This will be a very lengthy (because very detailed and intricate) report of my experience with using a derivative of lysergic acid diethylamide. This experience took place on Sunday, 15 March [edit: corrected] 2015. It was my second experience of using said substance; I will write about the first experience another time.
I said »derivative«, because the substance in question was 1-Propionyl Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (1P-LSD), of which it is believed that it is a prodrug which is metabolised in the body to regular LSD. It was supplied on a blotter of about 5 by 5 millimetres, containing 100 micrograms of the substance (as per the details given by the vendor).
Update (9 September 2015): From what I learned after publishing this article, it is very obvious that 100 µg of LSD is quite a low dose. (Also, I am unaware as to how the dosage of 1P-LSD relates to LSD proper. I presume that they don’t differ much, but they are not the same substance. Even if 1P-LSD is in fact metabolised to LSD, this will affect the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, including the delay until the onset of effects, the duration of effects, the intensity of effects, etc. One should not assume that dosage of LSD and 1P-LSD can simply be equated.) At a low dose like this, the effects of LSD only show in a comparatively gentle way, and some effects do not show at all. For example, the fractal-like, kaleidoscopic and extremely colourful geometric closed-eye visuals (CEVs) that I experienced when trying LSD the previous (and first) time, were much more pronounced in comparison to the experience described in this post, where I barely experienced any CEVs. I am unaware of the dosage of my previous LSD experience, but I’ll assume that it was larger. Besides dosage, set and setting affect the experience very strongly (and potentially more than dosage itself!), so this should be considered as well. I am aware that I’m very much a novice to LSD and that much more significant effects are to be expected at higher doses. There is much left to discover for me, and I will be sure to report on these future explorations.
To begin with, I should mention my motivation for taking the substance. In part, it was pure curiosity (and a substantial pinch of boredom). I was looking for another out-of-the-ordinary experience that would transport me out of the dull everyday life to an interesting altered state. I was looking to re-experience the most extravagant and stunning visual artifacts that I had seen on my first attempt, namely the intensified colours, the »breathing« and wavering of structured surfaces, and the ghosting of contours that can be seen with eyes opened, as well as the intricate, beautifully colourful, complex, ever-growing, dynamic fractal structures that would present themselves with eyes closed. This had been a completely new and very entertaining experience all by itself.
But this time, I was not only looking forward to this kind of astounding – but also superficial – visual »effects show«. I was also seeking to induce the truly psychedelic (mind-manifesting or, really, consciousness-opening) effect, hoping to see myself or the world around me more clearly, and maybe to become more aware of, and to understand more – life as a whole. The following day, I would have an appointment with my hypnotherapist in which we would be preparing the next hypnosis session, and I thought that this kind of experience would either put me in a favourable mindset for this preparatory session, or it would make me directly aware of something that I could then take to my therapist as a subject to work on. Both ways, I was convinced that these were sensible goals to have and good conditions to embark on my trip.
I had talked to some friends about the planned trip beforehand, and was guardedly »warned« and asked to be careful. I told them not to worry as I was sure I knew what I was doing. Their worry was in part justified as I was trying not the well-known (and established to be safe) LSD but a new and potentially dangerous modification, but I had read experience reports of other persons who had tried this new substance, and there was nothing in what I learned that made me question the safety of my experiment.
On the day (a Sunday), I slept in and woke up in a relaxed, if slightly excited and anxious mood. There was a bit of doubt if I should really do it, but I wiped the doubts away and told myself that I would learn a lot and that it would be worth it. I knew that it was advisable to fast for some time before ingesting psychedelics, so I did a bit of online research to find out if this was true for LSD also. I found contradictory information; some people said to fast (even for days), others said it didn’t matter. Since the LSD was absorbed via the mucous membrane on the tongue and not the digestive tract, I told myself that fasting would probably not be as necessary as it would for something like Psilocybe mushrooms. Also, I am always very hungry when I get up, and would get a very upset stomach if I didn’t eat something now, so I decided to have a light, late »breakfast« at about 1 p.m. and then went to have a shower. All this time, I focused my mind to be calm and free of any worrying thoughts, as to have the proper »neutral« or positive mindset for the experience.
Still, I could not completely control the excitement and slight anxiety, so I spontaneously decided to take 3 or 4 drops of my solution of synthetic cannabinoids, which would within about 30 minutes put me into a very relaxed, non-anxious mood, and which would also open my consciousness. I thought of it as »pre-heating the oven«. I’m sure that it allowed me to ease in very gently into the LSD effects, but I’m unsure as to how far this could have influenced the trip, i.e. if I got a (mostly) pure LSD trip or something that was somewhat distorted.
