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These are intense times we are living through. Many people are seeking out psychedelic experiences to help cope with the drastic changes we face in our everyday lives.
The music you choose can significantly influence the outcome of your psychedelic experience. If you want to have a safe psychedelic journey at home, I encourage you to consider preparing a music playlist in advance to support a positive, transformational and healing process.
To help set the stage for a life-changing transformational psychedelic experience, it’s important to consider the following four factors that will have the most influence over your journey:
In this guide to curating a psychedelic playlist, we’ll dive into #4, exploring suggestions and factors to consider when curating a music playlist to support you through your next psychedelic journey.
In addition, you’ll also get access to four of my favorite playlists and a list of a few of the musicians I love listening to while I’m journeying. Feel free to swipe any of my entire lists and listen to them as is, mix and match between them, or modify and adapt them as you see fit to meet your particular musical preferences.
Music has this incredible capacity to shift our energy, raise our vibrational frequency, transform our entire state of being and inspire deep levels of healing in our lives. When combined with psychedelics, music can become even more powerful.
The music you listen to during a psychedelic journey can help you:
Yes, the music you choose to journey with can have that big of an impact on you. Songs can imprint your nervous system with a new pattern, encouraging a new way of being and a new way of perceiving, laying the foundation for transformation to unfold.
Having a pre-made playlist is an excellent way to set yourself up to go deep on your next psychedelic journey. The last thing you want to navigate while tripping is your electronic device. It can be disorienting, distracting, and even overwhelming to sort through your phone, looking for songs.
I personally like using Spotify Premium. It’s well worth the $10 a month to avoid ads and be able to download entire playlists to offline listening. Between offline listening and noise-canceling headphones with external button control directly on the headphone, you can put your phone on airplane mode while you journey, (which is highly recommended–trust me, you don’t want to trip and text!), and have minimal engagement with your phone altogether.
We all know that music preferences vary widely, depending on which generation you belong to, where you grew up, and your personal musical taste. As a result, there’s not a one size fits all approach here. When creating your own playlist for your psychedelic trip, here are some things to consider:
Every psychedelic journey is unique; the journey itself can be a full spectrum experience and vary significantly from the opening of your ceremonial container to its closing. Within that variation, different music will be more appropriate depending on which stage of the journey you’re in and what emotional experience you might be going through.
If you’re having a moment of feeling anxiety, for example, then listening to something calming and repetitive like the natural sounds of rain, a mantra, or playing a guided meditation specifically for anxiety could be incredibly supportive. Sitting in silence might also be the most appropriate thing to do at that moment. Use your intuition, and follow the resonant frequency of what feels good and what doesn’t.
Psychedelics trips vary, but they also tend to follow a general time “arch” of experience. Of course, that arch will undoubtedly vary depending on the amount of psychedelic substance you ingest and how fast of a metabolizer you are.
Generally, for a 6 to 8-hour trip, you’ll likely peak somewhere in the middle and then gradually come down–although I know I’ve definitely experienced some curveballs in my day!
After I open my ceremonial container with a prayer or intention, I like to start my journeys and playlists off with either a guided meditation or brainwave meditation music without lyrics that I can sit with for at least 20-30 minutes and practice open-focus awareness (a meditation technique that I teach in my microdosing for flow online programs as well as at my AYA Visionary Retreats). This allows me to slowly drop into my center, relax my nervous system, and focus on my intention.
I generally start with slower, gentler music for the first 30 to 60 minutes. I often arrange my playlists so that I listen to specific songs that are deeply meaningful to my healing process during the peak of my psychedelic journey. This is because when we’re in an altered state of consciousness, that’s when we are the most susceptible and influenced by the messages in the songs we listen to.
Instead of my psychedelic playlists following the arch of an ecstatic dance set (if you’re familiar with this style) where it starts off slow, peaks, and then comes back down, I like to bring up the tempo of music after I’ve peaked because this is when I’ve cleared a lot of blocked energy and I want to continue learning by shaking and moving my body.
