*DISCLAIMER - This article is in no way an incentive for anyone to try any legal or illegal
substances. It has been written for educational and harm reduction purposes only. If you have
any health conditions or are taking medication, DO NOT take these substances without first doing your own research, and talking with your doctor or healthcare professional.
It took me a while to understand the powerful effects that psychedelics have on one’s mind. I’ve had some encounters with them, mostly in festivals and parties, and had the same amount of good and bad experiences, all fascinating, but really hard to make sense of. It took me a few years to integrate those journeys and realize the huge potential for healing that these substances have, as well as the risks they can bring along if not well prepared and properly integrated.
Realizing this ignited my curiosity so I started doing some research. I read books, articles, and academic studies, watched documentaries, listened to talks, and after intaking as much information as I could, I decided I was ready to mindfully go into this experience and I knew exactly what to do to reduce risks to a minimum. This time I had a very clear intention - to learn about myself in a deeper way.
“The psychedelic experience is simply a compressed instance of what we call understanding, so that living psychedelically is trying to live in an atmosphere of continuous unfolding of understanding, so that every day you know more and see into things with greater depth than you did before. This is a process of education.”
- Terrence McKenna
Step 1: PREPARATION
The preparation starts here, at the moment one makes the decision. For this step, there were three important things I had to do: find the compound, a trip sitter and an adequate place to have the experience.
For the compound, I spoke with a friend and told him I was looking to have a psychedelic experience with LSD soon. By coincidence of the universe, massive luck, law of attraction, manifestation, or whatever you want to call it, he said he could help and gave me 250 micrograms. This is considered a strong dose and is not recommended for beginners. It’s always better to start with lower doses and see how your body reacts to it.
Keep in mind that an LSD journey can last up to 12 hours and there is no point in starting with a high dose and getting yourself into a potentially traumatic inducing experience. Regardless of how many steps you take to reduce risks, it’s never guaranteed that it will be a good one. As mentioned before, I was not a beginner and had my fair share of experiences before with other psychedelics.
I was lucky on this one, but growing up in a family where heroin addiction and drug abuse have always been present, I am very much aware of the dangers of sourcing these substances from the street. Actually, from the point of view of a woman, this is one of the main dangers. Not only for the fact that these are unregulated pharmaceuticals and harmful compounds can be sold in replacement, but also because these are not safe environments for anyone.
If you want to get these compounds from a street stranger, my biggest advice is DON’T! There are always other ways. Talk with friends! There’s always someone who knows someone, who knows someone. If you are not sure where to start, you can always look online for a psychedelic community near you and ask the people there, but be smart and don’t forget that these things are still illegal pretty much everywhere.
Another very important step is to test the LSD. Unless Hoffman himself comes back to this dimension and gives it directly to you, you must always test the compound you’re about to take. As mentioned before, there are dozens of dangerous substances that have very similar effects to LSD, but unlike it, they can cause overdose and be lethal. You can find test kits very easily online.
Step 2: SET
This is one of the most important parts of the preparation and it’s regarding your mindset and intention. These experiences can be overwhelming, so it’s always safer to find a trip sitter, someone to help you and make sure you are well during the process. The safest and most ideal way would be finding a psychedelic therapist to guide you in your journey.
If you don’t know any I would make the same suggestion as above, to look for a psychedelic community near you, and ask for recommendations from a few different people there. Make sure you get various suggestions and that you meet the sitter prior to the experience. When you take any type of psychedelics, your brain gets extremely susceptible and you get into a very vulnerable place, where you can easily be taken advantage of.
We all have heard those heartbreaking stories of women who got molested and sexually abused in plant medicine retreats. LSD may not be Ayahuasca, but it is still a very potent psychedelic and you want to make sure you do it safely with a guide you trust. Again, do not forget that this is still illegal mostly everywhere and it can also be quite expensive.
Alternatively, you can ask someone you trust to trip sit for you, that’s what I did. Ideally, this would be someone who has tripped before and will have an idea of what you are gonna be going through. Make sure you are comfortable with the sitter because this will highly affect your journey.
