Unsurprisingly, I spend a considerable amount of time thinking about language.
How to say something, what I think I heard from someone, what was said by someone, and also, what was left unsaid.
In the process of learning to navigate this psychedelic renaissance, we have to use words to describe the ineffable.
We have to use words in a patchwork fashion to point towards the indescribable.
Whether it’s microdosing, or macrodosing, it’s safe to say that we don’t yet fully understand the entirety of the impact on the human body and mind.
Regardless of the dose, it seems that something happens within us when we interact with psilocybin.
A certain intelligence makes itself known, a message comes through. We are offered an opportunity to become a different version of ourselves.
Living from this never-before-seen version of ourselves is integration.
Integration is an often used word within the psychedelic circles, but what does it mean and how do we execute it thoroughly?
Getting what we ‘want by having an encounter with the divine is an awesome first step, and then, we have to learn to live within it, from it, and be of it.
The rest of the work is in the becoming.
Integration is the keystone.
This article is my attempt at describing the unspeakable and delineating a process and path to execution and completion.
It is assumed that Alan Watts once said:
“If you get the message, hang up the phone. For psychedelic drugs are simply instruments, like microscopes, telescopes, and telephones. The biologist does not sit with eye permanently glued to the microscope, he goes away and works on what he has seen.”
Integration means hanging up the phone.
And to accomplish such a holistic integration, this is what I believe is required of us.
Defining Psychedelic Upgrades
The term psychedelic upgrades refers to the enhanced cognitive frameworks and emotional well-being that emerged as a consequence of interacting with substances such as psilocybin, ketamine, DMT, MDMA, and Ayahuasca.
These aren’t just fleeting moments of revelation; they have the potential to become enduring shifts in perception and behavior.
With the right set of tools and intentions, we are tasked with the assimilation of these upgrades to become an upgraded version of ourselves.
Understanding the Concept
A psychedelic upgrade is an opportunity for us to notice our blind spots, revisit old memories, make amends, reconsider self-destructive habits, develop new habits and skills, and live from a whole new baseline.
Psilocybin’s potential ability to optimize our neuronal connections is what needs to be nurtured within the context of integration.
The interaction with psilocybin has shown us what is possible, now it must be lived out. The new synaptic connections must be supported and therefore reinforced.
This support and reinforcement of new neuronal pathways and connections is what I mean by integration.
In other words: Insight. Repetition. Embodiment.
Preparation for Integration
Before embarking on a journey with psychedelics, establishing a clear intention is imperative; a mindful approach is important and worth taking the time to consider.
Setting an intention is declaring your purpose.
Once we decide to notice red cars on the road, they seem to be everywhere. Setting our intentions when interacting with psychedelics is not different.
This conscious affirmation sets the stage for the journey you’re about to embark on, anchoring your psychedelic exploration with direction and meaning.
Consider what you hope to understand or achieve through this venture. These goals (intrinsically personal and subjective) become the lighthouse illuminating your path.
The red cars have always been on the road, the magic was in the sudden noticing of them.
The art and the skill of bringing things to life are in defining what we want to pay attention to and noticing it when it comes along.
Choosing your set, setting, and sitter effectively
The concept of set and setting is not merely preparatory, it’s the cornerstone of a psychedelic experience and informs the integration process.
Most especially if we are planning a hero dose experience, meticulous attention must be applied to creating a serene environment, a receptive mindset, and a trusted guide or ‘sitter.’
The set refers to your internal landscape – your thoughts, emotions, and expectations before embarking on the psychedelic journey. Align your inner state with your intentions for a more centered experience.
The setting entails the external space where your journey unfolds, emphasizing the importance of safety, comfort, and tranquility. This physical environment, also known as a ‘sacred space’ is paramount.
The ‘sitter’ you have chosen should meet certain criteria;
- Every step of the experience has been explained to you
- They are experienced and deeply knowledgeable
- They are supportive, attentive, and available during the ceremony and especially afterward
Whether your experience is within clinical trials, or in the jungles of Peru. Integration is vital.
The set, setting, and sitter create a synergistic triad, integral to the success of a psychedelic venture. Prioritize these elements to gain as much as you can from your experience.
When it comes to set and setting, a great resource to refer to is Dr. James Fadiman’s book The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys. His breakthrough 2011 book has a lot of practical guides and considerations when it comes to optimal set and set design.
Like with plants, the soil, light quality, and air quality, dictate the health of the plant, and the possibility of fruits and flowers. We humans are no different.
Creating a Supportive Environment
A supportive environment means that our inner state and our outer environment are balanced, safe, and gentle.
Whether you are micro-dosing or macro-dosing, psilocybin is known to be an amplifier. Amplifying whatever is going on within us or around us.
