Is Microdosing Shrooms An Effective Way To Find Yourself?
Microdosing has become an increasingly popular way to use psychedelics. Since articles began appearing about Silicon Valley workers using tiny doses of LSD to improve their creativity and productivity, others are trying the practice for themselves.
People also experiment with microdosing shrooms, LSD, and other psychedelics in order to improve their mental health and overall life satisfaction. Ayelet Waldman’s book A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life (2017) certainly helped to popularize this particular aim of microdosing.
Now we have robust research — including randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies — on the effects of microdosing. Some of these studies show that microdosing has non-placebo effects, like changing people’s perception of time and pain. But other studies have found that the psychological benefits of microdosing might just be down to the placebo effect.
Still, the placebo effect can be powerful and many people continue to report how microdosing shrooms and LSD have transformed their lives for the better.
Given the current base of knowledge we have about psychedelics, could microdosing shrooms, in particular, be an effective tool for self-discovery? It’s common for people to gain greater self-awareness and self-actualization from macrodoses of psychedelics. But does the same hold true when microdosing shrooms? As we will see, it may be effective in some cases. But overall, microdosing is not as effective as macrodosing if finding yourself is your goal.
What Does It Mean To “Find Yourself”?
“Finding yourself” is an ambiguous term. This term — or something similar, like “self-discovery” or self-knowledge — is often used when people talk about the benefits of psychedelics.
But what does it mean exactly? In a nutshell, finding yourself means better understanding of your identity or becoming more fully like yourself. This endeavor may involve one or more of the following aspects.
- Identifying your personality type
- Observing your feelings
- Understanding your core values
- Gaining lessons from your past
- Having a vision of your ideal future
- Trying new things and finding something that fills you with passion
- Self-acceptance and authenticity
- Achieving your potential
How Microdosing Shrooms Can Aid Self-Awareness And Self-Actualization
There are several ways in which microdosing shrooms could help you find yourself, especially in terms of gaining greater self-awareness and achieving self-actualization.
Microdosing Shrooms And Self-Awareness
Many people who microdose shrooms find that doing so helps them become more attentive to their mental state. A study published in PLOS One discovered that microdosing helped people reduce mind wandering (being lost in your thoughts) while increasing focused attention. If microdosing shrooms can help you achieve this, then you may find it easier to observe your feelings, without getting distracted by other thoughts.
However, this same study found that mindfulness — the state where you observe your experiences in a calm and detached way — did not change due to microdosing. It is not clear, then, if (or to what extent) microdosing shrooms can aid self-awareness.
If users do feel that they become more self-aware after microdosing shrooms, this could also be down to the placebo effect. Expecting microdoses of psilocybin mushrooms to have this effect might be what causes such an effect to take place.
Microdosing Shrooms And Self-Actualization
“Self-actualization” is a term that comes from the discipline of humanistic psychology. This is a branch of psychology that studies the whole person and the uniqueness of each individual. One of the concepts that humanistic psychologists emphasize is self-actualization, which refers to the full development of one’s abilities, the drive for creativity, and self-acceptance.
Abraham Maslow, one of the pioneers of humanistic psychology, thought of self-actualization as the highest level of psychological development. It sits at the top of his “hierarchy of needs”, typically depicted in the form of a pyramid.
This hierarchy consists of five basic categories of needs that humans have. After we attend to our basic physical and psychological needs, Maslow believed people would be left with the need for self-actualization.
There are many ways to achieve self-actualization, including the below.
- Practicing acceptance
- Living spontaneously
- Being comfortable with your own company
- Appreciating the small things in life
- Pursuing your passion and what personally gives your life meaning
- Living authentically
- Going outside your comfort zone
- Developing compassion
- Examining what you want to achieve and why
- Talking to a therapist, especially one trained in the humanistic tradition
Some people also consider microdosing as a way to work toward self-actualization. Microdosing shrooms can tie into some of the strategies for — and aspects of — self-actualization described above.
