Alba sits down on the plush couch, sinking into its soft pillows. The muted lighting and tapestries on the wall create a soothing environment. Across from her in an armchair sits her coach Lotte, who greets her with a warm smile.
“How are you feeling?” Lotte asks.
“A little nervous, but mostly excited,” Alba replies, petting the resident coaching dog, Saar, who rests his head in her lap.
After three preparatory coaching sessions, today is the day Alba will have her first psilocybin experience. For years she’s struggled with negative self-talk and critical inner voices telling her she’s worthless or undeserving. She hopes the psilocybin journey may help her gain more compassion towards herself.
Lotte validates Alba’s intention and reminds her to let go of expectations. “Just allow whatever comes up to surface, without judgement,” she suggests. “The experience will guide you.”
They do a box breathing exercise together: inhaling for 4 counts, holding for 4 counts, exhaling for 4 counts, and holding again for 4 counts. Alba feels her body start to relax as she focuses on the rhythm of her breath. Lotte then leads her through a guided meditation, visualizing roots grounding her and branches reaching up into the sky.
After about an hour, it’s time. Lotte hands Alba a cup of mushroom tea. Alba wouldn’t rate it as the best tea ever but is surprised by the normalcy of the taste. She feels both nervous and full of anticipation.
Lotte squeezes her hand reassuringly as Alba lies back on the couch, putting on an eye mask and headphones. With her intention set, she is ready to surrender to the journey within.
“I’ll be right here with you”, Lotte tells her reassuringly. Alba nods and begins drifting off, psilocybin flowing through her system. The experience is about to start.
The Come-Up of the Psychedelic Experience
As Alba waits for the psilocybin to take effect, Lotte puts on some gentle instrumental music and dims the lights a bit more. She reminds Alba to keep breathing slowly and deeply as the medicine starts coursing through her.
After about 30 minutes, Alba starts noticing the first subtle effects. The colours behind her closed eyelids appear more vivid and saturated. Her body feels pleasantly heavy and tingly.
Lotte checks in to see how Alba is feeling. “The colours are so beautiful,” Alba murmurs dreamily. “My body feels very relaxed.”
“That’s wonderful,” Lotte says. “Just keep surrendering to it.” She encourages Alba to visualize a place where she feels safe, loved and accepted.
As Alba sinks deeper inward, the music takes on a swirling, liquid quality. Kaleidoscopic geometric patterns begin dancing across her vision. She loses track of time passing, fully immersed in the psychedelic headspace.
Periodically, Lotte gently rests a hand on Alba’s shoulder to remind her she is there. Alba feels cradled and protected, allowing the psilocybin to work its magic within. She trusts the medicine to take her exactly where she needs to go.
The Psychedelic Trip Itself
As the trip intensifies, Alba finds herself completely detached from all sense of physical reality. Her consciousness feels untethered, floating through alien landscapes of impossible colours and fractal patterns.
Alba sometimes hears her inner critic pipe up, hurling familiar insults – “You’re so stupid…You have no value…You don’t deserve to be loved.” But rather than spiral down that drain, Alba observes these voices with curiosity and compassion.
“You’re just scared, ” she tells the critic gently. “You’re trying to protect me from getting hurt again. But your harsh words keep me trapped. I’m ready to be free of you.” To her surprise, Alba senses the inner critic soften and retreat.
Alba spends much of the trip cradled in a cocoon of care, visualizing what truly feels like to love herself. She sees an image of herself as a young child, innocent and precious. Her heart swells with tenderness towards this young Alba.
“I will keep you safe, comfort you when you’re sad, celebrate your gifts,” she vows to the child version of herself. “You are so deeply worthy of love, including from yourself.”
Alba feels lifetimes of self-judgment start to dissolve. In its place grows a budding seed of self-compassion. There is still work to do, but this feels like a powerful start.
As Alba journeys deeper inward, she loses all sense of time and space. Her consciousness expands to feel intricately connected with all living beings and even inanimate objects around her. She realizes everything is energy, infinitely interconnected.
During this dissociated state, Lotte checks in, gently squeezing Alba’s shoulder. “How are you doing? I’m right here,” she says softly.
The caring contact moves Alba. With Lotte’s touch anchoring her, she doesn’t feel lost or afraid in the cosmic void. “I feel so much love for everything,” Alba says in wonder.
Lotte smiles, “I’m glad the experience shows you the light within yourself and all beings.”
Alba squeezes Lotte’s hand back, welling up with gratitude for her guide through this process. After drinking some water, Alba returns to her inner travels, feeling safely cradled in a web of compassion.
Coming Down From the Peak
After several timeless hours of journeying through inner space, Alba feels her consciousness returning to her physical body. The visuals fade away, and a sense of self begins to re-emerge.
Alba removes her eye mask and sees Lotte sitting nearby, ready to help her integrate back into reality. Alba sits up slowly, still feeling dreamy and reflective.
“Welcome back,” Lotte says. “Take your time; there’s no rush.” She hands Alba some tissue and water.
Alba takes a sip and dabs her moist eyes. “That was the most beautiful, terrifying, magical experience of my life,” she says with a small laugh.
Lotte nods knowingly. “Psychedelics can show us the heights of ecstasy and the depths of the soul all at once.”
The women talk quietly about Alba’s journey, though Lotte is careful not to analyse or interpret. She simply provides a listening ear for Alba to process her experience.
After resting, they do a closing ritual, lighting a candle to represent Alba’s renewed commitment to self-love. Alba feels profoundly grateful for the wisdom gained.
The Gentle Afternoon and Evening
After their closing ritual, Alba is ready to get fresh air and stretch her legs. She and Lotte take Saar, the coaching dog, for a gentle stroll outside. The sunlight feels soothing and renewing.
As they walk, Alba shares more insight with Lotte, who listens compassionately. The beauty of nature reflects Alba’s sensation of rebirth after her psilocybin journey.
Back inside, Lotte serves Alba a hot bowl of vegetable soup, which comforts and grounds her. Alba is then given time and space to journal about her experience while it’s still fresh. She writes freely, processing all she saw, felt and learned.
Later that evening, Alba has an emotional phone call with her boyfriend. She tells him about feeling more self-love and describes the visual beauty she encountered. He is moved by the excitement in her voice.
Exhausted but fulfilled, Alba heads to bed early after this long day. She feels profoundly grateful for the healing experience facilitated by Lotte and psilocybin. More integration work awaits, but this feels like a powerful first step in Alba’s journey.
[this story is a combination of experiences of our coaching clients, told through the eyes of Alba, one of the characters who help explain psychedelics through stories]