“How Music Shapes Psychedelic Experiences” is a captivating episode that takes a dive deep into the profound relationship between music and psychedelic experiences. As they embark on this primal topic, Jimmy and Nicholas explore how music becomes an integral part of the ceremonial space, guiding listeners through the reasons behind this unique connection.
From the way psychedelics enhance our perception of music to how music serves as a tether to reality during altered states, the hosts uncover the intricate interplay between sound and consciousness.
With insights into the intentional use of music during psychedelic journeys, they discuss how carefully curated playlists can set the tone and direction of the experience. They reveal how music not only influences your psychedelic experience but also reflects your relationship with music itself.
Listeners will gain a new appreciation for the art of musical selection and the delicate balance required to enhance, rather than distract from, the psychedelic experience. Join Jimmy and Nicholas as they share practical tips and best practices for using music to create a personalized and transformative journey.
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Episode 53 – How Music Shapes Psychedelic Experiences
Jimmy: Welcome to the Psychedelic Passage podcast. My name is Jimmy Nguyen. I’m joined here by my cohost, and partner in crime. Maybe soon to not be a partner in crime with the way that the federal [crosstalk] [Nick laughs] just like shit is moving.
I see him pop up everywhere. There’s decrim bills [crosstalk] it’s so exciting to see. Welcome to another Psychedelic Passage podcast. Before we dive into our episode today, we have a very exciting announcement that our new website will be launching, or should actually be live by the time-
Nick: Could be live.
Jimmy: this episode comes out. And so, to give it some preface– I haven’t done anything. Nick’s been working really hard on this website for like a year and a half. But when we envision Psychedelic Passage first started 2019, yeah, many years ago, we didn’t have any vision on what this is going to look like. A lot of it was reaching out to our community, a lot of it was listening to our own work and all of that on how we want to show up into the space.
And so, when we built the website, it was Nick and I being these young, humble facilitators, and it was really oriented, so that over time, our website has grown into a resource hub, has grown into a place where people can connect with humans and actually get some answers, and really connect with folks who can hear their stories, and maybe connect them– [crosstalk]
Nick: And provide care.
Jimmy:Right. Exactly. And so, this new website, I think, not only encompasses that journey for folks. If you are curious or interested in how psychedelics may interweave into your own personal growth, your own healing, your own mental health, I, not only feel like this website is very representative of that, but also, I would say that it is really a reflection on who we are as an organization, which I’m really excited about.
And so, props to you, Nick, on that new website. It’ll be the same URL, www.psychedelicpassage.com. I wonder if there’s anything else before we dive into this episode that you feel called to share about the new website.
Nick: I hope you love it. We spent a lot of time on it. Our goal was to make something that was user friendly, easy to navigate, easy to digest, easy to understand what was going on. And really, this marks a major evolutionary process for us as a company and as a brand. Anyone that visited the old website, Jimmy and I did all of that ourselves.
No professional help, no outsourcing, no nothing. This was the first time where we got to feel supported in the facelift, the rebuilding of our brand with actual designers and folks who could help us create a brand that really was an extension of Jimmy and I, and was an accurate portrayal of what is important to us and how we want to see the space evolve.
And so, my hope is that you all feel that when you visit the site and my ask is that, if you have feedback, if you have anything that good, positive, constructive, or otherwise, please share it with us. It’s going to be a work in progress, it always is. But this is a big milestone for us and we’re really excited to share it with you all.
Jimmy: We want to make some pledges to our community here. Some of those pledges is that, we will always be doing our own work and we will always be listening. Because of that we will in this constant search of evolving our services, evolving the way we engage and interact with you in a way that is relevant and makes sense for you.
That’s the whole reason why this podcast exists. It wasn’t to hear ourselves talk. We don’t need that. We realized, “Oh, there might be this platform that could actually help people.”
And now, we have thousands and thousands of listeners who are actually tuning in and letting us know, “Hey, this is helping.” And so, we’ll always be on that mission. I think that the website and its new evolution and iteration is our meeting that pledge and really showing up in action with that mission.
Nick: Knowing that the landscape is continuing to change-
Nick: -very rapidly. And so, we need a vehicle that can adapt with the landscape. And so, that’s really what this new website, a new brand is and really excited for you all to see it.
