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Psilocybin and Interconnectedness: Understanding ‘Oceanic Boundlessness’ in Psychedelics

December 28, 2023

Magic mushrooms can teach us a valuable lesson about our support systems, making us feel less alone

Written By Jennifer Chesak, Psychedelic POV Contributor

We all need a little oceanic boundlessness in our lives in 2024. If you’re opening your favorite travel app to book a cruise or a beach vacation right now, that’s not what I mean.

“Oceanic boundlessness” is a term to describe feeling at one with the world as whole, as if you’re part of something greater than yourself. It’s a feeling many experience while on psilocybin.[1] And after a macrodose, the lasting effects of oceanic boundlessness can have profound benefits for well-being.

Oceanic boundlessness showed up for me during my psilocybin journey. I felt as though threads of light were connecting me to everyone I know and love and who I know loves and cares for me. Their love for me surged my way—almost as if along an electrical current. And I sent my love to all of them while visualizing their locations as points on a map. Their love cradled and buoyed me, as if they were holding space for my unfolding experience and championing me on. The best part: the feeling has been lasting.

“Oceanic feeling” is a philosophical term coined by Romain Rolland, a French mystic, in a letter to Sigmund Freud nearly 100 years ago. This term encompasses the concept of having no bounds, or boundaries, between self and other or the world at large. It’s a sense of universal interconnectedness. This oceanic feeling, Freud suggested, is present when we’re young, before we develop our identity or ego. But as we become more preoccupied with sense of self while growing into adults, we lose that sensation.

So how do we get back to oceanic boundlessness, and why is it beneficial? Psilocybin, and some other psychedelics, can facilitate oceanic boundlessness through another concept called “ego death” or “ego dissolution.” We have a network of brain regions that work together to form our sense of self. This network is called the default mode network, and when we’re on a psychedelic, some parts of the DMN that normally connect will temporarily disconnect, while other parts that don’t normally connect will connect. As a result, we may experience elements of ego death, where our sense of self becomes less of a focus. Therefore those boundaries between self and other, or the rest of the world, dissolve. Hence, oceanic boundlessness.

Who makes up your support system? Right now you’re probably thinking of various friends and family members. You generally know you can call or text this person or that person if you’re having a bad day. But have you ever really “felt” that support system—felt it in your body?

That’s what I experienced on psilocybin. I could feel the tenderness that one of my oldest friends Mark has for me—and I for him. I could feel the unbreakable bond my friend Sara and I have. I could feel the entirety of my relationship with my husband. I felt these sensations in my every cell—and I’m still feeling them.

Oceanic boundlessness gives you the profound knowledge that, no matter how alone you might feel during certain life challenges, you are never truly alone. And that has made all the difference in my life going forward.

In 2018, my mom was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. And in 2019, she was diagnosed with a different cancer. Although my mom is doing well now, these cancer diagnoses, the fact that both my parents are in the last stretch of their lives, and the process of helping to manage their care have all given me a lot of anxiety. We all lose our parents eventually, but knowing that these losses are a fact of life did nothing to resolve my distress. When we’re going through these difficult times, often in middle age, we tend to feel alone and isolate ourselves in our worries. But that doesn’t help us. What does help is tapping into our support systems—but how often do we do that?

I embarked on my first therapeutic psilocybin journey in 2022. Now, I no longer feel isolated by what I’m going through; instead, I feel more connected than ever. I joke that the mushroom acted as the Kool-Aid Man from those ’70s and ’80s commercials, crashing through the walls I’ve carefully built around myself and my feelings. These walls weren’t protecting me; they were isolating me. The walls have come down, and I’m not afraid to show others when I’m not OK or when I’m struggling with something.

Now I get to walk through this world knowing that my support system is always there. The remarkable people who make up this support system aren’t an invisible safety net to catch me when I fall; rather they forge a foundation holding me up in this life. Plus, I know that I’m part of others’ support systems—returning the love, the empathy, and the I’ve-got-your-back mentality. Both feeling my own support system and feeling that I’m a base reinforcing others has dramatically reduced my anxiety.

In 2024, I challenge you to make a list of your support people and how they make you feel less alone. Make a list of whose backs you have too. Lean into this interconnectedness and know that you are not alone as you walk through this new year and beyond. Oceanic boundlessness can be unlocked for you, too. You just have to be willing to knock down your walls. If you’re having trouble doing the brick breaking, psilocybin may be able to help.

[1] Griffiths RR, et al. “Mystical-type experiences occasioned by psilocybin mediate the attribution of personal meaning and spiritual significance 14 months later.” J Psychopharmacol. 2008 Aug; 22(6): 621–632,

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