In the world of psychedelics, integration is a bit of psychedelic hipster phrase. But what does it actually mean, and how does it apply to the person having undergone the experience? Basically, integration implies layering the the insights of one’s psychedelic experience into life going forward. The ultimate value of a psychedelic experience is determined by how it impacts one’s understanding, perceptions, behavior, and decision making going forward.

Psychedelic experiences, if undertaken thoughtfully, can be incredibly profound and transformative. One’s normal state of consciousness is expanded to both allow in parts of oneself that are usually excluded from awareness,(this could include forgotten memories, feelings and insights) as well as impersonal awareness of a sentient intelligence with an investment of the well being of the person undergoing the experience. No matter how far out this reads, I’ve observed it enough times, that I know it to be fact. One’s self concept, as well as one’s existential orientation can be significantly altered over just a few hours. However, this is not the end goal of the psychedelic experience. Because no matter how far out or alien one’s experience becomes, the ego reforms in a familiar arrangement at the end of the day(or night). But no matter how profound the psychedelic experience, it is just the beginning of the process that can extend for days, weeks, and even years into one’s life.

Having a psychedelic experience is very much like having a dream. It occurs in the same region of the brain that dreaming does, and has almost identical brainwave patterns. Likewise, dreamwork presents a wonderful analogue for harvesting the most useful aspects of the psychedelic experience. Like dreams, psychedelic experiences are part of nature, and like dreams they speak their own language. In each case, experiencing revelations and insights during these altered states, is just scratching the surface of their potential. Dreams and psychedelic experiences exist forever, just as songs and poetry do. In both cases, it is not the experience, or the recall of the experience that is the goal. The goal is to continue to relate to the experience in the waking state so that its insights can be applied to one’s life. The experience can be mined for utility for a long time going forward if approached with an open minded curiosity. There are a variety of effective techniques for doing this.

The most important part of Integration is making changes going forward. Making different choices in one’s self presentation, thought patterns, and behavior is the only way to test out what was experienced in a psychedelic state. Without this kind of reality testing, the experience has no value beyond novelty. However, if one is able to implement changes in their behavior that reflects a new understanding or attitude, the psychedelic experience can come alive in everyday life. For this to happen, real world changes have to be made. One cannot return to the same habits, and environments, while hoping that things are going to change in their life. Things need to be thrown out. Old operating systems need to be dropped, so that updated operating systems can run new programs. This is the challenge of integration. One must go forward differently from how one was traveling before. It is the only way to prove to oneself and to life, that something important has occurred, and been understood.

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