I chatted online with a friend (D.) who asked if I wanted to be alone during the trip or if I wanted her to join me and if we could go outside. I told her that I was unsure if I would be in a suitable state to be outside amongst people, but then I thought, sure, why not, it would certainly be a richer experience to be outside than to sit inside a room at home. Shortly after D. arrived, I placed the blotter on my tongue and kept it there, always washing it with saliva and chewing on it, and we went outside right afterwards. It was now about 2.30 p.m.; I was already feeling the relaxing effects of the »ease-in« drops I had taken. (D., nor any other persons mentioned in this article, took any of the mentioned substances.)
Our first stop was a café where we got coffee-to-go and something sweet for the later trip. We then walked straight towards the lake directly in the city centre. As we reached the north »shore«, I did feel the effects of the drops quite markedly, but nothing yet of the LSD, which was expected.
After a few hundred metres of walking, I noticed the first effect of which I was soon convinced that it was the LSD now working. This was a distinct change in the quality of colours. Overall brightness was unchanged, but individual hues were suddenly more intense, more striking. A green was more green than it usually was, for example. Speaking in terms of image processing, it was as if colour saturation had been turned up a little. It was easier to make out faint differences between hues that were very close by (such as various greens and browns on tree bark), and contrasts in very different hues became particularly striking. We were passed by many joggers and strollers; and the joggers in particular often had clothing with strikingly bright colours such as pink or orange or yellow, and these now grabbed my attention very strongly, to the point that I was unable to look away.
The colour contrasts were even more striking as it was March, and trees and other plants mostly hadn’t regrown their leaves, and the environment was mostly immersed in a mix of dull, earthy tones. Also, it was an overcast day with no direct sunshine, so most of the colours we saw basically averaged out to some kind of muddy grey. But whenever this was broken up by a jogger with a bright pink top, my eyes were drawn to it like a magnet. Even tiny little yellow markings on trees now caught my eyes from a few metres away; when normally there was no way I would have noticed them at all. This effect would increase over the next few hours. It was 3 or 3.15 p.m. now, so it had taken about 45 to 60 minutes from taking the substance to the first clearly detectable effects.
As we kept walking along the lakeside, I noticed more effects. For one, there was a change in body feeling. I sensed a faint and pleasant tingling all over my body, and a sense of weakness or »rubberiness« in my legs. This made walking slightly more demanding than it usually was, but in a way that was easy to deal with.
Not only was my colour perception altered; I also now noticed that the cars driving along the road to the left of us where quite loud. It struck me that obviously the cars themselves weren’t suddenly louder than before, or that there were more cars, but that my perception of reality had shifted. My senses still produced the same signals as before, but the reality that was synthesized from these signals in my brain, was different. Usually, I would filter out the loud city noises (such as from cars), but now, these filters were not working as before, and it seemed that I was hearing all the noises as they actually were – raw, unchanged by my mental conditioning.
Next, a wave of silliness came over me, and I started giggling and laughing for no apparent reason. I would witness the most profane and uninteresting things and started laughing about them. The impulse to laugh loudly was so strong that I got uneasy and embarrassed, because I thought people were noticing my seemingly erratic behaviour. I kept putting my hand in front of my face to cover up my laughing from the passers-by, while tears were running down my face – I was laughing so much. My friend D. started laughing too because watching me laughing so much cracked her up in turn, and she kept reassuring me that it was totally okay to walk around laughing like a fool. I noticed how inhibited I was in that obviously I didn’t allow myself to laugh loudly; why was I so ashamed? I tried to listen to D. and to just let it out and laugh as loudly as I wanted, but still something was holding me back; I couldn’t just let the laughter come out freely.
This was one of the things the LSD made me aware of on this day – that I was being held back by a feeling of shame, one that seemed to tell me that I mustn’t run around and laugh loudly. It was obvious to me on a cognitive level that it’s completely okay and allowable for a grown-up person to laugh loudly, even constantly for hours, and that I shouldn’t care about what other people thought of it, so I made a mental note that I should be working on this feeling of shame, and where it came from, and that I must get rid of it. Thank you, D., for helping me reach this awareness!
What was I laughing about? I was laughing about people who had somewhat funny looks, or who were walking or jogging in a funny way (I wasn’t being judgemental or condescending; there was nothing wrong at all with the way they looked or moved; it just all seemed funny to me in my state). I was laughing about a boat full of oarsmen and -women that used some kind of rowing technique that looked to me like they were trying to chop up and dig deep into the water. I was laughing about two canoeists that were rowing backwards in front of another motor-driven boat.
