Michael Cooper MD
Whether you’re a seasoned psychonaut or having your first psychedelic experience, it is critical to prepare your mind, body, and environment in order to have a safe and fulfilling journey towards introspection and self-understanding.
We’ve put together a guide to help you navigate your psychedelic experience and get the most out of it.
Preparing Your Physical Space
Creating an environment that is conducive for a safe, disruption free psychedelic trip is a crucial step towards having a meaningful experience. Read on to learn how you can prepare your physical surroundings.
- Choose an area where you can sit and then lie down, like a couch or bed
- Clean up any clutter around your room
- Set up ambient mood lighting (e.g. lamps instead of overhead lights)
- Surround yourself with cozy blankets and pillows
- Make sure all housemates (including furry friends!) do not enter your session space during the experience
- Turn on an essential oil diffuser or light an incense stick for a pleasant aroma
What to have on hand:
- Medicine - be sure to double check the dose you should be taking each session
- Journal & Pen - this is helpful to keep on hand to jot down notes, questions, or inspiration during or immediately after your psychedelic experiences.
- Eyemask - most patients find that wearing an eyemask during their experience helps immensely with immersion and focus.
- Blood pressure cuff - this is used for an important safety check before taking your medicine.
- Spit cup - spitting out ketamine after 10 minutes allows you to receive the benefits and full effect of the medicine while also minimizing any potential nausea.
- Glass of water or juice - this can be helpful to cleanse your palate once you no longer have the medicine in your mouth.
- Headphones - for listening to music during your experience. Remember to fully charge them if they have batteries!
Preparing Your Mental Space
- Arrive well-rested
- Create distance from work and external responsibilities
- Calm the mind with a guided meditation from our library
- Avoid any irritating personal conflicts, news, and social media
The Do’s and Don’ts for a Safe Psychedelic Experience
- Wear comfortable clothes
- Double-check to make sure your Sitter will be home and present during your experience
- Use the restroom immediately before to avoid disruptive bathroom breaks
- Plan to spend the rest of your day relaxing and integrating
- Put your phone on Do Not Disturb mode
- Enjoy the process!
- Take the medicine if your blood pressure is over 160/100*
- Drink alcohol or excessive caffeine the day of (tea is okay)
- Smoke cannabis or take benzodiazepines on your dosing day
- Eat any food within 3 hours of taking medicine (but do not fast the entire day)
- Drink any liquids within 1 hour of taking medicine
*If your systolic blood pressure (top number) is over 170, or your diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) is over 100, take some slow, deep breaths and sit quietly for 10 minutes. Once 10 minutes have passed, recheck your blood pressure. If it remains above 160/100, do not take ketamine. Try rechecking your readings later or the next morning. If your readings remain high, you should consult your primary care doctor before proceeding.
Medicine Session Checklist:
Check Your Blood Pressure:
- Place the cuff on your left bare wrist, with the screen & buttons on your inner wrist (i.e., the same side of your wrist as your palm)
- Hold your arm level with your heart and press the start button on the device
- Stay relaxed while your blood pressure is taken - it should only take a minute
- Only take the medicine if your blood pressure is under 160/100
- Stick to the script - Make sure you take the prescribed dose, and ask questions if you are confused
- Settle In - Get comfortable in the place where you’ll have your experience and make sure all of your supplies are on hand
- Take the medicine
1. Put the rapid dissolve tablet(s) under your tongue. Sit up with your head bent slightly forward.
2. As the tablet dissolves, hold your saliva in your mouth for 10 minutes without swallowing. You will hear a cue in your Innerwell playlist when the time is up.
3. Gently swish every 20 seconds or so for maximum absorption.
4. After 10 minutes, spit out the saliva into a nearby cup. If you’d like, take a sip of a beverage to get the taste out of your mouth.
- Enjoy the experience - Lie back, put on your eye mask, and make yourself comfortable.
Incorporating music into your experience:
- Choose the playlist which suits your intentions, whether that means classical, slow binaural beats, ambient music, or whatever else suits you.
- Feel free to pause or continue the music on your phone during the session. If you’re having a ketamine-assisted psychotherapy session, this can be especially helpful to make communicating with your therapist easier.
If you become uncomfortable:
- If you start to become anxious, return to your breath and do your best to remain in the moment and let thoughts pass by
- Keep in mind that you are safe and this is a temporary experience
- If you need reassurance, rely on your sitter - they’re here to help
- Keep in contact with your Innerwell care team through your member portal
- In the event of emergency, always call 911
Post-Session Care - How to Get The Most out of Your Experience
- Write down any insights or themes that arose for you during the journey
- Jot down particularly interesting visions, ideas, or sense experiences
- Did any questions arise that you’d like to reflect on further?
If you can, take it easy the rest of the day
- No heavy machinery, etc.
- If your dose was 200mg or less, do not drive for at least 4 hours. If your dose was 200-400mg, do not drive for at least 8 hours. If your dose was above 400mg, do not drive for the remainder of the day.
- Try not to have stressful encounters or tasks.
Do Something Different!
The 72 hours following a ketamine journey create a state of enhanced “neuroplasticity” where your brain’s pathways are more malleable and open to integrating new ideas, habits, and inputs. This is a great time to let go of old habits that no longer serve you, and take on new habits that will fuel your growth and wellbeing. Change is on the way!