I began teaming up with psychotherapist Meriana Dinkova several months ago to teach a series of workshops about “navigating altered states of consciousness,” which is a less controversial way of saying, “how to gain the most benefit from a psychedelic experience.”
These workshops have been great fun, mutually inspiring for everyone involved, and they’ve helped me to clarify what the most important factors are in planning a safe, healing, and inspiring psychedelic journey.
As fate would have it, teaching these workshops coincided with a series of events in my life that shook me to my core--emotionally and spiritually--and made it abundantly clear just how vitally important total trust and complete honesty are in planning a psychedelic session.
One’s intentions need to be absolutely clear, and personal boundaries between those participating in a session need to be understood and utterly respected. Honesty, communication, and openness are key factors here.
When it comes to planning a psychedelic journey with someone, there is no single factor that is more important than trust.
A psychedelic journey can be far more intimate than sex, as one’s entire psyche becomes completely naked, and one’s deepest, most fragile self is totally exposed. A psychedelic drug can make us as acutely sensitive, and as psychologically vulnerable, as wide-eyed infants.
Integrity, respect, shared intentions, and honesty are absolutely necessary to create a firm foundation of trust, when our personalities dissolve under the influence of a psychedelic, conditioned ways of thinking begin to break down, and cultural assumptions are transcended.
Without clear and honest communication, unvoiced suspicions can grow into full-blown paranoias, and intentions can sometimes be misinterpreted or misunderstood in important ways.
One should never even consider sharing a psychedelic experience with someone that he or she doesn’t completely and totally trust with his or her life.
This is no exaggeration. Your brain is the most precious thing that you own.
The first and foremost thing to understand about planning a psychedelic experience is what’s called “set and setting.” This is a concept that was developed by the late Harvard researcher Timothy Leary when he first began studying the psychedelic experience.
“Set” refers to one’s mental state. This is important because psychedelics will tend to amplify whatever one is feeling to an extremely heightened degree.
Every sensation, every perception, every feeling, and every thought is dramatically blown up in size, as though one is viewing the world, and one’s mind, through the most powerful electron microscope imaginable.
Because of this, it’s of utmost importance that one be in an emotionally stable, relaxed state of mind before embarking on a psychedelic journey.
“Setting” is one’s physical environment, which should be free of distractions, and as comfortable, aesthetically-pleasing, stress-free, and trustworthy as possible.
One’s mental set, environmental setting, intentions, expectations, and the dosage of a particular psychedelic drug determine the general nature of one’s experience.
Understanding and applying these principles could lead one to spiritually-transforming mystical experiences, powerful healings, deep personal bondings, and creative insights of the highest order.
However, to disregard these important prerequisites could be a recipe for disaster.
Another important factor in helping to gain the most benefit from a psychedelic journey is setting clear intentions about what one wishes to accomplish on the journey, and then maintaining a concentrated focus on these goals throughout the experience.
The utilization of a spiritual practice--such as mediation, prayer, or ceremonial ritual--often has powerful results when combined with a psychedelic journey.
Taking good notes during the experience--using either a notebook or tape recorder--can be most helpful in bringing insights, revelations, and ideas back from the journey, and this can assist in integrating them into one’s life.
However, once again, I can not stress how important trust is. No other single factor is more important.
To learn more about how to plan a safe, healing, and inspiring psychedelic journey see psychologist James Fadiman’s definitive book on the subject: The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys (Park Street Press, 2011).
To find out more about upcoming workshops that Meriana Dinkova and I will be teaching see: http://merianadinkova.com/events/
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