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

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

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

abraham maslow hierarchy needs psychedelic psychology

Planning A Mystical Experience

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

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

This guide includes:

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

Dosage
 psilocybin psilocin capsules shrooms magic mushrooms

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

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

Check Erowid for peyote and San Pedro.

Preparation

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

Checklist

You will need:

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

The Picture Trip

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

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

picture trip pictures photos

Pictures To Gather:

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

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

The Sitter

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

John Hopkins Psilocybin Study

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

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

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

The Weeks Before

Learn the basics in meditation

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

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

meditate mindfulness

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

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

Think About Your Intentions

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

Keep a Gratitude Journal

journal notepad write notes

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

Check medication

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

The Days Before

Prepare your playlist and music player

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

ipod music phone headphones

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

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

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

Tidy up loose ends

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

Check in with loved ones

Call or go see those most important to you.

The Day Before

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

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

walk nature

Understand Your Intentions
Revisit and clarify your intentions.

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

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

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

bed bedroom sleep

The Trip Day

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

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

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

sacrament chalice

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

Meditate – 10-20 minutes.

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

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

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

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

The Trip

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

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

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

Remember, difficult is not bad – challenging experiences can wind up being our most valuable, and may lead to learning and growth. Consider that it may be happening for an important reason. Try to approach the fear and difficult aspects of your experience with curiosity and openness.”
– Zendo Project

Coming Down

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

Picture Trip

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

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

Ending The Day

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

The Day After

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

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

When you feel ready…

Write It Down

Take a pen and paper and write about your trip.

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

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

Look Forward

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

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

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

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

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

References & Resources:

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

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

The Zendo Project

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

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

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If I decide to ingest a psychedelic substance, such as LSD or psilocybin, I am committing a criminal action and risk being punished by law: But why?

  • Are these substances actually dangerous?
  • Is their prohibition to protect the public?
  • Are these laws just?
  • And do they benefit society?

I believe the answer to all of these questions is no, and that current laws which deem psychedelics illegal to be a transgression of freedom. These might sound like big claims, but I’m going to back them up with some help from our trusty friends science and logic. So, I believe a good place to start is to ask…

question mark

Why Are Psychedelic Substances Illegal?

The official answer, from those who created and enforce the law, (the government), goes like this;

“Current drug laws are there to protect citizens. Harmful, dangerous, and highly addictive substances are restricted by law to protect the public. Certain substances are illegal to prevent people from harming themselves and others.”

Sounds pretty logical, right? But if drug laws really exist to protect the public then it would logically follow that the most harmful substances carry the harshest punishments – and the least harmful would be legal. An assessment of harm will be useful here.

Assessing Harm: How Dangerous Are Psychedelics?

Let’s take a look at this chart which shows the results of a 2010 study in which drug-harm experts ranked 20 illegal and legal drugs on 16 measures of harm to both the user and wider society.

Drug Harm Chart

Source: David Nutt, Leslie King, Lawrence Phillips, “Drug Harms in the UK: A Multicriteria Decision Analysis,” The Lancet, Nov. 1, 2010

A more detailed breakdown of the harm analysis can be seen here:

detailed breakdown drug harms chart

The two psychedelics in the list, mushrooms (which contain the psychedelic compound psilocybin) and LSD are two of the least harmful substances. This list may be surprising or even shocking, but just take a moment to consider how our perception of drugs is influenced by hearsay and cultural norms as opposed to actual experience or valid scientific data. An amusing article which illustrates this point can be read on Vox here – Imagine If The Media Covered Alcohol Like Other Drugs

Making The Distinction: Psychedelics Are Their Own Class

If you’ve grown up in the Western world like me then you’ve probably been led to instinctively lump most illegal drugs into the same category – ‘dangerous and to be avoided’. But the truth is that there is an enormous difference between the effects and potential dangers of different illegal drugs. I’m sure you’d agree that heroin is more dangerous than weed, for example.

Psychedelics – like LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, DMT, and ayahuasca – also known as hallucinogens, are their own class and shouldn’t be confused or lumped in with other categories of drugs. Making this distinction is crucial when considering their harms and understanding the argument for their legalization. Here’s a chart which shows potential for dependence and the active/lethal dose ratio (how close the active dose of a drug is to its lethal dose).

active lethal dose dependence chart drugs

Source: Gable, R. S. (2006). Acute toxicity of drugs versus regulatory status.

Drug Law is Irrational

With all this in mind, it’s clear that the prohibition of psychedelic substances is not based on their potential for harm. The laws that prohibit them are not based on any scientific or logical analysis, and seen in this light can be considered irrational, contradictory, and massively biased towards users of legal drugs such as tobacco and alcohol.

