We’re often enamored with the idea of expanding our consciousness beyond the parameters of what we would consider to be the normal or default modalities of thinking.
We may, for instance, cultivate an eclectic passion for deductive logic; we may salivate for hypothetical biotechnological augmentation; we may work to decipher our subconscious mind or mold our personalities to whatever idealized set of attributes we’re seeking.
The fact of the matter is, we have the ability to navigate the murky waters of our consciousness in an unlimited amount of ways and our curiosity drives us towards formulating unparalleled levels of self-awareness in such pursuits. We’re now swimming oceans of infinite potential and possibility when it comes to such matters, using tangible and intangible methods ranging from pharmaceuticals to meditations.
In my latest endeavor to try and unfold (though folding would be the more appropriate idea) some of our conscious patterns into a better understanding of how to expand thought, I’ve sought to examine how microdosing psilocybin can help in the development of something I’ll refer to as a second-tier awareness — multi-level thinking patterns — whereby a more constant method of higher thought is not only achieved but also sustained and established as a default mode of conscious awareness.
A popular analogy used within this context, and one that I’ll refer to often, is that of the spotlight versus lantern styles of focus. When engaged with a particular task or activity, we generally operate with a narrow focus on whatever activity we’re immediately engaged with — the spotlight; we will also, though not constantly or actively or maybe not as much as we ought to, employ a lantern focus when presented with an opportunity for, say, reflection or introspection —viewing the bigger picture.
Idealize it all, perhaps, as something of a split screen that, on the one side contains whatever immediate interactions we’re engaged with; on the other side is a higher mode of thought, something of an operating system that we typically don’t access unless we’re prompted to or unless we really put in the kind of effort that isn’t generally sustainable.
My hope is that we can bring that operating system from the back burners of the mind to the foreground in a way that allows us to supplement our routine interactions with deeper perceptions — to blend the two forms of focus into one comprehensive modality of thought.
While we do this naturally to some extent — say, to think about why we’re having a certain conversation for a hundredth time with someone — we often lack either the intent or the control needed to utilize such potential for more productive or desirable endeavors — or we don’t employ this as a constancy, and it’s not generally part of our default mode network (“DMN”).
Many prior academics have developed innumerable mechanisms to define this quality — Abraham Maslow and his idea of self-actualization, for instance, or almost all of Carl Jung’s work in some capacity can serve to reflect this notion of synchronizing the surface and the subconscious modes of thinking.
Many more iterations on this subject have been presented under a variety of different contexts and for different purposes, few of which seek to lean into the element of efficacious permanency or self-sustaining efficiency (ease).
Recently, in interviewing neuroscientists and psychologists alike, I’ve found that the concept of neuroplasticity has become exceptionally prominent in all fields relating to cognitive studies and is being treated both seriously and optimistically as a way to push the idea that our minds are not only capable of such dramatic rewiring but that they are built for it.
What I’m after, in perhaps a disrespectfully lazy way, is something of a shortcut that can be achieved through the combination of relentless self-awareness and a psycholytic consumption of one particular psychoactive booster — in this case, psilocin (via psilocybin).
For those unfamiliar, a typical dose of psilocybin used for recreational purposes will fall somewhere between 2g to 5g. For this purposes of this study, dosages will remain in the psycholytic sphere — often referred to as a ‘micro’ dose whereby side-effects are barely felt, if at all.
This sweetspot leaves the user questioning whether they’re experiencing anything altogether, and, for myself, it falls within the 170mg to 200mg range (or 0.17g-0.2g), with 180mg–190mg being the optimal amount. (Note that fluctuation is usually key to override the tolerance that is built up after several consecutive days of consumption).
I’ll be examining how easily I’m able to multi-task; how effectively I can merge different modes of thought and blend the proverbial spotlight and the lantern styles of focus into one overarching perspective of conscious awareness.