Shortly after – my legs had been getting really soft and wobbly now – we sat down onto a bench facing the lake. Two ducks came out of the water, obviously hoping that we would throw them some food. I started laughing almost uncontrollably, because in my mind the following scene was playing: the two ducks had been swimming close to the lakeside, and they saw the two of us sitting there, and the one duck said to the other: »Hey, check out those two dudes sitting on the bench. Let’s get out and beat them up!« And then they got out, waddled a little towards us and noticed that we were a bit too big to fight, so the one duck said »Ok, forget it, let’s get back in the water« and they waddled to the water and jumped back in. It doesn’t seem extremely funny as I’m writing it down now, but as I was thinking about it, I was crying with laughter, it was so unbearably funny.
After some time of extended mirth, we got up from the bench and continued on walking towards the south end of the lake, until we turned around to head back to my apartment. I was still laughing about practically everything and anything. The bright clothing on the joggers and some cars kept grabbing my attention, and it was as if they were all wearing neon colours; they weren’t just intense, they almost seemed to be light sources themselves. I started acting as if I would shout at them in outrage; such as »WHY ARE YOU SO PINK!?« to a jogger wearing a pink top, or pretending to be a policeman who would stop another jogger wearing a bright red top, scolding him for using such a »borderline illegal« colour. I would also pretend to shout at strikingly coloured cars, etcetera.
At this point, there was clearly no doubt in my mind that I was experiencing the effects of the LSD and I was not making things up or just having a placebo effect.
There was only one slightly unpleasant effect, but it was hardly worth mentioning. This was a sensation of pressure in the skull, similar to a headache; felt on the left and right sides of my lower back head, just above the neck, behind the ears. I told D. that it felt like my brain wanted to expand (and crack open my skull in the process) because it needed to make so many new connections now. But she reminded me that there is a lot of »material« for making new connections in the brain already, and brains don’t usually seek to break out of their skulls.
I noticed something interesting while we were being passed by joggers and strollers – that I was seemingly able to feel the perceptive »load« that was produced by certain experiences, and the amount of sensory input that was associated with them. For example, when we passed people, there was almost an unbearable amount of information to process, which I commented to D. by saying »Lots of data! Lots of data!«
Also, I became quite aware that I was avoiding looking at people, not just looking them in the face, but noticing people at all (in that I would be completely unable to describe them to someone else), and I wondered why this was so. I knew about my social anxiety, which I had previously treated in therapy and which had since been much better, but obviously it was still there. I felt like I wasn’t allowed to look at people – this was now painfully clear to me. Why was this so? Who had told me I wasn’t allowed to look at them? I knew I had had some bad encounters with people, as a child and also later in life, and it was obvious that this played a role (my unconscious had still »stored« these encounters as being generally unsafe). But now that I became aware of the amount of sensory data that people produced, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe I’m also just a particularly sensitive person that gets overwhelmed too easily by this kind of »attack« on my perception, and that I may have unconsciously developed some kind of protective, shielding behaviour, in which I would avoid »seeing« people as much as I could. This would of course be a very helpful strategy in situations where I was prone to this kind of »overload«, but it also caused me to never fully experience the presence of the people around me, which was truly a great loss. These thoughts, too, were fresh in my mind on this day thanks to the LSD experience, and I again made a mental note that I should work on this.
I kept asking D. how long it would be until we’d be home, as time was passing very slowly to my consciousness. As I was thinking about why this was so, it occurred to me that this was an illusion which worked the same way as the sensation of time dilation when on cannabinoid drugs. My hypothesis is that time perception itself is not actually changed at all, but that sensory perception is intensified and clarified in such a way that a person in this state is getting a lot more sensory input which needs to be processed. Due to this, we get the (false) impression that more events than usual have taken place, and this in turn produces the illusion that a longer timespan must have passed to allow this increased number of events to take place.
Not only was my perception of time altered, but also that of space. On a cognitive level, I knew where we were and where we were heading, but my orientation in space was distorted. I did recognise my environment, but it seemed somewhat »out of place«, and I couldn’t manage to align it properly with my memory of what this place »should« look like. I wasn’t completely lost, but it would have taken me a lot of concentration to orient myself, if it hadn’t been for D., who was guiding me, so I could relax.
In the meantime, the environment was slowly getting a lot to handle for me, so I was glad we were heading back to my place. I wasn’t anxious, but processing all this sensory data was becoming increasingly demanding, and I was looking forward to just sit down for a while and not having to do all this »work«.
