Transcribed and edited from the original video content. In this Q&A we cover some of the most common questions about psychedelic preparation and why it's an essential piece of working with psychedelics safely and to maximize the potential of the journey.
Hello, my name is Mijal Schmidt and I am a psychoanalyst and psychologist with over 15 years of experience in the clinical field. I am also an integration support guide at ICEERS. It has always been my passion to work in this field, and lately, I have also been exploring the use of plants from an experiential and experimental point of view. This eventually led me to work with psychedelics as well, and I now have a private practice and collaborate with worldwide organizations.
Working with people from all over the world is very rewarding for me. I get to meet individuals from different cultures and backgrounds, all with unique questions on life. It's a fascinating experience to be a part of.
What is psychedelic preparation?
So I would envelop the preparation for educational purposes into main groups. One is the physical aspect. The other would be the mental emotional aspect. So in the physical aspect, we would take into account sleep, food, and all the, probably the meds that you're taking or the supplement or all the medications that you might have been taking.
That means that some of these need to be stopped. Particularly the psychiatrist, they need several weeks to stop beforehand to stop taking them. Some foods are preferred not to take. So that your body is more prepared for the psychedelic, so that you're more less toxins, less elements that will interact with the medicine.
In the physical aspect, it also deals with trying as much as possible to deal with stress in better ways, or at least that the previous days of the session are a little bit more calm. And I would leave it there on the physical aspect. Of course I am missing the central aspect to it as well, which you should not have sexual intercourse or any kind of sexual Matters around the intake with yourself or with others or whatever combinations you might have.
So that would be the physical aspect, right? To take care of your body and to try to suit it in the best way possible so that the absorption of the medicine is in the best way possible.
The other main aspect would be the mental or the emotional aspect. Some people, I've worked with a lot of people and some of them tell me like but I have to be ready and so I, I must not have all these struggles to actually go into the medicines. And that's counterintuitive because we go into medicines also to work on these things that are not really working, that are not really going well.
So it's not like you have to get in a particular mental state. For you to be able to work with medicines. But I do think that the preparation in that respect has to do with trying to be as clear as possible about what you're looking for or what, at least what are the things that you have in you?
What are the things that bother you? What are your worries? What are stressful events that just happened in your life or that you're going through at the moment of the intake so that you know that some of these contents that you will find could be enhanced by the elements that you're going through in your life.
It's basically what's going to happen. They will influence your whole session. Some preparation could deal with just being open to receiving and not having particular things to focus on, which that's also an approach that a lot of people like to do because they just want to see what there is, or they might feel stuck with something that they don't really know.
And during the preparation, we don't get to those. Points because persons might not know, or we couldn't just get into them either because of many reasons. Repression can be won, but also tiredness or maybe the, situation is really hard. And that takes time to unfold.
What is the link between psychedelic preparation and integration?
I consider they're part of the same continuum. Preparation gets you clarity about what you're going to. Integration helps you understand how. The elements that you touched upon during the preparation are linked to the final elements or the elements that you come with to integration, and I find it particularly important to relate these two aspects, which are bridged by the intake itself.
How can I find the right psychedelic therapist or retreat?
The, first thing for me is safety. Safety has to do with the place, so it's called setting. So setting is a big it entails different things. So knowing the place, going, visiting the place Feeling how you move in it and or how you feel. It just intuitively that's important.
Sometimes that's not possible. Knowing what's the background of the place that's offering this, and also knowing who are the people offering, what is their preparation? What is their own background for how long have they been serving medicines? What is their approach? What are the safety measurements they've put to take care of people?
Some people include doctors, some people include people who know how to deal with a crisis, like a huge crisis. I'm particularly fond of the traditional. Approach. And so in the traditional approach we find people from cultures, from specific groups that have a long history or a long tradition working with plants.
But we can't always get to those places or I think even we, are more in, in present times. We're doing it more than ever, but so safetyness is an important aspect. It's difficult to know what the quality of the medicine is, but I would try to make sure to know who is providing the medicine.
Like where does it come from? If it's if it's gotten from respectable sources and if these sources are known, we are encountering a lot of mixing medicines and mixing things that are not necessarily that they become dangerous sometimes. And so I would be very aware of how many things are mixed into the medicine itself?
Some medicines are just very plain and they don't need mixture. Some of them need mixture, likek. So to know what there is in the brew is very important. Sustainable sources are so important to me because at least what we're seeing in Mexico and the North. Is that a lot of groups have hijacked the toads (5-MeO-DMT) and make them suffer greatly.
