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A lesson in mindset
I'd like to share an experience that I had with p. cubensis which highlights, circles and underlines (with a dark, zigzagging line) the fact that the potential power of this drug should never be underestimated. There are many trip reports of this kind, but nevertheless, I think this tale can serve as a great example of how not to approach tripping. It shows how very important set and setting are.
I had been dreaming of growing mushrooms for well over a decade, but until recently, did not have a living situation that was conducive to it. Finally, however, I found myself living alone under my own roof, accountable only to myself. I was extremely excited about doing this--I had studied the process over and over throughout the years, and could just imagine picking my first flush off of my cakes.
The first red flag in this story is the reason that I was finally on my own: My wife had left me. When you and your wife separate, and your first response is to decide to grow mushrooms, even if it is simply the first good opportunity that has ever presented itself, you know you're probably headed for trouble--if you're not bullshitting yourself.
Without getting too far off-track, let's just say that on top of that, a person at work, whom I thought I could trust at one point, was privy to the fact that I was growing. This was a woman who literally came into my life the very day my wife got on the airplane, and sexual undertones surfaced in our relationship rapidly. Being in a vulnerable spot, my wife having just left me, there was a bit of a rebound in the making, but I decided against it, and started to put my foot down on the matter, telling her ultimately that I had no interest in going there with her. Her response was to turn on me, and in a really screwed-up act of emotional blackmail, whipped up some false hysterics and sobbingly told my boss that I was “angry, unstable, on drugs,” (none of which was accurate) and growing mushrooms in my closet.
When my boss asked me my side of the story, I told her that this person was exaggerating and manipulating, which my boss already suspected--but then my boss specifically asked me if the part about growing mushrooms was true. My boss is more than a boss, she is also a personal friend and mentor. I have a lot of respect for her, and I respect myself, too, so I fessed up. My boss respected my honesty, expressed her concern that I might be making a mistake, and left it at that. However, this turn of events really put a monkey wrench in my plans. I couldn't just let things sit--I was unwilling to lie or deceive, but I was also not content at all with my boss knowing that I was proceeding with a plan like growing mushrooms. Things would not be right between us until I did something about that. So I decided that I was going to cancel my grow and toss out my cakes, so that I could tell her with full honesty that I'd changed my mind. I made an appointment to talk to her the next morning and went home for the evening to do what I had to do.
It did not escape notice, however, that I had a few small mushrooms growing on a couple of my cakes. I decided that I didn't want to make a waste out of all of the time, energy and money that I'd put into growing. I decided then and there to harvest what I could, pull out my scale, and see if I had anything worth dosing on.
It turned out that I had 10 grams of wet mushrooms on hand--enough for a low-dose trip. I was set to eat them that very night. Now, as I said, I've studied psilocybin for years, and at that point, I had tripped twice, with years of experience with other substances.
My life was basically in pieces at my feet--wife gone, boss severely disappointed in me, which was jeopardizing a bright future with the organization, and there was a histrionic woman at work hell-bent on ruining me just because I didn't want to feed into her fantasies.
Psychologically, this was a terrible time to trip. Looking back, I think that in the back of my mind, I knew that this was a bad trip waiting to happen, and that I actually wanted it to happen that way, so that the next morning, I could mean it all the more when I went in to tell my boss that I was through with this endeavor. Having had difficult experiences too numerous to count with DXM, and given the low dose of mushrooms I was about to take, I figured I could handle whatever came my way. However, having never experienced anything negative from psilocybin, I was totally unprepared for what can happen when psilocybin draws out all of the negativity that one has floating around under the surface during such a difficult and stressful time in life. It was a truly humbling experience, for which I am actually quite thankful. Now for the nitty-gritty:
I ran to a nearby store to get some orange juice to drink--I figured this dose would be small, borderline, and that it would need all the help it could get. I didn't really need the OJ to get them down--normally, I hate mushrooms in food, but I love the way these mushrooms taste, and thoroughly enjoyed eating my 10 wet grams. I had decided that I would hang around at home until the trip set in, and that I would then, somewhat ritualistically, walk to a nearby park to throw all of my PF cakes into the pond there. I ate the mushrooms at around 9:30 PM.
By 10:00 PM, I could feel the onset--tingling in my limbs, but even moreso in my torso (Ya like that? Heh...). For some reason, I tend to really feel this tingling concentrated in my kidneys when I dose on psilocybin. I went into my room and wound up laying on the floor. Naturally, this got the attention of my two dogs, who both came up to me to sniff me and lick my face. I found this totally hilarious: The way they walked, the looks they gave me, and the curiosity inherent in their actions. It also tickled--not just their noses on my skin, mind you, but the sound of the sniffing itself seemed to tickle my eardrums, my soul even. It was actually quite overwhelming, and as I gently pushed them away from me, I rolled onto my back and laughed hysterically. The distinct lightheadedness of a mushroom trip, unlike that of any other substance I'd explored, was very obvious. Behind my closed eyelids, I saw the most powerful CEVs I'd ever witnessed before. I understood where the classic “psychedelic” imagery used in so many music videos and pieces of moving psychedelic art had come from--what I saw struck me as almost stereotypical: Flowing, bubbly liquid fields of different blending colors, patterns that looked like neon signs, and some paisley designs that reminded me of shirts I've seen Hendrix wearing in photos. I laughed at how my visuals seemed to be the quintessential patterns associated with psychedelic artwork.
