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Guidelines for Creating a Trip Setting for Group Sessions

in this article
  • Introduction
  • Space
  • Light
  • Music
  • Other Considerations
  • Final Thoughts

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Chemical Collective or any associated parties.

Introduction

Can the perfect setting for a group psychedelic trip elevate your exploration to new heights?

My answer would be simple: absolutely yes.

Last weekend I helped create and hold a space for a small group of journeyers. It turned out to be a wonderful and heart-opening experience for all involved. And so, in the aftermath, I took some notes about the setting that I thought would be helpful to pass on to all those embarking on and organising a group session. This follows up and adds to my last post here on CC: Key Considersations for Group Psychedelic Sessions.

In this blog post, we will delve into the essential aspects of trip setting for group journeys, ensuring that the space, ambiance, and atmosphere are finely tuned to help create a transformative and unforgettable experience for everyone involved. This piece will be your compass, navigating you through the intricacies of creating the perfect setting for your group psychedelic adventures.

We will explore space, light, music, and more. As ever, my hope is that this will help you to have more fruitful and beneficial journeys.

Let’s dive in…

Space

expansive open room

An expansive and welcoming space is the foundation upon which your psychedelic journey thrives. 

Having sufficient space for all members of the group, as well as any tripsitters is of primary importance. 

It’s good standard practice to have enough space for each person to comfortably lie down and stretch out. A mattress or comfortable mat to lie on is ideal.

Many people prefer to lie on the ground. It has a grounding effect on the mindset that seems to go well with psychedelic journeys. In this case, mats on the ground may be the first choice. That said, sometimes you have to work with what you have, and beds and sofas also work well. Some people even prefer those as they can be easier to get up and down from.

After being sure there is enough space for everyone to lie down, it’s great if each person has their own designated spot in which to lie. A designated space grants security and peace of mind, allowing you to fully surrender to the experience without worrying about logistics. This saves any potential confusion about who will lie where at any point in the journey. Each person knows they have their own space, and if they get up to use the bathroom or go to another area for a break, they know they always have their space to return to and lie down in if they wish.

Each person having their own space also allows each person to leave any personal items there for use and support. This allows for simplicity and an easy-flowing session. This might include things as practical as glasses of water, snacks, and clothes, to more meaningful items, like power items (stones), or mementos for the journey like photos of loved ones or spiritual guides.

Ideally, there is some space between different people’s places as well. This prevents the space from feeling too cramped and allows journeyers to feel less self-conscious about moving about and making noise whilst journeying. It’s conducive to a beneficial session if people feel free to wriggle or stretch or yawn without worrying about disturbing others.

Aside from this, it’s also best if there is ample space so that people can get up and go to the bathroom or any other spaces without anyone else being in the way or having to get up to allow them out. This just allows for a smoother experience all around and allows each journeyer to be immersed in their experience without other considerations.

Light

cosy lighting

As you prepare to explore the depths of your psyche, lighting can become your accomplice. It can add a lot to the ambiance or atmosphere of the setting, in turn influencing the set of all involved.

Consider the difference between a dinner by candlelight and one with bright lights on full beam blasting every inch of the room. Quite a difference.

When it comes to more inner-focused journeys, it can be beneficial to employ low and cozy lighting. 

For this reason, it’s nice to have the lights low so that the space is dark and allows attention to be drawn inwards. However, I would recommend that the lighting is not so low that there are any areas of the room which are totally pitch black, and are unable to be seen with the naked eye. 

This type of lighting helps to convey a sense of safety, knowing that everything is visible and there is nothing ‘hidden’ in the space, but keeps it low enough that attention is not drawn excessively outwards to anything in the room.

Music

psychedelic headphones

For group sessions, it can be nice if everyone is listening to the same soundtrack.

A carefully curated soundtrack can be the heartbeat of a psychedelic experience. 

To do this, all parties need to agree on the music to be played. This topic should be covered in the preparation for a group session, and if self-organized, potential playlists and musical choices can be put forth by all members of the group. For this purpose, pre-made playlists can be a great option.

If a tripsitter is leading the organization of a session, they may well have some suggestions or playlists which they typically work with.

Another option is that each journeyer has their own musical device set up and listens to their own choice of music through a pair of headphones. This allows for a level of personalisation not possible if everyone must listen to the same playlist. The drawback to this method is a loss of cohesion between members of the group.

If there are sitters, it can be helpful to have the music played through speakers in the room. This can help them to get a feeling for the atmosphere or possible landscapes that the journeyers are on. For example, if the music is intense, they can understand that journeyers are likely to be in a particularly intense part of the journey. Likewise, if the music is calming and peaceful, that may be a more tranquil passage.

You may consider your technical music setup carefully for a smooth experience. For more on this, see my previously published post How to Set Up Music for Psychedelic Sessions.

Other Considerations

zen stone sand

In the quest for the ultimate setting, let’s not forget some of the finer details that can make all the difference… 

Temperature and Airflow

Temperature should be a consideration. Keeping the room at a comfortable level, and with extra blankets or fans for people to use as needed to be sure everyone is comfortable. As well, airflow can be considered. This can be helped by periodically opening windows to let fresh air in. Or leaving them open, if the space allows for this and it doesn’t become too cold or noisy.

Smell and Scents

Smell may also be utilized and the concept of aroma therapy added to the session. Burning sage or palo santo may have a calming or grounding effect to journeyers. Incense might also be used. If you are concerned about smoke in the space and if this might affect the quality of air, you may like to use essential oils and an aroma diffuser.

Using a unique or specific smell may have an upside in the integration process. Memories are strongly associated with smells, and by revisiting the smell associated with a particular experience, journeyers can more easily recall them. 

This trick can be used by simply burning the same herbs or incense, or utilizing oils in a diffuser again. This helps to recreate the context of the memory and can be done whilst listening to the same music and journaling about the experience.

Items, Decoration, and Clothing

Items, altar, decorations, and clothes can also be used to help contribute to the overall atmosphere and shaping of a group session.

These can be chosen mindfully and may represent certain themes or intentions, ideas to draw attention to, or expressions of members of the group. They might be for calm, celebration, simplicity, or to add a sense of ritual or special significance to the occasion. Use your imagination and intuition and experiment with these variables.

Final Thoughts

So there we have it. I hope you now feel equipped to create an environment that fosters transformation and personal growth for your next group session.

Remember, much magic lies in the details, even the slightest considerations can ripple through to impact the experience.

Whether you’re embarking on a spiritual expedition or exploring the depths of your mind, the setting you craft will be the canvas upon which your journey unfolds.

Go forth, embrace the unknown, and may your group’s psychedelic experiences be a wonder.

Stay safe, journey well.

John Robertson | Community Blogger at Chemical Collective | mapsofthemind.com

John is one of our community bloggers here at Chemical Collective. If you’re interested in joining our blogging team and getting paid to write about subjects you’re passionate about, please reach out to David via email at blog@chemical-collective.com

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Timzy
7 months ago

Some good food for thought here

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