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Music & Mushrooms ─ How to Pick the Perfect Playlist

Posted under: Latest News, News and Science

 

Music and mushrooms are intrinsically linked. More than almost any other stimuli, music enhances and influences the psychedelic experience, helping to guide the trip and compliment your unique journey. And this knowledge is nothing new ─ throughout history and across cultures, music is seen to be a major component of the psychedelic ceremony. 

 

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It comes as no surprise that researchers are beginning to acknowledge the huge role music can play during a ceremony or within a psychedelic-assisted therapy session (even dubbing it the hidden therapist). More than just background noise, your soundtrack can direct or alter the trip, so it makes sense that you want to curate your psychedelic playlist with care. 

 

Music & Mushrooms ─ Tradition

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The practice of using music as (and with) medicine is ancient; almost every single indigenous culture in the world combines music and altered states of consciousness in some form. From the icaros chanted during ayahuasca ceremonies to the musical components of the Mazatec Indian mushroom rituals or the Bwiti songs during the ibogaine rites of West Africa, music is credited with playing a crucial role in healing all around the world. 

Author Armando Loziaga Pazzi compared the icaro songs to “the oars of a canoe, without which the canoe would be at the mercy of the river”. In traditional psychedelic ceremonies, the music sung and created by the shamans helps to direct and further unfold the journey.

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Music & Mushrooms ─ Science

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Music is such an essential aspect of the psychedelic experience that there is an entire emerging field of scientific research devoting itself to studying this link. Music in combination with psychedelic substances is seen to unlock emotional centers in the brain and enhance visual processing, plus it seems to support profound mystical experiences and helps make meaning of the journey. 

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Music also stimulates areas in the brain that are responsible for memory, attention and reward ─ all of which can trigger an intense alteration of your mushroom trip. If music and tripping are so integral to one another, it is important to put some thought into the music you are listening to during the trip. 

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Picking the Perfect Playlist

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It is pretty impossible to create a standardized playlist that works for every person in every moment and there is also room to debate about whether certain types of music are inherently more therapeutic than others.

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However, in general, research shows that when music is more personally meaningful or familiar it will be more supportive and tend to enhance your psychedelic experience. Of course, this makes a lot of sense ─ picking tunes you already have somewhat of a connection to will be more enjoyable and create a more optimal environment for your mushroom trip.

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Often it can work well to build a soundtrack that follows the waves or stages of a trip, with comforting, calm, and slow tracks during the come-up, followed by an alteration of intense and soothing tracks during the peak, and then adding in some more calm and joyful songs during the come-down.

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Clinical trials often make use of classical music to ground or anchor their participants in the experience and music with words can be somewhat distracting, so often instrumental or ambient tracks can be better for enhancing the trip. 

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Finally, if there are songs that you already have a lot of emotional baggage around, think carefully about when or how to include them in your playlist, as the mushrooms will most likely augment and intensify the processing of these emotional associations.

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Soundrack Inspiration

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There are several curated playlists out there if you are looking to get inspired. The Johns Hopkins Psilocybin Research playlist is a great place to start, featuring many ambient and instrumental tracks that have been carefully selected by various researchers for this exact purpose. There is also the Imperial College London Psychedelic Therapy playlist and playlists from MAPS for MDMA-assisted therapy available on Youtube here and here

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There are also companies and apps such as Wavepaths (created by Brian Eno and neuroscientist/musical researcher Mendel Kaelen) that help you to create personalized psychedelic soundtracks that are ever-evolving to support expanding your mind.

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Final Thoughts

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Both music and mushrooms are powerful tools in and of themselves ─ when combined (with care) their effects can be amplified and elevated. Music can facilitate, accompany, and guide the trip, helping to create a safe space in which to relinquish psychological control and let go even more deeply. 

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The therapeutic effects of music are widely recognized in academic literature, and indigenous traditions around the globe emphasize the important role of music in a ceremonial context. Music and mushrooms are a great pairing, so perhaps put some extra thought into your playlist prep next time you plan to trip. 

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Note: If you’re suffering from a mental illness and are curious about using psilocybin or any other psychedelic therapy, please consult one of the relevant medical authorities first. Do not self-prescribe, it’s vital to have the right support and guidance when using psychedelics as medicine.