Psychedelic integration

The past years have seen an upsurge in popularity of psychedelic drugs. Some people are interested in psychedelics and want to find out what these compounds can do for them. New research is investigating whether psilocybin, MDMA and LSD, all of which closely resemble serotonin and bind to serotonin receptors in the brain, might help in trauma recovery. This research is still ongoing and so far only accessible to participants in trials. Some people, stemmed hopeful by the intermediate results of the research, decide to “go underground”. That could be you.

Maybe you found yourself a trip sitter, shaman or counselor who sat by your side. You could have tripped with a good friend or maybe you ventured alone.

So now what?

  • You may have come back to the world exactly as you left it, which may be a disappointment since you had high hopes for immediate change.
  • The experience might have been more intense than you anticipated, perhaps even frightening at times.
  • The experience might not have given you the answers you were looking for or none at all.
  • You may be hesitant to talk about the experience with others or you may have tried but found that others did not respond as you had hoped.

Much has been written about psychedelics that I won’t repeat here. The long and the short of it is this: These compounds (psilocybin, MDMA and LSD) closely resemble serotonin and bind to serotonin receptors in the brain. However, since they are not identical to serotonin but differ slightly, this causes the uncommon experience we call a “trip”. An effect of psychedelics is that all areas of the brain are temporarily hyperconnected. Signals that normally would have been filtered, now make it through. This is what can make people on psychedelics so sensitive to the moods of people around them. What you experienced during your trip came from your own senses, your brain and your nervous system’s communication with itself, amplified.

If you went into the experience with a question or intention, there’s a chance the question seems unanswered, the intention unfulfilled. You may have seen incredible things but come back without that which you’d hoped: answers, solutions, instructions. That’s because, basically, the nervous system can’t speak, read or write. Only a small part of your brain can do that. So if there were messages from you to yourself in there, answers to questions or solutions to problems, you most likely received them in a symbolic form, like dreams. It may take a while to figure out.

You may have wanted to jump straight from the psychedelic trip to making changes in your life. If no clear answers have presented themselves on how to do this, then your nervous system might have had other things to tell you than what you expected to hear. Figuring out the messages from you to you may require some serendipity. You never know exactly how or when it all starts to make sense. I’d like to encourage you to keep searching. If there’s one truth about searchers, it is that if you keep searching you will inevitably find.

What will we be doing?

Your brain has stuff to tell you, and you don’t always listen. You know that. That’s not your fault. It’s frickin’ hard to listen to yourself. Like, properly hearing what you have got to say to you, that’s the hardest thing there is. If only you could just speak up, then you might be able to understand what you had to say to yourself!

Well, that’s what you set out to do: Psychedelics twisted the volume button until it wouldn’t go any further. But increasing the volume might not have made the message any clearer.. Still no instruction manual to make changes in your life… Now what? So here’s what we’ll do: We’re going to go over what you saw, heard, felt and we’re going to try to translate what it was you were trying to tell yourself. We’ll figure out the symbolism of your message to you. Things might not make much sense at first and it can be quite a puzzle. Life’s like that. Let’s see if we can find your puzzle’s edge together. In these sessions, I will ask you to draw or sketch what you have experienced and I will also be using pencil and paper myself to sketch symbols and ideas.

To help you find meaning, we will investigate the symbolism of your experience. You may have seen (or been) an animal, may have encountered any of your family members or ancestors, you may have climbed a structure, breathed geometric shapes, interacted with elements like earth, fire, air and water or may even have smelled colours, who knows. Every experience is different. But there are commonalities, too. There are parts of our brain that have evolved into what they are now. You were born with those pathways, and as such they are universal. Therefore, there is a commonality to be found in the psychedelic experience, too. People have shared experiences with eachother since humanity first started communicating and from the get-go we’ve communicated in symbols. You have something in common with everything anyone has ever experienced and from the earliest moment we could communicate with eachother we’ve made drawings and have written things down. We will be searching for symbols and their meaning in nature, religion, spirituality, modern art, popular culture, music, literature, history and anything else that may present itself as we follow the threads of your experience.

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