Combining Psilocybin and Music for Inner Explorations

The inner landscape of the human mind is a vast and complex terrain. Our conscious minds are just the tip of the ice berg and it is often very difficult to experience the deeper elements of this inner realm. A high dose of psilocybin offers an immeasurably rich way to deeply explore these inner workings and experience consciousness in a completely novel way. This thought alone is enough to scare a lot of people away however, for the brave and the curious, it can be one of the most profound and meaning experiences one can have in their life. The inner tapestry offers many extraordinary treasures of personal significants that can powerfully influence ones life. However, this psychedelic journey can become confusing and disorientating when used on its own. The inward journey has far more potential to flow with curiosity and ease, and become increasingly more fascinating and revealing when combined with a carefully curated playlist.

So how does music enhance the experience during a mushroom ceremony?

“Music stands at the intersection between our inner and outer worlds. Its significance and therapeutic potential derives from its essence as that which can unite these realms.” — Kenneth Aigen

Music acts as a guide, a place for the voyager to focus their attention as they move into, and through the experience. It takes away unnecessary rumination and expectation. The mind is able to detach away from the steady stream of thoughts that flow in normal waking state, and is allowed to be present with the music, from moment to moment. This meditative effect creates a much more observant mind which is a critical element of the therapeutic process and allowing the experience to unfold unrestricted and flow with ease.

“Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.” — Confucius

Music creates the auditory landscape for the inward journey. It provides a story that can probe at the deepest complexes and crevasses of the mind. Emotions are intertwined with the unfolding contours of the sounds. This has the power to elicit personally meaningful insights, and awaken deeply held emotions to be released and realised from a nuanced and helpful perspective. It can also help induce a profound mystical experience where the ego is completely transcended.

“Very often, sounds which normally have no particular appeal, were heard in a most unusual manner. Subjects who were indifferent to music, were enthralled by it. This property of the experience is very useful in bringing out the psychedelic reaction. Carefully selected music can be very powerful in altering the subject’s mood and associations.” — Abram Hoffer

I am infinitely interested in how music influences the realms opened by these magical mushrooms, and how to create an auditory landscape that is adventurous, insightful, intriguing and hopeful. I have spent countless hours trawling the many genres of music to find the most interesting and unique sounds to carry the psychedelic journey through the stages of intensity as they unfold. For most people, the music is unusual and different which provides a place of novel exploration free from associated memories which may distract from the experience.

Hanscarl Leuner was the first to combine psychotherapy with psychedelics and music in 1955. He used low doses of LSD in his developing practice of Guided Affective Imagery. This was later expanded on by Helen Bonny, a musician and psychotherapist during the psychedelic research era of the 60’s and 70’s. Bonny saw the importance of having a carefully structured playlist to guide and reflect the psychedelic assisted psychotherapy stages. She identified that the characteristics of a song would directly influence a person’s experience and emotional state.

Music, as a structured envelope of sound, is probably the most effective and safe opener to the doors of the psyche.” — Helen Bonny

Bonny created a stand alone music therapy called the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music or GIM. This involves using specific musical pieces during psychotherapy sessions to evoke an emotional response — this has the intention to lead to therapeutic outcomes.

The framework created by Bonny has been used by prominent psychedelic researchers Bill Richards and Mendel Kaelen for structuring playlists used in the most recent psilocybin research clinical trials.

“In psychedelic therapy sessions, during drug effects, patients are encouraged to focus their attention inwards while lying down in a relaxed position and listening to a carefully designed music playlist for the duration of the session. In this way, it is believed that music can help facilitate experiences that have therapeutic import.” — Mendel Kaelen et al

On a neurological level, psilocybin creates a heightened state of sensitivity in the auditory processing areas of the brain. This allows far more complexities and intricacies to be heard and perceived in ways completely new to the sensors.

“Very often, sounds which normally have no particular appeal, were heard in a most unusual manner. Subjects who were indifferent to music, were enthralled by it. This property of the experience is very useful in bringing out the psychedelic reaction. Carefully selected music can be very powerful in altering the subject’s mood and associations.” — Abram Hoffer

Below are some playlists created on spotify for the exploration of altered states induced by a medium to high dose of psilocybin. They are designed in a way that reflects the stages of the experience with the tempo, style, dynamics, and composition of music being played. A continual ebb and flow allows for the voyage to unfold and move with curiosity and ease through the psychedelic space. The playlists are very much inspired by the amazing work of Helen Bonny, and both Mendel Kaelen from Imperial Collage London (Playlist here) and Bill Richards from Johns Hopkins University (Playlist here).

“Music becomes a richly layered tapestry of sound and often evokes strong emotions. For most people, the music seems to come from inside one’s own body and is not just felt as sound, but also may be perceived as colour, shape, texture, odour, or taste.” — James Fadiman

They also draw on experiences from sitting with Santo Diame and traditional Peruvian ayahuasca ceremonies. They are created with a diverse selection of musicians and music styles from around the world yet aim to transition from one song to the next with seamless flow. There are areas of intentional silence for deeper introspection and expanded space to really absorb the present emotional and experiential disposition.

“Music is thus often understood to be a nonverbal language that seeks to express, and is indeed capable of expressing, the deepest processes and ultimate truths within human consciousness.” — William A. Richards

The intention of the playlists are placed in their titles. They connect us with our extraordinarily beautiful human family, and all the creative ways they find to express their emotions through music. They aim to bring us more into ourselves, and to realise our infinite inner guidance and full potential which is innate within us all.

Listen in order from start to finish on your voyage and allow your journey to unfold without resistants. It is highly recommended to use a good quality set of over ear headphones to optimise sound quality. To access playlists, click the links under pictures below.

For guidance on how to prepare for your journey, link here

Much love and blessings on your inner explorations. dear brothers and sisters

Curious explorer of life in all realms