Psychedelic therapy with ketamine can be quite profound. Very often, we see significant changes in just the first month of the sessions. We often get asked about how to continue to sustain and build upon newfound experiences and identity. In this blog, we will share some of the wisdom from research, experience, and the feedback from people who continue to thrive after their initial session with ketamine assisted psychotherapy.
You have spent time, effort, and money to discover and heal yourself. You obviously want to make sure that these welcome changes are sustained and continue to fertilize your life and relationships in so many positive ways.
An important part of the psychedelic experience is making sure that the team at ShaMynds work with you to teach you how to effectively integrate your insights from sessions with the medicine. We work with you to share tools, thought patterns, new perspectives, and deep insight. This is all happening in the setting of the neuroplastic changes that the medicine provides.
Here are some additional techniques, tools, and reframing that will continue to help you discover lessons from your experiences and how these can be embedded into your daily life and thought patterns.
Understanding your Journey with the Medicine
When you experience your journey with the psychedelic – which is ketamine at ShaMynds – you will usually experience a dominant theme or message that emerges after the session. Sometimes this can be immediate or even several days/weeks after. The theme can be even quite related to the intention you set before the journey or something unrelated. We often note that there tend to be categories of themes that emerge during your journeys. These are:
- Self- Your physical, mental, or emotional state
- Others- Relationships close, distant, forgotten, or ancestral
- World- Life, broader meanings
Before I get into the categories, I want to stress that it is vital to remember that no journey is better than the other one. The experiences you have, sometimes on the same dose, can be varied and arise due to a reason that is special to you. Keep in mind there are no such thing as ‘bad’ or ‘good’ experiences. We strongly recommend that you find a way to record your experiences by audio or journaling and share with the people with whom you feel safe including your ShaMynds team.
So going back to the categories above, it is common that these can be blended in a single or multiple sessions. Keeping this in mind, after the sessions, you can do the ‘meaning making’ with working to correlate the experience(s) to a central theme that is rooted in any of these categories.
So, now let us delve deeper into these categories.
SELF- YOUR PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL AND MENTAL STATE
Here are some themes that tend to emerge around the concept of self.
- Overall numbness or themes of the body
- Insights into your personality
- Preverbal themes including your birth or death.
- Crying or cathartic/emotional release
- Historical life paradigms
- Memories of childhood or stories
- Connections with emotions or with Self
- Futuristic self-encountering experiences that are of a nature you have not experienced before.
If the main theme of your journey can be identified in one of the themes above, then your journey is largely self- focused and there is work to be done there.
OTHER RELATIONSHIPS: CURRENT, ESTRANGED, OR FORGOTTON
Journeys with ketamine can often surface themes that relate to your experience with a wide array of relationships – past, present, future or even ones that you have never experienced – ones that are ancestral in nature.
Examples of such Other focused themes are:
- Looking back on your own isolation or feelings of loneliness and how this relates to those in or not in your life.
- Healing or addressing specific relationships in your life.
- Messages and insight into the meaning of the relationships and even how to heal them.
- Feeling deep connection to others, to humanity overall, and sometimes a cosmic consciousness
- Revisiting of values that relate to yourself and how you interact with others or what they or you mean to each other.
- Enlightenment and knowledge of the value of being part of a community.
WORLD – LIFE
This type of journey usually is most dissociative in nature and can be quite transcendental. Such themes are often related to a large, boundless, powerful cosmic energy that dissolves your sense of ‘self’ and a new sense of ‘self’ can emerge.
There are several hallmarks that can point in this direction:
- Loss of meaning of life as you currently experience it.
- Connection to greater source
- Having a highly spiritual encounter with a being or entities that can be enveloping in warmth, trepidation, and then reassurance.
- Feelings of unity, of interconnectedness to all things
- Loss/dissolution of your own ego boundaries
- Out of body experiences where you can see yourself, your body parts while experiencing another reality.
These themes are often experienced as ‘ineffable’– without description. These leave you with a sense of self beyond your current scope. Sometimes fundamental thoughts and ideas emerge around the fundamental elements of life.
What to do with this knowledge now?
