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Preparing for a Psychedelic Experience

Psychedelic experiences can sometimes be long, complex, and nearly always life-changing.

You may be nervous and unsure of what to expect from your upcoming psychedelic experience and wondering how you can prepare for it.

If you’r intention is to be an active participant in your experience and not just allow the experience to happen to you, than an intentional experience is what you’re seeking.

The first step in preparing for your experience is understanding that the journey begins well before the ceremony, and the lessons don’t end until well after.

Before choosing to participate in a Psychedelic Experience:

Mediate on some key inquiries;

Why are you seeking a medicine experience?

This is the most important question you can ask yourself as you start preparing for your ceremony.

We all have different reasons for choosing to work with psychedelic medicines, but it’s important that you understand yours.

Ask yourself if your intentions are routed in a desire to learn, grow, or heal? If your intentions are more routed in a desire to escape then an intentional medicine ceremony may not be the right fit for you.

The reasons behind your desire to experience a psychedelic journey could be more routed in the desire to have an enjoyable experience and connect with this planet and the people around you more deeply, and that’s okay.

Recreational psychedelic use can certainly produce a profound and beautiful experience, but it can also end up being a distraction.

Understanding your true intentions and needs will help determine the difference.

You should never feel forced or pressured into doing psychedelics.

A medicine ceremony may be one of the most profound and impactful experiences of your life—and your motivation and full participation is crucial to the process.

You’ll know that you’re using psychedelics for the right reasons if you feel called to participate in the experience despite the potential for discomfort, the surfacing of repressed thoughts or emotions, or the notorious bad trip.

Some nervousness is normal and healthy, this is reflecting your ego’s resistance to any experience that could shake up its egoic structure.

The ego structure is made up of the habits that you’ve struggled to let go of, old relationship attachments that deplete and drain you, or traumatic experiences that you’re ready to process and heal. Often discomfort can indicate that change is coming, and it’s generally for the better.

Prior to considering a medicine ceremony, it’s likely that you’ve tried alternative therapies and modalities to let go of what is blocking you and perhaps these methods have not been been able to assist you in the ways you need. If you can embrace the possibility of psychedelic-induced discomfort, you can embody the psychedelic healing process.

What are you hoping to get out of the experience?

Once you have an idea of why you’re embarking on a psychedelic journey, you can start to identify and name the specific things you want to get out of the experience.

This will be related to your reasons for choosing a psychedelic experience but will require you to unpack your reasons even deeper.

Intentions will serve as the backbone or anchor in not only the rest of your preparation but also during the experience itself. If/when times get tough, your intention will help you endure any discomfort.

You’ll want to be clear in setting your intentions, and the more specific, the better. This may be anything from seeking relief from a certain mental illness, to wanting to know yourself more intimately, and can include working through and letting go of past trauma.

Take some time to write your intention(s) down.

I recommend reviewing this short video on intention setting to help you streamline your intentions:

It’s alright to have more than one intention, but I recommend keeping it between 1 - 3 intentions.

We can’t resolve all of our wounding and challenges in one session.

The psychedelic healing process can take as long as is needed.

Investing time and effort in setting your intentions provides great benefit ~ the more you prepare, the more impactful your psychedelic experience can be.

Once you are clear, you’ll have a better idea of what the rest of your preparations will look like.

Choosing the type of experience most suited to your needs:

Now you will determine what type of experience is best suited to your needs and identifying any resistance or restrictions that may influence this choice.

There are several different ways to participate in a Medicine Ceremony.

Gaia Wellness Retreats offers a guided private ceremony or a guided group ceremony.


All of our ceremonies are offered by trained and experienced medicine facilitators and supported by trained assistants.

If you decide to experience psychedelics on your own, please make sure you have the support of a trip sitter, or a trusted and responsible sober friend.

When you are seeking the support of psychedelic guide, your connection with them will impact your experience. When searching for someone to support you through your experience, you’ll want to feel a connection with the guide. You’ll want to feel respected and supported. You don’t want to risk putting your trust in someone who does not reflect true integrity in their medicine work.

If you have had an experience with a guide who you felt unsafe with or experienced behaviours or interference during ceremony that led to wounding it can be helpful to seek out the support of a trained and trusted Integration Coach to support you through processing this experience.

What medicine will be best for you?


Psilocybin is the psychoactive ingredient found in magic mushrooms. It produces a hallucinogenic trip with effects that begin within the first 20 to 40 minutes and last between 3 to 6 hours.

In addition to some of the same reasons ayahuasca is used (spiritual growth and healing), psilocybin has been used in therapeutic settings to address a range of mental health conditions.

These include suicidality and depressed mood, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and alcohol/cigarette dependence.

