Sailing into the uncharted waters of the mind often presents unique challenges.
Whether we are new to psychedelics, or an experienced psychonaut, there is no denying that psychedelic journeys can be extremely difficult to navigate.
In the open ocean of expanded consciousness, we may be forced to confront unpleasant feelings of anxiety, discomfort, or fear. In some cases, psychedelics may cause us to feel like we are genuinely losing our sanity.
However, through following some simple guidelines and the 5 tips listed below, we can ensure safety, optimize outcomes, and avoid many of the most challenging experiences.
Reframing “bad” trips
First, it’s important to acknowledge that challenging psychedelic trips are not necessarily “bad” at all. Research shows that difficult trips often yield great rewards. A recent study out of Johns Hopkins found that 84% of the sample actually benefited from their most challenging psychedelic experience.
Difficult psychedelic experiences often include emotional breakthroughs, new insights, and feelings of empowerment. Facing challenging emotions can be tremendously healing. In this sense, “bad” trips are actually tremendous opportunities for healing and growth.
With that in mind, let’s look at 5 key tips for exploring psychedelics with safety and confidence.
1) Don’t Trip Alone
Having a trusted “trip sitter” present for your psychedelic journey is one of the most important factors for ensuring safety and positive outcomes. The presence of a trip sitter helps to ensure your physical safety, and prevent any dangerous behaviors while in altered states of consciousness.
If the experience does begin to feel frightening or overwhelming, the presence of a trip sitter can help to ground and calm us. They can help us work through any paranoid thinking, remind us to breathe through the experience, to trust in the process, and to know that the experience will soon pass.
A trip sitter should be a person who you trust deeply and feel safe around. Ideally they should be highly knowledgeable about psychedelics. While not everyone has access to a professional guide, a compassionate friend can also be hugely supportive, and is typically recommended over tripping in complete isolation.
2) Choose an appropriate setting
The location of your trip almost always has a massive impact on the subjective experience.
It’s always advisable to consume psychedelics in a space where you feel completely safe, and as physically comfortable as possible. This should also be a space where you have an appropriate amount of privacy, and will not be disturbed by anyone who is not participating in the experience.
Tripping in public, around strangers, or in a busy location significantly increases the likelihood of anxiety-inducing experiences.
For those looking to do deep healing work, tripping indoors where you can shut out the external world and focus inwardly is recommended. At the same time, it can be truly amazing to consume psychedelics in the great outdoors. This needs to be approached with caution, in a space which will afford the appropriate amount of safety and privacy.
3) Dose responsibly, start with a low dose
It’s important to approach dosing gradually. Dip your feet in the water and see how the experience feels at a low dose. Everyone has different sensitivities and responses to these substances, and by starting with a low dose, you can assess what is appropriate for you.
For psilocybin mushrooms, for example, this typically means starting between 2-3.5 grams of dried mushrooms. For LSD, this would mean taking no more than 100 micrograms.
Taking too high of a dose can result in extremely intense experiences, and increases the likelihood of a challenging or unpleasant experience.
It’s also always recommended that you assess the quality and potency of whatever substance you are consuming. This can be done through simple and affordable testing kits which you can buy online.
4) Timing is Key
Be strategic about when you are consuming psychedelics! If you have a busy schedule, filled with responsibilities and a lengthy to-do list, then it’s likely not be the best time to trip.
Look for openings in your schedule where you have plenty of free time to clear your mind, relax, and bring all your attention to the journey ahead.
Leading up to the experience, it’s important to be mindful of our mental and emotional state. If you’ve just had a big argument with your significant other, for example, and are feeling upset, then expect that to come up in your psychedelic experience. It may be wise to wait for a different day where you can enter the experience with a clear mind and a sense of being at ease.
Conversely, you may want to use psychedelics to confront these very conflicts. We should be clear about what issues or challenges we may want to work on in our lives- there is a good chance these topics will arise in the experience.
5) Practice meditation and relaxation techniques
Cultivating a meditation practice can totally transform the way we experience psychedelics.
Through all phases of the psychedelic experience- before, during, and after- meditation has a positive effect and improves outcomes.
Beforehand, meditation can help us cultivate self-awareness, and identify any key issues we may want to work on. This can better prepare us to face challenging emotions as they arise.
During the trip, meditation enables us to non-judgmentally observe the flow of the experience. Breathing and relaxation techniques are hugely important tools for helping us remain grounded, calm, and centered throughout the ups and downs.
Meditation also helps us to be open and trusting of the process. The more that we try to control the experience, the more difficult it often becomes. Conversely, the more we can open up and relax into the ups and downs, the more smoothly the trip will go.
After the trip has concluded, meditation is key for integration work. Simply being mindful and present helps us to better reflect on the experience and allow any new insights to sink more deeply into our system.
Anytime we consume a psychedelic, the potential is there to have an experience that feels overwhelming or unpleasant.
And yet, a challenging trip is not necessarily a bad trip whatsoever. Most psychonauts say that their difficult trips are the ones that reap the most enduring benefits for healing and growth.
The way that we approach these challenges can make all the difference between a traumatic experience, and one that is positively transformative.
Please schedule a 1-on-1 meeting with me here to learn more!