Mushrooms aren’t just about eating fungi and watching the magic happen. It’s about how you cultivate and respond to the magic. Whether vibing with friends or digging deep with psychedelic-assisted therapy, mushrooms require great respect.
For magic mushrooms, in particular, there is a certain level of unpredictability. There is a bit of trickster energy to mushrooms, and despite our most meaningful and poetic intentions, sometimes shrooms have their own agenda.
Preparation ensures getting the most out of psychedelic experiences, no matter if they are challenging or beautiful.
So what does one do to prepare for navigating the unknown? Read on to learn our approach to preparing for magic mushrooms by creating powerful intentions, organizing a comfortable setting, cultivating an open mindset, determining the dose, and what to expect.
Magic mushrooms are naturally occurring fungi containing psilocybin and other potentially active compounds. When eaten, our bodies convert psilocybin into psilocin, which binds to receptors for a powerful experience.
At the right dose, psilocin creates altered states of consciousness, including hallucinations, amplification of emotions, personal reflection, and philosophical insight — all of which can bring profound meaning and clarity to our lives. These effects can also be intense, challenging, and confusing.
Using psilocybin for healing, personal exploration, spiritual insight, and fun is all valid. But you need to be ready for the twists and turns of a mushroom journey. This starts by selecting the correct dose, and set and setting is essential. The goals or “intentions” you choose will influence how you prepare for mushrooms.
Some basic concepts to understand before eating mushrooms are:
- Set — This stands for mindset, which can be expectations, desires, fears, mental health challenges, and countless mental states. Because mushrooms can “amplify” what is happening inside us, know your mind and how to work with it.
- Setting — This is the environment you are choosing to take mushrooms in. A good setting should be safe, comfortable, and ideally familiar. The setting also includes people you will be around, along with “vibes” like lighting and music — things we are very sensitive to on mushrooms.
- Substance — There are many different species of mushrooms with different levels of potency. The most common is Psilocybe cubensis, and nowadays, shrooms shops carry many different strains.
Choosing the dose depends on your intent. We all have individual sweet spots for microdosing, being social, doing inner work, or psychonauting through the multiverse.
Whether you have foraged your shrooms from the forest or have a ziplock bag in your closet, it’s important to know what you are consuming! Identifying what species you have when it’s dry can be tricky. Testing for shroom potency isn’t a big thing (yet), so the best thing to do is ask the source if they know the species or strain along with what dose they recommend.
While it’s tough to pinpoint what anyone’s dose is (finding what works might take a few tries), here is a generally accepted framework:
|Microdose||0.2 – 0.5 grams|
|Threshold||0.5 – 1 gram|
|Psychoactive||2 – 5 grams|
|Heroic Dose||5+ grams|
To be more exact, we have a dose calculator to help you choose your own adventure. This calculator assumes dried cubensis mushrooms:
Double-check the potency of the DXM you’re using, and look for the addition of other compounds such as acetaminophen which can cause severe liver-toxic side-effects at this dose.
Intentions are why we are taking mushrooms. While helpful, it’s important to be cautious because intentions can turn into expectations — what we want or think should happen. They are best treated as possibilities, not a prediction of results.
But the mushrooms, or life for that matter, are under no obligation to give us what we want or in the way we expect it. Intentions are more like a guiding principle when preparing, navigating, and integrating a psychedelic experience. They motivate beforehand, are something to hold onto during, and are tools for unpacking afterward.
Here are some tips for setting intentions:
- Choose something meaningful — Psychedelics respond well to heartfelt, emotionally charged intent. When waves of intoxication feel overwhelming, a meaningful reminder of why you took so many shrooms helps.
- Keep intentions simple — You might get pretty scrambled on shrooms, so choose something easy. Think, “Show me my purpose,” “I believe in myself,” or “What do I need to see?” Intentions like these can help reassure us or allow us to gently engage with the medicine in a direction we would like to go.
- Stay Positive — The saying “Where attention goes energy flows” fits for mushrooms. For example, if dealing with a disease, focus on healing, not destroying something. Choose intentions that guide you toward the positive, love, light, or whatever lifts you up.
In the 21st century, many see mushrooms as a powerful treatment for mental and even physical health. Yet, the vast majority of psychedelic mushroom use is outside of clinics and research. Mushroom’s ability to instigate deep connections between people, glorious euphoria, and wild laughter is part of what these sacred fungi offer.
For a long time, psychedelic use has been done in a community. The bonds created are one of their greatest strengths. Setting intentions to connect, relate, understand, love, and just generally enjoy each other is a worthy application of psychedelics.
