What are the basics of psychedelic integration?
When you embark on a challenging hike, you may encounter difficult terrain, steep inclines, or other obstacles that require your full attention and effort. The views and experiences you gain along the way can be breathtaking, transformative and offer new learning opportunities that inspire future hikes. In order to fully appreciate the experience, you need to take the time to rest, recover, reflect and to integrate insights gained. Similarly, when you take psychedelics, you may encounter difficult emotions, challenging thoughts, or be presented with novel insights that need your full attention and effort for sense making. By examining these insights and experiences gained in your psychedelic journey, it can be useful to start by identifying themes or key insights, and see how you can apply them to your daily life by starting with small behaviour changes or experiments. By embodying these insights, you get an opportunity to try them on and see where they fit in your life and to see how they may be additive to your life. So, like many experiences the journey is just as important as the destination and helps turn new knowledge into wisdom. Part of the psychedelic journey is integration.
Why is integration?
- Meaning making: psychedelic experiences can be incredibly powerful, and can bring up emotions, insights, and perspectives that may be difficult to process and make sense of in the moment. Reflection and subsequent small action can help find meaning.
- Process difficult experiences: because psychedelic experiences can bring up difficult emotions or memories and reveal novel insights or perspectives that can be destabilizing, they require attention. Integration helps you process these experiences so lead to personal growth and prevent long-lasting negative effects. Difficult doesn't always mean bad, sometimes it means growth.
- Positive changes in behaviour: integrating psychedelic experiences can also lead to positive changes in behaviour. Insights gained during the experience can inspire you to make small, specific and values driven changes in your life, such as starting a new creative project, improving relationships, or adopting a healthier lifestyle.
- Impact the depth of the experience: by interacting with the content from the experience in the days and weeks after your trip, you will deepen the overall impact of the experience. Reflect on the experience, determine what your values and goals are and see what actions you can take to make your vision for yourself a reality.
Here are a few basic tips for integrating the psychedelic experiences into daily life:
- Journalling: reflecting on the experience and what you learned from it.
- Taking small action: finding ways to apply insights gained during the experience to your daily life.
- Be creative: include music, art or writing to help with process your experience.
- Connect with nature: nature enlivens the senses and helps connect with ourselves and the world around us.
- Mindfulness: build your mindfulness muscle to build presence and self-awareness.
- Self-compassion: its normal that when we are learning we make mistakes which creates room for more learning. Be kind to yourself, similar to a friend, who is well-intentioned and trying to make positive and new impact in their life.
- Community: talk about your experience with trusted friends or family who have had psychedelic experiences or psychedelic community groups, integration circles or online forums.