Enhanced creativity, along with other effects of microdosing, such as reduced depression and increases in productivity, attention, and positive mood, could allow you to better realize your potential. This realization of potential might involve, for example, developing your career, hobbies, personal projects, skills, or virtues.
Microdosing Shrooms Vs. Macrodosing Shrooms
As already mentioned, the benefits of microdosing shrooms (some of them, at least) may be explained by the placebo effect. However, the impact of the placebo effect is not as strong in the case of macrodoses of shrooms.
The Benefits Of Macrodosing For Self-Discovery
Studies involving larger doses of psychedelics show that these doses can effectively improve areas related to self-awareness and self-actualization, including creativity, connection to one’s emotions, mindfulness, and empathy.
While it’s true that macrodoses are also susceptible to the placebo effect, placebo-controlled studies on these larger doses of psychedelics are more numerous and promising than those examining microdoses.
It is much more common for people to report finding themselves as a result of larger doses of shrooms. These doses are more likely to lead to greater introspection and personal growth.
By working with a trained therapist alongside macrodoses of psychedelics, you can also receive support for integrating the insights you gained during your experiences. This can further help you to improve your self-awareness and the process of self-actualization. With microdosing, on the other hand, there may not be as many insights to work with.
The Disadvantages Of Macrodosing For Self-Discovery
Even if macrodoses have a greater likelihood of aiding self-discovery, these doses have downsides too. These include the following.
- Anxiety about tripping
- The risk of a frightening experience
- Long-term negative effects from a psychedelic trip
- A lack of support after the experience, which can help with processing what happened
- Struggling to find the time to trip
- Being unable to find others — or a trusted guide — to have around during your mushroom trip experience
- Not wanting to significantly alter your perception, emotions, or thoughts
The Benefits Of Microdosing For Self-Discovery
When microdosing shrooms for self-discovery, on the other hand, you can enjoy the following benefits.
- You can proceed with your day as normal. Your ability to work, converse with others, and carry out other duties and activities won’t be affected
- Intense psychedelic experiences are uncommon
- You don’t have to take a day or two off to microdose
- It’s unlikely you’ll experience negative long-term changes to your mental health
- Any worry about having a “bad trip” often disappear
The Disadvantages Of Microdosing For Self-Discovery
Here are some of the limitations of microdosing shrooms for self-discovery.
- If the benefits are down to the placebo effect, then these benefits may be less reliable and impactful than those associated with macrodosing
- Microdosing does not lead to significant shifts in perspective and thinking in the way that macrodoses do. This means they may not be as effective for the purposes of self-discovery
- Not being able to have emotional breakthroughs or mystical experiences, both of which can be conducive to self-discovery
- Possible heart complications with chronic microdosing
As we can see, it is not easy to know if microdosing shrooms is an effective way to find yourself. Generally speaking, both studies and anecdotal reports suggest that macrodosing shrooms will better serve this purpose. Nevertheless, many people may not want to commit to a psychedelic experience, so they would prefer to experiment with microdosing, perhaps alongside other strategies for self-discovery.
Psychedelics are not the only way to gain a better understanding of yourself. Whether you microdose or macrodose shrooms, you can pursue other techniques for self-discovery at the same time. We mentioned some of these earlier, such as speaking to a therapist, but other practices may include meditation and journaling.
Understanding Current Laws
The advantage of these non-psychedelic techniques is that they are perfectly legal. If psilocybin mushrooms aren’t legal in your country, then you are facing additional risks by cultivating or possessing them. Taking an illegal substance will be off-putting to many, so it’s understandable if you decide microdosing shrooms is not right for you for this reason.
The legal landscape surrounding psychedelics is changing, however. Soon it may be possible to buy magic mushrooms from a dispensary and microdose them for whatever purpose you have in mind.
As researchers continue to conduct studies on the effects of microdosing, it will become clearer if this way of taking psychedelics is truly effective or just another fad that is being driven by the placebo effect.