) and his protocol isn’t exclusively with psilocybin; it also includes lion’s mane mushroom and niacin.

paul stamets psilocybin nootropic vitamin stack

Stamets calls it a nootropic vitamin complex

You can watch a video from James Jesso about his experience on this protocol here: My Experience On The Paul Stamets Microdosing Nootropic Stack

Alternate Days: 1 Day On, 1 Day Off

There are also many people microdosing one day on, one day off.

microdose schedule

Initially I would recommend to try microdosing one or two days a week with days off in between so you can track your progress and compare how dose days compare with normal days. It is generally recommended to try a microdose schedule for a period of a few months and then taking a break.

Tolerance Buildup?

Generally with the ingestion of psilocybin there is a tolerance buildup on consecutive use within a two week period. This means that taking it on consecutive days will give you less effect from the same amount. However, it seems to be the case that tolerance buildup is more pronounced with larger doses. With microdoses, there isn’t really much, if any, tolerance buildup. When using psilocybin as a supplement with an eye on long term wellbeing benefits rather than psychedelic effects, tolerance buildup seems less relevant.

When & How?

I’d recommend to microdose first thing in the morning or with your breakfast. Chewing will mean you digest them more easily. Or you can weigh them out beforehand and even encapsulate them. One option would be to pre-weigh them and put them in a capsule box. Then you can chuck them down with your morning coffee like you would any other supplement. 

microdose schedule

Drying & Storing Truffles

If you have a box of truffles but are microdosing them over a long period, its a good idea to dry them for storage. You can find out how here.
Bonus tip: Place packs of silica gel near to your drying truffles to help speed up the process.

Self Blinding Study

self blinding microdose study imperial

A great way to prepare and track a microdosing period complete with schedule would be to do a microdosing protocol via the Imperial College Study. Though it takes a little time to set up, once set up, you’ll have a full protocol ready to go, and you’ll be contributing to science whilst getting honest data for yourself.

Find out more by visiting selfblinding-microdose.org

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Have you tried microdosing psilocybin? How was it for you? Did I miss something? Please share your experience and leave a comment below 🙂

amsterdam netherlands

Planning a trip to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, or even just Europe, and want to make an inner journey too? This guide is for you.

What Are Magic Truffles?

magic galindoi truffles 15g packet

Magic truffles, AKA psilocybin truffles, are a type of fungus that contain psilocybin. Psilocybin is the naturally occurring psychedelic molecule that is found in ‘magic mushrooms’ and is what gives them their psychedelic effect and ‘magic’ title.

Truffles are at an earlier stage of fungal development than mushrooms but effectively the same thing. The only real difference is that the amount of psilocybin per weight is lower in truffles than mushrooms. More on dosage below.

Interested in a week long, legally facilitated psilocybin retreat? Contact me to find out more and set up a discovery call

Psilocybin

Psilocybin has been shown to have an impressive range of positive effects. It can trigger lasting personality changes, improve mood and alleviate depression, reduce anxiety, catalyze creative insights, and reliably occasion mystical experiences. Psilocybin has been shown to be safe, non-addictive, and non-toxic.

Why In The Netherlands?

There are only two countries in the world where psilocybin is legal: Jamaica and the Netherlands. You can find magic mushrooms in Jamaica but there are a lack of quality vendors.

amsterdam netherlands

In Holland, magic truffles are fully legal. Truffle production has reached a commercial level; you can walk into a store, choose from a variety of truffles that have been vaccum packed and refrigerated, and ask staff questions before making your purchase. These types of stores, often called ‘smart shops’, are plentiful in Amsterdam, which is a short journey from any major city in Europe.

Where Can I Buy Magic Truffles?

azarius amsterdam smartshop smart shop truffles

You can find magic truffles at Azarius at Kerkstraat 119. Azarius is a great smart shop with an impressive range of goodies. They have friendly staff who will happily answer your questions and give you information and advice about magic truffles and any of their other products.

truffle menu amsterdam

Truffle menu

Full disclosure: I received a voucher for Azarius in return for linking them in this post. I chose Azarius because of their excellent selection of products (I used the vouchers for 2 types of truffles) and I happily recommend them because of their friendly and helpful staff.