Set and setting are the foundations of psychedelic use. When we consume psychedelics, we need to prepare to examine or deconstruct any part of our lives in new or even uncomfortable ways.
Be honest about what your life situation is and what the optimal setup would be. Consider what actions support you in getting there while knowing mushrooms can be the most beautiful or challenging experiences of your life — prepare yourself for both.
Setting is the environment you trip in. It is the physical things around you, like people, objects, buildings, or natural environments. Setting is also something a little harder to nail down but still extremely important — stimulation like music (the “hidden therapist”) , the atmosphere like lighting, and what is often described as “vibes.”
On shrooms, anything and everything can become incredibly meaningful and significant. Would you prefer the feelings you get from a cozy nest with your lover, a trusted therapist’s couch, alone in the forest, or a packed concert?
Consider carefully because it can be tricky to switch environments once things get rolling (don’t plan on traveling at high doses), although good preparation makes this possible.
For example, being at a house party when the mushrooms decide to show you your darkest shadows isn’t ideal. Likewise, a therapist’s office isn’t the right environment for connecting with nature and the community.
Use your intentions to help you figure out where you want your journey to happen. The higher the dose, the more contained and carefully curated a space should be.
Some considerations for your optimal setting:
Be in a safe and secure location with people you trust implicitly. Avoid interruptions, strangers, and surprises like a sudden thunderstorm without shelter. Worrying about your mental or physical health can be distracting.
Shrooms can get weird or silly. Choose a place and people where it feels like it’s ok to be yourself. Trying to “be cool” in a strange place will be a barrier to diving deep into the mushroom experience.
A mushroom trip is also a pretty big time commitment. They last for hours, so choose a location that supports rest, movement, going to the bathroom, expressing yourself, listening to music, and creativity.
Fruit, water, tea, and maybe some salty, crunchy things can be fun and necessary supplements to a journey. Having access to people or objects that are meaningful or supportive to you is worth planning. Comfortable clothes, getting warm or cooling down, experiencing nature, or taking shelter from it, are also considerations.
We can think of mindset in a few different ways. Our minds are often in many places at once. It’s one of the reasons it’s so tough to dial in our intentions or predict where a psychedelic experience will go. We aren’t always the most aware of our actions, patterns, and habits — and part of mushroom’s magic is revealing what we may have missed.
Mushrooms may “amplify” parts of ourselves, so we must do our best to honestly examine how we are (not how we would like to appear) — this is key to having the experience you need. A bit of nervousness and excitement are normal. Pretending not to feel sad, terrified, or unsafe in a difficult period of life won’t help. Instead, acknowledging these feelings will let you and others prepare well.
This isn’t to say that people going through a tough time can’t take mushrooms. It’s true that psychedelics can be dangerous for folks with schizophrenia, bipolar, and other mental health conditions. Always consult mental health professionals if there is any uncertainty. However, with the right circumstances and guidance, psilocybin has the potential to be a beneficial shift. The point here is to be safe, supported, and realistic based on an authentic understanding of where you are at.
Taking psychedelics, in a sense, is an exploration of our minds. Yet this trip can be undertaken at any time. Knowing our patterns, desires, and fears helps us form intentions, find a great setting, and provide clues to what mushrooms may reveal.
We might cultivate awareness by journaling or chatting with friends, coaches, therapists, or in groups. Practicing mindfulness is also a potent tool for getting to know our inner world.
Some questions to ponder when in conversation or journaling:
- What is on my mind? — Consider if something has constantly been on your mind. Why? What brought it there?
- How am I feeling? — Mushrooms aren’t an intellectual exercise. Be ready for emotions to be very loud. If you aren’t much of a “feeler,” consider what part of your emotional world might not get much attention.
- What do I want? — While we don’t always think about it, we often want something. The emotions and motivations behind these are rich areas to consider.
- What don’t I want? — If finding what you want is hard, maybe go in this direction. What have I been trying to avoid, would like to change, or perhaps accept? Again, don’t make this an intention, but be open to the perspective it offers.
Mindset, just like our environment, is something we can shift. However, simply “changing your mindset” or “just letting go” isn’t always easy, particularly when the peak of those 4 grams is coming in hot!
Attraction to psychedelics can be to “change our minds,” but it’s essential to understand that psychedelics are probably better at showing you what’s already there. But that awareness might be the boost you need to start the real work.
Preparation, navigation, and integration all benefit when we find the individual skills and tools that we can keep using after the drugs have worn off. These are life skills and habits that sustain change. And like any skill, they get better with practice.