The intention is what you are looking for with the experience. To make the intention clear, it’s good to do a self-inquiry. Are you looking to heal any traumas or relationships? Are you looking to explore your mind and get to know yourself better? What is it that you are looking for? It’s highly recommended to write down your intention and how you feel prior to the experience, so you can look into it later on, during integration.
Step 3: SETTING
The setting is the physical place where you have your experience, I wanted to do this one by myself but I knew it wasn’t safe to do so. As I live alone in the tiniest studio apartment in London, my friend and I decided to do it at his house, so I could be in a room by myself but also have someone nearby in case it got too much. The reason for this being, I wanted to feel free to do anything I wanted without any worries or embarrassment. I could dance naked or cry in a fetal position, if that was what that journey had for me, and still feel safe. I made sure to bring a couple of candles, incense, cozy blankets, an eye mask, headphones, and a nice pre-arranged playlist.
Step 4: JOURNEY
After taking the LSD, I sat on a pillow on the floor with a cup of tea in my hand, took a sip, closed my eyes, and listened to the music. When I finished the tea, I did a ten-minute breathing exercise to calm the mind, and about half an hour of yoga to connect with the body. Then I danced, letting my body move in any way it wanted to, having the music as a guide. Being the music.
I was about one hour in when it started hitting, really strongly. At this point, I decided to smoke. When I finished smoking, the LSD was so intense that I had to lay down. I went to bed, covered up as cozy as possible, and put my eye mask on, ready to take off. As soon as I closed my eyes it was like I was taken somewhere else. There were shiny castle-like corridors that transformed into portals that took me through dimensions across existence.
I could still feel my body, but my awareness was somewhere else. Then, as I was being submerged in colours and mesmerized by the patterns, I asked “the narrator” in my head to shut up a little so I could hear what I had to hear. The words came to me in a loop: disintegration, reintegration, Chitta Vittri Nirodaha (Sanskrit words that mean to break the patterns of consciousness). These words were followed by super vivid and painful memories, of situations that were similar, but from different occasions. This unpleasantry went on for a few hours and seemed like it was never going to end.
Step 5: INTEGRATION
When I took my eye mask off and looked at the time, I was about 5 hours into the journey. I immediately grabbed my notebook and wrote down the only five words I could remember from the trip. Disintegration, reintegration, Chitta Vittri Nirodaha. I knew exactly what they meant - I had to break the patterns of my own consciousness, disintegrate my old habits, and reintegrate new ones in my life. Through the memories, I was able to recognize those repetitive actions, to see how unhealthy they were, and how they were affecting me and my relationships. That day I learned that I am the only one who can change anything in my life.
As the LSD was coming down, I went to meet my friend in the living room, we had some food and a great chat about my trip. About the patterns in humans, in nature and in the universe. How everything that exists is made of patterns and how psychedelics have the ability to reveal them by revealing the mind.
This chat lasted for hours and helped me massively to integrate the experience I just had. It is highly recommended to write down the experience, as you remember it, before talking with anyone. Every time you tell the story you alter the original memory of it, as your brain needs to fill in with imagination, the memories that it cannot process in a normal state of consciousness. After writing it down, it is good to speak with someone about the trip, so together you can try and make sense out of it.
This experience was not the most pleasant, but it was surely one of the most meaningful I ever had. I am still integrating what I learned until this day. We, human beings, are made of habits. We love these habits, our egos love anything that is known and hates the unknown. That’s why change is so difficult. Regardless of you consciously knowing that something is good for you, your subconscious will keep telling you the opposite.
I managed to break some patterns but am still working on breaking some others. It’s important to remember that psychedelics can show you the way but you need to be the one putting in the work afterward.
Tatiana Nora is a yogi, who is developing My Shakti Box, an online platform directed to women, for self-exploration through yoga, creativity and plant medicine. Tatiana believes that psychedelics are not only a tool to explore consciousness but also one that connects us to the process of life in a more meaningful way. To learn more about her work please check out her Instagram page or Twitter.