Jimmy: Hope you love it. It looks sweet. It also comes with some new branding, some new illustrations, Psychedelic Passage is getting a facelift, so I’m really looking forward to that. Well, let’s dive into our episode today, which we have a
topic that will pique a lot of folks’ interest, which is the relationship between music and psychedelic use.
I’ll preface by saying that the context of our conversation will be related to intentional work, ceremonial work, typically in one-on-one settings with you, and a facilitator. This may also apply to group settings and retreats, and some things like that too.
We can’t speak as much to, let’s say, lineage work or indigenous work or cultural work related to psychedelics, because those probably fall into traditions that are passed on. And even within different medicines, there are different traditions and approaches to music and things of that nature. Then we’re also ruling out the recreational side, which if anybody’s been altered at a concert or live music,-
Nick: Music festival, whatever.
Exploring the Relationship Between Music and Psychedelic Use
Jimmy: [00:05:53] and all of that, there is also that relationship with music and psychedelics. But what I’m weaving here is to show that in the history of human use of psychedelics, music has probably likely been involved the whole time [crosstalk] even if thousands– [crosstalk]
Nick: banging rocks together or a drum or whatever.
Jimmy: Percussive or chanting or vocalizations or things that don’t sound like music, things that emulate nature, we also see a lot in historic psychedelic use. And so, there’s a really deep relationship with music and psychedelics, and it makes sense. There’s a deep relationship with humans in music.
Some reason, we as humans have evolved to think that a string of notes and tones are attractive to us, or that they evoke an emotion or a feeling to us, or they bring up a memory. So, there probably are other species on this planet that have some type of interaction with sound.
But I’m going to guess, this is me being
human, music is predominantly a human phenomenon. I think that that’s really interesting, because also at the same time, humans have evolved to be able to have these psychedelic experiences or something there too.
Whether we know why, who knows? But there’s a reason why you can fungus or a substance or something and have an altered state of consciousness. This is built into our DNA to some degree.
Nick: Okay. Where do we start given that this is such a primal topic?
Jimmy: [laughs] Well, I think
let’s start around the relationship between music and psychedelics, and then we’ll move into some more of the tangible, actionable things, if you are engaging with music and psychedelics or working with the facilitators.
So, I know that one thing that you and I agree on is that music is an integral component to the ceremonial experience, to the ceremonial space. And so, what are some of the top things on your mind on the why is that the case?
The Role of Music in Ceremonial Experiences
Nick: Well, for starters, psychedelics change the way we perceive sensory input. So, the way that we hear music when we’re in altered state is profound. It is fundamentally different to hearing the same song in a sober state. I’m sure you’ve experienced this, but I’ve had clients go, “This is the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard.”
Like, “This woman’s voice is angelic.” It’s not to say they may not have thought that they were just listening to it in the car, but there’s an amplification, there’s a sensitivity,
the tone, the note, the frequency, the music, the rhythm that I believe is just enhanced when you’re under the influence of a psychedelic medicine.
Jimmy: Mm- hmm. I have a hunch on the why. Well, I can’t explain why, but the correlation that I have here is that, music inherently induces altered states of consciousness.
We see this when folks are doing brainwave studies with sleep and music and stuff like that. But then I’m also reminded of people who have get moved in church or people who love devotional music as an example– [crosstalk]
Nick: Or, dude someone’s riding their Peloton, and they need to push through the last 10 minutes and they’re like a pump-up song like, [crosstalk] they’ll be jacked.
Jimmy: Right. Or, you’re in the car and that one song hits that reminds you of that one thing, and then your states change. Your emotional states change, your physical states change, and all of that.
And so, the same way that I view psychedelics being a pathway into these altered states of consciousness, always meditation, breath work, certain things. Music is another one of those pathways. It makes sense that the two go hand in hand. Now some of the benefits of having music– Well, I guess, let me back up.
I think that music is a really integral part of the way that we here in the
of America will engage with psychedelics moving forward. There’s a history of this across many cultures and traditions. There’s also instances where music is not involved, especially if you are in
ceremonial space with sacred silence.
I know that there are some communities and groups who do medicine work along with silent retreats or silent meditations and things like that. I’m also mindful of people who are hearing impaired, and people who have disability or accessibility needs around music. But that’s where there’s a lot of cool evidence around, actually vibrational frequencies, that are being worked with psychedelics, which I think is really fascinating.
