One of the most common frequently asked questions from first-time trip takers is whether or not it’s recommended to bring a partner or friend along on your guided psychedelic experience.
While all decisions pertaining to your experience are ultimately your own, our job at Psychedelic Passage is to provide you with as much knowledge and preparatory insight as we can, in order to help educate your decision. Today, we’ll dive into the deep end, exploring the ideal conditions recommended for wading the sacred psychedelic waters.
Let’s start with a simple answer to the question at hand: Typically, it’s not recommended to bring a +1 to your therapeutic psychedelic session. While that might seem counter-intuitive, we’ll explore why bringing someone you know may deter your attention and counteract your intentions for the psychedelic experience.
The History & Importance of ‘Set And Setting’
Any new experience comes with promises and perils. As humans, we tend to run a subliminal risk-reward analysis when deciding to try something new, or out of our comfort zone. In therapeutic psychedelic experiences, we revere the reward in order to reduce the risk.
Centuries of history have taught us that when a psychedelic journey is on the horizon, we must be in a grounded state of mind. We should be motivated by the reward and feel gratitude for the compounds that elicit this reward, as we surrender anxieties and judgment.
By now, many have read or heard about “set and setting” – a concept regarding emotional and physical safety during the psychedelic experience. The popular book How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan, came out in 2018, energizing a new wave of interest in the Psychedelic Renaissance, and exploring the depths of this healing phenomenon.
The term “Set and Setting” was used as early as 1958 by psychedelic researchers. Researchers proposed that the magic of psychedelics lies in their ability to produce a clean slate for observing, absorbing, and connecting. Thus, our bodies must be in a safe and secure ceremonial setting, and our minds must be set to a grounded and open rhythm.
The tone of a psychedelic experience is highly dependent on both your physical environment and your mindset. Ensuring these two variables are conducive to openness and acceptance, will consistently have the biggest impact on any psychoactive drug experience.
Stan Grof, a psychiatrist who has guided or supervised around 4500 LSD sessions, has described psychedelics as “non-specific amplifiers,” meaning they will amplify whatever feelings an individual consciously or unconsciously brings to the table when they show up.
This is most evident when it comes to mood. If you’re in a positive mood, a psychedelic drug is likely to enhance this state of mind, leading to a more euphoric, wonderful, or fantastical experience– Cue rainbow flowers and colorful pop art associated with ‘60s music and culture.
On the flip side, if you take a psychedelic while feeling anxious, on edge, or fearful, there is a greater chance that you could have a “bad” trip, or as we like to say– a useful, challenging experience. To mitigate the chances of a bad trip, it’s crucial that we exercise our power to observe without judgment.
When you think about it, it really makes no difference whether you’re talking about a psychedelic trip or a vacation trip– our state of mind leading up to the experience and during it, is usually manifestive.
If you go on a trip with feelings of dread, you may amplify the stress caused by the inherent unpredictability of traveling. But if you go on a trip with hopeful expectations for the experience, you’ll be more positively met by this type of self-fulfilling prophecy.
*One disclaimer: this is not to say with absolution that a positive or negative mood will always result in a corresponding positive or negative experience. There is a whole spectrum of mental and emotional mood states between “positive” and “ negative”, these labels aren’t intended to be reductionist or simplistic.
It is normal and common for most people to feel some level of nerves before journeying for the first time, but when it comes to mentally packing for your psychedelic trip, it’s proven best practice to consider psychedelics as emotional “amplifiers”.
Before you embark on a psychedelic trip, we encourage you to prepare as much as possible. To improve safety by practicing reverence for these fungi teachers, explore the intimate relationship between humans and psychedelics.
Should You Bring a Friend to Your Guided Psychedelic Experience?
So how does choosing to bring a friend or partner to your trip relate to cultivating your set and setting? Upon initial consideration, it might seem that bringing along a loved one to an emotionally vulnerable experience is a comforting way to ensure support during the journey.
If we were talking about a road trip and not a psychedelic trip, we would tend to agree. Bringing a friend or a partner along for the ride would surely make things more fun and enjoyable, and you would likely find comfort and safety in having someone familiar with you in a new space.
That said, let’s review what we know about the way that psychedelics alter our consciousness. They wipe our slates clean and give us a fresh and renewed perspective, but they do this by unplugging existing cables and rewiring some outlets (synaptic reorganization).
It could be useful to think of a psychedelic trip as a day in the garden. Some weeds may be so deeply rooted beneath the surface of the soil that it can be hard to pull them out. But once you do, you give the soil a chance to regenerate and lend itself to being a bed of growth for any new seeds you plant.
A psychedelic trip embodies the process of yanking out those deeply-rooted weeds– our deeply-rooted cognitions and convictions. Thus, we allow ourselves to feel and think anew. We may tap into thoughts we didn’t know we had or make connections we never saw before.
Because of this, having a familiar face nearby won’t necessarily facilitate a positive trip. In fact, the rawness of a psychedelic state, people and things that are familiar can begin to feel energetically unfamiliar.
That could be a potentially distressing or scary experience to suddenly feel differently about, or disconnected from, what or who you thought you knew. You may also find yourself having a hard time or being unable to remove your attention from your friend or family member.
This can greatly contradict your intentions by distracting you from the greater purpose at hand. This common occurrence is at the heart of why bringing someone to your guided psychedelic experience is advised against.
Keep in mind that taking a psychedelic trip is the experiential embodiment of vulnerability and rawness. Having any distractions in the ceremonial container may make you feel subconsciously or consciously pressured to direct your energy outward. In a psychedelic experience, we should afford ourselves the space to become blank canvases exploring inward landscapes.
The Difference Between Trip-Sitting & Guiding
It’s useful to note that conversation surrounding potential guests underlies the fact that there will already be a psychedelic expert– a facilitator– to guide you through the trip.
While the journey will be internally independent, externally, there will still be another person there– a highly qualified person, at that. A guide’s role is to help ground the journeyer into a sense of peace, comfort, and reassurance. In most cases, this reassurance by a professional, compared to reassurance by peers, elicits more therapeutic trust in the journeyer.
That said, not all psychedelic experiences are guided ones. Should you choose to take a psychedelic trip without a professional guide or facilitator, you might opt to have a friend, relative, or loved one supervise – also known as “trip sitting.” Trip-sitting is often considered a more casual way to experience psychedelics.
It is still ideal that a trip sitter of any kind have personal experience with psychedelics– and better yet, experience with supporting others through a psychedelic trip, if not experience guiding. For your best interest, we urge you to thoroughly consider who you choose to tripsit for your experience.
If you determine trip sitter requirements in the same way you determine safety requirements for babysitting, you’ll likely upgrade your standards for set, setting, and psychedelic support. Explore more on how tripsiting works, to enhance your comfort and see the most fruits from your healing process.
This brings us back to a fundamental piece of the psychedelic journeying framework– do your research when choosing a psychedelic facilitator or guide. That’s exactly what we’re to help you do. We want your experience to be individual but not isolating. It should be singular, but not solitary.
After all, the spirit of psychedelic medicine lies in collectivist culture. The magic of mushrooms relied on its power to bring people together, and create a ceremonious and harmonious society.
Where there are fungi there is a fun-guy (or girl). Book a consultation to connect with our pre-vetted network of psychedelic facilitators. To learn more about all-things-psychedelics, head on over to our resources page. We’re grateful for the opportunity to service your journey.