Citation: Hello_Kosmos. "Becoming Another: Ego-Loss & Self Realization: An Experience with LSD & Cannabis (ID 76926)". Erowid.org. Mar 24, 2009. erowid.org/exp/76926
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First, I have to apologize if this is incredibly long. I have a tendency to be rather verbose with this kind of thing. Here’s a bit of background:
This was my first encounter with LSD, and though I've smoked a great quantity of pot, I’d say I’m only somewhat experienced in the world of drugs. I’ve taken mushrooms and MDA/MDMA 4 or 5 times each, and though I had some pretty troubling experiences with some of these, I have always felt that tripping has helped me for the better in whatever place I am in my life. My boyfriend of several years, who I will refer to as B, has been my partner in all of these tripping adventures. He is far more experienced with psychedelics than I.
Nearly two years prior to this event, B acquired several hits of LSD from a friend, who referred to it as “24-hour acid” due to the rather extensive duration of the trip. Despite B’s repeated attempts to get me to take some over the past couple of years, I felt a bit too threatened by the idea of an acid trip lasting a full 24 hours, leaving it to sit unused in the back of our freezer. Last Monday, B’s birthday, I finally felt it was time.
About two weeks prior to tripping, we decided that the three-day weekend we had planned would be a great time to dose, allowing us plenty of time to come back to reality before we had to return to our jobs, just in case the acid lived up to its name. This proved to be a very good idea. Being the somewhat neurotic individual I am, I stressed and agonized over my decision to trip for the full two weeks leading up to it. Was this the best time for me to take it? What if I have a bad trip? What if I can’t stop focusing on my breathing or my heart rate and I freak out? Will this cause me to go insane? Eventually, I realized that the more I thought about the possible negative outcomes of tripping, the more I was programming myself to have a bad experience. So, for the final two days before tripping, I did my best to shove my anxieties aside, and tried to picture in my mind what the best, most fun trip would look like. Looking back, this was vital to achieving the correct mind state.
The day B and I dosed, we woke ourselves up at about 9:30am so that we’d have enough time to get ready leisurely, as well as get some food in our stomachs and pick up some fresh fruit before our planned dosing time of noon – if this stuff really lasted 24 hours, we figured, we’d better get started early. The following account states approximate times; I cannot be entirely sure of the order in which these events happened.
T: 0.00 hrs: At about 12:45, B and I finally took the acid, each of us putting two hits on our tongue. At this point we decided to smoke a little pot, just to calm the butterflies I had in my stomach and to quell any potential nausea. B started to play a streaming lecture by philosopher Ken Wilber concerning the use of ethenogens in spiritual practice to give our trip an interesting starting point. Almost immediately I started noticing a change in my thought processes, though I recall wondering if it was a placebo effect. My thoughts began to associate with other things in my head more freely, in a manner I frequently experience while high.
T: 0.20 hrs: The lecture is becoming too cerebral to follow. I can feel little rushes of energy up my legs and back, though it is minor. I suggest to B that we go for a walk outside and enjoy the fall foliage while we come up. Stepping outside, I’m amazed by the flowers in our apartment courtyard – how could I have never noticed what an amazing pattern the petals make?
T: 0.40 hrs: Colors and patterns in nature have become really interesting, and B and I are feeling very talkative. I find myself noticing the grain in the wood on the telephone poles, the different colored chips of rock in the concrete sidewalk below our feet, the way the leaves arrange themselves on the tree branches. Walking feels comfortable; I feel like I could spend hours walking like this though the neighborhoods if I wanted to.
T: 1.15 hrs: Nature is still fascinating, but no more so than it was an hour ago. I begin to wonder if keeping the acid in the freezer for so long has caused its potency to deteriorate. B and I aren’t feeling as talkative, but we are still very comfortable. I had been initially expecting the “coming up” period of LSD to be similar to mushrooms – an intense “rushing” sensation coupled with a strong desire to move around – but I find that this is not the case at all. “Is this all there is?” I wonder aloud to B. He’s convinced that we still have plenty more coming up to do. My thought processes are a little random, but still not much different than if I were stoned.
