This is a guest post from the great Sam Woolfe.

One of the most common features (and frustrations) associated with the DMT experience is that despite being profound, it can also be very difficult to recall. DMT has a dream-like quality to it, in that you quickly lose your memory of the DMT trip as you return to normal waking consciousness. Terence McKenna drew attention to this quality of the experience when he said: “the way a dream melts away is the way a DMT trip melts away,” adding that “[t]here is a self-erasing mechanism in it”.

Interested in private psychedelic preparation and integration coaching? Contact me to set up a discovery call


Image by Pretty Drug Things

Many people who experience DMT, especially at the breakthrough levels, will find that they simply can’t remember the bulk of what they experienced. This is something quite unique to the DMT flash and I think part of it comes down to the extremely ineffable nature of the DMT experience, which you could even call hyper-ineffable, with certain aspects not only being indescribable but also unrememberable.

Some people might accept this is a DMT quirk and think nothing of it, whereas others might feel that a lot of important knowledge and insight was lost when the amnesia set in. Whatever your attitude may be about DMT and memory loss, one challenge remains: how can you integrate a DMT experience that is difficult to remember?

In this article, I’d like to share my own experiences of DMT and memory loss, relating to one experience, in particular, that took place six years ago, but which I still mull over sometimes. This has been my most profound psychedelic experience to date, yet it has also been the most difficult to remember, with essentially most of the trip (apparently) erased from my memory. However, over the years, I have still been able to integrate the experience by way of helpful discussions, enlightening books, and productive introspection. First, here’s a brief description of what my experience was like.

My Mystical DMT Experience

One day, I decided to go on a solo psychedelic journey and took 430mg of mescaline HCL. This experience was highly profound in itself, with emotional and life-affirming insights. It felt like the negativity bias had been flushed out of me, replaced instead by existential joy. At the peak of the experience or perhaps just after, however, I had the thought of smoking DMT. I wanted to aim for a breakthrough.

I got everything ready and, for the first time, I had zero anticipatory fear or anxiety, something that was usually quite prominent any previous time before blasting off. I think the lack of pre-trip jitters (and the mescaline, no doubt) helped me to go deeper into the experience than I otherwise might have.

I was ‘congratulated’ for taking the last hit by some presence or presences, to my amusement. After that, I began to lay down and remember a tsunami of colour and patterns enveloping me. I’m not sure I even remember feeling my body completely lay down; my sense of self and body was snuffed out in an instant.

From this point on, the memories are hazy and sparse. My clearest memory was having what felt to be universal knowledge. Every question was answered. There were no mysteries left to be solved. These insights felt as clear as the understanding that follows when you finally solve a problem you’ve been working on for a long time: the immediate relief of clear understanding. There came a point though where I had to leave this realm of universal knowledge and I was told (or knew) that as I was leaving, I wouldn’t be able to bring this knowledge back with me. The cosmic secrets had to remain in this realm and this realm only. A pity, I thought.

I do have a snapshot memory of then travelling through a psychedelic wormhole or tunnel, ending up in a realm with ever-shifting activity. This activity was going on for what felt like an eternity – I definitely had the sense of being away for aeons and certainly could not imagine that there would be a time or place in which this experience was not happening.

But eventually, I gained some perception of my body, feeling the pressure of the floor against my back. At this point, though, my ‘body’ felt nothing more than pulsating, pleasurable energy – everything about me seemed to have melted into the totality of the experience. As I regained more bodily awareness, at a certain point I opened my eyes, as if in shock. I saw multi-layered DMT-like patterns above me, so I was half in my room, half in this heavenly realm. I closed my eyes again and I was still somewhat back in hyperspace. There were entities engaged in all sorts of frenzied, zany activities.

After opening my eyes a second time, I went into the fetal position and began sobbing, feeling like pure consciousness. I had felt the presence of the divine: this titanic, loving, and merciful force. I had the feeling of being shot out of some cosmic womb, reborn, and given a second chance at life. I was utterly stunned and in disbelief about the whole experience. Slowly, piece-by-piece, I regained my sense of identity and my memories, realising I had a life here on Earth and had returned to it.

After the Experience

I have thought about this experience a lot since it happened six years ago, but one of my personal frustrations has been how little I remember and whether my thoughts about the experience or what I wrote down some time after the experience even approaches what actually occurred.

