30+ Techniques to Help Integrate Psychedelic Experiences
You’ve just come out of a significant experience in your psychedelic therapy program. It’s important to you and you don’t want to lose the effects, or skip over or miss out on some of the healing benefits. You want this to have long-lasting positive effects in your life.
We have spoken about the importance and significance of effective psychedelic integration work to compliment and solidify the lessons and insights you experience within sessions. With a foundational understanding of what psychedelic integration is, why it’s important, ways to frame and approach the integration process and period, it’s time to get down to the specifics.
The following techniques, tactics, tools, framings, and understandings will help you unlock the most from your experiences, and help these lessons settle deep down into new ways of being and relating in your day-to-day life.
This process is broken down into 2 steps: understanding the nature of your experience, and taking the appropriate actions based on that.
Understanding Your Experience to Help Integrate It
The first step is to understand the nature of your experience. Another way to say this is:
“What was the dominant theme or core message that the medicine was trying to tell you with this session?”
It may be related to the intention that you set, or it may be directly pointing to something outside of your intention.
You can draw 3 broad categories for the theme:
- Self (Physical, Mental, Emotional)
- Others (Relationships)
- World (Meaning, Life)
You can, and often will, have experiences that blend across different categories. That is why the first step of your integration process is to continue reflecting on the nature of your experience and see if you can find the “center of gravity” that your experience had —whether it was rooted in yourself, in others, or in the world.
To be clear, no one type of experience is better than the other, these come up for us for a reason, at the right time. All you’re doing is assisting the process by helping identify the nature of your experience so you can take complimentary integration steps.
Self: The physical, mental, or emotional
There are a few signals you can use to determine if your experience was centered mostly in yourself. The Self typically surfaces through physical sensations, mental thoughts, or emotional experiences.
Some specific characteristics can manifest as:
- Overall numbness
- Crying or cathartic/emotional release
- Increase in physical/mental energy
- Insights into personality or life history
- Connections with emotions or with Self
- Revisiting childhood memories/stories
- Visions of yourself, your future, etc.
If the main thread of your experience was relating to your sense of Self, your physical sensations, your emotions, or your thoughts/beliefs/ideas, it’s safe to say that the nature of this experience was Self-focused.
Other: Relationships and connection to humanity
Similarly, there are some classic signs that you can look for when reflecting on your experience to see if it was rooted in connection to others, to humanity, or to the relationships in your life.
Some signs that your session was largely focused on your relationships are:
- Looking back on your own isolation or feelings of loneliness
- Healing or addressing specific relationships in your life
- Feeling deep connection to others, to humanity, to existence
- Coming alive to being part of a collective/community
If it seems like your experience was focused outside of yourself, on how you fit into bigger networks of relationships —family, friends, colleagues, your community, country, or the entire web of humanity at large— it’s likely that the dominant nature of your experience was rooted in others/relationships.
World: Meaning, being, and transcendence
Finally, another major aspect of the experience can be focused and rooted within the world, or life itself. This goes beyond your individual Self or the relationships that you have within the world.
There are a number of hallmarks that can point in this direction:
- Loss of meaning of life
- Connection to greater source, to web of life
- Having a highly spiritual or transcendent experience/feeling
- Feelings of unity, of interconnectedness to all things
- Loss/dissolution of Ego
- Out of body experiences
Experiences that are focused on the level of meaning and being are harder to put language to. However, they have a sense of being beyond the scope of yourself or the relationships you have in your life. At times it’s beyond the scope of humanity itself, looking at something larger, more removed, or more fundamental than human life.
As always, if you ever have any questions or would like to explore these experiences further, reach out to your support network, continue journaling on the experience and how you relate to it, and check in with your care team for ongoing discussion and support. Integration is not a process that has to be done alone.
Taking the Appropriate Actions
With a bit of reflection and perhaps some conversations with those around you, you’ve identified the nature or theme of your recent session.
The next step along your path of integration is to match the integration actions you take to the nature of the experience that you had. This helps the lessons deepen themselves, settle down into your life and take firm rooting. This helps you grow into the person you are becoming and assists you on your journey to healing and wholeness.
Of course, you should always try to find the activities that work best for you. Doing the things that come naturally to you, and give you the strongest results, will always be the most helpful steps to take. The suggestions below are merely starting points to get you on your way. It’s up to you to pick the ones that work the best and resonate most for you.
