The psychedelic experience typically isn’t what most people would consider “grounding.” In fact, it’s usually the opposite. While trips are different for everyone, psychedelics tend to evoke profound, ineffable experiences that can dissolve the ego and your sense of self. These journeys can be thrilling, horrifying, euphoric, enlightening, revealing and bizarre—sometimes all at the same time. As a result, these non-ordinary states of consciousness are often difficult to translate, making it challenging to take away—or even remember—anything meaningful from the experience. Thankfully, a process known as integration can help psychedelic sojourners make sense of what happened to them on their long, strange trip.
But what is psychedelic integration, exactly?
In the most basic sense, integration is a loose set of strategies designed to help people glean insights from their psychedelic experiences. For those using entheogens intentionally, the goal of integration is to use these cosmic downloads as tools for growth and healing. It's an aspect of psychedelic use and culture that's often overlooked, even though it’s arguably more important than the trip itself. It’s when transformation begins to set in.
Integrative work generally happens post-trip and can involve meditation, journaling, yoga, mindfulness techniques, swimming, spending time in nature, or listening to the music you heard during the trip. There is no set integrative formula—it’s not a one-size-fits-all process. Why? Because every individual is unique, and so is the psychedelic experience. Everyone has different intentions and needs, too. So, in order for integration to be effective, the process must be tailored to the individual, their experience and their goals. Here are a few ways one can go about integration.
Psychedelic Integration Therapy
As we all know, psychedelic research has boomed over the past decade, and it’s become a cornerstone of the 21st-century hallucinatory renaissance. As a result, therapists are rising from the underground to help people interested in exploring the power of “conscious tripping” process their experiences. The umbrella of psychedelic therapy encompasses several different types of services, including integration.
Seeing a therapist who’s well acquainted with the psychedelic experience—rather than a conventional clinician—is crucial to making progress on the journey of integration. Through conscious movement, journaling or other intentional practices, an experienced psychedelic integration therapist helps patients recall what happened during their hallucinatory excursion. That’s when—and how—the magic happens.
Integration Circles: You Don’t Have to Go the Therapy Route
It can be difficult to find an affordable integration therapist. Thankfully, there are numerous integration circles and meet-ups all over the United States (and world) led by psychedelic-integration coaches. The goal of these weekly or bi-weekly meet-ups is to offer support and guidance after a trip. They are less formal than traditional therapy and work best for people who dig a group vibe. They also serve as a great place to meet others on a similar wavelength and connect with the conscious psychonaut community.
Like everything in life, integration will only give you as much as you put in. This is particularly true for integration circles because multiple people will be in attendance, meaning the attention won’t be solely focused on you.
The group dynamic can also be difficult for people who have anxiety or issues around vulnerability. That said, opening up in front of others can be a powerful healing modality. But if groups aren’t your thing, most psychedelic integration coaches offer individual sessions, too. Either way, the cost of attending a meet-up (which are often donation-based) or having an individual session with an integration coach will be significantly more affordable than attending therapy.
Keep in mind that while the psychedelic revival is exciting, these powerful substances aren’t for everyone. But, if psychedelics are compatible with your life, it’s worth dropping into the depths of your soul via integration—after the hallucinatory effects wear off, of course. Processing the experience is when the journey of knowing yourself truly begins.
By Mary Carreon
Images by: @zayyerrn