“These moments are a flash, an insight when we see through the confusion of our constant thinking to something clear. Why wouldn’t we listen instead of abiding by our discursive wandering thoughts… and follow these thoughts as though they were holy truth?”
– Natalie Goldberg, Zen practitioner and author of The True Secret of Writing
Psychedelic journeys contain moments of powerful insights, and often even ultimate truths. But sometimes we reduce these experiences to a dinner story rather than harnessing the lessons into lasting change. Instead of altering unwise behaviors, we remain ruled by old habits. Even when we have the best intentions to live by our new wisdom, the brain’s default mode network won’t let us. We retreat into quiet dissatisfaction.
Yet no one wants to be shackled by the mind. We’d rather walk our path of happiness driven by our divine insights. Before this is possible, however, we need to learn how to create real and lasting change in the wake of our psychedelic journeys.
One Psychedelic Experience May Not Be Enough
One of my friends came home from Peru recently and excitedly shared the visions from her ayahuasca ceremony. I thought her trip sounded terrific. She told me tales of visits from imagined strangers who shared profound wisdom with her.
Since then, my friend has told the story again and again. But I’m not sure if anything’s changed in her life since the retreat. Like most people, my friend needs more tools to help her integrate the psychedelic lessons into lasting change. One of those tools is microdosing.
As a Third Wave reader, you might be familiar with the concept of microdosing—consistently taking fractional doses of psychedelics to experience cognitive enhancement. You may have even considered Third Wave’s comprehensive microdosing course. If so, you may know that the benefits of microdosing can extend beyond relief from depression or anxiety. Microdosing can also help increase focus, boost creativity, and elevate your mood. This is precisely why microdosing psychedelics offers an effective way to integrate your higher-dose psychedelic journey into lasting change.
If you want to find more about the topic check out our podcast interview with Peter Carnochan where we talk about How To Create the Life You Want
Changing Thoughts Means Walking Down a New Path
When you have a higher-dose psychedelic journey like my friend in Peru, you open new neural pathways that can help you break free from habitual thought loops. To hardwire those changes, however, you need to nourish the new pathways and stop gardening the old ones.
Metaphorically, I like to illustrate this concept as a field of overgrown grass containing one clear path. In this metaphor, the overgrown field is your mind, and the open track represents your old patterns. You’ve walked down this old path for years. It’s a breeze to traverse. That said, the easy road doesn’t always represent the “best” road, especially if it leads you to habitual ruts, dark thoughts, or endlessly-looping thought patterns.
After you’ve had a psychedelic experience, you may realize you need to carve a new path to the opposite side of the field. But to get there, you’ll need to walk through unpaved terrain. The blades of grass are taller than your head, and jagged rocks stand in your way.
The task seems daunting, which makes the old track seem enticing. Yet if you keep walking through the unpaved woods, you know you’ll eventually flatten a new path. And one day, the new route will be more comfortable to travel than the old one. You just convert that knowledge into action.
Tony Robbins, a global self-help legend, describes this dilemma perfectly. “Knowledge is NOT power,” Robbins says. “Execution trumps knowledge every day of the week.”
Although you know this on a logical level, taking action isn’t always easy. Sometimes you need support. That’s where psychedelic integration comes in to help you cut the overgrowth and clear a new path in your mind. Through psychedelic integration practices, like journaling and meditation, you choose daily to act on and entrench the lessons you learned during your high-dose journey.
You may choose to work with integration specialists for psychedelic coaching or engage in psychedelic therapy to help you create a plan for change. These experts may recommend various practices—from meditating, to dancing, to walking in nature. They may also recommend supplementing with daily microdoses of psychedelics.
Using Microdosing to Optimize Psychedelic Integration
Psychedelic coaching and self-guided integration practices are invaluable to your integration practice. But microdosing can make integration even more effective by bridging the gap between insight and action.
Why? Microdosing tiny amounts of psychedelics can help you regularly re-open the neural pathways you accessed during the original psychedelic journey. This can strengthen your brain’s ability to form new synapses, loosen the grip of obsessive-compulsive thoughts, and inspire your path forward.
I love the idea of combining microdosing with integration practices, like journaling and meditation, to develop action plans around the new insights you gleaned. When the inevitable inertia of your old habits creeps in, these practices give you the mechanisms to resist falling back into quiet dissatisfaction.
Microdosing and The Real World
Microdosing is alive and flourishing in society today. At Third Wave, I’ve heard countless stories from integration specialists whose patients microdose to treat anxiety and depression. I’ve also heard public figures tout the practice. Writer Ayelet Waldman reports microdosing LSD every few days to help overcome her lifelong struggles with depression.
Then you have tech gods in Silicon Valley who reportedly microdose for cognitive enhancement. Calling microdosing a “productivity hack”, these leaders say it helps with mood boosting, energy, creativity, and focus.
Clinically speaking, the research on microdosing is just beginning. But you can find an experimental study on microdosing psychedelic truffles that highlights their ability to help strengthen problem solving skills. The study showed this practice could promote cognitive flexibility and creative thinking. In other words, the study indicated microdosing opens the mind to new possibilities and allows it to hone in on one solution rather than spiraling into confusing thoughts. These effects are precisely why microdosing is so effective at imprinting high-dose psychedelic experiences in your psyche long after the trip is over.
If you’re looking for support to integrate the wisdom of peak psychedelic experiences, apps like Mindleap can put you in touch with integration specialists who can help you take consistent action to turn your divine insights into new brain patterns. And, as always, we’re open to your insights as well. Have you tried microdosing as a method to install new ideas that you received in a higher dose experience? If so, let us know how it went—we’d love to hear from you!