In Buddhist teachings the Middle Way places the aspirant exactly between a life of ascetic privation and sensual indulgence. Treading what many describe as a razor’s edge, the Middle Way is considered the noble path, a journey of realization and balance in all things. It is also regarded as the path to true healing, in which harmonious equilibrium of one’s entire being can be achieved. The Middle Way, for its simplicity, is harder than it sounds, requiring vigilant awareness and dedication to the path of awakening.
When I first took LSD in 1967, it was a brawny 270 micrograms of Owsley Stanley’s White Lightning. Pure and clean, White Lightning was a heroic awakening blast, a transformative agent that delivered me to an experience of vast openness, a far greater sense of self, and a unity of all things that was not just an idea, but an immersive reality. White Lightning was the purest acid to ever hit the street at the time it emerged in 1965, and proved preferable to the drops on sugar cubes that had previously been available. The 150 or so LSD trips that I subsequently undertook continued along that theme of large tripping doses, generally over 200 micrograms, and full-throttle immersive experiences. Thinking back on those full-blown acid trips, I am struck by how much good they have contributed to my life. For me there was life before acid, and a brighter life after. That sense has never diminished.
In 1983 I began to experiment with what is now referred to as microdosing, with psilocybin mushrooms. I had some dried magic mushrooms lying about, and had some rum, and I wondered what would happen if I finely chopped the mushrooms, filled a jar with them, added rum to cover them, and let them soak for a long time. I let the mushrooms marinate for about two months, lightly turning the bottle in which they soaked daily, and patiently waiting. At the end of that time I strained the mixture, and then pressed the mushrooms through cheesecloth into the rum, increasing the concentration. I poured the simple extract into a dropper-top two ounce bottle, and started to play with it.
I found to my surprise that just a few drops of the psilocybin rum imparted a slight yet noticeable bump up in awareness and sense of spaciousness. I never got high on the extract, only a bit brighter, and came to refer to the mushroom rum as “mental Windex.” I took that mixture on occasion for many years, sometimes several days at a time. I had no particular program or protocol, just mushroom extract in a dropper bottle that I self-administered in very small amounts, usually 2-4 drops. It worked like a brightening setting for an electronic screen.
At the time I did not know that not only would tripping on LSD, mushrooms, peyote, huachuma and more would become more much more interesting to a broader range of people, but that microdosing would become vastly popular, thanks in no small part to James Fadiman, who many refer to as the “father” of microdosing. For a few years now popular media has been all abuzz about microdosing, with mushrooms and acid leading the charge. It takes just a tiny pinch of psychedelic, one day on and two days off if you follow Fadiman’s protocol. Many people who microdose claim significant improvements in mood, concentration, focus and overall awareness. Microdosing is the darling of many in high tech, and reports of resulting improved efficiency and creativity abound. With LSD the suggested microdose lies between 6 – 20 micrograms, a modest amount. When I followed the standard microdosing protocol for acid, I found it a bit wanting. But I am well aware that many people follow the same protocol and report positive changes in their lives.
If you are familiar with London, you know that on the Tube there is often a sign on the ground of the train platform that says “mind the gap.” I’d like to suggest that we do the same with LSD. Between tripping hard on a couple of hundred micrograms of acid and rolling along on a tiny fraction of that amount, there lies a vast dosing territory ripe for more considerate exploration. It is within that middle distance, or the gap, between powerful tripping doses of psychedelics and the slight bump up offered by microdosing that we encounter medidosing, the middle way. I personally believe that medidosing is a land of untold riches.
Over the past couple of years I have worked with a fairly loose protocol, approximately 25 – 40 micrograms of LSD daily for 60 to 90 days at a time. This has opened up an entirely other way to experience the brilliant elevating properties of LSD, one that I have found refreshing and energizing. It is of particular interest to me that while LSD initially gained traction in the 1960’s when consumed in doses ranging from 100 micrograms to several hundred, and microdosing now has many adherents, the vast middle zone has received far less attention. But perhaps we had a glimpse of this potential with the original Delysid, the LSD made by Sandoz, which came in 25 microgram tablets. In the pamphlet that accompanied the product, the drug maker recommended increments of the 25 micrograms up to a whopping 400 “until the optimum reaction is obtained.”
Many desired effects of LSD are in fact right under our noses, available at about 25 – 40 micrograms per day. This is not sufficient enough to go reeling out into the tremendum, but it is enough to induce a steady general flow state, the holy grail of alertness and mental and physical performance. That’s a big claim, but then LSD is a big change agent.