Also, if you are in an environment, let’s say, if you’re in nature or something, and those are just some examples of nonmusical settings, but I would argue that if you’re in nature, you’re just tuning into the music of nature, whether it’s the bird– [crosstalk]
Nick: Yeah. Like, it’s a bird song, not music, come on.
Jimmy: Right. Yeah, [chuckles] exactly. So, I want to start there. I think you’ve highlighted some things on like– You said something earlier before this episode about how music can tie you to reality, some of those things. So, what are some of those benefits, let’s say, of music as a part of the ceremonial experience?
Benefits of Music in The Ceremonial Experience
Nick: [00:11:29] All right. Well, you touched one, which is for those who haven’t journeyed before, when you’re in an altered state, your perception of everything changes. One of the big ones is,
what’s real? What’s reality and what is time? I think those questions come up in a journey.
Music is one of the tethers to this reality, and this time and space, and just time in general. If a song is playing or we’re switching to the next song, it is an indicator, whether conscious or unconscious, that time is in fact moving.
It establishes some sense of familiarity. We started this episode with the primal nature of it, like, on a primal level I’m hearing music, which means I still presumably have a body, and I’m alive-
Jimmy: And ears. [laughs]
Nick: Exactly. So, there very much is this tethering effect with music. And we see it with other things too, smell or touch or whatever. But specifically, we’re focused on music here. And so, this is definitely one of those ties to reality that is ever present in a ceremonial journey.
Jimmy: Yeah, it’s helpful to have these non-direct signals that you are progressing through an experience, particularly around the time dilation or when you feel like you’ve been in a certain space or state for an endless amount of time.
And so, those little cues that you’re talking about also be really helpful. Music is a way of navigating the psychedelic experience. But not always the case because music can also be distraction as well. But I don’t think it’s the music itself. It’s how we orient and relate to music as a part of the component of ceremony.
So, I find some folks who really hung up a song or something, where it actually pulls them out of the experience because they’re focused on the song. Now, again, it’s between you and the medicine. So, who am I to say that’s not the pathway you need to take when you are engaging? But just know that, because music can be such an influential part ceremonial container, clinical as well.
We see this with Johns Hopkins. I think you mentioned this earlier, but they have preset playlists and things like that for a reason knowing that it’s a really powerful component. You have to be really balanced use of music and the emphasis of it versus not because it can really shape or change the direction, the flow of your psychedelic experience.
Crafting Playlists for Psychedelic Journeys
Nick: [00:14:28] Yeah, I would phrase it like music can be very directive in the sense that you put on a song that’s inherently angry or angsty or whatever. When we’re in that super heightened state, we’re hyper aware of everything. It can easily push you in that direction.
And the same would go for a very calming song. Johns Hopkins actually, deliberately does this in their playlist. You can go check it out on Spotify or google it, but they deliberately choose songs that have tension and this build up crescendo and then this release, because they’re basically correlating that with the internal emotional work. Now, do I as a facilitator agree with that? I don’t know. I think there’s pros and cons to all of it.
To your point, it’s about balance. Like if you have one or two songs with that kind of intensity, great, but you don’t want a whole playlist that’s like that. Otherwise, the journey is like challenging is the word that comes to mind for me. And so, there is an art to musical selection when it comes to accompanying a ceremonial journey.
Jimmy: I’ll also add a caveat that it really does depend on the person and the circumstance and the medicine and all of that. I think between your words, what you’re speaking to is control and power of which music can be an area in which a lot of that can manifest in the ceremonial container.
And so, what I share with folks is that, if you’re tied into this song has to play at this time and that this thing and that all that, you’re already in this whole loop of control which actually may be present in your experience for a reason. Meaning that that might actually be the right example on how you might address control and how that shows up in your psychedelic experience.
I’m reminded of a client who shared with me that all of their own solo journeys, they just play this one song on repeat, which is this really incessant pounding drum. They were like, “This is just what I play on repeat, and I have it loud and I have it–” I was like, “That’s your thing? That’s your preference?”
I totally honor that. And then we talked and then we wanted to explore different things and different ceremony with this client. About halfway through, they’re like, “I got to go back to the drums in my dark room, my dark music.” And I’m like, “I totally fucking support that. So, let’s do it.”