T: 1.45 hrs: I can finally start to feel myself coming up more, though it feels like a pretty gradual process. B and I decide to start heading back home. Around this time, we walk though a little garden area full of exotic plants and flowers which someone has planted on a stretch of sidewalk between the street and a fence. It appears to us as a gateway to some kind of adventurous place. I start collecting little “treasures” from the ground: colorful autumn leaves, enticing flowers. I find the texture of a particular flower petal to be astounding.
T: 2.00 hrs: While walking back home, we come across a squirrel eating a plum in a tree. We stand quietly and watch him for a while – his antics are hilarious. Nearby we discover a tree which has been decorated with a little door and various lawn ornaments. I decide that elves must live inside.
T: 2:15 hrs: As we near our house, I suddenly start noticing smells very strongly. Car exhaust bothers me; I want to go back inside. Suddenly, I start coming up very quickly, and B decides to start playing some music once we’re in the house. We have a 200 gig library of music, yet finding something we enjoyed was tough. House music annoyed me, trance music annoyed me … for a while we listened to a few compilations from Jungle Sky Records, but we quickly decided that we needed something which we wouldn’t have to change and monitor constantly. It was time for Promised Land – the four-disc drum and bass compilation from Mutant Records that has seen B and I though nearly all of our trips. It’s really the perfect tripping music - interesting, and with a great beat, but calm and chill enough to keep anyone relaxed and stabilized. Occasionally my mind shifts to my body, how my pulse is heightened, how weird all the veins in my hands look. However, whenever this happens I just calmly remind myself that my body is doing a great job taking care of itself, and that there’s no need for me to interfere with it by being overly-conscious of my breathing and heart rate. I shift my attention to a piece of cool art on the wall or an awesome picture on the computer, and the concern passes.
T: 3:00 hrs: I look at the large print of a rocky beach we have on our living room wall, and notice that the tide appears to be rapidly flowing in and out. The visuals have begun! Around this time B puts our computer (which uses our LCD television as a monitor) into screensaver mode, which is a slideshow of thousands of high-resolution nature pictures I’ve collected. The landscapes are simply captivating. For maybe the next 30 minutes, I experience some intermittent nausea, though I never come close to actually throwing up. Around this time I begin peaking and the day’s events get very blurry. The concept of time has begun to lose its meaning.
B is feeling restless, and decides that we should play some video games. He turns on some tetris-like game he recently downloaded and hands me the controller, but I have great difficulty focusing on the game. The intense visuals I am now experiencing are very distracting, and they overlay my entire field of vision – spiraling, geometric shapes appear to burst out of the art on my walls, out of the patterns on the couch, out of the dots of paint on the ceiling, and these are far more entertaining to me than the video game. At some point, the visuals begin to change into paisley-like patterns. “Wow!” I announce. “All 70’s art makes sense!” It is plainly obvious to me at this time that the patterned art typical of that era is the direct result of LSD. Eventually B gets tired of playing the game by himself, and shuts it off, bringing us back to the nature slideshow.
T: 4:00 hrs: For a long while, I simply laid on the couch staring at the walls and enjoying the visual show. Eventually I noticed a notebook of blank paper and a pen sitting on a side table. I pick it up with the full intention of drawing a masterpiece, despite my severely limited artistic abilities. I begin to draw some spirals, trying to capture the incredible visuals I’m experiencing, but the pen is hard to control. I wind up creating little messes of squiggly lines, which I find hilarious. I decide that one of them looks like an owl. At some point I try to write down a line of thought that had just occurred to me which I found extremely amusing; I scribble the words “My pants are a storybook / and an owl / but I might write myself out of them.” Acid humor is strange, indeed.
T: 4:30 hrs: After a while I bore of drawing, and B suggests we smoke some pot. We both take a few hits and discover that we don’t notice any effects from it at all. We decide that smoking now is probably a waste, and that we should wait until we have come down a bit before attempting that again. Shortly after, I realize that I really have to urinate, despite the fact that I haven’t been drinking much at all. I stumble to the bathroom, and the whole experience is very confusing. I am thankful that my body remembers how to sit down and pee correctly, for this process is far too complicated for me to figure out on my own right now. As I stand to leave, I take a glance in the mirror – bad idea. My face looks like a mass of red dots, and I can see every pore in my skin magnified a thousand-fold. My pupils are enormous. After gawking at myself for a few minutes, I decide that the mirror is way too scary right now, and I plop back on the couch next to B to enjoy my visuals some more.