Needless to say, if you feel the call to move some energy, be careful. I like to start by getting on my yoga mat and slowly start moving my body, waking up my spine, and opening my hips.
Depending on where I’m at in my personal process, if I’m full of energy, I might launch into a full-blown ecstatic dance sesh, which always feels so freakin’ good. I find dancing towards the end of my journey really helps clear stagnant energy, gives me a deep cellular reset, and helps my entire being align with the frequency of inspiration.
One of the playlists I created is specifically for this purpose: to dance and move your body on the tail end of your journey.
After I move my body, I like to end on a 20-30 minute meditation and close my circle from this centered, grounded place, so I can wind down and prepare for deep sleep.
Find a musical story arch that works for you.
Considering that you never know what the journey is going to bring, I like to make my playlists at least 6-8 hours long. I can conveniently swipe forward on my noise-canceling headphones to the next song if I’m not jiving with the tunes in that particular moment, and I’ll still have plenty of songs to choose from, without running out.
Since I like to pause songs to create space for silence, and also play my own music, I often won’t go through my entire playlist. But having more songs than I’m likely to listen to gives me more flexibility, allowing me to draw upon a variety of options.
Another factor you want to consider is the length of each individual song. If each song I listen to is only 2-3 minutes, then I’m constantly changing gears. Remember that songs take us on a journey. In a sense, music can often guide the way. In some situations, longer songs are more appropriate and allow you to go on a longer, deeper, and uninterrupted journey.
Some shorter songs are great, but not for the whole time. I change it up with longer songs that are more meditative, have repetitive healing mantras, or use different instruments or soundscapes to ignite a variety of visionary experiences.
It’s also worth pausing songs to give your mind a rest and dwell in the soundscape of silence, or the natural sounds emerging around you.
When journeying with psychedelics, some people prefer to journey to music without lyrics, while others prefer music with words. As mentioned, your journey can vary greatly. In some moments, certain songs with specific lyrics can be a profound catalyst to process deeply buried emotions. But listening to song after song with lots of words can also pull you out of your experience and bring you more into your thinking mind.
I find it essential to have a variety of music on the playlist to draw upon. Sometimes listening to longer songs without lyrics, but have compelling and resonant soundscapes, can actually put you into visionary trance. It’s these deeper trance states that I find incredibly powerful where we have greater access to our subconscious material.
I personally like to have a mix of both lyrical and non-lyrical music readily available on my playlists. Since what you hear will influence what you experience in your visionary dimensions, I generally have songs with words interspersed with more meditative or longer songs, so I can go on a variety of journeys in the realms of my consciousness.
Mix it up. Sometimes I’ll listen to a musicians entire album because their specific frequency is just speaking so profoundly to my heart during that psychedelic journey. But more often than not, I find that more than a few songs in a row from the same person becomes somewhat repetitive.
I personally like to mix things up with various male and female artists (although I do tend to listen to more female musicians), different instruments, and a range of soundscapes to keep the inner visionary realm dynamic.
If you’re used to listening to a particular genre of music and not used to the frequency of songs in the playlists I created, for example, I encourage you to stay open to these new musical possibilities––as long as they feel good. Sometimes, when you listen to a new song you’ve never heard before while in an altered state––especially one with a profound message––it can strike a deep chord and stir something new within you. It may allow you to look at yourself in a new light and help you step out of your mental and behavioral conditioning.
While you are journeying with psychedelics, you’re more easily influenced and susceptible to the lyrical messages you hear. Keeping this in mind, you can consciously choose music to help re-wire old beliefs transmuting them into new ones, help you shift perspective, and inspire new ways of thinking. That’s why music plays such a significant role in the transformational process.
With a wide-open and easily influenced psyche, I encourage you to think about what songs you will be exposing your consciousness to and intentionally choose songs with life-affirming, inspiring and positive messages. Choose songs that help you to forgive, to love yourself, to let go, to reflect on what’s important. Songs that encourage you to connect with nature and to heal from the wounds of your past.
I also encourage you to become more aware of the subconscious messages in the music you listen to beyond your psychedelic journeys and in your everyday life.
