Medicine woman Amanda Schendel shares best practices for ‘shrooming.
Mushrooms are relatively gentle when compared with other psychedelics, but that doesn’t mean care shouldn’t be taken when journeying. To find out how best to come down from an experience with psychedelic mushrooms, we interviewed medicine woman Amanda Schendel, founder of The Buena Vida Psilocybin Retreats. Keep reading to find out how she advises easing back into regular consciousness after ingesting psilocybin.
SHROOMBOOM: What advice do you give people who are preparing for a mushroom journey?
AMANDA SCHENDEL: My advice is to be in a group of completely trusted people and talk about all of your fears, expectations, and boundaries before you begin. Make sure everyone is respectful of the space and that you don’t have anyone around you that makes you feel uncomfortable. The physical space of the journey is very important as well. Be sure there are as few distractions as possible, that the space is clean, peaceful, organized, comfy, and that it induces a sense of calm. As far as music or other pieces of art, this varies wildly with people, but I would suggest that you err on the side of calm and peace. Some experienced psychonauts are able to go on a journey with more intense music or artwork, but I would never suggest that for a beginner.
SB: Is it true people may experience issues with mood following a psilocybin experience?
AS: Yes, it can be true. A day or two after taking psilocybin, individuals can experience a dip in mood. This is partially because of the activity involving serotonin in the brain. [Psilocybin has been shown to stimulate serotonin receptors in the brain, and serotonin levels can impact mood.] This negative effect on mood is not nearly as intense as it is with other drugs, such as MDMA, but it definitely can happen. For most people, it is not very severe, however it is good to plan for at least one day after taking psychedelic mushrooms to rest and integrate before going back to a regular schedule.
SB: Is there anything you advise doing in particular to avoid emotional dysregulation after a trip?
AS: Every journey is different. Some may be light and joyful, while others may be extremely heavy and require much more time to integrate. You never know what you’re going to get. I recommend being nutritionally supported before the journey and having a very hearty and healthy meal once you come down. Plan on getting at least eight hours of sleep—as uninterrupted as possible—after your journey.
Psychologically, be aware that you are going to be much more sensitive and open in the days following a journey. It is very common for our emotions to swing greatly. Giving yourself grace and forgiveness during this time is important; don’t let your mind get the best of you and pretend you should be functioning at a normal level. Taking some time away from your regular routine, taking a few deep breaths during mood swings, and having a close friend or confidant to speak to can help to alleviate the intensity.
SB: Some people take indica cannabis to avoid this dip in mood as they come down from psychedelic mushrooms. Is this something you’d recommend?
AS: In speaking with many people over the years, I have heard that there can be somewhat of an ease into the comedown with the use of cannabis. However, I would caution those not experienced with cannabis to go slowly and use a very small amount. There is also some evidence to suggest that cannabis use with psilocybin can increase the psychedelic effects of the mushrooms.
SB: Integration is an important component to any post-trip transition. What can people do to integrate on their own if they’re not taking a guided journey?
AS: Integration is an extremely vital step of any psychedelic process—some experts even say that the journey is 20% and integration is 80% responsible for changes you may see in your life. There are so many different modalities and tools for integration. Some of the best we’ve found are journaling, talking with a trusted and open friend who can support you, getting extra sleep in the days following, and hydrating and flushing out your body, as it has gone through a big process.
Integration can take months, if not years. Oftentimes, we receive a powerful piece of information or knowledge during the journey, and it’s common to want to put that into effect immediately. However, the analogy I like to use is that we have an amazing computer as our brain, but when we take a psychedelic journey, we are connecting to a much larger server. We are connecting to the universal internet of ideas and information. We need to give our small computer brain a lot of time and space to process this information and make change. I also find that somatic body awareness tools—dance, yoga, breath work, going on a long walk—are helpful in the following days, just giving yourself time to sit with your body instead of intellectualizing the journey.