As psychedelics go mainstream and become easier to access, more and more people will experiment. Now more than ever, newcomers and curious folks are trying mushrooms, LSD, MDMA, ketamine, and other trippy substances without much preparation. That’s not to say they haven’t researched the potential effects or done their due diligence to ensure the substances are safe and free from harmful contaminants.
What we’re referencing is psychedelic integration. The post-trip planning. An idea of how and what you can observe and absorb the experience you have and integrate those lessons, insights, or thought patterns into your daily life.
Some say that psychedelic integration is as important as the trip itself. Others suggest it’s even more critical. When in a group ceremony or under the guidance of a shaman, guide, trip sitter, or other more experienced person, integration might be a part of the process. It also may not. So, whether you are going it alone in the psychedelic universe or leaving an experience wondering what to do with these big thoughts and feelings, it’s incredibly important to understand the role of psychedelic integration and plan ahead.
Here’s a closer look at what that means and how you can better assimilate the intensity of your trip.
The Basics of Psychedelic Integration
Integration after a psychedelic experience is a crucial process that helps individuals make sense of their journey and apply the insights gained to their everyday lives. It involves reflecting on, understanding, and incorporating the experiences, emotions, and lessons from the psychedelic trip. Here are several vital reasons why psychedelic integration is so important.
Making Meaning from the Experience
Sometimes, tripping can be lighthearted and joyful, offering nothing more than stress relief and play. Other times, psychedelic experiences can be profound and deeply meaningful, often involving powerful emotions and insights. Integration provides a framework for understanding and processing these experiences, helping individuals find meaning and purpose in what they’ve gone through.
Resolving Unfinished Business
Sometimes, psychedelic experiences can bring up unresolved emotions, traumas, or past experiences. Many people seek these substances for exactly that, and any time unrepressed thoughts or deeply buried feelings come up, it can be painful and even scary. Integration offers a safe space to address and process these issues, potentially leading to healing and closure.
Connecting with the Subconscious
Psychedelics can bring to the surface thoughts, feelings, and memories that are typically buried in the subconscious. Our human brain has a natural desire to protect us from these things, but only when they are acknowledged can we heal. Integration allows for a deeper exploration of these elements, promoting self-awareness and personal growth.
Implementing Insights into Daily Life
Without psychedelic integration, the insights gained during a psychedelic experience may remain ephemeral. Through integration, individuals can take what they’ve learned and apply it to their everyday lives, making positive changes in behavior, mindset, and relationships.
Navigating Challenging Experiences
Psychedelic experiences can be intense and sometimes challenging. Integration helps individuals process and find meaning in difficult moments, reducing the potential for lingering distress or confusion.
Avoiding Disorientation or Confusion
Without integration, individuals may struggle to reconcile the profound nature of their psychedelic experience with their regular reality. Psychedelic integration provides a bridge between these two states, reducing disorientation and potential feelings of being lost.
Enhancing Psychological Well-being
Integration can contribute to improved mental health by allowing individuals to process emotions, release trauma, and develop healthier thought patterns and coping mechanisms. Likewise, through psychedelic integration, individuals have the opportunity to identify areas for personal growth and development. This might involve setting new goals, cultivating positive habits, or nurturing deeper connections with oneself and others.
Facilitating Positive Behavior Changes
Integration helps solidify any intentions set before or during the psychedelic experience. This can lead to positive shifts in behavior, such as adopting healthier lifestyles, improving relationships, or pursuing creative endeavors. This positivity often leads to enduring shifts in one’s perspective, values, and way of being. This can contribute to a more fulfilling and authentic life.
How to Actively Integrate Psychedelic Experiences
That’s all fine and dandy, but how can you actually and purposely walk the path through psychedelic integration? Integrating psychedelic experiences means consciously and intentionally processing, understanding, and applying the insights, emotions, and revelations gained from a psychedelic journey into one’s daily life and sense of self. It involves a deliberate effort to make sense of the often profound and transformative nature of the experience. Here are the key components of integrating a psychedelic experience.
Reflection and Contemplation
Taking time to reflect on the experience considering the emotions, thoughts, and sensations that arose during the trip is invaluable. Take a day off. Don’t rush back into life, especially if you’ve been sitting with something big, like ayahuasca. Give yourself space from the digital world, and clear your calendar so you are free to just be with yourself in the presence.
Journaling or Artistic Expression
Writing down or creatively expressing the details of the experience can help solidify memories and provide a tangible record for later reflection. Trips have a tendency to absolutely overwhelm our synapses and flood us with thoughts, images, and emotions. As you come back down, some of that intensity starts to slip away. Journal if you can. Some people like to record their experience with a voice recorder to get as much as possible logged for later reflection.
Seeking Support and Community
Discussing the experience with trusted friends, family members, or professionals who are knowledgeable about psychedelics can provide valuable perspectives and emotional support. Even the act of saying it out loud can help you see your experience in a new way. If you choose to share your story, be sure to tell your trusted person if you simply want to be heard or if you’d like to receive insights or feedback. Seeking the support of a therapist or counselor, particularly one experienced in psychedelic integration, can be immensely valuable in processing complex emotions or experiences.
Identifying Key Insights
Recognize and acknowledge any profound realizations, lessons, or perspectives gained during the journey. Allow yourself to fully feel and process any emotions that emerged during the experience, whether they were positive, challenging, or complex.
Applying Insights to Everyday Life
Take concrete steps to implement the insights gained from the experience into your behavior, relationships, and overall lifestyle. For example, engaging in activities that promote physical, emotional, and mental well-being, such as exercise, meditation, and healthy eating, can support the integration process.
Maintaining a Regular Routine
Establishing a structured daily routine can help you stay grounded and provide stability during the sometimes disorienting aftermath of a psychedelic experience. This might be as simple as establishing a bedtime routine or practicing meditation or mindfulness.
Being Patient and Compassionate with Oneself
Recognize that the psychedelic integration process is unique to each individual and may take time, and showing kindness and understanding throughout the journey will only help you.
A Moving Meditation
Integration is a dynamic and ongoing process that varies from person to person. It’s a way to bridge the gap between the extraordinary experiences of the psychedelic realm and the everyday reality, ultimately fostering personal growth, self-awareness, and positive transformation.
We are all constantly integrating our life experiences. Integration is profoundly important after consuming psychedelics, but it’s also a valuable practice for many other areas of our lives. Breakups, big moves, career changes, grief, loss, huge success, and so many other parts of being human are more easily digested when we integrate. When we pause in gratitude, ask what we are here to learn, and be observant – the immense beauty of the world and the precious gift of life will continue to unfold around us. Be present, and stay well.