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 trip 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 trip 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.
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.”
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 or how mindfulness can help with psychedelic therapy.
When using psychedelics, like magic mushrooms, you likely spend a decent amount of time planning for the experience. You probably set your intentions, choose a location and people you trust to be a part of the experience, prepare your environment, and select your dose. Do you take the same kind of care with the time after your psychedelic experience?
Psychedelics can have numerous therapeutic impacts. Taking some time for yourself after the experience can help integrate these impacts into your life.
If you have previous experience with psychedelics, you know several factors can impact how long it takes shrooms to kick in. If you’re taking a full macro dose, the experience is also not linear. It’s not likely the experience will ramp up to a peak and slowly decrease until you’re back to baseline – it tends to come in waves. As a result, it can be difficult to tell when you are back to baseline, and many people report experiencing something called an ‘afterglow.’
The afterglow experience is often described as a lingering euphoric feeling at the end of a psychedelic experience. It’s often called ‘afterglow’ because the world may feel particularly ‘shiny.’ Taking advantage of this afterglow can be a valuable part of psychedelic integration.
There are no rules for what to do or how to use your time after a psychedelic experience as different strategies work for different people. However, we suggest making a conscious choice about how to use the time.
Here are some ways to approach psychedelic integration:
Take some time to be present with yourself in a way that’s comfortable for you. If meditation or mindfulness is a part of your routine (if it’s not, we suggest you give it a try) lean into this and use it as a tool for being present with your feelings during the afterglow period.
If sitting quietly feels overwhelming to you, approach being with yourself in a way that feels more comfortable. Remember: the goal of mindfulness is not to be void of thoughts but to be present in the moment. Instead, you may want to try finding a comfortable spot to draw, colour or listen to soothing music.
A lot of our intense emotions are held in our bodies. So, moving our bodies can help to release those feelings. Take a few minutes to scan your body and notice how you feel and where you may be holding any tension. (Try this body scan meditation). Then, find ways of stretching or moving your body that feel good.
This could be sitting on the floor and stretching, doing some simple yoga stretches, going for a walk, doing whatever feels good – listen to your body.
Psychedelics and nature go hand in hand. Reconnecting with nature following a psychedelic experience can be very healing. Find a quiet place to get outside and reconnect with nature; lay down in the grass, look up at the clouds or the trees, take your shoes off at the beach, or take a walk down a forest trail.
Note some people do choose to have their psychedelic experience in nature. If you choose to do so, make sure you are in a safe place, with people you trust, and have access to all the things you may need during the experience (such as water and a bathroom).
One of the therapeutic effects of magic mushrooms is being able to examine and connect with past experiences so you can recontextualize them. Sometimes feelings come up that you aren’t expecting, are bigger than you were expecting, or you simply aren’t prepared to deal with. Journaling is a tool that many people use to help them sort through their feelings or to record their experiences to return to later.
Many people say journaling is the most crucial aspect of psychedelic integration for them. Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you understand them, see them more clearly, self-reflect, and potentially recognize patterns.
As with any integration process, journaling is personal. If journaling is part of your routine, you may follow the same pattern you always do, but if not, you may want some prompts or tips to start the process.
There are generally two ways of journaling; (1) open-ended journaling and (2) journaling for a specific purpose. For psychedelic integration, you may want to consider incorporating both.
Consider starting your journaling before your psychedelic experience. Not only does this help with setting your intentions, but it can also act as a trip log. A trip log can help you further understand your psychedelic experience and help you uncover trends.
A few things can be beneficial to record in your trip log before your psychedelic experience to help you make the most of it.
- Date and time of the experience
- Dose and strain of mushrooms
- Emotional state before the experience
- Any important thoughts/feelings you may be having (ex: are you nervous?)
- How your body is feeling (any soreness, tension, etc.)
If you journal regularly, an open-ended process may work well for you; you may be able to write freely about your feelings naturally. If not, that’s okay too.
It may be helpful to return to the things you recorded in your trip log before and ask yourself the same questions to see if you’re feeling differently.
Here are some prompts to get you started. Please don’t feel obligated to answer them all; use what resonates with you or piques your interest. Some, you may want to come back to each time you dose to see how things change.
- How does your body feel? Are you feeling tense? Relaxed?
- Did you experience any struggles, conflicts, or big emotions? Did you have times where you fought against the experience? Consider why this may have happened, record your experience and how you’re feeling about it now.
- Think about the intention you set. Do you feel this was addressed? If yes, in what ways? If not, what may have happened that moved you away from your intentions? Are there ways you are still working to understand this?
- Did you make any big realizations about your life? Consider your relationships, job, family life, health, etc. Are there changes you need to make? What commitments do you want to make to yourself moving forward?
- Did you experience any big revelations? Or do you feel like there were key messages to take away from this experience?
- What are you grateful for? Adding gratitude as part of your regular journaling process can be exceptionally beneficial.
Some other things to consider are:
- What tools do you think you may need to integrate this experience into your life or make the necessary changes in your life?
- What challenges do you think you may experience with integration?
You may think psychedelic integration doesn’t apply since you don’t experience the coming down with microdosing as you do with a macro dose. This isn’t true. With microdosing, the intentions and therapeutic goals may be the same; the approach (i.e. the dose) is the only different thing.
Since microdosing involves taking such a small dose of a substance, journaling and integration may be more critical. At this dose, it’s more challenging to determine whether the substance has its intended impact. And even the task of finding the most effective dose can be difficult. Journaling can help.
Tracking the date, time, and size of your dose can help you determine the most effective dose and most effective regimen (how often to dose). We always recommend starting with a low dose and increasing slowly over time. Recording these can help you see the nuances between doses and track your tolerance.
Additionally, keeping an ongoing record of your intentions and your emotional state before and after dosing can help you to track the benefits over time.
Psychedelic integration can impact how you experience psychedelics and improve the therapeutic potential. Don’t rush to move on to the next thing after a macro dose; take the time to reflect and record your experience. Do the same with microdosing to get the most out of your experience.
Do you incorporate journaling into your psychedelic routine? What do you find works best for you? Let us know in the comments.
To hear how others integrated what they learned during a psychedelic trip, see our 50 quotes on psychedelics.