My hypothesis, though I’m inclined to avoid committing to one, would be that I’ll experience a two-fold effect between the psychoactive element of the psilocybin (which will serve to externalize and expand my perception, from spotlight to lantern) and the placebo effect (which will cultivate the self-awareness I need to motivate this effort in the first place).
In doing so, I’ll hopefully blend this greater, external perception with whatever activity I’m engaged with in real time, allowing me to form new habits of thought — and it’s here where the concept of neuroplasticity would come in to compound an even greater benefit to this all: formulating new thought-patterns that will attribute a sense of permanence beyond the need to routinely microdose psilocybin.
In consequence, and in other words, I’m aiming to use the practice of microdosing psilocybin as the conduit and launching pad whereby new thinking habits, ones which envelop a sense of expanded consciousness, can be achieved, sustained, and utilized.
Think of it as coffee, only instead of making the mind more alert, the psilocybin serves to promote a more critical mode of analysis.
It’s not necessarily a comfortable thing.
Think of it, also, as using said coffee only temporarily to train the mind to make itself more alert without the future need of caffeine — conditioning consciousness towards a new mode of thought.
My initial experiences substantiate the commonly reported side effect of mild anxiety during the first half hour post-consumption. During this time, there’s a tendency to become overwhelmed by various activities that the mind may be interacting with. Usually, this frame of mind dissipates one hour post-consumption, as the more commonly reported (and positive) side effects of microdosing become apparent.
Some that I’ve spoken to would liken it to an uphill hike to a beautiful lookout, whereby the perspective gained from above is incomparable to that below, despite the legwork needed to get there.
It’s here that a line has to be drawn between desired, theoretical effects and pragmatic, practical effects, as many expectations have been misshapen by the trending context of microdosing of late.
Because micro-dosing is prominent amongst analytical crowds (say, those of Silicon Valley or Wall Street), it has earned a reputation of improving cognition — this isn’t necessarily the case, though it can be loosely seen as an indirect result, if we stretch our imaginations beyond the point of true utility.
In my opinion, anyway.
In a bit of a contrast, amongst the medical community, micro-dosing is seen more functionally as a substitute for anti-depressants, as something that calms and deepens thinking rather than intensifies it, and offers the kind of reverent self-analysis that can provide life-altering changes to the way we think.
A bridge between the two can be constructed, and from my experience, it is such: combined with the proper motivation (this is where the placebo effect works to cloud the actual results) and the right application, psilocybin helps expand perspective and widen our focus. It prompts a level of self-reflection, especially from higher dosages. Consumed psycholytically (microdosing), the aim, for me anyway, is to create new thinking habits around these instances of externalized and expanded focus, hence the concept of neuroplasticity.
Accordingly, psilocybin is only one substance amongst many that can trigger such ways of thinking, always hinging upon the context of its use, the motivation of its user, and the interpretation of its usefulness.
My experience is that it can help cultivate an increased level of focus that can be used towards any particular endeavor (athletic, studious, creative, spiritual). For instance, I and many others are currently experiencing an substantially convincing level of success with incorporating this substance into a physical-performance routine.
However, there remain a lot of question marks that become further obscured by the excitement around this practice and this substance, commercializing focus away from the quiet benefits that present a genuine opportunity for self-development.
And so we have part of a formula for manipulating our own ways of thinking without necessarily knowing the exactitude of how it all operates to begin with — but its a good start.
We know that we can habitually alter our modalities of thought; we know that we can supplement our perceptions with psychoactives (from caffeine to cannabis) to change our perspectives. In fact, cannabis (also consumed in very low dosages) can achieve a similar result, as can alcohol or a range of pharmaceuticals from anti-depressants to stimulants.
It’s the application that counts, and the compound of psilocin is but one way in a world full of ways to get us there.
And so, when I say that it’s like coffee — it’s a testament to the fact that we can use something as a mental supplement to achieve, not only an immediate benefit (say, wakefulness), but we can also stand to benefit from the cause-and-effect cycles we create, utilizing that benefit to our advantage by compounding it with our intention and effort towards self-development.
