Three part series:
One: The why and what of integrating psychedelics – modelling what works
Two: Psychedelic integration techniques – doing what works
Three: Lessons from psychedelic therapy., what psychedelic therapy teaches us – living what works
In part one: The why and what of integrating psychedelics – modelling what works. I gave you a thorough understanding of what psychedelic integration is (and isn’t), how set and setting fit in to it., and some of the existing models of psychedelic integration in use today.
In part two: Psychedelic integration techniques – doing what works. In this second part, I introduced a deeper understanding of some of the keys to successful integration. And gave instantly useable idea’s that you can use as psychedelic integration techniques and general integration of significant life experiences.
In this part three: What psychedelic therapy teaches us – living what works. In this last part, I will look at the lessons from psychedelic therapy. What have psychedelics and psychedelic therapy taught us? And how can we use that to see the process from a new perspective that you can apply every day.
What psychedelic therapy & integration teaches us – living what works.
So, in part one of this article series, I said there is a profound realisation to be arrived at from the subject of set, setting, and integration. What I’m about to say here is both ironic and logical. Ironic in that the psychedelic experience itself has prompted models of use, that mimic ANY good therapy. And logical based on decades of exploring leading edge tools for personal and professional transformation. It’s not just the messages and experiences received during a psychedelic journey that we can apply to our lives. The secret is more obvious than that. Lessons from psychedelic therapy are far reaching. And this is where the irony comes in…
Set, setting and integration – lessons from psychedelic therapy applied to life
The very things that we have learnt to implement around a successful psychedelic journey before and after., ARE the very things to implement to have a successful and fulfilling life!
IE: Set, setting and integration are not just useful ways to approach psychedelics. Set, setting and integration are useful ways to approach life!
The study of psychedelics and plant medicine., has taught us that we don’t need the psychedelics or plant medicine. And this I believe, is the biggest gift from this other realm of reality.
Let me say that again. The biggest gift from psychedelics., is that we don’t need psychedelics. The whole point of learning the correct application of psychedelics, is to realise that YOU are the catalyst of change, not the drug. And this is one of the biggest lessons from psychedelic therapy in my opinion which is often missed.
The first two parts of this integration of psychedelics series have been quite comprehensive. Although as you can imagine, I’ve still only just scratched the surface.
This last part I am going to purposely keep simpler and shorter while still providing insight. The simpler you keep life, the better and easier it becomes.
Psychedelic ‘Set’ – applied to life and well-being
Let’s rename ‘set’ again as we did before, to mindset. Your mindset will determine what you do and who you become. It really is that simple. Mindset is an inclusive term for beliefs, attitude, assumptions, methods and philosophy. There are two subcategories of mindset that will determine your success or not. And they are either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. A fixed mindset will keep you stuck. This is where the world, you and life will always be the same no matter what you do or what opportunities you have. A fixed mindset holds on to the belief that intelligence and talent are unchanging. And that success is a result of talent and not effort. Breaking this fixed mindset is one of the goals of a psychedelic experience. And it is one of the main lessons from psychedelic therapy. It’s one of the reasons psychedelic therapy for depression and dis-orders of anxiety can be so effective. Because they are problems maintained unconsciously by a fixed mindset. Either about all of life (depression and some anxiety) or a specific context (most anxiety, PTSD etc).
Living with a growth mindset
A growth mindset is the opposite. This is where you live a life of constant learning and evolution as an individual. Challenges are embraced, and failures framed as opportunities for growth and not a reflection of a lack of intelligence. You realise that the only constant is change. When challenges come, you adapt, learn, and grow. So that next time that challenge comes, you respond differently because you are a different person. This approach to life comes with more calmness, security and happiness. Psychedelic set, refers to how you show up for a psychedelic session. A life set, refers to how you show up for life. And changing this takes consistency. People get caught up in thinking that they need to learn lots of new skills to change their mindset. But really, it’s a few key ones that will change everything. And just as important as having an attitude of being able to learn and grow., is praising and rewarding yourself for effort. Achievement isn’t the sign of a growth mindset unless the effort is as valuable as the result. Yes, it needs to be intelligent directed effort., but unless you reward effort it won’t last.
Lessons from psychedelic therapy – create a growth mindset
A good friend of mine who’s since passed, said something so simple to me many years ago in response to me saying “I’m not confident”.
He said “But you are confident in being you”.
Maybe it was the timing, but I will always remember him for that.
It’s one of those statements that you can’t refute.
It’s just true.
You ARE confident in being you. And there is more to that statement than meets the eye.
There’s just no way around the fact that if someone says they lack confidence, that they are expressing confidence in that.
In the same way, doubt can be reframed as confidence in something they don’t want.
I know that sounds like just a play on words., but ALL beliefs and thoughts are just a play on words.
You’d be surprised how a subtle change in attitude can change your life. And it’s the simple changes that have the biggest impact over time.
