December 13, 2022

The Integration Starts Before The Psychedelic Journey

The practice of integration is essential for fully processing and implementing the lessons of a psychedelic journey into a balanced lifestyle. Integration is often linked to the days, and weeks after the psychedelic experience when the participant digests the happenings, insights, and epiphanies of the ceremony and pan it for gold, looking for lessons and practical ways of improving their lives with it. What happens, however, if we start the integration before the psychedelic experience, during the phase of preparation?

Entheogens are one of the names given to psychedelic substances -  plants, fungi, and other chemical compounds, synthetic or not - capable of engaging the participant in a mind-expanding journey, where ordinary perception makes way for novel sensations and a unique worldview. This renewed perspective on life is fertile soil for self-discovery and self-growth. Scientists are now trying to implement the benefits of psychedelic medicine in a long-lasting way in patients dealing with various mental health issues by conducting ceremonies in the laboratory. Research has indicated that most of the benefits of the sacred journey take time to sink in, in the process that we call integration that occurs in the days, weeks, months, and even years after the psychedelic experience.

Integration means to become whole, to look both externally and inwardly in search of pieces of ourselves to piece together a giant puzzle to answer the questions: “Who am I?” and “how can I improve myself?”; this is the essence of the integration practice. After a meaningful journey, the participant has a vast amount of information to process and integrate into their ordinary worldview, which makes the days following the experience a rich opportunity for investigating our shortcomings; and transforming them into strengths. Nevertheless, note that this practice of self-investigating is not dependent on psychedelic substances - in reality, the integration stage begins before the day of the first psychedelic experience and extends much beyond the ceremony itself.

Growing In The Preparation Stage 

The preparation stage is one of the most crucial parts of the psychedelic journey because it is at this period that the participant takes time to prepare the set and setting for the experience and make sure to put everything together for a safe, meaningful, and sacred experience. During the preparation phase, the participant should also reserve some time to sit comfortably without distractions and ask themselves what their intentions are; what are the issues of life that they would like to know more about and work on during the journey?

Simply by asking these big questions and defining the intention for the trip, the participant has already started the integration process. A great way to approach self-improvement consists in taking a good step back, looking at our lives without fear of what we may see, and having the sincere determination to identify our flaws and overcome them in the future. Consequently, the participant who engages in this sort of self-examination during the preparation stage is in a favorable position to grow from the psychedelic experience. 

The intention the participant brings to the psychedelic experience might take a principal role in how the voyage unfolds. A good understanding of what we want to take out of the ceremony and what aspects of life we would like to improve can help us guide ourselves to the answers we look for. Furthermore, after the trip, the intention we defined in the preparation phase will also help us understand the information we witnessed during the ceremony and give meaning to it in the stage of integration post-psychedelic experience.

Integration is Never Ending

The difference between a good trip and a bad trip is the quality of the integration done afterward. How we interpret and grow from the challenges we face defines how we see them. A good grasp of the integration process is fundamental to learning and improving from sacred medicine, so I encourage you to approach integration consciously, with awareness, and reserve plenty of time to look inward and ask yourself what you would like to improve and why?

Don’t wait until after the trip to start thinking about the integration; the preparation stage is a great time to begin defining the intentions for the psychedelic journey. A clear intent assists the participant in guiding the experience and giving meaning to it. The participant must find time to sit without distractions and look inwardly with an explorative and judgment-free mindset and engage in self-examination looking for flaws, bad habits, and shortcomings that they would like to work on during the psychedelic journey and after - during the integration phase.

Once the integration process starts, it never ends. Take the definition that integration means to become whole, and consider that we change constantly, then every single day there are new pieces of information about ourselves that can help us have a better understanding of who we are. The implication is not only that integration is independent of the use of entheogens, but also that the practice of becoming whole is endless.

Thinking of integration as a practice limited to psychedelic ceremonies is a mistake. Becoming whole is a daily process that occurs spontaneously with every step we take. A psychedelic experience may act as a catalyst for the integration process, but the integration doesn’t depend on it. Nevertheless, enjoying the advantage point offered by entheogens can contribute to a more transparent view of who we are and how we can improve. If you just participated in a sacred ceremony - or are planning to, talking with an integration coach can help tremendously in digesting and integrating the lessons of the experience in a balanced and wholesome way; browse our selection of integration coaches at Psychedelics-Integration and have a good journey!

The text expresses personal opinions and it is written as an informative text. It should not be considered to be professional advice nor should it be used as professional advice. Neither the Blog (psychedelics-integration.com) nor the author is liable for the wrong use of this information.

The Integration Starts Before The Psychedelic Journey

Alexandre Perrella

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