mushrooms how often should i trip psilocybin

‘How often should I take psychedelics?’

This is a question I am often asked. And of course, there is no single right answer. So instead of trying to give one, I’ll share my thoughts on the topic.

What is the right amount?

You can’t really put a number such as ‘x times per year or month’ and say ‘that’s the right amount’, because it totally depends on the person and their circumstances. It’s like asking ‘what’s the right dose?’. It can’t simply be answered in any meaningful way. It depends.

It depends on you, your intentions, and your current circumstances. Why are you taking psychedelics? Where are you at in your journey, and where do you want to go next?

If using psychedelics for recreation or leisure, it’s like asking ‘how often should I watch a movie?’. With the intention of using psychedelics for healing or growth, there still isn’t a set answer. For many people, it seems like once or twice a year is enough to gain valuable insights and allow time in between to integrate the lessons. For others, a more frequent pattern may be most beneficial. I’ve also heard of people saying that once in their lifetime was enough.

Frequency varies depending on culture

There is a variety of frequencies in different cultures and types of use around the world. This ranges from modern clinical use to more traditional shamanistic use.

Within the field of modern research and clinical trials, there is variation. In a study with people who suffered treatment resistant depression at Imperial College London, participants received two doses a week apart. From just two doses, most participants saw statistically significant improvement in their wellbeing. That said, many patients saw depressive symptoms beginning to return after six months, so it seems they could’ve benefitted from another session or two around this mark.

In various smoking cessation studies at Johns Hopkins University there have been between one and three doses given. People have successfully quit with one session, whilst others had three. It is note able that quit rates were higher for people who had more than one than one session.

With shaman of various Amazonian traditions, people drink ayahuasca on multiple consecutive nights, or on alternating nights. So it might be three or four nights of drinking ayahuasca in a row, or six nights of drinking over twelve nights total. There are also variations between. In some religious communities or churches that use psychedelic plants, groups drink monthly or weekly.

Philosophy professor Christopher Bache did 73 high dose sessions over 20 years, and as far as I know, no one in the psychedelic community has said it’s too much. In fact, he is seen as a courageous explorer and his work an incredible contribution to the field. He is a special case and was extremely conscientious in his use, I should add.

This variety shows that there is not really any standard which could be said ‘this is the right way’.

Can you take psychedelics too often?

When I would say taking psychedelics is too much is, the same as any other activity, when it starts interfering with one’s life in a negative way. When the downsides outweigh the upsides.

Gabor Mate’s view of an addiction can be useful here:

A behaviour which provides temporary pleasure or relief in the short term but has negative outcomes in the long term.

For some, psychedelics might be used as an escape from reality, or dealing with one’s problems. This can be known as spiritual bypassing. If one is re-entering journey space before or instead of integrating the lessons from the last journey, this could be seen as too soon.

However, I’d say that one’s problems can be shoved back in one’s face on a journey, so it’s not always an easy escape. In fact, for that reason, not taking psychedelics could be seen as an escape.

Is there a minimum frequency?

No one can say that someone should be taking psychedelics at least x amount of times per month or year. Although with medicalisation on the way, perhaps doctors or pharmacists will in fact be prescribing them in this way.

‘Go for three psilocybin journeys per month over the next 12 months and then we’ll meet back and reassess your treatment plan. If you feel you need a recalibration of your dose just give me a call and we’ll set up another consultation.”

I can see it already. But anyway, I digress.

Psychedelics can show us things that we are afraid to see and therefore unconsciously avoiding. Avoidance is no long term tactic to resolution, so for those that psychedelics have shown to be a useful tool for inner exploration and therapeutic shadow work, then there could be cases where it could be argued that someone should take them more often than they currently are.

The best amount and frequency is one that will bring the most healing over the long term. Knowing exactly what that is difficult. We like to have answers or steady plans we can follow, but in the case of psychedelics, it can’t be pinned down as such. It needs our own continued consideration and adjustment, as well as our honesty. It also depends on the doses we are taking.

When should I pick up the phone again?

You’ve probably heard the Alan Watts quote, ’When you get the message, hang up the phone’. This has been commonly interpreted to mean ‘don’t trip too often’. Once you have some useful information, act on it before seeking more. What I would add to that is, feel free to pick up the phone again to get a reminder of the message.

