Psychedelic journeys are not to be taken lightly, especially at home.
I first and foremost recommend that you work with entheogenic substances within a therapeutic setting, under the guidance of a trained guide, therapist, or facilitator.
Here’s a guide on “vetting your shaman/guide/facilitator that includes over 40 questions you can ask to make sure you choose to work with someone you can trust.
As a result of COVID-19, countless thousands of underground circles abruptly stopped. I’ve recently heard that some psychedelic circles are starting back up again in the Bay area. I think this may be pre-mature and may put participants at unnecessary risk.
To make matters worse, long stretches of social isolation and shelter-in-place orders have precipitated one of the most devastating mental health crises in human history, with over one-third of Americans struggling with depression and/or anxiety.
Over the last few years, there has been an incredible surge in positive media coverage of psychedelics, and for a good reason. Many psychedelics studies now show that these powerful substances can help treat the same mental health conditions that millions of people are struggling with, who aren’t being successfully treated by other methods.
As a matter of safety and harm reduction, many professionals in the psychedelic space feel that it’s irresponsible to offer guides for tripping at home.
I mostly agree with that stance, especially until it is legal to work with psychedelics (which may not be as far off as we imagine).
On the other hand, thousands upon thousands, even millions of people are seeking out alternative support for a wide variety of reasons.
My perspective is that if you are one of those people who want to have a safe trip in the comfort of your home, my intention is to provide supportive and educational materials for you to do that safely.
The primary reason I feel compelled to write this guide is because I talk openly about the benefits of working with psychedelics and sacred plant medicines. Not including this content feels morally irresponsible.
Despite the controversial nature of this topic, I believe that psychedelics and sacred plant medicines may be exactly the medicine we need to support us through this precarious moment in time. Not only to help us address the mental health crisis but also to help us collectively go within and hold the inner vision of a new, more harmonious future.
Although I believe the movement towards working with psychedelics within the medical/therapeutic model is hugely beneficial, I also like to remind people that millions upon millions of people have journeyed safely over (at least) the last several thousand years.
If you make that choice to consciously work with psychedelics for therapeutic purposes, with the intention of healing, please do everything in your power to take responsibility. Educate yourself to minimize risk and prioritize your safety, and get the support you need. If you do want to journey at home, invite a friend to be your psychedelic “sitter” to support you in case of an emergency.
Please read my disclaimer before choosing to journey at home.
Do Your Research and Get Informed
Do your research and become familiar with the potential effects of the entheogenic substance you will be taking, the typical duration, as well as the recommended dosage per kg of body weight.
One of the most important things you need to know are the medical contraindications. Some psychedelics have contraindications with certain pharmaceuticals, as well as physical and mental health conditions. Even certain supplements should be avoided, depending on what medicine you will be working with. It’s essential to do your research, and if you are unsure, or have questions about an existing medical condition or medication, consult with a medical doctor first.
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.
Protect Your Mental Health
As we experience substantial 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 therapist who’s familiar with psychedelics, or other experienced practitioners before embarking on any psychedelic journey.
You can still have a safe and beneficial journey 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.
Dosage: Start with Minidosing
There’s no need to hurl yourself over the deep end. Remember, it’s always easier to take a little more later on in your journey than undo taking too much all at once. Also, keep in mind that the later you consume, the longer you will likely be awake.
When it comes to dosage, especially if it’s your first time, start with a very small amount. This may be under half a gram for psilocybin or 25-40 micrograms of LSD.
You can still experience positive mental health benefits at lower doses. Consider cultivating a microdosing (or mini-dose) practice first under the guidance of an experienced practitioner. This will allow you to gradually become familiar with the effects of that particular psychedelic or plant medicine.
Some entheogens are much stronger than others. To avoid putting yourself at physical, mental, or emotional risk, do not journey with more powerful hallucinogens like ayahuasca, iboga, and 5-MEO-DMT alone.
These are best consumed under the guidance of highly experienced facilitators or shamans who can hold space for your experience.
Know Your Source and Test Your Substance
It’s essential to make sure you know the person who is providing you with your psychedelic substances. Keep in mind that entheogens are still considered a Schedule I drug in the US, and procuring them is illegal. Some counties and cities in the US (like Oakland, Denver, and recently Santa Cruz, CA) have started de-criminalizing plant medicines, like psilocybin.
People are selling all sorts of weird substances these days. It’s actually not as easy to find super clean LSD as it used to be. If you are going to trip with a chemical compound like LSD, get it tested.
Have a Psychedelic Sitter
Whether you have experience working with psychedelics or not, one of the easiest and best ways to ensure your safety is to have a psychedelic sitter. It could be a friend, a roommate, or someone with experience who comes highly recommended.
This is also a comprehensive manual created by the Zendo project for safety and harm reduction. Or you can watch their training video.
A psychedelic sitter doesn’t necessarily have to sit with you in the room, especially if that feels awkward or uncomfortable. They can also hang out in the living room, within earshot distance, and regularly check in on you.
At the very least, never journey without telling someone.
It’s helpful to plan ahead for your journey so that you can adequately prepare.
Give Yourself at Least a Week to Prepare
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.
Plan Now for Your Integration After Your Journey
Start by reading this comprehensive guide to psychedelic integration before you choose to journey. This guide offers sound advice to laying a solid foundation for your integration process.
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.
