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8 Ways to Enter the Psychedelic Realm Without Drugs

Psychedelics—a remarkable tool used both for their ability to invoke altered states of consciousness and provide an opportunity to face our shadows, tap into profound realizations, and heal deeply.  

These states of ‘higher consciousness’ have been sought after by sages, monks, and ascetics for millennia and go by many names like “salvation,” “enlightenment,” and “transcendence.” 

Presently, psychedelics are revered by those who want to loosen the hold on their ego and ascend to modes of awareness beyond the mundane or common human perception—where the primitive, archetypal mind resides. 

Unfortunately, a more day-to-day encounter with a psychedelic drug isn’t possible unless you’re considering starting a microdosing regimen, and a full, therapeutic trip via a heroic dose is only doable every once in a blue moon.

While psychedelics can be used to boost, enhance, or speed up the process, they are not a direct or sustainable replacement for the major elements of a spiritual journey. 

That’s why having other tools for reaching those desired states can be so intriguing and necessary on your spiritual path. So then, how can we tap into the psychedelic realm without taking a mind-altering substance? 

This is entirely possible, and we are going to cover some of the known alternatives to psychedelic substances like psilocybin mushrooms, LSD< and MDMA.

Key Takeaways

  • Classic psychedelics like LSD, psilocybin, and DMT show promise in treating various mental health conditions, offering potential breakthroughs in therapy and mental well-being.
  • The ability of classic psychedelics to induce profound mystical experiences is a key factor in their potential for positive long-term changes in individuals, influencing attitudes and openness.
  • Despite their therapeutic potential, classic psychedelics remain classified as Schedule I substances in many regions, but there are other ways to tap into the psychedelic realm of consciousness.
  • Psychedelic Passage: Your Psychedelic Concierge — The easy, legal way to find trustworthy psilocybin guides, facilitators and psychedelic-assisted therapy near you in the United States.

Download Our Free Psilocybin Sourcing Guide

For harm-reduction purposes, we provide links to online psilocybin vendors, local stores, delivery services, and spore vendors for growing your own medicine at home.

An Overview of Classic Psychedelics 

Classic psychedelics, such as LSD, mescaline, DMT, and magic mushrooms, have gained renewed interest in recent years due to their therapeutic benefits

As a result, psychedelic research has become a burgeoning field, with numerous clinical trials exploring the potential use of these hallucinogenic drugs to treat a wide range of mental health conditions.

Magic mushrooms, also known as psilocybin mushrooms, contain the psychedelic compound psilocybin. When ingested, psilocybin is metabolized into psilocin, which interacts with serotonin receptors in the brain, producing a range of psychological and physical effects.

Research on classic psychedelics like magic mushrooms has shown promise in treating mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

In clinical trials, patients have reported an increase in personal growth, self-awareness, and openness (MacLean et al., 2011).

One of the key benefits of classic psychedelics is their ability to induce a profound mystical experience, which has been linked to long-term positive changes in attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs (Ko et al., 2022).

This mystical experience has been described as a sense of unity with the universe, a feeling of transcending time and space, and a profound sense of awe and wonder.

How to Trip Without Psychedelic Drugs

1. Meditation: The Crux of Consciousness

8 Ways to Enter the Psychedelic Realm Without Drugs

Perhaps the original method of reaching altered states of consciousness, meditation practices have been found throughout human history, particularly in religious contexts, such as the growth of Hinduism and Buddhism. 

Today, it is one of the fastest-growing health trends in America, with the use of meditation increasing almost 3 times from 4.1% to 14.2% of the US population in the span of five years, according to a 2018 CDC report.  

There are hundreds of methods of meditation to suit different needs and lifestyles, from mini-meditations to walking meditations and even yoga. 