Then in the integration process, they were like, “Yeah, this is how I tackle my whole life.” The whole thing is the pounding and the direct and let me excavate, excavate, excavate. They’re like, “I need this other level of softness.”
So, it’s just like a nuanced example that not only is it about how music can influence your experience, but it’s also like, what’s your relationship to music? The same way that we asked what’s your relationship to ceremony, what’s your relationship to the medicine prior.
You only to your point, use music as pump-up jams during your workout, then there’s this limited template that your brain and mind is used to. Or, if you don’t like music that elicits emotional aspects of your life, then that can be really heavy when that grinds up in your psychedelic experience.
Nick: This is why so many facilitators and psychedelic guides have playlists that they use, specifically curated playlists that follow the arc of the medicine. In other words, there’s a come-up period, there’s a plateau period, and there’s a comedown. There’s probably more than just those three.
But as a basic high-level overview, we have a stage of journey, specifically facilitators spend a lot of time crafting music that accompanies those stages of the journey knowing that the come up is roughly an hour, that the plateau is roughly two hours to four hours, that the comedown is another one hour to two hours.
And so, over the course of what might be an eight-hour or nine-hour playlist, they’re crafting it in accordance of how the medicine moves through your body. Now, they’re also not a mind reader, so it’s not going to be perfect.
And what you often see is a lot of people who have a repository– When I say people, a facilitator, who has a repository of songs and is then DJing during the journey and hand choosing when to present what obviously that can be a slippery slope.
But when done thoughtfully, it’s a beautiful experience. Clients will often remark like, “Music just changed at the perfect time and it was exactly what I needed when I needed it.” There’s an element of synchronicity there that’s very profound.
Focusing on Care over Music Selection
Jimmy: [00:19:47] Let me add this as a message to facilitators directly, that only works when you are 100% tuned into the journeyer. So, what you’re describing here between the preset playlist like Johns Hopkins that’s designed to elicit certain emotions and feelings at different times versus somebody who is having some intentionality, let’s say, there’s a facilitator that does have a preset playlist that plays in an order
for some folks, they maybe adding in songs to the queue or, like you’re saying, doing this live DJing.
You are too focused on the next song more than you are focused on the care of the journeyer, you’re doing something wrong. So, I just want to highlight that to folks that it’s all in balance here. By the way, we’re segueing into the second half here, which I feel is the more like tangible actionable aspects on, “Okay, we know how music is important. Now, what? How does this work?”
So, we’ll orient the second half of this episode towards that. I’ll say for myself personally that I’m always aware of my presence and control or agenda in ceremonial spaces. I personally found myself caring way too much about queuing up the next song, something that I’ve been doing which has been working amazingly.
Having a preset playlist–put that damn thing on shuffle. Like, I have the first intro, like, ceremony song that runs about an hour, and then after that, it goes on shuffle, and I will tell you, it’s AI or bots or something, it’s always tied at the ceremonial place, and it always comes out the way that the client– I shouldn’t say always, but I would be– I have more times where a client remarks to me, would you change that song or when you did that thing–
Jimmy: I get more comments about that now with the thing being on shuffle than when I was selective DJing. Then I get to tell them, I didn’t do anything. I might have skipped the song or something, but I was like, “I didn’t do anything there.”
Adjusting Music in the Journey
Nick: [00:22:07] I think that’s one interesting thing that I’ve noticed as a facilitator is, sometimes you got to change the song even when the client’s in a place where they can’t vocalize it for themselves.
If you’re really tethered to the client and you’re really following where they’re at in their journey, sometimes it’s the wrong song at the wrong time. I definitely hit next if I get the sense that that’s what’s happening, and what’s really funny, I’ll share a little anecdote to illustrate the power of music.
I sat with a client who was dead set on using the Johns Hopkins playlist. I’m like, “No problem. If that’s what you want to use, no problem.” It was actually the first time, I, as a facilitator, had sat through a client using that playlist. [crosstalk] I found myself squirming at times. I’m like, “This is terrible.” Like, it’s so uncomfortable at certain points.
I was having a visceral body response, but it was his request, and I honored it and let it play. Wow, that was not a beginner playlist from my perspective. That really stirs the pot in that more directive way that we’re talking about where they’re deliberately choosing songs that are uncomfortable.