Here are some classic skills for psychonauts:
- Mindfulness — This is perhaps the most obvious choice here. Awareness of the tangled patterns in our minds creates a foundation we can build on.
- Meditation — Meditation comes in many shapes and sizes. From zen master’s “just sitting” to guided yoga nidra and manifestation exercises, we encourage you to find what works for you. And let’s be real; meditation can be freaking hard! So be gentle, play your strengths, and find good teachers.
- Breath — Breath is an incredible tool. Many people find this far more accessible than sitting meditation. Exploration of pranayama and breathwork journeys are great, but the power of simple, deep breathing into our belly is probably the single most valuable tool. Try YouTube or books like James Nestor’s “Breath” to go deeper.
- Movement — Perhaps you have heard of the mind and body connection! Our nervous system expands throughout our entire body, and we have access to it through breath, body scans, massage, and our movement. Find something you like and get to know your physical form.
Keep in mind that all these factors are deeply individual, though some, like safety, have universal requirements (don’t drive!). Others are individual, like socializing, calling your mom, or musical taste. The setting can also change, but options and transportation are part of planning.
Spontaneous adventures can be fun but set strong and clear guidelines regarding locations, people, music, communication, touch, and sexual contact. Because we are so sensitive to psychedelics, boundaries need to be extra firm and carefully respected by every group member.
Also worthy of consideration are physical health and medications. Those of us dealing with heart conditions should consult with a doctor. Consider any special mobility needs you may have, as mushrooms can make movement difficult.
Because of the lack of research, taking medications like anti-depressants with psilocybin mushrooms is not recommended. These interactions are still being studied .
It’s suspected that drugs affecting the serotonin system may alter the effects of magic mushrooms, but current research hasn’t confirmed this . The safety of discontinuing medication is best handled with the support of a medical professional.
While on the topic of mushrooms and other drugs, we don’t recommend mixing substances, particularly for first-time users. Even substances we’re familiar with, like cannabis or alcohol, can dramatically affect a trip in unexpected ways.
Those who use psychedelics for deep personal exploration might be trying “heroic” doses — 5+ grams of dried shrooms. This will bring most people into highly disassociated states. In this range, you might not be able to move, speak, or have any connection with everyday consensus reality. As you might expect, this can be scary, confusing, and transformative. Losing contact with our normal senses and thoughts is also confronting and strange.
Having a trip sitter who you deeply trust and who understands deep psychedelic experiences makes all of this much easier. Getting reassured, comforted, and checking in with someone who is sober makes surrendering to an exploration of consciousness easier. Likewise, if something unexpected does happen — a phone call, a neighbor at the door, or the many twists and turns of life — a sitter can easily handle it.
Embarking on a psilocybin journey on our own or with friends is great. But sometimes, folks are looking to make considerable changes or do a deep exploration of themselves. Examples include seeking relief from depression, anxiety, PTSD, addiction, and physical disease. Doing this kind of work with magic mushrooms is serious.
Researchers studying therapy are becoming convinced that working with a mental health professional is paramount to addressing mental health difficulties . Many practitioners — either trained by psychedelic organizations or with many years of underground experience — specialize in helping people do deep healing work while on psychedelics.
Working with a practitioner experienced with psychedelics and whatever condition you are treating will likely increase the chance of improvement. Establishing trust with whoever you choose before an experience allows a deeper surrender to mushrooms. Scrambling after the fact to find a therapist you like and who understands your situation is a stress nobody needs, so plan ahead.
How to Prepare for Shrooms FAQ
Unless someone has a specific physical health complication, like heart issues or mental health conditions like schizophrenia, bipolar, and others, psilocybin is very safe. There are no verifiable deaths from psilocybin, and it has a much lower risk profile than most pharmaceutical drugs .
A magic mushroom trip typically lasts 4–6 hours. This time will be different for everyone, and often people feel some effects for several hours or even the day after. This is sometimes called “afterglow” and can be quite pleasant. The type of mushroom species you consume will also affect these times.
Plan for mushrooms to start taking effect in 30-40 minutes. Again, this depends on personal constitution, species consumed, and method of consumption. Taking shrooms with food will likely mean a longer come-up. Methods like lemon tek can make magic mushrooms kick in much quicker for some people.
If you are waiting for your shrooms to work, be patient! Wait at least a few hours before redosing, and remember, you can always take more, but not less!
Psilocybin is generally flushed from your urine and blood within 24 hours. Magic mushrooms aren’t on standard drug tests, and unless use is suspected, they will not be detected. It is technically possible to detect psilocybin’s metabolites in hair or fingernails if enough is used. However, this is unlikely outside of extreme situations.
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