So should our governments make alcohol and tobacco illegal, and put the punishment for their use in line with their potential for harm? I don’t think so, seeing as prohibition didn’t and still doesn’t work. Even if it did, this would be the stuff of a nanny state, interfering unduly with personal choice and treating its adult citizens like irresponsible children incapable of making such decisions for themselves.

The fair and logical way forward is to legalize psychedelics – in the interests of good sense and individual freedom. And this is what I believe is at the heart of this debate; freedom.

Psychedelic substances must be legalized in the name of freedom.

That may sound hyperbolic, but hear me out.

Freedom

braveheart freedom

FREEDOM!! But Braveheart jokes aside, current drug policy boils down to this:

I am not free to put what I want in my own body.

That’s it. I do not enjoy freedom over my own body. Think about it. Current law dictates that I should be thrown into a cage for the choices that I make about what I put inside it. The laws that prohibit me from making these personal choices undermine the whole notion of freedom that is fundamental to our sense of what is right and just in the West. I mean, we call ourselves the free world! And this is about more than just the body. It’s also about something just as, if not more, sacrosanct to who I am, an area that I as a free citizen must surely enjoy full sovereignty over: my mind.

Cognitive Liberty

LSD placebo brain scan images

Images showing brain scans from a 2016 study

Psychedelics alter the activity and chemistry of the brain and in doing so they alter consciousness. In other words, they change how we perceive reality at the most basic level. Their outlaw effectively means that we are not free to explore other modes of awareness or perception – we are not permitted to explore the altered states which psychedelics facilitate; states that enable us to plumb the depths of our own minds.

How can it be that we are not allowed to explore a domain so personal to ourselves? And in doing so face persecution, financial penalty and physical restriction? To me this is a crazy situation. These laws fly in the face of any idea that we are truly free. If we are to enjoy genuine freedom then we must be able to make our own reasoned choice as to what we put into our own bodies and in doing so, how we may choose to alter our perception of the world. Without this freedom of choice, we are not in fact free. Fundamentally, if you support freedom, you support the legalization of psychedelic substances.

Statue of Liberty

So where did these repressive laws come from? Surely they made sense at one time, at least when they were created…

The Origin Of The Law

The first country to outlaw psychedelics was the USA. Nixon signed the controlled substances act in 1970 which put most psychedelics on Schedule 1, prohibiting their use for any purpose. The decision to outlaw psychedelic substances was a move by the US government to stifle the anti-war and civil rights movements of the time, with the laws used to persecute, arrest, and make examples of leading figures of counter-cultural protest movements which growing use of LSD was linked with. It was a move the government made to ensure stability, or increase control – whichever way you choose to look at it.

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. […] We could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
– John Ehrlichman, Former domestic policy chief and adviser to Nixon

Nixon launched the war on drugs and the appropriate government propaganda was spread to assure the public that these substances are dangerous and that it’s in society’s best interest that they be made illegal. Governments all around the world followed suit and psychedelics have been illegal and demonized in the Western world since. Nearly 50 years later we are still left with these laws, along with the fear and hysteria that surrounds them.

The Law Harms

As I said earlier, prohibition didn’t and doesn’t work, people continue to take drugs because it’s a natural human (and animal) urge to want to change our consciousness. By making psychedelics illegal we are actually making them more dangerous as there is no regulation or quality control of the substances and no designated establishments for safe or supervised use.

pub public house scotland

A pub – a licensed premises and designated space for enjoying a beer or other alcoholic drink

Bad experiences may also be influenced by a level of paranoia that might come when involved with a taboo and illegal activity. The creation of these black markets also means that all revenue from their sale is untaxed – money which could be going to drug education.

The Importance Of Education & Information

Education is a fundamental aspect of harm reduction when it comes to any potentially dangerous activity, not just drugs. This is why we have to get a driving license before we can take a car on the road, or have health and safety briefs or training for adventure activities like scuba diving, bungee jumping or skydiving. By and large, more education means safer. This is true of psychedelic experiences too.

Bungee jumping

Difficult or overwhelming experiences occur largely because someone is unprepared for what they experience or because they’ve taken it in an inappropriate setting. Rather than being a problem inherent to the substance, it’s because most people just don’t know any better.

