When we heard that our long-time contributor and friend, Elissa Goodman had embarked on her first (in her words) magic mushroom journey, we have to admit we were surprised. As a stylish L.A. mom with a passion for wellness, Goodman didn’t fit into our idea about what psychedelics were all about — and for that, we’re grateful.
Everything we know about psychedelics is changing. The surge of new interest in the world of psychedelics over the last decade — from medicinal mushrooms to micro-dosed substances like LSD — has caught most of us by surprise. It was a ground-breaking 2006 report by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine that first blew interest in substances like psilocybin wide open. Ever since, Silicon Valley has become a virtual proving ground for micro-dosing performance-enhancing psychedelics, respected authors like Michael Pollan have released influential books like this one, and psilocybin legislation has followed right on the tails of the new freedoms surrounding cannabis as a leading topic of interest in the business of health.
Here’s Elissa on her experience with the fascinating, albeit controversial plant ritual in her personal healing journey…
I was afraid and anxious at the thought of trying magic mushrooms for healing. Then, as I will share here, it became so clear that it was time … and I am so glad that I made the decision to try them. Here is a bit about the effectiveness of mushrooms and my journey towards healing.
The use of psilocybin mushrooms for various health issues, both mental and physical, has become more popular as the impressive research on it continues. In his popular book, “How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence,” Michael Pollan details the benefits that psilocybin has had on numerous people with varying illnesses. In particular, Pollan discusses the positive effects that psilocybin can have on people battling the inevitable anxiety and depression that come with being diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses. Psilocybin has also been used as a therapeutic method for healing past traumas and as a way of turning inward to uncover areas of potential growth within yourself.
Considering my journey with cancer, autoimmune diseases, and past unhealed traumas, Psilocybin has been on my radar for several years. I read Pollan’s book when it was first published in 2018 and it really resonated with me. I discussed the method with various healers over the years including my functional doctor who recommended psilocybin as a way of conquering my anxiety. Holistic practitioners had shared that psilocybin chooses you when the time is right. I know that can sound extremely “out there”, but I decided to trust this process and wait until my intuition told me that it was the right time for the experience.
I have participated in traditional healing modalities like talk therapy for decades. I have also experimented with more holistic methods like energy healing, meditation, breathwork and reiki for the past ten years. Nothing, however, has ever come close to the awakening that I experienced on my journey with mushrooms.
I am someone who has always sought to go deeper. I regularly experience the urge to search deeply to discover who I am and what I am capable of. I have always been in exploration of the inner peace that so many healers talk about. While inner peace had always felt like a myth, I can honestly say that my use of mushrooms over the last few months has brought me closer to that peace, which is why I want to share my experience with you.
I recently decided to embark on my first magic mushroom journey. A psilocybin journey entails a relatively large dose of the mushrooms while in the safe presence of a ‘guide’ who can help support you through the process. The dose is often referred to as a “Shaman’s dose” and is typically around three grams. A large enough dose pushed me into a psychedelic experience in which my subconscious took the driver’s seat and became very active. Being in a safe space allowed me to fully let go of control, which is something that has always been a challenge for me. Because I was not fully in control, this experience had the ability to lead me into some dark places, which can be very scary if you are not well prepared for it.
The guide who supported me on my journey is a very good friend of mine and he is also a Life Coach and Spiritual Counselor. He works with his clients for a full month: two weeks of preparation sessions, the day-long journey and then two weeks of integration. He shares that preparation and integration are absolutely essential and warns against the use of psychedelics without this kind of intentionality and preparedness.
During the preparation sessions, we talked about why I wanted to experience this journey, what traumas I had experienced, what I was looking to heal and how I most wanted to feel in the world. We discussed my anxiety with work, my relationships, my fears, and hopes. We even explored my feelings about death. During the integration sessions (after the journey) my friend coached me on how I can take all that I learned during the journey and implement it into my life.
On the day of the journey, I did not do any work or errands in the morning. Instead, I had a beautiful morning yoga/meditation session and journaled. I took a relaxing bath. My guide suggested that the more relaxed, de-stressed and grounded I felt, the more successful the journey would be. Prior to consuming the psilocybin, he had me write down my intentions for the journey and we even blessed the psilocybin before I ate it. It was a beautiful process. My guide suggested I lie down and cover my eyes so that I could focus my energy inward.
It took about thirty minutes for the effects to kick in. There was a moment when I began to feel different and suddenly felt terrified. Like I mentioned before, letting go of control has never been easy for me. But my guide lovingly worked through it with me. He invited me to breathe, surrender, relax and trust. He reminded me that my fear was coming up because it thought it needed to protect me. That my brain was wired to resist change. He reminded me that I was safe, that I could trust this process. I continued to breathe, and I began to let go more. The more I surrendered, the more I tapped into an elevated place.
