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Using Psychedelics Wisely

By Myron J. Stolaroff on Friday, 21 February 2014, hits: 5405


SET AND SETTING

Set and setting have been widely recognized as the two most important factors in undertaking a psychedelic experience. Of these, set has the greatest influence. As the drug opens the door to the unconscious, huge spectrums of possibilities of experience present themselves. Just how one steers through this vast maze depends mostly upon set. Set includes the contents of the personal unconscious, which is essentially the record of all one's life experience. It also includes one's walls of conditioning, which determine the freedom with which one can move through various vistas. Another important aspect of set consists of one's values, attitudes, and aspirations. These will influence the direction of attention and determine how one will deal with the psychic material encountered.

In fact, one can learn a great deal by accepting and reconciling oneself with uncomfortable material. Resisting this discomfort, on the other hand, can greatly intensify the level of pain, leading to disturbing, unsatisfactory experiences, or even psychotic attempts at escape. This latter dynamic is largely responsible for the medical profession's view of these materials as psychotomimetic. On the other hand, surrender, acceptance, gratitude, and appreciation can result in continual opening, expansion, and fulfillment.

Setting, or the environment in which the experience takes place, can also greatly influence the experience, since subjects are often very suggestible under psychedelics. Inspiring ritual, a beautiful natural setting, stimulating artwork, and interesting objects to examine can focus one's attention on rewarding areas. Most important of all is an experienced, compassionate guide who is very familiar with the process. His mere presence establishes a stable energy field that helps the subject remain centered. The guide can be very helpful should the subject get stuck in uncomfortable places, and can ask intelligent questions that will help resolve difficulties, as well as suggesting fruitful directions of exploration that the subject might have otherwise overlooked. The user will also find that simply sharing what is happening with an understanding listener will produce greater clarity and comfort. Finally, a good companion knows that the best guide is one's own inner being, which should not be interfered with unless help is genuinely needed and sought.


MOTIVATION

This is extremely important. Those who earnestly seek knowledge and deeply appreciate life in all its forms will do well. Yet certain characteristics of psychedelics make them very popular for recreational use. The most attractive of these is their great enhancement of sensual responses, which offer heightened perception, amplification of beauty and meaning, and intensified sensual gratification. Psychedelics can also generate a great sense of closeness among participants, especially in a group setting. While I am convinced that one of the great cosmic commands is "Enjoy," there are traps in using these substances purely for recreation. The first is that a person seeking the delights of the senses may find himself overwhelmed by the eruption of repressed unconscious material without knowing how to deal with it. Another danger is that constant pleasure-seeking without giving anything back to life can distort the personality and ultimately produce more discomfort. The safe, sure way to rewarding outcomes with psychedelics is through intelligent, well-informed use.

Comments  

0 # Shadowed 2014-02-28 15:29
Is that it? Low dose + breath through the uncomfortable passages?

I heard Anne Shulgin's talk from Psychedelic Science '13 and started looking for books and hypnotherapists to do this work, now it seems I only need to venture 2 meters to my stash :eek:
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