As we took a little de-tour along a byway a bit off from the road, I noticed all the trees and other plants that were growing all around. I was extremely intrigued by their shapes and structures. The bark on trees was so interesting that I couldn’t move my eyes off them while walking past. (I wanted to pause and look at some trees more closely, but D. needed to go to the toilet and was pushing me a bit to keep going.) All the plants all of a sudden had this magical quality about them. What were these strange magnificent creatures just growing here like that? Why wasn’t everybody constantly puzzled that these things were growing there, with all this unfathomable variety of form? I had stopped laughing and was now silently and with huge eyes staring at all this magic. I suddenly had to smile and almost laugh again because surely, this was magic, isn’t this incredible? I realized that this was how small children must feel when they see trees and other such things for the first time – full of awe and magic!
We were walking past buildings surrounded by trees and other natural growths, and it struck my how odd it was that we would give the buildings so much attention, but too often ignore the magic that was growing next to it, which appeared so much more interesting to me now. Weren’t we, as city-dwellers, not very much misguided, or deceived, if this was so? This couldn’t be right!
I was thinking about how much more magical this experience would have been if it had been summer, with the sun shining bright, with all the trees full of leaves, and all the flowers in bloom, and everything sprouting! As it was now, I got mostly »sucked in« by the tree bark, because everything else still appeared somewhat dead, being still in hibernation.
As we got closer to my place, D. asked if we should take a subway below the 4-lane road or cross the road abovegrounds. The subway with its bleak concrete walls didn’t seem very appealing to me; I wanted to stay near the surface where there was daylight, and I didn’t think I would be strong enough to climb the stairs back up, as my legs felt so weak.
When we got home, I immediately collapsed onto our sofa and was too tired even to take off my coat. I sat there almost motionless for what felt like half an hour but was probably only minutes. As I had done several times for the last couple of hours, I would occasionally say »Oh fuck!« out loud, just to share my excitement about the unusual state I was in. D. kept asking if I was okay, and I said that I was fine, but that it was all very strange.
I rubbed my eyes for some reason, and immediately remembered that I knew LSD produced closed-eye visuals, so I kept my eyes closed for a while, covered up with both hands, and started looking – and sure enough, a fractal growth immediately formed in my mind. It was different this time: it was lacking the almost cheesily bright colours, it was not as prominent and clear, and it didn’t seem to move and change as much as it did when I tried LSD the last (and first) time. In fact, it appeared to be more in line with the dull and earthy colours and shapes I had seen while we had been outside walking.
This made me wonder if these visuals were not in fact, as I had believed, completely random »mis-firings« of some mental »visual synthesizer«, but rather some kind of re-projection of visual perceptions from (recent) memory. But they weren’t tangible dream images that resembled anything known from the real world, but still abstract and fractal, just like the kind of synthetic imagery you can produce using 3D-fractal software.
So, if using an analogy from computing, maybe LSD interferes with the mind’s processing of visual information in such a way that it taps into a stage of this processing where that data hasn’t yet been assembled into a coherent image of ordinary (or at least dream) reality, and what you get is basically a raw, unordered stream of visual memory bits.
No matter what, the visuals I saw still exhibited the very distinctive fractal quality and were incredibly detailed, while changing shape and morphing into each other constantly. Also, they tended to have shapes that seemed to be mirrored along several axes, just like in a kaleidoscope. In that regard, they were the same as what I saw last time.
However, I didn’t keep my eyes closed for long, as D. was still there, and I didn’t just want to drift off into some internal dream-state while she was just sitting there. D. had been taking care of me all the time. I had now managed to take my coat off and was feeling a bit cold, so D. asked me to lie down and gave me a blanket. I had begun to have fits of laughter again; this time about nothing in my perception at all but simply about the fact that I was in this very unusual state. I kept closing my eyes not because I was looking to see the visuals but because it seemed easier to me to handle my situation, which was quickly getting stranger and stranger now. D. went to prepare some tea and asked me several times what kind of tea I wanted, but answering that question just was not possible for me at the time; I could still make sense of the concept of tea, but having to ponder different types of teas and what they meant, was just too much.
D. also asked for our Wi-Fi password because she obviously realised that it would be a while until she would be able to talk to me normally again and wanted something to keep herself occupied with, but I could only tell her that I didn’t know it by heart and that it was »complicated« and I was unable to find it out for her now.
My fits of laughter kept coming, and I wasn’t used to laughing so much, so I forgot to breathe inbetween fits, causing my face to become red and blue from lack of oxygen. D. kept telling me to remember to breathe, so I concentrated on my breathing, which was now a demanding task all of itself. I had a few very faint bursts of anxiety in which I was afraid I might stop breathing, but then I just concentrated on breathing very explicitly – draw air in, push it back out, and re-start – and the anxiety went away. I was far from getting into a panic, but I did realise that I should pay attention now and really focus on what I was doing, and that was, at the time, simply to breathe.
