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First trip in Amsterdam

Wonderful experience (long story)

Amsterdam, 2011. It was the end of October, a beautiful weekend. We were on a trip, a group of students and me. Our origins are of little importance. Among the students were my girlfriend and a few other friends. I had heard of magic mushrooms some time ago and read that they induce life-changing experiences and revelations. I couldn%u2019t help but wonder and think about what the first time would be like. 

Before going to buy them, we met with a compatriot which was part of the hotel staff, who gave us some advice regarding mushrooms. He advised we should take around 10g per person for an awesome experience, or 15g for 2 people if we wanted to start slowly. (Keep in mind; he was talking about fresh truffles, as mushrooms have been banned in Amsterdam, which have pretty much the same effects). He also told us to do it together, somewhere quiet and peaceful, and support each other should anyone fall prey to negative emotions. Now that%u2019s a man who knows about the importance of dose, set and setting.

It was midnight. We were six (my girlfriend, 4 girls and I). There were no conflicts between us, an important factor to consider. Some had just met. Overall, we were outgoing, social and open-minded and eager to try out the psychedelic truffles. We were in the hotel lobby, with few people around us, on a sofa, with good lighting and comfortable temperature. We started out with a thumb-nail sized piece, as we had been advised by the compatriot, and waited about an hour to see how things would develop. The tasty was stringent and earthy, leaving a stinging, pleasant sensation on the back of the tongue. The girls found it rather unbearable, as we were advised to chew it thoroughly. I quite enjoyed it. An hour passed, and nothing happened. We took a few more pieces. Another half-hour passed. We finished what was left of the brown truffles. For whatever reason, I finished the final half of my last joint. My girlfriend and 2 girls also smoked a joint. It was getting close to 2 A.M. Those who got a bit high off the weed started laughing hysterically at the most mundane of things. One of the girls started to sway; I couldn%u2019t tell if it was the THC or the psilocin. Another girl and I started to look at the elevator doors, as their polished metal surface reflected the plethora of colors coming from all over the lobby. It looked like a rainbow of sorts. It was something you would never notice unless you focused on it. Some of the girls were expecting crazy visuals and were looking all over to see them.

My head felt heavy. As if guided by an invisible force, I lay my head on the back of the sofa and closed my eyes. The girls%u2019 laughter was fading out but I could still hear it as clear as crystal. I laid there, eyes closed, not thinking, not feeling anything, for a moment that could as well have been an eternity. I was dying and being reborn.

I opened my eyes and looked at the elevator doors. The rainbow was still there but I wasn%u2019t paying attention. In about 30 seconds of staring into space, I realized I wasn%u2019t breathing. My breathing had become a conscious action. For a few minutes, I could only breathe if I thought about it and did it consciously. It wasn%u2019t scary%u2026it was fascinating. I could truly appreciate the mechanics of breathing that happen behind our conscious thought processes.

My breathing became automatic again. And this is where it happened. Like a child first focusing on objects, I could finally see. I could see the world as it really is, as it is meant to be seen. It was as if I was looking at a TV screen and I turned the saturation and contrast all the way up. There were cans of Coca-Cola Cherry on the table and their burgundy red was so vivid, I couldn%u2019t believe I had never seen this color before. But this red was so different than any other red I saw. There wasn%u2019t a single objected colored red that had the same shade as any other red-colored object. And as I thought about the color %u201Cred%u201D, all the reds in the rooms lit up. I could selectively perceive any family of colors I wanted, and differentiate between the infinity of shades. The girls were still laughing, and would probably have continued, if I hadn%u2019t interrupted them (sorry girls). I showed them the Coke can and how powerful the burgundy red was. They stopped laughing and started to look at the can with interest. Then it dawned on them too, all the beauty of the colors that surround us. They couldn%u2019t believe it, and frankly, neither could I. We couldn%u2019t believe how wonderful a simple lobby, with yellow lights, deep-green couches and red Coke cans could be.