But also they're shifting the ways in which these substance is got naturally because there are cycles. And these cycles are not being respected. And so that influences not only the quality of the medicine, but also the effects that the medicine will have on people. So I think it's very important to understand that the these sources are important even for the outcome of our own experimentation.
I would be very sure that they offer integration or that they're linked to some organization in this case, like Nectara or there are others that offer support groups or integration sessions so that we can continue working after the session as it, the work doesn't end with the session itself or the ceremony.
And I would honestly be aware of these new age offerings in a way where I like grounded things. I like grounded things. I don't like these things that appear super shiny, super airy, super cosmic. I think it's amazing that people can experiment with different reals and different ways of thinking and of expressing, but when it comes to medicines, grounding is a very important aspect to them.
So I would consider that these, this transmission of the knowledge and the transmission of what I'm going to encounter in this intake is grounded.
How do I choose the right psychedelic or plant medicine for me?
That's a tricky question. And a lot of a, way in which to respond this question, a way in which to answer this question would be to experiments basically because I wouldn't say that the, yes, there are medicines that are particular for certain things which have been researched for these particular things. So let's say that MDMA has been used for many years for couples therapy because it helps people open up to the experience. It also reduces the Repression and stuckness, which is something that a lot of the psychedelics do.
But MDMA would connect you more to this kind of loving flow of life. And so this also helps ease these soft or heavy feelings. And since it opens up the conversation and it opens up communication, then. It allows people to Yeah. Talk more easily and I don't know, some others might be ketamine which has been also used for PTSD.
I think particularly because these have been not only research in specific contexts, but provided in regulated settings. And so that helps control the dosage, the quality, the time that people are there, and some of the symptoms that can occur during the intake. And so even though the, even though psychedelics are being researched for particular things like Ayahuasca has also been and is been researched for depression, for anxiety.
I consider that people need to know what the effects of plants have in them, and that's the best way to understand, which is the medicine that suits you the best. So there are medicines that take a long time. And we would see this with Ibogaine and Ayahuasca you would be there for several hours and then you need a particular space and this setting and else, and it's, it can be very strong, but the timeline gives you a lot of space to navigate the strength of the intake.
And the dosage is also very important. So sometimes people work with very small doses. Some people work with bigger doses. Some people work with several doses along the night, and some people just prefer not to take all of them and only one. And so the effects of these vary from people to people, from person to person.
There are however, people who would like to delve faster and sharper into an experience, and maybe they would choose the toad. And the toad is an explosiveness of emotions and sensations and connection to the universe. And not that the others don't, but I would say that, the. Plants are more connected to nature, would connect to the aspects of nature more easily.
But with the toad (5-MeO-DMT) is a very profound and quick experience, but it is a part one for a lot of people because it is. It's, very strong for some people. So some people are looking for strong experiences and they want to delve into things so that they come out of them quickly, which I wouldn't say that's the purpose of psychedelics, but some people do consider these elements to decide which psychedelic to take.
Some people cannot go into certain ceremonies because law regulations or because other aspects some people can't have, can be in in an intake for six, eight hours. And so they would choose something that's easier to do. Even Hapé is a medicine that works very well for a lot of people. It's a very straightening experience.
Tobacco is a strong plant that centers, and it's a masculine energy, and so it sharpens senses. It's not a psychedelic in itself, although some people have experienced certain symptoms resembling psychedelic ones. But I would consider experimenting with some of them to understand which ones, according to your own experiences, to your own characteristics are best.
What are the therapeutic potential of psychedelics for mental health challenges like anxiety, depression, substance use, and PTSD?
The potential of psychedelics is that they open up in great lengths, our perception, they are capable of changing it, at least for the moment. And then we experience different things when we might just go into the flow and then find that our perception has changed dramatically after some of this perception goes back to its place.
However, the potential of psychedelics is that to open this perception and with the neural connection, neurogenesis that they enhance and that they promote, then we are capable of either connecting better certain elements in our lives, connecting certain consequences to the regions that we didn't know of.
And that gives us a new understanding of things. Something else is that psychedelics, they, this is one of the most important I would consider, particularly when integrating or with psychotherapeutic work after because but, this is also risky, right? Because psychedelics, they lift a barrier of repression. What this means is that some of the contents that have been hard for us to know in our lives, we push them to the side for, from our consciousness to the unconscious. It's not a voluntary process. So that's why we might not even know this and, but symptoms happen and that are informing that we have this process going on.
Basically we all repress. Some don't. But basically we all have these processes and it is a protective mechanism for our minds for, our psyche. When we go into psychedelics, these is removed, let's call it this way. And so the elements that were repressed come to the surface. Why is this risky? Some of these elements might be overwhelming.