Simply put, flow state is an optimal state of consciousness in which all factors of attention, sensory acuity, performance and wellbeing come together. One moves forward with purpose, with an easy ability to summon strength, energy, endurance, stamina, concentration and clarity of thought. Like most things, flow state has range, from moderate to extreme.
I recall firewalking in the South Pacific with my native friends, in massive pits of burning timber and red-hot stones. As soon as I surrendered to the fire and stepped in, I was in an exquisite and radical flow, extremely heightened in every way, and moved by an adamantine purpose to walk to the other end over 30 feet away from where I first stepped into the fire pit. It was as though I was in a strong current, with all unimportant factors dissolved and dropped away, and only a single-minded trajectory. Firewalking left me with an enhanced sharpness of mind and robust energy that lasted typically for a month or longer. It may be an extreme example, but there are some similarities between those times firewalking and medidosing, a similar sense of longer lasting sharpness and energy.
Here is what I have noticed through medidosing LSD.
- Greater sensory acuity all around
- A global sense of enhanced spaciousness of self
- More careful attention to all forms of communication
- Reduced pain, in my case pain due to old spinal injuries
- An improved ability to concentrate on whatever is the task at hand
- A greater abiding sense of interconnectedness with all things and all beings
- Naturally greater empathy
- More appreciation for the many blessings and privileges in my life
- An enhanced sense of purpose to work in way that enhances the lives of others
- A general improved happiness
- A general improved sense of overall equilibrium
As the saying goes, your results may vary. Last year I brought some LSD spray calibrated to about 41 mcg per spritz, on a hiking trip in the high desert. Every day my friend and I spritzed and then headed out for a day of somewhat rugged hiking. The acid not only sharpened our senses, but enabled us to push on in hard situations. It was an excellent companion. At no time did the LSD hamper our coordination or perception.
If tripping full-on thanks to a couple hundred micrograms of acid is an occasional and fully immersive engagement, medidosing is or can be an appreciably more modest yet robustly beneficial daily activity. Recently I mentioned to my wife Zoe that I feel just a little happier with a bit of acid in me, and she laughed and said, “You should write about that.”
It is entirely possible that medidosing may be the most widely valuable application of LSD. Not everybody wants to trip balls to the wall. Medidosing doesn’t require a seat belt or a minder, and doesn’t distort perception. You don’t need to sit in a clinic with eye shades while being asked questions about your experience. You simply flow along, engaged and alert, expanded and curiously content. I have been greatly productive while medidosing.
This same approach of medidosing is applicable to psilocybe mushrooms, which I have tried several times. I know that it applies to medidosing just a small sip of ayahuasca, which I have also done on several occasions. A good slug of concentrated huachuma also offers a similar sharpness and vivid sense of perception.
In this current time of expanded psychedelic interest, it is more important than ever to have at our disposal excellent quality materials, whatever they may be. In the case of LSD, there are some very fine makers. It’s a matter of having the connections to get the right material, and to properly calibrate dose. For many this is not easy, but we know from various surveys that more people are trying LSD, and that indicates increased supply.
When I began medidosing LSD, I cut blotters into smaller squares according to their purported concentration, trying amounts between 15 – 60 micrograms. The former seemed just a touch too little, and the latter a bit too much for regular daily consumption. The acid took about half an hour to notice, and I found the modest effects consistently pleasing. After trying that for a while I switched over to liquid LSD. A few drops of LSD diluted in ginseng extract and titrated to specific potency in hot coffee or tea brought on the same effects within ten minutes. By this method I experience no perceptual distortion, no reduced neuromuscular coordination, no visuals of any sort, just a generalized elevation and a sense of tapping into a current of abundant life energy, the flow.
It will take many people medidosing consistently and reporting the results to more fully sort out the general benefits of consuming doses of LSD between 25 – 40 micrograms daily for extended periods. As an individual psychonaut, I cannot claim to represent the majority either in my biology or psychology. But I can say that such a course holds great promise and deserves more attention.
LSD is a fabulous change agent, the most potent psychedelic known, with a tremendous capacity to help people to change their lives for the better. I’d love to see 25 mcg LSD tablets widely available. They would be a huge hit. We know that acid heals, that it reveals the essential self in a more full and expansive way, and that a growing number of people have found hope and inspiration and greater balance in life through this remarkable psychedelic. And while tripping out may be too much and microdosing may be too little for some, medidosing could be the path many have sought, an entry to flow state, the precious Middle Way.