When it comes to your psychedelic practice, it is understandable that your relationships with the various psychedelic medicines could seem the most important thing to focus on. Although having strong connections with the substances themselves is certainly an integral part of a healthy practice, it can be extremely helpful to explore other activities (both inside and outside of the psychedelic spaces) which help deepen your experience with psychedelics while supporting your personal growth and interpersonal relationships.
We have put together a list of companion activities that serve to complement a well-rounded psychedelic practice. These suggestions include physical exercises, spiritual practices, self-reflection techniques, recreational activities, and brain-builders that work on the mind. All of them can be done during a psychedelic experience, although we will also focus on how practicing them during normal everyday waking consciousness will benefit you when embarking on a psychedelic voyage. If you intend to try any of these activities while using psychedelics, please exercise caution and make sure you have properly assessed your set, setting, and dose before beginning your journey.
One of the most valuable habits a psychonaut can cultivate over time is to develop a consistent meditation practice. Meditation brings a myriad of benefits— far too many to cover in the scope of this article— so we will focus on some of the unique ones that you may experience during your psychedelic experiences. Many meditators cultivate a strong sense of well-being, regardless of what type of activity they may be doing. This ability can help you stay grounded during the difficult passages which can occur during a psychedelic session, and these self-induced feelings of relaxation can help create a reduction in anxiety, all because of the time you have invested in meditation. One type of meditation involves single-pointed concentration on something like a mantra or the breath. This can help you consciously tune your mind and focus, which can come in handy if you notice a fixation on something negative. Sometimes simply using your meditation experience to refocus on something positive will provoke a lift in mood, thus transforming a difficult experience into a meaningful one. Working on your mind outside of psychedelic experiences can benefit you in both everyday waking consciousness as well as in the spaces you inhabit during your psychedelic journeys.
This activity provides a wide variety of physical, mental, and spiritual benefits that can prove effective during the psychedelic experience. Yoga can increase your overall flexibility, strengthen your body’s muscles, bring about peace of mind, improve self-esteem, and has been practiced in religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism to further develop the spirit or soul. One skill that can be cultivated through yoga practice is perseverance: the steadfast endurance you build when holding a yoga pose while experiencing discomfort and uncertainty may help you wade through the challenging psychological material that may surface during a psychedelic journey. The feelings of physical vitality and mood boost that accompany an ongoing yoga practice can be extremely helpful, because the chance of having a pleasant psychedelic session greatly increases when both body and mind feel good.
Getting to really know yourself is unbelievably helpful, but many people have a hard time putting in the effort. Whether it’s from lack of knowledge about ways to do it or from an absence of motivation, many of us just plain don’t know ourselves. One way to develop an ongoing dialog with yourself is to write down your thoughts. Journaling about life events helps you process what happened. This integration process can occur if you write down your account immediately after an event has happened, or it may unfold over a long period of time. In fact, you may not fully process some events until you have read a specific journal entry multiple times over the course of many years. The many benefits of journaling include achieving goals that you have previously set, strengthening your self-discipline, and healing yourself. Perhaps most importantly when it comes to psychedelics, being more in touch with yourself will help you assess whether it is the right time or place to work with a particular psychedelic substance, and that can make all the difference in the type of experience you will have.
One of the most entertaining and simultaneously beneficial things that you can do to enhance your relationship with psychedelics is to listen to or play music. Listening to music is something that most people enjoy, and you can use your own personalized taste to queue up just the right song or album to encourage a happy or calm mood. It can be helpful to have a playlist created and ready to play before starting your journey, because while it is fairly easy to skip a song if it is not working out, searching for something entirely different can be overwhelming and difficult to do while under the influence. Sometimes a challenging psychedelic session can be turned around by just selecting different music, and you don’t necessarily need to be a practiced or trained musician to have fun and experience benefits from playing music. It can be as easy and straightforward as picking up a drum and participating in an improvisational drum circle or jam session, or maybe you could try strumming chords on a guitar or making up simple melodies on a piano. As long as you are in a supportive environment and feel comfortable experimenting with the people you are with, playing music can be therapeutic and cathartic, allowing you to deepen into your psychedelic experiences and share a creative space with others.
There are plenty of health benefits one can experience from going for a hike in nature. Some of the physical perks you may enjoy from hiking include improved cardiovascular fitness, decreased risk of developing ailments like heart disease and stroke, and reduced depression. Considering that many psychonauts report that they appreciate using psychedelics in nature, it makes sense that these two activities would go hand in hand for many of us. If you’re feeling especially adventurous during a psychedelic session, going on a hike can open you up to unexpected experiences that will help you develop further as a human being. It is important to mention again that safety is of utmost importance, because nature is an uncontrolled environment and it is impossible to predict what will happen while you are on a hike. This is why it is especially crucial to make sure you know your surrounding area and its wildlife before going on a hike during a psychedelic session.
If you have never been to a music festival, it may not make sense at first how dancing could benefit your psychedelic practice. After all, dancing focuses mostly on developing the physical body, often assisting in increasing your overall energy, improving the condition of your heart and lungs, or increasing your strength, endurance, and motor fitness. However, dancing can also help you make friends by improving your social skills, which can lead to better overall psychological well-being and more self-confidence. This combination of mental and physical benefits doesn’t only affect your day to day life; it can also help out during your psychedelic experiences. If your psychedelic journey is turning somewhat sour, it is helpful to remember that sometimes doing a silly dance that makes you or others laugh can turn a challenging experience into something more positive and uplifting.
This activity can help prepare your mind for psychedelic experiences in many ways. Among the benefits that reading provides are a reduction in stress, the cultivation of useful knowledge, and an increased understanding of the world. Although the knowledge gained from books doesn’t have to be specifically related to psychedelics, if you do choose to put in time and effort on drug education websites like Erowid or by reading books about psychedelics, what you learn may keep you from making an avoidable mistake or could otherwise enhance your experience in some way. Reading can also improve your memory, which could be helpful if you were to experience a negative impact on your short-term memory during a psychedelic session. These things do happen from time to time, after all.
These are things you can start doing now to enhance your ongoing relationship with psychedelics. Whether you are preparing to embark on a psychedelic journey or are simply looking for ways to improve your daily life, hopefully these suggestions will prove to be helpful reminders as you expand and integrate new experiences.