There are many things, nonetheless, that have helped me to integrate this experience (and other DMT experiences), despite the gaps in memory. Before describing these techniques, I’d first like to touch on why integration has helped me and how it might benefit you, as well.

The Benefits of Integration

Integrating this particular experience has helped me to sort through some of the confusion, such as endless questions and doubts about what certain elements mean. You want to remain mindful after such an intense experience, as there is often a difference between healthy introspection and unhealthy obsessive thinking.

Integration, for me, has been a process of creating a clear and meaningful narrative that benefits my attitudes, beliefs, and actions, rather than forget about the experience as something ineffectual and inconsequential. If you are struggling with memory gaps and confusion about a DMT experience, you may find peace of mind by accepting that the experience is likely to remain deeply mysterious to some degree and will always be open to re-interpretation.

Integration has also motivated me to explore different ideas and belief systems, especially those relating to transpersonal, humanistic, and Jungian psychology, spirituality, mysticism, world religions, and wisdom traditions. In these explorations, I found connections to my DMT experience, which helped to add new meaning to the experience, by providing frameworks in which to interpret it and use it to benefit myself and others.

As an atheist confronted with ‘the divine’, I also felt a need to reconcile my atheistic worldview with this undeniable experience. This is not a process that has finished (which is true of integration, in general), but so far viewing this divine quality and experience as something human and interior (rather than necessarily exterior) has been productive. You may likewise discover that integration will allow you to find more wholeness, through the reconciliation of different aspects of yourself, as well as the expression of unrealised aspects.

6 Ways to Integrate a Difficult-to-Remember Experience

1. Let Integration Happen Organically

 What I’ve found is that the process of integrating a DMT experience will happen organically when I stop trying to force interpretations onto it and when I give up obsessing about what I might or might not remember. Often, more memories may arise further down the line or existing memories can become clarified or take on a new meaning.

Integrating a DMT experience that is hard to remember might just require patience, time, and being mindful of any new ways in which the experience seems to influence your thoughts, beliefs, opinions, choices, behaviour, and lifestyle. Integration can be organically going on without you even being aware of it.

2. Read Widely

For me personally, there have also been spontaneous moments of integration or clarity when reading a book, article, or someone else’s trip report. A word, phrase, or sentence can seem to bring a memory into focus, create an emotional reaction that feels meaningful, or elicit some sort of constructive thought or insight.

I can give a few examples of books that seemed to help with the process of integration. One was the sci-fi novel Star Maker (1937) by Olaf Stapledon. It tells the story of a nameless narrator who travels through the cosmos, eventually coming into contact with the ‘Star Maker’, the divine creator of everything. The description of this meeting with the Star Maker helped to clarify my own contact with ‘the divine’ during my DMT experience.

Another book was the novel Narcissus and Goldmund (1930), written by Hermann Hesse. There were just a couple of phrases that reignited my memory of the DMT experience:

“At any rate, Goldmund had shown him that a man destined for high things can dip into the lowest depths of the bloody, drunken chaos of life, and soil himself with much dust and blood, without becoming small and common, without killing the divine spark within himself, that he can err through the thickest darkness without extinguishing the divine light and the creative force inside the shrine of his soul.”

The phrases ‘divine spark’ and ‘divine light’ helped me to recall how, coming out of my DMT experience, I felt that ‘the divine’ was something in me. The reason these phrases stood out to me, pregnant with meaning, might have been because this aspect of ‘divinity’ in the self held some importance that I should pay attention to. While I am still unsure and sceptical about what this inner ‘divine’ quality actually is, I do believe it is a positive quality and that if I can focus on that feeling of the divine, it will lead to greater well-being and more positive experiences and actions.

One more book that I’ve come across that benefited the process of integration was The Idea of the Holy (1917), written by the philosopher and theologian Rudolf Otto. In this book, Otto introduces the concept of the numinous, which stands for ‘the holy’ or ‘the divine’, which Otto conceives in a particular way.