Dosage

Generally, you can buy per dose. I recommend you to get advice from the staff in the shop you buy your truffles from; tell them your experience with psychedelics and what type of experience you are looking for, and ask them any questions you have.

Truffles are sold fresh in shops, so if bought, then kept for a long time and dried out, the equivalent weight will be significantly lower. As a rough guide here are dosages with fresh truffles, as sold.

5 – 10g Low dose. Those with a higher tolerance may not feel anything at 5g.
10 – 20g Medium dose. Could be strong for a first timer.
20 – 30g High dose
30g +  Very high dose – Potential spiritual or peak experience. Not recommended to do alone or if its a first psychedelic experience.

Serving

I have 4 options for you:

1. Eat them plain
2. Make a truffle tea
3. Make a truffle smoothie

4. ’Lemon Tek’.

  1. Eat them plain
    Eating them as they are straight out of the packet is the least appetising way but the simplest. Truffles don’t taste good and are crunchy in a bad way, but straight up chomping them will still get the job done. Chew well.

2. Truffle Tea is probably the most distinguished way to consume your truffles.

make magic truffle tea

To make your truffle tea:

  • Crush your truffles up well and put them in a mug or other container.
  • Bring water to boil and then remove it from the heat. Let the water sit and cool off for a few minutes – you want it to be hot, but not boiling. As long as it is cool enough to drink, that’s okay.
  • Optional step: Whilst your water is cooling off, add some fresh ginger. The ginger adds a nice flavour and can help to lessen any nausea. You can also add another type of tea.
  • Once the water has cooled slightly, pour it over your crushed up truffles.
  • Give it a good stir and let it infuse for for 10 minutes.
  • Add honey or a sweetener if you’d like to sweeten it.
  • Drink your tea and then eat up the truffles left in the bottom of your mug.

Extra note: If you prefer not to eat the truffles, pour over another round of tea, letting it sit for another 5-10 minutes and drink again. This will ensure that most of the psychedelic goodness makes it into your brew. If you want to be 100% certain that you don’t waste anything and get maximum effect, you should eat up any leftover truffles in the bottom of your mug.

3. Truffle Smoothie
This can be a nice yet simple way to mask that truffle taste. Chuck them in a blender with some fruits or juice, then enjoy. Throw in some slices of raw ginger to help with the nausea.

4. Lemon Tek
It has been claimed that the ‘lemon tek’ method will make your trip come on faster and harder. I can’t neither confirm nor deny this claim, but I will say that the lemon flavour helps to mask the taste of the truffles.

lemon tek psilocybin psilocin truffles

To lemon tek:

  • Crush your truffles up well and put in a glass. The more crushed up, the better. You can also use a coffee grinder if the truffles have been been dried out.
  • Cover your truffles with freshly squeezed lemon juice, enough to cover them, so they’re bathing in it.
  • Let sit for 20-25 minutes (not longer), stirring every 5 minutes.
  • Drink the whole mix. It won’t taste beautiful, so you’ll probably want to get it down fast.

N.B. Whichever method you choose, I’d recommend taking them on an empty stomach – to make the most of your dose and to lessen any nausea – a common side effect.

Where To Take Them?

The setting of the trip will influence the experience so it’s worth considering. Here are a few options. Scroll down for more info on each one.

1. Private apartment / AirBnB
2. Find a natural setting
3. Go on a psychedelic retreat

1. Private apartment / AirBnB

If you’ve got access to a private place, this is a nice option. One way is to find a nice place on AirBnB. You can set the place up to be cosy and clean and get some nice playlists ready to guide your experience. You also don’t have to worry about speaking with strangers or dealing with other similar unforeseen circumstances.

apartment indoor

Having a private space allows you to have a controlled environment and this can help to relax. I would recommend this if you are inexperienced with psychedelics and are planning a deep experience. Have enough food at base so that once your appetite returns, you don’t need to go out in to the big scary world if you don’t feel like it.

