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Key Considerations for Solo Psychedelic Sessions

psychedelic painted face
in this article
  • Introduction
  • Why People Journey Alone
  • Dangers and risks
  • Standby Sitter
  • Setting
  • Navigation Techniques
  • Start Low, Go Slow
  • Conclusion

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

Journeying alone can be an incredible experience.

Being completely immersed in your own world, without the presence of other humans, solo journeying is the preferred modus operandi for many psychedelic explorers.

A glance through trip reports online will reveal that many people report that their most transformational experiences are solo ones.

And I count myself in that group of people.

As the number of people taking psychedelics solo rises, I wanted to write a piece detailing some key considerations. This article will look at the topic, why people do it, and explore four key considerations for the lone explorer; dangers and risks, standby sitter, setting, and navigation techniques.

Before we go any further, to be clear, journeying alone is not for everyone. You may never journey alone in your life and still have incredible experiences from psychedelics.

This article is not an endorsement to take psychedelics alone. It is a piece to educate, reduce harm, and offer useful information for those who are embarking on that journey.

Why People Journey Alone

solo psychedelic journey

One reason why people journey alone is purely for the simplicity of it. There are no other people to organise with. No need to coordinate schedules, discuss music and playlists, or any of the other logistical considerations that come about when organizing something with others.

Another reason is that many people feel more free to fully release whatever may come up in a session. These might be certain emotions that are released through expression. This could be sadness through crying, or warrior spirit through chest beating. Many people feel more free to express themselves in an unrestrained way when alone, so it makes sense that they like to take psychedelics without the company of others.

KEY CONSIDERATIONS

Dangers and risks

psychedelics risks

The first thing to consider is the risks that come with tripping alone.

The most obvious thing is that there is no external support for a journeyer. This could be in way of a sitter, facilitator, friend, or co-pilot. This type of support can be especially helpful in times of emotional distress. The support of a sitter or a co-pilot can ease nerves and help bring about a better set for the experience.

Without anyone else, anxiety has the potential to be amplified.

It is also possible for a journeyer to get ‘stuck’. This might mean being stuck fixated thinking about a certain topic or theme and unable to move on, and as such stuck in a certain emotional space. This is where a tripsitter or someone else would be able to see what is happening and redirect their attention.

Another risk is that any case of accident or emergency becomes more complicated.

This can range from something as simple as clearing up a spilled drink (could become quite complicated for someone tripping deep) to any physical accident, such a tripping over. In the second case, the process of diagnosing the seriousness of the accident, any need for medical help, and arranging said medical help, will be severely impaired, compromised, and just overall more complicated and potentially confusing.

 

Standby Sitter

tripsitter

One consideration for solo trippers is having a standby contact or standby sitter.

This is someone who is aware of the psychedelic session and is on standby, in case they are needed to offer support. 

They might be in another room in the apartment or house, or they might be a phone call or message away.

 A standby sitter can be anyone, a family member, a friend, or a tripsitter.

This offers some flexibility. A standby contact can still plan to do things and go about their day but those plans should not include anything that they can’t step away from if needed.

If the solo journeyer gets into some distress or feels like they need support, they are able to reach out. The standby sitter can then help. This might be over message or phone, helping a journeyer to redirect their attention (for example to their breath, body, or intention), provide reassurance (‘you’ve taken psychedelics, you are safe, the experience is temporary and will end’), or any other technique which may help the journeyer on their way.

It might also be organized that the standby sitter can come to physically be with the journeyer and offer support in person, if that is desired or needed.

Another option is the Fireside psychedelic peer support service. Fireside provides free emotional support during and after psychedelic experiences by trained volunteers.

Setting

set and setting calm beach

The setting is a key consideration for solo explorers.

The first thing is to prepare a safe setting. That means being aware of any dangers. Remove any sharp objects or surfaces. To essentially ‘babyproof’ the setting, to reduce any chance of physical harm.

Another method for the setting is to use mindfulness reminders in the setting.

These might be notes in a pad, images or messages hung on walls that help to direct a journeyer or bring about certain feelings that will be helpful as they traverse onward.

These can help to reorient the explorer, and in many ways do what a tripsitter might do.

One method encouraged in MDMA Solo is to have a message hung up that reads ‘You’ve got this’. This is to encourage feelings of reassurance and courage.

A solo explorer may also use something like remindful art, with messages like ‘breathe’. This can help to recentre and ground an explorer in the midst of their expansive exploration.

A method I have employed when using a journal is a little post-it with a personalized message for myself. I’ll move the post it from page to page as I go through it during the session.

Navigation Techniques

solo psychedelic meditation

Successful solo journeying requires an extra familiarity with classic psychedelic navigation techniques. This is especially true for higher doses.

Whatever arises, the experience should not be resisted!

Feelings and thoughts should be accepted. Feelings felt as fully as possible.

Avoiding or resisting an experience is often a reason for uncomfortable trips. Acceptance can go a long way to bringing a trip back onto a more beneficial course. 

Meditation is a good place to learn these basic techniques. It’s something I recommend to anyone considering embarking on a psychedelic journey (solo or not).

An increase in mindfulness increases an explorer’s ability to redirect their attention in a session, and as such become a more effective navigator. 

Techniques that can help include: awareness of the breath, body scan, and conscious relaxation.

One other tool to help with navigation can be a journal. Journaling about our experience can increase mindfulness of it. By writing down our thoughts and feelings we can label and externalize them.

As they say: ‘name it to tame it’.

A journal can also be a tether to reality. It can be used to orient oneself to external variables. Something I like to do before any high-dose session is to orient myself by writing down the location, time, date, dose, intention, and any reminders for the session. It can also be a moment to note down the current mood.

Another idea that a friend of mine once employed and can be incorporated into the journal is a ‘sober note’. A sober note is a message of reassurance from your sober self. It might read something like this:

‘Hey buddy, you’ve taken a dose of psychedelic substance and that’s why you’re feeling strange. However uncomfortable you are, just know that this experience will wear off, and you’ll be back to normal before you know it. In the meantime, try to make the most of it. And remember your intention.’

Start Low, Go Slow

solo psychedelic two shrooms

One method of medicine that solo journeyers may like to embrace is that of starting low and going slow.

As the name suggests, this is the practice of starting with a low dose, and gradually, over time, increasing the dose. This prevents someone from diving into deep and potentially overwhelming experiences from the off and enables them some familiarity with increasing deep psychedelic states.

It’s the equivalent of dipping your toes and then wading into deeper waters, rather than jumping straight in at the deep end.

Conclusion

solo psychedelic face

Solo psychedelic experiences can be wonderful. Tripping alone provides both potential benefits and dangers to the mind explorer, and these should be taken into consideration by anyone wishing to embark upon the lone way.

By taking into account the risks, setting, navigation techniques, and considering having a standby sitter, explorers can become more informed and reduce harm and maximize benefits.

As always, prepare accordingly.

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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6 Comments
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Zuber Glitz
5 months ago

My friend said to write “Its just lsd, everything will be okay :)” on his hand and said it actually worked.

Sweet42
7 months ago

cool

papaya
10 months ago

exiting

2treysongzallwedo
11 months ago

insightful

GuillaumeDGNS
1 year ago

Très utile et instructif cet article!

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