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7 Tips for Navigating Your Psychedelic Experience

Psychedelic medicines are powerful tools for self-reflection and healing. Using them safely and smartly helps maximize their benefits.

By Haley Nagasaki

In her new book, The Inside Guide, Jazmin Hupp offers a comprehensive safety checklist for newcomers to the psychedelic experience. She breaks it down into five subsections: personal, environmental, emotional, and sexual safety, as well as safe practices for tripping in public. Jazmin focuses on beginner-to-intermediate doses of psilocybin, MDMA and cannabis but believes these practices are effective for all consciousness-expanding voyages, regardless of one’s experience level. They are especially useful during self-regulated journeys not facilitated by a competent guide or shamanic practitioner.

Here are 7 tips to make your first psychedelic experience memorable (in a good way), inspired by The Inside Guide and adapted by Personal Plants. Consider these steps before, during and after your trip to ensure the experience is as safe and meaningful as possible.

1. Do Your Research and Make a Plan

Each individual is unique because of our different compositions. For this reason, it’s impossible to promise that every experience will be smooth sailing. In addition, psychedelic compounds differ from one another in their duration and strength, so there’s no one-size-fits-all model. Familiarize yourself with the various options, and choose the right plant or molecule according to the occasion. Also, consider any other medications you might be taking, such as antidepressants, which might interfere with or negate the experience.

2. Pack a Bag and Come Prepared

Whether you’re tripping in your apartment or going off on a forest walk with friends, always be prepared. Make sure you have access to plenty of water and nutritious snacks for before, during or after, depending on your individual needs and the psychedelic you’re using. You won’t want to think about cooking on the come down, and you certainly shouldn’t drive, so it’s always nice to have something prepared for later. Think fresh fruit or your favorite muffins. Try infused water or herbal teas. If you’re heading outside, wear comfortable clothing and bring extra layers.

3. Be Mindful of Set and Setting

You’ve probably heard it before, and we’re saying it again! Set and setting are extremely important for the psychedelic experience. Your mindset (the “set”) will inform the trip, and the environment in which you find yourself (the “setting”) will influence your experience. Safety first! We’re not saying you need to have all your shit together; in fact, most people seek psychedelics as problem-solving tools. But before you embark on any psychedelic journey, make sure you are in a stable frame of mind and that you trust your fellow trippers and are comfortable in your physical surroundings. Concerts and festivals are not advised for first-time psychedelic experiences. Think quiet, undisturbed spaces with soft lighting and comfortable places to sit or lie down, such as a private apartment or a tranquil spot in nature.

4. Map Out the Energetics

Psychedelic plants and molecules open us up on an energetic level, so it’s crucial that the people accompanying you on your journey are ones you love, trust and feel comfortable around. If there is the possibility for sexual play, especially with MDMA, draw out those boundaries before embarking, and ensure that consent is mutual. Music can also serve as a vehicle for energetic influence. Positive, soft, or ambient music might help massage your mind into a blissful state. For many, breathwork is an essential component to journeying. You want to be in rest-and-digest mode, which can be achieved through long and slow breathing that calms the nervous system. If breathwork doesn’t resonate with you, try singing or humming as a way to regulate your breathing.

5. Have Intentions, Not Expectations

As in steer your boat, but surrender to the current. Intention setting is an important component of the psychedelic experience. Intention brings an aspect of sacred ritual and mindfulness to the process. Your intention might simply be to deepen your spiritual understanding of yourself and the world at large. Remember that these sacred plant teachers and molecules are tools, not toys, and must be accessed with respect and reverence. Once you’ve set an intention, it’s time to surrender. By its very nature, the psychedelic experience is all about journeying into the unknown and then accepting and working with what it has to teach you. So be gentle with yourself and be open to what the medicine has to offer.

6. Start Low and Go Slow

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with large doses as takeoff can be fast and turbulent. As we acclimatize to our new surroundings, it’s good to go slow because you can always take more. Consult the The Inside Guide for recommendations on exact dosages of beginner amounts of psilocybin, MDMA and cannabis. Because LSD is a powerful substance in such a small package, microdosing or more gradual dosing can be done by cutting the tab into fractions and ingesting as desired, depending on the level of intensity you wish to achieve.

7. Make Time for Integration

Quite simply, integration is the process by which we bring the otherworldly psychedelic experience back down to earth and weave it into our daily lives. Trip on a day where you have no obligations, and if possible, free yourself from commitments the following day as well. This way you will have time to process the experience. Journaling is great for this. Jazmin also encourages movement and meditation. Engage in some gentle stretching, or just get up and move! Once you shake it off, sit quietly and contemplate. As the information starts streaming in, grab a pen and paper and start capturing what comes to mind.

Closing Thoughts

Be gentle with yourself. You mustered the courage to bravely go where no human has gone before – the depths of your own psyche. So park the self-criticism and realize that you’ve already won. Every trip might be regarded as a good trip because of the depth of learning that can be achieved; there’s a sparkling gem of wisdom waiting for you if you choose to perceive it. The psychedelic experience will help you refresh the mind. It can allow you to see yourself as part of the bigger picture, intricately woven into the fabric of life. These experiences are for all of us, no one more than the other, so enjoy yourself, because you deserve it!

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