He argued, firstly, that this experience of the divine, the “wholly other”, was at the basis of all religions, something that I understood, based on my experience with DMT. I came out of the experience thinking that my encounter with this powerful force, this divine ‘other’, reminded me of descriptions of prophets or Biblical characters being overwhelmed by the presence of God, such as Moses’ vision of the burning bush and Saul’s Road to Damascus experience, when Jesus appears to him, an experience that was so overwhelmingly powerful it caused Saul to fall to his knees.

Otto describes the experience of the numinous as involving fear, mystery, and fascination. This mixture of fear and fascination towards the power of the divine was very relatable and Otto’s elaboration on the numinous helped me to further clarify my experience, although it still remains shrouded in mystery, which, after all, seems to be an essential quality of this divine presence. 

So, if you are struggling to both remember and integrate a DMT experience, I would recommend searching for books, articles, and trip reports that relate to the particular themes of your own experience. Reading fiction, non-fiction, and anecdotes can, when you least expect it, trigger some recall or allow you to look at your experience from a different light, helping you to make sense of it. While you may not remember much of your experience, what you do remember can, as it turns out, contain a great deal of potential for meaning and growth.

3. Talk Openly About It

Talk openly about it

One of the most effective ways to aid integration, when your experience is difficult to remember, is to talk about it openly with someone else. You can turn around an experience in your head for years and wonder about what it means, but sometimes the perspective of someone else can lead you to conclusions you might not have reached on your own. This is especially true when the person you’re talking to has had similar experiences, is aware of such experiences, or is knowledgeable about areas of psychology – such as transpersonal psychology – which deal with altered states of consciousness.

When I was seeking a therapist one time during a bout of depression, I found someone who specialised in transpersonal psychology and remember thinking this person could help me examine my DMT experiences in more depth. I believed the positive nature of the experience could help me in my depressive state. When I first met the therapist, however, and voiced this intention of mine, the reaction was not what I had hoped for. Rather than view these experiences as meaningful material that could benefit me, she stressed that because I had depression I should not have used psychedelics, that I put myself at risk of harm, and that if I were to continue therapy, I would have to avoid all drug use.

Not only was this response surprising, given her training as a transpersonal psychologist, but it was also anathema to the integration I needed, as it cast the experience in a negative light, with ‘wrongness’ attached to it. I did not see this therapist again. If you are trying to integrate a DMT experience, it is crucial to be selective of who you speak to and to avoid talking about it further if you are met with any judgement. Integration is a highly personal and vulnerable process and so, if other people are to help you in this process, they will need to be open, empathetic, and non-judgemental.

Fortunately, I have seen two other therapists whose attitudes about my DMT experiences were completely different. And I am grateful that I was able to discuss these experiences so openly, especially considering that these therapists were not specifically trained (as far as I’m aware) in psychedelic integration. I talked about some elements of my mystical experience with DMT and my frustration with being unable to remember much of it.

Interestingly, both therapists had similar responses to this frustration of mine. They said something to the effect of “you will remember what is most important about the experience”, with one therapist saying that I was lucky to have had it, as it is a rare experience. I think this helped to make the process of integration much smoother, as it made me realise I didn’t have to obsess about what I do and don’t remember, or regret not being able to remember more, as the most meaningful aspects are still there, and that the experience is something to be immensely grateful for.

Again, even if an experience is hard to remember, this doesn’t mean integration isn’t going on unconsciously, affecting the way you view yourself, others, and the world at large. However, because a lot of this process is unconscious, you may find it beneficial to seek out a therapist who can work with you in becoming aware of this material and processing it, which can be conducive to personal growth.

Others find that psychedelic integration circles offer the ideal environment in which to discuss and make sense of their psychedelic experiences.

4. Write About the Experience

Writing about DMT experiences that are difficult to remember is another great way of trying to integrate them. Fleshing out ideas in writing is a different process than speaking about those ideas. You can write in a stream of consciousness sort of way, writing down whatever thoughts about the experience arise moment-to-moment. You can write in a divergent, creative way, producing as many new and interesting avenues of interpretation as you can and seeing which interpretation for you, subjectively, holds the most meaning and significance.

For me personally, writing – whether that’s privately or publicly in the form of articles – has allowed me to make a lot more sense of my DMT experiences than I think I could achieve through just introspection and conversations with others. For example, when I get some moments of clarity – moments where memories of DMT experiences start flooding into conscious awareness – I have made sure to make a note of that memory, usually as notes on my phone, or in a notepad if I have one nearby. These moments of clarity are fleeting, but trying to capture them in written form can help you create a clearer picture of the DMT experience, even if what you write down seems harder to relate to once the memory fades again.