Oftentimes a psychedelic journey will make absolutely clear an insight to be acted on. Good progress can be made on integrating that insight in the weeks directly after whilst the insight is fresh. As time passes, however, the clarity and raw obviousness of that insight may fade. And though the insight may not have been 100% integrated yet, touching back in with ourselves on a journey can be a refreshing reminder. If meaningful change has been made, space will have been cleared in our psyche for other useful messages, insights, and ideas to pour in. Integration is a life long journey and our lives are imperfect, so aiming to have integration of an experience totally complete before journeying again can be unrealistic.

The common interpretation of Watts’ quote also doesn’t consider the question of what ‘the message’ is, or if there are different levels of understanding the message. Or even, if there are multiple messages to be received.

Final Thoughts

I see the advice that ‘one should not journey too often’ commonly put out there, yet most of the people I know in the psychedelic community have ample experience and have journeyed dozens of times themselves.

In general I think that most people could stand to benefit from more psychedelics sessions, rather than fewer. This is almost something of a faux-pas to say these days, but it’s what I believe, so I’m saying it. That is why the thoughts I have shared here have leaned towards illustrating this viewpoint, and not going into the dangers of overuse, which of course absolutely do exist. I should also make clear that I am talking about respectful, intentional, and careful use, done with the intention of learning or growth. Not flippant or casual use.

If we consider psychedelics to be teachers that allow us to access wisdom, what is wrong with visiting that teacher? Sure, you do not want to spend your whole life with that teacher, never stepping out of the classroom to practice your lessons. But likewise, you’d want to attend lessons to make the most of the wisdom they have to offer.

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This post was day 20 of PSYJuly 2021.

experience psychedelic psilocybin retreats around the world

Welcome to PSYJuly Day 19 🙂 

Today’s post comes from Mark Haberstroh. I first met Mark in 2017 during my first experience of working at a legal psilocybin retreat in late 2017, and its very interesting to have read this post and hear his experiences at other retreats since then. Also interesting that we both later went on to work with the same retreat in 2019, his fourth center in this post, based in the Netherlands. Enough from me, over to Mark…

Working at Legal Psychedelic Retreats Around The World

When I was 27 I discovered a new purpose in my life. I had been getting obsessed with mushrooms and their potential for healing the planet as well as our own minds and bodies. Holding space for myself, and eventually friends, I found a new purpose in life.

This is a path of work I am now devoting myself to. Oftentimes vulnerable people are coming to these spaces and being made more vulnerable by the medicine in an effort to heal or overcome trauma. Sometimes this can be someone’s last ditch effort at overcoming a deep depression or addiction. It is important to be present with people. To be there with them as they integrate whatever material comes up during a journey. To guide and to hold space for them as they learn to heal themselves.

By the fall of 2017, I had been working with entheogenic mushrooms for a couple of years with little guidance. Reaching a point where I felt a bit out of my depth and desiring experienced facilitators to be with me as I took my first large dose journeys, I googled legal magic mushroom retreat centers. At the time there was only one search result that came up. It was an incredibly positive experience for myself and many of those around me.  This is where I first met John, the creator of this blog, and we have been in correspondence ever since. Not only were my mushroom experiences profound and beneficial, some of which I am still processing to this day, but so were the connections that I made there. I hit it off with the retreat center’s founder and he invited me back to help facilitate a future retreat. This is how I began working with as many legal retreats as I could, knowing that each space has its own unique leadership and style that I could learn from.

I worked at 4 different centers which utilised psilocybin over the course of 2018 and 2019. In this post I will share a bit about each one.

Retreat 1 – Jamaica, 2018

I came to the first retreat center in Jamaica in early 2018. This first retreat was rather austere: there was little to no music, and there was not much guidance during the journeys. This was a 10 day retreat with mushroom experiences every other day. The ceremony was in a beautiful yard of a local Jamaican family, a short walk from the ocean. There was a fair amount of preparation before the journeys and plenty of on-site integration. The preparation was general psychedelic information around what could be expected and what the group journey would be like. The integration came in the form of group sharing circles.

The after care once everyone left the space was lacking. I would find this to be a theme among all of the places I have worked. There was some miraculous healing and community bonding that occurred over a short span of time. Mushrooms are excellent for building community and even speeding up the process. This was evident at all of the retreat centers that I have visited. With the journey being unique to every individual, participants on these retreats never run out of conversation material. One young man came because he suffered from a severe case of cluster headaches. Four cluster headaches a week for four year. I have kept up with him and he has not had one since this retreat.

