Why is integration important?
Integrating a psychedelic journey is important so that its therapeutic potential can last for longer, and also to reconcile any confusing thoughts or feelings that arose during the experience itself.
What are the most important integration practices to use?
The best ones are spending time in nature, meditating, breath work, journalling, and talking to people you trust.
What are some integration practices to avoid?
Avoid making rash decisions in the days after your journey and don't go around telling everybody that they should use magic mushrooms or other psychedelics!
We recently shared with you an article on the importance of preparing for your magic mushroom experience. The lead up plays a big role in what happens during the journey. But what happens after is equally as important. Integrating a psychedelic journey is just as important as preparing for it.
Timothy Leary says that the moment you start to “come back” to the physical world, you’ve begun “re-entry”. Re-entry doesn’t end after a good night’s sleep. Rather, the next few days can be spent achieving a good re-entry — if you know how to create the correct environment.
In all fairness, integration looks a lot like preparation, but there are a few extra tips we have for you for post dose care. In order for the therapeutic, positive effects of your magic mushroom experience to be felt long after the journey itself, integration is absolutely vital.
Your magic mushroom experience might have a great impact.
The reason it’s important to integrate your psychedelic journey is because the journey itself can be one of the most impactful events of your life. Many LSD, ayahuasca, and magic mushroom users report that the experience is transformative, although scientists are still trying to understand this phenomenon.
Experiences that have this great of an impact on our lives don’t come around very often. It’s like our wedding day, the death of a loved one, or the birth of a child. There are certain moments in life that seem to mean a great deal. And those events typically tend to carry that importance throughout the rest of your life.
So if magic mushrooms is like that (or can be like that), then preparation and integration are due. The same way we don’t just get over the death of a loved one, we don’t just get over a mushroom journey. It can take time to integrate what you’ve seen, learned, and felt. You wouldn’t process the passing of a family member while you were at work; you’d probably take a few days off work for that. Even researchers have included post-drug integrative therapy sessions to support their study subjects.
Well, the principle is exactly the same with magic mushrooms or any other psychedelic experience. It’s impactful; it’s transformative; and you ought to take some time for processing that experience. Here are some tips on how to do that.
1. Have at least 2 days post dose to chill.
Integration begins with time and space. That means time that you don’t have to work or attend commitments. Even family lunches or social events are considered too much work for post-psychedelic integration.
These couple of days should be spent at your leisure, doing any number of the activities we’re about to suggest to you.
Most importantly, you can’t do any proper integration while you’re busying yourself with meetings, work, emails or commitments. Take the time; at least 2 days.
2. Spend some time in nature.
While your brain and mind are in a very malleable, hypnagogic state, it can be very meditative to spend some time in the elements. Spending time in nature improves mental health in a number of ways, but the environment itself is also very conducive to meditation. And that’s something you should do a lot of while you’re “re-entering” the physical world.
While you’re spending time in nature, you might reconnect with some of the thoughts, feelings, or visions you had during your experience. It’s a chance to see those experiences from a “sober” perspective and begin integrating them into your daily life and behaviour.
3. Journal. Draw. Express.
You might find that in the days after your journey, you have a lot of emotions, memories, and abstract thoughts. Part of the integration process is to express those feelings and emotions. Plus, there’s a lot that you might have experienced that will soon begin to fade away, so journaling about your experience both during and after can help to solidify those experiences into your memory.
You might write about some of the memories you had, some of the people who popped up in your head, or some of the scary parts of the journey. It’s entirely up to you; journaling should feel free and natural.
Emily Williams, a San-Francisco psychotherapist who specialises in post-psychedelic integration suggests a mandala art activity. It’s unguided and intuitive. You give yourself a set period of time and just start filling the page with mandala patterns.
4. Breathwork and meditation.
For some psychedelic users, meditation is the only way to stretch out the clarity and quietude that can come with a psychedelic experience. Plenty of people feel relaxed or “cleansed” and want to maintain that feeling for as long as possible. Meditating on that feeling or doing breathwork activities can help.
Breathwork and meditation are also useful in the event that the experience didn’t leave you feeling so relaxed or peaceful. Meditation and breathwork exercises can help you settle into your body so that you’re better able to process difficult experiences and transform them into healing ones.
5. Pay attention to your dreams.
You might also find that after your magic mushroom experience, your dreams are more vivid for a few days. It’s a good chance to check in with your dreams. Keep your “eyes” open for symbols and people that connect you with the psychedelic experience you had. They can be clues as to what kind of emotional processing is happening for you.
You can also keep a journal of your dreams alongside your daytime journal.
6. Talk to people you trust.
It can be an important time to share. With the many ideas and feelings that are coming to you, it pays to have people you trust around to offload onto. It’s important that those who you share your psychedelic journey with aren’t judgemental. They should be able to sit there and listen to all of your meanderings without calling you crazy!
It’s even better if they’re people that have also had a psychedelic experience before.
Things not to do during post dose integration.
Just as there are do’s, there are some very clear don’ts. With all of the feelings and the sense that what you’ve gone through was the most epic thing of your life, it can be easy too carried away. So here are some post-dose practices we definitely don’t recommend.
Don’t try to convert everybody into a mushroom tripper.
Ahh, everybody has that friend. Trust us, you don’t want to be them. The person who sounds a little too much like an evangelical and after their journey, wants to go around telling everybody that they must get on the psychedelics.
Your feelings probably come from a good place. But people still don’t want to be told what to do. Plus, your experience with psychedelics might not be the same for them, and it’s not up to you whether or not others use psychedelic drugs.
Don’t tell everyone what your journey was like.
Keep a few things personal or between yourself and people you trust. You should treat your experience as if it’s a little dream and if you tell everybody about it, it’ll lose its power and won’t come true. And it is kind of like that.
The visions you receive of your deepest desires or your deepest fears are so delicate. When you talk to people about it, it’s very easy for them to plant a seed of doubt in your mind. And every time you repeat what happened, your experience loses a little bit of its magic.
Don’t make rash decisions to try and change your life.
It’s very normal to get the feeling that you have to change some things in your life after a magic mushroom or psychedelic journey. After you get insights into your bad habits or bad relationships there comes a sense of urgency to rectify those shortcomings. Of course it’s important to follow through with the guidance you receive — but don’t make rash decisions.
Before you go quitting your job or dumping your husband, take a few days to meditate on it and again, talk with people you trust.
Integration is the most important part of entheogenic practice.
Sometimes, the most profound parts of a magic mushroom experience happen after it’s done. A conversation you have with your lover; a moment you share with your book or a meditation on the beauty of a flower. For reasons we don’t understand, the healing effects of psychedelics go on long after the experience itself is over. And so you have to still treat yourself as if you’re in that healing process.
If the most you get out of your post-psychedelic integration is a couple of days of self-care, that’s also warranted. After a journey like that, a little self-care goes a long way.
What are some of your post dose integration practices? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!