Psilocybin Questions: Your First Psilocybin Mushroom Experience in 5 Steps

“Magic mushrooms” are mushrooms that contain a naturally-occurring psychedelic compound called psilocybin. This compound can have a significant impact on your visual, auditory and sensory experience. Colloquially called “shrooms”, the psychedelic fungi have a long history of being associated with self-discovery and spiritual experiences. So, how do you experience magic mushrooms for the first time? Taking magic mushrooms for the first time can feel intimidating, so here are five steps you can take to put your mind at ease and allow for you to enjoy the experience:

  1. Educate yourself – Know what to expect. 
  2. Preparation – Set and setting.
  3. Preparation – Sourcing mushrooms and dosage
  4. The Session – Guidance and meditation.
  5. Integration – Journaling and contemplation.

When trying anything new, especially something that can cause significant visual effects, it is crucial to research and fully understand what you are doing. You want this first-time experience to be a positive one that allows you to integrate the benefits into your day-to-day life. Here are the steps that should be taken for your first experience with mushrooms. 

Educate Yourself – Know What to Expect

The most important step to taking mushrooms is to educate yourself. You should understand the effects and the risks before you embark on a psychedelic journey.

There has been a resurgence in psychedelic research in recent decades, with many studies demonstrating the therapeutic potential of psychedelics for mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, addiction and PTSD, to name a few. But although psilocybin has been ranked as one of the least dangerous drugs, there are some risks you should be aware of most commonly the ‘bad trip’, characterized by dark thoughts and visions, anxiety and fear.

There is also a risk of hallucinogen-persisting perception disorder (HPPD), which causes psychedelic effects to persist well after the trip is over (although this has been shown to be extremely rare and there is skepticism around the idea of HPPD).  

There have been suggestions that psychedelics can present the risk of exacerbating mental health problems, but two large scale studies have recently shown that people who have used psychedelics may be less likely to have subsequent serious mental health issues than those who haven’t (Hendricks et al, 2015 and Johansen and Krebs, 2015). To be on the safe side, anyone with a history of mental illness should consult a professional before using psychedelics.

Possible side effects can be physical or emotional.

Physical effects may include:

  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Muscle weakness
  • Decrease in coordination
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dilated pupils 

Psychological effects may include:

  • Paranoia
  • Visual effects / visions
  • Distorted sense of time 
  • Euphoria
  • Spiritual experiences
  • Nervousness

Of course, as with any psychedelic, the mental effects are likely to be far more powerful and profound than any of the physical effects. There is always the risk of a “bad trip,” where users report being trapped in a nightmarish state of mind, or being caught up in seemingly endless thought-loops. On the other end of the spectrum, it is possible to experience intense euphoria, spiritual bliss and “oneness with the universe”. The key is to go with the flow, to surrender to whatever arises, and try not to resist the experience. A positive and curious mindset is extremely important–more on this later.

Things to Avoid When Taking Mushrooms

When using psychedelics, including mushrooms, you should do so as safely as possible. There are certain things you should avoid for a positive and safe trip. 

You should avoid:

  • Mixing mushrooms with other drugs, including alcohol
  • Using mushrooms if you have a history of mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, psychosis, or bipolar disorder
  • Using mushrooms if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Mixing mushrooms with other medications that may interact negatively, like tricyclic antidepressants (SSRIs) or blood-pressure medication
  • Mixing mushrooms with supplements like 5-HTP, St. John’s Wort, and others that may affect the brain’s serotonergic function 

Read About Experiences

Reading other people’s experiences of taking magic mushrooms is an excellent way to prepare yourself for what may happen. You can read trip reports on the Shroomery forum, Erowid, or Reddit to get an understanding of what other people have experienced. 

Here are some common features of the psychedelic mushroom experience:

  • Enhanced visuals – Some people experience external, “open-eye” visions, while others may have more internal visuals. People report seeing brighter colors, distorted vision and intricate patterns. It is also common to feel that your vision has become clearer and more vivid. 
  • Auditory effects – Sounds can become more enhanced but also distorted. Users also report that sounds become humorous and comical. 
  • Time and space distortion – Individuals often feel as if time is slowing down or standing completely still. Objects can look closer or further away than they are. 
  • Emotional release – Some users recommend taking mushrooms to help heal from traumatic experiences. Magic mushrooms can cause you to revisit negative experiences, which can help to process trauma, leading to an emotional release. 
  • Bodily bliss – When taking psychedelic mushrooms, bodily sensations can be heightened, leading to physical feelings of pleasure and bliss. This is why many users like to be on mushrooms while dancing, doing yoga, or during a massage. 
  • Ego dissolution / ego death – At the peak of a psychedelic experience, it is common for users to experience total dissolution of the ego. There is no longer a boundary between self and other, and any sensation of “me” as a separate, distinguishable identity is temporarily obliterated. During ego dissolution, you feel “one” with the universe.
  • Spiritual and cognitive rebirth – After a profound and intense psychedelic experience, you may gain a new appreciation of the world around you, and may feel like you have been reborn – especially if you have experienced ego death.