5. Recreate the Context of the Experience

Context-dependent memory refers to the phenomenon whereby it is easier to retrieve certain memories when the context in which the memory was formed is replicated. For example, if you are struggling to remember what a DMT experience felt like, but you were listening to particular music during the trip, re-listening to that music could help you to retrieve memories of the visual, emotional, and conceptual components of the experience. The more you can do to try to recall the experience, the easier it will be to integrate.

Another aspect of context-dependent memory is state-dependent memory: the phenomenon in which it is easier to recall a memory if you are in the same state – or a similar state – in which the memory was formed. One possible reason DMT experiences can be so hard to remember is that the memories relating to such experiences (or at least some aspects of them, anyway) are state-dependent. So, if you can put yourself in the same physical or mental state in which the memory was formed, or a similar state, you may find it easier to retrieve the memories of the experience in question, which may provide you with valuable information.

You can access state-dependent memories in a variety of ways. One way would be to use DMT again, as this would mentally and physically put you in the same state in which the memory was formed relating to a previous experience. You may not even need to take a high dose, as even a light DMT experience may be similar enough in its quality to trigger the retrieval of memories.

I have not used DMT since my experience six years ago, so I can’t personally speak on the effectiveness of using DMT again to retrieve memories. However, when I occasionally used cannabis in the past, I would have vivid memories – like snapshots of hyperspace, imbued with emotions – of previous DMT experiences (although it’s hard to say which particular experiences they relate to).

Of course, if you don’t use cannabis or don’t want to, this doesn’t mean you can’t retrieve the memories in other ways. I have also remembered DMT experiences under the influence of different psychedelics, as well as experienced short moments of remembering during meditation. It seems that the ‘similar’ state you need to be in to remember a DMT experience can encompass a range of altered states.

6. Prioritise the Emotional Dimension

While many aspects of the DMT experience can be difficult to remember (e.g. the sequence of events and various details), usually one of the strongest impressions of the experience is its emotional quality. It can be easier to question and interpret how the entities and hyperspace appeared to look than how one felt entering hyperspace, traversing hyperspace, and then coming out of hyperspace.

Many strong emotions and feelings may be involved in the DMT experience, such as awe, bliss, euphoria, joy, unconditional love, gratitude, fear, panic, and the feeling of being overwhelmed. By taking the time to really feel into the emotional aspect of these experiences, you can let your mind freely engage with them, seeing what meaning arises.

Emotionally-charged memories may be connected to important insights and lessons. For instance, you might recall how you felt when experiencing love and comfort from the entities during the experience. You may realise that this was connected to greater well-being and so decide for yourself that in order to experience this greater sense of well-being in daily life, it is wise to try to treat yourself just as the entities did. Part of integrating this lesson may involve more attention placed on self-care and self-compassion. This is just one possible interpretation, of course. Integrating the emotional aspect of the DMT experience will always be highly personal.

By prioritising the emotional dimension, you may find you can remember more details of your DMT experience, as well as make more sense of it, offering you some nuggets of wisdom when you least expect it.

A DMT experience might be brief and hard to remember, but it can also be extremely powerful and rich. With patience, self-awareness, and conscious effort, you can unearth meaning and benefits from a single experience over the course of many years.

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Sam Woolfe is a freelance writer based in London. His main areas of interest include mental health, mystical experiences, the history of psychedelics, and the philosophy of psychedelics. You can follow him on Twitter and find more of his work at www.samwoolfe.com.

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 🙂

headphones eye mask psychedelic therapy equipment

Music can play a huge role in psychedelic sessions and knowing how to use sound to shape and influence an experience is extremely valuable. If you’re looking for pre-made music playlists for a therapeutic psilocybin journey geared towards introspection and personal growth, welcome, you’re in the right place.

Interested in a private psilocybin retreat ? Contact me to find out more and set up a discovery call
headphones eye mask psychedelic therapy equipment

Two key pieces of equipment for a standard therapeutic journey

This post has links to six playlists that have been made specifically for use with psilocybin (magic truffles or magic mushrooms) with a little info on each of them and their creators. 