T: 5:45 hrs: Looking back, I must have laid on the couch in quiet contemplation for quite a while, for the next thing I really remember is my roommate, who I will refer to as “G”, walking though the front door, just getting back from work. “Dude! This is SO different from mushrooms!” I recall shouting as he walked in. In his suit and tie, he reminded me of a cartoon pig somehow. I whispered this to B, who knew exactly what I was talking about. For some reason, everything G says and does is hilarious to me; I can’t stop giggling like a crazy person. A few minutes later, G came out of his bedroom with his shirt off. His mass of chest hair is very odd looking to me at this time. “Dude! Your chest is a vortex!!!” I announce. He demands to know “what the hell that is supposed to mean.” I find my statement so funny that I laugh about it for what seems like ten minutes.
Conversing with the roommate has pulled me and B out of our contemplative state for a while, and we start walking around the house playing with things. By this time, Bear and I are both feeling pretty hungry, so Bear went to the kitchen to grab the container of fresh fruit he bought to munch on; he hands me a strawberry on a fork and I can’t figure out how to eat it. I recall that I bought some pretzel-type snacks the day before thinking I might find them appealing while tripping; I go to the kitchen and stuff a few in my mouth, chew a couple of times analyzing the texture, and promptly spit them out into the sink. Crunchy snacks are great when you’re stoned, I realize, but not appetizing in the least when this high. I down a glass of orange juice as a substitute for real food, but this only makes me hallucinate more.
T: 6:30 hrs: I’m very surprised to find that I’m still tripping hard, as I expected to be coming down by 5:00 pm or so. In fact, I still can’t tell if I’m getting higher or not. I realize now that I will definitely be awake to see the sun rise. G is in the kitchen making dinner, and I decide to take another shot at eating. As I walk into the kitchen, a giant kiwi in a hanging fruit basket catches my eye. I pick it up and decide that it looks like a big hairy testicle. Hilarious! I decide that I definitely want to eat this hairy piece of fruit. I grab a bread knife to cut the kiwi, but quickly realize that although knives are hilarious, I probably shouldn’t be hilarious with knives. I hand the knife to G and ask him to cut it in half for me. “Just cut it in half? That’s all you want me to do with it?” he asks. I grab the kiwi half, stare at it for a second, and then smash the open side into my face and start laughing hysterically. G hands me a spoon to eat it with, but I don’t know what to do with it. I get fruit juice everywhere, and I crazily run to the bathroom to wipe my face off with a towel. Damn it, I can’t eat the kiwi either! I have failed on my quest to eat something.
T: 7:45 hrs: G suggests we watch the movie The Big Lebowski. I think this sounds like a great idea, but B resists – the first time he saw this movie was coming up on acid, and it frustrated him because it was too confusing. Somehow I talk him into it, and we begin the movie. A preview for a claymation-style movie (I think Corpse Bride?) preceding the movie scares me a little – the faces of the characters appear to be melting off their skeletons. I remind myself that this is just some stupid preview, and not the actual movie, and this calms me down. As the movie begins, I find myself very entertained by the kitschy theme of the movie, and I simply love the neon-lit bowling alley and the cheesy music. This movie is far better on acid, I realize. Luckily, B thinks so too, and he isn’t bothered by the movie at all. I find myself strongly identifying with “The Dude” and his quest to get back his awesome, trippy rug.
T: 9:00 hrs: About an hour into the movie, we pause to attempt smoking pot again despite how high we still feel. It still does nothing.
