Your Ultimate Guide to Wakeful Psychedelic Integration
Psychedelics are largely illegal substances and we do not encourage or condone its use where it is against the law. However, we accept that illegal drug use occurs and believe that offering responsible harm reduction information is imperative to keeping people safe. For that reason, this guide is designed to enhance the safety of those who decide to work with psychedelics.
If you get one thing out of this guide, we hope that it’s this: psychedelic integration is the process in which you allow truth to come through into daily life. Meditation, dietas, journaling, working with a coach—all of these activities are like a loom, weaving the threads of your True Essence into the fabric of your life and the world around you.
Integration is not about figuring out your psychedelic experience. There’s nothing you need to “get” from a journey. Psychedelics, and the higher intelligence that works through them, give you exactly what you need when you need it. True integration is merely letting the magnitude of that gift unfold.
In this vein, integration extends beyond psychedelics. Any transformative experience— from traveling to a new country to a death in the family or a breathwork ceremony—is a potential opening: an opening to your True Essence. How you flow with what comes out is what constitutes integration. As such, integration is a critical life skill.
If you’re reading this, you have felt the calling to master this practice. So let’s get into it.
Safe Preparation for Psychedelic Use
Proper integration begins with thorough preparation.
The objective of preparation is to attune your system. The more attuned you are to receive the medicine, the more the medicine can work. It’s like tuning a guitar—you can’t play Blackbird with a G string that sounds like a B flat.
As you likely already know, the most important way to prepare for a psychedelic experience is to have a firm intention. Intention is direction. It is the key in which the medicine will play the song of your healing. Although specificity helps, it’s not necessary to have an extremely detailed intention. You may, for example, simply ask the medicine to help carry you into a new year on your birthday.
It’s also important to remember that psychedelics are not just for people with emotional and mental health issues. In the words of psychedelic medicine pioneer Bob Jesse, psychedelics are also for “the betterment of well people”. So your intention might be to open yourself to more creativity, to deepen your relationship with your partner, or to explore the outer reaches of consciousness and report on what you find.
As humans, we have three instruments to tune for a psychedelic experience: our minds, bodies, and spirits. Let’s break down the preparation process according to these three areas.
Preparing the mind
If it’s possible, we advise taking off at least a couple of days of work before ceremony. When facilitators talk about the “ceremony space”, they often mean the physical and energetic location in which the ceremony is taking place. But in reality, the ceremony space begins with you: the space you create within yourself. Some time off gives you the opportunity to empty your mind and bring it to a place of openness and rest.
What do you do in that time off? Well, that depends on you. What does your heart say? What practices consistently help you cultivate a quiet and receptive mind?
Meditation, breathwork, and yoga are classics. Warm or cold, nature walks are excellent. If you’ve never walked in nature as a meditative practice before, we encourage you to do so. In the midst of her awakening, Earth is stirring, and you might find that connection to the trees, fungi, and animals is more possible than it’s ever been. We suggest watching Fantastic Fungi to get inspired.
Equally important as quieting your mind is filtering what goes into it. In the weeks leading up to your ceremony, we recommend avoiding online trip reports, toxic people, and the news.
Many folks watch trip reports on YouTube or read them on Reddit. This is fine in the beginning, when you are starting to educate yourself on psychedelics. But once you’ve committed to a ceremony, you want to surrender all expectations. Psychedelic experiences are like getting into a fully self-driving car run by an AI that’s ridiculously smarter than you. If you try to take over the controls with expectations, it’s almost guaranteed to lead to a crash.
Avoiding toxic people and the news is self-explanatory. Regardless of your intention, psychedelic ceremonies are for one person and one person only: you. You don’t need the energy of negative people or the sensationalized stories of people you don’t know to clutter your consciousness. If it makes you feel guilty or anxious to be cut off from the world, consider the fact that a full commitment to your own healing makes you a much better asset to the world than simply knowing about its issues.
Preparing the body
When thinking about the right diet for a ceremony, we recommend asking the facilitator and asking your body.