In other words, we can evolve with the knowledge we cultivate from our experiences with these substances.
This project and article is sponsored exclusively by Blue Goba, visit www.bluegoba.com for a full inventory of 100% organic magic mushrooms, available via mail-order to all of Canada.
For the first week, I used Mexican Cubensis. Folklore amongst the Oaxacan peoples warn not to consume this mushroom during the day, for it can drive a user mad. Had I consumed a full dose and tried to do what I was doing, I’d probably be quick to agree.
Anyone who’s ever taken a full dose will know that the whole experience can center upon the right kind of atmosphere or setting or purpose. Micro-dosing, in my experience, isn’t any different, only the risks are also micro-sized (rather than being dramatically overwhelmed by an array of natural beauty, small scintillations of appreciation can be felt; rather than furiously revising a personal life-philosophy, small adjustments can be idealized to how we carry our attitudes throughout the day).
And, from my personal experience, I’ve never noted anything substantial of a difference between cubensis strains — they all elevate perspective to that desired plateau of awareness. Perhaps on a macro level, the difference becomes more apparent, but on a micro level, they all generally induce the same sort of symptoms (there is an exception here to be noted relating to Amazonian Cubensis, that exception of which is grounded in the context in a different study, mentioned for the sole purpose of avoiding any confusion between my articles).
At first, I feel a quiet rush of ecstatic and disorganized excitement, which slowly cools into a relaxed and controlled sense of movement through space and time as I begin to engage with whatever activity I have planned.
It’s here that we can see how microdosing has become a popular trend tied to optimizing productivity — it spurs a deeper kind of motivation to achieve something — tangible or not, from the very foundation of our interaction with any activity.
A chore need not be a chore so much as an opportunity for mobile meditation; a creative or physical act can be exponentially more cathartic; a studious act can become, somehow, ritualistic.
Again, to each their own — perhaps the opposite experience is felt depending on the state of mind brought to the table.
So it’s really here that purpose is regarded as the true catalyst behind everything.
In my efforts to improve my athletic performance, I use this compounded motivation to externalize focus on a particular physical effort. In terms of analytical or cognitive performance, I use this motivation to provide a less egocentric perspective. In my creative efforts, I’m able to use this added motivation to transcend the resistance that my own mind seems to generate.
Accordingly, I’ve experienced something of a common denominator in micro-dosing through various forms of activity: this externalization of focus.
It’s hard to fit into a linguistic framework but if I were to try, I would put it this way: after consuming any amount of psilocybin, the minds focus is able to expand beyond its default peripherals, especially when it comes to any attempts at self-observation.
This elevated perspective can prompt us to achieve and sustain various idealized thoughts or behaviours whilst simultaneously engaged with a particular task, reinvigorating the usual interface we use to interact with reality.
And I will personally attest to the fact that I’ve never been able to perceive things from such angles of expanded perspective without the assistance of psilocybin, which prompts an out-of-the-box or out-of-the-norm perspective that allows for much greater levels of self-examination.
When used in the right way.
During the next two weeks, I shifted to a strain of Amazonian cubensis, one that did effectuate a different outcome than I expected in terms of physical motivation. This particular strain offered a deeper level of fatigue, catching me so off guard that I had to reset and extend my trial by another week to see if it was caused by some other factor. (This particular point is expanded upon in a different, simultaneous study that served to specifically assess physical performance levels from strain to strain).
Nevertheless, I noted the same ability to think more deeply and access the externalized perspective I had been leaning on to effectuate new thought-habits.
And here is where it became even more obvious to me that both setting and purpose are critical elements to consider when microdosing, though I didn’t really need further convincing.
Assuming we had nothing planned but to microdose and then sit and think or [try] to sleep, our mind would welcome the subtle infusion of deeper thought and contemplative activity.
However, my purpose of this endeavour had been to blend this elevated thought with my regular, day-to-day activities, and it is from this that I experienced the kind of results that I had intended to observe.
