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The Power of Remembering: Enhancing Psychedelic Integration

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in this article
  • Intro
  • Reconnecting with the Experience
  • Keeping The Experience Alive
  • Methods of Remembering and Recall
  • Role of Journaling
  • Recreating The Context
  • Proactive Integration
  • You Can Not Remember Everything
  • Benefits of Remembering in Psychedelic Integration
  • 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.

Intro

Remembering is one of the unmissable parts of psychedelic integration that every psychonaut should be doing.

When it comes to integrationthe part of the psychedelic process after our experience where we try to consolidate any perceived benefitsremembering our psychedelic experiences can be a crucial part of the puzzle. Remembering helps us to reconnect to the experience and make it a part of our being. It helps to reconnect us with insights, impressions and important truths we may have encountered.

In this blog post, I will explore remembering as a part of integration. I will look at the benefits of remembering, the role it plays in processing, and how it can help reconnect us to our experience more deeply. I will also look at a few different methods for remembering and recalling the experience so that by the end of the article you will already be able to begin this practice.

My intention with this post is to highlight the importance of remembrance and recall in the psychedelic integration process, and to give you ideas and tools on how to do this so that you may maximise the benefits from your experiences.

Reconnecting with the Experience

When we remember an experience, psychedelic or otherwise, we reconnect with the thoughts, feelings and perceptions that arose during that experience. This is true whether the act of remembering is through spontaneous or active recall.

In the context of psychedelic integration, this is relevant when we consider psychedelic integration as being able to carry over some of the wisdom and insight from our psychedelic experiences into our day-to-day lives outside of the experience.

Deep personal truths can become crystal clear to us in the psychedelic state. And those realisations about what is true and deep and important to us are not things that we want to forget easily. Most likely, we want to hold onto them and carry them with us as we re-enter our normal lives. The act of remembering is a way to bring parts of them back into our psyche and our being.

Processing Experiences

Reconnecting with aspects of the experience through remembering can also help with processing. This can be especially important and helpful when we have had very dense psychedelic experiences that have contained huge amounts of content and information. Experiences may have had a high amount of emotional arousal, or even crept over into being overwhelming. Those experiences, if left unprocessed, can result in other problems if they continue to exist unresolved in our psyches. Unresolved issues can lead to a manifestation of problems in other areas; mentally, behaviourally and physically.

By being with our memories in a state of remembering or recall, we can touch the experience again and allow further opportunities for processing.

When experiences are fully processed, there is less ambiguity and more clarity around them. And this is where we want to be when moving into action with our integration: beyond processing and ready to move into the deliberate and active part of the integration process.

Keeping The Experience Alive

There is a saying that says the moment someone dies is not when their heart stops beating or their body physically ceases to exist, but that it is the last time anyone ever thought of them. As long as people keep thinking of a person, some part of them is kept alive.

This is relevant in the context of psychedelic integration because, for deeply meaningful experiences, we want to keep them alive. Even though an experience may have finished, it can be seen to continue to live on in spirit, if it continues to influence us through our memory of it. 

Although our psychedelic experience may have ended and the pharmacological effects have worn off, we can keep it alive by recalling it, revisiting it, and remembering it. This helps to keep the experience as part of our being—rather than some thrilling experience we once had and then forgot about and that had no meaningful influence on the rest of our lives.

If there is some truth that has been revealed to us, some knowledge that has been transferred—some revelation or realization—we want to remember that and we want it to inform how we live. When we are living in full alignment with that, then in terms of psychedelic integration, we can consider that a success.

Integration Begins Immediately

This remembering process can begin even before a session is finished. It can begin after the peak, on the end of the downslide, when you are into calmer waters. Here you may already begin recalling and reflecting about what has happened at the peak of the experience. In what is often a calm, quiet, and meditative state, this is a good time to stay with your experience and begin integration by processing and reflecting on the content of the experience.

In this regard, the integration process can be seen as starting as soon as somebody begins coming down from their peak. At this time, it is highly important to stay with the experience as best as possible, and not be in a rush to leave psychedelic states or for the session to end. This means not rushing to go back to mundane things, but staying with yourself and the waves of experience that are still coming. Allowing whatever you have experienced to fully sink in. By allowing it to sink in, it can more easily become part of our mind and our being.

Methods of Remembering and Recall

There are many different ways of remembering and recalling to aid psychedelic integration. Here I will share a few.

Recalling Through The Senses Meditation

One means of aiding recall is a type of guided visualization exercise. This works by systematically going through each of the five senses, and recalling what you can. 

If you have an experience that you would like to remember, psychedelic or not, you can practice this now as you read. Begin by taking a breath and calming your mind. Then, move through the five senses.

Sight

Remember what you saw; the environment, things in the room, people that you were with, any visions or visuals that you may have experienced. These might have occurred in dreamlike psychedelic states, deep recesses of the mind, or the depths of inner or outer space.

Smell

Remember what you smelt. Were there any scents or smells in the space? Can you recall the smell of the mushrooms or the ayahuasca brew? Call all smells back to mind. 

Taste

Are there any tastes you remember? This is not usually a prominent source of memories, but maybe you can recall the taste of the mushrooms or the ayahuasca brew. Recall any tastes that you can.

Touch

Remember what you touched. Was there something that you were lying on? Were there any materials around? Recall as many details as you can and hold them in your mind.

Sound

Remember what you heard. Bring to mind any music that was playing and hear it in your head. Were there any sounds from nature or the environment around you?

When you have gone through the five senses, some of the experience should be back with you and you can move on to a final step.

