Planning on eating some psychoactive mushrooms? What are you going to do during the experience? You can, of course, do nothing in particular—in fact, that might be best, especially at higher doses, when any activity besides sitting there might be impossible. But at lower doses you can do all sorts of things, and some things are better than others.
We’ll go over some of the basics (what shrooms are, what exactly they do) for readers who may be new to the subject, then we’ll issue some important warnings, then we’ll throw around some suggestions[i]. It’s all about putting things in place to have the best experience possible[ii].
Psychoactive Mushroom Basics
“Shrooms” are, generally speaking, mushrooms that contain psilocybin, a psychoactive substance. The most popular and best-known of these mushroom species is Psilocybe cubensis, a small, brown mushroom that grows wild over much of the world and is also widely cultivated. Names like Golden Teacher or Albino Penis Envy refer to cultivated strains of P. cubensis. Basically, they’re all breeds of the same thing. There are other species, though. It’s important to know what you’ve got because potency can vary a lot—a beginner dose of a low-potency mushroom could be downright dangerous with a high-potency option. The quality or style of the trip can also vary to some extent.
As to what taking psilocybin mushrooms is like, people who have never done it will talk about the hallucinations, often referring to psilocybin simply as a hallucinogen. And hallucinations will occur, except at very low doses—but even at moderate doses, the visions are likely to be subtle. Walls may appear to breathe. Colors may look brighter than normal. Shapes may become geometric. Only at very high doses are the visions likely to seriously compete with reality or to include things that just aren’t there. But at that kind of dose, seeing things is likely to be the least of your issues!
Psilocybin alters perception, but it also alters both mood and thought-process. Usually, the mood is euphoric, often with a strong sense of connection, though whatever emotions you’re feeling are likely to come up and get stronger—in some cases, the experience can devolve into intense, unbearable anxiety. Altered thought-processes can lead to important personal and spiritual insights. At very high doses, reality can go away for a bit. The self can go away for a bit. Some people love those experiences. For others, it’s terrifying.
Psilocybin does not just just alter the mind. You might feel very relaxed or very energetic. You might also have trouble with coordination and balance. Nausea is likely. In very rare cases, serious problems may result, including convulsions and even death—children are especially at risk. And yet psilocybin is relatively safe. Serious problems can usually be avoided by taking some simple precautions.
The experience usually begins about half an hour after taking the mushroom and lasts six to eight hours with a definite peak in the middle. Longer trips are possible.
Cautions and Warnings
Knowing what not to do on shrooms (or right before or right after shrooms) is at least as important as knowing what to do—some of these are even more important, since they’re part of important safety precautions. Bear in mind this list is not exhaustive. It can’t be. There’s too much out there to fit on a single list. You are responsible for learning everything you can about how to use these mushrooms safely and enjoyably, and some article on the internet should not be your only source of information.
Don’t Eat the Wrong Mushroom!
Shrooms are LBMs. That’s mycophile-speak for “little brown mushroom,” a huge group of mostly-unrelated species that look more or less exactly alike (OK, there are differences, but they’re either subtle or not always visible). And some of them can kill you. If you’re wild-harvesting mushrooms, or if you’re eating shrooms wild-harvested by someone else, it’s imperative to make sure the identification was correct.
Some psychoactive species actually sometimes grow in mixed groups with deadly-poisonous mushrooms. Seriously, there are documented fatalities of people who thought they were eating shrooms and actually ate something else.
Another issue is that not all psychoactive mushrooms are psilocybin mushrooms. Amanita muscaria, for example, is biochemically very different and much more dangerous. People do take A. muscaria, and some have good experiences, but those mushrooms play be different rules, and so you’ll need to research their use separately.
Don’t Trip Alone
A sober trip-sitter can be the difference between a great experience and something unpleasant and dangerous. A good trip-sitter not only deals with practical issues that can be difficult to handle while on shrooms, they can also help you deal with anxiety or other difficult emotions that may come up.
Don’t Trip Unprepared
Set and setting—that is, mindset and circumstance—have a huge influence on how a trip goes. That means you need to arrange a safe, pleasant environment, get all responsibilities and demands out of the way, and prepare mentally ahead of time. It’s also a good idea to not eat, or at least not eat very much, within about four hours of the onset of the trip. Plus see the note about drugs and alcohol.
