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I had a tough journey three days ago

By Mushly.

Published on 16 November 2023

Beautiful, but also difficult. A lot of sources that speak on integration encourage figuring out what it all means. And you know what, I say no to that. My mind is wide open, and yet I feel grounded. I don’t feel like pretending or pandering. I don’t feel like getting deep and meaningful about this integration. I feel confident that if I stay awake and aware, the world around me will guide me. I feel like being present. Being alive. Basking in the sunlight, moving my body, and enjoying my work. If anything, I’d like a few practical strategies and then I’ll just get on with it, thank you very much. 

 

What is Integration

 

Integration into the world of psychedelic experiences is like weaving the threads of your journey into the fabric of your life. It's not just about coming down from that psychedelic high, though it certainly includes that. It’s a process of working to maximize the therapeutic benefits and minimize harm from your psychedelic experiences.

 

Once you're back in the land of the every day, you might wonder: What does all this mean? How do I use these insights? That's where integration comes in.

 

To integrate, you might use the tools of therapy, art, movement, or nature to help you process it all. But, here's the kicker. Integration is a deeply personal journey, my friend. What works for one person might not work for another. It's like piecing together a unique mosaic, your mosaic. You do it in your own time, at your own pace. You pick the bits that resonate and leave the rest behind.

 

To help you along the way, and draw on documented experiences of other people, here are some practical strategies that may help you. If you like them, use them. If you don’t, you are welcome to ignore them xoxo

 

Integration is Holistic and Multidisciplinary

Here is an article published on the Oregon state official website for public education. (Link: Here). It examines the integration approach of Brian, Laura, and Lesley after their psychedelic experiences. I’ve been very drawn to this resource after my journey. And you might like it too. So I’ve decided to summarize the practices they speak of as important to the integration process.

 

Brian’s Integration Practices

 

  • Making sense of confusing experiences

  • Making meaning or generating useful narratives/stories

  • Address lingering distress or symptoms

  • Concretize insights or new perspectives

  • Thoughtfully make changes based on new insights

  • Resolve conflict between psychedelic experience and one's prior belief systems

  • Coping with the fading of experience and returning to older habits and behaviors

  • Addressing psychological content that emerges, such as trauma

  • Adjusting back to regular life

  • Building and increasing connections and social support

  • Increase engagement with non-rational domains such as creativity, movement, art, dancing, nature, etc.

  • Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which is a mindfulness-based therapy, to help increase engagement with a values-based life

  • Homework, which can include drawing, journaling, calling social support, going out in nature, eating a balanced diet, or listening to music

  • Encouraging the development of mindfulness practices

 

Laura’s Integration Practices

 

  • Honoring the unfolding healing, learning, change, and growth process from a psychedelic experience

  • Embodied integration, including somatic and relationship-centered therapy

  • Processing unresolved trauma and grief that may arise during or after a psychedelic experience

  • Supporting integration through multidisciplinary approaches, including nature, movement/dance, mindfulness, and breathwork

  • Cultivating lasting resiliency, growth, and change within a supportive community

  • Making sense of and embodying the wisdom and insights gained from the psychedelic experience

  • Navigating relationships with partners, family, and community

  • Reconnecting with one's body, potentially for the first time

  • Finding a connection with self, others, and the Earth

  • Exploring purpose and grounding in self or relationships

  • Empowering a sense of choice and exploring what feels safe/unsafe in a psychedelic journey

 

Lesley’s Integration Practices

  • Working with the psychedelic experience as a valid and useful experience that can help a person grow and heal

  • Addressing difficult psychedelic experiences to heal trauma, make important life changes, or leave behind destructive behaviors or patterns

  • Offering individual therapy and integration through various means such as art therapy, expressive arts in a supportive community, integration circles, peer support, seeking support from traditional healers or spiritual counselors, engaging in community intentionally, being in nature, and taking better care of one's body

  • Using art therapy as part of the intention-setting for psychedelic sessions

  • Exploring imagery from psychedelic experiences through art and discussing these experiences in a group setting

  • These practices represent various aspects of helping individuals integrate their psychedelic experiences for personal growth and healing.

 

Integration Practices have a Long History

 

This peer-reviewed article (Link: here) is a wealth of wisdom in integration practices. It actually considers integration models from Indigenous cultures and Western Cultures and attempts to synthesize them in this table. How’s that for Meta? They’re trying to integrate integration.

 

Anyway, I thought you should have this information too. These models are like roadmaps that guide us on how to do this integration. Let me break it down in simpler terms:

 

1. Visionary Plant Medicine Integration: This model suggests that integration involves listening to your inner self, reflecting on your experiences, and getting creative. It also emphasizes taking care of your body, finding meaning in spiritual practices, developing good qualities, looking outward into the world, and connecting with nature.

 

2. Holistic Model for a Balanced Life: This model focuses on balancing your mind, body, and spirit. It involves sharing with others, being part of a community, and staying connected to nature.

 

3. Realms of Integration: This one looks at integrating your intellect and mental experiences, making sure your surroundings are in harmony with your mind and body, finding spiritual meaning, aligning your career and lifestyle with your experiences, and nurturing your relationships with others.

 

4. SAFETY: This model talks about psychological and transpersonal aspects of integration, taking care of your body and physical sensations, finding spiritual or existential meaning, and being part of a social community.

 

5. Nature Contact: Here, it's all about the psychological connection with nature, the emotional and affective side of things, experiencing the mystical or awe-inspiring, and, most importantly, nurturing your connection to the natural world.

 

6. Psychedelic Harm Reduction and Integration: This one is about psychological aspects, taking care of your body (the somatic part), connecting with the spiritual and mystical, and focusing on harm reduction, which means staying safe during your journeys.

 

7. Psychedelic Inclusive Model of the Psyche: This model involves psychological aspects, understanding your body, connecting with the spiritual and mystical, and adjusting your behavior based on your experiences.

 

8. Psycho-Spiritual Integration Process: This approach is about the psychological aspects of integration, taking care of your body (somatic), and exploring the psychospiritual side of things.

 

9. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: This model deals mainly with psychological aspects and behavior change, helping you embrace changes in your life based on your experiences.

 

10. Psychological Flexibility Model: Similar to the previous model, this one also focuses on psychological aspects and behavior change.

 

So, in a nutshell, these models provide different paths for integrating your experiences with plant medicines and psychedelics into your life. Each one emphasizes different aspects like the mind, body, spirit, community, and nature. It's like having different tools in your toolbox to create a happier, more meaningful life after these experiences.

 

Conclusion

 

You have it. Now don’t lose it.