4. Floating Downstream
Drop all expectations. As is suggested in the Psychedelic Experience, you should ‘turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream’. Struggle is the biggest enemy in all situations of life, and the psychedelic experience will teach you that important lesson every chance it gets. It is a harsh teacher. The majority of negative experiences had on psychedelics can be pinpointed to one trying to fight the effects of the drug. You cannot fight it, you can only merge with it. Fighting against the current is only going to create agony for you, whereas surrendering to the flow of the water and letting it take you where it wants to take you will require no struggle on your part. Don’t buy into those stories of people taking acid and coming out of the trip thinking they are a glass of orange juice, it’s all brainwashing rubbish that you need to erase from your head. You will wash up on shore eventually, maybe covered with a bit of seaweed, but you’ll get there in one piece. Unless of course you have a predisposition to schizophrenia, in which case you might flop up on the shore as some sort of demented devolved fish thing.
Setting – With that all said it’s still very important to consider the environment you choose to have a psychedelic experience in. Where you are physically plays a big role in where you’ll be mentally. Even the most neurotic person will find themselves relieved of their mental hangups when watching a beautiful sunset. The place you choose to trip not only influences your set, but also plays a part in shaping the nature of the trip. The two most important aspects of setting to consider are:
- Outside or Inside
- Day time or Night time
It has been suggested that for first timers it is advisable to begin your trip indoors as opposed to outdoors, and while this may definitely be true for stronger psychedelics such as DMT, or high doses of LSD or psilocybin, for small to moderate doses of magic mushrooms I believe outdoors is the best place to start. Magic mushrooms, compared to other psychedelics, are a lot more ‘earthey’ and grounded in nature. Being amidst nature is therefore highly recommended as it just feels right when you’re on mushrooms. After you have experienced them outdoors it is worth experiencing them indoors as well as they both have very different flavours. Whether you trip in the day or night is another factor to consider. Both of these settings produce different and unique experiences, especially when taken outdoors. I find that outdoor night sessions tend to have a more alien vibe, while outdoor day sessions have a more natural vibe. Alien is maybe a poor choice of word, trippy will do. Generally, in my experience, everything is strange at night (not necessarily in a bad way), while everything is exciting in the day (not necessarily in a good way?).
In the night you are surrounded by a mysterious darkness; the sky is blanketed with stars and the moon casts a luminous glow on the environment, especially water, which shimmers with light. This tends to produce more surreal feelings within you, feelings that everything is unknown and known at the same time. You might find yourself approaching situations with both childlike curiosity and adult like caution simultaneously. If you are planning on having an outdoors night session then it is advisable to do so with good company. Be with a group of 1 or 2 others and always have someone close by in case you get lost in the darkness. If you have a pool, or any large enough body of water available to you, it is recommended by me that you take a dip in the water and wade around – so long as you have someone to watch you and ensure you don’t drown, preferably someone sober or at least able to handle the drugs effects. The first time I did this was in Indonesia: the water, which was usually freezing cold, felt like warm, thick oil around my skin. It enveloped my body like liquid velvet and I felt like a candle melting into a puddle of wax. The sensations were absolutely incredible, and I’ll never forget that moment. Another thing to do is sit in front of a fire, you can watch those for hours when you are tripping. Also looking up at the stars is always amazing, especially if you are camping somewhere with little light pollution so the stars are clearly visible. Even better when the strip of Milky Way is visible. Imagine that, seeing the Milky Way Galaxy on psychedelics! Standing with your head pointed towards the sky, while spinning as fast as you can in a circle, then dropping on your back to watch the sky is something that needs to be seen to be believed. All the stars spin long after you’ve dropped back to the ground and the whole sky explodes with light!