After returning to this first retreat center, I realized there was much I did not agree with in how the space was being held, the leadership, adequate after-care, and the safety precautions being taken. Perhaps I was a bit paranoid or overcautious as this retreat is still going strong and becoming one of the better-known spaces in the field. My personal opinions and disagreements on the ways in which things were being run became a common thread for me over the next couple years of adventuring and holding space at different retreat centers around the world.

Retreat 2 – Mexico, 2019

The second center was located in Mexico near Tulum. I visited in February of 2019 and they took a more ceremonial approach. The leaders had volunteered at ayahuasca retreats and wanted to mirror that model with mushrooms. It was a ten day retreat with mushroom ceremonies every other day. The setting was a beautiful compound/resort located within the jungles near to the city. They hired a “shaman” to sing for the duration of the journeys and did their best to hold a closed container. Every one of the participants got a lot out of their journeys. The journeys occurred every other day. On the days in between there were excursions to the beach or to see the local ruins. Many of the participants I have kept up with have returned multiple times with great satisfaction from each of the retreats. The women running this retreat are very capable and wonderful people. I am always happy to see anything being run by non-white men in this space as we are currently dominating the field.

Retreat 3 – Jamaica, 2019

The third retreat I worked for in April of 2019, located in Jamaica as well, allowed me to use the model of my choosing. We took a more therapeutic approach. With more resources at the ready we were able to offer a two on one experience. Though this raised the cost quite a bit, we were able to have a male and a female sit for each participant as they took a large dose journey. Having this much freedom I was able to test the waters of an approach I had done a lot of reading about.

I had a mentor who had shown and taught about this model.

It was a week-long retreat with one large, 5 gram, journey in the middle. This is the ideal method for deep trauma and therapeutic work. There is a tremendous amount of benefit to using these medicines in groups, but it is a very different experience when alone. Especially when working with a guide with whom you have had time to get to know one another. The setting here was in a room on a permaculture farm overlooking the ocean. The participants laid on a bed wearing eye shades and listening to a playlist through headphones.

Retreat 4 – The Netherlands, 2019

The most recent retreat center that I worked for used a more therapeutic model in a group setting. They were located in the Netherlands and I worked over a few months in the summer of 2019. This center is the one that resonated the most with me.

Retreats varied between three, seven, and ten days. People were educated about the experience upon arrival and took a dose every other day during their stay. Integration took place in small groups, large group sharing circles, and nature walks. The journeys were rather large doses and progressively higher as the week went on. This method allows people to grow more accustomed to the effects over their stay, allowing more ease when going inward and familiarity with the territory. The setting was indoors, with every individual laying on their own mat. Guests were provided with eye shades and blankets to promote a more inward journey. A calming non-evocative playlist was played over speakers in the room. There were spaces set up outside of this room for those who wanted some alone time, as well as the ability to go outdoors for a walk.

Long-Term Integration and Aftercare

Many centers in operation are run by wonderful, kind-hearted people who bring unique approaches to their holding spaces. One of the more glaring drawbacks to all these spaces is the lack of long-term integration and after care. Many of them rely heavily on WhatsApp groups. It allows the groups to integrate with each other but inevitably some individuals who are less socially inclined fall through the cracks. Integration is a buzzword these days and has many different meanings. Essentially it is readjustment back into everyday life. Taking what has been learned from the journey and bringing it into our daily walk.

Choosing a Retreat Center

My approach may not be the best fit for everyone, but it is important to understand the space these journeys take place in. I would like to encourage people who are exploring the retreat model to do their own research. Investigate each space thoroughly. Some of these centers are more focused on being profitable rather than the individuals that are coming. Get to know the staff and the facilitators who will be present. What model are you looking for? What models are being offered? What is your price point? Enquire about what kind of integration work they offer. What does their aftercare program look like? This is where the bulk of the work lies. The work can be broken up into three parts. 10% preparation, 15% journey, and 75% integrating the lessons learned afterwards. Of course, these numbers are flexible. It does shift a bit from journey to journey.

Final Thoughts

Working in these various capacities has highlighted my own need to further my education around therapy, therapeutic practices, trauma training and becoming more trauma informed. All of this is a part of my personal pursuit to help individuals maximize the benefits from a single session. I say this to share a bit of my story. In general, I think that if people have a safe space to try entheogenic mushrooms they will benefit. Everyone who participated in one of these retreats felt they had gained something from the experience. My purpose is to help someone maximise the benefit of a single journey and to maintain a high standard of integrity. Reminding individuals that they are whole. I do not know what anyone needs, they do. Redirecting people back to the inner healer within themselves.