Soon, I decided that I was getting too distracted by the “fireworks”--the admittedly amusing, but ultimately superficial phenomena associated with a trip. I had always looked forward to them, but to me, the psycho-spiritual aspects of trips were always the most interesting and important. I decided to get down to the work I had set out for myself: I gathered my PF cakes from their fruiting chamber, bagged them up, grabbed my mp3 player, and headed out the door to go to the park.
As I walked through the parking lot of my apartment complex, I saw a big luxury car rolling towards me. Somehow, I just knew that the person driving it was going to stop, roll down the window, and want something from me. Sure enough, the car stopped, the window came down, and a gangster-looking guy stuck his head out and said something, which I couldn't hear through my headphones. This made me a bit nervous, but I always give people and situations the benefit of the doubt, so I just acted casual, pulled out one of my earphones, and asked the guy to repeat himself. It turns out the guy was in a hip-hop group, out handing out leaflets for an upcoming show. I talked to him for a while, listened to his group's music from his car stereo, and went on my way.
Though it was getting late, I kept passing people in the parking lot. I felt very self-conscious and vulnerable--perhaps because I felt as though I could peer so deeply into things, I automatically assumed that others could see right into my soul, too. As usual on mushrooms, I was so truly and thoroughly myself--none of the usual, unconscious pretenses, postures and stances that we all assume throughout our lives without even realizing it. It's like I couldn't help but just loosen up and be authentic--and this made me nervous. I would try to counteract it, but then I would feel so fake--and I was sure that people who spotted me would know right away how fake I was being.
Slight paranoia began to set in, and the fact that I was walking down the street with a bag full of mycelium didn't really help things. I tried to think of things to say if a cop happened to stop me and ask me what was in my bag. The utter silliness of the situation was very apparent to me--how ridiculous of me to be afraid of the consequences of doing something so brash and stupid! I reflected on just how impulsive almost all of my actions that night really were, and decided I had no right to be upset about it if something bad happened to me. I actually smirked at the thought, because at the time, the whole thing seemed really humorous. Mushrooms often do this to me: Bring on a clarity about myself and my circumstances that is really refreshing. It's usually not without a good deal of shame or embarrassment that we admit these kinds of things to ourselves, but when I shroom, it is as natural as breathing for me to just accept my insights about myself, whether pleasing to the ego or not. This would actually prove to be the very thing that brought an otherwise nice trip crashing down around me, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Soon, I reached a small bridge that spanned a section of the pond that narrows considerably. I stood there for a while, feeling the gentle breeze of a warm, humid night. Soon, I opened my bag, and just started tossing PF cakes one after the other into the pond. I made a game out of seeing how far I could throw them. On the one hand, this seemed like a kind of heresy--after spending over a month caring for these things, I was now just tossing them out. But it was also a great release--on a symbolic level, I was letting go of the burden of dealing with my boss knowing that I was still growing mushrooms. I wasn't just throwing away these particular fungi, I was throwing away mushrooms as a whole. When the last cake flew, my trip immediately came up a notch, and a wave of the most penetrating, warming euphoria washed over me. It felt so great to have found the strength to do that, for the sake of being true to myself, and maintaining my integrity. It's not always easy to be honest with people, but deception is something I just don't want in my life. Now I could move forward in a positive direction, having earned the right fair and square. This wasn't the shrooms talking--this was genuine, inner contentment of the sort that no drug can provide--though the effects were certainly enhanced by the psilocybin.
I started walking, this time in a very slow, casual gait. After a few steps, I stopped and stood, admiring the view of the pond, which I could see just on the other side of a swathe of tall grass growing in a shallow portion of the pond. There were fireflies lighting up here and there, and this set off some breathtaking visuals. Soon, the entire night sky was lit up in a sort of strobe effect of ever-changing colors--and yet at the same time, it was just a normal night sky. It's very hard to describe. I also started seeing fireflies lighting up to the beat of the music I was listening to--I decided I was not actually seeing real fireflies, but that this was almost like a tracer--a hallucination that simply repeated something I actually had seen, over and over, rhythmically.
This was an amazing peak. It was also where things started going downhill. I began walking again, and I felt a strand of spiderweb cross my face. As I reached up to wipe it off my face with my hand, I realized that that was the exact same motion I had made countless times before (I like to walk at night). I felt itches on my leg and scratched them, I glanced up at the stars or the tree branches looming overhead, I untangled my headphone cords, all in unconscious, deeply-ingrained motions that I always make. I felt like some kind of robot, and I also felt like the biggest fraud in the world. This realization contrasted sharply with my self-satisfied moment of deep fulfillment just a few minutes prior--and it was a total buzzkill.