There is too much competing information about diet to arrive at a one-size-fits-all suggestion. It also heavily depends on which medicine you are communing with. For example, preparing for a kambo or ayahuasca ceremony, which involves intense purgatives, is a very different process than an MDMA or ketamine-assisted psychotherapy session. Generally, the cleaner the better. Avoid processed or heavily fermented foods, and limit or stop your intake of alcohol and other drugs, especially in the days immediately before the ceremony.
In the Amazon, it is very common to perform a dieta, which is a cleansing and purifying contract between the journeyer and the medicine (typically ayahuasca) in which the journeyer abstains from sweet, spicy, and salty foods. Many retreats across the world will follow this direction and suggest a mostly plain vegetable and fruit diet, with fasting immediately before the ceremony.
However, maybe you are on an all-meat diet, or in personal experience with psychedelics you’ve found that certain meat strengthens your body. Make the diet conversation with your facilitator a priority, and stick with what makes your body feel strong and open.
In addition to diet, it goes without saying that exercise and good sleep help tremendously.
Preparing the spirit
If you know an energy healer, acupuncturist, or even a chiropractor friendly to the concept of psychedelic healing, these folks can be amazing assets in preparing your energy system to receive the energetic walloping that is ceremony. They can strengthen the overall system or release blocks that might prevent you from fully receiving the medicine.
On your own, you can call in your spirit guides, angels, and ancestors. Doing this every day before the ceremony can attune you to their presence, and they might guide you to certain foods, activities, or people that will assist you in preparing for your journey. In addition, feeling their presence clearly on ceremony day provides a deep sense of support going into the journey.
In days leading up to your psychedelic session, you can take epsom salt baths with whatever essential oils you love best to purify your energy field. You can also smudge yourself with palo santo or sage.
But perhaps the best way to prepare spiritually is to simply drop down into your heart and BE. Your True Essence is that Loving Awareness, the Witness or the Observer, and settling into that place will naturally align your system with whatever is in your highest good.
The Psychedelic Integration Process
If preparation is tuning your guitar, and the ceremony is playing the song of your healing, then integration is listening to that song over and over until it is a part of you.
The key word is “listen”. Psychedelics don’t give you what you want; they give you what you need. This is true during the ceremony, but also afterwards. Listen: what does your system want to do to fully express the change you experienced?
Heavier experiences with a lot of somatic release, like intense crying or shaking, may inspire movement-based practices to ground the body. A more psychological journey may inspire journaling to unveil the depths of subconscious shifts. Whatever it is, remember that it is your system that will guide you to the best practice. No coach, guide, or website can tell you what works for you like you can.
Regardless of the method you choose, the goal of integration is the same. Our conditioning blocks the light of our True Essence, that place in our hearts where we are whole and one with God, Source, or Spirit, from shining fully in this incarnation. Psychedelics, through transmutation or release, remove that conditioning and allow for more light to shine through us. Integration, then, is the process by which you live as that Light.
What does this mean practically? If the psilocybin mushroom teachers show you how your mistreatment of your employees is due to an attachment to control, then integration might involve a daily decision to surrender and trust. If Grandmother ayahuasca helps you release a deep-rooted fear of falling in love, then integration is all the risks you take to welcome more love into your life.
Or maybe there’s no concrete action. Maybe you have a ketamine session in which you see all the ways you self-sabotage, and the lesson is to merely cultivate this expanded awareness.
The point is, the light wants to come out. Your job is merely to allow it when it comes. It’s important to remember that the integration process has its own timeline. Following a powerful psychedelic journey, it can be tempting to put this pressure on yourself to capitalize on the lessons you learned and speed along your personal growth.
But this pressure is not necessary. Just as you surrender your expectations for what happens within ceremony, you should surrender your expectations for what happens afterwards. Trust your system and the rate at which any new changes unfold.
In this spirit of surrender, the following integration practices are meant for you to slow down, listen to your system, and reduce any resistance against allowing the light of your True Essence to shine.
Journaling is one of the most common methods people choose to integrate their psychedelic experiences, and for good reason. It’s a meditative activity that invites, through stream-of-consciousness writing, the depths of the subconscious into the conscious. Although you don’t always need to fully understand your journeys, journaling can be a very effective way to tug out the most important lessons and to narrate the significance of what transpired.