This is a taste of some of the insights I have picked up over the last few years working in this field. I have been very fortunate to have the opportunities and experiences I have had so far, but I am always learning and fine tuning my craft. Feedback is very welcome. If you have any deeper inquiries, questions, or your own personal insights you feel called to share with me, please contact me at  ourcelium.mark@gmail.com and @our.celium on Instagram.

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About Mark

Mark Haberstroh, an entrepreneur, has been working with mushrooms of all varieties since early 2016. In 2017 he started his first gourmet and edible mushroom farm in Alabama and has since begun 2 more in Oregon and California. In 2018 Mark began to travel abroad to legally offer psilocybin to individuals interested in the experience. This has been his true passion since he began to work with this medicine on himself as a teenager. Currently waiting for the legal climate in the U.S. to change, Mark is taking a break from work with entheogenic mushrooms to focus on his education. He is a student at the School of Consciousness Medicine out of Berkeley, California.

creating music playlists psychedelic journeys

Welcome to PSYJuly day 17 🙂
Today we have a guest post from Max, AKA Welsh Integration Circle, one of my favourite people in the psychedelic twitterverse.

After seeing his work creating playlists (1, 2) for members of his community, I invited him to create a post to share his experience on a topic I feel there is ample room for discovery and development in the psychedelic space: music. More specifically, playlists for inner style journeys. Over to Max…

Creating Music Playlists for Psychedelic Journeys

There are infinite ways to use psychedelics. Nobody can tell you how you should use them, but as you move through life and gain experience your psychedelic use may evolve. Many of us start off in our youth: at home, in the park, at a festival or a concert.

One thing that you can say about the way people use psychedelics is that it frequently involves music. Psychedelics and music go together like Fish and Chips or Superman and Lois Lane. The altered state of consciousness that psychedelics induce, amplifies, enhances and transforms music into a completely new experience. Some people can even smell or see colours from music in the phenomenon known as synaesthesia. Music is not only heightened by psychedelics, but it can influence the entire atmosphere and mood of those under the influence.

There are many discussions online regarding the best tunes to trip to. You can guarantee that any of these will include the likes of Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, Hendrix, Phish, Shpongle or The Orb. Now these are great artists who were heavily influenced by psychedelics and aimed at an audience who might use them too, but this article is about creating personalised playlists that won’t include these artists or styles and the music is used in a different way.

Music, set and setting

We’ve all heard the phrase “Set and Setting” so many times that it has become a cliché, but it is still undeniably relevant. Al Hubbard was a psychedelic pioneer, who in the 1950’s, helped develop the idea that the setting could have a major influence on the psychedelic experience and even the outcomes in a therapeutic context. According to his instructions, the person taking the psychedelic lies down in a comfortable place, like a bed or sofa, puts on some eyeshades to block out all light and a pair of earphones to listen to the music. The idea is that by blocking out all other sensory input, one is directed to focus the attention inwards and be guided by the music. In combination with advice like Bill Richards’ mantra of “Trust, let go, be open”, one is encouraged to allow one’s mind in its altered state of consciousness to go wherever the music takes it. This is essentially the same format used by today’s trials at Imperial College and Johns Hopkins, and was recently the subject of a patent application by Compass Pathways, much to the anger of many a psychonaut.

First of all, ask yourself why you would consider this style of psychedelic experience. It may not be for everyone, but if you have only ever taken psychedelics recreationally, at a festival or party, then give it some consideration. It amplifies the effects and is particularly suitable for people who want to use psychedelics for personal or spiritual development, to address difficult life experiences, to change your life with regard to alcohol, tobacco or other drugs or just learn more about yourself and your consciousness. It’s also wise to have a sober tripsitter for these experiences, just someone being there will allow you to immerse deeper into your inner journey.

Now you could just pick one of many playlists on Spotify or other music providers that have been created, including the original Bill Richards playlist and those used by MAPS, Imperial and Hopkins, but I think it’s more interesting to create your own, although they can give you some good inspirations for your playlist.

So with this in mind, let’s explore the how and why of crafting a playlist.