Consider your own education of psychedelics, at school or otherwise. Now if you were to take LSD, how would you approach the experience? If you weren’t sure, would you feel comfortable asking a family member or work colleague for advice? How would you feel about searching online for advice if you were on a computer in a shared office or where someone might access your browser history? The stigma around the subject is a hindrance to the passing of information on the topic as it means that discussion is hidden and only talked about behind closed doors. You might even have friends or family members who have their own experiences and could offer advice – but as a taboo subject, you might not dare bring it up. The fact of their illegality only adds to the stigma and even those who take these substances will be afraid to share their experiences and knowledge.

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Psychedelics’ illegality and stigma stifle honest and open discussion of them – an informal education that not only reduces harm but can help to maximize the potential benefits of these substances.

Positive Potential Of Psychedelics

Psychedelics show incredible medicinal potential and are currently being studied in research settings for a wide range of treatments including addiction, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and also as a tool for psychotherapy. Early results are very promising. For example, in studies with psilocybin on terminal cancer patients suffering from depression and anxiety, 83% of participants reported increases in well-being or life satisfaction.

John Hopkins Psilocybin Study

Research setting for a study into the effects of psilocybin to treat depression and acute anxiety in cancer patients. John Hopkins University.

As well, psychedelics have served as inspiration for some of the greatest minds in history, be they writers, musicians, or nobel-prize winning scientists. The list of psychedelic users who have had a profoundly positive impact on society and the progress of humanity is extensive (link), and many have even credited their creativity and greatest discoveries to psychedelic use.

steve jobs iphone lsd

“Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life.” Steve Jobs

“What if I had not taken LSD ever; would I have still invented PCR? I don’t know. I doubt it. I seriously doubt it.”
Biochemist Kary Mullis on his nobel-prize
  • Read more about the positive applications of psychedelic use here

Considering all the possible applications of psychedelics and their potential to improve lives and benefit society, we might even go so far as to consider that their prohibition is a serious hindrance to the progress of humanity.

The Law On Psychedelics Is An Important Issue

I understand that this is a contentious issue but its something I think needs to be talked about. I sincerely believe that it is not only with the interests of harm reduction and justice that this class of substances be decriminalized, but that it is fundamentally an issue of freedom. If you have made it this far and still believe there is good reason for psychedelics to be illegal, please get in touch, letting me know your thoughts and the reasons for your opinion. I’m open to new information and would like to be made aware of any arguments or points of view that I might’ve missed. I genuinely welcome the discussion and would like to believe that I would be willing to reassess my stance if I see that I’ve made a mistake.

If you’re not convinced either way or feel some resistance to the ideas that I’ve presented here, I ask that you consider at least some of what I’ve said might be true, and to then make your own investigation into the matter. There is increasing amounts of information about these substances online, including recent scientific research, their medical applications, and also the wider discussion of drug policy and reform. I’m not going to feed you any more sources, I’m sure you know how to do a google search 🙂

That’s it! Thanks for reading.

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If you have enjoyed reading this please share with friends or people you think it may be of interest to. You can do so with the share buttons found below.

If you’re reading this you’re at least intrigued about psychedelics. I’m sure you’ve already heard enough reasons as to why you shouldn’t take psychedelic substances, so here’s the flipside…

  •  Disclaimer: There are, of course, risks to taking any kind of drug. This piece focuses on the positive effects of psychedelics. Do your own research please.

1. Appreciate Life More

Pretty good reason, right? Following a strong psychedelic experience users may feel a renewed appreciation and lust for life. As with any serious journey or intense experience, a psychedelic experience can change one’s perspective, help to bring a certain level of gratitude and joy to life, and to appreciate the little things. In studies at John Hopkins University with psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, 83% of participants reported increases in well-being or life satisfaction. As well, studies at Imperial College London have found that taking LSD leads to increased optimism and openness.

2. Increase Creativity

The Beatles, Aldous Huxley, Steve Jobs… what do they all have in common? They were all hugely influential creatives who credited psychedelic use with changing how they saw the world.

“It [LSD] opened my eyes. We only use one-tenth of our brain. Just think of what we could accomplish if we could only tap that hidden part!”
Paul McCartney

art draw

The link between psychedelics, music and art is fairly well documented in culture but their creative potential goes beyond that. Psychedelics can be used as tools for thinking and the recent growth in the number of people micro-dosing for creative and productive reasons is a testament to that. Revelations and new ideas are commonly experienced and users are able to take some of these insights back with them, applying them to problems in their life as well as creative and even scientific endeavours.

