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Debunking 5 Common Myths Associated With Psilocybin Mushroom Journeywork

Updated: Apr 21

In a world where the promise of quick fixes often overshadows the reality of healing, it's crucial to ground ourselves in realistic expectations, especially when it comes to psychedelic experiences. Recently, Elemental Psychedelics hosted a webinar facilitated by Dori G. Lewis and Dylan Rivard, aimed at therapists, space holders, facilitators, psychedelic professionals, and personal users seeking to work with mushroom medicine for mental health healing. 

Mushroom Myths and Misconceptions online webinar with hosts Dori Lewis and Dylan Rivard.

Drawing from their expertise in psychedelic therapy, integration therapy, and transpersonal psychotherapy, Lewis and Rivard aimed to put magical thinking to rest and foster a realistic mindset in approaching our relationship with mushroom medicine. With their combined experience, Lewis and Rivard provided invaluable insights into managing expectations in mushroom work, emphasizing the importance of humility, patience, and ongoing commitment to the healing journey.

Who Benefits from Mushroom Medicine? 

Psychedelic substances such as mushrooms have attracted considerable attention in recent years. However, it's essential to discern who stands to benefit from these potent experiences and who should approach them cautiously. 

Before diving into common expectations and misconceptions about mushrooms and other psychedelics, it's crucial to address a fundamental misconception: psychedelic medicine work is not universally suitable for everyone.

Here's a brief overview of who mushrooms and other psychedelics are for and who they're not for:

Mushrooms and Other Psychedelics Work Successfully For:

  • Individuals with prior psychedelic experiences, such as ketamine or recreational use, may find mushroom journeys to be familiar territory and potentially beneficial for mental health healing.

  • Mushrooms can offer temporary relief for individuals struggling with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), providing a respite from the "sticky mind" phenomenon associated with this condition.

  • Those processing trauma with a trained trauma therapist may benefit from the expanded perspective offered by psychedelic experiences. However, it's essential to note that it can also lead to re-experiencing trauma with heightened somatic stress.

  • People committed to ongoing therapy and willing to engage in multiple journey sessions may find mushrooms to be a valuable adjunct to their mental health treatment.

  • Individuals interested in spiritual exploration, existential concerns, and feelings of hopelessness or disconnection may find mushrooms to be a catalyst for profound insights and personal growth.

Mushrooms and Other Psychedelics Generally Do Not Work Successfully For:

  • Those with severe mental health challenges, such as active or recent psychosis, mania, or personality disorders, are generally not suitable candidates for psychedelic therapy. Current research suggests little impact on narcissism and cases where it may exacerbate symptoms.

  • Individuals on SSRIs or other psychiatric medications may require careful dose-finding sessions due to the potential blunting of psychoactive effects.

  • Mushroom journeys have the potential to challenge deeply held beliefs and trigger existential crises, making preparation and integration crucial. While they can work well for those with an active spiritual life, they can also pose significant challenges.

While mushrooms and psychedelics hold promise for mental health healing and spiritual exploration, they're not a panacea and must be approached with caution and careful consideration of individual circumstances. For anyone who is not generally healthy and medication-free, consulting with trained practitioners and being mindful of contraindications is essential to ensure safe and effective use of these powerful substances.

What Are The Myths Associated With Mushroom Journeywork?

As Lewis and Rivard discuss in their webinar, myths and misconceptions often shroud the true nature of mushroom journeywork. If you are an individual who is physically and mentally ready to receive this medicine, you must respect the importance of having a realistic understanding of the many nuances associated with this powerful medicine.

Let's begin by discussing the most prevalent myths surrounding mushroom journeywork, shedding light on the truths that lie beyond the veil of perception. 

Myth #1: Instant Enlightenment Awaits

One of the most pervasive myths surrounding mushroom journeywork is the expectation of instant enlightenment. Many envision a single journey as a shortcut to spiritual awakening or profound insight. However, the reality is far more nuanced. While mushrooms can catalyze transformative experiences, true enlightenment is a lifelong journey that unfolds gradually over time and is not a destination to be reached.

In the webinar, Rivard describes mushroom work as a “developmental arc” characterized by small shifts and incremental progress. While it may be an accelerated arc moving slightly faster than traditional talk therapy, there is still a lot of learning that needs to happen and time to process that learning. In fact, neglecting the ongoing process of integration through conversation and contemplation can hinder long-term growth.

Healing is often part of a gradual development. As Pema Chodron wisely observed, "Real change is ordinary and boring." It's in the quiet moments of reflection and introspection that the true depth of transformation becomes apparent. Therefore, it should be understood that it may take several sessions over the course of months or maybe even years, depending on what an individual is trying to overcome, to truly see the full effect of mushroom journeywork.

To add to this, along with not being instantaneously healing, Lewis points out that journeywork can actually bring up more work. By this, she means that topics or experiences that individuals may have thought they have worked through can resurface, causing an individual to face them once again. Furthermore, mushroom journeywork also causes an individual's understanding of spirituality to increase exponentially, which may now need to be integrated and challenge existing beliefs.

Myth #2: Mushrooms Will Change How I Live My Life

While a mushroom journey may indeed temporarily alter our mood and affect, these shifts are often short-lived and may not result in lasting changes to our external circumstances. Instead, mushrooms have a unique way of bringing us face-to-face with the entire spectrum of our emotions, including those we've long suppressed. This raw, unfiltered experience can leave us feeling more vulnerable and exposed than ever before.

Furthermore, while mushrooms can catalyze subtle shifts in mood and affect, true transformation goes beyond a mere biochemical release. It requires deep introspection, self-awareness, and a willingness to confront the underlying issues that shape our emotional landscape. Relying solely on mushrooms to improve our mood is akin to using a band-aid to cover a gaping wound—it may offer temporary relief, but it won't address the root cause of our suffering.

