A Month of Psychedelic Drugs

Oversoul by Alex Grey

Psychedelic Art by Alex Grey

Warning: In this post I explain some of my experiences on psychedelic drugs during roughly the past month. But before I do, there’s a lot of preamble. I hope you’ll read the preamble rather than skipping ahead to the “fun” part of this post. I think the preamble is needed to create the right context for you to understand my experiences and why I decided to try psychedelic drugs (which I refer to below as “psychedelic drugs” and “psychedelics” interchangeably). Can you keep your mind open? I hope so!

Disclaimer: This post is not intended to endorse any type of drug or illegal activity.  Consult your doctor and the law before deciding to take any drugs.  Kids, don’t try this at home (or anywhere).

Day 1, 10:00 AM:  I’m writing this about 3 hours before I will take a psychedelic drug for the first time. I’m going to ingest some psilocybin, in the form of “magic mushrooms”. If all goes well, I’ll be taking other types of drugs over the next month, or perhaps a longer period if a month seems too quick.  (All other days in this post will be stated in reference to “Day 1″ which is today)

Since you may already be thinking that I’ve lost my mind, I want to write down a few quick “before” thoughts about why I’ve decided to try psychedelic drugs, what I’m expecting, and what I think the risks are.
[Note: I made a few modifications and additions to the following section after my first mushroom trip, but only because I ran out of time beforehand; that trip didn't change any of my thinking on these topics]

WHY TAKE PSYCHEDELIC DRUGS?

In short, I’m interested in both the *psychological* and *spiritual* insights & growth that may result from taking psychedelic drugs. Before you tell me I’m crazy to consider that there could be benefits to taking illegal drugs, let me explain my rationale. I’ll start with the potential “spiritual” aspect of psychedelic experiences…

Spiritual Growth

I’ve always been interested in knowing the answers to existential question such as: What is consciousness? Does the universe extend beyond the physical plane? Does any type of “God” exist? Is there some kind of “higher purpose” to our lives that I’m not aware of? Is there some form of life after death? Is there some deeper/spiritual part of myself that I’m not in touch with? I expect that psychedelic drugs won’t provide concrete answers to these questions, but may provide valuable – possibly even transformative – insights.

HOW TO KNOW THE TRUTH

As I mentioned in my review of a vipassana meditation retreat that I went on, S.N. Goenka pointed out that there are 3 ways to know the truth about something:

  1. Someone else tells you that something is true (this is the least effective way to know the truth).
  2. You figure out the truth yourself intellectually (this is the second most effective way)
  3. You directly experience something yourself and therefore know that it is true (this is the most effective way).

So… the best way to know about the existence & nature of “God” or “Spirit” is to have a direct experience of God/Spirit. And the best way to know whether there is life after death is to die and then see if you’re still alive. And so on.

Although one’s direct experience is *usually* the best way to know the truth, I think it’s important to question the legitimacy of certain experiences. (i.e. is there any “truth” to psychedelic drug experiences?) It’s certainly true that people sometimes halucinate and experience things that aren’t real, and that drugs can cause those types of misleading hallucinations.

ARE ALL DRUG-INDUCED EXPERIENCES JUST HALLUCINATIONS?

I think there’s no doubt that at least some experiences that people have on drugs are not “real” – they’re nothing more than meaningless hallucinations. And maybe all drug-induced experiences are nothing more than that. However, I’m open to the possibility that there is some “truth” to some psychedelic experiences – that they could give people a glimpse into a broader reality that really does exist, or valid insight into themselves that is usually invisible.

I think it’s easy to discount psychedelic experiences as nothing more than chemicals doing unusual things in people’s brains. But by the same token I think you could discount any experience as unreal due to the associated brain activity. Say you look at an apple. Your perceiving of the apple causes something to happen in your brain. One could look at the activity in your brain and say “The apple is not really there… it’s just this activity in your brain that is making you think there’s an apple there.”

What’s true? Is it the apple that’s causing the activity in your brain which is in turn causing your conscious experience of the apple? Or is it just some chemicals moving around in your brain that are making you THINK that the apple is there?

I think it’s reasonable to say that the apple is really there, particularly if other people confirm that they’re seeing the same apple.  But my point is that it wouldn’t be reasonable to conclude that the simple fact that there’s brain activity means that there’s no apple. And I think it’s the same with psychedelic experiences – the fact that there’s some brain activity happening doesn’t MEAN that whatever the mind is perceiving is not real.

I think that in the same way that modifying (healing) the damaged brain of a deaf person could allow them to perceive sound that really does exist, it’s at least possible that psychedelic drugs can cause the necessary brain changes to allow us to perceive realities either inside or outside of ourselves that really are there, but which are usually imperceptible to us.

SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES WITH VS WITHOUT PSYCHEDELICS

There are mystics who take no drugs, but instead spend years doing contemplative practices like meditation. If psychedelic experiences are all halucinations, then are the profound spiritual experiences of these mystics also nothing more than halucinations? And what about people who have spiritual experiences in religous contexts, or spontaneously for no apparent reason at all? Are all of these nothing more than halucinations? These experiences all DO entail a temporary change in brain chemistry, just like drug-induced psychedelic experiences.

I think it’s at least possible that psychedelic drugs are simply a faster (if more unstable) route to the same places that less-taboo methods like meditation take people to. Again, I’m not sure, but I’m curious enough about psychedelic experiences to find out.

Psychological Growth

My reasons for thinking that psychological growth can come from psychedelics are both anecdotal and scientific. Although I haven’t read any of the scientific studies on the effects of psychedelics, I’ve heard about them and listened to talks like this TEDx talk by the people who have done them. New studies have apparently been disallowed for decades and are just now starting up again.

I think the line between what is spiritual and what is psychological can be blurry, so I’m not sure under which heading I should classify some of the testimonials that I’ve heard. Although a lot of the anecdotal evidence I’ve seen online about psychedelic drugs seems to come from sketchy people, I’ve also heard testimonials from people I respect…

Steve Jobs said:

“Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life. LSD shows you that there’s another side to the coin, and you can’t remember it when it wears off, but you know it. It reinforced my sense of what was important — creating great things instead of making money, putting things back into the stream of history and of human consciousness as much as I could.”

Sam Harris, who I wrote to once, says in one of his blog posts:

“The power of psychedelics… is that they often reveal, in the span of a few hours, depths of awe and understanding that can otherwise elude us for a lifetime.” and elsewhere in the same post he says “…if [my young daughters] don’t try a psychedelic like psilocybin or LSD at least once in their adult lives, I will wonder whether they had missed one of the most important rites of passage a human being can experience.”

I also found the first half hour of this London Real interview  to be compelling.

Where I’m At

So far in my life, I haven’t had any experiences that I’d call very spiritual. The closest I’ve come was the strange physical sensations that I experienced during vipassana meditation, a slightly odd physical experience at a “healing mass” years ago, and the mildly altered state of consciousness that I experienced during an Inner Journey Seminar. But I wouldn’t call any of those experiences profound or transcendent or transformative. (The Inner Journey overall was profound and transformative in some ways, but the particular altered state that I experienced was more interesting than meaningful)

I think I live a pretty clean life by most people’s standards; there are usually months between each alcoholic drink that I consume (haven’t been drunk in about 10 years), and the only illegal drug I’ve tried is marijuana, which I last smoked about 15 years ago, and only about 3-4 times in total. I have no interest in ever trying addictive or damaging drugs like cocaine or heroin.

The psychedelic drugs that I’m planning to try have a very low risk of negative long-term health effects.  I’m interested in the ones that I think have some potential to positively contribute to my life afterwards.

Regardless of what types of experiences I have on psychedelics, I’ll be wary of jumping to conclusions about the nature of reality, consciousness, life after death, etc.  Although there’s value in relying on experience to know what is true, I also know that my own subjective experience (particularly one in an unusual state of consciousness) is not necessarily representative of an objective external reality.  And even if my subjective experiences are “real”, I’m aware that it’s important not to conclude anything that isn’t directly supported by the evidence.

Some reasons to NOT take psychedelic drugs

I do have a few concerns about taking psychedelics including:

  • I’m afraid of the unknown.
  • Potential negative physical health consequences, even if the risks are minimal (source & quality of the drugs are a concern, but I trust mine).
  • Potential negative psychological consequences. I’m aware that terrible trips are possible, and can have negative effects that last far beyond the psychedelic experience itself.
  • The legal consequences of getting caught doing something illegal (although I’m generally more concerned with morality than legality; the two are usually aligned, but not always).
  • A lot of the people (not all!) who I’ve seen openly discussing psychedelics online strike me as deadbeat hippies – I don’t want to end up like them (or rather, how I’ve perceived them from the little I’ve seen of them), but I think there’s not much risk that I will.

But although there are potential drawbacks to psychedelics, I’m intensely curious about what I may experience and learn, and very eager – almost desperate – for growth and answers. I’ve recently had the value of experience emphasized to me – the value of living rather than staying sheltered and holding back from the world.

It is now 12:30 pm (I haven’t been writing solid since 10:00 am). In about half an hour, I’ll be meeting a friend who has a lot of experience with psychedelics, and we’ll do mushrooms together.  He thought that a low-ish dose of mushrooms would be a good introduction to psychedelics.  Currently, I have a mixture of feelings inside of me: fear, nervousness, sadness, hope, and excitement. I’ll report back again later today.

Trip #1 – 1.6 Grams of Mushrooms

My friend and I met each other shortly after 1 PM, and at 1:45 I ate 1 gram of mushrooms.  Not long after, my friend made himself a tea with 1.7 grams of mushrooms (he had his mushrooms in a tea to avoid the taste of eating them).