The most powerful subtle change you will ever make
The only way anyone can make a statement about lack, is in reference to previous experience. What this means is that to want something, you must already have it. How does someone know they aren’t motivated? They are making a comparison between now and the feeling they already know and have experienced called motivation. You can’t know an emotion without an experience of it. That means the ‘skill’ already exists and the issue is one of timing and/or context. Knowing this, the statement of “I’m not confident” is false. And the only way to make it true is to change it to either “I’m not confident yet” or “I’m not confident in situation X”. [Actually, even those statements are false for reasons that will become apparent soon] Why am I making this point? Because applying accurate context and timing to a statement IS a growth mindset!
That’s it! Literally.
If you’re not something yet, then you can be. And if you’re not something in situation X, then situation X just needs to borrow the skill from where it already exists.
That., is the essence of a growth mindset and one that will set (pun intended) you up for life. If you only get one of the lessons from psychedelic therapy., get this one!
Growth mindset in practice
So how do you practice living this way?
Living with a growth mindset encompasses all three parts of set, setting and integration. And in all honesty, you wouldn’t be reading an article like this if you were not already used to thinking with a growth mindset. There are many listed ways of fostering a growth mindset. But again, let’s keep this simple. Your mindset is controlled by your beliefs. And what you believe., is your reality. A belief about yourself or life is neither true or false, but rather useful or not useful. Changing beliefs on purpose can be as easy or as hard as you make it. You could simply decide to belief something else. Or you could find counter examples to the belief in your own past and adopt a new more empowering belief. Or you could ask for help. Setting is a big part of mindset. Who and what you surround yourself with will either make it easier or harder to have a growth mindset. Someone has always gone before you. And often, that person is willing to share their own stories of how inadequate they felt at first and how they overcame that. Seeking help is what people with a growth mindset do.
Steps to a growth mindset – step one
Step one: General to specific. Chunk it down to a smaller more specific piece of information. Your goal is to change general fixed mindset statements/beliefs into specific ones that everyone you tell (yes even your all-loving grandmother/father) would agree is true.
For example: “I’m not confident” isn’t as good as “I’m not confident yet”. Better still is “I’m not confident yet asking for help”. Still better is “I’m not confident yet asking for help with my presentation”. And the ideal replacement is “In this instance, I didn’t ask for help with my presentation”. This may seem trivial and overly specific at first. But as you get used to this way of thinking it will become automatic. And being this specific frees you from turning a one-time event into a lifelong belief. Or if it’s already a lifelong belief., it will start to loosen it and create counter examples.
Steps to a growth mindset – step two
Step two: Do something about it! Thinking without action results in short term pleasure instead of long term happiness. What are you going to do TODAY to change it so that next time you DO ask for help. Maybe that’s just sending someone a message saying “Hey, next time I have a presentation., could I get your help with it?”
Some statements won’t have quite as specific an end point. But you can still improve them.
Another example: “I can’t understand computers” might be better stated as “I don’t yet know how to send an email.” Remember, chunk it down and be as specific as you can. Rome wasn’t built in a day right!?
These two mindset steps will build momentum and set you up for constant growth. There is a difference between constant improvement and obsession though. Progress is great, but not at the expense of enjoyment. And remember to praise and reward yourself for effort and not just accomplishment!
Psychedelic ‘Setting’ – applied to life and well-being
Setting, as it applies to life and well-being., is about where you spend your time and who with. And although it could be left as that simple, there is danger in that simplicity. Yes, setting does include where you live. Unfortunately, research shows that one of the biggest determinations of success is a person’s postcode. But this does not mean that you have to move somewhere else. Giving location that much control over your future is not adopting a growth mindset. It’s important to look at what you can influence in your surroundings and start there. And don’t fall into the trap of only thinking on a big scale. Is your house and/or bedroom tidy and organised or is it a mess? Messy surroundings are not conducive to tidy clear thinking. Where do you go on a consistent basis? Nature? Places of art and creativity? Gatherings of fun active people? Or do you spend most of your time watching TV wishing you had the life you see others having. Speaking of TV., what do you watch? You can use TV and platforms like YouTube as an escape., or as education. There’s nothing wrong with unwinding by watching something that makes you feel good. But let go of TV drama that doesn’t promote positive feelings or inspiration to leave the house.
Your circle of influence
Part of your life setting is who is in your circle of influence. Who you spend time with or communicate with regularly? Psychology could predict who you will become based on your circle of friends. It has been stated that ‘you become the sum of the five people you spend most of your time with‘. This doesn’t mean dump your friends if they aren’t super achieving positive people. It does mean that you may need to tip the balance however and introduce new influencers in your life. And it does mean that you could choose to have new experiences with your existing friends and steer conversations toward more productive positive topics. There’s something important to realise here though. Connection to others is an active process. I remember making a comment to someone recently about the lack of connection experienced by many. “How is it possible that so many people living in some of the busiest cities in the world, can feel so isolated?” The answer is unfortunately the result of a reliance on technology. This is one of the other important lessons from psychedelic therapy. Expansion, inclusion and connection to the world around you is vital.