The most important thing to remember is that different people will have different experiences, even if the kind of mushroom consumed is the same. Each subsequent psychedelic trip will be different and may feel like it is your first. Negative experiences and intense anxiety are more likely when individuals are in crowds, so it is a good idea to avoid highly-populated areas, especially parties and public spaces.

Consider Professional Guidance

If you are worried about your first time taking psychedelic mushrooms, you should consider getting professional guidance from a trip sitter, psychedelic therapist or at a retreat center. These options can help ensure you have a safe and positive trip.

When being under professional guidance, specific rules need to be followed. You won’t be free to roam around the streets and do as you please. At a retreat, you will stay on the property, and when you are with a trip sitter, you will typically stay in a designated room. This is to ensure you and your guide’s safety while allowing you to experience a worry-free, positive trip. 

Preparation: Set and Setting

To get the full benefits of your experience and to ensure that you have the best chances of having a beautiful and enjoyable trip, you must be well prepared. Having the right mindset, the right atmosphere, supplies, and support are all crucial elements for the optimal experience. This is typically known as “set and setting”. “Set”’ refers to the mental state you bring to the experience, and “setting” is the physical and social environment. Below are some things to consider when preparing your set and setting.

Mindset

When planning to take magic mushrooms (psilocybin), you should be in good mental and physical health. For example, you should not take psychedelics, including mushrooms, if you are experiencing a bacterial or viral infection.

Start your trip with a positive and open mindset. Go into the experience ready to accept anything that may come your way. The psychedelic effects can vary, ranging from an entertaining distortion of colors, textures, and appearances, to a reality-shattering, out-of-body experience that will leave you speechless. 

It is a good idea to set your intentions for the trip and have a general goal. However, you should also just let the trip unfurl how it will and try not to fight it.

If you feel your trip is starting to become dark or uncomfortable, which is not uncommon, just remind yourself it is only temporary. While some of these new experiences can be frightening, try to relax, and do not attempt to fight it; that will only work against you. Consult your sober friend for support, that’s why they are there. 

Setting an Intention

You should have a clear idea of what you’re looking to get out of the experience. It may still not go exactly as you planned, as many different thoughts and feelings can occur. So remember to be open to the various possibilities. Try to be flexible and open-minded. 

Having a solid intention can firmly guide the trip to create the type of experience you’re hoping for. Intention-setting can take your trip from a recreational experience to one that is quite spiritually awakening. 

Meditation

Meditation has been shown to have numerous benefits, and it can be especially beneficial when you’re experiencing shrooms. Meditation is a great way to relax and ground yourself in the present moment, helping you to be more receptive to the incredible possibilities your unique trip will entail. 

Each trip will be different from your last one and even a single trip can feel like several different experiences. The effects may vary in a single trip; it often comes and goes in waves. This does not necessarily mean the effects are wearing off, and you should not consume more magic mushrooms. You may find within minutes that the effects are intensifying again. 

The varying effects can be frightening but meditation can help more easily ride through the difficult parts. Meditation is also a great resource to reap the full potential of your trip. Scientific research shows that mindfulness meditation can enhance the positive long-term effects of your magic mushroom experience.

Setting

The physical setting in which you choose to embark on this journey is critical. Pick a place that is quiet, peaceful, and free of danger with no strangers around. Being in nature can make for an incredible experience, but that also increases the chances of something unexpected occurring, like getting lost. Again, having a trusted sitter is important for these safety reasons.

If your desired area is new to you, spend at least a few hours familiarizing yourself with the space beforehand (but being indoors is advised). It is also good to make sure your space is clean, and the lighting is dim. Harsh lighting and a cluttered, chaotic environment is a recipe for a bad trip. The more beautiful and harmonious the space is, the more likely it is that you will have a positive experience. Many people enjoy music during their trip. It is recommended to choose music that is meditative and harmonious, rather than aggressive or discordant.

