A trip on magic mushrooms: exploring perfectionism

It’s Sunday. I fill my room with plants, light a candle, put some atmospheric lighting on. There’s water by the side, a taperware with fruit in case I’m hungry, my computer, headphones and eyeshades. I’m ready.

I’ve been considering this for a couple months and planning it the last couple of weeks. I faced some obstacles but I persisted because I really wanted it and things worked out okay in the end. I’m going to have a trip with psilocybin, the main substance of what we commonly call magic mushrooms. I have the place to myself and it’s a good opportunity. I’ve set an intention: I want to explore my perfectionism; I want to see what it means to be good enough.

I’ve done this before, I’m fairly familiar with substances like these. I’ve had some beautiful moments but most times I took high doses it was pretty hard. The last time I did it was last year with the psychedelic society. It was scary and challenging but I felt supported and it ended up being a nourishing and insightful experience.

Today I’m scared again. I’ve had an okay sleep last night. I wake up and decide not to push myself too much and take half the amount I was planning to and see how it goes. I’m worried about not having someone to sit with me. I’m also worried about stupid details such as the smoke alarm going off because of the candle, water spilling on the floor from the bottle next to me or someone having an accident while I’m tripping and people not being able to find me. I use common sense to see the irrationally of my fears while also taking care of them – I let friends know I’m doing it and that I’ll be offline, I have a plastic bottle with a lid next to me instead of a glass. I’m also aware that I’ve had candles lit for hours before and the smoke alarm thing never happened.

I carefully chop and half the mushrooms and I cat one of the halves in another two halves. I prepared an 8 hour playlist just for this purpose. I decide to see how I feel an 1.5hrs after I take the first half, which is supposedly the start of the peak of the trip. I check which music track will be playing at that time. I put my eyeshades and headphones on and I just lie down and wait, listening to the music. I can start feeling the effects slowly. It’s challenging yet a bit more familiar than other times. I know what fears to expect. An hour and a half later, I’m starting to feel it even more. I breathe slowly, meditating while I listen to the music. I look at the things I was worried about and I see they’re part of the process. I take the other two quarters and lie down again. I’m ready.

Charlotte Adigéry’s instrumental version of the song yin-yan meditation comes in. It’s the only song I’m familiar with – I decided to not listen to the rest of the playlist too much to leave space for the uncertainty of the unknown; it’s something I read helps with the trip. In the vocal version, Charlotte Adigéry invites the listener to come to a meditative place. At various places she instructs the listener to follow a certain pattern of breathing. In the rest of the song she takes us to a journey into her own mind. In the background of both versions we hear something that sounds like the beat of a heart. It’s intense and somehow unsettling. The song coincides with me starting to lose my sense of self. The way it progresses reflects the way my own mind works. I’m not sure if the song mirrors my mind or it’s the other way around. It’s actually hard to stay with it because I feel anxious. But then there is this moment where the singer invites us to relax and breathe in for 1, 2, 3, 4 – hold for 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – release 6, 5 ,4, 3, 2, 1.

The journey has started and I’ve managed to let go, more so than other times. For the next two hours or so time doesn’t exist. I don’t think I do either. Patterns come to vision, concepts come to mind. Gender, couples, family – what does it all mean? It could all be different. I’m scared I’m gonna go mad, I’m scared I’ll never come back to normal. I’ve known these fears before but I can now look at them really clearly. Who decides who is mad and who is sane anyway? It’s all a random game, it could go this or the other way – we just live our lives hoping that what we do is the right and sane thing.

I keep bringing my intention to mind. What is perfect and what is not? I see perfect concentric shapes surrounded by the fuzzy imperfections and the chaos of the rest of my visual and emotional experience. To be perfect is to be imperfect. They coexist.

I have let go completely. I’m just lying there doing nothing, just existing. It feels so wonderful to just be. I’m expecting myself to feel relaxed but I’m still worried – worried about the candle, about not finding enough work, about the year that’s about to come. But I accept it all because I know deeply that this worry is something that’s always been and will always be there. I see and feel how this is what all my ancestors felt – worrying, doubting, fearing are all part of being human. People always went to sleep at night hoping the next day things are going to be better while fearing that they won’t. Why would it be any different for me?

I see how who I am right now is the result of millions of years of evolution. I am the result of millions of years of worry and fear and hope. I think about my mother and my grandmother and her mother and grandmothers and I see that what I feel right now is what they felt every single day of their lives. This doesn’t only connect us – it makes us the same person. I am them.

I continue lying in my bed just being. I think my back hurts from lying down for too long but when I take a closer look, I see that it’s not my back that hurts, it’s that familiar ache that I feel every morning when I wake up. It’s the emotional pain I often notice I feel and I want to get rid of. I look at it and I just see: this is what it means to be alive. This pain is life itself. “Life is suffering” literally means “Life equals suffering”. Pain and life are the same thing and to be free of pain means to be dead.

As soon as I see this I let go even more. I welcome this pain and I welcome everybody’s pain. I feel such joy in this state of being. I cry for all the times I didn’t allow myself to feel it, for all the times I wanted to escape my own and other people’s pain. I thought of my mother and how that’s what I always wanted from her – I wanted her to take that pain away from me because it was too much. I saw that’s what she and my father and my brother always wanted too. All the conversations we’ve had, all our fights and disagreements were because this pain was too much for all of us.

I bring my intention to mind again; there’s no doubt about what it means to be good enough. Life is hard. Just existing, is very hard work. I need to give myself a fucking break. I need to give others a fucking break. We’ve all came in this existence against our will and we didn’t choose to have the life we have now. We all do our the best because that’s all we can do.

I take my eyeshades off, I look around with tears in my eyes. I look at the care I put into preparing my room for this trip, into making it so beautiful. It’s my birthday in a few days and I’ve given myself the best gift I could ever imagine: the gift of my own existence.