Playlists:

1. Psychedelic Therapy Playlist 1 – Mendel Kaelen
2. Psychedelic Therapy Playlist 2 – Mendel Kaelen
3. Sacred Knowledge – Bill Richards
4. A Playlist For Psilocybin – Kelan Thomas
5. Psilocybin2 – Kelan Thomas
6. A Playlist For Psilocybin – Matthew Baldwin

About These Playlists

Phases

These playlists are specially designed so their the lengths are matched to that of a psilocybin journey and take into account the various stages of a trip such as onset, ascent, peak, return. There are variations on this depending on the creator of the playlist.

psychedelic music playlists phases journey baldwin therapy psilocybin beyond prague presentations

The phases of a psychedelic trip according to Bonny & Pahnke, the length of LSD is compressed 33% for psilocybin

Playlists are extremely useful in that you can press play after eating/drinking/ingesting your magical fungi and then not have to think about selecting music for the rest of the session – you just let it play out and ride the journey. Although exploring different types of music intuitively and in the moment can be great on psychedelics, having to get up and try to find suitable music can be very difficult on higher doses and detract from the experience.

Language

These playlists all contain music without words in English (bar a couple of reasoned exceptions); this is the general standard in psychedelic therapeutic work to avoid ‘hermeneutic contamination’, to use Matthew Baldwin’s phrase; ‘to discourage the rational mind from following the content of the words’, as Bill Richards puts it. There seems to be a general consensus in the field that understandable lyrics can be distracting and limit the experience.

Without further ado, let’s get into them.

Mendel Kaelen

Mendel Kaelen is probably the biggest name in the world when it comes to created playlists for psychedelic work (admittedly not the largest field, but still). A neuroscientist and music nerd, Kaelen created these playlists, which contain ambient and neo-classical music, for the groundbreaking psilocybin for depression study at Imperial College London.

mendel kaelen psychedelic science music

Kaelen presented at Psychedelic Science

Though they were created for the depression study, they can also work magic for non-depressed people too; I and many I know have journeyed to these amazing playlists, powerful stuff. The second one is an amazing playlist and would be my first recommendation.

You can read more about how he created these playlists in an article on Vice here.

Psychedelic Therapy Playlist 1 – Mendel Kaelen

Psychedelic Therapy Playlist 2 – Mendel Kaelen

Bill Richards

Bill Richards is a founding member of the Johns Hopkins psychedelic research team in the US and one of the most prominent names in the world when it comes to psilocybin research. His psychedelic psychotherapy research is wide ranging, from treating addiction to inducing mystical experiences, and Richards values music as a way to support a person’s experience.

“I make the best musical choices I can, trying to separate the ‘very good’ and the ‘excellent’ on the basis of years of experience with many different people”
Richards on compiling the playlist

There’s a lot of classical music in this playlist (Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi, Brahms) and a few tracks that I have to say are just inspired choices towards the end.

You can read more about Richard’s choices and how he compiled the playlist here.

Kelan Thomas

  • A Playlist For PsilocybinSpotify | Youtube (make sure there are no ads if listening through youtube)
  • Psilocybin2Spotify

I first heard of Kelan Thomas in an article about his first playlist and was excited to see Mogwai (awesome Scottish post rock) and Dirty Three (violin, guitar and drums together in rumbling, flowing rock) on there – familiar names I didn’t expect to see, as well as some other stuff that falls somewhere between ambient and post rock; one of my all time favourite genres that I’ve long wanted to make a psychedelic playlist to, feeling its epic and instrumental style would lend itself perfectly to cosmic journeys.

music concert

I tried the first playlist to a classic therapeutic style journey (setting intention beforehand, using eye mask and headphones, with a sitter) and had a beautiful journey, finding peace, contentment and joy on the journey and in the musical choices. I was moved in that I wanted to thank all the musicians who made the music on that playlist, and to Kelan himself for creating the playlist.

As it happened, a couple months later, whilst setting up a room at Insight conference in Berlin, I noticed the name tag on an early comer in the room – it was Kelan Thomas! I  told him I’d used his playlist and was able to thank him personally for putting it together before chatting a little about it and his choices; interestingly he described it as a ‘decolonising’ playlist in the world of psychedelic therapy.