We might have not known anything about them. And so when they come to the surveys, we're surprised that they exist even, and we might not know what to do with them. So they might overload our capacity to feel them, think about them, understand them, and then that becomes a challenge, A great challenge, however, when there have been traumatic element or traumatic experiences in our lives and we necessarily have these repression process sometimes it's difficult to access these contents or these causes or these origins of the traumatic experience and the traumatic experience might.
Remain like in a static mode inside ourselves, that doesn't allow us to move freely in our minds and in our feelings to different areas of life. And so we might feel stuck in different areas and we don't know why and we don't know how to access that. So what psychedelics have done, which is part of the main research that has been done with them.
Nowadays research is going so many different ways at the same time, but these easing of these hard elements inside and got stuck and then had made it more difficult for us to move in different directions in our lives or be more flexible with ourselves, or flexible with others, or flexible within, or to be able to change more rapidly or to be able to take decisions with much more ease. So all these things, what psychedelics provide is a possibility of when these elements come to the surface, we're able to see them differently.
In a way, psychedelics soften these contents and then they become less threatening, more accessible to our consciousness. Therefore, we're able to connect them with their causes. We know the consequences and the breaching between them is this is the liberating thing, and when we do this connection, basically we're able to move on.
So sometimes the stuckness is either. We don't know the cause or we don't understand the consequence, or maybe we don't have access to the cause, or maybe the consequences is blurry. So psychedelics breach these two sides of things and then we become much flexible. I would say that's the word, and more at ease.
With the option to explore this element and then do something about them, they become less threatening. I think this is a very important part because when we are stuck in pain, we don't wanna go through pain, we want to avoid it. And psychedelics in a way, they put us in front of pain or they put us in front of stuckness or they was in front of whatever is going on with their lives.
So this approach that psychedelics allow us to do this closeness that they provide with our internal world is what allows us to take steps to change our current situation.
Is there such a thing as a bad trip?
It's hard to say no because I wouldn't like to tell someone that, no, you didn't go through a horrible experience because I know that there are experiences that are tough. I don't consider that there. I, know that there are bad trips for people because they either had a pretty bad time or they couldn't process what was going on.
A lot of people feel this closeness to death or death of ego and a lot of people also lost sense. That is horrible for sure. That's sad. And that is unstructuring of ourselves. But if we are stuck in something and we go through a hard experience with psychedelic and we come out of the experience with insights, it might have been tough. But that might change the way we perceive it, so that might change the perspective of it being a factor. So for me, it's difficult to, in my experience, but I understand the experience of my patients is different.
To say that some experiences have been bad, I have always come from experiences in a way where I've learned. I consider challenges as an opportunity to grow. So for me, that is just as important. That takes away the bad trip, the name.
How do we reduce what leads to an extremely challenging experience?
The preparation is very important. So to take care of your physical aspect, but also mental aspect are, it's just very important for the, outcome. Of course the setting, researching very well into. Where you're going for the session and who is going to lead, that's just as important. Following the guidelines of the diet is found to be one of the elements that help a lot in reducing risks.
And I would say that to me, the preparation is essential for that.
How does expectation affect the psychedelic experience and potential outcomes?
It's hard to say because on one hand we I stress out that preparation is important, right? And that having a purpose, it guides the work and else. The thing is that how do we work with expectations in our own lives? Because expectations sometimes look like, I want this to happen. It's not about, I'm open to see what happens, but rather I want to force things into happening the way in which I expect.
So as an example, someone said I, went with the purpose of feeling more and this person was particularly not feeling very much. This person was very stuck on that. And when it went through the experience, started feeling anxious and that person was saying but now I feel anxious. And I said were you asked to feel right?
And the person said yes, but not this so sure. We don't go into psychedelics to feel worse, for sure. That's short. But sometimes our expectations might be our own imposing of how we want things to be, and I would ask people if this is the way in which they function in their lives, because expectations can also, Get in the way of the elements that come up with during the session.
So maybe I said I wanna feel more and then I begin feeling more during the session, but I'm scared about those feelings and then I retreat and say, no, but I didn't wanna feel that. But these feelings are informing my life and I can have expectations since the purpose is a bit having expectations.
But expectations should be managed to understand that plants don't do what we say. And actually the relationship that we establish with plants takes time so that we know how to work with plants and then approach a different way in which working with them. But. At the beginning, we're just getting where the plant goes.
So we can't force the plants to do as we want to do, as we say. Rather, how about those expectations as a purpose? Could be something that will guide our session, but will also help us remain open. To things that we might have not been prepared to or expected to find, yet they open other opportunities for us to go.
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