As I was quite pre-occupied with keeping up my steady breathing, I wasn’t really free to have lots of introspective thoughts; the only thing that did occur to me was that I must now be in some kind of peak of the effects, and that the simple act of keeping up basic bodily functions was already somewhat overwhelming with regard to my perception and consciousness. Maybe this was what a baby feels like when it first becomes aware of its basic body function? (This is a thought I’m having now, not when I had the experience.) All in all, it wasn’t unpleasant, it was just very very strange and demanding. I’m not sure if there was something pulling me »further in«; if it was, I wasn’t letting it, I wasn’t letting go; this would be as far as it would go.
From time to time, I would let out an »Oh shit« or »Oh fuck«, basically to let D. know that I was still there and that things were pretty heavy right now. I hope she wasn’t worrying too much. Also, I would have fits of laughter again and again, and then remember that I must concentrate on breathing, because D. was telling me that I was turning blue or red in the face again.
My face was almost hurting a bit now from the contractions of all the muscles that I needed for laughing, and indeed, I hadn’t laughed this much in many months, maybe even in years. This tension in the muscles was now moving into my arms and hands also, and I was stretching my arms and clasping my hands as if I was trying to grip something. I knew there wasn’t anything there; I wasn’t hallucinating non-existant things, but I just had this strong urge to stretch and flex the muscles in my arms and hands. I thought that I must look like someone in the middle of a spastic fit and felt embarrassed about it, so I grabbed one of the sofa cushions and hugged it, hiding behind it.
My bodily feeling was still very strange now; there were short pulses of a sensation that appeared to be my losing consciousness, which was something I didn’t want to allow to happen, as I was unsure if it would then still be able to keep up my breathing. Still, I wasn’t panicking at all; I was doing quite allright just concentrating on lying there and consciously breathing and curiously observing what was happening.
In the meantime, my girlfriend I. had returned and was greeted by D. and me. D. told I. about my state and that I was okay. As I. came towards me, I immediately hugged her, as I had a strong urge for bodily touch, and I felt this touch very distinctly, it was almost as if something flowed through me in the moment of touch. D. and I. talked a bit in the next room, and I didn’t catch too much of their conversation, as I was still lying inside my »strange egg«, but I did once hear D. say something critical about her body, and I shouted across the room that she shouldn’t say such a thing and that her body was totally fine. A bit later, D. wanted to leave as she had arranged to meet another friend, and I called her to come over (I still felt unable to move, or at least get up) to say goodbye and to hug her closely and to thank her for »babysitting« me all these hours.
For a while, I was lying on this sofa like a little child, wrapped up in a blanket and pretty much helpless. In this state, I couldn’t have functioned in the »real world«; I was quite happy that we had gotten back to my place before this happened, because I would have had a very very hard time to walk around outside, if it had been possible at all. Maybe I would have collapsed and somebody would have called an ambulance and it would all have been a big embarrassing mess; though actually I was fine; I was just not in a state where people should walk around alone outside. My body was very very weak; my movements were not particularly co-ordinated, and my hands were shaking. My mind was impaired, too, I could not have done any real (challenging) mental work, but I was still thinking coherently and was able to communicate pretty normally for basic needs. To sum it up, I was fine, but parts of me had regressed into the state of a child. Which was totally fine by me, by the way – this wasn’t unexpected, I was certainly enjoying many aspects of it, and I wasn’t in a situation that demanded of me to function as a grown-up.
(But this kind of thing should make it obvious that it’s irresponsible and dangerous to use drugs that can have this kind of effect when you are in an environment where you are not safe and where there is nobody to take care of you. Had I taken this drug, for example, in a club, with lots of strangers, possibly in a place that I didn’t know my way around; I would have been in trouble. I would most likely have managed anyway, but it would have been very very unpleasant.)
I asked I. to sit next to me so I could cuddle, which felt very good. She turned on the TV to look for a show or movie that we could watch. I wasn’t sure if watching TV would be a good idea as I thought it could be overwhelming, but then I took some guarded glances at the screen and I could manage it just fine. As she was looking for movies, I remembered that I had bought a Pastel de Nata in the café earlier, which I. placed on a plate for me to eat (remember, I was still in child-mode). Grabbing the plate was slightly challenging, as was eating the sweet pastry; my hands were still shaking a lot, and the plate felt very unusual, much deeper than it actually was. (I was a bit disappointed that the food did not taste special, the way that it sometimes does when high on cannabinoids, but it was still good.)