Crafting a playlist

The aim is to relax the subject while the medicine starts to work, then to take them on a journey of inner experience which fits with their intention and their life story. The more you know about the person the better. The more you know about their music tastes, favourite movies, travels and previous psychedelic experiences, the more you can choose suitable tunes to guide them.

The first things to consider are what substance and dose are going to be used. If using LSD you will need more than 2 hours of music, but it’s unlikely that someone is going to lie still for 12 hours. For psilocybin I tend to aim for 5 hours’ worth of music. 

Use instrumental music, this allows the journeyer to focus on the sounds, rhythms and melodies, without the distraction of language. Foreign languages are fine, especially if they include chanting – non-lyrical singing also works well. I tend to avoid typical bands that have the usual pop, rock or jazz sound. Classical music can be excellent, but some people may not be used to listening to classical, so choosing a piece that is interesting is important. Electronic music can play a huge role with unusual sounds that can have dramatic effects while under the influence, but I tend to avoid dance music that one would hear at a club or rave and stick to more ambient styles. There is also great crossover between classical and electronic, sometimes called neo-classical, which includes some of my favourite artists like Max Richter, Nils Frahm and Joep Beving.

Beware of using too many floaty, unstructured tracks. As Michael Pollan explained in How to Change Your Mind, he had to listen to a lot of boring yoga and new age music for his journeys, and this is why personalised playlists can be more stimulating than generic ones.

Having said that, music that is less busy can have profound effects, as can silence. If you have ever tried meditation under the influence, you’ll know that it can be very powerful, and silence or empty tracks can provide a similar space. They can also be useful to contrast with other more energetic or dramatic tunes. It’s important not to overwhelm someone with too much noise for too long, and if you do choose tracks with drama, intensity and tension, it’s important to give them release as well. The order of the tracks can be very important, and I also insert some silent tracks of up to a minute long at crucial moments to build tension and atmosphere before a special piece, or after a particularly challenging one.

I tend to start off with some very light, relaxed music while taking the medicine and allowing it to take effect, and then slowly build the complexity and intensity of the tracks towards the end of the first hour. Knowing how long it might take your listener to start feeling the effects will help you plan.

Personalising playlists

Discover what kind of music the journeyer likes. Are they up for more complex and difficult tracks? Or are they very anxious and prefer gentler tunes and familiar styles? Try to imagine when the peak might be, and think about what kinds of atmosphere and feelings you are trying to evoke.

I also use my knowledge of them to add highly personalised music. One friend has Native American heritage which is important to them and they have partaken in ceremonies before. I added a short piece of pow wow chanting which had a very dramatic effect and still does to this day. The experiences that people have during their journeys become strongly associated with the music, so that they often listen to their playlists in the weeks after and have strong emotional connections to certain tracks for years to come.

Foreign music is also a great place to look. You can create a great atmosphere, transporting someone to a place of previous travels or residence, and help to bring up some of the memories and emotions from that period of their life. However, one should be aware not to overly manipulate someone’s emotions and journey. 

If they are very knowledgeable about a certain style that is relevant to their life or ancestry, choosing a track that is not stereotyping them or the music could be a challenge. Many cultures have beautiful and diverse music which is very different to Western styles and on my playlists I have used classical Indian, west African, South American icaros, Tibetan chanting, Mongolian and Armenian music, all with great effect. 

You can use music from important films from their life. Film soundtracks make great fodder for playlists and I have included tunes from Bladerunner, Black Hawk Down, Ad Astra, Twin Peaks and even Star Wars or The Omen. I’ve also asked their friends and family to give me some tips on favourite music and experiences. This needs to be done cautiously as not everyone can afford to be open about their psychedelic use, but music choice can be asked about in tactful ways.

I have given journeyers the option of a particular one or two tunes that they really want to hear on their playlist, and I ask why. Having listened to the tracks myself, I interpret how it might make them feel and decide on where in their journey it should appear and how to lead into it and follow on. Having a few key tunes as marker points in the playlist provides a structure to build the playlist around and helps you navigate what can become a tense and frantic process. It always feels like a big responsibility, knowing that the playlist is going to have a significant effect on their experience. The music truly drives the entire inner experience.

Collecting and Test Driving Tunes

To select tunes, I find that using cannabis whilst listening to music is a great way to get a sense of which tunes will be interesting during a journey. I tend to put them in a depositary playlist in the weeks before, so whenever I hear a tune I want to use, I have easy access to it when it comes to the final creation. Once you have selected all your tunes then ordering and editing can still take a long time. I often listen to the end of a track to try and work out how the transition between it and the next tune will work, to get it as smooth as possible and so that it isn’t a jarring change. A very soft and gentle track, silence, or some sounds of nature like cicadas or rain can also be a good way to give them some space between.

