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A 2011 study also found that more than a year after participants had a single psilocybin experience, their self-reported measures of openness remained significantly elevated, which researches in this study and beyond attribute to a somewhat mysterious but powerful aspect of a mushroom trip: the mystical experience.
In this case, a mystical experience is defined as “feelings of unity and interconnectedness with all people and things, a sense of sacredness, feelings of peace and joy, a sense of transcending normal time and space, ineffability, and an intuitive belief that the experience is a source of objective truth about the nature of reality.” The religious identification of people who have reported having a mystical-type experience during a mushroom trip span the spectrum, but interestingly the profundity of such experiences don’t seem to correlate to religious belief—even atheists have reported the importance of their psilocybin-induced mystical experiences. Additionally, research has shown that the more intense the mystical experience, the greater the positive, long-term changes a person sees.
These subjective effects, such as feelings of interconnectedness, are likely a result of psilocybin’s ability to decrease the interconnectivity of integration hubs in the brain. In plain speak, that means psilocybin allows for more “cross-talk” between regions of the brain that are typically segregated. Researchers speculate that this enables a state of “unconstrained cognition,” meaning the ways we typically organize, categorize, and differentiate the aspects of conscious experience are broken down, and thinking becomes more flexible. To understand how this might be beneficial, it helps to know that similar brain activity patterns are also observed during various states of meditation.
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