He also told me he had made a second playlist which I could find on his spotify. I tried it recently and had one of my most beautifully expressive journeys to date. 

A Playlist For Psilocybin


Psilocybin 2

Matthew Baldwin

Matthew was a fellow student of Kelan Thomas in the Certificate in Psychedelic Therapies and Research Program at CIIS in San Francisco, and is clearly a scholar on the topic. He presented one of the talks I found most interesting at Beyond Psychedelics last year which you can watch here:
The Art Of Creating Musical Playlists For Psychedelic Work

music playlists psychedelic

Matthew presenting at Beyond Psychedelics 2018

Myself and co-retreat maker Tuk tried this playlist out during research for our retreats with New Moon and I was very surprised by a lot of the choices, this is certainly the most divergent of the playlist here on this list. This playlist emphasizes organic (instead of sequenced electronic) types of music.

Safe And Wondrous Journeys!

The relationship between music and how it affects consciousness and mood is something I find super interesting and consider creating playlists to be an art.  Do you have any tips? Personal preferences? Favourite music to use for a session? Would love to hear others thoughts on this. If you know of any playlists I’ve missed or have your own to contribute, leave a comment below!

awesome psychedelic how to have a good trip

So, you’re taking a psychedelic trip? Great, I’m sure you’ll have a blast. Here are the basics to a successful flight and how to avoid a bad trip, whether it’s with LSD, magic mushrooms, or San Pedro. Follow these and you’re onto a winner.

Interested in a private and legally facilitated 1-1 psilocybin experience? Contact me to find out more and set up a discovery call.

Respect The Trip

Sorry to start with a boring one but it needs to be said. Know that psychedelics are powerful substances and be prepared for a strong experience. It can be tough finding yourself in a trip that is more intense than you expected but if you’re prepared for a big experience then you’ll be ready to handle it. Psychedelics are different to other types of drugs so if you think it’ll be like weed or MDMA, think again. Consider your dose carefully.

Clear Your Schedule

Free yourself of obligations and unwanted distractions. Let go of to-do lists. Nagging thoughts of jobs or chores won’t help. Give yourself the whole day free and ideally the next day too. Switch your phone off – I was once with a friend who got a call from an upset girlfriend right as we were coming up and it marred the start of the trip. It was nothing that couldn’t have waited until the next day.

Choose Your Company Carefully

Be with people you trust and like. You’ll feel good in their company and it’ll be reassuring if things start to go south. Avoid abrasive friends, large crowds and others who aren’t also tripping, with the exception of a sitter. If you’re planning to fly solo, do your homework – see links at the bottom of this page.

Be Positive

Psychedelics are fun! Go in with a smile on your face and see it as an exciting adventure and an opportunity to learn. Not to say that there won’t be any difficult moments but this will push you in the right direction. If you find yourself in a tough spot just remember that you are in control and can change the direction of the trip at any time. It normally just takes a deep breath and a smile to bring you back to a good place.

Comfort!

Wear your most comfortable clothes, think loose, soft and warm. Being physically comfortable will help to relax you. If you’re going out, a blanket or something to lie on is nice. If you’re staying in, have a space where you can lie down and stretch out.

Don’t Fight It

You decided to take the substance, you took it, and now you’re having the experience. So don’t now decide that you don’t want it and try to resist, you’ll only struggle and make things worse. Open yourself to the experience and explore! As a wise man once said: Buy the ticket, take the ride.

A Little Preparation Goes A Long Way

A little preparation can make the journey so much more seamless and stress free. If you think you might want to write, have a pad and pen ready. Draw? Paper and colours. If you’re planning to go out for a bit, leave a packed bag by the door. Have some snacks ready. The time on the trip should spent enjoying it, not looking around for things or packing bags. Set it up to be that way.

The same applies with music. Make playlists ahead of time so all you need to do is press play and enjoy – you won’t have to continually play DJ. Navigating spotify and the entire history of recorded music whilst tripping balls isn’t that fun. If you’re tripping with a friend, make a playlist together beforehand. Having a ‘chill’ playlist on hand is always good, you can listen to it at the start for a gentle glide in and you can put it on again…

If It Gets Too Much

If possible, first get your self to a quiet or secluded place.