The people you choose to have around are just as crucial as the inanimate objects in your surroundings. If it is your first time using mushrooms, it is strongly recommended to have a sober sitter. If tripping with another person, choose someone who has more experience to support you. The people you choose to trip with should always be people you like, trust, and feel comfortable with. You should also have at least one person designated as a trip sitter. This person’s role is to stay sober and help take care of you while you are having your experience.

Because your body recognizes the ingredients in magic mushrooms as toxins, your body will require more water to remove these chemicals from your system. So, be sure to have fluids easily accessible and drink plenty of water before and during the experience.

Warning: Do not neglect to drink water as a way to try to extend the length of your trip; this will result in dehydration and can be dangerous. 

Preparation: Sourcing Mushrooms and Dosage 

It is recommended that you be at least 21 years of age to use mushrooms, as much is still unknown about how psychedelics affect the developing brain. For the same reason, avoid mushrooms if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Never take mushrooms in addition to other substances. It can be especially dangerous to mix them with alcohol, amphetamines, cannabis, Tramadol, SSRI (tricyclic antidepressants) and cocaine.

Psilocybin has a much lower rate for potential addiction than marijuana and a significantly lower rate than caffeine. That is not to guarantee that you won’t become addicted,since anything can be habitually addicting. It also does not eliminate the possibility of taking a dangerously high dose, although this is extremely rare. 

Dosage

Like any substance, you must consume psychedelic mushrooms responsibly. Do not exceed recommended doses for the various levels of desired trips. There are 6 (general) levels for psychedelic mushroom trips:

  • Trip Level 0 – 0.2 – 0.5 grams (dried) shrooms. This is a microdose. Microdosing is like dipping your toes in the pool, and is good way to test the waters. Not recommended for everyday use (recommended frequency is 2-3 times a week).
  • Trip Level 1 – 0.8 – 1 gram (dried) shrooms. Basic level of experience. A great introduction to the psychedelic effects of mushrooms.
  • Trip Level 2 – 1 – 1.5 grams (dried) shrooms. Slightly more intense than L1. This is a less-used dose because unless the dosing is just right, it can feel much like Level 1.
  • Trip Level 3 – 1.5 – 2 or 3 grams (dried) mushrooms. Classic experience. This is the most common dose for people who want to indulge in the magic mushroom adventure without overdoing it. 
  • Trip Level 4 – 3 – 4 grams (dried) shrooms. Strong psychedelic experience. Suitable for someone with several trips under their belt, and who wants to experience more than Level 3 offers them. It can include moments where you might temporarily lose touch with reality. 
  • Trip Level 5 – 4 – 5 grams (dried) shrooms. May include a total disconnect from reality. The most intense level, entailing extreme introspection and even ego-death (temporary loss of sense of self).

Levels 4 and 5 are for seasoned users only. It is quite common for people never to exceed Level 3. It’s more important to focus on your comfort within the experiences than to try to push your limit, especially in your first few sessions. 

Want to get the dose just right? Use this Magic Mushroom Dosage Calculator.

Sourcing Magic Mushrooms

There are several ways to get your shrooms, but the best method for you depends on your preference and estimated long-term use of the substance. 

The first and seemingly “easiest” way to obtain them is to buy them. With minimal investments, in comparison to the option of harvesting or even growing your own, this method is the fastest and most practical for someone who has never done shrooms or doesn’t do them often.

But with convenience comes the need to take precautions. When purchasing magic mushrooms, or any substance for that matter, only do so from someone you know and trust. Don’t have any direct resources? Reach out to someone you know who has someone in mind that they trust. Be clear with your request and specify the mushrooms you desire should contain psilocybin.

You do NOT want conocybe mushrooms or mycena mushrooms.

Depending on where you are, the legal status of psilocybin varies. Here is an easy to read chart, depicting a multitude of countries and their standings on the use and growing of magic mushrooms.

Another, more frugal and natural way to get your shrooms is to forage for them yourself. Knowing what to look for and where to look for them is vital when using this method. Misidentifying a mushroom and consuming it can be lethal. People often confuse poisonous mushrooms with psychedelic mushrooms, and there are multiple reports of deaths associated with these errors. Further information and some guides to identifying psilocybin mushrooms can be viewed here and here

Do you have a green thumb? Growing your mushrooms might be the more practical choice for someone who is a more experienced and regular user of magic mushrooms. You can potentially save money, and also be reassured of the genetic makeup and quality of the mushrooms you’re consuming. Just be sure you are buying or finding legitimate supplies from a credible source.