T: 9:30 hrs: As the movie ends, B and I are as high as ever, but our roommate G decides to head off to bed. We resume the music and the wallpaper slideshow on the TV, and for the rest of the evening, B and I lay sprawled out on our living room couch in deep contemplation. Somewhere around 11 pm, as I lay on the couch staring at the gorgeous pictures, my mind wanders to random memories of my life. I recall a time when I was about eight years old, laying on the couch half-asleep under a fuzzy blanket in the wintertime, while my mom watched an old movie on television; is that moment really happening right now? Am I only dreaming about the day I took a walk and ate acid? It feels as if time is only an illusion, and all my memories are happening simultaneously. Was I tripping then, snuggled up on the couch when I was eight? Am I really tripping now? I decide that I love all my memories, that they are mine and only mine, but that they are a thing I posses, like lamp or a refrigerator. My memories are not what makes me up – what I am truly made of is timeless. This thought is very comforting to me.
At another point, I begin to experience ego loss, and feel myself as other people in my life. I feel myself becoming B, seeing the world the way he does, and appreciating the magnitude of the love he has for me. I feel the events of his childhood, his estrangement from his parents, and how all of these things have colored his life. At this time he reports experiencing the same thing towards me, and we spend a good length of time gazing at one another and somehow communicating non-verbally, bonding on a very intimate level.
Later I find myself extending this sense of becoming another towards my younger sister, to whom I am not very close; I see the struggles she has dealt with in her life, and feel a bit of sadness for her current circumstances. Then I feel myself become my mother, with whom I have had a difficult relationship through the past several years. I begin to intimately understand why she had acted the way she did, why she brought certain individuals into her life, and felt sympathy for her in the first time in years. I saw her struggling over the miscarriage she had prior to my sister’s birth, and how the longing and grief she felt from this event carried over into other parts of her life. In that moment, I loved her as a child who makes foolish mistakes, but who only seeks love and recognition. This progresses into a strong feeling of empathy for all of humankind, all conscious beings, and I strongly sense the idea of a universal spirit. I relate this to the complex patterns still overlaying my vision, and see them morph into “tribal art” which resembles Southwest Native American tapestries, than Chinese, than Indian. I realize that this mind state I’m experiencing has been found by all the mystics and shamans and priests of all of Earth’s cultures, and that these same visuals influenced the art of each respective culture in a similar way. All of these realizations comfort me in my decision to major in cultural anthropology, something which I had been stressing over lately.
T: 14:00 hrs: Around 2 or 3 am, B and I notice that we’ve finally come down a bit. We’re exhausted, but sleep still seems impossible. For the next hour or so, we try to shift into more comfortable positions on the couch and turn down the lights, as we gaze at the nature images on the TV screen. I no longer have the intense geometric patterns overlaying my field of vision, but things are definitely still enhanced. The images of trees seem totally alive to me, and a bobcat in a shot that keeps reappearing seems to stare into the depths of my soul. It is not frightening, but it is still awe-inspiring.
T: 15:30 hrs: By around 4 am, we realize that the sun is going to be rising soon; B suggests that we should at least attempt to sleep, so we turn off the lights and head to bed. Frustratingly, I cannot seem to get comfortable, and I toss and turn for what seems like hours in bed. My body is exhausted, but my mind is still racing, and I find myself pondering many of the same ideas from earlier in the night and reliving other memories in barely cohesive fragments. Lying in the dark without any visual stimuli, I began to explore the contents of my subconscious mind, for better or worse.
At some point, before the sun begins to rise, I felt ready to extend my sense of becoming another towards one last person: my father. Our relationship had been rocky at best since my early teenage years, due mostly to his alcoholism, and several months prior he had attempted suicide for the third time. Reluctantly, I felt myself become him, too, and I see him grieving over the untimely death of his father and his subsequent committal to drink. I see him as a young man, full of life and energy, and then as the hardened corporate executive he had become, and his complete disappointment with himself and his life as he lost his job that year due to consequences of his alcoholism. I felt his sadness, but I was comforted by the universal spirit that permeated me. I knew that his extreme grief was only caused by a false sense of isolation, and that whether or not he found his way in this lifetime, that same universal spirit would always be a part of him. I was finally able to be at peace with his recent actions.
Around this time, I also begin to grow concerned that I have gone permanently insane. I cannot remember what normal feels like, and I am unsure if I will ever be able to sleep again. The objects in my bedroom look strange and unfamiliar; even threatening. I am especially haunted by the orchid painting that hangs to my left. I catch it in a glance and decide it’s far too trippy for my taste at the moment.