Take a deep breath. Relax. Remember, you’ve taken a drug and the effects are temporary, they will wear off. Focus on your breathing and relax your body.

If that doesn’t help, change something. Change the music or switch it off. If you’re sitting, stand. If you’re watching a video, try drawing. Go to another room or outside. If you’re with others, try spending some time alone – just be sure to tell them where you’re going and not just disappear. You don’t need to struggle through whatever is happening, just make an alteration to your situation.

If it feels like what’s happening will last forever, write down the time, put on a chill track and listen to it, then look again. You’ll see that time is passing and can reassure yourself that this will end. Things will go back to normal. Until then, enjoy the rest of your trip!

Safe Travels!

Have I missed anything? Leave a comment below.

Further Reading:

Session Games People Play: A Manual For The Use Of LSD – Good one for groups – Psychedelic Frontier
6 Steps For Helping A Friend Through A Bad Psychedelic Trip – Zendo Project
The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys – James Fadiman

colour universe

Smoking DMT was one of the single most intense and insane experiences of my life. Going in I figured that it would be bigger than I could possibly imagine and boy was I right. Here I will attempt the impossible: to describe the experience in words.

To summarize, it was:

  • Overwhelming – Monumental scale
  • Utterly bizarre – As I said during the trip – ‘just fucking absolutely insane’
  • Unimaginably complex – Mind. Blown.
  • Interdimensional travel – I didn’t get ‘high’, ‘fucked up’, or ‘wasted’. It was as if I was zapped through a wormhole to a different universe.
Interested in a private and legally facilitated 1-1 psychedelic experience? Contact me to find out more and set up a discovery call.

Preparation

I approached the experience with great curiosity and respect. I wanted a full breakthrough experience and did my homework on the technique. I had a friend sit for me in a quiet, empty apartment and spoke with him about my expectations beforehand. I meditated directly before. And I filmed the whole thing, so I could get a sense of timeline, see myself through the experience, and so I could start talking about the experience as soon as possible and have my thoughts captured – it is well known that the experience slips away very quickly and becomes hard to recall, like a dream. It worked, so I’ve written this with the aid of notes and the video footage.

Smoking

smoke universe

I took the first huge hit, things started feeling wobbly. I took the second and my vision started becoming warped and I could tell it was really kicking off. I handed the bong to my friend because I could tell it would be difficult to hold for much longer. McKenna’s advice ran through my mind, that even though it really doesn’t feel like you need anymore, you need to push for the third hit to fully break through. My friend held the bong and lit for the third hit while I inhaled. I lay back and closed my eyes.

Blank

At this point I can’t remember what happened. Total blank. Here there is a period of 3 minutes that are unaccounted for and missing from my memory. The video shows me lying with my eyes closed and still breathing just as if I were asleep. The next thing I became aware of was an uncomfortable sensation. I wasn’t sure what it was or where it came from and it took me an eternity to think of what I needed, and then as I opened my eyes, the word that I was looking for came to me. With much struggle I faintly mumbled the word ‘water’ – my throat was dry as hell. My friend jumped up and handed me a glass of squash, at which point I threw up into my mouth, but I was still on another plane – brilliant streams of luminous colour shot out like lightning as I vomited. My buddy grabbed a bowl and held it in front of me while I spewed. It was quick and I lay back again. It was from this point that I again became aware that I had taken DMT. As I lay back and closed my eyes, I entered another universe.

Weird, Intense, Beyond Comprehension

Completely insane. Utterly alien. Wholly bizarre. So far removed from any other type of experience I’ve ever had. Next level freaky. This was interdimensional travel to a parallel universe, another tunnel of reality. Everything was of colours I’ve never seen before and at an unfathomable level of complexity and detail. I was entirely overwhelmed by the scale of what I was experiencing. It was information overload and then some. This wasn’t a human experience, humans aren’t capable of perceiving this much information.

I’ll try to explain it by way of analogy. Imagine your brain is plugged in to a machine that feeds you every single living person’s experience of the world, at the same time. So you are plugged in to 7 billion pairs of eyes and ears, every thought, emotion and feeling – receiving all that information as it is happening in real time. As well, you get a live feed of every single computer that is running, plus a direct download of the entire contents of the internet- every page, video, photo- every last piece and byte of information. You then make connections between all of this information and how it all relates to build a real time, continually shifting picture of reality in an immersive experience. DMT is on that level in the informational sense, and more bizarre than I can think of a way to describe.

