There are no standards when talking about integration, and interpretations vary based on who you talk to. When talking about integration of psychedelic experiences, it is mainly about integrating the psychedelic experiences, which often offer a radically different worldview, into everyday life. The process begins right after an experience and can take years.
Psychedelics are used by millions of people, both "for fun" but also therapeutically and for personal development. Throughout life, knowledge and experience have been acquired through experiences that have made us who we think we are. We have thoughts about what is important, what is right, how you are and how the world around us is. Psychedelics provide an experience that can turn these elements on your head as well as show you thoughts and memories that are usually buried in the subconscious. These can be intense experiences that affect our mental and physical health. You can be confused, feel awe and generally feel that the experience and insight you have gained is indescribable. That there simply aren't words in our language yet. You may feel that you have learned extremely much, but at the same time have understood how little you actually know. Such an experience can split our identity structure, our ego, our thoughts about who we are.
The work begins after the experience
The experience itself only provides insight so the work is done after the experience, when sober. This work is what is often called integration and is about reorganizing our worldview, our identity structure again after the split. There are many ways to get this started and it is important that you find the method that suits you. Psychedelics Today has created a workbook for integration that is available for purchase here for a modest lump of money that can help a little on the way.
Work to remember the experience
It is not uncommon to gain some useful insight during an experience, but it tends to be a bit confusing and come in a format that is hard to come by. Experiences that are not repeated in the mind through mental pictures, words and emotions tend to be forgotten or distorted over time. I don't know how many times I've thought "I'll never forget this", then forgot about it a week later. There are some exercises to promote the memory of such an experience that I recommend:
- Avoid distractions – I always recommend taking the day after an experience off to think, walk around a bit and take it slow. Be present. Everything that pulls you out of the moment makes you forget faster, whether it's watching TV, playing video games, drinking alcohol, taking drugs, going to work, etc.
- Write it down – I encourage you to write about your experience, observations and dreams for the first few weeks while still fresh in memory.
- Talk about it – Talk to people you trust. Family/friends, a therapist, integration coach etc. MAPS has a list of integration therapists here.
- Draw and paint – Sometimes it is easier to express yourself through drawing. It doesn't have to be pretty, even simple drawings will help you remember.
- Listen to the music from the active session – If you listened to music during the experience, it's great to listen to this again. Writing or drawing at the same time can have an extra strong effect.
Become better acquainted with body and soul
A psychedelic experience can bring a new perspective to your present life. This has benefits you can cultivate and it is an opportunity to get to know both body and mind better. Daily distractions and habits tend to disconnect us from our own body sensations and emotions and this allows us to live unhealthy lives without noticing exactly what it does to us. By following some of these tips you may be able to feel more about how stress, unhealthy food, alcohol/drugs and lack of exercise affect your body, which in turn contributes to healthy changes. Here are some activities that can promote this reconnection.
- Excercise – The type of physical exercise you prefer, be it running, walking, swimming, lifting weights, cycling, etc.
- Healthy food – Try to eat healthier foods for a period after the active session. You may feel the difference.
- Intimacy – Cuddling, sex or massage can be a great way to notice your body.
- Meditation & #8211; It is not uncommon to pick up a meditation routine after a psychedelic experience. This can help integrate the "psychedelic mindset" into your life and reduce stress and anxiety. Many who have tried meditation in the past find it easier to meditate after a psychedelic experience.
- Music/art/writing – Expressing yourself in new ways and spending time with the arts can feel different now and give you more value than before.
- Spend time in nature or with animals – This can give a nice calm and more pleasure than you are used to.
Work on it, but don't rush it
A powerful experience can make you want to make many changes quickly. While this is a positive energy in itself I recommend avoiding making significant life changes the first four to six weeks after a psychedelic experience. Start with minor changes instead and see if you still want to make the bigger changes after some time has passed. This will allow the experience to integrate and adapt to your daily life and needs. You could also read books like Doors of Perception, A New Earth or After the Ceremony Ends for more support around changes.
Hope this is enough to get you started in the right direction. If you need help, just contact me.