An ideal setting is quiet, comfortable, and free from interruptions—allowing full immersion in the introspective process.
Whether you’ve had a moment encountering the divine during a heroic dose ceremony or you just had a really good day while microdosing, implementing holistic strategies is about narrowing the gap between the two different states.
How do we access the divine intrinsically and consistently? How do we have more good days more often and effortlessly?
Collapsing the gap between ‘there and then’ and our current lives of ‘here and now’ is how I define psychedelic integration.
Achieving the feat of upgrading our state of mind, our perspective, our routines, and perhaps even aspects of our personality is a multi-pronged approach.
The approaches needed are found within the range of journaling, breathwork, somatic exercises, and high-quality emotional support.
Let’s unpack each of these further.
Journaling serves as a powerful tool for grounding insights into tangible frameworks of understanding, providing continuity and deep personal reflection. This is true whether we are interacting with psilocybin or not.
This practice is its therapy. It allows us to defrag our thoughts, process our emotions, place our thoughts and emotions into a container (the page), and serve as reference points later on.
When we translate the ineffable into words, we establish a dialogue with their subconscious, bridging the gap between psychedelic epiphanies and daily reality. Journaling not only enhances self-awareness but also acts as a compass, guiding future endeavors and personal development strategies.
Journaling in itself lowers cortisol levels, helps us process difficult memories and experiences, and serves as a guiding light toward hopes and dreams while keeping us accountable to ourselves via the page.
If journaling isn’t your thing these days, we still very much encourage tracking as a regular practice.
Keeping track of how we feel, the day’s dosage, and other life events, can provide us with a very valuable macro view of the pattern in our lives.
We believe in the power of tracking so powerfully that we have created a Notion Template you can use. This is kind of like a highly customizable and cool spreadsheet.
It’s amazing how much reminding we need about the importance of breathwork.
It’s something that we must do very consistently, every moment of our lives. Having said that, there is a quality to it that we must consider. Beyond the daily quality of our breath, certain techniques can support our physical, mental, and emotional well-being in ways that are quite astounding.
In 2023, a pivotal study revealed that breathwork can induce states similar to psychedelics, enhancing cerebral connectivity and fostering profound introspective experiences. Controlled breathing functions as a conduit, delicately navigating the mind through the vast tapestry woven by psilocybin.
Breathwork is a cornerstone of cognitive expansion. Breathwork induces a harmonious balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, anchoring the subtle or not-so-subtle shifts induced by psilocybin.
More and more of us are using breathwork as a non-pharmacological adjunct to evoke and extend the boundaries of our consciousness. Learning modalities like the Wim Hof Method, Holotropic Breathing, or Pranayama, we are harnessing the breath’s transformative power.
Adopting a regular breathwork practice is an important part of any growth journey.
Our brains need oxygen, every fiber of our being needs oxygen. Applying breathwork techniques to manage our state of mind is a game changer, every time.
Workouts and Somatic Exercises
Physical activity is a vital component in assimilating psychedelic insights into our routine. By engaging the body, we deepen the mind-body connection, allowing for the integration of psychedelic revelations.
Recently, science has been studying how resistance training can boost neuroplasticity and neurogenesis. From this knowledge base, it’s not a major leap toward exercise being a very effective practice for the integration of psychedelic experiences.
Diving deeper into the body’s potential, somatic exercises allow us to unlock what may be trapped in the physical body.
Bessel Van Del Kolch taught us in his persistently best-selling book The Body Keeps the Score. Releasing trapped emotions and energy is key to any integration protocol and vital when we want to optimize our lives, our health, and our state of mind.
The Human Garage is a great platform that teaches their clients free fascial maneuvers exercises on their site to teach each individual how to release parts of their body.
Somatic exercises, which emphasize internal physical perception and experience, can be particularly potent, allowing for corporeal processing of psychedelic leanings.
Practices such as yin yoga or tai chi can cultivate mindfulness and body awareness, both of which are crucial for processing and integrating psychedelic experiences. These disciplines provide structure for the physical expression of altered states and insights.
Trauma Release Exercises (or TRE), progressive muscle relaxation, and dynamic stretching serve not only as methods to relieve tension but also to reiterate the body’s role in storing and releasing psychological experiences such as trauma.
Somatic movements act as a dialogue between the subconscious and the conscious and must be considered as you aim toward living from your evolution.
Access To High-Quality Support
In a perfect world, your shaman or sitter is available to you after your hero dose experience. Their availability is a big part of the integration process. It’s an opportunity to ask questions, discuss, and understand the magnitude of your experience.
If your experience was within a more private practice setting such as with a therapist, counselors, or coaches, they should help make sense of complex experiences, reminding you of effective strategies for integration, while helping you feel supported at every stage of your experience.