We browsed through the movie selection on Netflix (if I recall it correctly), and I kept (like a child) pointing at certain movie posters that grabbed my attention; I only focused on the poster image, as it was still quite challenging to read the type. Interestingly, without knowing what movie it was, I would always point at posters for movies which I did then recognize (or I. gave me a short description of), and these were ones that I would also have picked if I had just had a textual description. In other words, I was apparently able to know which movie I would like just by seeing a poster through my hazy state. This probably does not sound like something special to you now; but usually I would not pay much attention to a poster and instead rely on plot synopses and other information before I would make a choice. The observation behind this is that I would usually have a cognitive filter or censor in place that would disregard the movie poster (based on the tenet that this is just advertising that is meant to mislead people, so it cannot be trusted); but in my special state, this filter was no longer active, and my attention would immediately and with perfect certainty point me to those movies that I like, without me even needing to read the title, plot summary or anything else. It would surely be going over the top to call this clairvoyant, but I did in fact feel like I had some kind of special power of such sort; but if you take the word »clairvoyant« literally, it simply means »clear-seeing«, and that was what I was doing. I was seeing an image and knew immediately that it appealed to me, out of the hundreds of other images next to it.
A movie was chosen, it was »The Prestige«. We were already about 15 minutes into the movie when I asked I. if we were already watching it, as I had been thinking that we were watching the trailer, and I was wondering why the trailer was so long. I hadn’t even noticed when the movie started playing. It was possible for me to follow what was going on onscreen, but my train of thought would often veer into some other space, so it was quite demanding. What struck me is that I seemed to be able to see clearly all the planning and thought that had gone into making the movie; such as what the scriptwriter and producer must have thought when they wrote this and that part of the script or when they made this or that decision about how the movie would turn out (and why they made exactly that decision and not another). Or in what way each actor prepared him- or herself for their role and the currently playing scene. It was like I could see a whole network of ideas and decision-making that was accessible to me just by watching the finished product. Again, this might not sound extra-ordinary to you if you are naturally talented for this kind of thing, but for me it was like having special powers, as my thoughts are not usually this deeply layered, and I am much too preoccupied with what is going on at the surface.
Even though my mind was so distracted that it was hard for me to pay attention, I seemed to be able to grasp all of the plot and where it was heading, the whole backstory and everything that was part of it. After about 35 minutes of watching the film, I. needed a break. I couldn’t believe it had only been 35 minutes, as it seemed to me that at least an hour must have passed. During this short break, I became aware that watching the movie with all these thoughts going on in my mind at the same time was quite taxing and tiring, so I decided I would retreat to the bathtub and enjoy some solitude, to see what my mind would produce without so much external input.
While the movie had been playing, I had »sobered« up quite a bit (or so it felt); my body was behaving mostly normally again; I didn’t have to watch my breathing, and my mind was very clear. I took a pee, and immediately stared on the rug on the bathroom floor to see if it was »breathing«, and sure it was. I had been a bit disappointed because nothing much was happening this time with regard to hallucinations and other such sensory distortion effects. The closed-eye visuals were so weak that I didn’t even bother closing my eyes for more than a few minutes. With open eyes, structures didn’t move a lot, in contrast to what I had experienced in my last LSD experiments. Now I was staring at this rug, which was composed of a coarse terrycloth pattern. This pattern was very faintly moving in waves, but not in an impressing way. It was nothing that made me say »Wow!«.
I looked further up at the radiator with the towels hanging on it, and one of the towels had a detailed surface structure with lots of tiny little loops of fabric, and this structure was »moving« too. It suddenly occurred to me that my cognitive layer was getting in the way again. I wasn’t looking at the towel directly with my eyes, but trough the cognitive abstraction layer that showed me what it allowed myself to see. It was sitting there, saying whatever I was seeing that might seem extra-ordinary wasn’t so extra-ordinary after all, since I knew full well that I had taken this hallucination-producing drug, so it really was nothing special and just what I would expect. What a disappointment that was. My ego (if you use that as another name for this cognitive – thinking – layer of self) was taking away the magic.
I was thinking: what if could shut it off? What if I could see directly with my eyes, no judging, scrutinising and filtering ego layer inbetween? I would see this towel surface moving in strange ways, and it would be inexplicable and magic. How impressive would that be? And then it was obvious that not only was my ego killing the magic of something as strange as visual hallucinations, but also of all of my regular (»sober«) experience. I had this machine that was working non-stop inside of me that was killing all of the magic of my entire experience of life. To it, everything needed to be explainable. As soon as you explain a magic trick, it’s no longer magic. We had just been watching this movie »The Prestige«, which, on the surface, is about two magicians who fight over who is the more powerful illusionist, but it’s also a big metaphor about the reality of life. The entire experience of life is one huge series of incredible magic »tricks« – if only you shut off that ego-machine inside of yourself that constantly tries to explain away everything. In our civilized, »enlightened«, Western world, magic is not allowed. We understand everything (or so we believe), but we have also deprived ourselves of all this magic. We can no longer stare at the world with huge eyes like a small child does. We have killed the magic. (This was number three on the list of revelations and smaller insights that I had on this day thanks to the LSD state.)
