Preparing for a Psychedelic Experience? How to Create a Meaningful Trip

Jonas Rosen, LMSW

Jonas Rosen, LMSW

Founder & Psychedelic Consultant

Preparation increases the likelihood of profound and positive psychedelic experiences.

Whether we’re exploring psilocybin, LSD, DMT, or any other substance, preparation is an important part of the experience.

Occasionally, we may come to the psychedelic experience in a spontaneous and unexpected way- and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, for deep healing and more profound journeys, it’s generally important that we approach these substances in an intentional way.

By considering the set, setting, substance, dose, intentions, people, activities, music, etc…we can “set the stage” for the psychedelic to better work its magic.

But how exactly do we do that? This article aims to provide some general guidelines for how to best prepare for your psychedelic experience- in the weeks, days, and hours ahead.

In the Weeks Ahead

Consider your intentions and interests- why are you curious about investigating this experience? Are you looking for a healing experience, creative breakthroughs, spiritual insights, or something else entirely?

Different substances are better suited for different avenues of exploration. For example, in the treatment of depression, psilocybin mushrooms are often ideal. In the treatment of PTSD, research shows that MDMA (which is not a classic psychedelic) is often the most effective tool. Others who are looking to explore the mind and consciousness may be more drawn to DMT.

All this is to say that we need to research and do our homework when it comes to choosing a substance, and determining the appropriate dosage.

In the weeks ahead, it’s important to reflect on any issues of conflicts in your life. These issues, habits, or patterns may arise in the psychedelic experience, which is often a good thing- facing these challenges head-on is the starting point for healing and growth.

Feed your mind with positive inputs and perspectives. Explore the advice of psychedelic veterans such as Stanislav Grof, Terence McKenna, Tim Leary, Ram Dass, and others. Explore spiritual wisdom teachings from various traditions around the world.

Additionally, we strongly recommended cultivating a daily meditation practice. Meditation is an enormously important tool for navigating the psychedelic experience, creating smoother and more profound trips. Practicing meditation, gratitude, and other self-improvement techniques is how we optimize the “set” or mindset that we bring to the experience.

Another important detail to consider is whether or not you’re currently taking any prescription medications. In some cases, it is advisable to titrate or wean off your prescription medications. These can have an effect on the experience, and may actually pose health risks. Always consult your psychiatrist and/or mental health professional before doing so.

In the Days Ahead

In the days ahead of the experience, it’s time to determine the best location for the experience to unfold. Will you be out in nature, or indoors in a place that is safe and secure? Either way, it’s important to find a space where you feel completely secure, safe, and comfortable. It’s advisable to find a place that allows some privacy from anyone who isn’t participating in the journey.

Additionally, find a trip sitter to accompany you. This is a huge part of ensuring safe and beneficial experiences. The trip sitter can help you feel supported and grounded while exploring altered states of consciousness. This promotes a better experience for everyone involved. Ideally, the trip sitter should be highly trustworthy and experienced, and willing to accompany you for the entire duration of the psychedelic trip. If you don’t know such a person, we recommend finding a trusted friend or family member to accompany you on the trip.

Determine your dose. It’s always advisable to start your exploration with lower doses, assess your sensitivity, and gradually work your way up over successive experiences. Typically for psilocybin mushrooms, 2-3.5 dried grams is a good introductory dose. For LSD, 100 micrograms is typically appropriate to begin with.

Re-visit your intentions behind the experience and continue to practice meditation, self-reflection, and cultivating awareness of your inner world.

A vial of LSD

In the Hours Ahead

The day has finally arrived- make sure your schedule is clear. It’s important that you don’t have any obligations or pressing tasks. It’s time to relax, settle, set aside the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and bring our focus to the experience ahead.

Minimize use of devices, phones, computers. Reading the news or surfing social media sites can feed the mind with certain ideas or images that you may not want to bring into the experience with you. Our devices also stimulate the mind and mental activity. We recommend allowing the mind to settle. Clear your mind and relax into states of presence or meditation.

Notice if you feel any axiety or nervousness. These are completely natural feelings leading up to a psychedelic experience. There is a fine line between the feelings of nervousness, and excitement. Observe these sensations non-judgmentally, and allow them to pass through.

Cultivate an attitude of trust and openness. These are ancient and sacred medicines that have been used for thousands of years. They are safe, non-toxic, and powerfully healing. You can fully trust in the power of these plant medicines and know that however the experience unfolds, it is moving us in a positive direction. It is helping us to heal and evolve.

With an open curiosity, and a trust in the medicine, we can better go with the flow of the experience.

Ingesting the substance

Continue to move deeper into stillness, openness, meditation, and trust.

Identify any hopes or expectations you might have, and see if you can gently let them go. Expectations can cause us to resist the flow of the experience, or feel disappointed if the trip is nothing like how we imagined. It’s often stated that the psychedelic experience doesn’t give the experience that we want- it gives us the experience that we need.

The more we can relax into that attitude of trust and surrender, letting go trying to control the experience…the smoother and more profound the journey will likely be.

Finally, follow your intuition! Throughout the entire process, it’s important to listen inwardly and see where that guides you. 

It can feel daunting to ingest these powerful psychedelic substances and dive into the unknown. But through courageous steps in the direction of personal growth, we can transform our lives from the inside out.

Safe travels! And for further support, book a session with us anytime.