One study suggested “that both meditation and psychedelics can induce a wide variety of global states of consciousness” (Milliere et al. 2018), and that same study outlined the different forms of meditation which could lead to altered states of consciousness:

  • Focused Attention — sustained attention on an object or sensation
  • Loving-Kindness — focused feeling of compassion and love on a chosen subject 
  • Mantra Recitation — repeating a sound or phrase out loud many times, oftentimes in song form
  • Meta-Awareness — taking note of one’s current mental state and inner thoughts 
  • Mindfulness — nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment
  • Non-dual Awareness — a form of sustained awareness regarding the underlying paradoxical, unified truth of reality which supersedes dualistic thought
  • Open Monitoring — another form of open attention and awareness regarding one’s thoughts, emotions, and activities with an ability to switch between narrowed focus and global awareness from moment to moment 
  • Pure Consciousness — “a state of consciousness described as ‘objectless’” or in other a state of pure awareness

While these tools may take significantly more time and practice in order to experience anywhere near the intensity of effects provided by psychedelics, it is entirely possible to have profound experiences with comparable imagery and sensation. 

To understand how this is possible, it may be helpful to read our article on how psychedelics work in the brain to understand how our endogenous neurotransmitters are capable of being released and affecting us in the same ways.

2. Sensory Deprivation Tank: Awareness Beyond Sensation

A sensory deprivation tank, also called a flotation or isolation tank, uses the aptly-named Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique (REST). 

This means that incoming stimuli from light, sound, and even gravity are minimized during a period of time (generally anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes, although sometimes longer)

The sensory deprivation tank creator, John C. Lilly, was a neuroscientist who was interested in the origins of consciousness. 

To better study them, he created his first tank (which he would later use under the influence of ketamine and LSD). Here’s how external stimuli is reduced in a floatation tank:

  • The water is saturated with Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) which is not only used for a range of health benefits but also increases salinity which allows you to float.
  • As you float nude in water that’s been heated to skin temperature (around 95 degrees F), you’ll lose the sense of where your body ends and where the water begins. 
  • Once the tank’s lid has been closed, it will be completely dark and free of external sound (not to worry, most have a safety light just in case).

Not only are floatation tanks considered to be a beneficial way to reduce depression, stress, and anxiety and improve sleep, but they’ve also been known to produce hallucinations. 

Studies have also shown that flotation tank users report significant changes in consciousness, such as oceanic boundlessness and feeling as though they are merged with their environment, while others said, “I experienced past, present and future as an oneness” (Kjellgren & Westman, 2014).

Supplementing other mental health benefits, these experiences are also associated with increases in mindfulness and meditative states, even long after the session is over. 

Anechoic Chambers

Anechoic chambers are another type of sensory deprivation, one in which sound and magnetic waves are completely eliminated. 

There’s a popular one at Orfield Laboratories in Minnesota that is known as “The Quietest Place on Earth,” so quiet that the longest time someone has been able to endure it is just 45 minutes. 

Without any sound, the ears will adapt to a new type of noise—that of our own bodies. In addition to hearing stomach gurgles, some people report hearing their own heartbeat and even their own lungs! 

However, most anechoic chambers are built at university, government, and company laboratories, such as at Edwards Air Force Base and Microsoft’s headquarters, which are not available to the public. 

This makes standard sensory deprivation tanks more available than anechoic chambers. Bottom line: Some users have reported out of body experiences and mild hallucinations with these anechoic chambers. 

3. Holotropic Breathwork: The Power of Breathing

Various breathwork techniques have been used by yogis for hundreds of years. More recently, in the 1970’s, holotropic breathwork re-emerged as a way to reach altered states of consciousness (without using drugs). 

Developed by Stanislav and Christina Grof, who were both psychiatrists and well-known psychedelic researchers, holotropic breathwork is considered to be both a spiritual and therapeutic practice. 

They developed holotropic breathwork after understanding and promoting the healing benefits of LSD, and their belief was that the similar states of altered consciousness brought about by holotropic breathwork could have the same healing potential. 

The name “holotropic” itself translates to “moving toward wholeness” and, as such, holotropic breathwork has been used for decades to treat mental illness and other types of ‘spiritual emergencies.’

