Though magic mushroom experiences can offer great lessons, it’s not the only life lessons mushrooms provide. Let us explain.
Some of you are probably curious and contemplating whether mushroom cultivation is worth the time and energy. Maybe you’ve even watched a couple of YouTube videos, scrolled around on Shroomery and decided mushroom cultivation is best left to the experts.
Well, we’re here to show you that mushroom cultivation is simple, easy, and not only gives you the skills to cultivate your own food and medicine. You can also apply those skills to myco-filtration (e.g. filtering water with mycelium) and myco-remediation (e.g. cleaning oil spills using mycelium), making you resilient in the face of global change!
At this very moment, the medicinal, gourmet and psychedelic mushroom industries are booming! Go check out our Shroom Boom article to explore the ridiculous amount of attention and money being thrown into the #shroomboom movement.
Soon, there will be a shortage of skilled people to accommodate this growing industry. Learning the grand mystery and synergy of art and science that is mushroom cultivation will definitely give you many applicable skills and career opportunities.
Yet we’re not here just to tout the benefits of the destination. The journey of learning mushroom cultivation is equally important. That’s because, as we’ve found ourselves, the life lessons mushrooms teach you along the way are just as powerful!
Put another way, grow mushrooms to grow yourself!
What kind of lessons are we talking about? In our experience, learning mushroom cultivation teaches you life lessons including:
1. Be clean
2. Think ahead
4. Be patient
Jasper will be your guide today, as he takes you on his own personal journey into how working with the wonderful creatures known as Mushrooms completely changed his life!
To work with mycelium, you have to understand that microorganisms surround us all the time! They’re in our hair, our breath, on our skin, they’re everywhere! But have no fear! Most of these microorganisms are actually beneficial for us. Yet they form a massive danger to the mycelial cultures we are working with.
A culture is an organism grown in isolation, free of any competition. Our goal is to keep it that way. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. Your sterile workflow is an essential part of the practice. This often includes meticulous preparation and an immaculate space.
When I started diving deep into the world of mushroom cultivation, I’d cultivate every day in the same space, making sure it was left spotless after all the sterile work was done for the day.
So, how did this help me in day-to-day life? Before, I didn’t stay on top of cleaning my room, the kitchen, etc. as much as perhaps I should.
Now, I treat the communal spaces and my personal area like the lab, which leads to a better flow in all my activities.
Think AheadEveryone has some experience where they rushed things and it came back to bite them. I can’t even count the number of times I rushed into a clean, still air laboratory for some culture work only to realize, moments later, that I forgot a tool. Or perhaps I planned to pressure cook grains on a Saturday and then Saturday rolled around and I realized I forgot to soak the grains the night prior because I was at a party Friday. These mistakes are not only common and annoying. They’re a huge waste of time and energy. But nowadays, these kinds of things don’t happen much anymore because I think ahead. Gone are the times when I leave the house without my keys or go to the cafe for work and forget my laptop, and it’s one of those life lessons mushrooms gifted me that make my life so much easier now!
Be in the Moment
When it comes to mushroom lab work, I immediately know when I’m not present with the work in front of me. Maybe I forget to sterilize my scalpel, accidentally pour too much agar in my petri dish, or knock something off my workspace. When I’m not dialed into the moment, I may even do all these things in a matter of minutes.
These mistakes are costly too, whether in lost time, energy, and/or resources.
But when I’m fully present and calm, mistakes rarely occur, and if they do, my learning process is much smoother. Being in the moment not only pays off in the work in front of me. It also gets me out of my head, which can lead to a calming sense of aliveness.
Mindfulness has been extensively studied and supports a range of positive effects including:
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”
Lao Tzu knew this. So does any experienced mushroom cultivator.
Patience is absolutely essential in mushroom cultivation. That means that impatience is, rather inevitably, the cause of a lot of screw ups!
Mycelium is fast, but not all mycelium is created equal and some cultures can take a while to start forming. In Radical Mycology, Peter McCoy tells a story of almost tossing out an Agarikon culture after two weeks. Then, he forgot about it for a week. A week later when he stumbled across it again, the culture was growing strong and fast!
Growing mushrooms on logs might be mushroom cultivation’s greatest test of patience. After inoculation, it can take more than a year for any fruits to start forming! But, when you have done everything correctly, remain patient, and trust the process, you will be enjoying homegrown mushrooms for years to come.
These examples show you how growing mushrooms teach you the vital life lesson of remaining patient. It also demonstrates how patience pays off. It pays off in connections. It pays off in investments. And cultivating patience in your day-to-day life pays off because it means you’re never in a rush.
If you are not in a hurry, you probably won’t be stressing about a train being late or some other trivial thing that’s out of your control. And that, my friends, is the zen of mushroom cultivation.
Understand Mistakes are EssentialAccording to one study, more than 40% of millennials struggle with Atychiphobia, the fear of failure. My story elucidates this. When I was 13, I was in music class. I was enraptured by the magnitude of the bass guitar. I really wanted to learn how to play it. After doing whatever a 13-year-old does on a bass guitar with no prior instruction for maybe two minutes, my teacher told me I wasn’t cut out for bass and I’d be better off going back to my seat to play the keyboard like everyone else. This one moment withheld me from ever trying to pick up any kind of string instrument. For me, the fear of failure had gotten to a point where I stopped learning new skills. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be good at them anyway. That was, until last year, when I finally started to learn how to play guitar. It’s been hard but it has also been one of the best decisions of my life! All because I wasn’t afraid to fail. Another one of those life lessons mushrooms provided that I’m not sure I would have gotten otherwise.
So, what does this have to do with mushroom cultivation?
Well, it’s inevitable that you will make mistakes when you are cultivating mushrooms. In many ways, a mushroom cultivator’s main job is to merely decrease the risk of contamination.
Contamination will inevitably happen and it will always feel like a slap in the face when a whole batch of substrate or plates go wrong.
But you always learn from it, too. If you stay consistent and understand that making mistakes is natural, slowly you will start to understand what steps in your process are causing the contamination. Your technique will improve, and slowly but surely, you will have more and more success.
When you have a practice in your life that prepares you for mistakes, it makes you resilient in facing your mistakes and adamant about not succumbing to them but instead, growing from them.
To me, this life lesson is and forever will be one of the most valuable life lessons mushrooms have ever taught me. It has made me resilient, solution orientated, and agile with change.