Don’t Take Too Much
It doesn’t matter which method of consumption you decide to try but higher doses substantially increase the risk of problems—a moderate dose when you’re only prepared for something light is also risky. And since human tolerance for psilocybin varies, one person’s good time can be someone else’s overdose. The bottom line is to always err on the side of taking too little rather than too much.
Don’t Mix Shrooms with Drugs or Alcohol
Mixing mind-altering substances will, depending on the substances, do either of two things: make you more altered than you otherwise would be, or make you less altered. The latter is no fun. The former is dangerous. If you’re taking medication, it’s best to do some research to make sure there won’t be any problematic interactions there, either.
Don’t Neglect Integration
Integration means taking the time after the trip (at least a few days) to understand the experience. Integration is especially important for people using shrooms for emotional healing or spiritual development, but even people just looking for a good time will benefit from respecting the experience enough to take the time to understand it.
Don’t Get Arrested
Psilocybin is illegal to use or possess in most jurisdictions. Penalties can be severe. Know what the law is in your area and do not get sent to prison.
Best Things to do on Shrooms: Trip Ideas and Activities
OK, now for the fun part of the article—what you should do while tripping. Not that there any rules.
Shrooming for Therapy and Personal or Spiritual Growth
How you approach mushrooms depends on what you want from them. To get the most out of the experience from a personal-growth perspective, it’s important to come to the trip with well-defined goals and yet a willingness to accept and move through whatever happens. Going outside, doing art, journaling, listing to some good shroom music, or having some other enjoyable and potentially introspective experience is fine, but leave room for the trip to go someplace unexpected. For example, you may find grief or shame or trauma emerging for processing. Make sure that whatever you’re doing can be set aside or altered if you find you really need to do something else.
Having a trip-sitter with the training to act as a therapist and guide is really helpful, too.
Integration could take months or even years, if you’re really serious about learning everything you can from the mushroom.
Shrooming for Fun
Many people take mushrooms less with an eye to personal growth and more for personal enjoyment. The two aren’t mutually exclusive, of course, but it’s a question of emphasis and intention. For example, watching movies or TV while tripping is generally a bad idea for a spiritual seeker, because your trip will be shaped by the show, rather than by the needs of your soul. But if your soul is not your focus, the TV can be.
Finding fun things to do on shrooms is mostly an issue for people taking light or moderate doses, by the way. An intense trip will usually prevent you doing much of anything besides enjoying the inside of your head.
A lot of suggestions for trips are best done indoors. There’s a reason for that. Shrooming indoors means safety, privacy, and the ability to largely control your setting and keep it comfortable and stress-free. Outdoors, the arrival of bad weather, unpleasant people, or law-enforcement could be a real problem. And if you start acting really weird, you could attract the wrong kind of attention from the wrong people. You could go someplace remote to avoid people, but the great outdoors is not without risk, and if you’re not sober, you might not handle those risks well.
But if you have a good place to go and a good trip-sitter to go with, shrooming outdoors can be amazing.
Make Art or Write
Drawing or painting or writing can be a great way to record your ideas. You can also use art or journaling to explore and expand your experience. Depending on how the trip goes, you may or may not feel like picking up a pen or a paint-brush, but it’s best to have your supplies on hand in case you want them. Hunting through a crowded closet for your journal or your paints while tripping sounds like a drag.
Listen to Music
Many people recommend listening to mellow, relaxing music while tripping. Exactly what is the best music to listen to while on shrooms depends on your personal taste, but consider choosing something without words. Lyrics could change the course of the trip, which may or may not be what you want to have happen.
Watch TV or Movies
Good things to watch while on shrooms include almost anything light and enjoyable[iii]. Nature documentaries are good, provided there aren’t graphic scenes of predators killing their prey or some other potentially upsetting thing. Strange, trippy movies, such as The Wizard of Oz or The Yellow Submarine are another good option. Comedies, interesting imagery, or something philosophical all have their advantages.
This one is only for people on light doses[iv]. Men sometimes find that psilocybin interferes with physical performance, and an intense trip makes focusing on anything, even sex, impossible for anybody. However, if you and your partner find yourselves capable and interested, the results could be lovely.
Connect with Others
Spending time with friends and loved ones out of bed is good, too. Psilocybin fosters a feeling of connection and allows all sorts of thoughts and feelings to come up—for these reasons, it’s important to avoid anybody you don’t like or don’t trust. You’re open and vulnerable. But with the right people, openness and vulnerability make it possible to get close. Closeness is good.