Typically these psychedelic experiences occur in conjunction with therapy from a trained professional.


5-MeO-DMT is an extremely fast-acting compound. Within a few seconds, the user can enter into a state that is known as non-duality. Non-duality takes the individual into a space that is void of self. This means that there is no subject or object. There is no this or no that. There is only emptiness and infinite boundlessness all at once.

As the peak experience results in a temporary loss of self, the individual can experience themselves as all of the totality, likening the experience to the religious or mystical experience, which must be experienced to be truly understood.

Unlike other psychedelics, in higher doses 5-MeO-DMT does not produce particularly visual experiences. Instead, it can be better understood as the user reaching a level of inner knowing beyond human understanding, where the unknowable becomes known. The peak experience is the definition of a true awakening that results in deep wisdom, knowledge, and healing that is unique to the participant.

Where 5-MeO-DMT excels is in reliably allowing us to experience differences in how we think about and experience ourselves. People have reported being aware of their whole lives from a perspective outside of time or as something that they deliberately construct. They may experience oceanic boundlessness, where there is a timeless sense of being one with what we usually perceive as the external world.


Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a classic hallucinogen that was synthesized (on accident) from the ergot fungus that grows on rye plants. It’s one of the most powerful mind-altering substances and only an extremely small amount is required to produce hallucinations.

The countercultural revolution in the 1960’s introduced LSD as a “magic pill for direct spiritual experience.” Like the other psychedelics listed, it’s still used for that reason.

In addition, over the past several decades, LSD has been used in therapy to treat several different mental conditions including neuroticism, personality disorders, and manic-depression, to name a few.

Currently, it shows promise in helping to reduce depression in patients who suffer from a life-threatening illness.

Mentally, physically, and emotionally prepare for the experience:

How to start preparing for your experience?

Even if you’re still a few months out from your ceremony or if you’ve even just started to form a curiosity around psychedelics, you can start to make preparations for the experience now.

Your intention will play a large role in what and how you prepare.

However, there are certain things that anyone can do to get ready for a psychedelic experience:

  • Start eating healthier

  • Start cutting out alcohol and other drugs (especially medications that interact with psychedelic substances)

  • Ensure that you’re getting enough sleep

  • Incorporate practices that introduce you to new states of consciousness (like breathing exercises and meditation)

Start a journaling practice

Take note of what comes up for you after you commit to the experience.

Your ego will typically freak out with the subconscious awareness that it’s about to lose its hold on your psyche.

Your old patterns, destructive habits, and repressed trauma may all start coming to the surface, even months before you have the psychedelic experience. Write all of this down.

When you become aware of some of the issues needing attention prior to the experience, you can start to work through them.

If you give them your attention as they arise, you’ll have less to process during the experience itself.

Talk with a professional

Facing issues such as repressed trauma and destructive habits is work, especially if you’re doing so on your own.

Working with a trained facilitator throughout this process (before, during and after the experience itself) can help you get the most out of your journey and set the stage for optimal growth and healing.

A typical psychedelic experience may include the following:

  • feelings of being stripped of repressive social conditioning

  • feelings of a loss of control or a surrendering to the process

  • a glimpse of parts of you that you typically keep repressed

  • ego death, where you merge into oneness with the universe and temporarily lose the sense of who you are.

It can be very challenging to navigate all of this without support or anyone to process your experience or new awareness’ with.

If you explore the depths of your psyche without a coach, you can end up with an ineffective experience, or worse, risk mental and physical danger.

One of the common mistakes people make with psychedelics is assuming that they can do it all on their own, without any support before, during, and after the experience. It’s easy to feel nervous or self-conscious about your experience with psychedelics and it’s easy to let years of stigma get in the way of asking for help.

A psychedelic experience can be one of the most profound and life-changing experiences you can go through and feeling supported by a trained guide throughout your journey will help you get the most out of it.

Intention and integration go hand-in-hand as some of the most important aspects of a psychedelic experience.

Prior to the experience, preparation will help you clarify your intentions and embody practices that will help ensure that you’ll have an optimal experience.

Following the experience integration can assist you in understanding significant insights, knowledge, and new awareness’s, without the integration that follows, the teachings of the medicine may fade.

To maximize the healing and self-actualization, it’s recommended that you continue working with a psychedelic coach who can provide ongoing advice and resources.

Medicine Resources:

Preparing for a Psychedelic Experience

Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy Is Transforming the Way We Think About Mental Health Care

Psychedelic Therapy - Uses & Benefits


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1 Comment

Thank you for the update on the microdosing and shamanic journeys. I also found the psychedelic experience “very” interesting. It has been a long time since I have travelled.

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