2. Find a natural setting

nature forest psychedelic trip

This can be a great way to connect with the beauty of the natural world. If you’re gonna do this, I’d recommend going further than finding a park in the city and finding nature that is out of Amsterdam, at least out of the city centre. Forests and beaches are nice. Better still, go camping. There are a couple of nature options in a blog post written here.

If you are planning this, be well prepared.

First, check the weather forecast. If it looks like weather you’re happy to be tripping in, pack well but also don’t overdo it.

Here’s some things to take:

• Suitable clothes – Fairly obvious but can be overlooked. Don’t forget your sunnies for good weather and a raincoat if there’s a chance of showers. If you’ll be out after sunset, make sure you have enough clothes to keep warm.
• Something to lie on – Though nature is nice, so is being comfortable. Think sleep/yoga mat or picnic blanket.
• Water and food – Common sense. Nuts and fruit are always a good option.
• Music/speakers – Come on, you’re gonna be tripping.
• Pen and paper – For drawing or writing.
• Pre-rolled joints – I wouldn’t recommend this if you’ve never smoked before but if you do smoke weed, your tripping self will thank you for the pre-rolleds later; trying to roll a joint whilst tripping hard can be a difficult and tedious process.  Having one or two ready is nice even if its just for the end of the trip to relax. Plenty of good weed and hash to be found in Amsterdam.

3. Go on a psychedelic retreat

The unique legal status of psilocybin truffles in the Netherlands combined with increasing interest in psychedelics has lead to a rise in retreats. Now there are a few and you have a choice if you wish to have a psilocybin experience on a retreat.

The context and container of the experience – how one is prepared for it and the company and environment in which it is held – plays a large part in the experience and how it will effect you, so a retreat can play a huge role in maximising potential benefits. Different retreats can vary on many factors, including length, focus, cost, comfort level etc., so I’d recommend looking through and getting a feel for the different options, before making a decision on one which most closely aligns to what you are looking for.


Come on retreat with me! New Moon Retreats is a psychedelic retreat I’m co-creating which integrates meditation and mindfulness practices. We have a small yet amazing team working towards our aim of increasing access to psychedelic experiences in a way which is designed to maximise benefits and help people on their journey. You can find out more and apply here.

open sunrise

Safe Travels!

Magic truffles can have powerful effects so I wouldn’t recommend taking the decision to take them lightly. However, if you do decide to and prepare well, you may be in for an ineffably beautiful and potentially life-changing experience. I’d love to hear how about your experience, so if you do, please share in the comments. I’ll leave you with some basic guidelines found at Azarius below. Safe travels!

magic psilocybin truffles guide advice

Mystical. Peak. Transcendent. Religious. Whichever term you’ve heard, I’m talking about something exceptional and profound – the type of experience that ranks as one of most the meaningful in life.

“The emotional reaction in the peak experience has a special flavor of wonder, of awe, of reverence, of humility and surrender before the experience as before something great.”
– Abraham Maslow 

Psychologist Abraham Maslow believed that peak experiences are characteristic of psychological health and play an important role in self-actualization – right at the top of his famous hierarchy. These experiences are typically spiritual in nature and are often followed by therapeutic after effects or dramatic personal growth.

abraham maslow hierarchy needs psychedelic psychology

Planning A Mystical Experience

Psychedelics, AKA entheogens – ancient Greek for ‘generating the divine within’ – can facilitate mystical experiences more reliably than any other currently known method (seeing the earth from space also seems fairly reliable but this is currently even less accessible than psychedelics). There is recent research to support this relationship, though it should be remembered that these trials are done in highly controlled settings – and I believe a methodological approach helps to increase the chances of such an experience.