Day sessions have a completely different vibe to them than their night time counterparts. In the day everything is visible because everything is covered with sunlight, obviously. The first thing you’ll notice when the effects kick in is that your vision is greatly enhanced – everything you look at is with a newly developed crystal-sharp clarity. You can see much clearer with your peripheral vision as well. The experience is more child like; everything is exciting and new and fun. It is like being born again and seeing the world for the first time. If you are lucky enough to be in nature then you will find yourself really connecting to the vast beauty that it always is, and that you are usually unaware of. It may seem like nature is putting on a show for you; you will hit yourself on the head for never noticing clouds and puddles and things which you never usually direct your attention to. You will fall on your hands and knees and examine a tiny insect crawling on the ground, and you will empathise with that insect, you will think ‘I know how it feels little dude, but don’t give up!‘, and you will think about how one or two steps for you is no big deal, but for the insect is a tremendous journey. Nature will come to life, almost literally – you can feel its presence – and can even see the trees breathing. Clouds will take on a liquid quality, morphing and splitting like atoms. Once I looked at the clouds on mushrooms and they looked like great snowy mountain peaks, the Himalayas perhaps, and suddenly I wondered whether I was actually sitting on the floor looking up at the sky or sitting on the sky looking down at the Himalayan mountains! A wind might blow and all the trees will swing and dance to a very slow primal rhythm, your heartbeat will match this rhythm and you will breathe in deeply and exhale a torrent of euphoria. You almost get a sensation of nostalgia, like you have experienced this unity with nature once before, but have merely forgotten – you may find yourself feeling home, is the only way to word it.
You might not be a hippy, but after experiencing an outdoor day trip you hopefully might understand or even empathise why they act… a little weird in nature. If you decide to trip outdoors, whether in the day or the night, it is definitely a good idea to take your shoes off. You don’t want anything to come between you and the earth while you are tripping, and it is a liberating feeling to run around barefoot. Free yourself temporarily from the rhythm and routine of adulthood.
Time of day plays less of a role in indoor sessions for the obvious reason of artificial lighting. When indoors it is important to make sure you are somewhere safe, preferably somewhere you have been before and feel comfortable in, and somewhere which is unlikely to be disturbed during your experience. Turn all of your phones off, and try to ensure you won’t get any surprise visits. When indoors it is likely you will have a lot of perception warps; sensations such as feeling like you are too big to fit in the room you’re in, or the feeling of sinking into a couch etc. I have had experiences where I could actually feel the energy present in particular rooms. Perhaps this is what feng shui is all about, but when you enter a room on psychedelics you may feel that it has a totally different personality to other rooms in the house, and immediately you will notice the rooms presence change your mental set. Some rooms feel very cosey and warm, while others feel tense and cold, and these feelings remain constant no matter how many times you enter or leave those rooms. It’s almost like when you walk into a room you are meeting a person for the first time, and you might find yourself walking around the house like you are a prospective buyer inspecting it.
When tripping indoors it is wise to have mattresses and couches available so that one can comfortably end up on any of these if they choose. If you are tripping with a group then it is important, whether it be indoors, outdoors, day or night, to choose a location which will serve as your base. If indoors this will usually be the living room, and this is the place where you can be confident you will find others to hang around, and the energy of this area will definitely be noticeable, and hopefully pleasant. If the whole trip is a song, then the base room should be the catchy feel-good chorus. If indoors it is also necessary to have rooms that one can find seclusion in if they choose to have it, as sometimes all you want is to be alone. When outdoors this is all set up by nature, and so the person can simply venture off on their own and find solace, and return to their prescribed base camp when they feel ready to return.
The biggest difference between inside and outside sessions, which you may wish to consider, is the inclusion of music. When you are inside it is nice to have music playing, as it can definitely shape the experience for the better. But when you are outdoors it is less important to play music, as nature provides its own soundtrack which needs not be covered up by your favourite band. When tripping outdoors, if you would like music at some stage, then you should bring an mp3 player and headphones. This way you can listen to music whenever you feel like it, and quickly stop the music if you need to. Also, the sound of music coming through headphones is a lot deeper than listening through speakers. It will feel as though a concert is playing inside your head, the music flowing through your entire being. Close your eyes and get lost in the current of closed eye hallucinations. I like to listen to long improvised pieces of music when on psychedelics, songs like Dark Star by the Grateful Dead do the trick for me.
It’s important to remember that your taste in music isn’t necessarily everyone elses taste in music, so if tripping with others, you should each communicate your music preferences so that everybody gets a bit of what they want playing. Nothing sucks more when you’re tripping than having to listen to music you don’t like all night.
That’s about all I have to write on the subject for now, as I have more psychedelic excursions I will update and possibly expand this post. In the meantime, here are some useful links to peruse in your own leisurely time.