I felt like a child, (re)discovering the world. I was touching everything in reach, listening to all the sounds that surrounded me and looking at anything I possibly could. I picked up my knitted scarf and I started to rub it near my ear, touch my face with it, look at it and smell it. Then, just by listening to it, I could just feel what it felt like and smelled like. It was all connected in my mind and that was my first %u201CA-ha!%u201D moment. I began experimenting on the girls, making a sound with one object, touching them with another and putting yet another object near their noses, and asked them the colors of the various objects. They could always answer correctly. This may seem obvious but at the time, it was amazing to feel how the senses worked together to create our view of the world. It just felt like I knew how my brain was functioning. And then I actually thought of my brain and started to feel it in my head%u2026to hear it working! I could hear as the electricity surged through my neurons and my synapses went off as I made another connection between an object%u2019s color and the sound it made.

What was happening began to make sense: everything was happening in a spiral-motion and everything was unfolding as if in an hourglass:

Spiral %u2013 because anything you think of takes you in another direction and your mind perpetually continues to make links between thoughts, taking you to places you have never been. In this fashion, you can easily spiral downward into the recesses of your mind and find things that you might not be ready to face yet (bad trip). However, just by thinking of happiness, you begin to ascend and everything changes; Hourglass %u2013 because all stimuli (external and internal) converge toward you mind and then are lost in memory.

At one point, I started to feel air. I would just wave my hands and feel the flow of air through the grooves of my fingers' skin. In fact, the density of air was so evident, I felt as though I was swimming in it. I was rediscovering the world for what seemed like an hour. I cried twice after realizing how beautiful life and the world surrounding us are. They were tears of joy which I couldn't control, but just felt slide down the side of my cheeks. They would only last for a maximum of 30 seconds as my mind continued to think of something else. Even laughter was short-lived. The only persistent feelings were those of amazement, apprehension and a child-like curiosity. It was awesome.

Between many physical discoveries, I had philosophical and abstract revelations. I felt what it was like to be alive. It's hard to explain, but I could perceive de sensation of living, of being alive. Then I felt what it meant to exist. If the living bit was hard to explain, this is damn-near impossible (to those who have never felt it). I just felt I was an entity in time and space, that I was there and it was me. It felt incredible to know this. Speaking of time, I could sense time passing! I could determine the passing of time in the motions of everything around me. My simple moving was due to the passing of time, without which, I realized, there would be no movement. Mind-blowing.

I had equipped myself especially for this occasion with a pair of earphones. I closed my eyes. The first song was Rumi-Moroccan Dance (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yp168lF3VQo). The first note made me shed a tear. With my eyes closed, I could see an Arabian palace expanding in front of my, morphing with the music. I could also see shape constants and fractals in the palace rooms; I could smell jasmine and incense sticks. It was spine-tingling and I felt dwarfed by the grandiosity of it all. The music seemed magic and it felt as though it was playing from deep inside me. Geometric patterns formed, dissolved and gave birth to other forms, similar to a media visualizer. I don't know if the visuals were happening on their own or if I had induced them by watching psychedelic videos on YouTube in the past. Either way, it was magnificent. I couldn't listen for more than a minute at a time without being overwhelmed. One of the girls gave me a rock song to listen to and as I closed my eyes, a rock concert began forming in my mind's eye. I could see the band, center stage, hear the crowd screaming, smell the sweat, feel the bustle and general atmosphere. The crystal-clear instruments were pounding on my very soul, giving me energy, stimulating my mind. Any song I listened to sounded like the best song I had ever heard and I could appreciate it in its entire splendor. Every song was an adventure, a journey into my mind.

I was listening to an Italian speaking a few meters away from me and I could amplify his words to make it sound as if he were right beside me. I could barely understand a few words yet I could ''feel'' what he was communicating. I could also listen to a voice and feel as if I was in their voice box or nose.

