If you are reading this you may or may not have had any psychedelic experiences yet. Whichever is true, my intention for this post is to make you aware of some basic rules for doing it safely and with the most benefits to your psychological wellbeing.
Don’t get me wrong. Psychedelic substances are still illegal in this country so I want to be clear – I do not encourage you to take psychedelics – but as a clinician, I am aware that lots of people do take them anyway and then end up in a mess. So this article is written in the spirit of harm reduction to inform and educate and to share my personal transformation story which was facilitated by psychedelic journeys.
So what are do’s and don’ts of using psychedelics safely?
1. First of all take care of “set and setting” – make sure that the space/venue/ company/ circumstances in which you decide to have your psychedelic experience is safe, calm, and conducive to having the best experience possible.
2. Manage your expectations and get informed – read and educate yourself about the possible effects of these substances on your body and mind during the journey and in subsequent days and weeks. If possible work with a health professional who is familiar with these.
3. Make a clear intention, but be open to receiving something different than you hoped for – Remember that everyone is different and that your experience may be nothing like what you have read or heard from others so stay open-minded and curious. Ask yourself why are you doing this?:
What is it that you are looking for?
- An understanding of a certain difficulty in your life?
- Healing trauma or other deep wounds and behavioural patterns?
- Is it curiosity about the other dimensions to our reality?
- Or maybe a wish to experience something extraordinary?
Then ask yourself why?
- Why do I want this?
- How I want my life to be different?
- Am I ready to have everything put upside down?
- Am I ready to potentially experience more pain before I work through my lessons?
4. Prepare your body – make sure your body is rested and well-slept and depending on the substance that is it also “clean” and ready to receive these teacher substances. You may want to eliminate eating meat, coffee, tea, sugar, alcohol, and also very importantly antidepressant medication. But never do it without the support of a professional! Depending on a substance there may be more or fewer restrictions about what best to eat or avoid for a period of between 3 days and several months
5. Prepare your psyche – work with a psychedelically trained health professional (therapist, coach, a psychologist). For example, develop a mindfulness practice and special self-calming and self-soothing strategies and mantra.
Psychedelic Integration Therapist
This is not an exhaustive list for psychedelic preparation. These are just some examples of what you can do to help yourself make it safe and increase the likelihood to have a less challenging experience. Having said that, challenging is not bad. Often this is “where the gold is”. And your integration therapist will be able to assist you in approaching it with curiosity and gratitude and will
help you translate the lessons/ messages/ experiences often into life-changing insights and behaviours.
Remember that psychedelics simply open a window to give you a glimpse of another dimension to life and a taste of how you may feel when you integrate all your shadow parts. But it is up to you to then walk that journey and become whole.
So now the Psychedelic DON’Ts:
1. Do not take them recreationally. These are powerful spiritual teachers and the insights they offer can profoundly change your metaphysical beliefs for life! So treat them with respect. And don’t just pop a pill at a party or in an unsafe environment where you won’t be able to give your full attention to what is happening with you and what you are being shown.
2. Don’t mix substances. After all, these are chemical compounds, not to even mention that you never know how your body may react to them. That is another reason why taking them at a party where you may have had some alcohol or other illicit drugs, is not a great idea.
3. Don’t do it on your own and certainly not in remote locations. Always have at least a sitter friend or tell someone what you are doing so they can check on you ideally from the next room if you really want to be on your own. The effects of these substances are unpredictable and often totally unrelated to the dose you take. In case you would need emergency care you need to be able to get there safely.
4. Don’t start with a heroic dose. Go gently so that you can familiarise yourself with the “territory” and your own reactions to it. It is a bit like driving, you wouldn’t want to have your first lesson in a rush-hour or on a motorway, would you?
5. Don’t do it too often. Leave adequate time between journeys to integrate fully what you are meant to learn or change. I would say once every 6 months is a good start.
My psychedelic story
I had my first proper journey at the Retreat for Clinicians interested in offering psychedelic-assisted therapy organised by The Psychedelic Society UK (current Alalaho). That was back in 2019. And if I am truly honest there are still, to this day, a few lessons that I haven’t fully integrated yet. Because the process of integrating is not just about understanding what and why you need to change in your life to feel whole, but also implementing it. This can take time, especially if, like it was for me, your lesson is fundamentally changing your whole life, both personally and professionally. My psychedelic experiences were extremely positive and pleasurable, so for 6 months after the first journey, I had several other trips. However, no new lessons came because I was not implementing the insights.
I started working with a herbalist-shaman friend to make the insights be reflected in my daily life and the decisions I made. It turned out to be my integration therapy. I started dieting with teacher plants and was planning to go with them for 6 weeks to Peru exactly when the pandemic started. Life had a different plan. And now in hindsight, I am grateful because that would have effectively been me running away from making difficult decisions about my life and making the process of integration last even longer.
I stayed in the UK and instead trained in psychedelic-assisted therapy and I am still learning. I later decided to become a facilitator of psychedelic retreats (when they become legal in the UK) and my current course is 2.5 years endeavour because at the moment there are only a few places in the world where such work is legal, but this is changing fast.
A crisis is often a catalyst for growth and transformation and at other times it is a final stage – the last push – of a deep change process. That was exactly my experience.
If you would like to know more about my personal transformation story and what changes I needed to implement to feel whole and fulfilled read this.
I want to try Psychedelics – that is something I hear a lot from people that contact me
So let me clarify. I believe that when taken in a safe, supported, and responsible way, psychedelics are the most potent and effective way of opening up to healing, growth, and transformation. They can be a great personal development tool too, but they are still illegal substances so I do not provide any information on how or where to source them. However, people still take them regardless, and so I am dedicated to reducing harm that can come out of these experiences by educating people about what make it safer, how to prepare and most importantly how to integrate these experiences afterwards. So if you would like help with integrating your own experiences you can book your free connection call today.
If you need more information read about the psychedelic integration sessions that I offer please dive into it here.
I always recommend booking a discovery call with me in the first instance to connect and talk to you about how I can help you. If you’re not sure why not drop your details below and with a brief message on where you are in your life and I will get back to you within 24 hours.