By 3:15 PM my friend was clearly feeling some effects, but I was still barely feeling anything, so I drank a tea made with 0.6 grams.

My friend gets dancy when he’s high – he says he can feel the energy flowing through him… can feel his chakras, etc. He was putting on different types of music (always making sure that I was ok with them) and sometimes moving to the music.

For my friend music enhances the experience. For me, I found that it distracted from the experience (possibly because the mushrooms were only affecting me mildly). So after a couple hours of music – mostly nice chill-out music – we went with silence at my request, which my friend graciously agreed to.

Sitting there with my eyes closed there were mild but pleasant sensations running through my body. When I’d open my eyes and look around, there was some mild visual distortion (things were ever-so-slightly wavy).

I also tried playing my guitar & singing. The sounds of both the guitar and my voice had more vibrancy – I could feel the vibrations in my body more intensely than I usually do – I felt a bit more “one with the guitar”. Like the rest of the trip, this was not an intense experience. It was pleasant, but just a mild enhancement over non-drug-influenced music making.

I found that I could control my state consciously – I could let myself go with the subtle sensations and visual effects, or I could snap myself out of it and have an intelligent (at least from my perspective) conversation.

Near the end of the trip, and when I was comfortable enough to handle it, one of my friend’s friends joined us (she was sober) and we all sat around and talked for a while. My friend and I both gradually came down and finished our trips at around 6:30 PM.

We spent some time rehashing the experience a bit. Overall, my friend’s experience was stronger than mine. I think I was resisting the trip somewhat out of fear, which may have contributed to my milder experience.

A few hours after the trip ended, playing the guitar & singing was a bit disappointing – the previously-enhanced vibrancy, depth, and “color” of the sounds were gone. Reality is more plain in contrast.

I now have a new mild fear – that after these psychedelic experiences I’ll find regular life to be too ordinary and dull.

But life is meant to be lived, and since I don’t want to risk missing out on important or transformative experiences, I must push onward. So just before my friend and I parted, I got some more mushrooms from him, and put in a request for some LSD and some DMT, and asked him to get me more information about an upcoming ayahuasca ceremony happening in my area.

I’m slightly disappointed that the trip wasn’t more intense, but overall quite happy that the experience was a positive one, that I’ve taken the step of trying my first psychedelic drug, and that I came out of it alive and well.

Trip #2 – DMT

Day 8, late evening: A few hours ago I smoked DMT for the first time. It was intense. Here are the details:

I smoked the DMT from a glass marijuana pipe. I’d never smoked anything from a marijuana pipe before, so just before I did, a friend who was helping me out gave me some instructions on how to use it. There’s a lot to think about (keeping the lighter held correctly over the pipe, watching the smoke build up in the pipe, inhaling at the right times, controlling hole on the side of the pipe with my finger) so I was afraid I’d make a mistake and not get what I needed into my lungs. Apparently I did manage to get enough into my lungs to give me a pretty intense experience.

DMT trips last only about 10-15 minutes. I won’t be able to explain the experience in a way that you’ll be able to understand what it was like, but I’ll do my best.

I inhaled the smoke from the pipe into my lungs (one long gradual inhalation), and for a few seconds was wondering if I should try to take another breath of smoke. But then as I was looking at the pipe it started to go wavy, and my hand holding it started to go blotchy and I got the impression that it was disintegrating, so I closed my eyes, handed the pipe off to my friend, and lay back on the bed.

Then things got intense very quickly. Although my eyes were closed, I saw an intense moving pattern of intense colors (I realize I’m using the word “intense” a lot). Actually I didn’t really see them. I more experienced them… it was like my mind was the colors, and they weren’t just colors, but energy. As the colors/energy were going through their contortions, my mind was going through the same contortions – stretching and twisting around itself and always changing. It was pretty disorienting. As soon as I lay down I mostly lost control of my body. Right away I noticed that my tongue was getting in the way (I guess I was having a hard time keeping it in its usual position in my mouth), so I somehow managed to roll over onto my front so that I wouldn’t have to worry about trying to control my tongue. After that my whole self just melted into the intense rolling contorting pattern of colors. I don’t think my mind ever stopped thinking throughout the experience, but I was so overwhelmed by intensity of it that for the first while I think any thoughts I had were jumbled & not coherent. There was no way that I could have spoken or sat up.

The experience changed as the trip went on. The colors changed from something kalaiedescope-like to more of wider open space – still with a variety of colors always moving but also areas of white light. This was not something I was seeing as if through my eyes or experiencing with my body – it was more like my mind itself just stretching and waving and rolling with the colors.

I’m not sure if I ever lost touch with my body completely, although I may have. I do know that at certain times I was only sensing a small area of my physical body (like my tongue feeling my teeth in my mouth, or my hand noticing the mattress beneath me) while the rest of my body was not really there – it was just melted into the intense changing colors with no boundaries or outline.