I. made something to eat for the two of us and we sat in the kitchen for a while. I noticed then that I felt strangely dissociated: I wasn’t really »in« me, but it seemed like my sense of self was shifted slightly to one side, as if I was standing next to me and watching myself being me. This sensation wasn’t very clear and didn’t last very long, but it was very remarkable nonetheless, though I don’t know what to make of it.
While we ate the tasty food I. made, we talked about some latent issues in our relationship that I had been avoiding for quite some time. As we talked about it, some things came to mind that I just immediately expressed without thinking about any consequences, as I would usually do, because my anxiety of possible problematic outcomes would inhibit me from saying many things, and rather keeping them to myself. This time, I just let the thoughts flow out directly as speech, and it was no problem. We didn’t really solve any issues right there, but it was a liberating experience to not have to hold back and just to say what I think. I’m unsure if this was an LSD effect; I actually think it’s rather a »by-product« of my new-found self-confidence, but the exchange itself may have been fueled by my still altered state from taking the LSD.
I. went back into the living room in front of the TV, and I went into the bathtub, after having set the temperature to something comfortable. I had my smartphone with me and looked at it for the first time since I took the acid. There were are few Twitter mentions/replies and some messages on various social platforms, all of which I quickly looked at and answered. As I was typing, the phone was wavering and distorting its shape in my hand, and it was a challenging to read the text and hit the virtual keys with all the motion going on. I found this quite amusing, but then I put the phone away, as I didn’t want to get too absorbed into its »distant reality« but instead get into a state of inner mental calmness, to see what my consciousness would have to offer when the noise has gone quiet.
I sunk deeper into the nice hot/warm water, which was enjoyable, and quickly relaxed. I thought about what I had talked about with I., my girlfriend, and it became painfully obvious to me that I would have to solve these relationship issues and that they wouldn’t solve themselves. Moreover, if I didn’t look these problems in the eye and sorted them out, all of my spiritual development, awakenings, insights, revelations and all the other stuff, are worth nothing. What’s the use if one day I’m »enlightened«, but can’t even solve my own basic relationship problems? It was suddenly the elephant in the room that I had been overlooking. I would still be able to overlook it now, and I didn’t know what to do about these issues then and there, anyway. But I will not be able to look myself in the eye if I don’t work on these problems. As I pondered this, I became afraid. I had a pretty good idea of how I would deal with some of the other problems that I had, but not with these ones. The LSD state did not hide this from me or solved it for me, it pointed me towards it. It told me: hey, you have to look at that, it’s not just going to go away if you ignore it. And that was painful. But it was true.
As I sat in the hot water and made myself aware of these painful truths, I felt my stomach constrict. Actually, it didn’t constrict then, it had been constricted all the time, I just now began to feel this. I could visualize how it was clenched like a fist, and how it had been like this for years and years. I suddenly understood that my stomach was sitting in the centre of my body like a valve that was stuck closed. I then got an image in my head about how some kind of life-energy actually wants to flow through my body, from my head to my feet (or the other way around, but I think this way is correct), but it can’t flow, because my stomach is sitting in the middle and shutting off this flow.
And then all these things made sense. If my stomach (which is sometimes called the second brain, as I learned) is blocking this flow, then it’s no surprise I’m in all kinds of pain. My stomach has been in pain for at least 20 or 25 years now. Maybe it’s in pain from all the clenching and gripping. How bad would my hand hurt if I had been clenching it for 25 years? And if my life-energy can’t flow, is it a surprise that I’m feeling tired and powerless so often? That I have such a hard time to get out of bed in the morning? That I often feel paralysed, like having to drag a big heavy weight behind me that stops me from running forward? And that I don’t feel like eating most of the time; I mean, I am hungry very often, but I rarely ever have appetite, I just eat the food because I have to? And not to speak of all the digestive problems that I have (and which I’m not going to describe in detail now because it’s yucky). If I think about it as a system that is out of order because a number of »valves« in it are clenched shut – of course, it can’t work properly!
And not only the stomach; other parts of my body too – they are not letting the »stuff« flow through freely. Like my breathing, which is always shallow. I rarely ever take deep breaths; I have to remind me to breathe deeply. Even If I’m running, I get stitches almost immediately because I’m not breathing right. Or the laughing from today that I can’t really let out, and that I almost stop breathing and turn blue in the face when I do. All this stuff – there is a system that is meant to make things flow through it, but in me, it’s not really flowing, it’s stuck – I’m stuck.
