in this article
- The Myth of The Universal Method
- The Universal and Unique Approach
- Universal Elements: Key Considerations
- Unique Aspects: Adopting a Personalized Approach
- Variables May Change For The Same Person
- Final Thoughts
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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.
One of the most common reasons why people fail to benefit from psychedelics is that they don’t personalise their sessions. That is, they don’t acknowledge their uniqueness. That what works for one person may not work for another.
In a world where ‘one-size-fits-all’ approaches are often promoted, I’d like to invite you to consider the benefits of customization and personalization in your psychedelic journey. Personalising your psychedelic sessions could be the ultimate game-changer
In this article, I’ll explore the importance of tailoring your psychedelic journey to your unique needs and preferences.
I’ll begin by looking at a key belief that stops psychedelic explorers personalising their sessions – ‘the universal method’. I’ll then share a more useful, practical, and beneficial approach, and share factors you might consider. By the end, you’ll understand why personalization is key to unlocking the full potential of psychedelics, and how you can incorporate this approach.
My intention is to help you improve your ability to safely and effectively work with psychedelics for insight, healing, and growth.
Some people believe that there is a single method of using psychedelics that should work for everyone. That there is a ‘universal method.’ A particular method that is the best and most effective, for everyone.
This ‘universal method’, by its nature, believes in the same fixed variables of substance, dose, style, setting, and music.
An example would be: 5g dried psilocybin mushrooms, alone, inner journey using headphones and an eye mask, and the John Hopkins playlist.
Because it’s universal, it works for everyone. Anyone who uses this method will get insights and a valuable psychedelic experience.
That’s the belief, anyway.
The problem with this belief is that it doesn’t take into account personal differences.
It can result in being inflexible in an approach to working with psychedelics. It can mean not trying anything new, altering any of the variables, or trying different session styles.
Because why would you try anything else, if this is the best and most effective method?
This belief can lead to people to keep repeating the same method, and expecting that it should work eventually, even if they are not seeing any results or having beneficial experiences. This can be like banging your head against a wall.
Over time, this can lead to people feeling disappointed by their experiences. It can also lead to frustration and a loss of hope that psychedelics will ever provide any type of valuable experience. If someone tries this method and it doesn’t work, they may think ‘If the universal method doesn’t work for me, then maybe psychedelics don’t work on me.’
This can lead to increased doubts about a person’s suitability for psychedelic work, and overall decrease their trust in psychedelics.
A healthier approach and mindset for working with psychedelics is the universal and unique approach. This acknowledges that there are some fundamentals that should be taken into consideration for everyone – universal aspects – but also leaves space for individual differences – unique aspects.
Whilst there may not be a universal method that works for everyone, there are some key considerations all of us psychedelic explorers should take into account.
One of these key considerations is safety. This includes the substance we are using, including any contraindications with other medicines, and the doses that we are taking them at. It also includes the safety of the setting, and a feeling of safety and trust with any sitters, facilitators, or other people present.
Another universal consideration is set. That is understanding that we want to be in a relatively centred, grounded state, with a positive mindset when heading into our experience. A positive mindset means framing the experience as an opportunity for learning and growth, rather than as something to be afraid of because it will hurt us.
A final consideration is that of support. Having a person or people to support you emotionally, in case of any difficult emotions arising. Even for solo journeyers, this can include before and after experiences. This could be in the form of a friend, partner, coach, therapist, or counselor.
Once we have taken these universal considerations into account, we can look at the unique aspects of our approach.
When it comes to psychedelic sessions, what works for one person may not work for another. And what works for another may not work for you.
Some people may respond better to different substances, doses, music, and all the other factors and variables of a psychedelic session.
What a person responds to will depend on many factors. These include their personality, tolerance, experience level with psychedelics and altered states of consciousness, their relationship with psychedelics, and their intention.
I’ll go through a few of these variables to illustrate and include some personal examples.
Some people may find that specific substances work better for them than others. For example, for some people, psilocybin mushrooms can be very effective. For someone else in a different place, the psilocybin experience can be initially uncomfortable. They might wish to combine it with MDMA, as it can help to soften entry to the psilocybin experience. This approach has been utilized by many, and is supported by recent research that has shown that using MDMA can help to prevent adverse experiences with the classic psychedelics.
Others still may find LSD to be preferable, and the headspace that it provides is more lucid and manageable.
For someone else who is totally new to any kind of psychedelic experiences, or altered states of consciousness, they may wish to start with MDMA alone. This is a good entry point for many people because it usually provides a highly positive experience and is a good initial step into the world of psychedelics.
Along with substance, dose is a huge factor.
What is a high dose for one person might be a low dose for another, and vice versa.
