Legal note: I am not advocating illegal activity. I swear.
Safety Note: If you have relatives who are schizophrenic or suffer from psychotic/dissociative disorders, psychedelics may awaken latent schizophrenia or psychosis (etc.). The chance is very low, but it is possible. If this applies to you, psychedelics may not be the way to go.
Statistically, psychedelics are safer than office furniture. That said, irresponsible use can have unforeseen consequences. If you decide to take the psychedelic plunge, there are precautions to take to ensure that your results will be positive:
- Trip in an environment that makes you feel relaxed and safe. Experienced folks call this “setting”. Set up music that makes you feel relaxed, preferably non-vocal music (I like Ravi Shankar’s records that don’t have an orchestra). Soft lighting is ideal (I like candles). Turn off anything that has a glowing screen (no TV, computer, phone, etc.).
- Keep a notebook during your trip and write down your most profound realizations.
- Trip with an open mind and surrender to the process; the purpose is to learn, heal, and grow; not to be entertained or to escape. Experienced folks call this “set” — it’s short for “mindset”.
- Trip with people you trust completely and inspire you to feel safe and happy. If you are inexperienced, it is a good idea to have a sitter or a guide who is familiar with the psychedelic experience and can help you have a smooth journey.
- Enter the experience with INTENT. If your intent is to learn from whatever you encounter and sincerely and honestly approach yourself, you will have a positive experience. If you try to hide or run from your realizations and refuse to consider your issues, the experience could get ugly. Be willing to forgive yourself and to commit to your growth. And if it gets ugly, commit to being honest and growing. Sometimes, the “bad” trips can be the most healing.
“Set” and “Setting” are the two most important elements of a positive experience with psychedelics.
Of course, there is more to consider:
- Trip with an appropriate dose. If you are essentially meditating and sorting through psychological issues, a smaller dose is ideal and will feel more “safe” and “comfortable”. If you are experienced with smaller doses and feel comfortable with your subconscious and want to seek out a more profound “mystical” experience, try a larger dose.
- Understand that when you dig into your subconscious and encounter long-standing, entrenched issues, it can be very emotional, even frightening. It is important to remind yourself that you are safe. Nothing bad is going to happen. You’ll go back to normal in a few hours.
- Eat light, healthy food and drink a lot of water. Make sure you stay hydrated throughout the experience.
- Be familiar with your tools. Understand what might work best with your personality and research the substance you plan to use. If it makes you feel more comfortable, investigate the research that’s been done and is being done with psychedelics. MAPS.org is a solid resource. Neal Goldsmith’s book, Psychedelic Healing, is also good.
I consider INTEGRATION in the days following a trip to be the most important part of the psychedelic experience:
- Meditate every day and consider what you learned during your trip in your meditations in the days following it.
- Apply the lessons you learned from your trip in your behavior and daily choices. Adjust your Daily Practice and lifestyle choices to reflect any newfound truths.
- Consider any confusing ideas or points of contention that may have popped up during your trip.
- If any odd delusions cropped up, consider the metaphor they represent in your life.
- If troubling issues bubbled up that you were unable to deal with, consider seeking a therapist or a trusted friend to discuss your issues with. Sometimes seeking a neutral perspective can help you find answers to your most perplexing questions.
Note: Be safe, be responsible, commit to your growth with honesty and love, and if you have any problems or questions, there are many great resources on the internet.