A feeling overcame me that was simultaneously physical and emotional. I felt calm and could recognize the strange beauty of what I was seeing. My entire body was literally vibrating with energy. In fact, I eventually wrapped myself in a weighted blanket in an effort to make the vibrational sensations less intense. I felt like I was floating in space. The feeling became warm and cozy – as if I was being held by something bigger than me. My guide kept reminding me that the mushrooms would take me on my own journey. We would repeat the mantra “Take me where I need to be, show me what I need to see,” which helped me continue to open more and more.
I can understand why some people may feel the urge to get up and dance while they are on their journey. I might have felt compelled to release the vibrational energy through physical movement too. However, my guide reminded me of my intention, and I chose to focus the energy inward to get the most out of the experience in a therapeutic way. There were times when I felt scared. I would then hear my guide say “Remember to breathe,” and would realize that I was, in fact unconsciously holding my breath. I would take a breath and the fear would dissipate. The more I breathed, the more my subconscious would open up – perhaps because I felt safer. I went to some dark places from my childhood but it felt necessary to meet my traumas in that sacred place and have the opportunity to revisit them, to love myself within them. It even felt like I was letting them go. Despite the dark areas that I encountered, I kept coming back to an overall feeling of gratitude and pure appreciation for the person I am. I experienced genuine self-love and self-acceptance which have never been available to me in the past.
There were some other revelations that I encountered on my journey that I was not expecting. I kept having the urge to place the incredible amount of energy that was flowing through my body on my thyroid and encourage it to heal – for those who are not familiar with my story, I have had a plethora of thyroid issues in my lifetime. I also had the opportunity to observe my ego from a distance and I was shocked to finally understand how it gets me in trouble. Another fear of mine also bubbled to the surface: the looming dread that everyone who is important to me is going to leave me. And beyond that, I realized that I have even wanted them to leave me to prove to myself that I am unworthy. As I said, I definitely visited some challenging spaces.
I walked away from that experience with some profound breakthroughs. Aside from the difficult honesty and delicious unconditional self-love that I felt, I also came away with total clarity about other aspects of my life. I had a better understanding of how I could be giving more to certain personal relationships. For example, there are aspects of those relationships where I should be taking ownership. Prior to my journey, I felt like some of these relationship lapses were other people’s fault. To discover that the responsibility was not only on them was earth-shattering.
This might come across as morbid and that is not my intention, but I truly felt that if the world were to end right at that moment, I would be okay. My life up until this point has been more than enough. Some people take psilocybin on their death bed to confront their fear of death. I believe that finding this knowing that everything will be okay is the reason why. That sense of inner peace is what I had been yearning for and I can honestly say that feeling still lives on inside me today.
I have now experimented with psilocybin multiple times and each time has been better than the last. Every time that I have used mushrooms, I feel like I have taken another step toward the place that I have been looking for. With that said, while using psilocybin has been hugely beneficial for me, I cannot say that I recommend it to everyone. Like I mentioned previously, I have over fifteen years of traditional and untraditional types of therapy under my belt. I am not sure whether I would have had a more positive or negative experience had I not put all of that work into myself before embarking on my journey. It may feel more overwhelming if you jump right into a psychedelic inward experience. If you do end up deciding to use psilocybin therapeutically, there are some tips I recommend incorporating:
- My most important piece of advice is to find a trusted guide who offers these medicinal journeys.
- Get into the right mental space beforehand. Do whatever makes you calm – whether that means yoga, meditating, or taking a nice long bath.
- Do your work in advance – I am not sure that everyone needs years of talk therapy first, but it might be beneficial to go inward on your own before you use psilocybin.
- Some physical props are nice – I loved using my weighted blanket and eye mask.
- Music designed for a psilocybin session was super helpful to me. I know that some healers believe that you should embark on the journey without any other stimulation, but the music evoked and supported my emotionally intense memories, thoughts and experiences.
- Do not go right back into your everyday life once the experience is over. While it will not feel like a traditional ‘come down,’ it will feel a little sad to leave such a beautiful place. You will want to treat yourself with the utmost kindness after your journey.
- You can journal about the experience afterward but resist the urge to overanalyze it. Just let it be.
Psilocybin was an incredibly moving experience for me, but I am in no way saying that everyone should experiment with it. I believe that you will be “called” to it if and when you are ready. Look for signs that it may be the right time for you. If you decide to embark on a journey, please do so responsibly and in a safe place with someone you trust. If you feel that you are ready, I recommend reaching out to various holistic healers in your area to find someone who might be able to guide you effectively.
The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programs.