For those that are microdosing, a shaman or sitter is not required. However, the power of a like-minded community is still vital.
Informed support networks such as our Facebook Group provide continuity of care that extends beyond the immediacy of psychedelic experiences. A community offers a safe setting for reflection and assimilation. A place to learn, share, ask questions, and share in the experiences of others.
Such support structures act as an incubator, nurturing the seedlings of insight that emerge from interactions with any kind of psychedelic substances.
Not to mention that such networks encourage continued personal growth, providing a rich soil from which the benefits of psychedelics can bloom effortlessly.
Belonging to such an informed community, we all have the opportunity to amplify and harness psychedelic insights. Community allows us to embed what we have learned into a life transformed by conscious intent and action.
Somewhat Unrelated But Very Relevant
The execution of mastery and excellence is synonymous with integration.
This latest Rich Roll podcast episode is not related to psychedelic experiences, but it is related to mastery and excellence.
I feel that it’s worth a watch to understand ourselves deeper and bring sharper tools to the workshop.
How To Track Your Integration Progress
Figuring out how to get somewhere starts by knowing where we are right now.
But what about tracking our progress throughout the journey? What is our North Star?
Quantitative self-assessment tools, such as symptom checklists or well-being scales, are helpful objective markers while on the integrative journey. They are useful in their own right.
The suggestions I make below are different but effective metrics worth considering.
What Is My Relationship With The Things I Procrastinate about?
Procrastination is a dance we do with resistance, an avoidance intertwined with a complex framework of emotions.
The War of Art explains the habit of resistance and procrastination like no other document we’ve ever read.
Underneath the façade of resistance, fear, anxiety, or even a pursuit of perfection can drive this persistent habit. Procrastination, when untangled, reveals a myriad of psychological factors that paint us into an unpleasant corner.
Unexpectedly, over the years we’ve heard repeated anecdotal reports from our community members that the level of procrastination significantly decreases after an experience with psilocybin.
Not only is procrastination reduced but resistance levels become more manageable and easier to overcome.
In real life, this is how you know it’s ‘working’l; our behavior begins to change.
We no longer procrastinate on chores, exercise, work, or any other aspect of our lives.
Some even go as far as to say that sooner or later, the tasks they once procrastinated about have been replaced by a sense of enthusiasm instead.
Simply this is already a good way to measure our integration process.
What Is My Relationship With Self-Sabotaging Behaviour?
Any self-sabotaging behavior often masks a deeper discomfort with the task at hand. For whatever reason, our mind might perceive the task as threatening, misaligning with our inherent values, which are disruptive to our psychological equilibrium and even our goals.
A synonymous term for self-sabotaging behavior is arguably ‘self-soothing attempts’.
All of the habits mentioned above are attempts at self-soothing. Psilocybin’s calming effect on all areas of the brain promotes reduced activity in the limbic system. All of that to say, our impulse to self-soothe is greatly decreased because the limbic system is more at ease.
Not needing to self-soothe with self-sabotaging behaviors is a great way to measure our integrative progress.
Calibrated Perspective On Difficult Moments
The third metric of success when measuring our integrative process is how we respond to stressful situations.
Most often, this phenomenon is described as the ability to slow down impulsive reactions and an increased ability to choose our response, aka wisdom.
When you notice not having an impulsive reaction, take a breath and congratulate yourself.
Add it to your tracking calendar, and include these signs of progress in your daily journal.
The ability to choose our response is a profound way to measure our progress in life and the more we notice our ability to do so, the easier and more integrated it becomes..
There is a quote that says: “We tend to overestimate what can be done in one year and underestimate what can be done in five or ten years.”
I will boldly suggest that this quote should be revised.
In certain cases, like psilocybin, the impact it can have on our lives is significant and the timeline can be much shorter.
Implementing the integration practices that I’ve suggested above, six months can make a world of difference in your life.
By then it’s quite likely that you’ll have met and also become the 3.0 version of yourself.
Not only that, but by then you will also have tangible evidence of your progress and evolution.
Available to you are your previous journal entries, which now serve as markers of milestones crossed.
You will have finally removed the self-sabotaging behaviors.
You will be enjoying the fruits of implemented habits.
You will have developed more robust impulse control.
You will have learned to breathe optimally all the time.
You will have become version 3.0
Whether you are integrating a macro psilocybin experience or a microdose, the above suggestions apply.
If you’ve never microdosed before and feel that 2024 is your year, then grab your starter kit here and be sure to sign up for our communities and monthly group coaching calls.
Now, your only mandate is to keep up the good work and keep us posted on your progress!
Shine bright. Do good. Flow strong.