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Psychedelic Preparation: Avoiding Common Mistakes

Today, we explore the common pitfalls and surprising challenges that psychedelic therapy clients face during their psychedelic preparations. This article is inspired by our thought-provoking podcast interview with a former client who chose to remain anonymous, which you can listen to on all streaming platforms. 

Our client opens up about her journey, sharing her experiences, struggles, and revelations. 

Her preparation process was meticulous, spanning months of research, reading books, and seeking the right resources. Yet, despite her dedication, she faced unexpected fears, self-consciousness, and fatigue on the day of her journey.

These are the untold stories of a psychedelic journey – the real, unfiltered experiences that aren’t often discussed. But that’s not all.We also delve into the critical concepts of surrender and ego death – two essential aspects that many clients find challenging to grasp fully. 

Keep reading to explore the delicate balance between doing and not doing, surrendering to the experience, and letting go of unrealistic expectations. You’ll gain profound insights into the nature of a psychedelic journey, the importance of timing, and how to navigate the twists and turns with grace.

Key Takeaways

  • Preparation is Multifaceted: Preparing for a psychedelic journey involves more than just obtaining substances and a guide. It’s a complex process that spans months and includes reading, meditation, journaling, setting intentions, and cultivating the right mindset.
  • Challenges in Preparation: Clients may face various challenges, such as dealing with fear, self-consciousness, and the misconception of ego death. Surrendering control, expectations, and judgments is essential for a successful experience.
  • Embrace the Unpredictability: Despite thorough preparation, the psychedelic journey remains unpredictable. It’s crucial to embrace the unknown and understand that even mistakes during the journey can lead to growth and learning. 
  • Psychedelic Passage: Your Psychedelic Concierge — The easy, legal way to find trustworthy psilocybin guides, facilitators and psychedelic-assisted therapy near you in the United States.

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For harm-reduction purposes, we provide links to online psilocybin vendors, local stores, delivery services, and spore vendors for growing your own medicine at home.

Preparation Through The Eyes of a Client

Preparation for a psychedelic journey involves much more than securing the necessary substances and finding a guide. It is a multifaceted process that extends over months, filled with anticipation, trepidation, and, as we shall explore, valuable lessons.

Nicholas begins the conversation by explaining that “mistakes” are only opportunities to do better next time, and not necessarily a matter of right and wrong. He reads an email that Aj had sent after her first guided journey:

“In spite of giving a sincere effort, both to prepare for and enter into the journey with the right mindset, I wasn’t as well prepared as I thought I was. What made me feel better informed after the fact was listening to your podcast with Jimmy. 

They gave me a broader, more realistic perspective on my own experience, but more importantly, they taught me or overemphasized some very important concepts that I just didn’t fully get during preparation.”

Her journey started with a consultation call with cofounder of Psychedelic Passage, Jimmy Nguyen. Aj’s preparation included stringently following the PDF guides and videos given by Jimmy, meditation, journaling, and setting intentions

She also began reading supplementary material like Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide by James Fadiman and How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan. 

Aj emphasizes the importance of cultivating the right mindset, setting intentions, and releasing expectations as key elements of preparation. This approach is informed by Aj’s pre-trip self-reminder to “let go of judgment, let go of expectation, let go of fear.” 

This mindset reflects an early understanding that fear, judgment, and rigid expectations can become significant obstacles during the journey, but working through them can be transformative as well.

Challenges in Psychedelic Preparation

Fearing Fear Itself

Fear, as Aj articulates, is a potent and common emotion that often takes first-time journeyers by surprise. These fears can manifest as the apprehension of losing control or the fear of encountering distressing or traumatic experiences

The fear of fear itself can become overwhelming and significantly affect the depth and therapeutic potential of the journey.

“The fear was worse than anything that actually happened. I was so uncomfortable going into the journey that I reached a point where I was like, what am I getting myself into?

I had not had any doubts up to that point, but I was just so uncomfortable right then.I think the level of fear was part of what limited how deep I could go on that particular day.”