We decided to go outside to see what ''outside'' was like. As I stood up, the entire atmosphere changed. Because there were no lights on the ceiling and the lower part of the room was lit up much more, the room suddenly seemed more bizarre, a strange mix of happiness surrounded by shadows. The ceiling seemed to stretch on endlessly, like a giant dome, while the floor looked tiny. As we stepped outside, a new world unfolded before my eyes. The water in the narrow canal flowing in front of the hotel rippled in the wind. It had a dark-brown hue that reminded everyone of chocolate. I somehow made my way to the edge of the canal and stared intensely at the water, along with a friend. I told her it looked like chocolate and that it would be so wonderful if we jumped in. Crazy thoughts but not suicidal, which made me understand why some accidents may occur during psychedelic trips. Then my girlfriend pointed out how the leaves of a tree were swaying in the wind, enticingly, as if there was some cosmic song playing. I then felt the wind against my skin, flowing through my hair and between my jacket and shirt. It was like a river of air was sweeping me, ensnaring me...

We quickly went back inside, as the ''outside'' proved to be more than we could handle. The darkness that surrounded the trees seemed very ominous. Inside, we again started to analyze our surroundings and experience the power of perceiving our true senses. I remember one of the girls was very silent and stared at everything with amazement. It was heart-warming to see everyone enjoying themselves. I started to feel the need to talk. The words were forming in my mind and I thought with such clarity and spoke with such coherence that I felt superhuman. There were some funny moments when I felt like a superhero, being able to feel and do everything unshroomed people couldn't. At this point I had the ''we are all connected, everything is one'' revelation. I dawned on me as I was looking at the air around us. We were all breathing the same air, experiencing the same things, thinking as one. And I just felt as if we are actually connected to the entire universe through a succession of links that stem from our senses.

Indeed, without our senses, we can't experience the world around us and it can't communicate with us so we are disconnected from it. In fact, because we are unable to perceive all the stimuli with which the world is trying to communicate with us, we are partially disconnected from it. We have a bad connection and among others, mushrooms seem to improve the quality of that connection. If you have no senses, you don't exist in this universe. Not from your point of you. It's only you and your thoughts. Which is an entire universe of its own. So are we interlinked universes or is everything around us a figment of our imagination? Or maybe a figment of someone else's imagination...But I digress.

I somehow felt that I needed to use the bathroom so I got in the elevator to go to the third floor. Let me tell you, when those doors slid shut, the temperature in that elevator dropped instantaneously. There was a tension in the air that only I could feel. It was eerie. There was a mirror on the back wall but it wasn't scary to look at myself, it was just funny to analyze every pore, crevice, crack and scar on my face, it was like zooming in on my skin. As the doors opened to reveal the third floor hallway, I found myself surrounded by a long, yellow corridor, decorated with paintings of unfamiliar faces. Though not dimly lit, I could still feel an unmistakable tension. The walls seemed to warp slightly if I looked at them for more than a few seconds. The hallway seemed to stretch out in front of my and grow...

I went to the bathroom, where the walls were decorated with black and white square tiles, like a chessboard. The sensation was bizarre; pressure was what I could feel. The lack of sound was unnerving. I headed to my room and opened the door. It was dark, save a couple of laptop or phone lights. We were 12 in one room so it was rather big. I didn't want to go inside; I didn't feel up to it. It was so dark and I felt as if something was waiting for me which I didn't want to face. Two of the girls were asking me why I wasn't coming in. They insisted, but I refused. It was as if they weren't human, they seemed similar to the kind of creatures that take the form of man to lure you into the darkness. Very bizarre.

I went back downstairs and hung out a bit with my girlfriend and another girl, after which we went upstairs. In the hallway, we started touching the walls to feel their texture. I hugged a column.

I played with a napkin and realized I don't have to look at it to catch it. I knew when, where and how I threw it and could feel where it was going to land. It was fascinating. The girls were staring at the walls and ceiling and their pupils were dilated as if in pitch-black darkness. I laughed because we probably looked like retards. Next to our room was a small corridor where I eventually convinced the girls to come. I told them it looked scary but if they thought of positive things, it wouldn't be so frightening. Even so, there was a negative feeling at the outskirts of my mind; I felt a wave of panic waiting to wash over me.