It’s based on the yogic practice of modulated breathing and involves controlling and quickening patterns of breathing. This alters the body’s levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide, often eliciting a psychedelic experience. 

Holotropic works by allowing one to experience non-ordinary states of consciousness in a short two to three-hour session with a “sitter” (most commonly a trained facilitator). It is often accompanied by repetitive and then meditative music.

Though used for centuries in non-western cultures and regarded as a generally low-risk therapy, holotropic breathwork is not for everyone. 

Even the Grofs had an intensive screening protocol to ensure participants were physically and psychologically fit for the technique. 

Caution should be taken for those with a history of cardiovascular disease, heart issues, high blood pressure, respiratory problems, and pregnant women. 

4. Motion Aftereffect Illusion: Visual Hallucinations

 If you’re really short on time, money, and the ability to travel to a breathwork facilitator or float tank center, you can easily experience a hallucination at home! 

YouTube has become home to several videos that promise to leave you asking, “What was that?!” One such video features a motion aftereffect (MAE) illusion, commonly known as the “waterfall illusion.”

This illusion works by prompting the viewer to look at something moving in a certain direction for a period of time. Then, when they look away, seemingly stationary objects appear to be moving. 

Another similar phenomenon was popularized by the Magic Eye book series in the 1990s, where 3D images would appear in 2D prints. 

Although you don’t technically enter the psychedelic realm, you will feel short term visual alterations that often mimic those experienced after ingesting a psychedelic substance.

While theories about illusions like this date back to the times of Aristotle, illusions like the “waterfall illusion” are not yet fully understood. 

That said, however, anyone who has consumed LSD or psilocybin might notice some uncanny similarities between what they might see on their trip and what happens after this short video.  

5. Eye Gazing: Connecting With the Divine Within

A different kind of “watching” can also produce some of the same effects as MAE illusions. Interpersonal gazing, or eye gazing, as it’s commonly referred to, is a phenomenon that’s become more popular in recent years. 

Incorporated into wellness events, meditation retreats, or impromptu eye gazing sessions in the park, strangers and romantic partners alike are turning to one another for entrance into an altered state of consciousness. 

While people report feeling bliss, an altered sense of time, and connection with the present moment in just five minutes, full-blown dissociations have been reported in just ten minutes (Caputo, 2015).

These sometimes include hallucinatory-like apparitions and face dysmorphia and may also lead to lasting changes, like an improved ability to hold eye contact and maintain attention.    

6. Kundalini Awakening: The Energy Serpent

In Hinduism, kundalini is divine feminine energy concentrated at the base of the spine (the root chakra), and there are techniques to stimulate a transmission and release of this energy. 

Considered to be the energy associated with consciousness, but free of thought, this kundalini energy can be awakened through a practice of yoga, meditation, changes in diet, or simply on its own without aid. 

Once activated, many people report a psychedelic-like effect—visions, flashbacks, emotional release, astral journeys, and bliss states. It may lead to someone feeling more empathetic or having a greater sensitivity to the world around them. 

There hasn’t been much research into kundalini awakenings, but some studies have reported neurochemical and neuroanatomical changes (like prefrontal cortex deregulation) that are consistent with those seen in someone using psychedelics (Mohandas, 2008).

7. Psychedelic Music: A Symphony of Sensations

If you’ve read any of our other articles about psychedelic-assisted therapy or have taken the time to prepare the “setting” of your own psychedelic experience, you’ll know how important music is. 

Music and spirituality are deeply entwined, and the right music can enhance a psychedelic experience or even provoke one on its own. 

There are certain types of music that can be particularly stimulating, such as binaural beats and ecstatic dance music or even ambient meditative music.

Wavepaths, a London-based wellness startup has worked with psychedelic researchers to curate playlists perfect for a psychedelic experience. 

Taking it one step further, they’ve also been working on music that takes participants on a similar journey—without the use of any drugs. 