T: 18:00 hrs: The sun begins to drift through the cracks in the blinds. I cannot tell whether or not I have slept, but I am utterly exhausted. I decide that I will stay in bed until the orchid painting to starts to look like an orchid.
T: 22:30 hrs: After hours of tossing and turning, glancing at the clock every 20 minutes, and gazing at the undulating wall of clothes at the foot of my bed, I am happy to see that the orchid is just an orchid now, and decide to get up. B, to my right, seems to have finally passed out. I can feel my ribs pressing into the bed, poking out from my abdomen due to my lack of food, and feel cramped and uncomfortable.
I arise slowly and throw on my bathrobe. I quietly walk to the kitchen and prepare myself a bowl of oatmeal, and decide to do a bit of yoga while the water boils to ease my bodily discomfort. I can acutely feel my feet sticking to the yoga mat and the softness of my robe against my bare flesh; I am no longer hallucinating, but sensations are still greatly amplified. My breakfast is totally unappealing, but I choke down as much as I can, knowing it will make me feel better. Thankfully, I now have the ability to eat. As I sat quietly by the window eating my oatmeal, I decide that I am like a Buddhist monk, eating his morning bowl of porridge after prayer. My thoughts are no longer disjointed, but I am highly contemplative of the world around me.
T: 23:30 hrs: B is up, and we decide to take a shower. I can see each individual droplet of water beading up and falling as it hits my body. The feeling of the spray is delightful. After such a long night, it feels wonderful to finally wash the acid-smell off my body. I notice that my pupils are still completely dilated; they will remain this way until late into the evening. Shortly afterward we decide to venture out into the world for lunch.
It was a crisp fall day, and the changing color of the leaves was really beginning to show. High altitude currents of air blew the wispy cirrus clouds across the sky at great speeds, as often happens here in the fall, and the effect was nothing short of ethereal. B and I sat down in the back of our favorite restaurant, not wanting to be too close to other people. I saw a young man walking past the large windows near us, and I briefly saw the world through his eyes; I felt his comfort in the worn jacket he wore, feeling what it would be like to have put it on many times before. B and I ate quietly and comfortably, though we must have worn odd expressions, as the waitress asked us if we were alright – “You guys look like you just lost a puppy or something!” she remarked. Maybe we hadn’t experienced a tragedy, but we had experienced a life-moving event.
As we walked through the city after lunch, I told B that I now understood the answer to everyone’s ultimate question – What is the meaning of existence? What is the purpose of my life? The answer was... that there was no answer. Everything just is. Manifest existence came into creation for the sole purpose of being, just to experience life. What answer could possibly be more profound than that? The world was beautiful, in all its cruelties and misgivings, and I was content with that.
T: 30:00 hrs: By evening my sense of appetite had returned somewhat, though I was still unable to eat anything near a regular portion of food. I found myself craving snacks familiar to me in my childhood, and I indulged by buying myself a small box of oreo-type cookies to dip in soymilk. I still felt the lingering effects of ego-loss, and my “regular” analytical, sarcastic personality had not quite yet returned; I found myself approaching the world in a childlike manner, and using vocabulary I would not normally use. I felt a strong desire to be cared for and coddled this evening, though thankfully B pandered to my behavior. I also experienced some lingering jaw tension, though a few hits of pot helped to combat this effect. By midnight B and I were finally able to sleep, and we awoke feeling refreshed and rejuvenated late the next morning. The sense of calm and equanimity I gained through my trip persisted into the following weeks.
Afterthoughts: This was a tremendous experience that no doubt would have gone differently had I not been in a comfortable environment with people I completely trusted. I now think that LSD has some obvious therapeutic effects, though the experience is so intense that I doubt I will partake more than once or twice a year. I have since tripped once more with the same group of people (G dosed with B and I this time), and although it was not the same earth-shattering experience as my first trip, it was still an overwhelmingly positive event. I am happy to have had the opportunity to let this drug show me parts of the universe and parts of my psyche which I had been previously unaware of, and I would love to return back to that place at different stages of my life.
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