There’s a common fear among first-time psychedelics users: the infamous “bad trip.” From setting off scary hallucinations to spiraling into upsetting thoughts, fear of a bad trip can deter many people from trying psychedelics and exploring their therapeutic properties.
Luckily, there are specific ways to mitigate the factors that can contribute to a negative psychedelic experience and create an environment for your trip that reduces the potential for harm. In his paper titled “Constructing drug effects: A history of set and setting,” psychedelic scholar Ido Hartogsohn states that “creating positive set and setting conditions for drug experiences is one of the first actions which can be undertaken to reduce drug harms.” In fact, harm reduction programs like The Zendo Project bring set and setting into festivals and events, providing care to those having difficult psychedelic experiences.
While “setting” refers to creating an ideal physical and social environment, “set” refers to one’s mindset prior to taking the dose. So how do you get into the right mindset before your microdosing session? You take the time to set clear intentions.
Microdosing is taking a dose of a psychedelic (typically psilocybin or LSD) that is too low to produce a noticeable psychoactive effect. A microdosing journey may be a single session or an ongoing regimen. As with any psychedelic journey, your microdosing experience could benefit from creating clear intentions ahead of time.
According to Dr. James Fadiman’s book The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys, “it is invaluable to write out beforehand what you hope to learn, experience, understand or resolve.”
By setting intentions before you microdose, you can “maximize the usefulness of realizations that may occur during your psychedelic voyage,” he writes.
Whether you’re a first-time microdoser or a long-time psychonaut, check out these tips from Fadiman’s book for setting microdosing intentions and getting the most out of your psychedelic experience.
Take time to reflect on your preconceptions about psilocybin, psychedelics and life.
Prior to your voyage, Fadiman also recommends in his book that you create time to “clarify your personal preconceptions about psychedelic experiences.”
Take a moment to write down everything you’ve heard about microdosing and psychedelic sessions: every misconception, every belief, every fear or hesitation—everything.
PRO TIP: Reflect on the parts of your day-to-day life where you have preconceptions you’d like to address, as well. These can be anything from your interpersonal relationships and career to finances and mental health.
Ask questions you’d like to address during your microdose experience.
You can help direct your own journey by choosing a few questions to organize the direction of your microdose session. Take this opportunity before the dose to write down psychological, social or spiritual questions to which you would like answers.
PRO TIP: Be specific about your questions, while being open to the answers. Psychedelics might not provide the instant fix you want, but with an open mind you may be able to find the guidance you need.
Identify your microdosing goals.
Want even more organization and direction in your experience? Before you dose, write down what you would like to achieve during your session. Maybe you have goals of connecting with your spiritual side or improving a relationship with a certain someone. Whatever the case may be, take the time to jot down these goals on a piece of paper for a microdosing session that is both efficient and effective.
PRO TIP: Work on psychological goals with a professional who can help you find insights into neurological patterns, phobias or unresolved anger or grief.
Madonna Diaz-Refugia is a writer and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. Their work has been featured on Reductress, WFMU and Elite Daily. Follow them on Twitter.
Read more: How NOT to Get Fired for Microdosing at WorkRead more: Healing with Psilocybin