Helping the mind by turning it inwards
I have been fascinated
by psychedelics for many years now, having dabbled once or twice in my
more hedonistic days. Those days now seem like lifetime ago, and I was
certainly no Hunter S. Thompson; it was always done in a
one-foot-on-the-ground, don't make a fool of yourself, 'be cool', party
setting. Over last year or so however I have had my interest piqued
again whilst listening to discussions on pod-casts as well as having
read articles and journals that demonstrated the seemingly amazing
mental benefits of this often overlooked phenomenon of 'tripping'.
Psilocybin and Psilocin in particular caught my attention due to their
ability to take users out of their normal thought patterns, causing a
bit of positive chaos, and enabling a truly transformative inward
experience but without it having to last 12 hours... Nothing should last
12 hours. The word "experience" was actually really key for me as I
consumed a lot of information (as we all do in the modern, digital age)
but I hadn't had nearly as many significant personal experiences as I would have liked in the last 10 years.
a lot of things in my life have changed, and are still doing so. I am
however a big believer in viewing things positively and also believe in
the necessity of resistance for personal growth and development to
occur. So I wanted to take a deep look into myself to find out what
really made me tick, to dust off the internal moral compass, and to
hopefully help me get a little clarity on where to go next.
did my research into psilocybin; dosage amounts, how to create the right
set and setting, what to do if hit with a difficult trip, etc. Wanting
to have a strong, deep journey I decided to use Pandora truffles as they
were the third strongest on the menu - basically, I knew I'd get to
where I wanted to go and hopefully be able to roll with it without being
crushed by the wonder of it all. Based on my body weight of 77kg and
the fact I have a very high metabolism (meaning whatever goes in me hits
hard and fast) I thought 6.5 grams would be a good amount for this
I set up my room with candles (a focal point), a place to
lay down (always a good idea), music (eventually sticking to
"Entheogenic" for the most part), a glow-stick (blue), high sugar drinks
and sweats (in case I needed the sugar to lift my mind), a pen and
paper (to record the madness), black-out blinds (as I was doing it in
the day), and a small joint (tobacco and marijuana mix).
had an apartment to myself and was ready to go. The first thing I did
was write a note to myself saying "You took something to go deep. You
want change. Flow with it and don't resist. You will be OK soon." and
"Remember, it comes in waves".
I kept the following log of the experience:
- I chewed the 6.5 gram pile of Pandora and savoured the acidic,
distinctive taste. I then sat down for a 20 minute mindfulness
meditation session (which I had started practicing about three months
prior and would highly recommend the "Headspace" app for anyone
interested). During the midpoint of the meditation I started to see
"rolling clouds of colourful liquid smoke" whilst my eyes were closed.
It was subtle and beautiful.
12:40 - By this point I definitely
felt the effects coming on. It was a soft presence of mood and a growing
visual alteration and distortion; I started to see faint lines
appearing on the wall connecting together to make shadowy geometric
shapes. I also started to dance to Enthogenic's "A Singularity Encoded"
(the first time I'd ever heard it) to relax and ease me in to a fun,
12:50 - I stated to feel a subtle euphoria wash
over me and the visual distortions became stronger. I wrote "as soon as I
defocus my eyes everything starts to breathe, it's an amazing feeling
to finally see it happening". I was referring to the fact I had read and
heard so much about the 'breathing of walls' on psychedelics but had
never actually witnessed it until then.
13:08 - "Everything moves, it's beautiful"
- "I feel completely of sound mind. Almost, but not quite, stone cold
sober. However there are beautiful geometric patterns on every surface,
colours are saturated and the hue has shifted, and the only real change
to my mood now is one of excitement. When I close my eyes I see a
beautiful large rotating disk almost horizontal to me covered in
striking neon Celtic geometric patterns". Having looked into the
patterns afterwards it is a common shape seen in psychedelic trips as
well as in religious iconography and architecture. It was similar to a
13:35 - At this point I decided that this experience of
seeing incredibly realistic patterns and shapes everywhere was great,
and much easier to handle than I thought it would be (the ego is the
enemy... (a great book)) so I decided to light up my joint. It
immediately disrupted the geometric shapes and altered the visuals for
about 2 minutes before really hammering home the effects! I wrote "it
has broken the clean shapes into a sea of stars".
next 25 minutes were the moments I had been looking for. I more or less
immediately started to feel the effects coming on as intense waves of
sinking deeper into the mind and an explosion of fractal geometry
everywhere I looked. The walls started to slide and the flat surfaces
turned into large fractal pillars rotating in line. The wooden table
looked like smoke was pouring across the top of it like a dry ice
machine. There was a dream-catcher on the wall which when focused on
appeared to zoom in and out like the dolly zoom effect from Alfred
Hitchcock's "Vertigo". I then took my glow-stick, kneeled on the floor
(which was covered in a slowly moving soup of Celtic geometric shapes
like oil in water) and put the glow-stick in the centre of the space.
