Bringing understanding to ineffability Continue to article

Beyond understanding, beyond reach?

Whether you tripped at a music festival, went deep with a bestie on some shrooms, or dabbled with acid during college. Whether you had a notable experience or were left completely uncertain of what to make of the experience, to even being put off from the experience entirely. We can all take some time to better consolidate the experiences we have had. No matter how we feel about the experience, we are always given exactly what we are meant to experience. So how do we open the door of understanding into these spaces so far beyond the regular experience and means that we use to understand our experiences? 


With the emergence of more mainstream research and consumption of psychedelic substances, and even decriminalization of magic mushrooms in various states of the United States, we are seeing the emergence of therapies and therapists aimed toward the consolidation of these experiences in a way that we may embody and learn from these experiences. 


So how do we do it


While this may seem like a difficult topic, we simply tend to have a tendency to overcomplicate things, when the simplest answer is often the best. During a psychedelic experience, our brains are able to enter into altered states, where our brain's regular behavior is altered(the exact alteration dependent on the compound), but with magic mushrooms, for example, we see a greater level of connectivity and communication between the various sectors of our brain. This in turn means that we are likely to experience some expanded feelings compared to what and how we normally feel. These feelings are essentially acting as pointers, showing a path to what we are truly feeling underneath. So while these may range from enjoyable to excruciating, we have always presented the opportunity to decide how we feel about these feelings, and thereby whether we are able to consolidate them. This is to say, accept the new feeling and see what new avenues this opens us up to.


In a nutshell, we choose how we “feel”, about these new sensations and feelings, and if we are able to calm our nervous system sufficiently we may use this experience to move past the space we are currently in and how we presently look at things.

1. A deeper look inside


A key consideration is always to remember why you tripped, whether you were setting an intention and altering your lifestyle leading up to the journey, or simply taking it because some friends were, this all plays a role in the experience of your trip. This is what is colloquially called “set” and “setting”. If you take the time to recall what space you were in, what intention you may have set, and what was generally happening in your life, you will begin to see the bigger picture of what the experiences you were having were teaching you. This is often symbolic and is at more of an experiential level rather than intellectual. Here is when we suspend our disbelief and seek to rather allow ourselves to feel without justification. A key reminder here is also that there are no “bad trips”, only experiences that were difficult. These experiences may be the most pivotal of all experiences as they are able to show us the level of ourselves that we almost refuse to see. The more we seek to create a good relationship with these uncomfortable experiences, the more we will grow far beyond our wildest dreams.


2. Connect with like-minded people 


Due to the nature of experiences with psychedelics being beyond what is normal, often the experiences, and how we associate with these, are beyond what we normally comprehend. This means that triggers and means of recalling our experiences and learnings may feel out of reach. A good method to recall and connect with these has therefore been found to be connecting with others that have also had journeys and experiences. Sharing one's journey and trips have been found to be a great way to connect and integrate our experiences, much like we do on a human level, as we find they are all a part of this abstract experience we live called the human experience. Recognizing and realizing this overlap is a beautiful piece of life we get to experience and this can be done through online forums, or more recently in person via many new ventures popping up. These include those such as the Entheogen Integration Circle, for those residing in New York. Websites like Meetup also provide many community-led circles, in many major US cities like Portland, Boston, and Los Angeles. You can also find more local consolidation therapists by searching on MAPS’ online database.


3. Walk your mind before you run it


Slow and steady is the name of the game here, specifically because psychedelics go so heavily into the space beyond words. The feelings and sensations one experiences are beyond what we normally do, and as such, we need different ways to tap into these feelings and, very importantly, express them. Some great ways include art, movement, dance, bodywork, and quite simply anything that allows us to tune in. This tuning-in is a process of dropping our consciousness further into our body as we allow ourselves to better feel the sensations, rather than trying to understand them, from here we then have an actionable path to expressing and moving with them. A tool that is commonly recommended for this is journaling, specifically right after the experience, or during, if one is able. Any sights, sounds, visions, or feelings experienced during the trip are powerful and should be taken note of for reflection. Through the process of embodiment, we recall the experiences we were having, by opening ourselves up to feeling the same sensations and surrounding sensations, such as the music we were listening to, as these may prime the same experience and allow us to consolidate the process and experience we were having. This is a process and one that we benefit from revisiting as, just as we change, so does what we take from the experience. Slow and steady wins the race.


4. Cultivate stillness 


Meditation and stillness have innumerable benefits, with the list only growing. Pair this with the fact that research finds that maintaining such a practice is easier post-psychedelic experience, the combo and match are truly made in heaven. If you are just beginning such a practice, start by simply sitting for 10 minutes, even follow a guided one, but try it out and see how it impacts your life. If you have already been cultivating a practice, start deepening that practice and begin meditating for longer. Even use an upcoming trip as a springboard, by increasing meditation leading up to a trip, so that you are ready to fully immerse within. This practice can help you become clear within yourself on what you are really wanting to achieve and set intentions toward achieving that. 


5. Consider Consolidating with a Professional

While not everyone requires consolidating with a professional, or may not have the resources to do so, the option is available and should be considered if that would be most beneficial. MAPS’ online database is a great tool for finding and connecting with such an individual and may make the process much easier and more integrated. If a therapist is not available in your area, one may always use video calls to do so via distance. Clinical trials have found that therapy sessions help to create a fuller integration that allows one to really take the most out of their experiences. This should be considered if you are having difficulty following an experience