Psychedelic journeys are not to be taken lightly, especially at home, alone. Yet self-isolating in quarantine for extended periods of time may become a new normal as we navigate these strange and changing times.
Yes there are risks to journeying alone, but with just a little forethought, these risks can be greatly minimized. The benefit, on the other hand, can be enormous.
Psychedelics are powerful substances that might be exactly the medicine we collectively need right now to move through this global crisis, and redefine not only our own lives in a world post COVID-19, but allow us to reflect on what the next chapter of “humans inhabiting planet earth” is going to look like.
Many people are suffering, not because of the virus but because entire worldviews are crumbling as we speak. As I often say, crisis can be the catalyst for transformation. Psychedelics can help us make meaning through drastic change. They can teach us how to think outside of the box and become more emotionally, mentally and physically resilient in preparation for an uncertain future. They can also help the many people struggling more than ever with depression, anxiety or addiction.
Psychedelics open up a portal into your inner universe and then extend a hand out to help you through it. And right now, it seems like this is the perfect time to slow down, go within, reflect and refocus your awareness on the inner vision you’re calling forth, not just for you, your family and community, but for the future of humanity and our planet.
Use this sacred and precious time as an invitation and opportunity to go within and remember what’s really important to you.
If you choose to accept this invitation, here are some practical guidelines to help you minimize any unnecessary risk, and encourage a safe and transformational experience.
Before You Journey
- Get Informed: Do your research and become familiar with the potential effects of the psychedelic you will be taking, the duration, as well as the dosage.
When it comes to dosage, if it’s your first time, take a smaller amount, or consider starting with a microdosing (or minidose) practice. This will allow you to gradually become familiar with the effects of that particular psychedelic or plant medicine. Remember it’s always easier to take a little more later on, rather than take less.
When mentally preparing and doing your research, it’s easy to fall into the trap of bolstering expectations. One thing for sure is that you can expect the unexpected. Keep in mind that everyone’s psychedelic experiences are different. Even the range of your own experiences can be vastly different from trip to trip.
Balance information with trust and intuition. Trust in the wisdom and intelligence of these powerful medicines. You will receive exactly the experience that is in your highest alignment.
- Know the Medical Contraindications: Some psychedelics have contraindications with certain pharmaceuticals, as well as both physical and mental health conditions. Even certain supplements should be avoided, depending on what medicine you will be working with. It’s important to do your own research and if you are unsure, or have questions about an existing medical condition or medication, consult with a medical doctor.
- Protect your mental health: As we experience large and drastic changes in our everyday lives, like what we are witnessing with COVID-19, staying mentally healthy is more important than ever. If you are feeling depressed or have suicidal thoughts, talk to a counselor or other experienced practitioner before embarking on a journey.
You can still journey safely if you struggle with depression. In fact, research shows that psilocybin can help treat depression, anxiety, addiction and PTSD, but it requires more integration support before and after your trip. If you are dealing with depression, don’t journey alone and consider starting with a microdosing morning practice.
It is also not advised to consume certain psychedelics while taking antidepressants. If you are on SSRIs, please consult with a medical practitioner before embarking on a psychedelic journey at home.
- Prepare Your Mindset: Spend some time reflecting on why you’re choosing to journey. Maybe you’re struggling to find meaning through the chaos of life or are seeking greater clarity about how to reinvent yourself for this next chapter we individually and collectively face. Maybe you want support with reducing anxiety, time for self-reflection, or are seeking greater perspective on your life.
Know your intention, but hold it lightly. Intention can easily transmute into expectation. Having clarity about why you want to do something is beneficial regardless of what the outcome will be. Before you journey, release your intention and lean into and embrace whatever happens.
- Choose a Date with Consideration: Pick a day of the week to journey that gives you enough time to prepare physically, mentally and emotionally. Eat well, take time to rest, meditate and do yoga in the days leading up to your trip.
Remember that if you pick a date to trip, but something happens that day that puts you in a funky head space, consider waiting another day. Sleep and hit the reset button so you can go into your journey with a clear, positive mindset.
- Plan Now for After Your Journey: Make sure to clear your schedule of any online meetings or work commitments for at least a few days after your psychedelic experience. This will allow ample time to rest and give you enough space to emotionally and mentally process your journey. Your post psychedelic integration is just as important as the trip itself. Consider scheduling a session with an integration coach the following day to help you process your experience.
Journaling about what you were shown and the messages you were given is a practice I highly recommend. Contact me if you’d like to be connected with recommended practitioners to speak with.
Setting Up Your Space
Don’t underestimate how much the setting or environment you journey in can impact your experience.
The key to setting yourself up for a transformational and healing psychedelic journey is to make sure your environment is safe, warm, relaxed and you have a buddy system in place as described below.
The more you take time to thoughtfully set up your space beforehand and consider what you might need, the more you avoid having to look for things or figure out logistics while you’re journeying.
If you’ve never had a psychedelic trip before, you might not know what you’ll need or the impact the finer details can have on your trip. If so, consider these suggestions.
- Clean Up Your Space Before You Trip: This may sound trivial, but trust me, it can have a big impact on your experience. Cleaning up and clearing clutter feels good anyways, and contributes to a clear, more expansive energy in the space.
Hit the reset button in your space; clean up the kitchen, do the dishes in the sink, do your laundry and clean up and organize your desk or work space. Creating a space with clean, clear surfaces can definitely lend itself to a positive experience.
- Consider What You Might Need: You don’t need all of these things and you can easily journey without any of them. Over time, you’ll start to know what you need to support your particular needs.