Self-Consciousness: Judgment vs Observations 

During a psychedelic journey, many individuals experience heightened self-consciousness. Aj likens this vulnerability to adolescence, a time when self-consciousness is at its peak. 

This self-awareness can hinder effective communication and openness during the experience. It also caused further introspection, which led Aj to ponder the difference between judging oneself and simply observing. Nicholas explores this idea further:

“We are observation machines. There’s no possible way you can avert the observation, whether it’s mental, physical, emotional, whatever you’re experiencing, there’s going to be this observation effect. 

The judgment piece comes in when it starts getting assigned as right, wrong, good, bad, should, shouldn’t, that kind of thing. I like your reframe around that, which is, is this even helpful? And if it’s not helping, there’s no need to engage in it is the takeaway here.”

Deliberate Surrender

Surrender is highlighted as a fundamental aspect of successful psychedelic therapy. Aj notes that surrender involves relinquishing control, expectations, and judgments while fully embracing the experience.

In her first journey, Aj recognized that she was trying to have too much control over the experience by deliberately trying to work on problems. She highlights the contradicting nature yet importance of purposely deciding not to put too much effort into navigating the journey. 

By the time she realized she had been operating in a suboptimal way, her journey was nearing the end and she felt she had wasted an entire psychedelic experience, however looking back it’s easier to see the lesson she learned in working through the difficulty of her first time. 

She recalls knowing to surrender during her psychedelic journey, but not knowing what that actually looked like until after her trip when she listened to Nick and Jimmy’s podcast episodes on mitigating the chances of a bad trip (Part 1 & Part 2). 

In dissecting her first and second journeys, she notes the differences that affected her ability to surrender:

“The first journey, I took like six and a half grams total, and I had almost no visual effect. And then the second one I took less than three grams. 

I had very prominent visual effects and also the lower dose was less incapacitating, so I was able to sit up, which would have been absolutely impossible at a higher dose.” 

Certain factors led to her favoring her second trip over her first. Not getting visuals the first time, she felt it was something wrong with herself, but earned a huge boost of confidence when she did in fact get them the second time. 

The visuals also allowed her to surrender because they engaged her in the experience, and worked in tandem with her stream of consciousness to produce substantial content for Aj to work through. 

Physical Challenges

Aj mentions that physical sensations and discomfort can present unexpected challenges. For instance, individuals may become tired or drowsy during the journey, making it difficult to stay awake and engaged. 

The fear of falling asleep and missing out on the experience is a concern that often goes unaddressed in preparation. Through Aj’s example, we see how having an experienced guide by her side mitigated any further problems arising from a fear of falling asleep. 

With Nick as her guide, she remembers his brief but wise words, “your body knows what to do,” giving Aj the confidence to let go of that fear.

The Misconception of Ego Death

The idea of ego death is often misconstrued as a central therapeutic element in psychedelic experiences. Aj’s account sheds light on the confusion and misunderstanding that can arise from this misconception. 

It is crucial to understand that not every psychedelic journey results in an ego death experience, and misconceptions about its significance can impact one’s perception of the journey’s success.

Ego death may disrupt careful preparation and pre-trip expectations, which is why it’s important to curb expectations, but more importantly to have an experienced facilitator holding a safe space for you.  

“You try to teach us to, let that go, suspend judgment and let go of expectations. And we think that we’re going to do that. And then we take the medicine and we lose perspective and lose control.”

Embrace The Unpredictability

No matter how well-prepared an individual may be, there will always be elements that cannot be anticipated. Embracing the unknown is fundamental to the process. Some individuals may find the wealth of information in preparation guides overwhelming. 

The challenge of applying the knowledge and tools provided can lead to suboptimal preparation, and in turn some may miss out on the maximum potential a therapeutic trip can offer. First-time journeyers may require guidance and reassurance during their experience. 

However, striking a balance between guiding them and allowing them the autonomy to explore can be challenging for guides. Despite the availability of comprehensive preparation guides and workshops, some inherent challenges still persist, but it’s in the challenges that we find growth. 