So this is a guide to set you up for a soul-stirring, therapeutic, sacred, self-actualizing trip. Its a compilation drawn from my own experience and practices drawn from a few sources. You can find a list at the end.

This guide includes:

  • Preparation: Checklist + Weeks and Days Before
  • Navigation: What to do during the trip, and in difficult moments
  • Integration: What to do the day after, how to begin to integrate insights

Dosage
 psilocybin psilocin capsules shrooms magic mushrooms

The smaller the dose, the less likely a mystical experience. Psychedelic research has shown a clear correlation between a larger dose and a more complete mystical experience. They also found that the more complete the mystical experience, the more benefit the recipient had to their psychological wellbeing (on scores of depression and anxiety). However, if you don’t have much experience with psychedelics I don’t recommend going for a big dose for your first time. Better to become somewhat familiar with them and figure out your tolerance and reaction.
For most people a breakthrough dose will be:

4-6 grams dried mushrooms
30-55 grams fresh psilocybin truffles
200-300 micrograms LSD

Check Erowid for peyote and San Pedro.

Preparation

There are two general aims for the preparation of your trip:
1. To have you approach the trip well rested, in good health, and with a positive state of mind.
2. To get you thinking about your life in a larger context.

Checklist

You will need:

  • 2 full days free. One day for the trip + the day after. The day before too, if possible. For the trip day you should be totally free and fine to switch your phone off and effectively disappear from the world.
  • A comfortable, private indoor space (totally private for 1 day). Somewhere you feel safe.
  • Device to play music e.g. ipod, laptop, CD player. (I recommend digital player for ease of use)
  • Good pair of headphones
  • Eye mask or blindfold
  • Photos for ‘picture trip’

The Picture Trip

[The ‘picture trip’ is a technique that was employed by a pioneer of psychedelic therapy, Leo Zeff. This is adapted from the book about Leo and his methods, The Secret Chief Revealed.]

Before the trip you will need to gather some photos. These photos will be a history of your life.

picture trip pictures photos

Pictures To Gather:

  • Yourself, one at age two and one every two years thereafter through adolescence, up to adulthood.
  • Two pictures each of your mother, father and any siblings; one when they were young but you can still remember them, and a recent one.
  • Pictures of any other family members that are or were significant in your life.
  • A picture of your husband/wife, or any woman or man who has had great significance in your life. Lovers, current or past. If you’re married, wedding pictures.
  • If you have children, a picture of them when they were about two years old, and a recent one.
  • Any other significant pictures. Any pictures with an emotional charge.

As you go through your photos to find these, spend some time looking through your photo collection. Spend a few moments with each photo, looking at it and seeing what you feel with each one. If any memories or feelings come up, sit with them and see where they go. When you come across a picture for the picture trip, put it aside. Try to do this no further away than a week before the trip, as close to the time of the trip as you can.

The Sitter

Decide if you want a sitter – someone to keep an eye on you and help you through any difficult periods should they arise. It might be easier to let go completely if you know you have someone there to take care of you, or you may prefer to be alone.

John Hopkins Psilocybin Study

Research setting for a study into the effects of psilocybin at John Hopkins University.

If you decide on a sitter, choose someone you trust. Agree the date with that person ahead of time. You’ll only need them for the trip day, but they should be free from the time you begin until the end of the day. They might not have to do much but assure you of your safety and be there for you.

If for whatever reason you’re going ahead without a sitter, I’d recommend spending more time learning the basics of meditation.

The Weeks Before

Learn the basics in meditation

The ability to relax and let go is key when it comes to the more intense parts of the session and important in maximizing the therapeutic aspect of your trip. For this reason, having some familiarity with some basic techniques of meditation will be enormously helpful – its practice in how to calmly observe your current reality without resistance. It will help you to open yourself to the experience rather than resisting, and go deeper, moving past blocks.

