This story begins with roughly 100-120 mgs of DMT put into a joint, melted under a heat lamp, and smoked. As I exhaled, the drug began its onset, within a minute, the furniture had all melted away, the carpet began to creep up the walls, and then up the ceiling. It then fell onto me, wrapping me up and whipping me away.
My first though was “Had I taken too much?” I tore through the carpet, only, it wasn’t a carpet, it was now a cocoon, I was hanging upside down from a sort of shape that looked like a multicolored, 3-D hexagon made of much smaller 3-D hexagons, all spinning and shaking, growing and shaking. I fell out of my cocoon.
Falling down, until the hexagon looked like a star in the sky. I was surrounded my stars, one in particular started growing bigger and bigger until I was enveloped in an incredibly bright green-white light. I started to feel good, better, great, this goodness kept growing, until I reached a peak. I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t sad, I just had an eternal wholeness, I don’t want to say I reached nirvana, mostly because looking back on the experience, it wasn’t pleasant, actually, it was awful, terrible, because I was only feeling one pure emotion, I didn’t feel human, I wasn’t human, I wasn’t even alive, it all felt so artificial.
Just as sweet sugar and bitter chocolate taste good together, I needed some bad with my good, the reason we have feelings like depression, fear, and hatred is that they balance out their mirrors. A meal of only sugar is no meal at all.
But my trip wasn’t over yet, far from it in fact, my inner-goodness began to subside, the numbness and stiffness was lost, the bright light of this world began to fade, and I was enveloped in darkness. I was being drained. I have been depressed before, I have been scared before, we all have. No human lives a life without sadness or fear. But this was different, it wasn’t fear, I wasn’t afraid, I wasn’t depressed, it was some other emotion, something deeper, something primal.
You know that moment, when you’re backed into a corner, something is after you, physically or even mentally, there’s a slight bridge, when your brain is going into the fight or flight reflex, before adrenaline is released, it’s a split second, but, for this incredibly slim amount of time, you feel nothing, that is what it feels like when you only have your senses, as your brain is evaluating everything it can about a situation, it isn’t wasting brain power on memory, emotion, or any other luxuries we have, it is only evaluating the threat, and escape routes, sure it’s using short term memories and other bare necessities, but it’s set on one thing, staying alive. It’s the moment right before your stomach drops; it’s the hesitation before you act the lock up before you run. It’s total nothingness.
I felt this, I wasn’t sure if it lasted two seconds or two years. The very act of trying to describe it gives me a head-ache. Then, I saw a light, a golden light coming from below me, and what can only be described as an orgasm of emotion washed over me, I was happy, sad, scared, envious, and in love with the universe at the same time, it was an overload of conflicting emotion, the golden light grew less and less bright, until I realized I was looking at my desk lamp.
Launching off this trip report, what is emotion? Wikipedia has a neat little chart of human emotion:
Kind of emotion..............Positive emotions..............Negative emotions
Emotions related to object properties
..........................................Interest, curiosity................Alarm, panic
..............................Attraction, desire, admiration....Aversion, disgust, revulsion
...........................Surprise, amusement..........Indifference, familiarity, ...............................................................................................Habituation
Future appraisal emotions
Event related emotions
......................................Gratitude, thankfulness..........Anger, rage
............................Joy, elation, triumph, jubilation.............Sorrow, grief
.........Pride in achievement, self-confidence...Embarrassment, shame
...........................Sociability.............................. Guilt, remorse
..................................Generosity..........Avarice, greed, miserliness
Now most of them make sense from an evolutionary standpoint, curiosity arguably led to every single human discovery ever, love helps us reproduce, generosity helps popularize us in a group we need for protection, anger gives us the courage to fight, fear helps us avoid dangerous situations, onwards and so forth with every category, except with event related emotions.