I heard Michael Pollan, best selling author of How to Change Your Mind, mention in a talk that when he was journeying with mushrooms for one of his first times in a therapeutic setting, he had trouble with the “new age” music he was listening to. He had to ask his guide to change the music to something he resonated more with, which, in his case, happened to be classical music.
You want the music you’re listening to, to add to the experience not detract from it. If it’s not resonant, it can also annoy and distract you from going deeper into your inward process–if you choose to get hung up on it.
If something doesn’t resonate, just change it up. Use the vibrational frequency of your feelings as your internal compass to discover what feels like a resonant match and what doesn’t.
It can be easy to fall into the trap of using music as another method of distraction, something you focus on or fidget with that prevents you from going deeper into your process while tripping. That’s why I recommend interspersing music with periods of silence.
If you are in nature, the sounds surrounding you can stir a sense of newfound awe and curiosity within. Tuning into what you hear can be very calming, anchoring, helpful, and incredibly nourishing.
If you are in a city apartment with lots of disruptive noise, then noise-canceling headphones can be a godsend. Earplugs can also do the trick. Maybe you also want to simply listen to what you consider noise and tune into how it makes you feel, and just sit with that feeling without needing to move away from it.
If you play music or love to sing, I encourage you to explore your own musical expression throughout your journey. Even if you don’t love singing, I highly recommend starting to open your voice. Many people unknowingly have unhealed trauma around their voice, and so much healing can unfold simply by opening it up to sing.
What’s more, words create sound and sounds carry vibrational frequency, and these frequencies, in turn, affect us on a cellular level. These frequencies carry with them the capacity to heal us at the core of our being. Even if you don’t know the lyrics, humming along or “toning” can start opening up that creative lifeforce power that resides within you, that psychedelics are particularly good at unlocking.
As you’ll intuitively experience, there is a time to create music and a time to receive music. Find a rhythmic balance that works for you.
There’s a whole world of incredible music out there, and a lot to choose from when it comes to picking the right kind of music that will be most conducive to your psychedelic journey.
After 20 years of working with psychedelics, I believe that some musical genres are more conducive to healing psychedelic experiences than others. To avoid being overwhelmed by the process, I’ve created these ready-made playlists for you to enjoy.
It goes without saying that the music playlists I’ve created sing to my personal musical preferences. My hope, however, is that they expose you to new inspirational artists, as well as opens up and expands your musical world, not only for your psychedelic journeys, but to bring more positive inspiration into the ceremony of everyday life.
I hope you enjoy this music as much as I have!
By sharing some of my favorite musicians I love listening to during my psychedelic journeys, I’m in no way stating that any of these musicians work with plant medicines or psychedelics.
East Forest: There is so much to explore within all of East Forest’s musical offerings. The guided and instrumental meditations he offers at the beginning of his “Still” album as well as his “Meditations for Chaotic Times” album are worth exploring and adding to your psychedelic playlist.
East Forest even has an album called “Music for Mushrooms: A Soundtrack for the Psychedelic Practitioner“
I highly recommend embarking on your psychedelic journey with a pair of Sony noise-canceling headphones (they have a range to choose from) along with a comfortable eye mask. I include them in my list of essentials outlined in the guide “How to Have a Safe Psychedelic Trip at Home.”
Listening to music on noise-canceling headphones will prove to be a drastically different experience than listening with earbuds or on a small speaker. The reason I love these headphones is because they have an incredible sound quality and you can hear such intricacy of detail. This really enhances the experience.
I also love that I can conveniently and quickly swipe forward to the next song, relisten to the last song, or double-tap to pause a song right on the outside of the headphones themselves, preventing me from having to pick up my phone to make those same adjustments.
This also allows me to avoid interacting with a bright screen on my phone and navigate electronics, which can prove to be challenging when journeying with psychedelics.
If you’d like to start working with psychedelics, please read my disclaimer and consider working with someone who can help guide you on your journey. Here are some additional helpful resources to explore:
Always put your safety first.
For aspiring Bodhisattva’s on the plant medicine path.