by Charmaine Husum
Are you struggling to make sense of the Psychedelic Experience you just went through?
For many, their first or subsequent experiences with plant medicines such as Ayahuasca or Psilocybin can be life altering, leaving them feeling transformed, euphoric, connected or even present to deep insights and revelations about themselves. For others however, the experience can leave them feeling lost, confused or even completely overwhelmed.
Today, it seems much emphasis is placed on the preparation, diet and intention setting that lead up to a ceremony and what to expect during the event, but oftentimes very limited focus and time is spent on the days, weeks and months post-ceremony and the integration of the actual experience into day-to-day life.
The effects of a mystical and altered state of consciousness can be profound and tend to linger, bounce around, and affect our waking reality far beyond the ceremony or however your awakening has been opened. When our soul’s path has been awakened through sacred plant medicines or entheogens like Ayahuasca, Psilocybin, Iboga, Kambo, LSD, or through a Kundalini Awakening, Dark Night of the Soul or Meditation, a profound shift happens in the body and brain. This can be confusing once we go back to our regular waking life.
After my own personal experiences using breathwork and psychedelics to gain deeper awareness of myself, I was left with more questions than answers. Initially, there was a thought that to decipher the experience further and for greater understanding I needed more medicine, more ceremonies, more insight that came from outside of myself. This was counterintuitive to what I knew as a Trauma-Informed, Registered Therapeutic Counsellor and Somatic Art Therapist, which is that lasting healing comes from within. This revelation made the importance of integration, that much clearer; all of the answers I needed for healing were inside of me and had become awakened by my psychedelic experience!
If you feel like the surface has just been skimmed and you would like to go deeper into learning about yourself and how to live your best life ever following your awakening experience, there are some excellent proven practical and actionable steps to take to integrate your awakening experience.
10 Proven Methods of Integrating Psychedelic Experiences
What does grounding even mean? Coming back into your body in a way that feels resourced and strong. Grounding can take many forms. After using sacred medicines or psychedelics, your energy is moved very quickly from one state to another. This can cause energetic holes within your aura, which may create a feeling of being unsafe. We ground to bring our auric energy into alignment with our body.
When working with clients I find bringing in a regular, focused meditation practice and yoga are especially helpful. Another especially poignant way to ground is by connecting to nature. Allow yourself the time to walk in nature, becoming aware of the present moment; noticing the feel of your feet on the ground, the smells in the air, the sounds around you, the feel of the sun or wind on your face, these are all ways to connect in a way that will bring you into the present moment and allow your mind to settle and your body to ground. Another powerful activity I invite people to do after using psychedelics, is to gather natural objects from their walk and create a collage of these using a thick Bristol board or cardboard as a base and a glue gun to assemble. As you arrange your natural objects into a collage, you are invited to stay connected to your breath and the feelings or sensations in your body, while pressing your feet into the surface beneath you. These are all activities that will support you to ground after your psychedelic experience.
Bring people, tools and supports closer, so you feel held in your experience and not isolated. When our energy feels scattered, which can often happen after a non-ordinary state, it is important to establish safety around us. This can be done in many ways but especially important is to become aware of our boundaries and what we let into our life that support us, or what may be in our life that does not support us.
Reflect on what happened during your experience. Journaling is a great way to reflect on what happened and any insights that may have come to the surface for you. One journaling activity is to imagine the spirit of the medicine you worked with and begin writing a letter or questions to this energy. As you connect to your breath and body, using a different color of pen, allow automatic writing to take place where you begin answering your questions from the point of view of the medicine. It is easy to feel like you are making this up, but know that imagination is a huge part of connecting to energies beyond you. Over time, this process will become easier and you will feel a flow to it where information is given to support you. If you feel like you are in your head and thinking about what to write, breathe that energy back into the heart and be open to allowing whatever is written to come from an unconscious place.
Exercise & Yoga To Move Your Body
Exercise and especially yoga can have a profound effect to create an influx of neural chemicals in the body like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, which support a heightened and elevated mood. This will help to support you after moving so quickly from one energetic state experienced during your journey, to your regular state of conscious awareness. Allow the blood to move in your body and be open to breaking a sweat. Know that you are in control of the mechanisms within your body as you work towards moving the blood, raising your heart rate and grounding in a way that comes back into the body.
As many will attest, non-ordinary states of consciousness support a quieting of an area of the brain associated with ego called the Default Mode Network. Meditation will also bring you into this state of being. This will continue to support your transition into everyday life, while still connecting to a quiet and calm, place within. Continuing a regular meditation practice will support neuroplasticity to re-route your neural pathways, where achieving this inner feeling of balance and peace becomes a part of who you are.
When we are working with entheogenic medicines, we are working with a spirit. Oftentimes this spirit has called us long before our journey into ceremony. Continuing a relationship to this spirit will support you through your experience and integration. As this relationship continues to grow and expand, however that looks for you, you will create a lasting relationship to the experience you went through that will continue to support you throughout your years for lasting changes to take hold of your life. Use journaling to connect or meditation and know that you can call on the support of this energy when needed.
When looking at the three stages of trauma healing, the final one is connecting to community and making sense of your experience by relating to others. As humans, we are social creatures: introverts and extroverts, alike. Connecting to a community you feel safe in, to share your experience and support others through their own, will support your integration in a way that makes sense of your experience and promote integration into living a fuller more joyous life
Shadow work has become a bit of a buzz word but when one is ready, this is powerful, reparative and healing work. After using sacred medicines, our shadow is often brought to the forefront but there is more work to do in order to fully integrate and accept this part of self so it no longer leaks into other parts of your life. Working with one’s shadow aspect of self is an advanced endeavor that is best done with the support of a clinically trained practitioner or shaman. One effective tool I use with my own clients is working with clay in a meditative state. Allowing an image to emerge from this natural substance opens up a dialogue with our shadow in a way that is can be seen, understood and integrated so that it no longer leaks into our life in ways that are unsupportive and feel beyond our control.
The ways we connect to others and our expectations within relationships can be somewhat of a mystery. When we begin to look at patterns in our lives and our relationships, we are better able to understand what will support us. People generally attach in 3 different ways, Securely, Anxiously or with Avoidance. By knowing what your attachment style is, we may be able to explore why this originated this way and ways to move into a healthy and secure forms of attaching to others so that the relationships around us feel deeply connected and supportive.
Whether one is spiritual, religious or atheist, after a psychedelic experience, most feel a connection to the world that is different from when they began. Understanding this in a way that becomes a part of our daily lives can shift the way we walk in the world to fill us with more compassion in our everyday moments. By becoming aware of our connection to all things, we are then able to imagine what we would like our lives to look like and begin making choices to support that. In this state, we begin working with quantum reality; believing that our thoughts have power over our lives and consciously choosing what you want your life to look like.
The goal in integrating your awakening experience is to make sense of what happened so that you may be in control of the shift you have created in life and tap into that strength as a continuous resource. It’s through the experience that being healed becomes the new pattern – to create the life you have always intended.
Enjoy the journey, it will be memorable.
May all beings be blessed.
As a Certified Art Therapist and Registered Therapeutic Counsellor, Charmaine Husum DKATI, RTC, CT supports people in finding personalized routes to emotional healing with a focus on inner resources and transpersonal connections to spirit. With years of experience and training in the area of Psychedelics, she helps people both in groups and individually, understand and Integrate the details of their Psychedelic Experiences using Trauma Informed Art Therapy, Counselling, Meditation and tapping into the innate Wisdom of the Body through various Somatic Approaches. Her current research enthusiasms are in neuroplasticity, neuroscience, epigenetics, mystical/ psychedelic integration and intergenerational trauma.