“The billionaires I know, almost without exception, use hallucinogens on a regular basis. [They’re] trying to be very disruptive and look at the problems in the world … and ask completely new questions.”
Tim Ferris

lsd acid

A problem-solving experiment conducted with 27 professionals from a variety of fields – engineers, engineer-physicists, mathematicians, architects, psychologists, among others- found that psychedelics aided them in finding creative solutions to professional problems they had been struggling with for months. Participants reported enhanced functioning in the following ways; capacity to restructure problem in larger context, enhanced fluency and flexibility of ideation, heightened capacity for visual imagery and fantasy, increased ability to concentrate, heightened motivation to obtain closure, and visualizing the completed solution.

“What if I had not taken LSD ever; would I have still invented PCR? I don’t know. I doubt it. I seriously doubt it.”
Biochemist Kary Mullis, on his nobel-prize

3. Awesome Experience

Seeking adventure? Exploration doesn’t have to be external, you can go on an awesome journey internally with psychedelics – there’s a reason it’s called ‘tripping’. The feelings, challenges and experience you might expect from an external adventure – wonder, awe, excitement, overcoming adversity, learning through experience – are all there and present in a psychedelic experience too. If you don’t have the time or money for a trek through the rainforest or a Himalayan expedition, you might consider taking an inner journey on the weekend.

shrooms psilocybin

‘Magic’ mushrooms contain the psychedelic compound psilocybin

“If [my daughter] does not try a psychedelic like psilocybin or LSD at least once in her adult life, I will worry that she may have missed one of the most important rites of passage a human being can experience.”
Sam Harris

4. Experience Something Deeper

There is a reason why psychedelics have been used in religious and spiritual rites for thousands of years. Whether it’s ayahuasca in the Amazon, peyote in the North American desert, or Iboga in Central Africa, psychedelic substances are used by humans to alter consciousness in a way that allows them to experience something transcendent or divine. It’s the same reason why spiritual seekers are drawn to these substances today… they are capable of producing mystical or ‘religious’ experiences.

peyote mescaline

Peyote cactus, containing the psychoactive alkaloid mescaline

Can they really facilitate genuinely religious experiences? Science tells us yes.

In 1962, a double blind experiment in Boston found that almost all participants who received psilocybin reported a profound religious experience. In a 25-year follow-up to the experiment, all of the subjects given psilocybin described their experience as having elements of “a genuine mystical nature and characterized it as one of the high points of their spiritual life”.

The study was duplicated in 2002 at John Hopkins University, under more rigourous controls, and after a 14-month follow up over half of the participants rated the experience among the top five most meaningful spiritual experiences in their lives.

5. Your Sanity

Fewer mental health problems? Bet you didn’t expect to see that on the list. Well according to a recent study, people who use psychedelic drugs show fewer mental health problems. Though this might seem counter-intuitive at first it begins to make sense when one considers psychedelics’ ability to improve mindfulness – a tool which can provide a flexible set of skills to manage mental health and support well-being. Psychedelics are now being used to treat anxiety and depression, with early results very promising.

“Psilocybin does in 30 seconds what antidepressants take three to four weeks to do”
David Nutt, professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London

6. Quit Addiction

Did you know that the founder of Alchoholics Anonymous wanted a dose of LSD to be the first step of the program? He stopped pursuing this line when it began to upset other members of AA but he was on to something. Psychedelics are now being used to treat all kinds of addictions with incredible success stories. Ibogaine, a psychedelic from Africa, seems to be the go-to for matters of heroin and opiate addiction, with ayahuasca also used to treat heroin, cocaine and alcohol addictions. Psilocybin and LSD are also now being used to treat addictions to tobacco and alcohol, whilst micro-dosing is helping to wean people off addictive anti-depressants like adderall and ritalin. It seems that whatever the addiction, there’s a psychedelic to help.

In Closing

I feel it’s a shame that so many people don’t ever get the chance to experience the wonder of psychedelics because they are worried they will go crazy, lose their minds or jump off a roof thinking they could fly. But I could hardly blame you if this was your only idea of what psychedelics offer because of the way drugs and in particular psychedelics have been portrayed in our culture, media and schools. We are taught things like ‘just say no’ without any critical thought; pure non-thinking conformity. We aren’t properly educated about them or encouraged to actively engage in the decision with our own critical and cognitive faculties. This is why the underlying assumption of a large chunk of society is that (illegal) drugs are bad and have nothing positive to offer you.

