What is Psychedelic Integration?
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Donca Vianu explains her view on integration and shares a couple of real examples of how it can be done and why one should consider including it during your psychedelic journey.
Maxim inscribed in the pronaos of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, 1400 BC. The term “psychedelic” was coined in 1956 by psychiatrist Humphry Osmond and means “mind revealing.”
Indeed, by ingesting a psychedelic substance - LSD, Peyote, Magic Mushrooms, Ayahuasca, Ibogaine, MDMA, DMT - contents of your mind you are not aware of are revealed to you, not as dry information, but as experience: you feel it with intensity, you understand deeper what you feel, and you learn from your understanding.
You feel long forgotten sadness, fears, resentment, dismay; you feel long forgotten enchantment and buoyancy; and you feel a never felt before bliss, love, and awe.
You re-live situations, old and recent, some you remember well and others hidden by yourself from yourself in the recesses of your mind. You experience your present situation, its challenges, opportunities, and rewards from new angles and new vantage points.
Because the content is so personal, each psychedelic journey is uniquely yours, and different even to you from one journey to the other.
What then is “Integration”?
Integration is the process of incorporating the feelings, insights, teachings during the psychedelic experience(s) into your body, mind, and spirit.
I’ll give you two examples:
1) Laure, 34, wanted to go on a psychedelic journey because quite suddenly she developed panic attacks which not only incapacitated her but also baffled her. They baffled her because, on the contrary, she had all reasons to feel happy. She had discovered that she is pregnant. Her husband showered her with attention and presents. At her work, a company for locum medical specialists, she had been promoted to be senior recruitment consultant.
Why panic attacks? The psychedelic journey with Ayahuasca uncovered her pattern of avoiding any unpleasant or challenging feelings, especially her lack of self confidence, and a massive suppressed anger.
The thought which came up was: “I can’t” - she can’t be a good mother, and she can’t be responsible for a team of five co-workers.
The root cause?
Her mother was a beautiful and witty woman, whom Laure admired greatly, but who rejected Laure and treated her as her slave, not as her child.
The one psychedelic experience was the equivalent of months of psychotherapy, but most of the inner work to recover from the abuse and neglect in her childhood had still to be done.
2) Jan, 18, was torn between the demand of his father “to start to take life seriously” and enroll in college, and leaving the parental house and the Netherlands in order to travel for an indefinite time around the world.
Jan embarked on a psychedelic journey with psilocybin. I expected him to tell me that he chose, of course, to go to college. Yet, what the experience with psilocybin revealed to him, was his outstanding talent for music, and his deep need to be free from the control of his father.
He was encouraged not “to take life seriously” but to take himself seriously. For a number of sessions, we focused on his need to express himself through music. He also needed to prepare himself for the talk with his father.
The day when Jan came to my office together with his father, Robert, a successful, self-assured ENT surgeon, was so far the most important day in Jan’s life. He succeeded in convincing his father to trust him, and allow him to follow his own path.
Integration is the process of implementing the insights and teachings gained during the psychedelic experience in your daily life, in all your relationships, with your spouse, parents, children, friends, colleagues, neighbors, pets, in your work, and in your attitude towards nature, towards other living beings and towards life itself.
If the psychedelic journey ended without the resolution of a difficult situation, integration entails its healing closure.
The integration process has three phases: to own, to become, to be.
To own means: to take responsibility for your grief, or outrage, or any other painful emotion, as well as for your talents and achievements. You take responsibility for everything you kept at a distance and the psychedelic journey brought nearby.
On a deeper level: you are your beliefs, your thoughts, your feelings and emotions, your memories, and your behavior with all its consequences. Your beliefs, thoughts, feelings, memories are your identity. Most of your beliefs were formed in the first years of your life, influenced by your parents, family, culture. At the same time, we do not come into this life as an unwritten white page.
We bring with us many traits, impressions, and experiences from previous lives. There are themes that run through many lives, the so-called “Condensed Experiences” (COEX), which attract certain events and people. Our identity resembles a program, it is our conditioning. A well-prepared psychedelic journey can show us aspects of our identity as what they are: aspects of programming. It is important thus to own what is revealed in order to change and transform.
To become means: to make conscious and skilled efforts to model yourself according to the insights and teachings gained during the psychedelic journey.
In other words: in the psychedelic journey, you can get an inkling, a glimpse of who you could be if you were free of programming which stifles you, and if you were free of whatever burden you carry with you. Yet it is only an inkling, a glimpse - in order to realize this, to make it real, you need to increasingly become this person who lies dormant in you, lies in you as a potential. This is the ongoing work of integration.
To be means: no effort is any more necessary, you have developed a healthier, more mature identity - you are the person you like to be.
How to integrate?
The best approach is to do it with an experienced coach who has a number of methods and tools at her disposal.
If you prefer to do it on your own, you can:
• Journal • Draw, paint, sculpt • Dance • Write poems and stories • Think deeply on a relevant topic • Access expanded states of consciousness with breathing, drumming, self-hypnosis • Study new concepts • Learn to be self-reliable and at the same time sociable; or learn to be sociable without losing your autonomy
I wish you success!
Stay safe, stay well, grow, expand.
About the Author: Donca Vianu is a psychiatrist and psychotherapist. She offers individual counseling and guidance for integration processes.