Meditate for at least 10 minutes a day for the two weeks leading up to your trip.

meditate mindfulness

Especially important if you don’t have a sitter as in the absence of someone else to help relax and reassure you, you’ll need to relax yourself. If you have the time and the inclination, a silent course is the best way become well versed with meditation quickly.

Otherwise a good place to start is the free app Insight. There are also other apps and plenty of guided meditation resources online.

Think About Your Intentions

Why are you doing this? What do you hope to accomplish or gain from the experience? Be honest with yourself. Having a clear intention doesn’t mean that it’ll be fulfilled but it’s important in framing the experience.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

journal notepad write notes

Write down 5 things you are grateful for everyday in the week leading up to your trip. It can be as small or profound as you like, from ‘nice weather today’ or ‘a delicious lunch’ to ‘family’ or ‘health’. Sit with the feeling of gratitude that it brings for a minute.

Check medication

If you’re taking medication, make sure there are no possible adverse interactions with these medications and the substance you’re taking. If you’re taking medication for a something that can be managed by lifestyle changes – exercise, weight loss, diet adjustments, quitting alcohol, tobacco, caffeine – try these first to see if some of the medications may no longer be necessary. For these processes, see your doctor.

The Days Before

Prepare your playlist and music player

Generally it’s recommended to use instrumental or world music with lyrics that are unintelligible as understandable lyrics can be distracting and limit the experience. Ambient and classical music are good general recommendations. You can make a playlist for the whole trip, or you can have all songs and albums that you might want ready and easily accessible on your player. Be sure to have at least 8 hours of music ready and allow for passages of at least 45 minutes where you don’t need to change or put on more music.

ipod music phone headphones

Listening to relaxing music in the initial phase is a nice way to help calm yourself when the substance is taking effect and you’re coming up. Save more intense tracks for later.

Links for ideas:
How To Pick Music For People On LSD, From A Scientist Whose Job That Is
Sacred Knowledge: Hopkins Playlist For Psilocybin Studies

Full playlists from the scientists working in psychedelic research:
Mendel’s Kaelen’s Psilocybin Playlists on Spotify: Therapy Playlist 1 | Playlist 2
Mendel Kaelen Psilocybin playlist 1 on Mixcloud
Bill Richards psilocybin playlist | SpotifyiTunes
Kelan Thomas psilocybin playlists on Spotify:  Playlist 1 | Playlist 2

Tidy up loose ends

Pay the overdue bill, send those emails and make those phone calls you’ve been putting off.

Check in with loved ones

Call or go see those most important to you.

The Day Before

Prepare Food
Get some snacks ready. Nuts, seeds and fruits are good as maintaining a steady blood sugar level is ideal. Prepare your dinner and have it waiting for you in the fridge. Simplicity for tomorrow is the aim here.

Walk in Nature
The fresh air and nature will help clear your mind.

walk nature

Understand Your Intentions
Revisit and clarify your intentions.

Avoid alcohol and spicy or greasy food
To ensure good quality sleep and a settled stomach the next day. You don’t want to be dealing with a dodgy belly on the big day.

Clean your space
Hoover, wipe down surfaces, clear away clutter. 

Go to bed early and allow yourself a good nights rest
Follow the common advice for a good night’s sleep – don’t drink coffee late, have a digital sunset. If you usually have difficulty sleeping, consider some form of exercise earlier in the day.

bed bedroom sleep

The Trip Day

Switch your phone off. For all purposes you should be unavailable to the world.

Pre-trip
Have a light, healthy breakfast. Oats or a green smoothie are both good options.

Wear comfortable, clean, and loose fitting clothes. Make any final preparations to your space. Have blankets, water and snacks on hand.

sacrament chalice

Drop Ceremony
‘Ceremony’ doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, just make the taking of the substance special in some way. You could wash it down with water drank from a lucky cup, or say a short prayer beforehand. Something to set this experience apart from the everyday. Make it unique.

Meditate – 10-20 minutes.

Waiting
If you are with a sitter, talk with them about your feelings, expectations, and hesitations. If you are alone, take a pad and paper and write them down.