Aj’s experiences underline the unpredictability of the psychedelic journey and why allowing time for proper preparation is so important, while reminding us that mistakes are just another part of the journey.

“The most important thing that I would want to tell someone is no matter how well you prepare, you might screw up. You might make mistakes. You might do whatever it is that you thought you were gonna avoid, but that’s okay.

You can still benefit, you can still integrate, you can still grow after, and it doesn’t define the whole journey and it doesn’t define the whole experience. Don’t be afraid to fall, you can get up.”

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    Hi there! We sincerely hope that you’ve found valuable takeaways that resonate with your current intentions. To explore research-based education, stay updated with psychedelic news, and benefit from practical how-to articles, we encourage you to head over to our resources page.

    If you’re seeking personalized advice and are prepared to take the first step toward a therapeutic psychedelic experience, we invite you to book a consultation with our team of experienced psychedelic concierges.

    This consultation is more than just a conversation; it’s an opportunity to be matched with a trustworthy local facilitator. You’ll be seamlessly connected to our rigorously vetted network of psychedelic guides, ensuring potential matches align with your needs.

    Psychedelic Passage offers confidence and peace of mind by alleviating the burden of having to guess who’s right for you. If you want to discover how Psychedelic Passage can help you, we empower you to learn more about our services and check out client testimonials from those who’ve gone before you.

    Your healing path is uniquely yours, and our commitment is to serve you at every juncture. Psychedelic Passage: Your Psychedelic Concierge — The easy, legal way to find trustworthy psilocybin guides, facilitators and psychedelic assisted therapy near you in the United States.

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      Frequently Asked Questions

      1: What is the importance of preparation for a psychedelic journey?

      Preparation for a psychedelic journey is crucial because it involves more than just obtaining substances and a guide. It’s a multifaceted process that includes cultivating the right mindset, setting intentions, and releasing expectations. 

      Proper preparation helps individuals navigate the challenges they may encounter during the experience and maximizes its therapeutic potential.

      2: How can fear impact the depth and therapeutic potential of a psychedelic journey?

      Fear, particularly the fear of fear itself, can be a potent and common emotion experienced during a psychedelic journey. This fear can manifest as apprehension about losing control or encountering distressing experiences.

      It has the potential to become overwhelming and may limit how deep an individual can go during the journey, affecting its therapeutic benefits.

      3: What is the difference between judgment and observation during a psychedelic journey?

      During a psychedelic journey, heightened self-consciousness can lead to judgment and self-criticism. 

      However, it’s important to distinguish between judging oneself (assigning right or wrong labels) and simply observing one’s thoughts, emotions, and experiences. Observing without judgment can lead to a more open and transformative journey.

      4: Why is surrender considered a fundamental aspect of successful psychedelic therapy?

      Surrender in the context of a psychedelic journey involves relinquishing control, expectations, and judgments while fully embracing the experience. 

      It is essential for successful therapy because it allows individuals to navigate the journey more effectively and work through challenges. Attempting to maintain too much control can hinder the therapeutic potential.

      5: What is the misconception of ego death in psychedelic experiences, and why is it important to address this misconception?

      Ego death is often misconstrued as a central therapeutic element in psychedelic experiences. It’s important to address this misconception because not every journey results in an ego death experience. 

      Misconceptions about its significance can affect one’s perception of the journey’s success. It’s crucial to manage expectations and have an experienced facilitator to guide the journey safely, regardless of whether ego death occurs.

      Looking for a professionally supported in-person psychedelic experience?

      Take the first step and book a consultation call with us today. We'll walk you through every step of the process after getting to know you and your unique situation.

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      At Psychedelic Passage, we offer professional 1-on-1 guidance and companionship on your journey of healing. We simply can't sit back and let Americans continue to sit in silent suffering trying to battle mental health issues within a broken health care system, all while knowing that effective alternatives exist. We stand for the sacred, at-home, ceremonial use of psychedelics for consciousness exploration, which we believe to be a fundamental human right.


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