The psychedelic experience is one of the most lucid encounters anyone can participate in colouring life in a hue that challenges objectivity. Those previously acquainted with psychedelics have little doubt of their animated nature, life pulsating with earthy electricity zapping consciousness to cosmic heights.
Research has found when psychoactive chemicals are ingested the brain’s Default Mode Network (a system concerned with thoughts of self, personal memories and reflection) shuts off and the world begins to morph. These trips induce intense encounters testing the bounds of fiction, everything is seen with ripe curiosity as psychedelic compounds catalyse a sense of novelty .
If animals sense life differently (heightened hearing of dogs, magnetic sense in birds, etc.) does that make their experience any less real? If we encounter unique sensations whilst under the influence of psychedelics what’s to say they aren’t real?
The end of the 60’s saw the Controlled Substances Act halt all research into psychedelics, prodding famed scientists like Timothy Leary and Richard Albert (later Ram Dass) away from an extremely encouraging field. Paradoxically, when something is made illegal it sometimes becomes even easier to find.
Without previously being under the influence of psychedelics it’s hard to comprehend the modification of reality and how it attunes our receptors to a different frequency. The most common avenues, LSD and psilocybin, share similarities in their trip yet offer distinctive adventures.
Mushrooms morph the world. It appears like nothing is capable of staying in a fixed position and boundaries are constantly colliding. The environment oozes with a ceaseless flux of shapes and colours, inviting individuals to engage with their surroundings and test what the eyes are seeing. It cuddles the adventurer and, with the right dose, offers a tranquil sense of ॐ (om).
Acid allows observation of the earth’s vibration. While the participant mat be scattered as their mind spins a thousand notions in three seconds, everything feels at a peculiar uniformity and a perennial pulse communicates to people. Nature lures attention and draws us closer for deeper inspection – On LSD, something as trivial as a tree becomes insight into atomic intricacies.
These mind-expanding experiences encourage engagement with life, yet dissonance often arises afterwards between what’s seen while tripping and what’s witnessed at baseline reality. Anyone with psychedelic experience cannot deny questioning their eyes during an encounter – with imagination operating at full capacity a vault of imagery, thought and ideas unleash.
These mind manifestations can be nurturing or foreboding, however selecting the right environment is essential to a positive trip. Psychedelics aren’t meant to be used recreationally and people should prepare themselves for the occasion by treating the chemicals with reverence. As the experts out in this field say, “It’s all about (mind)set and setting”.
When an individual ingests psychoactive substances the Default Mode Network (DMN) is deplenished releasing the mind from typical thought patterns. Researchers have found a congruence between the DMN and the ego*. Their work indicates that when psychedelics exhaust the DMN it loosens the sense of self attached to the ego, spawning a more authentic, present version of ourselves.
Those who’s minds work well with these chemicals become freer and increasingly spirited, integrating themselves with life and enhancing their interest in it. Hallucinogens are able to pierce the bubble surrounding the illusionary framework of society. When your reality is questioned it’s natural to inquire into the structures supporting its legitimacy, and who’s profiting from it.
The realm a trip opens has been broadly considered false by the establishment, yet who can indisputably say that someone else’s experiences aren’t real? Potentially, what one observe is an alternate frequency on the cosmic broadcast. At baseline reality much of the earth is solid or still, under the influence of psychedelics nature throbs and matter distorts offering possible insights into fundamental atom behaviour.
If the settings established by the DMN are switched off does it perhaps unveil a version the brain has suppressed? The network could have evolved to help humans cope with their incessantly changing environment and, as the development of agriculture and the state made people more uniform and individualistic, we lost the esoteric knowledge cultivated by indigenous culture. This could be the true purpose for these chemical existing in nature, to allow humans to vividly see they are apart the cosmos’ omnipotent, everlasting system.
Allowing the conscious to periodically roam these realities can alleviate new questions indispensable to human advancement. From the Eleusinian mysteries to Steve Jobs, psychedelics have helped shape the world and to still, even at this so-called height of progress, have them suppressed impedes on freedom of thought. Education and unstigmatized investigation can grant knowledge required for individuals to decide whether or not they want to engage respectfully with the psychedelic realm.
Investigation into psychedelics bloomed in the 50’s and 60’s but was stoped dead by political agenda. It was a major derailment for knowledge progression, but as contemporary interest in these chemicals elongate more and more are questioning their service to the human experience. Life is a snafu woven in simplicity, for its full examination one must pull the thread and unweave the mysteries entangled throughout. This may mean confronting ignorance about the fluctuating states of reality.
*Carhart-Harris, R.L. and Friston, K.J., 2010. The default-mode, ego-functions and free-energy: a neurobiological account of Freudian ideas. Brain, 133(4), pp.1265-1283.
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