Wakeful Travel has created a Psychedelic Integration Journal that promises one of the best journaling experiences for psychedelic travelers. The reason? The journal is an active guide. Through carefully chosen reflection prompts, the journal helps you ask the right questions.
Perhaps most importantly, the journal provides you with organization. Cataloguing psychedelic experiences can be chaotic, especially in a blank notebook, but the Integration Journal helps you shape the story of your journey. Say you have an incredible LSD journey, and you are filled with so much love—but you’re not quite sure how to channel it, or what areas of your life might need it most. By organizing your experience into a beginning, middle, and end, the Psychedelic Integration Journal can help you understand this experience more coherently.
There are hundreds of ways to meditate. Just pick the one that works best for you, and make the intention to invite the lessons or emotions from your journey to arise in your consciousness.
With living as your Light as the fundamental principle for integration, we have two general suggestions.
The first, in the words of Psychedelic Passage co-founder, Jimmy Nguyen, is to “remember the frequency”. The periods of revelation, of intense clarity and release—what did they feel like? In meditation, try going back to the vibration of the experience by opening your heart and inviting it in. Notice that state of being in your gut and the muscles along your arms and legs. Notice the way your mind responds, what images or thoughts arise.
Going back to the guitar metaphor, meditating in this manner is like forming the muscle memory necessary to play the song of your True Essence so well that you can ditch the sheet music and rock it out whenever.
The second suggestion, when possible, is to meditate in nature. The use of psychedelics can catapult us into otherworldly realms and higher dimensions, but living as your Light means doing so here, on Earth. Grounding ourselves among trees and flowers, birds and insects can be an incredible way to tie those higher energies into the physical realm.
Meditating in nature also allows for more diversity. If sitting down to meditate is not your jam, you can take contemplative walks. You can meditate underneath a tree or simply walk barefoot along an expanse of grass. And if you’re into it, gardening while holding the frequency of your journey in your heart can make for a very unifying integration session.
If you’ve never microdosed before, we recommend doing this kind of integration work with a guide or taking Third Wave’s Microdosing Course.
Let’s say it’s been a couple months since your ceremony and you’re struggling to embody the lessons you learned. Microdosing can be an excellent way to quickly re-attune the body and reopen the heart to the vibration of that lesson without having to undergo another ceremony.
Of all the psychedelic drugs available to microdose, psilocybin is probably your best bet for integration, for a couple reasons. One, it’s being decriminalized all over the place, and with the increasing availability of grow kits and grow-at-home education, psilocybin mushrooms are very accessible.
Second, compared to LSD, psilocybin encourages more introspection and emotional processing. In other words, tapping into your body and your spirit is a bit more straightforward. People tend to be more reflective on a psilocybin microdose, which is the kind of state of consciousness you want when integrating.
If you decide to go this route for integration, Wakeful Travel created a 6-Week Wakeful Intention Journal that supports your microdosing journey.
Similar to microdosing, the non-ordinary states of consciousness induced through breathwork can be a method of reviving the vibration of the psychedelic experience. If this is your intention, then Holotropic Breathwork, created by psychedelic pioneer Stanislav Grof, would be the kind of breathwork you’d want to do.
Outside of this, breathwork is a great tool for getting your body into a state of surrender. Slow, intentional practices like coherent breathing (taking six breaths per minute) or the 4-7-8 method (breathing in for four seconds, holding for seven, and exhaling for eight) can activate the parasympathetic nervous system and deeply relax the body.
Conversely, if your psychedelic experience encourages a more energizing integration process, then up-regulated breathing techniques like Wim Hof breathwork would be more appropriate. Integration can sometimes be overwhelming or daunting, especially if you are processing heavy traumatic material. Up-regulated breathwork can provide the necessary energy and empowerment to carry on, to break past resistance, and step into deeper states of surrender.
We recommend Inward Breathwork, the largest library of breathwork practices, to discover what kind of breathwork works for you.
With any movement-based practice, the objective is the same: opening the body.
Because the body is so dense, it’s often the last aspect of our system to catch up to any change induced by a psychedelic experience. As a result, there can often be “knots” of stuck energy throughout our physical system, and conscious movement like yoga, massage, and dance can dislodge those knots and further open the body as an instrument for your Light.