Getting past the initial shock I began to come to terms with the experience and drew long deep breaths. I lay there and admired the DMTverse in awe.

colour universe

The DMTverse

It was a grand expansive space – dark but shot through with brilliant colours. The fabric of everything was made up of incredible and perfectly mathematical patterns. I had a panoramic view of some kind of organic factory, I saw massive cogs made of an earth-like substance churning. The whole scene was forever subtly shifting, metamorphosing and with absolute synergy between all things – everything moved in accordance with everything else and energy seemed to be flowing symbiotically between all things. Everything was overflowing with life and energy. I saw inscriptions of letters from an alien alphabet that seemed to have been made by intelligent life. And then I was in a…

City Of The Future

Everything was so advanced. I’m not talking flying cars or impressive gadgetry or any technology that we might imagine humanity might ever possess. I’m not even talking how it might be if we were to time travel and show a smartphone to a caveman. The jump in the level of complexity was like the gap between the first formations of atoms in the earliest stages of the formation of the universe, through the birth of stars and the formation of solar systems, to when molecules combined to create living organisms. Entropy over 9 billion years, then. It’s hard to fathom how anyone could even experience this, but that’s the mystery of DMT.

“It may be that DMT makes us able to perceive what physicists call “dark matter” – the 95 per cent of the universe’s mass that is known to exist but that at present remains invisible to our senses and instruments.”
– Graham Hancock

Somehow Sober

What’s interesting is that I maintained a sober cognition and consciousness throughout the experience. It was unique to other drugs in this regard. For example, when I drink alchohol I get inebriated and my cognition gets sloppy, with MDMA I feel euphoria and more loved up, when I smoke weed I get stoned or high and sometimes anxious, with salvia I’ll get confusion. However, with DMT, there was no ‘druggy’ effect, not dazed, confused, fucked up – it was just like I had been zapped through a portal into a parallel universe. Like my consciousness had just been picked up by a cosmic deity and thrown out into a world that was wholly other. Whereas other drugs enhance our existing reality – dulling it, numbing us to certain sensations, or amplifying it, making colours more vivid or lines more wavy – this was just transition to a different reality.

If you’ve ever seen the 90’s movie Contact, that’s a great analogy. You really do go through the wormhole on that inter-dimensional journey that Jodie Foster goes on. In fact I felt so much that that part of the movie was the perfect analogy for the experience that I googled it after to see if anyone else had made the same connection, and sure enough, loads of other people had commented the exact same thing.

Real?

Is the experience real? I don’t think anyone can really answer that question but I can say how it felt. It felt absolutely real. It felt more real than anything else I’ve ever experienced – including my experience of typing this at my computer right now. This is where you start to go down the rabbit hole. I’ve had hallucinations from other drugs, like mind-movies, but this was nothing like that. Like I said before, it was as if I were just in another place. It wasn’t as if I was observing pictures or patterns, but that I was IN another universe, which is actually a deeper level of reality – deeper in the sense that it’s truer than the one we normally inhabit.

Plato’s Allegory Of The Cave plato allegory dmt

If it really is a deeper level of reality, Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is the perfect analogy. The world as we understand it in a normal waking consciousness is the cave, a normal person is the prisoner, and DMT is what drags the prisoner upwards and out of of the cave. I see the part of my trip which is blank in my memory as the part in which the prisoner is blinded by the radiant light of the sun and is unable to see even one of the things now said to be true.

This fits in with the DMT experience being far richer and more detailed than our everyday experience.

No Contact

People often report contact with other entities and beings. To be clear, nothing like that happened to me. Everything seemed to be teeming with life and energy but I didn’t have any communication or contact with beings of any kind.

Ineffable, Unimaginable

DMT is the definition of ineffable. Trying to describe it seems akin to trying to describe colours to a blind person. That’s why I’ve used so many analogies and said things that don’t totally make sense here. That’s DMT for you. There is simply no imagining what it’s like. If you want a peek behind the cosmic curtain you’ll just have to go see for yourself.