Jimmy: It’s everybody’s prerogative. It’s very interesting, because a lot of those clinical studies that are moving towards FDA approval in conjunction, it’s like this substance, conjunction with therapy, conjunction with so on and so forth.
And so in that case, you do have to have certain prescriptiveness, because if you’re looking at that variable of data of music, it has to be consistent. It’s all of your subjects and stuff. So, I get it. But if you’re in more of like a ceremonial setting, you can play around, I think, a little bit.
I want to get a little bit more specific here where most facilitators will probably have set things, some preset playlists, some songs and things that they’re deriving from in their own experience, or own teaching and lineage, or maybe they’re pulling playlists, or stuff from other folks or other sources. I would say probably every facilitator who does medicine work should have something like that.
I also offer for folks to give space for their journeyers and their clients to also have some involvement here. One best practice that I have, especially in the talking about music, first of all, consent. You got to talk to them. Do you want to use your playlist? Do you want to use mine? What works here?
For some folks, I just even have them go through and be like, “Hey, just pick like 10 significant songs of yours,” whether it’s from a certain time period or whether it evokes a certain emotion or you just fucking love the song or like whatever. And then we have that available in case we need to weave that into the experience.
This is especially important when you are coming out of the experience, and your landing gears come out and you come down and you’re in the afterglow that sense of familiarity of like, “Oh, these are songs that I know and love.” Really, really helpful.
This just leads to the type of music makes all the difference. And so, you as a journeyer be down with music, if that’s the type of music that your facilitator likes, or medicine music, or world music, or some of these things.
So, you have your own autonomy and choice here, whether there’s lyrics, no lyrics, genre of music, language of music, all of that. I ultimately defer all of that to the journeyer.
And then there are many journeyers who are like, “This is one thing that I already am dealing with enough in preparation. If the facilitator could take the whole music thing off of my hands, that would be great,” and that’s also okay too.
Music as a Navigational Tool and Memory Trigger
Nick: [00:26:08] I also just want to highlight for those who are unaware, because this was something I was unaware of for large portion of my life. There is music specifically designed for ceremony.
It is sacred music designed specifically for a medicine ceremony, ceremonial work, whether that’s reiki, sound healing, massage. There is music that is designed to help the body’s nervous system switch into a parasympathetic state, deliberately has minimal lyrics, minimal inherent meaning, and is designed to invoke this sense of sacredness.
Jimmy: Mm-hmm. We see this with solfeggio frequencies, binaural beats.
Nick: Exactly. [crosstalk] I just want to highlight that the way there’s a genre for everything, there’s a genre for pump up, and a genre for classical, and a genre for rap. There’s a genre for ceremonial music. It’s a thing.
And so, I know, for me, personally, I use a lot of ceremonial music, both as a journeyer and facilitator. If I’m journeying, that’s what I like listen to, you can tell, because it’s designed for sacred experiences. What’s really interesting for me personally is, when I listen to it out of context, I’m like, “Ooh, this isn’t the right time or space for that.” It’s very much designed for ceremonial sacred containers.
Jimmy: Mm-hmm. Music is really powerful. We’ve been talking about certain places, emotions, time periods in our life, it can remind us of relationships.
Music also can serve as a good navigational tool, because when there is this synesthesia thing happening where your felt senses are all combined together in various outputs depending on the medicine, like, certain medicines do this more and less depending, and the felt sensory experience around this can be different depending on the medicine set and setting and all of that.
But it can also be really helpful for [crosstalk] “Ah, when this song came on, I was going through this process.” Or, “this thing came up,” or this so and so came up. So, it can also be these milestones within your psychedelic experience that can be super, super helpful.
Nick: Well, I’m sure everyone that’s listening has had the experience of a song coming on, and it immediately teleports you to a time and space where you last heard the song or where it was like the first time you heard it, or whatever.
You’re like, “Oh, the first time I heard this, I was at a football game, senior year of high school, and super meaningful hanging out with my friends.” And the same thing can happen in the journey, where a lot of times our memory of the events of the journey are a little fuzzy, a little blurry, feels like a dream.
And that hearing the song again can often bring us back to that place, that feeling, that memory. I’ve had clients specifically request the ceremonial playlist that I’ve used after the fact, so that they can go back and listen for recall.
