by Becky Garrison: Setting My New Year’s Intentions and Moving Beyond Partisan Politics With Psilocybin Mushrooms…
Microdosing psilocybin mushrooms can lead to a psychedelic healing experience. The mushroom user can revisit trauma and find new insights.
With the passage of ballot initiatives in Oregon legalizing psilocybin mushrooms for controlled use in very specific therapeutic settings and the decriminalization of all drugs, I decided to expand my exploration of earth-based medicines by trying psilocybin mushrooms. So, I started the new year off by gifting myself a three-day journey with this fungi.
Little did I know that these experiences would prove to be invaluable in keeping me sane as the events of the first week of January unfurled.
On New Year’s Eve, I went to a trusted friend’s house knowing I would be safe should I have a negative reaction. The next morning, I started my experience with a mini dose (smaller than a microdose of psilocybin) to assess how my body would respond. I spent the rest of the day feeling all warm and sunny with a soft grin covering my face.
The next day I took a beginner’s dose, which was enough for me to have an extended trip. I found myself lying on the couch for several hours feeling very mellow and at peace with the universe. I felt my body say goodbye to my extended dysfunctional family, who have long since abandoned me. While I have acknowledged in my mind that’s it’s healthier for me to just let them go rather than to keep trying to connect, this marked the first time my body said “yes.”
At the conclusion of this trip, I watched The Wizard of Oz. This movie was an annual family tradition, but I haven’t been able to watch it without tearing up since my parents died from their addictions when I was a teenager. I smiled with delight that I could view this childhood favorite from a place of expansive joy in lieu of tears.
On the third day, I took a final mini dose. This produced a creative surge that broke through the acedia that I keep feeling on and off during this pandemic due to the lack of external stimuli like live music, festivals, and other social gatherings that feed into my creative process. Unlike CBD and cannabis, which I need to take whenever I want to derive their benefits, the effects from the weekend kept me centered during a week of unprecedented political upheaval here in the United States.
Satisfied with these experiences, I decided a week later to do a deep dive by taking a full-size dose. I prepared a nest replete with drinks, snacks, a warm blanket, and music. I had anything I really needed within easy reach. This time I could feel myself being pushed through a seemingly never-ending tunnel with images of childhood traumas and adult disappointments flashing before me. To be honest, had I not undergone EMDR last year, I suspect the revisiting of these traumatic experiences would have triggered me. But thanks to that work I was able to remain still and just let these experiences pass over me.
When I emerged out of this tunnel, I found myself in a calm place lying by a pool of water. Bathed in the healing power of water, I reclaimed my identity as a survivor, though the warrior within me that needed to do battle to protect myself was now overflowing with empathy. My revelations were not based on left/right politics, but rather a deeply grounded sensation of being connected to the earth through this fungi that allowed me to see clearly our interconnectedness based on our shared humanity. (I say this as someone who is very wary of woo-woo and remains highly skeptical of those who abandon medical science as they claim their auras will protect them from STIs and other communicable diseases.)
Coming out of this experience, I watched the season finale of Star Trek. Without giving away any spoilers, suffice to say the show’s message of global interconnectedness really hit home and the powerful effects of the themes of death and rebirth reconnected me at my core.
Then, I tried microdosing, an experience that creates the uplifting and empathic effects of psilocybin mushrooms while letting the user still be able to focus and function. Given the lack of qualified practitioners, this method is best for those wanting to experiment on their own. Fortunately, I have enough of a supply that I can follow a regimen of microdosing psilocybin mushrooms to keep me centered moving forward.
Rebecca Martinez, community organizer and author of Edge Play, a memoir about psychedelic healing, provided me with the necessary instructions. She confirmed that my experience parallels her use of this fungi. As she described to me, “Psilocybin mushrooms temporarily disorganize your brain activity, and parts of your brain start communicating in novel ways. You’re able to go back and revisit traumatic experiences where your stored memory of that event is separate from the emotions attached to this event.” In this state, the mind and emotions come together, and you can reframe the event in your mind and feel what happened. This reframing allows you to feel compassion from the heart instead of simply mentally forgiving the person.
Nathan Howard, cofounder of East Fork Cultivars, has written about his experiences with psilocybin mushrooms. He points to the resurgence of plant-based medicine in the United States and beyond. “Whether the plant is cannabis or psilocybin-producing mushrooms, people are finding genuine relief from a variety of ailments from these plants. That is a fact. Now what we need is more medical research into these plants, their compounds, and how they interact with the human body.”
Author’s Note: This piece on microdosing psilocybin reflects my own experiences with psilocybin mushrooms and is not designed as prescriptive advice. Furthermore, I’m aware of others for whom psilocybin mushrooms had an adverse effect. The same can be said for cannabis/CBD and other mind-altering substances. For those looking for additional research on psilocybin mushrooms, check out the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and Double Blind Magazine.
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