Going Up
When you start to feel the effects, lie down and get comfortable. Put your headphones and eye mask on and start your playlist. Listen to the music and relax.

When you notice yourself tightening up or feeling nervous, relax your body and pay attention to your breath. Use what you’ve learned in meditation.

‘We regain our balance through the proper application of attention and awareness. This is the slowing down, which we can facilitate physically through relaxed, deep breathing and helps release any tension in our bodies. Once we’ve slowed ourselves down and replanted our psychic feet, it is easier to move our consciousness through the resistance or block.’
 – Preparation For The Journey; Inner Pathways To Outer Space

The Trip

The peak of the trip is where you might go through the processes by which psychological healing occurs – projection, transference, abreaction, and catharsis. To do this, be open to the experience:

Trust. Let go. Be open. Breathe. Surrender.

You may experience challenging emotions but know that this isn’t bad – this is the chance to process something you might’ve been holding back.

Remember, difficult is not 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. Try to approach the fear and difficult aspects of your experience with curiosity and openness.”
– Zendo Project

Coming Down

As you feel the effects start to subside and the peak tailing off. Go sit at a table with the photos.

Picture Trip

Start with the pictures of yourself. Pick up the first picture. Just look at it and see what you experience. Look at it as long as you want to. When you’re through looking at it, put it down. If you are with a sitter you might have something to say. Say it. If not, you don’t have to say anything. Put it down and go on to the next picture.

Through this process you might record a voice memo or write some things down. These notes can be helpful later when you go back and revisit them. They will reconnect you with your whole experience.

Ending The Day

After you’ve gone through the pictures, relax. You might want to sit around and chat with your sitter or listen to some music. You might be hungry and can go and retrieve the food you’ve prepared. You might want to go for a walk outside. Perhaps you’re exhausted and ready for bed. Go, sleep well.

The Day After

This day should be left free. Leave plenty of time for recovery, reflection and integration. Take It Easy.

Sleep well. Lie in. Have a nice breakfast. Meditate. Chill. Go for a walk or listen to some music. Take some time for yourself. Do not rush back into chores or your daily routine, no matter how tempting it is or how pressing those concerns seem to be. They can wait. The return to familiarity might seem appealing but you should have time to relax and process your experience.

When you feel ready…

Write It Down

Take a pen and paper and write about your trip.

  • What did you experience? (You may prefer to draw or paint this)
  • What does it mean?
  • Did you learn anything?
  • Did you experience any insights or revelations?

Hopefully you were able to learn something of value that you can take with you and apply to your life. With any insights fresh in your mind, you can start to…

Look Forward

  • How can you apply them to your life?
  • What can you do to live what you’ve learnt?

Try to think of some actionable steps you can take. Making a plan can be helpful to implement a new attitude or lifestyle change you want to adopt. Whatever it is you need to do, write it down and make a commitment to follow through with it. It doesn’t have to be big or extensive, any kind of framework to help you move forward is good. Starting a course of change can be tough but a plan with small steps will help. When you want to be reconnected to your experience, revisit any notes or voice memos you’ve made. Don’t expect total transformation overnight, go bit by bit.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”
– Lao Tzu

I hope you’re ready for the next chapter. The real trip starts now – it’s life.

In the weeks and months following a powerful experience it may be beneficial to have some people you can talk about your experience with. If that’s not possible with people already in your life, it might be useful to find a local psychedelic integration circle or communityI wish you the best of luck.

References & Resources:

Books:
The Secret Chief Revealed – Myron J. Stolarof
Inner Paths To Outer Space – Rick Strassman et al. (Chapter: Preparation For The Journey)
– The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic & Sacred Journeys – James Fadiman

Online:
How To Have A Mystical Experience: A Research Based Guide – Freedom & Fulfilment

The Zendo Project

Finding Psychedelic Community:
Psychedelic.Community
3 Ways You Can Engage With Psychedelic Community – The Third Wave