Natural selection is a pretty simple process, if you are better suited to your environment than your peers, you will be able to produce offspring that will carry your traits. That means that happiness and sadness are vital to our survival, but why? When you think about it, happiness doesn’t really help anyone out when you look at it straight on neither does sadness, disappointment, nor frustration. But, I have a hypothesis on why we have these emotions, and it goes a bit deeper than, reproduction or basic survival.
Let’s say you’re locked out of your house, it’s freezing outside and you don’t have a phone to call a locksmith, so you decide to break down your basement door. You slam into it, kicking at it, hitting faster and harder each time. This is basic frustration. When we’re trying to do a difficult task and we fail, the natural response is to do it faster and harder, this is because in the cave men times, there was really no need for anything more skillful than brute force, if the animal isn’t dead yet, your brain says club it faster and harder. But in today’s modern world, we have much more complex tasks than kicking down a door. If you’re playing a video game, and you repeatedly fail at the same part, you start doing it faster and faster, becoming frustrated with it. You know you’ll have to slow down in order to win, but you still don’t. It’s a natural emotion for ancient times. I believe that over the course of human history, frustration will be greatly diminished, or our brain will only apply it to physical exertions.
Now what could be the reason for this feeling? That horrible sinking feeling you get when something doesn’t go as expected. It’s one of the few emotions we actually feel guilty for having, if you open up a present at Christmas, and it turns out to be socks instead of something you wanted, you’d most likely throw on a plastic smile, hiding your emotion, but it’s not like hate, it feels good to hate something deep down, for some odd reason, but that’s off topic. When you have disappointment deep down, you feel like an asshole. Now why would we have an emotion that makes us feel bad to feel? Again, we need to go back to the caveman times. Now my theory on disappointment is that it originated from hunting and foraging, if you go out into the wild for food, and find nothing, your brain will punish you to its fullest extent, because it not only means that you won’t be able to eat, it also means your group will have animosity, you were supposed to acquire food, and you didn’t, so you feel disappointment. But this feeling has now turned into a feeling of dejection from not getting your way, so I believe it will also be phased out throughout human evolution.
Happiness, it’s everyone’s favorite emotion, and I think that it’s also quite easy to explain, it’s the brains way of rewarding you, you’re happy when you’re under little stress, in good living conditions, and with a peer you have bonded with, either in love or friendship. It’s rare to be consistently happy when alone, because this isn’t the natural human state of being, we’re very social creatures. So when you find yourself in a consistent situation that would allow reproduction and survival, your brain wants you to be in that situation as much as possible, so it makes you happy, you like the feeling of happiness, so you try to put yourself in that situation as much as possible. Happiness is much different than triumph, even though we often confuse the two. Triumph would be breaking down your door after trying for a long time; happiness would be repairing that door and feeling safe in your house again. So I don’t think happiness will change too much in the course of human history, it’s a really basic emotion; most animals feel it or something similar.
Now this one is the most puzzling of all emotions. Why would your brain put you in a state of state of lethargic self-pity? Quoting from Wikipedia: “When one is sad, people often become less outspoken, less energetic, and emotional.” Less outspoken and less energetic, that really surprises me, why did ancient people who were less outspoken and less energetic reproduce? What’s the point of sadness? Now, this is purely a hypothesis, and I’m sure some people reading this will have wildly differing opinions, but I believe that sadness it’s the brains way of coming to terms with a traumatic situation. I believe it originated from the earliest animal mothers, before humans or even monkeys. I believe basic ancient mammals were the first creatures on earth to feel sadness, because mammals do not lay eggs, they give birth and care for a single or a litter of babies, when one or even all of these babies die due to the harshness of life in the wild, the mother still has protective instincts, it has failed as a mother, and sadness was the ultimate form of punishment for this poor animal. The goal of every living thing on earth is reproduction. When we fail at that, we fail at existence, so our brains punish us. Over time, these motherly instincts spread to men too, and began broadening to just a general feeling of loss, because that’s where sadness comes from, not depression or any other condition, just basic sadness. Loss of friends, loss of relative, loss of offspring, and loss of animal companion are the most common places sadness originates, when we lose something important to us, our ancient reptile brains see this as failing to look out for those around us, and we feel sad.