Try to let people relax into longer tunes, but perhaps not so long it gets boring. A variety of styles, pace and intensity is good and challenging them with unusual styles and sounds can provide opportunities for the imagination to run wild. Rhythmic tunes can be dramatic, and driving intense visuals, this is a perfect use of electronic music like some Steve Roach tracks, and artists like Philip Glass and Estas Tonne can create similar effects. 

Know your audience, their tastes and their level of challenge, and have some fun making a personalised psychedelic playlist for your friends and community.

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About Max

Max is a member of a small community of psychedelic users in Wales, who started with recreational use and have moved on to help each other with mental health issues as well as  personal and spiritual development, through solo and group journeys, and support each other through informal discussions and integration work.

 

tripping as a tool for self realisation

Welcome to PSYJuly day 14 🙂

Today we have a post from fellow psychedelic blogger and comrade Cody Johnson. I first reached out to Cody whilst I was based in Mexico and setting up the first version of Maps of the Mind back in 2016. He gave me great support and advice as I started out on my blogging journey and I’m grateful to still be in touch with him to this day. I’m pleased to be sharing one of my favourite posts of his here, and notably, one that introduced me to The Secret Chief Revealed, an important book in my story. I hope you enjoy.

Tripping as a Tool for Self-Realization

Psychedelics are the chameleons of the drug world — amenable to a variety of uses, dependent on the user’s attitude. The importance of set and setting cannot be overstated. If you use them as intoxicants, you will become intoxicated. If you want to see pretty shapes and colors and “trip out” to music, then they will act as sensory enhancers. If you just want a new mode of consciousness that leads you to experience life in a novel way, they will satisfy that urge.

There’s nothing wrong with these approaches. “Getting fucked up” can be a completely legitimate reason to trip (though not the safest or most productive one). There’s no need for self-described “serious” psychonauts to condescend to recreational users. (See Sacredness is in the eye of the beholder for my thoughts on that issue.) Everyone enjoys sovereignty over his or her own consciousness — this is the meaning of cognitive liberty.

But the fact remains: these psychedelics can go much deeper than recreation. Those who never choose to explore psychedelics more seriously than as intoxicants or sense-enhancers will miss out on their greatest potential. Why stop at pretty sounds and colors when these medicines can catalyze deep epiphanies and lasting change?

Because they encourage such ruthless honesty, these molecules are ideal mirrors for the art of self-reflection.

And psychedelics are very much agents of change. They can show you your shadow self, dragging your insecurities and internal conflicts into the light for examination. They mediate a conversation, even a partnership, with the subconscious, unseating your deepest assumptions and leading you to question the most rigid habits and biases. Psychedelics are molecular battering rams, crumbling the castle called Ego, often raising from the rubble a profound feeling of pure love and unity.

They can introduce you to God, bridging for a time the seemingly unbridgeable gap between the human and divine spheres of existence. Perhaps more importantly, they can help you get to know yourself. Your real self, defenses down, moat drained, drawbridge lowered. Because they encourage such ruthless honesty, these molecules are ideal mirrors for the art of self-reflection.

Much of this potential is likely to pass the recreational user by. You often get what you ask for, and if your attitude does not predispose you to a therapeutic or spiritual trip, you are less likely to experience one. Of course, a casual user will sometimes stumble upon personal revelations quite by accident. Even the most stubborn eyes and minds can be opened, allowing some insights to filter in. Such is the power of these chemicals, and the human mind.

Leo Zeff

Leo Zeff, the underground psychedelic therapist profiled in The Secret Chief Revealed, believed that a trip’s value is in catalyzing personal growth.

But those who approach the psychedelic experience with respect and intention will learn much more from their trips, and will be better prepared to integrate those lessons into their daily lives. As Leo Zeff, a pioneer of the underground psychedelic therapy movement, used to say, the quality of a trip is measured not by your experience that day, but how you grow in the subsequent months as a result. If we commit ourselves to being accountable to the insights received, then every trip can become a transformative event, a tool for self-realization. The best kind of trip is one you grow from.