Jimmy: I think the other side of this, which I want to caution people on, and it was actually a note that you put down before the episode is that, because music has this time capsule component to it, you also want to be careful if there are triggering songs or music or things that are associated to negative memories, traumatic events.
You do want to use that song to recall a traumatic event, but that has to be in the context of the right support, the right people, the right amount of prep work. Like, you probably need a therapist alongside you for all that stuff. Just be mindful that it can go both ways with music or can elicit some type of repressed memory, negative memory, something like that too. [crosstalk]
Nick: So we’re toward at the end here, I’m curious what else you feel called to share around this, if anything.
Practical Considerations for Music
Jimmy: [00:30:14] Well, I’m called to just get a little bit more practical for folks here. This is going to be just more straightforward advice. I hear all the time on whether people should use headphones or speakers.
And typically, the use of over ear headphones is commonly found in the clinical studies, in the clinical trials, again, to limit variability of that component. Everyone’s using the same speaker, the same playlist, the same all of that.
You can rule out a lot of the spontaneous stuff that happens. Myself, personally, I prefer to not
I prefer a Bluetooth speaker, high quality speaker, something where there’s sound in the room for a couple of reasons.
One is that it can help with my communication and connectivity
they don’t have to pop out an ear or something if they need support or that they need help. The other, which I’ve actually found is that, especially in psilocybin experiences where you’re in both worlds, like, yes, you are in the ceremonial room and you’re having this altered state of consciousness.
I’ve heard very commonly that for journeyers, they’ve actually felt a sense of grounding when they hear me shuffle around, or when they hear me breathing, or when they something, just for them to have a cue that my presence is there, even if I’m not directly engaged or involved in their psychedelic process at that time. Really silly things.
-use Spotify, or SoundCloud, or YouTube and a paid subscription, so you don’t have any ads. Super important.
Nick: Nothing more mortifying than the song changing and you’re getting, “Hey, $27 Tuesday at Ralph’s,” whatever.
Nick: You’re like, “What is happening?” We’re in the middle of a sacred ceremony and you’re getting an ad blasted into your face.
Jimmy: Which I learned that at a very, very early stage of my [laughs] facilitator progression. And also, just be mindful that if you are going to DJ as a facilitator that journeyer is hypersensitive to all things. And so, if I need to skip a song, I’m not going to abruptly skip the song.
I’m going to go and I’m going to hit the volume button down, down, down, down, down until it goes from 50 down to zero, so that it can fade out. I’ve set some fade in and fade out things like on Spotify.
I’m aware of, if a song is more
energy, even if it’s jubilant celebratory type things, as opposed to something that’s a little bit more mellow or you’re saying ambient or something like that. And so, being a person who is in charge of music during a ceremony, it’s a big deal. It’s a big privilege and it’s a sacred responsibility. It really is.
Nick: It is responsibility. That’s the best way to put it. You are responsible for managing the soundtrack of someone’s six to eight hour journey. It’s really important that that’s done with care and thoughtfulness for them, not for your own needs, wants, and desires as a facilitator.
I just want a second that I am a speakers all the way guy myself. Like, headphones make it so hard to track where the client is in that process. What’s interesting is, I had clients who, because of Johns Hopkins specifically requested headphones, we get about 20-30 minutes in and they’re like, “Can we switch to speakers?” Or, like, “I feel disconnected. I can’t communicate with you. It’s very immersive in here.”
Jimmy: Yeah. How do you turn on your side with over your headphones? I was like, most people who get enthralled into psychedelic experiences, how do they end up? In the fetal position on their side. If you got this big old bulgy thing on your ear, you can’t do that. And so, there’s just some practicality, I think, around this as well.
Nick: And I, for the record, also do the same thing. If you realize 30 seconds into a song that it’s not the right fit, don’t just hit next,
fade out or the volume, invite in maybe a second or two of silence.
A couple of minutes of silence between songs can be incredibly grounding, healing, calming, and then you move into the next wave, because that’s often how journeyers perceive this is like waves. And so, to have a little bit of a downtime before the crest again is actually can be very nice.
Jimmy: Yeah, the implementation of silence can be– I think it is a best practice even when the silence brings up uncomfortability for your journeyer. Now, the journeyer maybe feeling some anticipation of, “When’s the next song going to start? When’s the next song going to start?”
