Setting Intentions for a Psychedelic Trip

People have all sorts of rituals prior to a psychedelic experience, and one of the best ways to prepare is by setting intentions for a psychedelic trip.

Setting intentions is when you state what you intend to accomplish through your actions. It’s a commitment to what you want the journey to be about and can be used to guide the experience.

What’s the difference between intentions and goals?

It’s easy to see this as goal setting, and while there are similarities, there are also important differences.

Goals are helpful to have, but they can also bring about anxiety or stress regarding our ability to achieve them, as well as thoughts about our current state not being enough.

Here are some major differences between goals and intentions:

  • Goals are focused on the future. Intentions are in the present.
  • Goals are a destination or specific achievement. Intentions are lived each day, independent of achieving the goal or destination.
  • Goals are external achievements. Intentions are more focused on your relationship with yourself and others.

So, when we use intentions in conjunction with our goals, we can accomplish our goals while also enjoying the journey.

Why Set intentions for a Psychedelic Trip?

When you are intentional about something, you’re more focused and thoughtful. Not only does it help to guide you, but it’s also something to return to when things get challenging. There are times during a psychedelic experience where things can get intense; it’s easy to get swept away by your emotions or perceptions. However, suppose you’ve set an intention before the experience. In that case, this can help you feel grounded and can be something you refocus on to assist you in those challenging or scary moments.

How to Set Intentions

If you’re new to psychedelics and are unsure where to start with intention setting, you may want to start with something simple. For example, “I want to be open to what this experience has to show me.” It doesn’t necessarily have to be specific. Even this intention can help guide you and remind you to keep an open mind, and allow the journey to lead you. Likewise, wanting to explore your consciousness is also valid.

Others find it more helpful to be more specific with their intentions. A good starting place is to think of areas of your life that may need more awareness, attention, or work. For example, think about the prefixes “help me,” “teach me,” or “show me” and what may come afterward for you.

Here are some questions you may want to consider when thinking about setting intentions:

  • Where am I stuck in life?
  • What’s holding me back?
  • How does my behaviour compare to my goals, values, and self-beliefs?
  • What would I like to change about my life?

So, if your goal is to lose weight, for example, your intention could be “teach me to have a better relationship with food.” If your struggles are around mental wellness, you may want to set an intention such as “show me what causes my anxiety.”

If you’re struggling with setting intentions, consider asking the people you’re planning to trip with. They’re likely people you trust and who know you reasonably well, so they may have some insight into where to start or can help you craft your thoughts into something helpful.

If you have previous experience with psychedelics, your intention could be focused on things you have struggled with in past experiences. For example, suppose you realize you need some alone time during the experience. In that case, your intention may be to “communicate more effectively with your trip partners around space and boundaries.”

What to Avoid When Setting Intentions for a Trip

For some people, setting intentions sounds a bit too woo-woo, so they don’t take the time to think about valuable intentions. So, even though they may choose an intention because their trip guide tells them to, it won’t necessarily be helpful if it isn’t something you care about.

  • Don’t be too vague
  • Don’t be too productivity focused
  • Focus on yourself

Remember that we don’t always know what we want or need; try to go into the experience with an open-minded, not a rigid goal.

Also, remember that just because you set an intention doesn’t mean that your experience will be entirely focused on that or that you will even accomplish it. Setting intentions is about giving yourself a place to start; something more pressing will often come up that you weren’t aware of. Maybe your intentions were addressed more indirectly, so it can be helpful to keep a trip journal to record your thoughts and feelings to return to.

Should I Set Intentions with Microdosing?

The short answer is yes. However, intentions with microdosing may look different than with a full psychedelic experience, and they’re likely more long-term.

Since with microdosing you don’t experience the same psychoactive high, you experience benefits over time. Because of this, it’s recommended to keep a trip journal where you can not only record your doses but keep track of your intentions and your feelings throughout the experience.

So, you may have one long-term goal when it comes to microdosing, such as being more productive at work, decreasing your anxiety, being more creative. Yet, at the same time, it’s helpful to set daily intentions that help you work today towards your ultimate goal (or at least setting intentions on the day that you dose). So, you want to set an intention that will help get you to that goal but is focused on the present; for example, “I want to create space for creativity today.”

What’s Next?

Your intentions will help guide you through the experience (though remember it’s a guide, don’t force it), and the next step is integration. Psychedelic integration is the process of taking the experiences and lessons that you’ve learned during the trip and integrating them into your life. This can look different for everyone, but we recommend keeping a trip journal to write down your experiences, lessons, and revelations to help with the integration process.

Learn more about psychedelic integration.

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