Here’s a List of Some Suggested Essentials You May Want to Consider for Your Psychedelic Journey
- Prioritize Your Comfort: Sometimes psychedelic trips can be internally uncomfortable, so it’s nice to journey in a really comfortable space to support you physically, mentally and emotionally. Take the time to create a cozy nest so you can feel safe and held. I like to have extra pillows and fuzzy blankets readily available while I trip.
- Comfortable clothing: Consider wearing soft, stretchy and comfortable clothing.
- Stay warm: Sometimes it’s easy to get cold (or hot) while tripping. Make sure to have a comfy sweater, some socks or extra blankets closeby. You may also oscillate between hot and cold. Layers are often a good idea to have. Lay them out in the space you’ll be journeying in, so you don’t have to get lost in your closet looking for them when you need them the most.
- Eye mask: I never journey without one. Eye masks are great for encouraging you to tune out of your external reality and tune into your inner reality.
- Noise cancelling headphones: This will greatly enhance your experience. I absolutely love my noise cancelling headphones and never journey without them. I use these SONY Headphones and absolutely love them.
- Curated psychedelic playlists: Take the time to set up a few different lists before you trip, or try one of my suggested playlists.
- It’s all about lighting: Lighting makes a huge difference when it comes to ambience. Soft, warm lighting is crucial. Salt lamps are great. I have a side lamp that I put a violet serong over, and this is usually my preferred light frequency. If you choose to do something like that, make sure it’s a light that won’t burn the fabric. Tea light candles that are placed in a secure holder to avoid fires are also a great option, so are LED candles.
- Stay Hydrated: Make sure you have easy access to water or coconut water. I like to pre-make a little thermos with herbal tea. Again, thoughtfully preparing allows you to be present for your experience, and avoids the whole process of having to navigate the kitchen while feeling elevated.
- Meditation cushion: Prepare your space (and your mind) to drop in for extended lengths of time to find stillness and connect with your center. If you need back support, set up a comfortable space to sit up in meditation that can comfortably support your neck, back and body. Meditation isn’t about being strict with yourself and white knuckling through uncomfortable seated positions. You can find a position that supports both your comfort and a relaxed state of mind.
- Yoga mat and props: It’s nice to have enough space to stretch or explore gentle movement. Sometimes, if you’re having a challenging emotional experience, you may want to try gentle, mindful movement to help you somatically release stored energy in your body and move through it.
- Materials for creativity: Journal, notebook and coloring pencils, instruments, etc. Be mindful to not use any of these as distractions that prevent you from going deeper into your experience.
- Altar space: Creating an altar space can connect you to a heart-felt sense of reverence for the sacredness of these medicines. An altar can remind you to appreciate the mystical beauty, wisdom and insights these medicines can offer us. Consider creating an altar space with a beautiful tapestry, a crystal, some palo santo, or other sacred personal objects.
Sentimental objects and photos of spiritual teachers can also provide a source of wisdom, courage, strength and reflection throughout your journey and add to a positive experience.
- Natural Visual Beauty: If you have access to cut flowers, set up a vase with flowers near your altar space. Succulents, potted plants, or anything from the natural world can help connect you with nature and Mother Earth.
- Scents: Consider palo santo, sage smudge, agua de florida, or rose spray to help shift stagnant energy energy in the space.
Preparing For Your Journey
- Prepare a light snack for when you’re finished: Consider eating light after your journey. Some fruit, veggies and dip, avocado on gluten free toast, or a nice warm chicken broth or veggie soup you can easily re-heat when you’re ready.
- Go Offline: Clear things off of your to-do list. Put your phone on airplane mode and if you can, leave your phone in another room altogether. Although you might feel a strong urge, refrain from trying to text or send people you love messages until the following day. I like to download my psychedelic journey playlists for offline listening on Spotify so I can have minimal contact with electronic devices.
- Have a Buddy System: I don’t recommend journeying alone, especially if it’s your first time. Even for experienced trippers, having a little extra loving support is always nice. If you live with a roommate, ask them to check in on you periodically throughout your trip, and ask them to stay within earshot in case of an emergency.
If you live alone, perhaps invite a friend to be your “sitter”. They can hang out and read in the living room, giving you space to journey, but can also be there for you if you need them. This can help you feel safe so you can feel energetically held, relax, let go and go deep.
At the very least, never journey without telling someone. Tell a friend who lives nearby when you will begin your journey so they can call or message you near the end and even come and check in on you. Let them know you may text them in the middle of your journey if you need some support. Have their contact already pulled up in your phone, or put them on speed dial to make contacting them easy to do if you’re elevated.
Being a little nervous to journey at home is totally understandable. Keep in mind that millions of people have journeyed alone safely. Despite the negative propaganda, psychedelic emergencies are fairly rare, especially if you prevent unnecessary risk by informing yourself abot medical contraindications. When in doubt, reach out.
If you create the right space, start at lower doses, and have a buddy system in place, you’re setting yourself up for what may be a powerful, transformational experience that can also help you navigate through this unprecedented time of change.
Make sure you know the source of the medicine you are about to consume.
Keep in mind that it is advised that the more powerful hallucinogens like ayahuasca, iboga, and 5-MEO-DMT are to be consumed with highly experienced facilitators or shamans holding space for your experience. Please do not journey alone with these substances unless you are highly experienced, to avoid putting yourself at physical, mental or emotional risk. And even if you do have experience, it’s still important to make sure to implement the buddy system.
Even though many retreats and larger ayahuasca and san pedro circles have been cancelled due to COVID-19, there are still wonderful facilitators holding very small or private ceremonies. Ask around and always go on a solid recommendation.
There’s a huge network of underground practitioners who do an amazing job holding space, as well as many people who claim to have experience but actually don’t.
Use these guidelines to vet your shaman.
Please remember, you don’t have to do this alone. There are resources and people to help support you along the way, including me.
May your journey be safe, blessed and exactly the medicine you need.