Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Carlos Santana, The Beatles and Jean-Paul Sartre. More and more artists, professors and inspiring leaders discover the influence of psychedelics on their work. Multiple studies show a relation between psychedelics and creativity. You may have heard about the different types of fungi that create the substance psilocybin? The common assumption is that there’s a link between the use of those fungi and creativity. These assumptions stretch out to microdosing. However, to what extent is this the truth? Let’s find out, shall we?
The Hidden Secrets of the Creative Mind
Creativity could be called a mysterious and abstract concept. Creativity (kriːeɪˈtɪvɪti) is defined as “the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.” In other words, creativity is defined as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others. This definition makes me think of a child’s mind that is still free of norms and frameworks; inventive, imaginative and fruitful.
“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” – Quote by Pablo Picasso
The Journey of Laura
Numerous testimonies can be found of microdosers and the positive effect of microdosing on their creativity. These experiences create clear indications that a connection between microdosing and creativity exists. The following microdosing experience from Laura (27 years old) is an example of the experienced feeling of creativity when microdosing.
“I live in Amsterdam. I like to soak up life as much as possible. As an entrepreneur, gastronomer and bon vivant, life can be full, intense and overwhelming sometimes. During therapy sessions, the experiences with truffles were mentioned as a possible alternative when therapy would end. Although I am a drug virgin (never even smoked a joint), I was excited to give microdosing a try. Since I never used hallucinogens before, I had no expectations. And so my microdosing journey began.”
“The first day, I started very carefully. Most people start with approx. 1 gram, I started with 0.3 grams. Once I tried 1.8 grams; that was too much. I discovered my sweet spot at 1.6 grams. I take it every other day, along with Lion’s Mane mixed in my herbal tea or decaf coffee. Before I microdose I first meditate, after that I exercise and then I take a protein smoothie and chew on the truffles. I can certainly confirm the things that were said to me what will happen happened.”
“Do you also think winter months are tough (except the joyful month of December of course)? I can truly say microdosing got me through these dark days. My serotonin levels elevated and my mood enhanced. I felt more energized. And I noticed it also made me more creative. I’ts like a reset and detox for my body. It almost feels like ‘everything is energy’, you literally just radiate. I call it ‘high on life’. I was surprised by my own resilience. What an enriched experience!”
Scientia Potentia Est
The title of this paragraph is Latin for ‘Knowledge is Power’. You might be thinking now “But how can you ever measure creativity?” Quantifying creativity might seem impossible. Nevertheless, you can estimate on a scale from 0 to 10 how creative you feel. Just out of curiosity, what would your answer be in this moment? I guess I would claim a steady average of 7 or 8, since you might say creativity is part of my personality. Back to measuring creativity: various microdosing experts by experience have made strong claims about how microdosing greatly enhanced their creativity. This increase in creativity is not surprising when you look at the possible effects of microdosing listed:
- Upgraded flow states
- Higher energy levels
- Enriched productivity/focus
- Improved relationships/increased empathy
- Athletic coordination and performance
- Improved sleep
- Leadership development
This list, mentioned in our Microdosing Manual, includes effects that are very credibly connected to creativity. No doubt, I can imagine you’re not much of a creator if you hadn’t much sleep. Having improved sleep or being able to focus better are examples of effects that could support a creative process. You need cognitive flexibility and free association to be able to think divergently. Creative thinking also involves an integration of past learning to produce and organize new ideas. Let’s say, I ask you to describe your favourite holiday to me? What would you say? Think about that for a minute.
“Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative place where no one else has ever been.” – Quote by Alan Alda
And? Would you consider the story you made up to be creative or not? Is the destination you mentioned an existing place or does it only exist in your mind. Remember what I said about a child’s mind? To what extent was your story free of norms and frameworks? Was your description inventive, imaginative and fruitful?
Creativity and Microdosing
Creativity arises in a spontaneous way, as unexpected connections in cognitive processes. Divergent thinking helps us to be inventive, use scenario thinking to come up with several ideas. Convergent thinking helps us to be persistent and definitive about the creative decisions we make. In other words: it helps make the creative process more concrete.
The following microdosing experience from Laura, about whom you read before, demonstrates this process:
“What made the most impact through my journey was the infectiousness of my energy. I genuinely experienced freedom in my body supported by natural means. The impact of it felt bigger than only my body. It makes you feel close to nature. Moreover, I noticed I was more creative during microdosing. Sometimes I can feel uninspired on the supreme moments, not getting things done when I need to. When microdosing I was able to finish the website in no time. Through your journey you begin thinking in business plans, actions, you go into the true entrepreneurial spirit. What I loved about this was taking people into my energy, so they can enjoy my creativity as well. In conclusion, I absolutely believe it made me feel more creative!”
What academics say
To dive into the relation between microdosing and creativity specifically, we looked at the rare selection of studies about this. The researchers of these studies have defined creativity deconstructing it into measurable concepts: divergent and convergent thinking.
Luisa Prochazkova et al. (2018) published a study in the Psychopharmacology journal investigating the effects of microdosing on creativity. The researchers measured an increase in the ability to use divergent thinking while microdosing. The same was true for convergent thinking, as the number of correct responses was significantly higher after the microdose. This study provides quantitative support for the cognitive-enhancing properties of microdosing psychedelics. Based on this research, the researches speculate that psychedelics might affect cognitive metacontrol policies by optimizing the balance between cognitive persistence and flexibility.
One of the ingredients of truffles is psilocybin. That substance is converted by the digestive system into psilocin, a hallucinogen which stimulates our brain. In April 2021 a new study into psilocybin and creativity appeared. The scientific journal “Nature” published a study from Maastricht University, showing once again that psilocybin might enhance creative thinking. These findings support previous claims that psychedelics have the ability to reduce conventional, logical thinking and stimulate the emergence of new thoughts. This study seems to suggest that microdoses of psilocybin can reduce acute convergent thinking and increase spontaneous divergent thinking.
In conclusion, microdosing does enhance divergent thinking and thus creativity, and convergent thinking which helps give shape to our creative outputs.
Ready to evolve your creativity?
Future research has to confirm discussed preliminary findings in more rigorous placebo-controlled study designs. We believe that what is discovered up till now is only the tip of the iceberg. A lot of knowledge is still a mystery. Until more is discovered and revealed, trust your intuition. Go on your own journey. Experiment with the effects of microdosing on your unique mind and body. Ready to evolve your creativity?