Lessons from psychedelic therapy – create a positive life setting
Some of the ways to create a positive life setting are obvious and already mentioned. Sometimes you already know people who are ‘good for you’ in this way, but you don’t see them enough. Change that, and start to meet some of their other friends as well. Do you like comedies on TV? Find a comedy club near you and go to a live event with a few friends. Do you like documentaries on history? Visit somewhere historical. Buy a used or new bookshelf for your room so that things that are disorganised have a place. Instead of eating takeaway food at home, eat it in the park or dine in the restaurant. Try some new interests by joining a group. One of the best things I ever did a few years back was start getting up an hour earlier every morning and going for a walk in the park. There are so many benefits to that practice that filter into my day.
Psychedelic Integration – applied to life and well-being
Just as integration is vital to successful psychedelic experiences, so it is for life. Without integration of life experience, you are doomed to repeat the same lessons. With a growth mindset (set) and positive and productive settings., integration is inevitable. As you experience a variety of situations, people and places., you will expand your psyche. By which I mean you will become a fuller more enriched part of ‘all that is’. The secret to a successful life in my opinion is progress. When you are moving forward with intention, you get the physical and psychological benefits of self-pride and esteem. As they say., “Nothing breeds success like success”. The reason for this is obvious. Motivation combined with momentum!
Progress in life requires integration of experience. So, as I have mentioned before many times, integration is an active process. The best idea’s, tools, and strategies., only work., when you do! Used consistently, tools of integration can help you improve general cognitive intelligence, emotional intelligence and even spiritual intelligence.
Life integration through spiritual intelligence
One of the most common goals of using psychedelics is to experience more of what it means to be a spiritual being. Some people get this via spontaneous awakenings or even a Near Death Experience (NDE). NDE’s are becoming more common as medical advances make resuscitation more common. Most satisfied and happy people would agree that some sort of spiritual belief and practice plays a part in their actions and mindset. Emotional intelligence is well accepted as a valid measure of being able to handle life’s ‘curve balls’. Albeit potentially just a subset of general cognitive intelligence. What about spiritual intelligence? Another of the lessons from psychedelic therapy is one of higher meaning and purpose.
Finding spiritual meaning
Spiritual intelligence includes the ability to transcend the physical and material. To experience heightened states of consciousness, and the ability to solve problems with spiritual resources. Part of this spiritual intelligence is also the ability to find spiritual meaning in everyday common experiences and tasks. The idea of spiritual intelligence cannot really be separated from general intelligence however. Neither can emotional intelligence. If spiritual intelligence was to have a definition., maybe it is the ability to make intelligent life decisions based on spiritual experiences. And to use this as a basis for having a purpose in life. And this could well lead to a more fulfilling life based on having a higher purpose than ‘eat, sleep, work, and repeat’. This contrasts with people who use spirituality to escape and ignore the mundane and fundamental aspects of living with intelligence.
Lessons from psychedelic therapy – live an integrated life
Living a life with an expanded sense of set and setting will automatically lead to integration of life experience. You cannot have a growth mindset without integration. And you cannot have integration without a growth mindset.
The biggest lesson from psychedelic therapy is constant change and improvement. In the simplest of terms, life integration is about adaptation and evolution as a person. If life was to have an overall purpose., maybe it is to evolve into more of itself. Becoming a better version of you is not only a respectful view of life’s gift., but the only true way to be fulfilled. Make new decisions based on what you learn. And use techniques like the future pacing technique taught in part two of this series. IE: With these new lessons, imagine that better version of you living and responding in the future. And then when you get there, imagine the next better version of you.
Does Imagining this way mean being unsatisfied with where you are? Yes! But not in a way that freezes you. It means being grateful and happy with what you have, while joyfully going for more. 80% self-kindness., and 20% giving yourself a kick in the butt to go for more. Joyfully going for more includes time for self-care, stillness, and reflection. Success includes successfully relating and successfully relaxing. What success is not, is focusing on one area of life to the exclusion of another.
Integration is not integration of everything except ‘X’. All is valid. I’m reminded of the Yin Yang symbol. The interplay and reliance on each other of opposites. And the small dot of each opposite within. Meaning that there is always a little light in any darkness., and always a little darkness in any light. Sometimes in your greatest times of darkness, that little spot of light is illuminated to show you the way. Even if at first, that light seems to be in the wrong direction.
Remember that set, setting, and integration in the context of life is an ongoing loop or cycle. Once you have integrated an experience., that will alter your mindset. With your mindset altered., chances are you will change your setting or environment. And the cycle starts again.
I’ll finish by re-stating the irony of psychedelic use from the beginning of this article. Ultimately, the lessons from psychedelic therapy and integration teach us that we don’t need the psychedelics.
Happy integration day everyone. 🙂
And may this day turn into weeks, months, years, and a life full of forward movement.