There I was, walking through the park at night, like I always used to do when I was high. I had last tripped about 9 months prior, and I was noticing how similar this trip was to the last one. As I grew these mushrooms, I had imagined that it was going to be something so different, so new--I had barely tasted the psilocybin experience before, and was looking forward to having a ready supply of mushrooms with which to explore it. I had thought that I would have some kind of life-altering experience, gain some kind of deep insight of which I am incapable in my sober state--but what I was getting in that moment was more of the same. Yes, there were some qualitative differences in my mental state brought on by the psilocybin, but even these more abstract mental differences, though more important than the changes in my sense perception, proved to be superficial alterations, mere window dressing when compared with the true, inner essence of things. That inner core of Being was something that no drug could ever change. At that moment, the realization finally rose, from the depths of my mind, that I had been carrying an unconscious assumption that psilocybin would bring about some fundamental change in my psyche. I had not realized that this assumption existed, and yet to have it dispelled was something that shook me deeply. It was a rude awakening.
I heard myself thinking, “This is all the same.” And then I asked myself, “Then why do you feel compelled to repeat it?” At this, I immediately spiraled into a looping thought pattern of shame at expecting something different--upset at myself for doing the same thing I have always done.
Everything was the same. Same park, same nighttime stroll. Same soccer field. Same garbage can. Same street, same cop car driving down it. As I crossed into my apartment complex, I crossed the front lawn, which I normally don't do--I normally enter via the parking lot. The last time I had crossed the lawn instead, I was tripping. Go figure. Same fountain. Different sleeping geese, but same goose shit. Same greenbelt. Same parking lot.
Same front door and same hallway. Same barking dogs, same frustrated way of releasing them from their cages. Flopping onto the couch to stare at the same ceiling. Same life, same me. Same mess.
I needed to connect with somebody, but didn't really have anybody to call so late at night (It was about 11:30 by now). I got on my computer and signed onto Messenger--another old pattern, one I hadn't expressed in a long time. Same old buddies I used to talk to. Only one of them online, asking me what's wrong. I realized that I had no words for what was going on inside me. There was no way anybody could understand the real meaning of what I was going through, without experiencing it themselves. It was all just words. I was frustrated, and began to cry and tug at my hair.
Eventually, I decided to get on my cell and call a very old friend from California. When she answered the phone, I couldn't even speak--my response was a series of manic pants. There was such anger, frustration and turmoil welling up from within me, all I could do for a while was writhe on the couch, grabbing at my skin, wishing I could tear myself to shreds. My friend kept asking me if I was there, if I was okay, and I would respond as best I could, with a grunt released through gritted teeth.
Eventually, I was able to get words out, and I started to tell her how nothing mattered, because we were all robots; how I had worked so hard for two years to better myself, and still my wife left, my job was at risk, and I still wiped my face the same way I always did when I felt a cobweb streak across it. To me, all of our actions seemed robotic. I felt as though there was nothing new or significant that anybody could do.
Soon, my thoughts turned to the woman at work who had ratted me out, and I became manic with rage. I started yelling about her, repeating phrases over and over at the top of my lungs like an angry toddler. Entire strings of angry thoughts came out in compound sentences as I paced frantically through my apartment: “She fainted she fucking FAINTED she fainted who DOES that is she CRAZY she STOLE 'It's all good,' how do you STEAL THAT who the fuck does she think she IS?” (referring to an occasion on which she had decided to kiss me and, as I pulled away, pretended to fall to the ground and faint. She was a bit unstable, this woman at work). I punched my refrigerator and drew blood from my knuckles. I jumped high in the air and stomped. I was raging against her, but also making fun of her. I was experiencing fierce anger and intense mirth, simultaneously. I would cry, trailing into a manic laugh. It was strange, being able to feel two opposite feelings, so intensely, all at the same time. It was very cathartic. I realized that all of this was there, beneath the surface, held in under normal conditions. I yelled about wanting to kill her, to strangle her, to squeeze her head until it popped. “POP! POP! POP!,” I yelled before laughing hysterically. This continued for about an hour, my friend very calmly trying to talk me down over the telephone. I had a seemingly endless supply of energy to expend. I just did not get tired, despite all of this activity. My vocal chords got hoarse, but I just kept yelling.
After a while, I managed to calm down. My friend recalled stories of when we were in high school, all of the antics we got into. She told me what a good friend I was, that the things I did mattered to her. I had helped her through a difficult time of her own a few months prior as well. Eventually, she convinced me that I was a good person, that life was worth living, that our actions have meaning. We spent another couple of hours reminiscing before getting off the phone.
Despite how mess up things got, I cannot for the life of my consider this a “bad trip.” Even while I was so upset and anguished, I was happy for the experiences. It was good to get all of that crap out of me. It was a great lesson, too. Never again will I underestimate what psilocybin can bring out--and now I understand that it doesn't necessarily matter if I am feeling happy and excited at the moment of ingestion--if there is crazy shit going on in your life, don't trip. I sure won't.