The Session: Guidance and Meditation

Once you have done your research and have prepared for your trip, it is time to consume your magic mushrooms, sit back, and enjoy the ride.

For your first time, you should start with a small dose. Everyone reacts differently to magic mushrooms. A psychedelic trip is an intense experience that should be approached with respect. 

Going into the experience, remember:

  • Accept anything that comes your way
  • Optimize your environment
  • Be with people you trust
  • Set your intention
  • Have enough food and water
  • Talking can help you relax 
  • Breathe deeply if things get tough

The point of preparing for your trip is to help you avoid feeling scared or anxious. But if you do begin to feel anxious, which is very common, remember to take a moment and breathe. A few deep breaths will help calm your nervous system. Talk to your friend or sitter and allow them to calm you down. If you are still feeling anxious, changing the environment you are in can be helpful, for instance, moving to another room or going outside (providing the new area is secluded and safe).

If you are physically uncomfortable, drink some water and take a moment to stretch. Physical movement can help calm your body. Many people like to take this time to practice yoga or free-form dance. 

Trip Sitter

A trip sitter is someone who sits with you during your experience to make sure you are making safe choices. If your sitter is a professional trip-sitter, rather than a friend, you should spend several hours with your sitter before your experience to allow them to get to know you and your life. You will discuss essential aspects of your life, such as your childhood, relationships, spiritual beliefs, romantic life, etc. 

The primary purpose of the sitter is to be supportive, rather than to guide you. They will encourage you to let go and trust the process, but they will not tell you to do things you do not want to do. Sometimes a trip-sitter will have you describe what you are experiencing to make sure you aren’t feeling any anxieties. If you want, you can ask them to write down things you have said so that you can easily integrate it later on. 

Psychedelic Retreat

A psychedelic retreat is a useful option for those wanting to go somewhere to explore themselves, resolve any past traumas, or help find a new direction in life. At a retreat, you will be safe and comfortable while having support from expert guides and support personnel. 

Retreats are typically made for people who want to consume psychedelics to experience some kind of spiritual awakening. They want to get over fears, heal from past traumas, or appreciate life in a new way.

To join a psychedelic retreat, you will need to go somewhere where it is legal, so some travel may be required. Retreats are typically two-three days long and can last up to a week. During this time, there will be several different trip sessions, ensuring you are getting the most out of self-improvement.

Psychedelic Experience has a directory of retreat centers so you can find one that suits you. You can also check out our guide for how to choose a retreat.

Integration: Journaling and Contemplation

The integration process after your trip can allow you to:

  • Get a greater understanding of how you feel after the session
  • Start to heal mentally and emotionally, leading towards recovery from any past trauma 
  • Process any stress or worries that may have come up in the session
  • Open yourself up to your imagination 
  • See the world differently, leading to more curiosity, open-mindedness and positivity
  • Recognize previously underappreciated aspects of your life

Users of psychedelics often report that although the experience seemed scary and dark at times, they still felt that the trip had an overall beneficial impact on their day-to-day lives. One study found that 84% of people who experienced a bad trip said they benefited from the psychologically difficult situation. . Some find that  integrating their psychedelic experiences help them to overcome grief and their fear of death

If you don’t integrate your experience directly after your trip, you may lose the insight you gained. If you are using psychedelics for personal growth, then using integration as a tool is an essential step in your journey. 

Journaling is an excellent exercise to practice after an experience with mushrooms. Although many people feel journaling is difficult, it is a great way to process your thoughts, feelings and insights. Journaling is not limited to writing–many people journal through art, doodling, poetry, or collage. You might initially think you can’t remember a lot of your psychedelic experience, but when you begin to write or create journal art, you might find that details of the experience come flooding back to you.

The best way to get the most out of journaling your experience is to keep expressing yourself, in whichever way, and let your thoughts or feelings  flow onto the paper. As you are recording memories, you can begin to integrate those realizations into your life. 

Share Your Experience

After you have had your magic mushroom experience and have let all your thoughts manifest in your mind, share your experience with us! We would love to hear from you. You can contact us here.

In Conclusion

Your first-ever mushroom trip does not need to be scary. It should be a joyful and positive experience that will help you grow mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. When going into your first magic mushroom trip, you should do your research. Learn about other people’s experiences and understand the different sensations you may feel. 

If you are worried about your safety, have a professional trip sitter with you, or choose a trusted friend to help guide you, keep you safe, and prevent you from feeling anxious. A mushroom trip can be a good time for healing, so afterward, integrate your thoughts through journaling and be open to personal growth.