I think that throughout the whole experience my mind was very active, analyzing the experience at the same time as it was overwhelmed by it. I wish I could have slowed my thoughts down, and I told myself a few times to just relax into the experience, but that’s easier said than done. Once or twice I thought to myself that I wanted to get off the ride, but again reminded myself to just relax and go with the experience.

As the intensity of the experience wore off I started gradually sensing the outlines of my body and noticing my breathing. My breathing was interesting to focus on – at first the “outlines” of my breathing were vague – the expansion & contraction of my body (which had vague outlines itself) were almost merged with the mattress. I was taking deep almost sighing breaths, and it was nice to focus on my breathing and realize that I was gradually coming back to reality.  I think it was during the “starting to come down” phase that the colors/energy changed, and flowed gradually but extremely intensely through my body & mind starting from my head and moving gradually down to my feet. I could clearly feel/see/sense the intensity of the energy/colors filling up every part of my body that it reached.

After I was essentially “back” I lay there with my eyes closed for I think about 5 minutes resting / recovering. It was 18 minutes from the point when I started inhaling the smoke to the point when I opened my eyes and sat up again.

Although I’ve heard that people can experience time distortion on DMT (the time can seem a lot longer than it actually is), I didn’t experience any. I think that for most of the experience I wasn’t thinking about time at all.

Although my experience was very intense (I have a hard time imagining a more intense experience), I don’t think I reached the point that people call “breaking through”. I get the impression that breaking through means experiencing what seems to be an alternate reality/world, complete with spiritual beings that can communicate with you.

I’m not eager to smoke DMT again. It’s certainly wasn’t what I’d call a fun or pleasurable experience. The reason why I might try it again is to try to reach the “break through” point – by inhaling more and/or holding it in longer.

I wouldn’t say that I got any significant value from the experience. I’m glad that I took the plunge and satisfied my curiosity and finally experienced something that I’ve wondered about for a long time. I was pretty nervous beforehand, and it always feels good to face a fear and come out alive. I’m also happy to know first-hand some of the craziness that my mind is capable of experiencing.

I think one benefit to the DMT trip will be for its use as an “intensity reference” to contrast with future trips on other psychedelics. If those other trips seem intense, I may be able to tell myself “Ah, I can handle this – it’s nothing compared to DMT”.

I’m not sure what’s going to be next – possibly a second mushroom trip, but with more mushrooms than last time.

Some thoughts before the next trip

Day 12, evening: I just wanted to write down two quick thoughts before I try a larger dose of mushrooms tomorrow:

  1. A comment on my mental state: I’ve been wavering between being eager to continue with my experimentation, and wanting to stop permanently. Actually I think I’m feeling both emotions (eagerness & fear) most of the time, but the dominant emotion oscillates. I’m currently feeling more eager than afraid.
  2. Something I’ve been thinking about the DMT trip is that it wasn’t just an altered version of my usual experience. It was an entirely new type of experience. I’ll try to explain what I mean with an example: If I ingest something that makes my walls appear blue instead of white, I’d consider that to be just an altered version of my usual experience. In other words, seeing walls which are a certain color is something I do everyday. If I were to see aliens emerge from the wall and start talking to me. That would also be just an altered version of “normal” reality. i.e. it’s normal for me to look through my eyes and see beings interacting with me. But the DMT trip was an entirely different type of experience – not one that fits with my 5 senses. I experienced being in a space of colors and energy that was very different from my normal experience.  And although I experienced intense colors & energy flowing through my body, I wasn’t seeing those colors as if with my eyes. I sensed them very clearly, but in some other way. It’s hard to explain, but it was different.

Trip #3 – 3.2 Grams of Mushrooms

Day 13, 7:38 PM: Today I was on a mushroom trip that ended about 4 hours ago. It was crazy. I’ll start at the beginning…

This morning I went to a friend’s house and made a tea with 3.2 grams of mushrooms (about twice as much as my previous mild mushroom trip). I started drinking the tea at 9:15 AM and finished around 9:30 (I also ate the soggy mushrooms to make sure I didn’t miss out on any of the psilocybin that was left in them).

At 9:43 AM I first noticed my body started feeling woozy. My surroundings started becoming a bit wavy, and if I closed my eyes I could see patterns of colors (like for example, a white spiderweb-type pattern with a bright red background). The colors were pretty normal though – nothing like the colors on the DMT trip.

For a while, this trip was similar to the last mushroom trip in the sense that could close my eyes and have an interesting internal experience (difficult to explain, but everything was sort of waving and flowing), or I could open them and bring myself back to reality and have an intelligent conversation.

As the trip continued and became more intense, I decided to lie down on the floor and found that closing my eyes would put me into a completely different space. I can’t describe that space, but I’ll try anyway. My body and mind were very distorted – sort of waving and flowing, and parts of me were sort of merged and flowing with my surroundings. I could still open my eyes and snap myself mostly out of it and stand up. Time seemed very slow when I was in that space. I’d close my eyes and be “gone” for what seemed like a very long time (it’s hard to estimate how long it seemed like – there wasn’t really time in that space). But when I’d open my eyes and ask my friend what time it was (which I did many times), only a few minutes would have passed.

