Psychedelic experiences often reliably bring on mystical experiences in willing participants. The direct mystical experience is foundational for much of the world's spiritual and religious schools.
It also proves very difficult, after experiencing a very powerful psychedelic experience, to explain and explore the experience without using common spiritual or religious terminology.
Depending on your appetite for spiritual/religious terms, for the purposes of this article, we will define spirituality as your “relationship with reality.”
What exactly is going on here? What exactly are you? And where, how, and why do we find the thread that unites consciousness with the cosmos?
The four pillars of spiritual of religious integration
For many individuals, early and powerful psychedelic experiences can catalyze a shift toward spiritual and religious territories.
Psychedelic and mystical experiences confront you with questions about the nature of reality, purpose of being, and the origin of everything. Spiritual and religious contextualization have helped societies openly explore these questions throughout the millennia.
Therefore, the first technique for continued spiritual integration of your psychedelic experiences is to follow your curiosity and see what cultures and traditions throughout history have been written.
Your curiosity may lead you to:
- The root of scientific materialism
- The depths of quantum mechanics
- Our harmonious relationship with the universe through Taoism
- Hinduism’s polythesitic pantheon
- Ancient Gnostic lineages
- Buddhist teachings on suffering and enlightenment
If you have begun to ask these questions during or after your psychedelic medicine sessions, the first step to integrating them is to follow the questions.
Where will they take you? We encourage you to explore! Pursue the questions to the extent that you can and are willing to. Trust that they will take you to beneficial places.
For those who have an existing spiritual or religious practice, renewing, or increasing your commitment to the path, practice, or tradition, is likely the next step for spiritual integration.
Commitment can take many different forms. Writing out a new intention for yourself is a good starting point. Maybe it’s committing to a practice or set of practices. Perhaps it’s broadening your scope and immersing yourself in a community that practices the same philosophy as you.
Or, it could be a full surrender to the teachings. This means showing up with discipline and commitment to the practice, each day, without question.
Discipline itself is a spiritual practice worthy of exploring further. It can be as simple as showing up fully without excuses.
Perhaps you have discovered the philosophy or practice that resonates most with you. Maybe you have made your commitments and been consistent with your practices.
To continue your spiritual integration, you may now consider exploring a much deeper level of embodiment.
Do you truly treat each moment as if it is a gift from life? Do you treat each individual with unwavering compassion? Do you love yourself as deeply as you love anything, or anyone else?
If the answer to any of these few questions is no, you have an opportunity to step into a deeper level of embodiment of your spiritual or religious practice.
This is a great opportunity for integration. Bring the practice/philosophy from outside of you — your spiritual studies, for example— to inside of you as something you do, live, and breathe.
This is the journey of a lifetime, facilitated by the mood elevations and increased neuroplasticity that psychedelic medicines may reliably induce. Psychedelic integration accelerates and accentuates this process.
4. Refining rituals
Exploring these questions is not always an easy process.
Spirituality consists of personal beliefs, which are not held by everyone around you. They can confront you with paradoxical, confusing confrontations around the nature of reality, and how to best approach life.
Grounding yourself through ritual and routine is the final pillar of spiritual integration. To get the most from spirituality, you should first be grounded in the present.
Consistent practices like making time for prayer, meditation, movement, and healthy habits should all be considered before embarking on continued spiritual or religious integration.
Defining your rituals may include:
- When/how to practice your spiritual/religious philosophy
- Morning/evening routines & rituals
- Making time to study, contemplate, and meditate
- Self-care via rest, recovery, and healthy habits
- Maintaining strong relationships and support networks
With these grounding rituals in place, you can stay more centered, composed, confident, and capable as you tackle some of the big questions in your life.
Approaching spiritual or religious matters isn’t always straightforward, particularly in highly scientific and materialist cultures. It can be scary as an individual to even entertain these ideas, and you can be met with resistance or friction when sharing it with others.
However, refraining from asking these questions is at your own peril. Your relationship to all of reality is not something to brush off so lightly.
To embark on this quest in good faith and safely, we have explored four central pillars: discovering the traditions that resonate with you, committing yourself to the path or practices, moving into deeper levels of embodiment, and finally creating grounding rituals to support you on this journey.
You may embark on this adventure, only to come back to the exact same beliefs and ideas you currently have. You may rely on this foundation of knowledge which you brought you to these conclusions. This itself is worth the time and energy of exploring. And while you explore, remember to trust, let go, and be open!
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This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. If you are in a life-threatening situation, call, text, or chat the National Suicide Prevention Line at 988 or +1 (800) 273-8255, call 911, or go to the nearest emergency room.
Important FDA Safety Information
Ketamine is not FDA-approved for the treatment of depression or anxiety. Learn more about off-label uses here.
Side effects of ketamine treatment may include: altered sense of time, anxiety, blurred vision, diminished ability to see/hear/feel, dry mouth, elevated blood pressure or heart rate, elevated intraocular or intracranial pressure, excitability, loss of appetite, mental confusion, nausea/vomiting, nystagmus (rapid eye movements), restlessness, slurred speech, synesthesia (a mingling of the senses).
Do not proceed with ketamine treatment if any of the following apply to you:
- Allergic to ketamine
- Symptoms of psychosis or mania
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure
- CHF or other serious heart problem
- Severe breathing problem
- History of elevated intraocular or intracranial pressure
- History of hyperthyroidism
- Other serious medical illness
- Pregnant, nursing, or trying to become pregnant
Ketamine has been reported to produce issues including, but not limited to, those listed below. However, lasting adverse side-effects are rare when medical protocols are carefully followed.
While ketamine has not been shown to be physically addictive, it has been shown to cause moderate psychological dependency in some recreational users.
- In rare cases, frequent, heavy users have reported increased frequency of urination, urinary incontinence, pain urinating, passing blood in the urine, or reduced bladder size
- Ketamine may worsen problems in people with schizophrenia, severe personality disorders, or other serious mental disorders.
- Users with a personal or family history of psychosis should be cautious using any psychoactive substance, including ketamine, and discuss potential risks with your MindBloom® clinician before proceeding with treatment.
- The dissociative effects of ketamine may increase patient vulnerability and the risk of accidents.
To promote positive outcomes and ensure safety, follow these ketamine treatment guidelines:
- Do not operate a vehicle (e.g., car, motorcycle, bicycle) or heavy machinery following treatment until you’ve had a full night of sleep
- Refrain from taking benzodiazepines or stimulants for 24 hours prior to treatment
- Continue to take antihypertensive medication as prescribed
- Avoid hangovers or alcohol intake
- Refrain from consuming solid foods within 3 hours prior to treatment and liquids within 1 hour prior to treatment
- Ketamine treatment should never be conducted without a monitor present to ensure your safety