Casual trippers often overlook two important stages of tripping: preparation and integration. Without attending to these steps the user is unable to reach the pinnacle of a truly therapeutic trip and maximize the learning process. Many people don’t realize that psychedelics are a school — and like any school, you need to do your homework. I’ll elaborate on preparation and integration in future posts; they are terrific methods for making the most of the dose.

Myron Stolaroff, a researcher and advocate of psychedelic psychotherapy, describes how recreational use tends to taper off:

The use of psychedelics is self-regulating in most cases. Their true purpose is to enhance growth and interior development. Used only for pleasure, or abused, the Inner Self is thwarted, which leads to unpleasant experiences and depression. Though everyone who pursues the use of psychedelics for personal growth must be prepared for the “dark night of the soul” experiences, those who seek only entertainment will lose interest in these substances.

Tripping for entertainment may lose its charm, but tripping for personal growth can lead the intrepid psychonaut to ever greater heights over years of directed use. Rewards increase as self-understanding deepens.

Transformation is the highest purpose we can set for ourselves when exploring consciousness. “Psyche-delic” means mind-revealing, and indeed, seeing oneself more completely may be the most psychedelic activity there is. I take Leo Zeff’s advice, measuring a trip’s true value by how much I grow from it afterwards. Heck, that’s a great way to rate any experience, psychedelic or not: how has it changed your life?

While I honor every individual’s right to choose how to explore consciousness, I encourage those of you who have never had the pleasure to try out the self-discovery approach. If you trip, trip with intent. Bring questions to explore. Treat it with gravity and respect, like a therapeutic session. That’s what the psychedelic experience can be: a deep and honest interview with yourself. Plan to dig deep, committing yourself to confronting all conflicts and negative feelings as they arise.

Best of all, “tripping with intent” not an alternative method so much as a complementary one. People use psychedelics for all sorts of reasons — to improve sex, deepen their connection with nature, channel the divine, explore their internal emotional landscape, and so on. A focus on self-discovery, with proper preparation, method, and post-trip integration, will help bring more meaning to all of these activities.

Focus on your deepest emotions before, during, and after the trip, and you will wind up with extraordinary lessons from the other side of the psychedelic frontier.

Besides, an LSD trip can last twelve hours, and shrooms is at least six. That’s plenty of time for a variety of activities and settings. If you’re accustomed to recreational tripping, especially in a social setting, try setting aside some alone time on each trip for quiet introspection. Then ask yourself, what’s holding me back in life? How does my behavior compare to my goals and self-beliefs? What would I like to change about my life? Don’t just think through the questions; feel them. Focus on your deepest emotions before, during, and after the trip, and you will wind up with extraordinary lessons from the other side of the psychedelic frontier.

If you’re looking for more specific guidance about tripping for self-discovery, stay tuned! That’s the main goal of this blog — to awaken people to the highest potential of psychedelics; to help you make the most of the dose. In the meantime, you can read up on psychedelic psychotherapy and trip guides. Researchers like James Fadiman, Myron Stolaroff, Leo Zeff and others have shed some light on the best techniques for therapeutic tripping. You don’t need a psychology degree to gain insight from psychedelics; you just need to pay attention.

psychedelic-explorers-guide-fadiman secret chief revealed

If you’ve experienced positive results from tripping with intent, share your experience with others! Give your “recreational” friends the opportunity to take tripping more seriously. Some people will resist, but others will be ecstatic that you opened their eyes to the higher potential of these chemicals. You never know, it just might change someone’s life.

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About Cody
Cody Johnson is an intrepid psychonaut and humanist who writes about mind-expanding plants and compounds at PsychedelicFrontier.com. His book, Magic Medicine, is an armchair adventurer’s guide to all things psychedelic: their history, emerging scientific research, therapeutic and spiritual applications, and legality.

Food Suggestions for Before, During, and After Psychedelic Sessions

‘What should I eat before my trip?’

This is a common question I get asked by people planning their psychedelic sessions, so in this post I will give my recommendations. As a bonus, I will also include suggestions for during and after the trip.

Pre-session meal

I recommend eating a light, healthy breakfast about three hours before the start of a day time session. At least two hours. A green smoothie or a bowl of oats with seeds and fresh fruit are both good options. I think it’s good to be hungry by the time the session starts. That hunger will disappear during the trip for most people, and return later on. 

The aim is to not have any food digesting in your stomach. Firstly, it’s better if your body isn’t expending any energy on the digestive process during the onset. Secondly, the feelings of digestion can be heightened and this can be uncomfortable. It can also contribute to feelings of nausea.

