Approaching a psychedelic experience, particularly for the first time, may be confusing and potentially intimidating.
Given reports of a wide variety of experiences, it’s hard to know what to expect. It’s even harder to know what support you may have once you’re in the experience.
Given the internal and inward nature of psychedelic medicine, the most effective tools you have with you are guiding principles, mantras, and frameworks.
Whenever you’re confronted with challenging or confusing material, you can call upon the support of your intentions, your breath, and your guiding mantras.
Since the early days of psychedelic therapy research, one mantra has stood the test of time and continues to be used to this day: “Trust, Let Go, and Be Open” (TLO).
Its simple elegance is matched only by the powerful support it can provide you while you navigate the immersive waters of the psychedelic experience.
An introduction to the TLO mantra
Trust, Let Go, and Be Open helps people navigate their own psychedelic experiences, due to how it helps you respond appropriately to experiences that you may have while working with psychedelic medicines.
When faced with challenging experiences, difficult emotions, or confusing material, individuals often have an ingrained reaction to resist, struggle, or otherwise move away from the direct healing experience that they are having.
In the context of psychedelic medicine and personal healing, this can present an obstacle. The challenging experiences or emotions are often the exact situation that needs to be experienced to catalyze a major healing process. Avoiding them can interrupt the process and/or cause unnecessary suffering.
When you use the TLO mantra in your sessions, it gives you the power and possibility to change your relationship with the session or medicine. It helps to open, accept, and move smoothly through these experiences. All of this serves to enable and support the deep healing process that is underway.
But what do Trusting, Letting Go, and Being Open look like while you’re within a psychedelic experience?
Trust is simple to understand, yet difficult to embody. However, it’s the starting point of this mantra for a reason.
Everything in this process begins with Trust.
- Trust that you can handle whatever the experience is
- Trust that this experience is happening for your own benefit and healing
- Trust that the benefits will become clear to you in time, even if they’re not clear at the moment
- Trust that you are safe, thanks to your care team
- Trust in the power of the medicine, and the experience
- Trust that you have made the correct decision for yourself
- Trust in the knowledge that however difficult, this too shall pass.
- Trust that no emotion or experience is permanent, even if it feels that way at the time
- Trust that you have ongoing support once the experience has concluded
- Trust that your emotions are safe, that your body is safe, and that the world around you is fundamentally safe
The act of trusting the experience is foundational. It’s a courageous surrender to the flow of your healing process, which is not always easy. The kind of trust needed is different for every person and every experience, but the healing process is built on top of this base layer of trust.
Trust in yourself, trust in the healing potential of the experience, and trust that it will all work for your benefit in the end.
Exploring Letting Go
From the foundation of trust comes the practice and skill of Letting Go.
Clinging to experiences, identities, outcomes, desires, and beliefs only serves to add resistance or obstacles in your own healing path
The easiest way to Let Go is to remind yourself to do so. It can be surprisingly difficult, but giving yourself this permission is important.
- Let go of the weight of the past
- Let go of the anxiety about the future
- Let go of the expectations and requirements you have for the experience
- Let go of old stories and narratives that are not serving you
- Let go of clinging to memories, identities, or emotions
- Let go of the need to control the process and control the outcome
Letting Go is similar to removing unnecessary items from a full backpack. When you have removed these items (self-stories, beliefs, wounds, emotions, etc.), you are free to fill up your backpack with new, more empowering emotions and beliefs.
To allow more beautiful possibilities into your life and future, you must first let go of the past that is weighing you down.
Whenever you catch yourself in a self-story, or there is resistance to one experience or another, do your best to remind yourself to Trust the process, and to Let Go of it. This is how new possibilities emerge.
Exploring Being Open
Now, with more space in your “backpack,” the next invitation of TLO is to Be Open. You have the room to invite in new stories, possibilities, emotions, and realities for yourself. But these are only invitations, and you can accept or reject them.
Being open is a strong, powerful affirmation of “YES” to your future:
- Be open to the possibility that real healing is possible for you.
- Be open to new experiences, new beliefs, and new emotions.
- Be open to opportunities in your external life.
- Be open to believing that your future is in your control.
- Be open to recognizing that you no longer need to be burdened by your past.
- Be open to the gifts that the future has waiting for you.
- Be open to writing a new, more empowering story for yourself.
- Be open to novel experiences.
- Be open to yourself, your future, and your wholeness.
The future is always uncertain. Even if you believe that there is positive change available to you, sometimes there is still resistance or hesitation to change. Sometimes, the discomfort we know is preferable to the comfort that we don’t know is guaranteed.
This is the point at which you must be open. Be open to the possibility that the future will be brighter, that you will be stronger, and that you will have love available to you.
Being open creates a virtuous cycle, where your openness allows you to trust more deeply in yourself and in the future.
“Trust, Let Go, and Be Open” applies far beyond the psychedelic experience, it’s something you can cultivate and bring with you throughout your entire life.
However, it is immensely powerful in helping you throughout your psychedelic healing journey. It allows you to receive the love, healing, wisdom, and insights these medicines provide in a more receptive and flexible state.
Equipped with deeper Trust, the developed skill of Letting Go, and the receptive state of Being Open, TLO becomes an ally in your psychedelic healing journey.
At Mindbloom®, we continue to share and advocate use of this mantra. There’s a reason why it has stuck over thousands of healing journeys for thousands of people.
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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