Then a lot of different things happened, and I’m not sure what their sequence was, so I’ll list them off here in a random order:

  • There was a lot of lying down and being totally engrossed in my internal experience. In some ways, it was similar to the DMT experience, but without the same type of colors & energy. It was an intense and consuming experience, and I was far gone from the real world.
  • At times I would pace back & forth through the different rooms in the house – all of the rooms were very distorted – like a moving Picasso painting. This was a disorienting experience and not very pleasant.
  • For what seemed like a long time (I have no idea how long), my experience was so jumbled that I have no idea whether in reality I was walking, lying down, talking, or doing something else. I guess I must have been lying down, but it seemed to me like I was doing everything all at once, over and over. Well, not quite all at once, but it would seem like I was walking through a room for a few seconds, and then my experience would instantly snap to lying down on the floor, then back to walking, then to my friend’s voice saying something re-assuring, then back to the all-consuming wavy internal experience, then back to a snippet of my friend’s voice, and so on. And the same things would happen over and over. I seemed to be going back and forth in time in this Picasso world. This too was disorienting, confusing, and not pleasant.
  • For what also seemed like a very long time, my friend and I were sitting across from each other at a table. I started going towards a deep emotional place inside me and felt like I needed a ground – an anchor to a solid support, so I made my friend hold my hand while I rested my head on the table. As I went deep inside, I felt utterly helpless and vulnerable. There was intense sadness, tears, and even sobbing, and throughout it that hand was my life support. My friend said the right things – assuring me that I was safe, and reminding me that the trip was something I wanted to experience and to just go with it.  But when he tried to cheer me up to get me to a better place, I told him that it was ok and that what was happening was what was supposed to happen, and that I’d be ok because he was there. A couple of times, it felt like the front of me (head/throat/chest area) opened up and I broke through into a black hole of the most intense sadness that I’ve ever felt. I remember saying “wow” a few times through my tears because of the intensity of the experience. At the same time as I felt deeply sad and helpless, I felt deeply grateful to my friend being a rock to support me. Over and over (in my recollection) I told him that I needed him to take care of me, and over and over I thanked him for being my support while I was going through the experience. For me, this emotional sitting-at-the-table episode was as distorted and time-warped as the other parts of the trip.
  • At one point after (or maybe during) the table episode, I went back to the ever-changing rooms of the Picasso world where time was still warped, and remember feeling neutral – even slightly happy perhaps, knowing that everything would be ok because my friend was there to take care of me. I kept telling myself, and saying out loud, that everything would be ok because my friend was there.

I distinctly remember the point (well, a few points) when I realized that I was beginning the descent back to reality. I was still mostly gone but became foggily aware that I’d just been in a completely different “world”. I said “wow” and “that was crazy” many times. As I came down, there was still back & forth in time, and multiple instances where I seemed to realize that I’d just been in a crazy place, but I was very gradually becoming more and more connected to reality. At one point on the downhill slope I realized that time was moving in one direction again because I was pacing back & forth and noticing my feet stepping one after the other, over and over. It was reassuring to concentrate on my steps and realize that I was making forward progress in time. A while later, I started looking at the time on my cell phone regularly and realized that the minutes there were moving forwards also, albeit slowly. Very gradually, things became more and more normal – time started moving at normal speed, and the flowing “waves” in the scenery diminished. Eventually, I think around 3:30 or 4 PM I was finally back 100%.

Thoughts about the Experience:

Well, I think that would qualify as a “bad trip”. But I’m glad that it happened and consider it to be a worthwhile trip for a few reasons:

  • I’m glad that I experienced some more of what is available to experience.
  • I think I needed to experience some of that deep sadness inside of me. I feel like I may have “processed” some of it. But who knows.
  • I like to always be in control of my life. I think it was a good experience for me to lose control and be completely helpless and vulnerable. Realizing that I had to, and could, rely entirely on someone else for support, was significant. I’m still processing this but I think it was important.

I’d brought my guitar and a laptop over to my friend’s house, intending to use both while tripping. I thought that I’d have a slightly more intense guitar-playing experience than last time, and that I might catch up on some writing. HA! With the exception of the lower intensity moments near the start & end of the trip, there was no way in hell that I would have been able to play a guitar or use a computer.

So… what next? At the moment, I’m leaning towards cutting my month of psychedelic drugs short, for a couple reasons:

  1. I think my mind needs some recovery time. My trips so far have been primarily unpleasant. They’ve been intense and interesting, and sometimes terrible, but never all that enjoyable while they’re happening. This isn’t a problem, except for the fact that this last trip took a lot out of me. I’m quite exhausted and feel like my psyche needs a long break to recover and process everything before I consider putting it through a similar experience again.
  2. I don’t want to put my friends through the stress of taking care of me through future bad trips that might occur.

