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Music for a Psychedelic Journey - The Johns Hopkins playlist

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Music for a Psychedelic Journey - The Johns Hopkins playlist

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” – Aldous Huxley

They say music is the food of love.   If that’s the case, psychedelics are the seasoning.  The combination of a psychedelic journey with carefully selected music can be an absolutely transcendental experience, as if the two weren’t transcendental enough on their own.

Now, I know the purists out there are reading this and shaking their heads, saying, “5 dried grams in silent darkness or nothing!”

Absolutely, journeying in silence (especially in the dark) is a WILD experience, one that opens some deep passageways into the infinitely unfolding majesty of the psychedelic landscape.  And sometimes that’s what’s needed in that moment.  Other times, it’s music..  

Music is frequency.  Frequency is vibration.  Vibration is creation.  Music is indisputable evidence that the divine is alive within all of us, and it has the power to help us remember that often forgotten fact.

When accompanied with the right intention, set, setting, and dose, music has the power to:

  • Uplift the spirit
  • Help stir and release stuck emotions
  • Create a sense of external support or presence (if you're journeying without a guide)

What’s the best music to listen to?

There may be no question in the world more subjective than this one, whether you’re finally going to eat those mushrooms tonight or not. I'll share my favorites in an upcoming blog, but let's first see what the professionals think is the best music to guide an experience with plant medicine.

Psychologist Bill Richards, Ph.D, a researcher at Roland Griffith’s lab at Johns Hopkins University and an expert in the field of hallucinogens, recently released a Spotify playlist that he says is an optimal listening experience when diving in for a psychedelic journey.  

His playlist, a beautifully arced journey of weaving organic textures ranging from classical, to world music, to feel-good singalongs, was crafted after many years of holding space for psychedelic research at Johns Hopkins with psilocybin (magic mushrooms).  Richards understands that creating a comfortable environment for psychedelic therapy is paramount to a positive experience, and music is one of the most essential requirements.

Below is the exact playlist Dr. Richards uses with his patients, but he honors that the music doesn’t define the trip, but rather, it gives the shape and texture to the space in which the receiver’s trip will unfold.  

“My preference is not to use either the word ‘augmenting’ or ‘the psychedelic experience.’ Profound states of consciousness can occur in silence, and there are many discrete states of awareness that can make up a particular ‘psychedelic experience’ (or series of ‘experiences’). With adequate dosage, I do not feel that the music ‘causes’ particular experiences; rather, it supports and undergirds the experiential flow, as content is emerging for the particular person.”

And now, the Johns Hopkins University Playlist:

Coming in at 6 hours long, Richard’s playlist is one you can set and forget. The music walks with you all the way.  He points out that a good playlist should follow the natural energetic and emotional arch that is commonly the experience with psychedelics.

“At a trip’s peak, music becomes a mirror of transcendental forms of consciousness that may not even be registered in unitive awareness, but is present if needed - like a net below a trapeze artist,” Richards says.

A majority of the music on the playlist is instrumental, which Richards explains,

“Except in the final phase, I tend to avoid music with words in the language of the volunteer so as to discourage the rational mind from following the content of the words,” Richards says. “The human voice, as a solo or choir, can be very supportive, even maternal, but it is received as ‘another instrument of the orchestra.’”

May the medicine of sweet music serve you well on your journey! Stay tuned for more playlists to support your healing.  

If you're interested in exploring psychedelics in a safe, legal, and therapeutic setting, we'd love to talk to you about joining one of our upcoming retreats.


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