We entered the room. Darkness, a few lights here and there. It took a few moments before I was focused on positive emotions. The darkness was overwhelming. There's probably a connection in my mind between darkness and negative emotions and that's why I didn't want to face the dark. I kept my phone in front of my face lit up as I made my way to the bed. I put on some chill-out songs and relaxed. The images I was seeing were totally psychedelic. I couldn't listen to songs that had a strong rhythm because my heart would begin to race and I wanted to run, to move.

Then I thought that my heart might be beating to the rhythm of the music and if the tempo was too fast then I would have a heart attack. And my heart would begin to beat faster and I panicked. It was exactly the spiral I was describing, the negative one. I thought about what it means to live and to die. At one point, I felt someone walking across the room and I believed they would stab me. I panicked but I thought about how they couldn't kill my consciousness and thoughts, so I relaxed. Stranger and stranger thoughts raced through my mind. This is one of the effects of shrooms: you cannot stop thinking. You are permanently aware of every thought to cross your mind. I couldn't stop my mind from wandering, I couldn't empty it. It was tiring but at the same time exhilarating. If I can control my senses so well, I thought to myself, why couldn't I control my subconscious? I decided to be a better person, a happier person. This was plan from while taking the shrooms, to change myself for the better. I thought about it, imagined how I would be like, while trying to avoid the grip of the darkness that surrounded me. Sometimes, especially when the song I would be listening to would end, the darkness and silence would become so strong; I frantically started to search for a new song just to fill my ears with sound. I realized how much control the mind has over the body and our emotions and how much control we have over the mind. I know feel there is a force inside us that represents the voice of our souls, which dictates everything we do, think and believe. I think that force is will power. I felt where will flows from inside our brain: somewhere in the back, between the two hemispheres. It was a strong visualization. It seemed like a luminous sphere from which a net expanded all over the brain, the power of will to control our mind. I still can't figure out what will really is, I haven't thought too much about it.

I read a story of a person that let themselves be consumed by dark thoughts and panic and after a journey into the abyss, managed to find themselves and become happy. I did not dare allow myself to descend into the darkness, for I know there are things waiting for me that I must face the next time. I believe one you face your fears and let yourself fall into the dark, you truly learn what they represent and how you can overcome and control them. Next time, it's going to be personal. I must face them. At the moment, I feel I've succeeded in taking apart the bad from the good and avoiding the negative influences in my life by forcing myself to think positively. But I'm slowly starting to lose control to desires, urges and temptations. I can feel the handles slipping from my hands and there doesn't seem to be anything I can do.

Just as I listened to the music with the darkness surrounding me, thusly I had managed to remain positive and keep the darkness at bay. At that time, I visualized the darkness enveloping me and building a wall to keep it out. I am happy now because I want to but if I stop wanting, the happiness could fade. I realized I am mean sometimes because I get bored and start teasing and bugging people. Boredom is the mind's stagnation. To avoid boredom, you have to want to think, to analyze everything surrounding you. The world we live in is fascinating, but the way our mind is built prevents us from perceiving its subtleties and details.

You have to want to think, or you start thinking what you want. Control your emotions, or they will control you. The power that I have discovered is incredible (at one time, I was actually thinking I was a superhero :)) ). The power to want and do what I desire without being distracted by little nothings. I don't feel awkwardness anymore. Because I don't want to. I can feel everything my body is telling me: the pain, pleasure, emotion and I feel I can ignore them if I want.

Next time I have to think of the worst. I want to analyze and turn on the lights in my brain, and not feel the shadows stalking me. I can't describe how good I feel, the amount of control I have over myself. This is fading however, and I can feel it. I have to dig deeper next time...

You have to try mushrooms; I think they'll change your view on life.

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