The best pre-session food does vary for different people, but I’ve found the empty-stomach-but-not-starving approach to work well for most people. If doing a session later in the day, I recommend having the same period of two-three hours without food before dosing. 

Session food

For most people, hunger disappears entirely during the session. It may begin to return in the later stages after the peak, so it can be good to have some snacks ready. Hand food like fruit and nuts are good for this purpose. They are easy to handle and eat, ideal for grabbing a bite. I don’t really recommend eating much during an inner journey style session as it brings attention to the outer world. That said, it’s fine on a short break, or if the hunger is becoming distracting and actually a hindrance to the purpose of the session. 

After the session

After a long journey some people do not experience much hunger at all and can barely eat. Others return ravenous, and enjoy eating a substantial meal. Others still, like myself, do not feel hungry or find the thought of food particularly appealing, but as soon as they take a bite, they realise that they are actually really hungry and enjoy eating a good meal. Bear this in mind and if you don’t feel hungry, consider trying a small amount.

I recommend having something healthy, hearty and wholesome ready to eat afterwards. You can prepare something before the session day that can be easily heated up on the stove or in the microwave when you’re ready to eat. This ensures minimum fuss in the kitchen after your session when you might still be feeling some of the after effects. Good options include a vegetable stew or curry because they often taste better after having been left to sit for a day 🙂 Including potatoes or bread can help bring a grounding, comforting element to the meal.

I recommend vegetarian or plant based dishes because if you have any kind of conscience around animal products, this can be magnified under the influence of psychedelics. You might well find that food very unappealing.

Food in the run up to a trip

Leading up to the trip, and at least for the day directly before, I again recommend eating light and healthy. Avoid any particularly greasy or spicy food the day before. You want a settled stomach for the big day. A friend of mine once had a really spicy curry the evening before a session and had a few more ‘spicy’ trips to the bathroom during the day than he would’ve liked. For the same reason, and also to ensure a good night’s rest, I recommend avoiding alcohol the day before, ideally for a week leading up to the session.

Any difference for psilocybin or LSD?

My advice is the same for both LSD and psilocybin because most of the same still applies. Nausea is more commonly experienced on psilocybin so might be of greater importance, but it can also be experienced on LSD (and 2-CB), especially in the early stages of higher dose journeys. Like a flight, there can be turbulence on the way up. The best you can do is try to weather the storm, surrender, and remember that it will pass.

Ginger

It can be useful to have some raw ginger to chew on. The ginger is anti-nausea, and having something to chew on can also be comforting. If eating mushrooms, this can also help to cover the flavour which in itself might makes some people gag. Another option is to make a nice big brew of strong ginger tea to drink before hand so it’s already in your system when you take off. One thing to bear in mind is to not drink too much, as this can lead to multiple trips to the bathroom.

For more tips, read how to avoid nausea when taking psilocybin.

Food in the days and weeks afterwards 

After the journey, listen to your body.

‘Listen to my body? What does that even mean?!’.

I’ve thought the same thing myself before. If it sounds strange, I invite you to just try it. Before deciding on what to eat or buy from the supermarket, take a moment to tune in to how you feel in your body. See if anything comes up. You can even ask: ‘what food would you like to receive?’ or ‘what would you like to be nourished with?’. This tuning in to your body is a good integration practice in general and also useful for embodying emotions and feelings that surface in the days, weeks, and months afterwards. 

Try to follow a healthy diet but not to the point where it becomes stressful to maintain. It’s important to remember that happiness is important to health too, so treat yourself to nicer, and sometimes more celebratory meals too. Practicing mindful eating, to savour each mouthful, can make these types of indulgences more enjoyable, and the need for them less frequent too. Also, sometimes a heavier, more substantial meal might be helpful if you are feeling a bit ungrounded.

Improving your diet can be seen as a long game in the part of improving physical health, so take care and be mindful if making big changes that might shock your system or be hard to maintain.

Final Thoughts

Of course, as with anything, the best diet before, during and after your trip will depend on the person. If you haven’t yet found a personalised approach that works for you, I recommend starting a drug journal and collecting your own data. You can make a few simple notes after each session so you have them in one place for future reference. Until then, I believe this advice will serve you well as a solid starting point.

Safe journeys!

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Read more from PSYJuly 2021 🙂