That’s where you got to really be tuned in. You got to really be tuned into your journeyer state. I wonder, do you have best practices for folks around how to choose music with their facilitator, how to collaborate with the facilitator?
So much of this we’re speaking out of the ceremonial space, but I wonder if you have thoughts around how to even talk about music in preparation or leading up to an experience.
Nick: It’s interesting, because I think this is another one of those topics that, unfortunately, journeyers are inherently limited around because they’ve never experienced it before. And so, you’re asking them for what they want in an arena that they have no real orientation around.
And so, oftentimes, what I hear is like, “Well, you know what’s best, you’ve done this before. Let’s just use your music,” which is totally fine. But it’s important at least have the discussion and invite in the opportunity for a journeyer to have a say.
The one thing I will always do is say, “Hey, if you have a couple of meaningful songs that you want interspersed or delivered at certain points in the journey, please share them with me, so that I can prepare accordingly.”
I think one of the really cool things about music is, we all have a song or two that’s very comforting for us. If we find ourselves in a place in the journey where nothing else is helping us find that little felt sense of comfort, perfect inflection point where a facilitator can help by putting that song on, and all of a sudden, you’ve got that warm hug or that little bit of tether of like, “Ah, this is my song. Something familiar.”
Jimmy: [laughs] Or, if you’re like me, you’re white knuckling an experience solo, and the same three and a half minute song you’re playing on loop for four hours, just so you can navigate whatever you’re navigating. Like, this is the power of music.
Nick: Totally. Those are my thoughts.
Jimmy: Yeah, I think you answered that in a really beautiful, nuanced way. So, I’ll just back up to say that, music is an important part of this process. You have some say here as a journeyer, you have autonomy, you have choice.
Facilitator should be talking to you about music, because the same way that they’re talking to you about location and dosage. It’s an integral part of the ceremonial container. In there, there is a lot of ability to collaborate, or you might in your own sovereignty be like, “I want my facilitator to handle this.”
Then I also really want to empower folks, do what’s right for you and your intuition in that moment. Silence as a journeyer,
silence. If you need to skip a song, skip a song. If you need to ask the facilitator if you notice them DJing a little too much to just like let it play, let them play. This is so, so important for you to identify your needs because it’s your experience.
Nick: I actually think that’s the bigger piece of advice that I would share with journeyers
is speak up because here’s the thing. If you give full autonomy to the facilitator to choose the playlist, which is inherently fine, there’s nothing wrong with that, partway through, you’re like, “I want the volume down. I want the song to change.”
Please vocalize that. That’s one of the rules that I set in containers before we even get started is like, hey, no matter what you need, please ask for it. Whether a song is too loud, whether you want it changed, whether you want a different genre.
I told you that I would handle the music. I’m going to put on what I have found to be my own version of a best practice, but if at any point that’s not working for you, you’re totally empowered to tell me to shut it off, adjust it, turn it down, hit next, whatever it is. That, I think, is perhaps more important or more foundational than you as a journeyer picking the songs beforehand.
Jimmy: Mm-hmm. This gets particularly interesting when folks come back for return ceremonies, if you need different music or there’s music that’s related to content.
I have a client who is like, “Yeah, playing the guitar has been one of my creative expressions of integration.” And so, in that ceremony, like their third ceremony, we infused a lot of Spanish guitar into it, which is really cool.
So, I hope that this has been helpful for folks. I think that music is one of our really wonderful gifts as a human, and it just so happens that it’s so integral to psychedelic work. And so, thanks for listening to us this week.
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Speak to a Psychedelic Guide
As the beats of this episode fade, the profound interplay between music and psychedelics continues to echo. From ancient percussions to modern melodies, the symphony of these two realms remains intertwined.
Yet, like any compass, music must be wielded with intention. A melody that uplifts one may distract another, and thus, the choice of song becomes a delicate art. So, as we traverse the sonic realms of ceremony and healing, we must dance with the cadence of our own psyche, attuning ourselves to the harmonies that resonate deeply within.
If something within you is drawn to us, we empower you to book a consultation with one of our concierges who will answer any questions and get you in touch with our network of experienced facilitators.
Our resources page is our personally curated library of informational articles and podcasts for those of us who want to learn more about psychedelic healing and all the things that come with it. As always, stay safe, be mindful, and radiate love!