If you want to work with psychedelics to help transform your life, read this in-depth guide: Change Your Story, Transform Your Life: How Psychedelics Can Help You Transform Your Life for the Better
Understand the Importance of Set-and-Setting
Timothy Leary was one of the first people to talk about the importance of “set and setting,” claiming that these factors determine and influence as much as 99% percent of the trip itself.
Think of setting as the external context and set as the internal context — short for mindset.
Setting describes the context, where you choose to embark on a psychedelic journey and with whom. Mindset refers to your attitude, how you’re thinking and feeling going into a trip.
Prepare Your Mindset
What can you do to help get yourself in a good head space before you journey? For me, going for a walk is always an enjoyable and reliable way to get endorphins flowing and boost my mood, especially while listening to good music. Dancing, yoga, or engaging in some form of movement can also be a great way to lift the energy and contribute to a positive attitude.
Meditation can help contribute to a grounded, calm, and centered feeling, a great way to go into a psychedelic journey.
You can also listen to an inspirational video or read a book you’ve turned to for support in the past. Speaking with someone you love and feeling a sense of social connection can also help get you into a positive mind frame.
Connect with Your Intention
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 a shift in perspective on your life.
Know your intention, but hold it lightly going into the journey. Intentions can easily transmute into expectations. Having clarity about why you want to do something is beneficial regardless of what the outcome will be. One thing you can count on is to expect the unexpected. Keep in mind that everyone’s psychedelic experiences are different. Even your own experience can differ significantly from trip to trip.
Before you journey, release your intention and lean into and embrace whatever happens. Trust in the wisdom and intelligence of these powerful medicines. You will receive exactly the experience that is in your highest alignment.
Prepare to be Offline
Another helpful way to support a positive headspace while you’re journeying is to clear your schedule ahead of time and plan in advance to be offline. Clear things off of your to-do list. The last thing you want to be thinking (or worrying about) while your tripping is that phone call you need to make or email you need to send.
Electronics can be distracting and remind you of things you need to do. When you trip, 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 texting or sending people you love messages until the following day.
I like to download my psychedelic journey playlists for offline listening on Spotify to have minimal contact with electronic devices.
If you pick a date to trip, and something happens that day that puts you in a funky headspace, consider waiting another day. Sleep and hit the reset button so you can go into your journey with a clear, positive mindset.
Setting Up Your Space
Don’t underestimate how much the setting, or environment you choose to 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 have a psychedelic sitter present to support you.
The more you take the time to thoughtfully set up your space beforehand and consider what you might need, the more you avoid looking for things or figuring 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 significant 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 workspace. Creating a space with clean, clear surfaces can definitely lend itself to a positive experience.
Prepare a light snack for when you’re finished
I like to plan ahead and prepare a light snack for after my journey. Again, this can help set the tone and reduce anything extraneous that you have to think about while you’re tripping. Prepare whatever you consider healthy and nourishing. Maybe that’s some fruit, veggies and dip, avocado on gluten-free toast, or a nice warm chicken broth, or veggie soup. I like preparing a soup I can easily reheat when I’m done.
Consider What You Might Need
You definitely don’t need to have all of the items in the following list, 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. 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-canceling headphones: This will greatly enhance your experience. I absolutely love my noise-canceling headphones and never journey without them. I use these SONY Headphones.
- Curated psychedelic playlists: Take the time to set up a few different lists before your trip. Here’s a complete guide to curating your music playlist for psychedelic journeys.
- Consider soft lighting: Lighting makes a huge difference when it comes to ambiance. Soft, warm lighting is crucial. Salt lamps are great. LED tea-light candles are fantastic, so you don’t have to worry about fire. I have this LED strip that has a violet option on it. This purple light frequency is my favorite.
- 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 navigating the kitchen while feeling elevated.
- Meditation cushion: Prepare your space (and your mind) to drop into meditation for shorter or 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 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 place 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 explore gentle, mindful movement to help you somatically release stored energy in your body, helping you to move through and process whatever you’re experiencing.
- Materials for creativity: Journal, notebook and coloring pencils, instruments, etc. Be mindful not to 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 sandalwood to burn, or other personal objects you hold sacred.
- 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 in the space.
Swipe my 4 inspirational music playlists I’ve created, including a complete 8-hour playlist for psychedelic journeys.
Consider “baby-proofing” your space. If you live in an apartment, make sure you take the necessary precautions like locking the balcony door beforehand.
If you feel the urge to go outside and connect with nature, make sure someone is there to support you. Don’t be afraid to ask for the support you need. When in doubt, reach out.
In case of medical emergencies, please don’t hesitate to call 911.
Working with Challenging Emotions
Before your trip, read this guide on working with and navigating through challenging emotional experiences, it may give you the support you need, right when you need it the most.
Once Again, Prioritize Your Integration
Remember to take your integration seriously. Here’s the link for helpful integration guides:
Start by reading this comprehensive guide to psychedelic integration before you choose to journey. This guide offers sound advice to laying a solid foundation for your integration process.
Small Private Circles May Still be Happening:
Even though many retreats and larger ayahuasca and San Pedro circles have been canceled 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.
Please remember, you don’t have to do this alone. There are additional resources and people to help support you along the way, including me. If you want additional support, don’t hesitate to reach out and get in touch, and either I or someone in my network of professionals can help support you.
If you create the right space, know the medical contra-indications, start at lower doses, and have a psychedelic sitter, you’re setting yourself up for what may be a powerful, transformational experience.
May your journey be safe, blessed, and exactly the medicine you need.