Inner work is not easy, but with the aid of ketamine or other psychedelic medicines, we have seen doors open quickly and present an invitation to profound healing. It is important to remember that the medicine is simply the first step in your healing journey—ketamine might be seen as a key that can open a locked door, but as with all inner work and healing, there is no formal finish line. The beauty of deep inner work is that there is always an aspect of ourselves that can use some extra focus, gentleness, and love. We are all works in progress, and as we grow into deeper health and healing, we will continue to find areas that can use improvement and assistance. In other words, a therapeutic psychedelic experience is not a panacea and it will not offer an immediate cure. It is merely marking the beginning of your commitment to health and healing.
Psychedelic, as you may know, comes from psyche (life; spirit; soul; self, akin to psychein which means to breathe) and delic (to make manifest, to reveal and make visible).
Psychedelics manifest soul; they make spirit visible; they reveal life itself.
Resourcing is an important first step: The Work Before the Work
Before you begin your journey into healing with psychedelic medicine, it is crucial to begin with an inventory of your interpersonal and intrapersonal resources. These resources can be separated into three categories, internal, external, and transpersonal. The act of bringing awareness to each of your resources by creating detailed lists will allow for an important pre-journey experience.
You might consider generating lists under each of the resource categories. As you begin creating your lists through journaling, bring awareness to your body as well as your mind. While you think of various resources to put into each category, notice your somatic response, and write down what is happening in your body as you list each item. As you do this, you may begin to notice your body naturally relax. Your body will naturally feel less stress, because the sheer act of listing your supporting resources creates a reliable, and comforting support network for your experience.
Each of your resources can be compiled into collage or mandala form. This would allow for visual connection during your journey if need be. Your resource lists are a type of blueprint for your network of support. Map everything out in detail—writing down specific names and phone numbers. Make connections and speak to allies about your process. You do not need to tell everyone what you are doing, but it is necessary to list a few key people that you know and love—those who support you.
Internal resources are those inherent aspects about yourself that help you cope (healthy self-esteem, healthy self-compassion, a sense of humor, a sense of purpose).
External resources are people or things in your support system (close friends and family, specific communities, clubs, or alliances, favorite nature trails, pets, etc.).
Transpersonal resources include support of the Divine/Higher-Self/Mystery/Mother Nature/Unseen World/God/etc. These resources can be imaginal or energetic, spiritual, or archetypal in nature and may include ritual, ceremony, prayer and meditation. For example, Gods and/or Goddesses from various spiritual belief systems (Green Tara, Hanuman, Jesus, Saints, Joseph Smith, etc.) personal ancestors, animal companion guides, and personal benevolent and compassionate spirits and/or guides.
By bringing awareness to your support system, and by noticing what happens in your body as you register these resources, you will naturally relax and be better prepared for psychedelic integration work.
Responsible Medicine Use and Integration
When discussing the benefits of psychedelic medicine, it is necessary to comment on responsible medicine use. The root of the word responsible is Respond. Responsible medicine use is all about your ability to respond. There is an integration period after using a psychedelic medicine, such as ketamine. As you move through the integration period (various journeys can take different lengths of time to integrate), consider the information that came up for you in your medicine journey. How do you respond? What is happening outside of you relative to your response? What is happening to your inner exploration?
Healing in Integration
When we experience trauma, from the perspective of traditional induction, we experience a shattering of ourselves, and many of these pieces depart to a safe place until we call them back through healing. This is the indigenous concept of soul loss, and is believed to be the primary cause of many illnesses. The cure can come through journey work and the reintegration of these soul pieces.
Integration is defined as the restoration to wholeness; the process of renewal; the making up of a whole by combining the separate parts or elements. Also, we look to make whole, to unite all of our essential parts.
Integration generally involves action—If a trauma or difficult memory came up in your journey, what kind of trauma resolution work or action is needed now? If inspiration or insight came up, what kind of action is needed in response to this as well? Just as we integrate various parts of ourselves, we must also integrate the insights from our medicine journeys into our every-day states of ordinary consciousness through action.
Congratulations on honoring your call & stepping into this aspect of deeper inner healing work!
Written by Jude Higgins, Ph.D.
Psychedelic Clinical Chaplain
Adapted from the Psychedelic Integration Guidebook by Alison K. McQueen, MA, LPC, ATR