Mark Messier's six Stanley Cup wins are celebrated by hockey fans worldwide, but little is known about the transformative experience that shaped his path to greatness.
In an appearance on the "That's Hockey Talk" podcast in Dec 2022 with host Michael Rupp, Messier opened up about a pivotal moment during his teenage years. That moment had a profound influence on his journey to becoming one of the sport's most-iconic players.
While vacationing in Barbados at the age of 19, Messier and his friends decided to try something unconventional -- mushroom tea containing psilocybin, the active component in 'magic mushrooms'. Little did they know that this seemingly casual experience would have a lasting impact on Messier's life.
Mark Messier said:
"We went on a trip to Barbados, and we were staying at this little hostel ... it was called the boomer's guest house. Boomer was an amazing guy. And somebody mentioned that they were going out to pick some mushrooms ... they said, 'We're gonna go to this field, and we're gonna pick these mushrooms.'
"So we said ... 'let's go do that '... we filled our shirts up ... made this big pot of tea and mash it all up and got really thick and dark. And we all poured ourselves a cup of coffee. Basically, it was tea, and you know 1,000 times more than we needed."
This was back in 1980, a time when the potential therapeutic benefits of psilocybin were not widely known. Today, however, we understand that psilocybin has been used to treat various conditions, including addictions and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The mushroom tea experience opened Mark Messier's mind to the profound capabilities of the human psyche. It sparked a curiosity about the power of the mind and its potential to influence one's performance and well-being.
“So then I became interested in Eastern philosophy, meditation, Buddhism, the spirituality of Indigenous peoples. The power of the mind.”
Through introspection and contemplation, Messier realized that the mind's strength was a crucial factor. He said:
“It dawned on me that the mind is so incredibly powerful, and if it's that powerful ... What if I started thinking about it from a mental standpoint, started training myself mentally to withstand pressurized moments. And the light bulb came on for me ... I can be a better player if I can train my mind as much as my body.”
Mark Messier's book and his spiritual experience
In his book "No One Wins Alone," Mark Messier chronicles the profound effects of his psychedelic encounter, shedding light on how it shaped his perspectives on life and personal growth. During his conversation, he said,
“What I was really curious about going through the experience was, how crazy it was during the first hour or two before we settled in. And secondly, how spiritual of an experience it was and how emotional it was."
As Mark Messier's illustrious NHL career unfolded, his dedication to mental preparation became evident in his fierce determination on the ice and his inspiring leadership.