8. Placebo Effect: Tripping & The Power of Belief

What if we were to tell you that you could tap into the psychedelic trip realm without anything at all? Well, that’s actually far more possible than you would ever think. 

In a study published in March 2020, 33 students joined a study exploring how psilocybin affects creativity. They weren’t told that there would be a placebo group and were joined by study confederates who acted out a psilocybin trip to boost the expectations of the participants (Olsen et al.).

Astonishingly, 61% of participants reported feeling the psilocybin, some saying that the walls moved and others discussing a “come down” before another “wave” of the drug’s effects hit. 

Studies like these strengthen the notion that set and setting play a major factor in the psychedelic experience. 

Tapping Into the Psychedelic Realm

These are all excellent ways to get a quick glimpse of altered states of consciousness. Some of them are associated with health benefits of their own, but none of these benefits are backed by as much scientific evidence as psychedelic drugs themselves. 

Whether you’re curious about altered states of consciousness or know for sure that you want to incorporate psychedelics into your journey, we can be of support to you. 

It’s possible that you’ve had a session in a flotation tank or watched a few videos highlighting how holotropic breathwork can be beneficial, but if your psyche is hungry for something more substantial and impactful, a psychedelic experience knows no substitute

Our network of psychedelic facilitators can discuss your options and provide actionable information to determine if a psychedelic experience is right for your goals. 

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Connect With The Psychedelic Therapy Provider That’s Right for You

Hi there! We sincerely hope that you’ve found valuable takeaways that resonate with your current intentions. To explore research-based education, stay updated with psychedelic news, and benefit from practical how-to articles, we encourage you to head over to our resources page.

If you’re seeking personalized advice and are prepared to take the first step toward a therapeutic psychedelic experience, we invite you to book a consultation with our team of experienced psychedelic concierges.

This consultation is more than just a conversation; it’s an opportunity to be matched with a trustworthy local facilitator. You’ll be seamlessly connected to our rigorously vetted network of psychedelic guides, ensuring potential matches align with your needs.

Psychedelic Passage offers confidence and peace of mind by alleviating the burden of having to guess who’s right for you. If you want to discover how Psychedelic Passage can help you, we empower you to learn more about our services and check out client testimonials from those who’ve gone before you.

Your healing path is uniquely yours, and our commitment is to serve you at every juncture. Psychedelic Passage: Your Psychedelic Concierge — The easy, legal way to find trustworthy psilocybin guides, facilitators and psychedelic-assisted therapy near you in the United States.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are classic psychedelics like LSD and magic mushrooms legal for therapeutic use?

As of now, classic psychedelics like LSD and magic mushrooms are classified as Schedule I substances in many countries, including the United States. 

However, ongoing research is exploring their potential therapeutic uses, and there is a growing movement for decriminalization and regulated use in medical settings.

Psilocybin mushrooms in particular are decriminalized in a number of states and jurisdictions including Oregon, Colorado, Washington DC, and various towns in Massachusetts, California, Washington, and Michigan. 

Q: What mental health conditions are classic psychedelics being researched for?

Classic psychedelics are being researched for various mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), addiction, and existential distress in patients with life-threatening illnesses. 

Preliminary studies suggest significant therapeutic potential, but more research is needed to establish efficacy and safety.

Q: What is a mystical experience, and how does it relate to classic psychedelics?

A mystical experience involves a profound sense of unity with the universe, transcending time and space, and a deep feeling of awe and wonder. 

Classic psychedelics, particularly psilocybin found in magic mushrooms, have been known to induce mystical experiences, which are often linked to positive long-term changes in attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs.

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At Psychedelic Passage, we offer professional 1-on-1 guidance and companionship on your journey of healing. We simply can't sit back and let Americans continue to sit in silent suffering trying to battle mental health issues within a broken health care system, all while knowing that effective alternatives exist. We stand for the sacred, at-home, ceremonial use of psychedelics for consciousness exploration, which we believe to be a fundamental human right.

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