My plan before today was to try LSD next weekend, but I’m now thinking that I probably won’t do that. LSD trips are apparently about twice the length of mushroom trips, and if I go on a bad one, I think it’ll be too much too soon. I’ll make a decision about future trips later, but for now I’m leaning towards not doing more anytime soon.

Some thoughts before the next trip

Day 29, 4:08 PM: I’m very nervous and have been all day. I’ve decided to try DMT one more time, and will be doing it in a few hours. This will be my last trip for the month, and quite possibly my last trip ever on a mind-altering drug. It’s only going to be a 15 minute trip, but I’m nervous because I know how intense it’s going to be, and because I’m planning to try to inhale more than last time and “break through to the other side” – whatever that means. I fear that “other side” because it is unfamiliar to me. And even if I don’t get there, I know that it’s going to be a crazy trip.

Although I’m feeling very apprehensive right now, I’m going to stick with my plan because I do want to satisfy my curiosity, and think the trip could be a valuable learning/growing experience. I also don’t want to chicken out… although I’m certainly feeling like it right now!

Will report back later this evening after the trip.

Trip #4 – DMT Again

Day 29, 11:13 PM: This evening’s trip was in many ways similar to the last DMT trip, but this one was a much more positive experience.

A FEW TECHNICAL DETAILS

I did DMT with the same friend as last time. We used a different technique – rather than puffing on a marijuana pipe, we used a method that I’d found online, which basically involves vaporizing the DMT in a plastic pop bottle, and then inhaling it through the lid of the bottle. It was much less complex than using the marijuana pipe, and apparently easier to inhale more of the DMT.

My plan was to inhale as much as I could on my first breath. If I was able to get all the smoke out of the bottle in one breath, I’d try to hold it for 30 seconds (my friend was going to count every 5 seconds: “5, 10, 15, etc”). If I wasn’t able to get all the smoke in one breath, I’d exhale at either 20 seconds or when things started going crazy (whichever came first) and then try to take one more breath from the bottle before lying down.

On this trip, I planned to lie down on my side and support myself with a body pillow, because on the first DMT trip I found that it was hard to get comfortable lying on either my back or front (my tongue had gotten in the way on my back, and my head & neck weren’t comfortable on my front).

As it turned out, I was able to inhale essentially all of the smoke in one long breath. As soon as my lungs were full, I lay down, and as I lay down I noticed that my mind and vision were already started to become altered. 25 seconds after I’d started inhaling, things started getting crazy and intense enough that I thought I wasn’t going to be able to continue to focus on holding my breath, so I exhaled.

THE TRIP

On this trip, for a while I was overwhelmed and blown away by the intensity and swirling colors like last time. And I had the same frantic thoughts running through my mind – “holy **** what the hell is happening!?! … just go with it, just go with it… relax… is time still moving forward? I want time to keep moving forward… it’ll be ok… am I still breathing?… it’ll be ok… just go with it…” It’s pretty hard to relax when taking off in a rocket, but I did my best to accept what was happening.

There are parts of the trip where my memory is extremely hazy, but I know that I ended up in a place that was entirely different from here. There were flowing colors, and swirling stretching consciousness and energy, but those words don’t come close to doing it justice. The term “another dimension” feels like it fits perfectly, because it was such a totally different place. That other dimension was all that there was, and I was completely immersed in it.

My mind was still racing and overwhelmed by the experience, but I recognized that I’d been to that place before, on my first DMT trip. I kept thinking “Oh ya! Wow, THIS is where I was! I remember this, wow!” I realized, as soon as I was there, how much of it I’d forgotten.

The place was crazy and intense like last time, but because it was familiar, I was able to relax a bit more and my racing mind started to slow down. I can not describe that place, but after I calmed down a but it felt good to be back.  It was like I’d gone through a portal to a place that I could only remember by going back to it; the memories from that dimension were only available in that dimension.

I don’t think I could have spoken at the peak of the trip because I was so overwhelmed by and immersed in that other dimension – I’m not sure if I was connected to this world at all. But while I was still in the throes of the trip, I eventually I managed to say out loud a couple of times “I remember”.

On the first trip I’d been too blown away and my mind was racing too fast to “look around” and really take the place in. On this trip as my mind relaxed I was able to let myself just go with it and experience more. I was extremely nervous just before inhaling the smoke, but a few minutes into the trip there was a point when I realized that my nervousness was completely gone.  While I was there, and feeling both overwhelmed and  nostalgic, I also thought “I must have actually “broken through” last time!”

Some people report contacting spiritual beings on DMT trips. I don’t remember any spiritual beings, but from the memory I do have, it was like the whole place I was in was alive and conscious and could somehow relate to me… or was me?  I’m not sure. I can’t describe it with words, but I had a strong sense that it was a good place.  I feel vaguely like the place itself was trying to make me realize that it was a good place. It succeeded. At one point I said out loud “It’s a good place.”

