So you’ve just come back from a psychedelic journey. Now what?
The healing potential of psychedelic medicines is not limited to the hours you spend in an altered state of consciousness. Most of the inner transformation actually takes place after you have returned from the journey. This period of integration unfolds in the subsequent days, weeks, months, and even years.
Everyone’s integration process is different. No one-size-fits-all formula exists. That being said, there are general tips that you may find useful as you transition back into everyday life. Feel free to pick and choose the recommendations below that most resonate with you.
In the days after a journey...
#1: Document your experience.
Jot down key takeaways -- what you learned, what emotions and memories came up, what confused you. Don’t worry about making sense of it all. Just get it down on paper, preferably within 24 hours of returning to ordinary waking consciousness. If you don’t feel like writing, create an audio recording on your phone.
In the following weeks and months, you may wish to visit your initial documentation of the experience. The second time around, you might find yourself “connecting the dots” in a new way. A vision that made no sense at first may yield a deeper hidden meaning. As your integration unfolds, you’ll thank yourself for recording the key elements of the journey while it was still fresh in your mind.
Your mind goes through a lot when you consume a psychedelic medicine. Here is a depiction of the brain activity of an individual who has taken a placebo, compared to a brain on psilocybin:
Psilocybin triggers communication between brain regions that do not typically interact with one another.
No wonder it’s called a journey -- you’ve basically just run a mental marathon through your own consciousness! You may feel more tired than usual after an intense psychedelic experience. Give yourself permission to rest. This is an essential part of integration. Emotional, energetic, and mental processing is happening even -- or perhaps, especially -- when you’re not conscious.
In the weeks and months after a journey…
#3: Do your homework.
One session with psilocybin can trigger insights and revelations that would otherwise require months, if not years, of conventional talk therapy. That doesn’t mean that a handful of psilocybin mushrooms or truffles is equivalent to a magic enlightenment pill, though. It’s important to apply the teachings of the medicine to your life -- in other words, to do your homework!
Each person’s “homework assignment” is unique to their life situation. For example, the medicine may make an individual aware of unhealthy patterns in a relationship with a friend, partner, or family member. Their post-journey homework might involve re-evaluating the relationship, setting boundaries, and/or having an honest conversation that addresses these unhealthy patterns.
$4: Listen to music from your journey.
Many psychedelic medicine sessions are accompanied by a carefully selected playlist. Certain pieces of music may evoke powerful sensations, insights, or visions during your journey. Listening to these songs afterward can bring you back to that “journeying headspace,” inviting you to re-visit and further unravel potent aspects of your experience.
Credit: Sharm Murugiah
#5: Find a creative outlet.
You may struggle to find words that adequately describe all the sights, sounds, and sensations of your journey. As you integrate, it might make sense for you to process the experience through a medium that, like the journey itself, transcends human language.
Find a creative medium that speaks to you. Maybe you feel called to channel the visions from your journey into a collage, painting, or film. Perhaps you’re drawn to dance, song, or musical instruments. Look for whatever gets you out of your thinking mind and into a state of flow. From knitting to baking to DJing, creative expression can take any form. When you cease to analyze human experience through linear verbal language, your intuitive emotional side awakens, and subtle processing can occur.
#6: Try meditation.
Psychedelic journeys and deep meditative states tend to yield strikingly similar effects, among them feelings of peace, bliss, and oneness with all. Both experiences lead to reduced activity in the default mode network (DMN) -- a region of the brain whose overactivity correlates with depression and anxiety. Put another way, meditation and psychedelics induce similarly altered states of consciousness.
If you ever attempted to meditate prior to your psychedelic experience but couldn’t really “get into it,” consider giving the practice another go now. Your journey was a glimpse of where a committed meditation practice can take you. Over time, meditation helps to transform altered states of consciousness -- that is, feelings of joy, connection, and gratitude commonly experienced during a psychedelic journey -- into permanent traits.
#7: Connect with a support network.
The psychedelic journey is one that you take alone, but that doesn’t mean that integration has to be solitary as well. Access community support and wisdom through online forums and in-person psychedelic integration circles (supportive spaces in which people gather to share their experiences). This site is a good place to start. Additionally, use Facebook and meetup.com to search for psychedelic community groups in your area. If you have been to a Truffles Therapy retreat, join the conversation with the specialist Facebook group or integration page.
Credit: Autumn Skye
#8: Be patient.
Your life probably won’t transform overnight. However, trust that all the tiny changes you make in your daily routine -- a few minutes of meditation each morning, a little less time on your phone, a moment of gratitude at the end of the day -- will create noticeable results across time. Remember, a ship that shifts course by just ten degrees will end up in a drastically different place than if it had kept cruising in a straight line. Make those ten-degree tweaks to your life.
At some point down the road, you may notice that certain triggers no longer bother you, or that laughter comes more easily to you now than before. In moments like these, recognize that it was your own commitment to self-growth that brought you to this point. In a way, the medicine did not heal you -- it connected you to your innate capacity to heal yourself.
If you have read these integration tips and are now looking for your first, or next, psychedelic experience, please have a look at the Truffles Therapy retreats page for upcoming dates.