It often takes effort to identify the theme of your psychedelic experiences and put meaning to them. This can often be done well with journaling, keeping audio records, and sharing and obtaining insight from your psychedelic trained therapist/doctor and those close to you. Once you have discovered the general theme(s) of your journeys, you can then set about deepening and rooting the messages into your life. Remember that the changes you experience can sometimes be so dramatic that you or others around you encounter a different ‘person’. It is often very grounding to discuss how to incorporate the understanding of this newness of self with your ShaMynds therapist.
So once you feel like the themes are more apparent, it is time to embed new frames of reference and activities into your life. We really believe that you are most empowered to select the ones that are most practical or applicable to your goals and values.
SELF AND MEANING MAKING
Continue to explore the nature of sensations/lessons that arose during your journeys to assess if these are physical, emotional, mental in nature. Perhaps they are blended and the message is to understand your existence in a non-dual or non-separate way. Besides the actual work of the meaning making, here are some commonly known but vital areas that can add more depth to your search: Loving your body and how it is placed in existence:
- Learn more about nutrition- more than what you get from a typical doctors or dietician visit.
- Find ways to heal your body at a deeply molecular level- an integrative health doctor or provider can support.
- Get enough sleep.
- Select or continue a movement or physical practice that you love or could love.
- Get outside regularly, especially at dawn or dusk.
- Find ways to experience a stillness of mind- meditate, slow down.
- Self-care can be bodywork, floatation, sauna, or bathing.
- Ask us for reading material recommendations, learn.
- Find ways to express your creative spirit.
- Learn a new skill or foster a new idea.
- Learn ways to listen to your own Mynd’s critique or affirmation of your body and learn how to respond to those thoughts.
- Find ways to identify gratitude in things that seem trite or usual- laughter, health, food, a relationship.
OTHERS AND MEANING MAKING
Making meaning of relationship types of experiences usually involve yourself and others. Because these can potentially be complicated, we recommend that its best to process/think through your approach before embarking on tasks.
- Schedule time for deeper check-ins with friends and family
- Reconnect with old relationships.
- Understand your ancestral history and assess how this aligns with your identity today.
- Send gratitude letters to friends, family, colleagues.
- Get out and spark new connections and new friendships with people who understand your experience and new self.
- Find and join communities that share your interests and passions.
- Asses your current existing relationships, close any open loops and find ways to address anything that is still unresolved. This can involve methods that you may have never employed or understood before.
- Listen to the soundtracks that were most beautiful for you during your journeys.
WORLD AND MEANING MAKING
This area of meaning making can really be driven by the unique nature of your journey. It’s often hard to create a series of discrete tasks related to this area. We find that the new understanding of cosmic relationships and where you experience yourself really guide how you will go about making meaning for this category.
Here are some ideas:
- Understand spirituality and how this can be incorporated into your life in a sustainable and growth-oriented way.
- Read, review, and gather knowledge around you that is philosophical or spiritual in nature.
- Start writing, be radically observant of yourself, others, and the world around you.
- Seek out trusted mentors and guides who can direct you to more clarity.
- Trust your intuition and the beauty of yourself always.
LONG TERM INTEGRATION
Integration and true healing/transformation takes time to metabolize and manifest in your life. Sometimes you may find that you revert to what you have come to recognize as dysfunctional behaviors, thoughts, or approaches. These are called “contractions.” It’s okay to experience these… recognize that they are part of your growth. It took a long while to get to where you were before your transformation and transformation is not fixed, not completely linear– it’s a new movement forward with lots of bumps, ups and down and shakes. No one is handing you a final exam or test of the worth of your work, the money and time you spent. That is yours to own, not a privilege for others to delve into. Some of the ideas shared above are easily implementable, some are not. That’s okay, keep doing the work, don’t judge yourself and love your new and old self alike. Identify and nurture your own inner guidance- very often you get to know it during your psychedelic journeys- listen to it, ponder it and let it grow.
The ShaMynds team is always sad to see you leave us after your program is completed. Yet we are grateful that we could share your sacred space and are excited for the beauty you will create for yourself and others. Remember, there are many others who are trodding on the same path as you, some plodding, some bounding, some pacing, and some lagging behind. Together, we all form a support circle, and we welcome you to our online Integration Circles to love, support and share yourself and strengthen others, which is so beautiful to see. Blessing you all with lots of grace, beauty, and boundless love from the team at ShaMynds Healing Center.
by Dr Tasnim Khan, Co-Founder, ShaMynds Healing Center