Should I Look In The Mirror During A Psychedelic Trip?

Is it OK to look in a mirror during a psychedelic experience?

Should You Look In The Mirror During a Psychedelic Experience?

Alexandre Porto – Oct 4, 2020·9 min read

looking at mirror psychedelics
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In my opinion, staring at your own face in the mirror during a psychedelic experience can trigger a powerful inner journey.

The face that I hold in my mind — my own face — when I think of how I look is not as accurate as reality is, and the mirror reveals it all.

It seems to me like the brain is programmed to show us how we want to see ourselves or in ways to benefit survival and reproduction.

LSD, Psilocybe, Mescaline, and many other sacred molecules can interface with the human spirit and many times reveals what we unknowingly ignore.

For some psychedelic adventurers the “mirror trip” can be uncomfortable and challenging.

It can highlight the unshaken feeling of the strangeness of being ourselves, but this strangeness is supposed to be the norm, seeing that the real world is an extremely strange place.

If you see reality as normal, you are looking at it in the wrong way.

self knowledge with psychedelics
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Looking In The Mirror

A person’s experience of reality is constituted by their senses and especially by their vision.

Vision is mediated through the lens of the eye which projects an image onto a light-sensitive membrane in the back of the eye upon which photons (particles that produce sensation when they impact) are reflected.

The reflection causes nerves to fire along neural pathways to specific areas within the brain where information about what we see is interpreted as sight.

To view the mirror during a psychedelic experience is:

To see an image of yourself on a light-sensitive membrane in the back of your eye which causes nerves to fire along neural pathways to specific areas within your brain where information about what you see is interpreted as sight.

Looking at the mirror during a trip would be no different than viewing anything else and so it seems that there should be no objection to a mirror trip.

That said, the experience of reality is not limited to what you see through your physical eyes. 

Reality is a very complex system and can often be experienced in ways that are difficult if not impossible to describe using language.

For example, one can have an experience in which they feel as though the world is made entirely out of love.

The person will be able to see this and describe it using language but trying to convey exactly what it feels like with words alone would be impossible.

In this sense, the person would be having an experience outside of their sensory perception of reality as it is mediated through vision. 

Instead, they are experiencing a sort of inner world that can only be described in metaphorical terms.

This is a common phenomenon that occurs when one uses psychedelics.

The human mind possesses the ability to experience reality in ways beyond what we call normal consciousness, which can be described as both a limitation and an enhancement of our perception.

When You Stare Into The Abyss…

Mirrors seem rather strange at first glance.

A reflection in a mirror seems like an image somehow projected out from one’s physical body and into another dimension, yet we accept this phenomenon as normal. 

We are used to seeing ourselves in mirrors but when we try to imagine how it looks from outside our perspective things get weird.

psychedelics mirror
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I think the reason mirrors are strange is because they give us an insight into our cognitive processes.

When we look at a mirror, it seems like another person is staring back out from within ourselves.

This has been interpreted as meaning that humans have some kind of individual essence or soul inside themselves which can be observed by looking in a mirror.

I don’t think this view makes much sense though.

If you look in a mirror, you see a reflection of your body.

You recognize this as yourself because you have an understanding of the function and structure of human bodies.

Your brain can make sense of what it sees by relating it to concepts like ‘arms’, ‘legs’, and ‘head’ which are already stored in its memory banks.

The brain can use this information to create a model of the person in the mirror, and then attribute that image with a sense of identity.

It’s not so strange when you think about it.

If you saw an identical-looking dog instead of yourself, your brain would be equally capable of creating a concept for that animal based on what it sees.

The same cannot be said of a mirror.

A mirror doesn’t have an identity.

So there is nothing for your brain to identify with when it looks at itself in the mirror.

If you try to imagine looking into a mirror but not recognizing yourself, it seems like something would be missing from the image that we usually see.

This is why people describe seeing themselves in the mirror as an eerie experience.

It’s not so much that mirrors are strange, but rather that our brains are trying to make sense of what they see by relating it to something familiar.

During The Trip

LSD trip mirror
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In an ordinary state of consciousness, we’re used to our body being a stable structure that doesn’t change much over time. We can feel it and touch it as something real and unchangeable as a rock.

This is why when you look at yourself in the mirror during a psychedelic trip, it’s strange because of your sense of reality changes.

You are no longer just looking at some image in the mirror, but part of that world as well.

It becomes more difficult to distinguish what is ‘you’ (your ego) from everything else around you.

The mirror is part of the context that you are used to seeing yourself in from an ordinary state. However, when this becomes altered during a psychedelic trip, it changes how you see your body and who ‘you’ really are.

The sense of self-preservation also disappears, because now you’re not just looking at an image anymore — now you’re present within that reality.

Drugs like LSD change your state of consciousness. When you’re in an ordinary state, it’s very difficult to imagine what this is really like from the inside — we only know our conscious states from the outside.

This is a very interesting subject for me.

I find it fascinating that psychedelic drugs can change the way you see the world, and make things so much more beautiful than they are in an ordinary state of consciousness.

I have heard that psychedelics can sometimes make people feel like they are no longer human, and are living in some sort of an animalistic state.

But I don’t think this is really true, because you still have a sense of self (even though it changes), and you’re not acting on any instinctual impulses — at least not ones related to survival.

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So this is why looking at yourself in the mirror during a psychedelic trip is strange — because you’re no longer just looking at an object (your body), but rather you are looking at a part of that world.

In the Voice of The Adventurous

We have a number of cognitive biases that influence the way we see ourselves and the world.

We feel like we are completely in control, yet this is an illusion.

Our sense of self can be described as a narrative or story that we tell ourselves to make sense of our experiences.

In reality, these stories change over time as new information comes in, so they aren’t really accurate descriptions of what’s going on around us.

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We can see this happening in many aspects of our lives, including self-image.

We have a narrative about ourselves — what we are like, who we are, what we do, and don’t like doing, etc.

Our sense of identity and who we identify with is strongly influenced by how others view us.

The sense of self is also based on internal narratives and stories we tell ourselves.

This creates a filter that makes it hard to see the world outside of our own perspective, or even clearly recognize what’s going on around us.

This is why psychedelics are so powerful.

By enhancing our perception of the world and shifting our sense of self, they make it easier to see through this filter we construct for ourselves.

This gives us a much better sense of what’s going on around us.

The sense of self may be a kind of simulation, running within our brains.

When we’re on psychedelics, this simulation becomes more vivid and easier to observe — like seeing what’s going on inside your computer when you run a software.

It’s also possible that we are just a part of something much bigger, and when we take psychedelics we become more unified with the whole.

We lose our sense of being separate from everything else.

To me, it’s clear that staring at your own reflection during a psychedelic trip can be an immensely meaningful experience.

The psychedelic will give you the context to understand reality without cognitive bias.

You are allowed to look around and study the environment without the tools that nature imposed on us to help with survival.

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You stare at the abyss and the abyss stares back.

When I look at myself without any kind of distortion I am shocked. My face does not look the way I am used to. Maybe is the drugs, or maybe I really look this weird.

As a matter of fact, everybody looks weird. Even when you are sober.

Psychedelics gives me a safe context to explore the world as it is, and not by what helps me survive.

Some adventurers are not ready — or simply not looking — for this kind of experience.

My personal experience dictates that if I am avoiding the experience this is most likely the experience that I need.

Don’t be scared, face yourself in the mirror.

Deconstruct your notion of how things look so you can rebuild your entire understanding of reality.

Do look at yourself in the mirror, especially during a psychedelic trip.