24 hours ago I took 520mg of ground cubensis mushrooms in four size-1 capsules. I took the caps first thing after waking on an empty stomach. This is my fourth time taking a psychedelic, and +130mg the dose of my previous session.
This was a milestone experience. Consider the following questions:
– Are these actually psychedelic mushrooms?
– Did I dehydrate, grind, and pack these capsules properly without harming the psilocybin?
– What does a subtle psychedelic experience feel like? How will I know it’s real vs imagined?
These questions have been in-mind for approximately 90 days, since taking my initial steps down this path. I was pretty certain I felt things during sessions 1, 2, and 3, but this session put these questions to rest, never to be wondered about again. My subjective experience was that convincing. While the characteristics of this session were consistent with earlier ones (absorbed and vivid; did not include any visual hallucinations), the intensity was BEYOND the threshold I could ever attribute to placebo effect. The key difference: the drastic shift in perspective during the 30 minute span of onset, and stark appreciation and gratitude for the beauty of everything around me in the present moment.
My mid-session journal entries are helpful in illustrating what this was like:
(Start of session)
6:00AM – Capsules taken
6:50AM – Not feeling anything yet
(First signs of change appear)
7:07AM – Potential “warm glow”, early stages
7:11AM – Feeling slightly more absorbed
(Something has definitely happened)
7:30AM – I’ve entered the zone where I cannot dismiss this is placebo.
I still feel like me, but…
– I deeply appreciate being here in this moment
– I deeply appreciate the beauty around me
– I deeply appreciate the wisdom of the words I am reading this morning (brainpickings.org, William James, DFW)
– I have no desire to be doing anything other than exactly what I am doing right now – no wishes to fulfill
– All of the riches in the world are right here…. stories, and wisdom, and beauty – why would we ever crave more than this? This insatiable desire and constant propulsion of societal routine keeps us in a foggy spell…
7:54AM – Every thought I am having feels like an insight.
Every thought I am having feels like an insight… feels like a thread I can keep pulling for hours – not for the enjoyment of the sensation – rather that it’s allowing me to put various aspects of life into perspective.
I have to try to distinguish this – so that when I read later with my lizard-eyes, under the spell of routine and preoccupation – they actually understand…
This is not euphoric as in, wow my mind is in fantasy land right now and I’ve “forgotten” the dreary nature of everyday existence and found bliss in some normally inaccessible place. RATHER, I am seeing more clearly that the world right fucking in front of me, every day, is infinitely rich with beauty, and it would be possible to live life in such a way where this appreciation never fades — were it not for the gauntlet that comes at us in daily – the grind – and the poison of infinite amusement and cravings.
To recap, in a mere 30 minutes, I went from “I’m not feeling anything” to “Everything around me is beautiful and I have absolutely zero desire to be doing anything other than what I’m doing right now”.
There are a couple things to unpack here:
Number 1 – I know now these capsules are doing something. Consider this analogy: When you’re on an airplane and all the windows are closed, you really have no idea what’s going on outside. If the pilot gently maneuvers the plane in one direction or another, you’ll likely have no idea you’re even turning. If, on the other hand, the pilot makes a hard turn – you’ll know. You’ll sink into your chair. Your stomach will feel a pull. You will say to yourself, 30 seconds ago I was not feeling any of these sensations… something is going on here. If sessions 1, 2, and 3 were light, barely perceptible turns in my psychological airplane, this one was harder and obviously happening. Even so, I can easily imagine how one of these metaphorical turns could be MORE drastic, considering 520mg is about about 1/10th the strength of a “heroic dose” (5g) — a topic for another day.
Number 2 – “Everything is beautiful” – sounds nice – but is this a temporary illusion spun by the pull of neurochemical puppet strings? Or, is more like watching a low resolution video and suddenly seeing it flip to high-definition – appreciating more clearly what was there all along? And, whether illusion or enlightenment, what lasting purpose does this serve in my life? As I highlighted before ever touching this stuff, I am not interested in bliss or fireworks purely for the sake of temporary escape and/or amusement. Happily, I can say that as powerful as these feelings may read from the outside, they also feel extremely lucid and grounded, both during and afterward. In contrast, consider for a moment how one feels when reflecting on a previous night’s drinking, with drunken behavior, and drunken revelations. They likely consider their drunken self a complete alien the next day – entirely disconnected from their sober standards and values. Conversely, these feel like more potent versions of feelings I have intermittently in everyday life, whether spurred by a long hike, a vacation from work, weeks of daily meditation, reading an insightful book, or fasting. The difference is, it’s more of a light-switch moment (i.e., the 7:30AM entry above), vs epiphanies that comes into gradual view over hours, days, and weeks. In other words, it takes seeds of feelings that are already present in my mind, and turns the volume up; affirms them. A full day later, the insights feel to me as meaningful as they were at the time, although not as vivid. It is occurring to me now that, over the course these sessions, a worthy goal will be to incorporate these little insights into everyday life, to more easily appreciate them, sans capsules.
Go Higher? Stay Here?
I knew that once I finally encountered a clearly tangible experience (what I felt in this session), this fork would present itself:
On the left fork, I continue dosing at or below what I did in this session. This is considered a typical “microdose” regiment as established by James Fadiman, Paul Stamets, and their respective/overlapping communities of enthusiasts. To be clear – neither James nor Paul suggest ONLY microdosing – merely that if one is going to microdose – (in other words, integrate psychedelic experience into their life over the course of weeks) – this is a practical strength to do so.
On the right fork, I continue increasing strength and further explore the continuum of possible experience. I am certain I will go this way at some point, as I am certain discoveries that are more “lighting bolt” in nature will be found here. Just not now.
Left fork it is.
So long as I am taking something away from these lower strength experiences, I will continue walking this path for a couple months, reflect, and share. This will provide both me and anyone who is interested a clear view of the microdose effect, prior to introducing something even more potentially profound. This way, the effects and subsequent integration of micro and macro dosing can be seen apart from one another.
Final point. As convinced as I am that this session was quite tangible, I recognize there is still so much confusion, mystery, and controversy around psychedelics and their potential benefits in the public sphere. See here, merely three months old at the time of posting this, a “self-blinding” study that suggests placebo effect is indistinguishable from actual effect while microdosing. I have an idea to setup a self-blinding experiment for myself in the weeks ahead.