It was far easier for me to remember to employ a lantern style of focus on my tasks (again, there’s something to be said for the placebo effect here — but it was during the third or fourth week that I believe I’ve overcome the placebo completely).
My typically-narrow peripherals didn’t completely dissolve but they proved more malleable and less constricting. I would be more inclined to think deeper while engaged with certain tasks, from the mundane to the more demanding. I’d be more motivated and able to look upon everything in terms of the bigger picture at play.
I was allowing myself to relax through chores whilst putting a lot of extra-thought into the more intensive activities (Why am I mowing the lawn in this pattern? Do I really need a new car? How is this [particular practice helping me in the long term?).
Truth be told, it did become a bit exhausting after the third or fourth consecutive day, like having a child-like version of yourself audit your daily motions with a barrage of questions that may, in all actuality, be worthwhile asking.
That’s sort of the point.
We should be asking these kinds of questions, lest we end up way off the paths of where we intend to go.
I found it was extremely helpful towards infusing the more mundane activities with a greater sense of meaning; mindfulness coursed through a lot of the things I was doing; living in the moment (to borrow a cheesy and cliché phrase) was not only doable but easy.
All in all, microdosing allows for the kind of self-awareness and self-assessment that can be pivotal towards orienting us towards the kind of waypoints that routine life threatens to obscure from our horizons, that we can all too easily become distracted away from.
Clouds of debt, storms of materialism, winds of egocentric attitudes can get us spun around for quite some time before we realize how much time has really passed, revealing to us that we’ve been existing under the kinds of dispositions we never really intended to.
An occasional transcendence over this landscape (like the kind afforded with a macro-dose, a near-death experience or a life-altering event) can get us back on track but micro-dosing may offer a more efficient, sustainable and manageable alteration to our thought habits if it is paired with the right kind of routine effort.
And so during my last week of this trial, whereby I reverted to the most-popular strain of psilocybin — Golden Teacher — I began to notice something rather phenomenal occurring: as I had expected, my mode of thinking (more lanterned, less spotlighted) was now happening outside of the times I would consume my dose.
It was becoming a norm that leaked into all parts of my day.
I’ve heard previously that habits are generally formed within 21 days and I assumed this was my subconscious mind effectuating another annoying layer of the placebo effect, but it didn’t matter — the point is that I had now achieved what I had set out to achieve — a deeper mode of thinking that penetrated my consciousness in a more comprehensive way, and I didn’t need to microdose to get it.
And I still don’t. Albeit it has only been a few days since the conclusion of my endeavor and since I’ve taken any doses. [Update: 15 days post and I’m still employing the expanded thought habits, though I feel it may not be entirely sustainable forever — akin to the resonating effects of a macro dose or of a life event, the reverberations naturally get weaker through time].
If I were to predict the future of our relationship with this substance, it would look a little ironic: psilocybin will not be holding the spotlight for long, as it’ll be the inherent molecular assembly that will eventually become deciphered, extracted, and reverse-engineered into something more efficient.
Ultimately, and perhaps disrespectfully, we should regard psilocybin as nothing more than a conduit that is currently affording us a way (albeit a rudimentary way by tomorrow’s standards) to expand our conscious perception beyond the parameters of what we’ve grown used to.
Surely, with the proper level of effort, one can achieve what I had achieved here without needed anything psilocin to begin with, nor any other compounds. Monks and yogi’s are proficient in this field.
But not all of us have the time or willingness to resign ourselves to a monastery and, for those looking for a sensible shortcut towards an expanded mode of conscious perception, consider this one way, one miniscule drop, in a bucket full of methodology.
Another thank you to Blue Goba who has sponsored this endeavour, along with many other projects on Borealism. Visit www.bluegoba.com for a full inventory of their supply which is available for mail-order throughout Canada. Pay with cryptocurrency for an additional 20% off.
Images, including main article image, are courtesy and copyright Blue Goba.