At MycoMeditations, we understand the difficulties of living with depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges. Psychedelics are gaining traction as a way to better tackle these challenges, and various options ranging from microdosing protocols, ayahuasca retreats, ketamine clinics, and psilocybin retreats like our own are emerging for people to try.
Microdosing in particular has gained popularity as a way for people to try psychedelics in an attempt to improve their mood or conditions. News outlets from The Guardian to The New York Times and National Geographic have written extensively about this growing trend, and microdosing retreats have started to appear.
We, however, are not a microdosing retreat. Read below to learn the differences between microdosing and what we do at a MycoMeditations retreat.
What Is Microdosing?
Microdosing is defined as taking 5-10% of a full psychedelic dose, usually LSD or psilocybin, as a way to get the supposed mental health benefits of the drug without the active psychedelic effect. Typically, people will take a sub-perceptual amount of their chosen psychedelic every other day or so, depending on the method they choose.
The popularity of microdosing largely comes from it providing a way for people to try psychedelics without a full-on psychedelic experience. Effective microdosing means you shouldn’t be feeling any of the psychedelic effects. This is far less anxiety-inducing when compared to taking a large dose of psilocybin. Microdosing is also a convenient way to try psychedelics in your regular, everyday life without disrupting regular executive functions. It appears to give people a chance of receiving all of the benefits of psychedelic therapy without the possibility of having the dreaded “bad trip”, right? Not so fast.
This supposed convenience of avoiding challenging psychological experiences is actually what makes microdosing a less than ideal psychedelic treatment. To reap the real benefits of psychedelic therapy, people must be willing to face what frightens them. The benefit of taking a high dose of psilocybin when done intentionally in a safe, supportive setting with time to effectively integrate the experience far outweighs the benefits that will come with microdosing.
So how would we compare microdosing with what happens at MycoMeditations psilocybin-assisted retreats? Are you considering trying a microdosing retreat? Continue reading to learn the differences between our methodology and microdosing.
Comparing Microdosing to What Happens at MycoMeditations
If microdosing is a term that everybody can recognize by now, then you might call what we do at MycoMeditations macrodosing. Instead of taking sub-perceptual amounts of psilocybin mushrooms (0.1g, 0.2g) as with microdosing, we provide guests with high doses in the range of 3-15g of dried psilocybin mushrooms during their stay with us. The amount generally increases in this range throughout the retreat week with each of the three dosing sessions. The dosage depends on many personal factors for the guest that we determine through our protocol.
Why do we work with such high doses? We repeatedly see that people with intractable cases of depression and anxiety simply need to be pulled out of the negative mental pattern they are stuck in. This is where the Default Mode Network, or “DMN” comes in.
The Default Mode Network describes the state of our brains when we are at rest. The DMN is often associated with activities such as daydreaming and self-reflection. For many people with mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety, the DMN essentially causes them to negatively ruminate constantly.
Psilocybin has been proven to reduce activity in the Default Mode Network, which allows the brain an opportunity to create new neural connections. This process is greatly enhanced when taking larger doses compared to microdosing. With the DMN offline, people have a window for novel experiences. They can learn to better relate with themselves, others, nature, or society. This rich, new experience then factors into the brain’s neural connections when the DMN comes back online. With effective psilocybin therapy and integration, the Default Mode Network takes this fresh experience into account and helps the individual find a “new normal”.
MycoMeditations psilocybin-assisted retreats also create cathartic experiences. Besides the process involving the Default Mode Network, psilocybin also acts as a chemical key to open people up to deeper layers of the mind, which isn’t possible in the same way with microdosing.
With higher doses of psilocybin mushrooms, many of the emotions and feelings that have been subdued, ignored, or forgotten begin to emerge. These are often experiences that stem from childhood and our earliest encounters in life, at times even including somebody’s birth process. High-dose psilocybin therapy allows somebody hours of time to work with their most deepest, core emotions and memories. In this time, an extraordinary amount of healing can be done. Microdosing simply will not open you up to this level of depth.
Here’s an analogy to describe this: Imagine the various layers of soil being your mind. You have the topsoil all the way down to the bedrock. Microdosing, as with conventional therapy, can help in doing work at the uppermost layers, as they can activate new perspectives, insights, and create subtle shifts. Whereas at MycoMeditations, providing larger doses of psilocybin is like drilling into the bedrock. These deeper layers (of our psyche) is where our problems stem from and where trauma is buried.
High-dose psilocybin therapy aims to go to the root cause of psychological suffering, including dealing with traumatic experiences. In order to cope with trauma, an individual’s psyche often uses defense mechanisms such as repressed memories, or dissociative amnesia.
Of course, these types of psilocybin experiences can be challenging and frightening. That is why we staff our retreats with trained therapists and facilitators and provide guests ample time each day to reflect and integrate their experiences.
Microdosing may ensure you won’t have difficult experiences. However, our position is that courage to face uncomfortable feelings is needed to heal.
That isn’t to say that these experiences on high doses of psilocybin mushrooms are always difficult — often they are the most blissful experience someone will ever have! The key is being prepared and supported, because the therapeutic outcomes can be tremendous with high-dose work.
We hope this helps you understand the differences between microdosing and our work at MycoMeditations. At the end of the day, regardless of whether an individual chooses to explore a microdosing retreat or high-dose psilocybin retreat like ours, healing is defined by nobody besides you.