While I was there, I knew my memory of the place was going to fade, like it did last time. But I knew that it was a good place and kept thinking that I didn’t want to forget it. Even as I write this, my memory has faded significantly, and the most immersive parts of the trip are faded the most. I just can’t relate to that place from “here”.

I can, however, totally relate to what Steve Jobs said: “there’s another side to the coin, and you can’t remember it when it wears off, but you know it”

At about 8 and a half minutes I was still very much in the experience, but I know that I’d already come at least part way down, because I started wondering how long I’d been gone and I asked my friend.

As I started coming down and realized that I was leaving the place, I started getting emotional (as in, water was coming out of my eyes) because I knew I’d been in a good place and I wanted to stay a bit longer and to remember it, but I knew I was going to forget like last time, and that I wouldn’t go back. I tried hard to retain as much of the memory as I could from today’s trip and bring it back with me, but I could feel the memory gradually slipping away along with the experience. It was like a forced goodbye to a good friend who I knew I’d never see again.

From the time I started inhaling the smoke until I was fully back and opened my eyes briefly again it was 15 minutes & 40 seconds.

This might sound crazy, but I feel a lot of respect – even reverence – for the place where I was. It feels like it would be disrespectful to go back for “fun”, or to not take that place seriously.  After I was back I lay on the bed for I think about 15 or 20 minutes trying to stay connected to the place that I’d been and grasping at the memory of it. But at the same time as I tried, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to stay connected or remember, so water kept slowly leaking from my eyes.

Earlier today I was thinking that this would probably be the last time in my life that I do DMT. Now I’m thinking there’s a possibility that I’ll go back there again someday. Not for a very long time, but maybe someday.  I do feel motivated to find a way to have more of an ongoing connection to that dimension… or whatever sort of spiritual dimension(s) there is, if that’s possible.  I feel relaxed and peaceful and happy, but also sad and nostalgic because the memory is fading – like a dream fades – and because I know it’s going to be a long time before I go through that portal again, if I ever do.

I realize that I’ve been speaking here as if the place I went was somewhere real. Was it really real? I don’t know. That other dimension did seem pretty real when I was there, but I’ll apply my brain to the issue of realness tomorrow. For now, I’m tired and need some sleep.  I’m very glad that this month’s experimenting has ended on a positive note.

Day 30, 1:23 AM – A quick update – I was just in bed, lying in the same position that I was in while on the trip. Being in that position made some of my memories of the more intense parts of the trip a bit more clear, and I realized again what a totally different dimension I’d been in. I was lying there just now saying “Wow! Crazy!” so I decided to come add this update. Now that I’m typing on my computer the memory is already faded again, but wow, what a crazy place. And I was there, totally immersed in it. Crazy! Ok, goodnight!

The Next Day

Day 30, afternoon: In some ways yesterday’s DMT experience is affecting me even more today than the period after the trip yesterday.

A week or a month from now I might look back at this blog post and think I sounded like an emotionally unstable lunatic, but a few times today I had tears running down my face thinking about the place where I was, even though I can remember almost nothing about it. I feel that even if the memories were somehow available, I wouldn’t be able to hold them in my mind; I have the impression that the trip is not something my mind in its normal state has the ability to even imagine.

When I sit and try to remember it, I can detect faint glimmers of that place in my memory – just enough to remember that it was a crazy and special place and make me feel nostalgic. But I expect that even those glimmers will fade away, and I’ll be left with nothing but the intellectual knowledge that I’d been somewhere amazing, but no actual memory of it.

I’ve felt peaceful all day today, but I know that won’t last either, since no feeling ever does.  I’m enjoying the peacefulness while it’s here.

It still feels like I went somewhere real on that trip, but if I’m intellectually honest, I have to say that I have no idea if there was anything real about it. The entire trip may have been pure hallucination and nothing more. But it certainly seemed real, and for now I’m finding it hard to stop thinking that there’s a whole other world out there that we can’t see, and that it’s a good place.

Final Thoughts

Day 31: Wow, what a month.  I think it was worthwhile and I’m satisfied with how it went.  I’m thankful even for the bad trips.  I don’t feel transformed now the the month is over, but I did learn and grow.

Unanswered Questions, and What Next?

I have some new questions now which I don’t have answers to, and to which I may never have answers:

  • Was the intense sadness that I experienced on my second mushroom trip an emotion that was already inside me, or was it artificially created by the mushrooms?
  • Is there really another world out there, or was I just hallucinating on DMT?
  • If there’s another place, is it really “out there” or is it just a place in my own mind?

I still have some interest in trying LSD, but if I do I doubt it will be soon.  I’m also intrigued by ayahuasca, which is a combination of two plants – one that contains DMT, and one containing a substance that prevents our bodies from breaking the DMT down so quickly.  Ayahuasca trips last many hours.  It’s difficult to acquire without travelling to the Amazon, and I wasn’t able to get into the nearby ayahuasca ceremony that I mentioned earlier.