So suddenly there was this very fitting metaphor or analogy for a system that is meant to conduct a flow (or several such systems), but can’t, because there is stuff in the way. And I wondered: what is this blockage? Why is it there? Where did it come from? And it occurred to me that what is probably happening is that I wasn’t letting go. I was holding on. To something. I was clasping, clenching something very hard that I don’t want to let go. But what is it?
It was all very clear. Energy (or whatever it is) wants to flow, but can’t. The conduits are blocked because I’m not letting go of something. And I saw myself like a rock in a river. The river was washing over and around me, and I had to stand there and hold against it, pushing back against the stream, when in fact the flowing stream is life. I’m using all this force so that the water doesn’t wash me away, and it must be so tiring, it must use up so much energy to keep this up. And why do I not let go and be carried away, washed away, or at least let the stream flow through me? And in the end I would become like the water and be the flow itself.
This was the biggest insight and revelation of them all on this day, and it wasn’t easy. It was painful to see myself that way, so broken. It did hurt.
But when I completely realised it and could put it all together, I felt better, because I think I solved another part of the puzzle, of why I’m having all these problems. I still don’t know why I’m doing the clenching, what it is that I don’t want to let go of, and I why I don’t just let the life-energy flow as it is supposed to do. But now I know what is going on, as I’ve felt it deeply, and it all fits together, and I can take this insight and go to someone who can see these things and help me get rid of the »roadblocks«.
After this insight happened, I felt quite sobered up, and got out of the bathtub. I joined I. for a while; she was watching some »light entertainment« (I would’ve said »trash TV« but that would be judgemental, and she just wanted something that would allow her to relax and unwind), but I couldn’t stand watching it, it was just too superficial for me, all these so-called celebrities pretending to be important and wasting time and money on the most unimportant things imaginable – but now I’m being judgemental again, and let them do it, it’s none of my business, I’m not above them.
So I tried to go to sleep. I felt no effects on my body anymore, and my mind was also completely clear. No visual effects, either with eyes open or closed. But I couldn’t sleep. My mind was racing. There was so much going on. I was thinking about so many things.
While I was still sitting in the bathtub, I imagined myself being at the Ayahuasca ceremony that I plan on taking part in this summer. In particular, I imagined that the Ayahuasca brew would »attack« the blockage of my system that didn’t allow the flow to go through. And I imagined that I would maybe have to »purge« out so much old pain that I would be the one person that would vomit violently for hours and probably also have the worst case of diarrhea, and that everything would become really disgusting and messy and embarrassing and humiliating. I saw myself lying there, huddled up, soiled in my own bodily excretions and generally look as miserable as one could possibly imagine. That it would hit me really hard. And that there would be all the other people who also took part in the ceremony, and would I really want to be this heap of misery in front of all these people? And I got very scared and found these visions really horrible.
But later, as I was trying to sleep, and my mind was racing, it wouldn’t stop imagining this situation and it was conjuring all the worst possible scenarios. And suddenly, I realised: so what? What’s the problem with lying in my own puke and shit for a few hours, like a 4-year old child? That’s not so bad! I’m allowed to be weak. In particular, if I’m doing a huge big healing exercise, I can be weak, and I can be miserable. I thought: hey, the worst that could happen – or what I thought would be the worst that could happen – would not actually be that bad. What was I afraid of?
Because if this really happened, it would mean that I would make a giant leap forward. I would get so close to being whole, to being healed. If it would have to happen, I could let it happen. Whatever happens, I will grow. And I understood: there is really nothing bad that can happen to me at all; it can only go uphill from here.
So I thought: maybe this is already it? This is the whole point? It’s the humiliation, the shame? Is that what I’m so afraid of? Is that why I’m not letting go? Do I still need it? Can I let go now?
I haven’t found definite answers to these questions yet. But I have very good questions now. The next day, I had a lot to tell my hypnotherapist, and there will be a lot which we can work on. And I feel pretty good about myself now. I’m not complete or healed – there is a lot of work to do. But maybe less than I think. And there is definitely much less fear now. I’m worrying a lot less about what I would have to go through on my path of healing. I’m less afraid of what I will have to look at when I will confront myself.
All in all, this experiment was completely worth it, and it will certainly be repeated when the time is ripe, next time.
So, in practising gratitude – I am thankful for having had the opportunity to have this experience. I’m thankful for the chemists and collaborators who created and made available the substance that put me into this state of heightened awareness and insight (and of course for all the laughing). I’m thankful for D., for being my companion on the first part of the experience, and for I., for being with me on the latter part (and all the other time). And I am thankful for myself, in that I went through with this experiment and did not stop when it became slightly difficult, and that I wasn’t afraid of looking at the parts of myself that I too often don’t – or didn’t – want to look at.