Intentional Psychedelic Experiences... How to Decide if It's Right for You
Intro to Intentional Psychedelic Experiences
Maybe you’ve heard friends talk about their life-changing psychedelic experiences; their ayahuasca journey in Brazil or their in-clinic Ketamine treatments. Or perhaps you’ve seen the steady stream of articles in major publications about the myriad benefits of psychedelic experiences in current clinical trials. Whether you’ve experimented with psychedelics before – that shroom trip in college, or tab of acid at a music festival – or, you are opening yourself up to the idea of psychedelic experiences for expanded consciousness for the first time, your interest in using them “intentionally” has been piqued.
But what is an intentional psychedelic experience?
Before we dive in, an important note on legality:
The plants and compounds mentioned here are illegal in many countries; even possession can have criminal consequences. None of our posts constitute medical advice or should be construed as a recommendation to use psychedelics. Psychedelics are not for everyone and can have serious legal, psychological, and physical risks.
When people have an intentional psychedelic experience, it means they are taking a medicine (this is how we will refer to psychedelics that facilitate healing and expanded consciousness) with a specific goal in mind. Here are some common reasons people may want a psychedelic experience:
- To deepen their relationship with themselves, with others, and/or with nature
- To learn something new, find clarity or get unstuck
- To heal something, let go of something, or move through a loss
- To spark creativity
- To connect with spirituality
Psychedelics help us access expanded consciousness, which allows us to bring a magnifying glass to our inner world. What is normally unconscious can become conscious, which, with the right support, can allow us to take helpful actions and make changes in our daily lives. They also help clean out our nervous systems, allow for new neural pathways to be created, and replace old patterns developed from past experiences and traumas that are no longer serving us.
Taking these medicines intentionally, versus recreationally, can set the stage to get useful insight that can be integrated into your life in the days, weeks, months, even years to come.
How to Decide if an Intentional Psychedelic Experience is Right for You
No proselytizing here. It’s crucial that you come to the decision to work with these medicines with informed free will. We’ll say that again, and not just because proselytizing is a cool word. It’s crucial that you come to the decision to work with these medicines with informed free will. And, of course, you should re-read our legal disclaimer above.
Some ways to help you decide are:
- Learn more about the history of the different medicines
- Understand the science of how psychedelics work on your body
These methods can help you connect with, build respect for, and understand the medicines on an intellectual level.
Choosing the Psychedelic Experience
There are a variety of different medicines and settings to explore to help you expand your consciousness. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you navigate:
Who you’re with:
- Do you want a practiced guide or facilitator to be present for your psychedelic experience?
- Do you want to go solo or with a group? What size group are you comfortable with?
If you want to go the guide/facilitator route:
- Are you interested in a one-night ceremony or a full retreat?
- Would you prefer a clinical setting or a more spiritual setting?
- Do you feel safe in your space/home, or would you prefer to go to the facilitator’s space?
- Why are you interested in a psychedelic experience?
- Studies are showing that certain medicines may be more effective at assisting with specific issues. There are trials and research studying the correlation between MDMA and PTSD, Ketamine or mushrooms and depression, addiction and mushrooms, and psilocybin and spirituality, just to name a few. If you aren’t quite sure of your why, or you know your why but aren’t sure which medicine may be most effective, speaking with a therapist that specializes in psychedelic integration may be helpful.
- What is your (and your immediate family’s) health history?
- Certain prescription drugs and supplements, as well as existing and genetic physical and mental health issues may be contraindicated with certain medicines. Be sure to speak with a professional about anything you are taking and provide your and your immediate family’s health history.
How Do You Find the Medicine for Expanded Consciousness?
If you’ve found that medicine is a safe route for you, talk to your friends!
There are a number of ways to legally pursue psychedelic experiences with plant medicine. Legal retreats are currently available in a handful of countries across the globe. There are clinical trials you can apply to participate in, and legal ketamine clinics are popping up across the U.S.
A Note on Working with a Guide/Facilitator
Skilled and ethical guides or facilitators can help you gather meaning from your psychedelic experience and help you integrate those learnings into your daily life. They can also help prevent re-traumatization from the psychedelic experience and help ensure your safety throughout. A guide is especially important when working with higher dosages and certain medicines such as ayahuasca, 5-MEO-DMT (toad), San Pedro or Peyote for expanded consciousness and healing.
You’ll want to make sure you feel safe with your guide or facilitator. Go with your gut and don’t be afraid to say no if someone doesn’t feel aligned with your intentions or instincts. Shop around for a facilitator as you would a therapist- you don’t need to just choose the first option! If you’re looking for guidance in choosing the right facilitator, ask friends or Empathic Health community members.
- Having an intentional psychedelic experience means you are communing with a medicine for expanded consciousness, to deepen your relationship with yourself, and use your learnings in your day-to-day life to create positive change.
- Working with a carefully selected, trained guide or facilitator can help ensure your safety during the psychedelic experience, prevent re-traumatization and help you find meaning so that you can implement the lessons into your life.
From podcasts to documentaries, books and finding retreats, we got you covered.