I expect that there are more ways that I could continue to learn and grow by using psychedelics, and although I have no plans to take more in the foreseeable future, I haven’t ruled out the possibility that I’ll do some more experimenting someday.

Evolution & our Ability to Perceive Alternate Realities

At the beginning of this post, I’d questioned the extent to which experience is a reliable indicator of reality (experiencing an apple vs experiencing an altered mental state).  I had a thought about that today:

Evolution had no choice but to design us with the ability to accurately perceive a world that is real.  If evolution had given us an unreliable or faulty ability to perceive the real world, we wouldn’t be able to survive; we might eat imaginary cookies instead of real apples, and we might not accurately perceive a lion that wants to eat us.

But evolution’s mechanism serves only to promote survival.  Evolution has no “concern” for our ability to perceive aspects of reality that aren’t relevant to our survival.  The ability to perceive alternate “dimensions” could actually be detrimental to our survival; if half our lives were spent in states of consciousness where we aren’t connected to or don’t care about this physical world that we know, we wouldn’t have made it as a species.  So if other dimensions or realities do exist, it makes evolutionary sense that we wouldn’t be usually be aware of them.  So our inability to perceive them isn’t proof of their non-existence.

Levels of Animal Complexity

I think support for the possibility of a larger reality can also be found by looking at the varying levels of complexity in animals.  Worms have no eyes.  They feel their way through their world.  Say that a worm temporarily transformed into a mosquito, flying above the earth and taking in the world through eyes.  When the worm transformed back into a worm, it might tell the other worms (if it could communicate) that it had been to what seemed like an entirely new dimension; one that it could not describe in a way that worms would be able to understand.  The worm might also realize that he himself, after reverting back to his lowly worm brain, had lost the ability to hold the memory of that other dimension in his mind.

And if a mosquito could temporarily transform into a dog, with relationships and emotions like fear, anger, and love, the mosquito might also say that it had experienced a new world – one that it could not remember or explain to other mosquitoes.  And if a dog could temporarily become a human with our complex language and intelligence… well, you get the idea.

Throughout most of history, we humans did not exist.  We’re just a very recent addition to the long line of gradually advancing life forms.  Why assume that we are the “end” and can experience all that there is to experience?  It’s hard for us to imagine that there’s more to the universe we know, just like it would be difficult for a worm to imagine that there could be more to its universe.  But our inability in our normal state of consciousness to perceive or imagine what else might be out there isn’t a reason to conclude that nothing more exists (it’s certainly not a reason to conclude that it does exist either).

A lot of questions.  No concrete answers.  The journey continues.

Day 37:  I’m back to normal and have been for a few days.  The “glimmers” of the DMT world in my memory are gone.  I’m still very curious about all this and will continue searching for answers & growth.

For the record: I’m currently not in possession of anything illegal, nor do I have plans to be.

Comments

  1. Beat Grinder says

    Wow, I never expected to read all of that. I came here from researching MKP weekend, and ran across this page in your blog.

    Let me say this about what I call “the place” (or as you refer, the other dimension): I was led to an insanely potent patch of wild Psilocybe Cyanescens, possibly the strongest of the ‘active’ mushrooms. A 3 gram dose of these put me in ‘the place’ for near 5 hours.

    This journey came complete with deities of energy ‘rolling their eyes’ at me floundering through this foreign place that is normally reserved for the Gods. I cried tears of pure emotion and exclaimed in near-insane fits of laughter “IT’S REAL!!!” only to barely recollect what ‘real’ was a few months later.

    But I will never forget the spiritual teachers that assured me they’re guiding me, and the glowing flow of energy washing by me as I realized that this river of energy I was witnessing was the magic of life. Holy **** man, this experience changed my direction in life. I even foresaw the coming of my son, fucking intense!

    Sorry for rambling on, I just felt an immediate connection to your writing and explanation of the experience, and wanted to send some good energy your way!

    Thanks for interesting read!

    • Justin says

      Glad you enjoyed the read – I enjoyed reading about your experience also!

      If you do the MKP weekend you’re welcome to report back – I’d be interested in what you think of it. I’m still attending a weekly I Group which I find worthwhile.

  2. Some Random Guy says

    I smiled as I read about your experiences. It’s heart-warming to see others experience these other “dimensions” and learn from them. Please continue hold on to these events and cherish them. Cheers. (:

    P.S. I think you should post more if you decide to try them again (or others, perhaps) in the future.

    Greetings from a fellow psychonaut.

    • Justin says

      Glad that the article made you smile. If I decide to try psychedelics again I certainly might post an update here.

  3. Lloyd Brawn says

    Dude,

    This was amazing. Thank you for writing about your experiences. Also, I’ve had the SAME exact thoughts about evolution, literally down to a t. Wild how totally different people can come to the same conclusions

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