In essence, engaging in mushroom work isn't a quick fix or a shortcut to happiness. It's a profound journey of self-discovery, encompassing both light and shadow, joy and sorrow.

To truly integrate the lessons learned from these journeys into our lives, it's essential to cultivate a lifestyle where we consciously set aside time for introspection and actively work to implement the insights gained. This involves developing healthy practices that allow us to disconnect from the external world and delve deep into our inner selves.

Ultimately, the transformative power of mushroom journeys lies not solely in the experiences themselves but in the quality of our participation and our commitment to ongoing personal growth and development. 

Myth #3: My Mushroom Journey Will Be a Visual or Trippy Experience

While it's true that mushrooms can induce vivid visual hallucinations, fixating solely on the hallucinogenic aspects of the experience overlooks the profound inner journey that unfolds. Mushroom trips are not merely about what we see but encompass a rich array of emotions, thoughts, and somatic perceptions on a deeper level.

In describing mushroom journeys, Rivard highlights the transient nature of visual elements, describing them as "chaotic nonsense." Instead, these experiences are more commonly characterized by somatic sensations, where energy moves through the body, eliciting intense emotions often without clear understanding. As Lewis aptly adds, "One of the most common reactions is just sobbing often with no real understanding of where the emotion is coming from.

The richness of the mushroom experience lies beyond its external manifestations; it lies in its capacity to catalyze introspection and self-discovery. While some may anticipate elaborate visuals, many individuals report a profound sense of knowing rather than seeing—an intuitive understanding of something greater alongside them.

The true essence of the mushroom journey transcends mere visuals, inviting participants into a deeply introspective exploration of the self and the universe. It's through this inner journey that profound insights, emotional releases, and transformative growth are often found, offering a glimpse into the boundless depths of human consciousness.

Myth #4: My Facilitator is Directly Leading Me Through This Journey

The primary function of a facilitator is to create a safe container for you to experience your journey. 

In truth, you are the one doing all the work. 

While the facilitator may offer intentions or guidance that can be revisited during the journey, it is ultimately the individual who guides their own experience.

This dynamic differs significantly from the traditional medical model, where doctors or therapists often take a more directive role in guiding treatment. In psychedelic journeywork, facilitators serve as supporters, guides, and guardians of the space in which the experience unfolds.

Contrary to popular belief, facilitators do not act as directors orchestrating the journey's unfolding. Instead, they offer support, guidance, and safety, creating a nurturing environment where participants can explore the depths of their psyche with security and trust.

Rather than dictating the journey's course, facilitators accompany participants as companions on the voyage, providing gentle guidance and encouragement along the way. They offer a steady presence, holding space for whatever arises and providing support when needed.

Furthermore, the idea that facilitators can control or manipulate the psychedelic experience is not only inaccurate but potentially harmful. Mushroom journeys are deeply personal and subjective experiences, shaped by the unique psyche of each individual. Attempting to steer the journey in a particular direction goes against the core principles of psychedelic therapy, which emphasize opening to the wisdom of the mushroom.

Instead of viewing facilitators as directors, it's more appropriate to see them as stewards of the journey—guardians of the sacred space in which transformation can occur. By dispelling the myth of facilitators as guiding forces, we can develop a deeper appreciation for the inherent wisdom and healing potential of the mushroom experience.

Myth #5: Psychedelic Journeywork Can Replace Therapy 

In recent years, there's been a growing misconception that psychedelic journeywork can serve as a standalone replacement for traditional therapy. This myth suggests that a single psychedelic experience has the power to heal deep-seated traumas and resolve complex psychological issues without the need for ongoing therapeutic support. However, the reality is far more nuanced.

While psychedelic journeywork can be profoundly transformative and therapeutic, it is not a substitute for the structured, long-term work of therapy. Rather, it should be viewed as a complementary tool that can enhance and deepen the therapeutic process.

Psychedelic experiences have the potential to catalyze profound insights, unlock repressed emotions, and facilitate spiritual growth. However, the integration of these experiences—processing and making sense of the insights gained—is essential for lasting change to occur.

Therapy provides a supportive container for integrating the insights and revelations that emerge during psychedelic journeys. It offers a safe space to explore and process difficult emotions, develop coping strategies, and address underlying issues that may contribute to psychological distress.

Furthermore, psychedelic journeywork is not appropriate for everyone, and is often best used as one modality among others in a whole-life approach to healing, recovery, or transformation.

How Can I Continue My Psychedelic Education With Elemental?

Elemental Psychedelics | A Women-Led Training Center For Education, Experience, and Ethics in Psychedelic Practice

Embarking on a journey with plant and fungi medicines and other psychedelics can be a profound and transformative experience, but it's just the beginning of a lifelong exploration. As you navigate the complex and evolving landscape of psychedelic practice, continuing your education is essential for ensuring safety, ethics, and efficacy in your approach.

That's where Elemental Psychedelics comes in. As a women-led training center dedicated to education, experience, and ethics in psychedelic practice, Elemental offers a unique opportunity to deepen your understanding and hone your skills in the realm of psychedelic therapy and integration.

Through a diverse range of courses, workshops, and events, Elemental provides a comprehensive curriculum designed to meet the needs of aspiring therapists, space holders, facilitators, and personal users alike. Whether you're looking to gain foundational knowledge, enhance your clinical skills, or explore advanced topics in psychedelic therapy, Elemental offers a wealth of resources to support your journey.

Visit the Elemental Psychedelics website today to explore their upcoming events, courses, and trainings, and take the next step in your journey toward ethical and safe psychedelic practice. Together, we can continue to elevate the standards of care and promote healing and transformation for all.



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