The patterns immediately centred around the glow-stick making what I can
only describe as a magic glyph. It looked so mind bogglingly amazing
that I reached for my camera before quickly realising what I was doing
and burst out laughing.
I then took the glow stick and rolled it
over my closed eyes. This is where things started to get intense. I
started to see giant fractal structures very clearly. So I lay
down and closed my eyes to delve deeper into that world. I saw, or was
hovering above, huge swirling vistas that began to form enormous
vertical columns that at the time I decided were the trees of life. They
were bigger than galaxies. On closer inspection the columns or trunks
were branching out in all directions in the most brilliant colours
imaginable. It was around this moment, as I zoomed out from the huge
fractal trunks, that for the briefest of moments infinity made absolute
sense. I felt it. I felt everything go outward and inward forever. No
words can describe that feeling. It was beyond a basic intellectual
understanding of a concept, it was somehow an experiential understanding
that everything went on forever in every direction, inwards and
outwards, and it blew my tiny monkey brains. In that moment of awe I
felt pure terror like I have never felt before.
The first thought
that came to me after terror was "oh god, I'm scared... Oh no... I'm
gonna have a bad trip"! As soon as that thought entered my mind doubt,
fear, and anxiety came rushing in like a pack of wolves, and I mean that
in almost a literal sense; I could almost see the feelings stalking me
and begin closing in quickly. It was similar to the imagery in
Trainspotting when Renton shoots up and sinks down into the ground, but
the walls here were my fears. Not wanting to go down into the depths of
mental hell I thought I needed to listen to these thoughts and feelings
but not let them consume me, so I quickly jumped up and began to do a
sort of Tai Chi (which I do not practice) breathing and movement
exercise to process what was going on in my mind, but in a physical way.
I focused on my hands out in front of me and grounding myself in the
moment. Thankfully this worked incredibly well!
I cannot tell you
how much those few minutes have strengthened my mind and given me the
deepest confidence in myself. I have faced something that has truly
terrified me on an absolute base level and not let it crush me. I was
able to pull myself back from the brink of what insanity must feel like,
and not let negative emotions take hold and cascade into one another,
amplifying the effect. Instead, I allowed them to come and go without
taking root. I'm sure, among other things, meditation was key to allow
that way of thinking.
14:00 - The strong wave started to pull back
and I was able to write again; "Had an intense blast into the infinite
mind. Wowza!" and "Do not over analyse or dwell on thoughts. Instead act
more as an observer. It leads to a strong mind".
At this point I
opened the blinds and let the sunlight pour in which was extremely
refreshing. Everything was still covered in, and inherently expressed,
fractal geometry but the intensity was slightly less and as time went on
each wave that hit became less intense than the last. As a side note
it's actually really nice getting small moments of respite in-between
the intense periods of visuals or thoughts as you have some time to
digest what you have seen or learned before moving onto the next
14:20 - I spent a while in silence looking out of the
window watching a bird on a roof top across the road from me. I then
wrote "psychedelics have an ability to push all of your anxieties to the
surface where you have to deal with them. It most likely works as a
therapy because you learn ways to combat terror and dread - or as we
commonly call it - fear (which on a substance like this can be realised
incredibly vividly) in ways you never have the chance to do in normal
14:50 - After some time contemplating a multitude of things
and seeing faces in bed sheets I felt the effects easing off more and
more. So I made a bowl of soup and sat down to listen to Aubrey Marcus'
podcast #63 "The end of my plant medicine journey" which was quite
fitting. While the pod-cast was playing I stretched and watch the world
go by outside.
16:00 - I finished the podcast and felt more or
less back to normal, so decided to venture outside into the city for
what ended up being a brilliant and contemplative two hour walk.
in all this was one of the most enlightening and productive experiences
of my life. I learned that we have the ability to allow negativity to
pass through us and not take hold, and that the world is most certainly
far more amazing than we can ever really know (although we all 'know'
that, it's good having a direct experience as an anchor to that
Going in to the experience I wanted to get some clarity
on major choices and decisions I was having to make at the time. This I
did not get. What I did get however was a rock solid belief in myself
and a deeper knowledge of what makes me tick, what I am scared of (it's
always good to know what holds you back), and that when push comes to
shove I have a mental strength I did not know was there.
months on I feel a good sense of lightness, humour, and humility has
come from this. Small everyday things seem more important again and,
even though the grand scale is there (which I have always been obsessed
with), it doesn't need to be front and centre at all times. Enjoy the
moment, here and now. Even as you ready these typed words. Don't get me
wrong, this sort of experience is not for everyone as it is powerful and
can be HARD at times, but I believe it has helped me in ways that I
couldn't have accessed through simple intellectual debate and reasoning
alone. If you want to look under the hood and get to know yourself a
little bit more, both the light and the dark sides, psychedelics
certainly offer one interesting and worthy path.
This will not be the last time I take a journey deep within.