So how does this apply to you? We have emotions, and most of them can be explained with some logic, now we need to learn how to control them. We can control our emotions pretty well in sober life, but when we add a chemical to that equation, it can be hard to grasp hold of our inhibitions.
A friend of mine once told me that “Bad trips aren’t real if you don’t believe in them”, and while this isn’t entirely true (there are many fucked up hallucinogens and dissociatives that can and will produce bad trips if used improperly), it defiantly changed my perspective on tripping.
I’ll do my best to provide a general guide on happy tripping, but keep in mind that it’s general, you do not have to and should not follow it to the smallest detail, everyone is different, if you’re doing something and you don’t like it, don’t do it.
A lot of people say that if you’re stressed out or depressed, you’re going to have a bad trip, while this isn’t always true, it’s not going to hurt if you’re in a good mood, if you’re going through a rough patch in your life, save the hallucinogens for later, they probably won’t make you feel better, and you’d be more likely to have a bad trip. And don’t have a bunch of expectations or things you “need to do” (like, “I gotta watch SpongeBob while tripping, or we need to go for a walk on acid, or I just have to watch the sunrise), if you’re tripping, fun things will come to you, there’s really no need to seek them.
When in the midst of a drug trip, a pretty huge mistake people make is trying to totally steer their trip in a direction they desire. You can’t say to yourself “I will now find total inspiration” and expect for it to appear out of thin air. But another mistake people make is believing that they have absolutely no power over the trip, this also isn’t true, no matter what chemicals are racing through your body, you’re still human, and although it may take practice, you can ground yourself in reality. The best way to do this in my opinion is to play a simple drum beat, the least complex thing imaginable, just one drum at a steady, slow tempo, focusing on this will immensely ground and calm you.
And we come full circle. Emotion can be the best thing or the worst thing to ever happen to you when tripping. The reason I presented an in depth look into emotion is because you need to realize that emotions have only as much control over you as you give them. If you become sad when tripping, ask yourself why you’re sad, try to find logical mental route to happiness, for example, if you’re sad that Jimi Hendrix is dead, ask yourself why,
“Because he can’t make music any more”, why does this make you sad, “Because I really enjoyed his music”, if you enjoyed it, why don’t you cherish the music he did make and go listen to the music he did make, you can’t do anything about his death, so you might as well not fight it.
I’m sure that this little mental conversation seems a bit silly to most people, but calmly and slowly examining your troubles while tripping can really help you calm down. Hallucinogens are really good at amplifying emotion, sadness can feel like an overwhelming pit and happiness can seem like a peak so high that it rises above all logic, so try to keep on that peak, enjoy yourself, feel happiness naturally, but don’t force it, and don’t mistake sadness for contentedness.
There are a few misconceptions about tripping in general. Don’t expect to fly into another world of shapes and colors unless you use a very strong psychedelic such as DMT or take a heroic dose of something else. If you’re only doing a couple tabs of acid, you’ll see the world in a new shade of beauty, but you’ll still be grounded, the main thing you’ll be experiencing is the mindset, you’ll be thinking about things on a deeper level, you’ll appreciate subtlety, don’t try to force yourself into seeing crazy hallucinations, work your way up to the heroic doses slowly.
A large portion of hallucinogen use, especially first the time, is loss of ego. For most of our lives, we have an ego; it justifies anything bad we do. There have been many blog posts on how bad your ego is so I’ll leave the main subject alone. The most important rule to tripping is: DO NOT FIGHT REALIZATIONS if you fight any realizations, if you suddenly realize you've been an asshole your entire life, accept it and move on, if you try to fight things you learn about yourself and about the world and about your reality then you will have a bad trip. The key to tripping, and in some ways, life, is acceptance.