Feelings 

Finally, can you remember how you felt? What were the most prominent emotions?

Sit with any emotions that come up and allow them to go wherever they may go. Allow them to enter into your being, and notice how you feel physically—the somatic sensation in your body.

This is an important step because meaning is usually accompanied by some kind of emotional content. Emotions can be a doorway through which we reconnect to key moments.

Expressing the Experience Creatively

Expressing the experience creatively via art or music can also be a great way to reconnect with it. A simple way can just be doing doodles with pen and paper. You may bust out some colours or crayons, or you might try a poem. Whatever method, just try to somehow capture and express some essence of your experience.

Revisiting Recordings

Another method of triggering recall is by revisiting any recordings that were made during the session. This can include audio recordings, photos and videos. Listening or watching back can work wonders to reconnect with the version of you that was having that experience. Preparing necessary recording equipment in advance can be useful for these means. 

More simply, you might revisit any notes that you have made with a pen and paper. Reading back over these notes can be a very simple and effective way to reconnect with the experience.

Role of Journaling

Journaling can be an especially effective and impactful way to integrate an experience.

As part of many of the groundbreaking psilocybin studies done at Johns Hopkins, participants were required to write up a trip report in the form of an open-ended narrative. They were required to do this the same day of their experience, in the evening, and to bring it for discussion the next day.

After learning about this and trying it myself, I was surprised by how beneficial it was and made this an unmissable part of my own integration process.

I do not write it on the same day, but always schedule it for the day after.

The process of journaling about an experience after it has happened is helpful because it can help to unpack dense or content-rich experiences. In the act of journaling, we may find little nooks, crannies and crevices of the experience that we had completely forgotten about. This unpacking of the experience can help to facilitate and deepen any understandings that may have arisen. It is generally good practice to capture the experience whilst it is still fresh, either that evening or the day after.

Recreating The Context

Another thing to consider when it comes to memory recall is context-dependent memory. Context-dependent memory refers to the phenomenon whereby it is easier to recall memories when the context of the original experience is replicated somewhat.

In terms of psychedelic experiences, this could include, for example, parts of the setting. This might be done by listening to the same music, or through revisiting smells. It could also be the clothes you are wearing, or how the space is decorated.

If you had any type of pre-session ritual, you might also revisit that.

If you went for a run and meditated before, then to re-create that you might go for a run and meditate, and then simply smell some mushrooms.

In some cases, you might even take a low dose to help connect with the psychedelic state and any associated insights.

If you are proactive in setting up your experience for easier recall, you might prepare a specific incense or blend of essential oils to be smelled during the experience. You will then be able to use them to help trigger memories in the future.

Proactive Integration

Remember to Remember

We know the truth and the insights; we have learned something profound. Remembering to remember can be the tricky bit. Sometimes we just forget to remember our lessons.

Proactive ways to help retain a memory include scheduling periodic sessions to revisit or reflect upon an experience. This could be, for example, one month later, or on a monthly or yearly interval. You might create routines or rituals to support this. This could be a moment of recall at the end of a daily meditation session, or spending a day out in nature once a year, potentially assisted by a mini dose.

It can be useful to put these events in calendars or set reminders so that we remember to remember.

This type of proactive integration can be hugely valuable in maintaining a connection with a psychedelic experience and its insights over time.

Visual Reminders

Another way of supporting memory is by having associated visual reminders in your environment. For example, if you made a piece of artwork or drew a mandala based on your experience, you might hang it up somewhere in your home where you will see it often. It could also be an item that you find in nature which represents the experience in some way, or a house plant or a piece of art that was prominent or significant during the experience.

You Can Not Remember Everything

After a deeply impactful or meaningful experience, it can be natural to want to remember every last detail. In reality, that is unrealistic. Although it is helpful to make an effort to remember the experience, it is important to accept that some aspects of it may be lost. Realistically, you are not going to be able to remember the entirety of the experience in perfect detail for the rest of your life. 

Accept that some details may be lost over time and that that is okay. That said, if you are actively recalling and revisiting meaningful experiences, fewer details will be lost, recall will be better, and this will reinforce the integration of those experiences.

Benefits of Remembering in Psychedelic Integration

As we wrap up, here is a summary and reminder of the benefits of recalling and reconnecting with an experience for psychedelic integration:

  • Facilitates processing: Recall aids in processing dense or overwhelming experiences, supporting emotional and cognitive integration.
  • Deepens understanding: Remembering and recalling allow for deeper reflection on the insights and lessons gained from the psychedelic experience.
  • Integration: Reconnecting with the experience helps integrate profound insights and perspectives into daily life.
  • Maintains connection: Revisiting memories helps maintain a connection with the transformative aspects of the psychedelic experience over time.

Conclusion

“Remember, remember” is not just for the 5th of November. It goes for our psychedelic experiences too.

Remembering can help to facilitate the processing of dense or overwhelming experiences and maintain a connection with the transformative aspects of a psychedelic experience over time. It can help to integrate profound insights and perspectives into daily life and it can allow for a deeper reflection on any lessons gained.

I invite you to try recalling your experience after your next psychedelic session. Try taking some time, even if it is just a couple of hours, to write up a report of your experience the day after. See for yourself what comes of it and if or how it deepens your process. If you already have an experience you would like to recall, try it today!

Do you practice remembering important experiences? Which of the techniques do you find most effective for recall and integration? Is there anything you read here that you would like to try? Leave your comments below. We look forward to hearing from you.

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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Maciej
5 days ago

Thanks for this post. Awesome

guy
6 days ago

I have dementia
very cool

Last edited 6 days ago by guy

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