Actions for the Self
If you identify that the nature of your experience was largely focused on yourself, it can be helpful from this point to continue exploring the nature of the experience and the lessons/sensations that arose within it to see if you can point to whether it was largely physical, mental, or emotional in nature.
With this identification in place, you can try some of the following activities below to begin and assist the integration process.
If the experience was largely physical, you can assist the process by matching this energy and taking care and giving love to your physical body:
- Clean up your diet, stay hydrated
- Get adequate sleep
- Continue or begin a movement/exercise practice
- Get outside for fresh air, sunlight, and time in nature
- Take time to rest, meditate, find stillness
- Get a massage, cold showers, sauna sessions
If the experience was highly mental (cognitive) or insight/lesson-based, you can augment this by cultivating passions, interests, and areas of study:
- Cultivate a meditation practice
- Dive into learning some new idea or skill
- Read books (any kind)
- Make time for creative, artistic expression
- Continue journalling, writing, storytelling
- Make your physical environments beautiful/comfortable to live in
If your experience was emotionally dominant, you can be an ally here by ensuring the process is resolved, and honoring the sensitivity of your work:
- Start a daily gratitude practice
- Journal about your experience and allow for any further release
- Express yourself and your feelings, privately or in relationship
- Write a letter to yourself or to others
- Practice compassion-based meditations
- Do something nice for yourself or for loved ones
- Return to the soundtracks or music you listened to
Actions for the Other
If your experience was largely relationship-focused, there are a number of practices that you can do both privately and with others to assist in this process.
It is helpful to note that it is wise to take some time to let things settle after an experience. “Sleeping on it” for a day or two before taking action is a good rule of thumb here.
If your experience was relationship-based, consider trying the following:
- Schedule time for deeper check-ins with friends and family
- Reach out to old connections you haven’t heard from in a while
- Send gratitude letters to friends, family, colleagues, etc.
- Go out (or online) and spark new connections and new friendships
- Find communities that share your interests/passions and join them
- Clean up your existing relationship, close any open loops and address anything that is still unresolved
Actions for the World
There is a class of experience that is rooted beyond yourself, your relationships, and your connection to humanity. It can point to much larger topics, such as the nature of being, the meaning of life, or provide glimpses of transcendent experiences beyond your individual sense of self.
While there are common suggestions and starting points to kick this off in your integration process, this is an area that is largely up to you. This is about your connection to life, and is a very different process for each person.
With that said, some starting points along this path include:
- Continue to study/explore any visions/lessons/teachings you received in your sessions
- Begin to cultivate (or deepen) a personal spiritual practice
- Study or review existing sacred texts and teachings
- Listen to or watch spiritual material/media
- Begin journaling your views on topics such as the nature of life, meaning of life, your role in the world/existence, etc.
- Find a teacher/mentor/guide who can help in this process
- Join communities of other individuals also moving along this path
As you begin to enter your integration period and continue your process of bringing these experiences and insights deeply into your life, it’s again helpful to have a reminder that there is no deadline to this work.
There is no final exam to pass at the end of this. No penalty for late submissions. This is about your own personal process, and your connection to your own healing and journey to wholeness.
Some of the experiences and insights you have throughout your sessions may be quick and easy to set up —scheduling a monthly family Zoom call, for example. Others are more nuanced and less obvious, like cultivating a personal spiritual practice for the first time. What matters most is honoring where you are in the process, what you feel called to focus on, and showing up as best you can for each step along the way.
Taking integration actions that match the nature of your experience can augment and assist the process, and as mentioned earlier, these suggestions are merely starting points. With time and experience you will land on the activities that are most beneficial to you and provide the greatest results. Whatever that ends up looking like is okay, and it’s important to trust yourself and your inner guidance throughout this journey.
Continue On and Enjoy Your Journey
The opportunity to continue your journey towards healing, growth, and wholeness is a beautiful gift and opportunity. Thank yourself for making this decision, for demonstrating this great act of self-love and compassion by embarking on this journey.
The path is not always straightforward for this work, and that’s okay. Remember that you have support in community, relationships, and your care team should you need it. You are not alone on this path, and this is the journey of a lifetime. Enjoy this work while you do it, and walk boldly towards your future.
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 the National Suicide Prevention Line at +1 (800) 273-8255, call 911, or go to the nearest emergency room.
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