For the average person, 5 grams of dried psilocybin mushrooms is a high dose.
But this is only an average, and this doesn’t apply to many people. I’d estimate this is true for maybe 60-75% of people. So for an extra 25-40% of people, this won’t be the case. That’s quite a lot of people. And this might include you.
For someone who is more sensitive to psilocybin, 5 grams is closer to a mega dose. In this case, 1-3 grams would be more suitable for the explorer seeking a high dose.
On the other end of the scale, if you have a high tolerance to psilocybin, like me, 5g might be closer to a medium dose. I personally need at least 7 grams to approach high dose territory.
Understanding that doses are not the same for everyone is key, and should be considered by all psychedelic explorers. Trying different doses and documenting your experiences will help you to learn your ideal dose.
Before first experiences, it can also be useful to consider how sensitive you have been to other substances you’ve had, as this can be an indicator to sensitivity. For example, was there a situation where you and your friends took the same dose of something together, and everyone else felt the effects more strongly than you? That’s a sign you may have higher than average tolerance. Although tolerances will vary differently for different substances, this can be a useful metric to consider.
There are many different ways to work with psychedelics. One is the psychedelic therapy-style session. Headphones on, eye mask on, attention directed inwards whilst listening to a playlist of music. This works well for many people.
But again, not everyone.
For some, having their eyes open is preferable. They may wish to have something to look at. Or they may feel constricted and claustrophobic when wearing an eye mask. They may want the ability to open their eyes and connect to their surroundings.
Others may benefit from having a notepad or audio recorder handy. For others, these extra tools may make the session overly complicated, bringing distracting thoughts into their session. Simplicity may serve them better.
Some people like to incorporate movement into their session, finding it helps to get out of the mind and into their body at the start, or to loosen up towards the end. Others will find that it is too confusing, and prefer stillness throughout.
Some people prefer to journey alongside others. They feel reassurance in knowing others are present. They may prefer to have someone to talk to, or just enjoy some company.
Some people feel much safer with the support of a facilitator or tripsitter.
Knowing there is someone there helps them to relax and open, and their support can help to guide them through the experience.
Others prefer to journey alone. They may feel less restricted and more free to express themselves in the absence of others. They might feel more at ease and less distracted. The benefits of the solo approach may outweigh the downsides.
Yet even others will prefer knowing someone is on hand if needed – perhaps in a nearby room – but are otherwise left to themselves.
Which scenario would make you feel most comfortable? What are the upsides and downsides of each approach? Consider this when planning your next trip.
When it comes to finding the optimal state to enter our psychedelic sessions, general practices include meditation, yoga, movement, time in nature, and clearing practices.
Some people will find a gentle yin yoga session for 30-60 minutes is ideal. Others will benefit from a more rigorous and intense workout beforehand. Others still may find that a walk or some time in nature sets them up perfectly.
For some people, touching base with loved ones is key and helps to centre and ground them. Others will find that focusing on work and making sure all professional commitments are taken care of ahead of the session will bring about a greater sense of ease and clarity heading into the session.
Of course, it may be ideal to do all of them, but time to prepare is limited, and it’s best to focus on the activities that will best serve us as we head towards the day of our session.
It’s important to remember that all of these variables may also change over time. They may depend on a person’s intention, their experience level, and their situation or resources.
If you have some experience and are looking for a deep introspective experience, your dose will almost certainly be higher than if you are setting up an introductory microdose session.
What’s worked for you before may not work for you in a year’s time. You are an evolving and changing living being, and your practice, and how you set up your session, can evolve with you.
When group sessions may have once worked best for you, solo sessions may take their place.
Be open to change.
The benefit of adopting a personalised approach is that it accounts for your individuality. It doesn’t try to force square pegs into round holes. Instead, it offers flexibility to different people, scenarios, and intentions. It’s not fixed or rigid. There is room to adapt and adopt.
Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.
Personalising your approach offers you the opportunity to adjust and improve your approach and with experience, your benefits. And with this approach, an unsuccessful experience doesn’t necessarily mean that psychedelics hold no benefits for you. You may just need to tweak some of the variables or try a different approach to find what works best for you.
Personalising your psychedelic experience is not just a choice; it’s a pathway to profound insights, healing, and growth. By breaking free from the myth of the universal method and embracing the diversity of approaches, substances, and settings, you empower yourself to harness the full potential of psychedelics.
Remember that the variables in your journey may change over time, reflecting your evolving self. Embrace this change, adapt, and continue to explore the unique benefits of personalised psychedelic experiences. Your journey is unique, just like you, and it holds the potential for continued growth and transformation.
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 email@example.com
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