More than anything, it’s important to be gentle, especially in the weeks following a ceremony.
Our True Essence is not just ours. It is shared by every other thing in the universe, and thus integration cannot be complete without participating in community.
Integration circles are, in their simplest form, groups of people who share their psychedelic experiences. However, there are some criteria that make some circles more effective than others.
First, size matters. Five to eight people in a circle is usually best, as this range allows for the most in-depth shares from members in the least amount of time. Second, you want to meet regularly. Sharing your experience with someone who knows you is a lot more fulfilling than sharing with a random person on a Zoom call.
Third, and most important: the discussions should be guided. Just like journaling in a blank notebook, two hours of people going around and trying to articulate their experiences without direction is too chaotic. Create a single guiding question that everyone answers, or a theme through which to reflect on the experience. That way, it becomes easier for members to gain focused meaning from their experiences and from those of others as well.
But a community focused around psychedelic integration doesn’t only have to gather in small groups. The circle can be much wider. Empathic Health developed a community of people interested in psychedelic healing, where you can chat online about your process with others. And Thank You Plant Medicine has circles specific to certain groups, like BIPOC or LGBTQ folks.
Collectively, we’re all working towards a world that’s more loving, more interconnected, more gracious. If integration is the process of living as your Light, the more people talk about their experiences, the more that Light can spread.
Psychedelic science has already expanded from the clinical settings of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy to mushroom-hunting groups, an expanding network of underground facilitators, and seminars for psychedelics in business. By sharing your experiences of well-being through psychedelic substances with others, you catalyze their transformative potential for the world.
Finding a psychedelic coach
If you desire more one-on-one guidance through your integration process, a psychedelic coach is a fantastic resource. You’ll want someone trustworthy, and Third Wave has put together a directory of clinics, therapists, and retreats that can provide that guidance. All providers in the directory have been vetted and verified, and have the full backing of the largest psychedelic education platform in the world.
Integration services provided by a coach or therapist can differ widely depending on the person, but generally, these professionals are great at getting you to see or feel things that might be difficult to access on your own. They can also help with harm reduction. Whatever the service, these professionals may use any of the modalities described thus far, from meditation exercises to movement practices.
It’s important to work with someone who fits your style. Psychotherapists and clinicians typically have a more medicalized focus, while providers of energy healing or shamans will have a more holistic approach.
The future of integration
Psychedelics are transitioning from illegal substances to medicine. Psychedelic integration therapy is increasingly discussed in the mainstream media. These substances also have the backing of extensive clinical trials and organizations like the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and the U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA). Folks with treatment-resistant depression, drug-use disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder, who 20 years ago would have been completely lost for healing options, are now experiencing a powerful sense of hope.
Imagine: in 20 years from now, psychedelic therapy sessions will be just as normal as going in to see your doctor for a check-up. DMT, once viewed as the most powerful psychedelic known to man, will be as common in healthcare as a stethoscope. Extensive breakthroughs in psychology will completely transform psychotherapy. Teenagers won’t use the term “bad trip” anymore. They’ll just say “challenging experiences”.
Taking a psychoactive substance used to be a “bad” thing. But as Michael Pollan explores in his new book, This Is Your Mind On Plants, maybe there’s something inherently natural about changing one’s state of consciousness.
This is the exploration of the future. As the hearts and minds of more and more people expand through these sacred medicines, integration will become more important than ever. Hopefully, it encourages the collective to slow down. The premise of integration is to allow our True Essence to arise, so the future skills of this field lie in surrender, patience, and trust instead of capitalization and maximization.
We hope that you use a variety of integration practices throughout your psychedelic healing journey. Remember that this is an adventure but, unlike climbing Mt. Everest or hiking the Appalachian Trail, every time you go into ceremony, you are the only one to ever experience that journey.
So your integration matters. What you bring into the physical realm from your travels matter.
You are the Wakeful Traveler of this third wave.
For optimal preparation and integration in your next experience, you can now pre-order a Wakeful Integration Journal or a 6-Week Intention Journal, created by our Head of Content, Jenalle.