“One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter.”
Alice approaches a Mushroom that’s bigger than she is. After walking all around and looking underneath and every other which way, she finally decides to look on top of the Mushroom to see what is there. We all know what she finds atop the cushy cap, don't we?
The Caterpillar offers her advice about how to properly use this magical mycelium that’s moonlighting as his laid-back lounge: “One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter.”
Yes, the basic guidance is spot on, however, the details, such as how much should one consume and how much growing or shrinking will take place? Well, it’s all relative, and probably unpredictable as we can safely assume here in Wonderland. But despite the ridiculousness, this is a serious matter, you know. Because too much in either direction and you’ve booked yourself swift passage from Wonderland and into another (d)rea(m)ality that’s likely not so fairy-tale in nature.
Those Mushrooms are amazing; some of them are incredibly medicinal, some will take you right out of your mind, and some will take you right out of your body, so before you take so much as a nibble, ponder for a moment what sort of Mushroom it is you have in front of you. [I am, of course, speaking of more metaphorical mushrooms. Don't pop anything into your mouth from the mushroom realms you aren't 100% certain about.]
You have in front of you some very special resources. They can make you larger (emotionally, energetically, socially . . . it all depends upon your query), or they can make you shrink a size or two. And which direction would you like to go? Well, that is something to really get a grip on before you start snacking on a size-shifting substance.
It seems most important to be mindful about what direction you want to grow, and then, plot out your plan of action.
If you are considering taking on something that may have dire consequences for you, the following meditation may be a good companion for your decision-making journey:
Meditation #1: Take it slowly. This is a time not for baby steps, but for micro-baby steps. First do a scan of your mind, body and feelings to get a gauge of where you are at now. Then, imagine allowing in a little of that which you are considering opening up to, and really take the time to feel how your being is responding to it (your body is great at sending signals in response to emotional, energetic, mental, spiritual and physical input). If you feel contractions in your body (the area of the belly, the heart and the head are common places we get strong messages), contemplate whether this is just a fear that needs to be overcome, or whether this is genuine wisdom that should be heeded. If you are feeling an expansive or light feeling, this could be a sign of stepping further into this experience. If you are feeling this lightness or if your wisdom tells you to push a little further into the contraction to see if it is real, imagine taking another micro step and do another scan. Continue this process until you have come to a clear answer about whether moving in this direction is best for you or not.
The Mushroom is a very special sort of life form. Though it can feed us, and offer us medicine, it is only one link in the food chain away from, well, how can I put it pleasantly? It thrives on our waste. In this sense, The Mushroom serves as a reminder of the CYCLE of life, especially the renewal phase of that which has passed and yet lives on in a new form. Mushrooms and their other fungal relatives, assure that every living thing that passes on is transformed into something amazing, vital and in service to the complex system of Mother Nature herself.
So, my friend, The Mushroom has grown in a place where shi(f)t happened, and is here to help you figure out how to see the shi(f)t as a blessing. The Mushroom may not be here for your personal consumption; taking the wrong medicine in this reality has much harsher consequences than in Alice’s dreamy Wonderland. The biggest gift of The Mushroom is its teaching of turning shi(f)t into that which nourishes your life, and how that nourishment is received is up to your wisdom. Take it slowly and sit with it so that you do the right thing for yourself. The following meditation may help with this.
Meditation #2: With eyes closed, in a quiet and comfortable setting, allow yourself to relax and focus on a challenge that has come your way. Notice how the mind tends to label it as negative or unpleasant. With the message and wisdom of The Mushroom, imagine that this challenge is actually here as some sort of gift. It may take some time to see what exactly the gift is, so give yourself that time, but until the wisdom emerges, continually let go of any negative labels you have placed on your circumstances. Continually re-focus your mind on accepting what is in your life as an opportunity, a blessing, a shining treasure chest waiting to be opened. Keep up this practice until you are able to find the hidden treasure inside the shi(f)t. Journaling about your thoughts and ideas after each meditation can also be very helpful.
Use meditation #1 to decide which medicinal mushroom is best for you.
Some examples: Maitake, Reishi, Shiitake, Cordyceps, Lions Mane . . .
After choosing a mushroom that feels best for you (consulting with a nutritional expert is also wise), make a tea following the directions (it is the heating of the tea that allows the benefits of the mushroom to be integrated).
Avoid any other ingredients, such as sweeteners, until you have really connected with the taste of your mushroom.
Illustration by Callie Johnson - high school artist