But now the science is coming through from all sides and telling us that this school of substances have much to offer us and an increasing number of people are learning of their incredible potential. With a little research you will find that people all over the world, for thousands of years, have been using psychedelic substances as tools for change, education, growth and inspiration, and are continuing to do so today. There continues to be a growing number of people taking back the reins to their own consciousness and using these tools for growth and empowerment in what seems to be a psychedelic renaissance. Will you be part of it?

lsd acid tabs psychedelic

If you’ve visited this site before then you’re probably aware that I’m an advocate of psychedelic drugs. You’d be forgiven for thinking that I’m chuffed that micro-dosing is fast growing in popularity and entering mainstream culture. Well, yes and no.

lsd acid tabs psychedelic

On one hand, I’m happy to see the discussion on psychedelics opened up, seen beyond the narrow and often typical stereotype of ‘tripping balls man!’, and as a tool for creativity and self-improvement. I also of course support the use of micro-dosing as a medicine, to treat ADHD and depression, in the meantime weaning people off highly addictive drugs like adderall and ritalin, which have many other non-desirable side effects. It goes without saying that these medicinal uses are an important reason we need to see laws on these drugs revised.

But to me that’s just the beginning of the potential of psychedelics. It’s the tip of the iceberg, the micro-dose by its very nature will never provide the full psychedelic experience.

“Psychedelics are illegal because they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behaviour and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.”
– Terence Mckenna

“If [my daughter] does not try a psychedelic like psilocybin or LSD at least once in her adult life, I will worry that she may have missed one of the most important rites of passage a human being can experience.”
– Sam Harris

Terence Mckenna and Sam Harris weren’t talking about the sub perceptual experiences of micro-dosing, they were talking about full blown trips. The idea of someone taking psychedelics frequently but never having this experience is where my disappointment in the current trend lies. It seems that LSD and psilocybin – incredibly potent substances capable of life-changing experiences – are now being used as a means of increasing efficiency and productivity, whilst their other, more dynamic, truly revolutionary and potentially world-changing uses are being overlooked. It’s a symptom of our productivity-obsessed age, the same thing has happened with meditation. I can’t help but feel a little disappointment to see such powerful tools being integrated into a progress obsessed culture with the ends of working more and producing more – merely feeding the broken machine that is civilization.

“Even meditation practice has been warped and bastardized by the modern mentality as a tool for efficiency.”
– Charlie Ambler
from 
‘Don’t Worry About Progress’ (a short and excellent post, well worth a read)

The trend of microdosing for productivity just seems to highlight our inadequacy and unwillingness as a species of looking at the bigger picture and addressing the big problems that need to be solved to create a better world. In psychedelics, we have tools that can make one see the bigger picture and realize our collective humanity – capable of spurring one into a passion for changing the world in a positive way. And now they’re gaining popularity as a means to merely enhance existing desires – work more, produce more. In other words, to make us go even faster along the path we’re already going down, rather than to look at where we’re actually going and consider changing direction.

A telltale sign to me is the part that Silicon Valley has played in popularizing microdosing. The valley is a symbol of our technological age, synonymous with success – but its giants – Google, Facebook, Apple – aren’t exactly focusing their efforts on eliminating world hunger (entirely possible with today’s available resources and technology), stopping the spread of malaria, researching alternatives to fossil fuels or alternative economic systems, or any other truly noble causes. In fact, they’re hardly ethical, Apple have had their hands dirtied with modern day slavery in China, and Google, despite being a multi-billion dollar company, have been dodging literally millions in tax, whilst the rest of us have been paying off the bill from 2008 financial crash (the bankers responsible still haven’t been held to account), with increased taxes and cuts to public services – including benefits to the disabled and public health services. These are the titans of today, paragons of success, and now LSD and psilocybin are to their aid. Great, I’m sure we’ll get the next version of facebook and the new model of the iPhone even quicker now. Just what humanity truly needed. Meanwhile, thousands go on without access to clean water and we continue to use an inherently flawed global economic system that exacerbates wealth inequality. So much for a better world.

Is There Hope?

Of course. My hope is that microdosing ends up being a ‘gateway drug’, leading those initially drawn to psychedelics for productivity to full doses and powerful spiritual experiences. I romantically imagine a work and productivity obsessed nut sitting down to his desk for another day of efficient work, only to discover that the full dose of LSD was on the corner of the tab that he’s taken, taking him on an existential journey to the depths of his soul where he questions all he knows. The next day, he insists to his fellow workaholic microdosers ‘You gotta take a full hit! I’ve been awakened, we need to help our fellow man!’.

How beautiful and fittingly ironic it would be if a global revolution sneaks in through a productivity trojan horse. Here’s to hoping.

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What’s your view on the current microdosing trend? Is any introduction of psychedelics into society a win? Leave your thoughts in the comments.