Why do we need psychedelic integration
“If a tree falls in the forest and no one was there to hear it, does it make a sound?” – George Berkley
Many people who have undergone psychedelic ceremonies will endorse feeling more alive than they ever had, bursting with desires to be creative and to love their fellow humans – and depending on the environment they land in after the ceremony is over, that state of self can quickly or gradually become a distant memory. They are sooner left feeling like an ‘awkward pizza delivery boy who has never had his first kiss’. How can we ensure that behavioural and personality change persists following this feeling state?
Psychologist and Harvard psychedelic research Ralph Metzner said that “experiences only become part of our on-going growth and learning when recorded or told in some way”.
Metzner was involved in research in consciousness, psychedelics, yoga, meditation and shamanism for over 50 years and was a psychedelics figurehead in the 1960’s alongside Timothy Leary and Ram Dass.
After a psychedelic, events from subconscious memory become conscious memory, and from memory to vision, and from vision to speech. It is the aspect of speaking it into existence that allows events to become neurologically engrained.
The process of traveling between different states allows material to enter into the full light of consciousness. The more you talk about it, the more your refine the story, colour the experience, and connect the newly formed neurons into highways of ‘who I am now’. This process can take weeks or even months and can bleed into in dreams or creative expression. You’ll notice behavioural changes which will continue to reinforce how you experience yourself and the world.
Here are some questions designed to encourage self-reflection after a psychedelic experience to integrate what was learned.
1.Now that you’ve had this experience, what would you like to remember, carry forward or complete
2.What visions or information are you bringing home to your community?
3.How can you manifest these visions on the physical plane? In your life? Work? Relationships?
4.What was your intention before taking the substance? (There is always some intention, even if it wasn’t consciously considered at the time.) How did your experience reflect your intention?
5.How does your experience affect your identity? Who is the person you want to become in your life and how can this experience contribute to your growth and expansion?
6.What are your intentions in life and how did this experience contribute to your larger goals and desires?
Take this list of questions to your therapist and assert that you’d like to explore the answers to them. Answering these questions in an embodied, sincere way will help you cement your psychedelic-induced insights into your daily life. In addition, you will have created a space in which you know you can return to remind you of this version of yourself.
Adapted from Dr. Rachel Harris’ Listening to Ayahuasca