When Should You Pick Up The Phone Again? Factors to Consider the Right Moment for Reengaging Psychedelic Exploration

alan watts psychedelics phone quote psychedelic

The great British philosopher Alan Watts once famously said:

“When you get the message, hang up the phone.”

He was not referring to literal phones, but the use of psychedelics as a tool for spiritual exploration. 

Watts went on:

For psychedelic drugs are simply instruments, like microscopes, telescopes, and telephones. The biologist does not sit with eye permanently glued to the microscope; he goes away and works on what he has seen”.

Watts’s point was that although psychedelic drugs can be a helpful way to open up the mind and experience new ways of thinking, they should not be used as a crutch or a substitute for true spiritual growth. Once you have learned something from the drug experience, it is important to be able to let go of the drug and integrate the insights into your everyday life.

Watt’ phrase is commonly quoted in conversations about the frequency of psychedelic use, and generally means ‘don’t trip too often’. Put the phone down, and focus on the message you’ve received.

Overuse of psychedelics is possible. It is possible to become psychologically addicted, use psychedelics as an escape, to spiritual bypass, and otherwise harm oneself from overuse. It can be good to consider taking a break, and Sam Woolfe wrote an excellent article exploring this topic: When Should You Take a Break From Psychedelics?

But on the other side of the coin, when is it a good time to pick up the phone again?

In this article, I’ll be exploring when you might consider tripping again. I’ll look at some factors we can consider to make an informed and conscious choice about when, and how you might do that. I’ll look at the integration of previous experiences, refresher journeys, lower doses, growth through discomfort, and honestly looking at our motivations.

My intention with this article is to offer an alternative viewpoint, not encourage you or anyone to take psychedelics. I hope to keep the conversation around psychedelics broad, as I believe a multitude of perspectives helps us to arrive at a more balanced perspective. 

Please don’t ever be pressured into taking psychedelics, and proceed with care and caution.

With that said, let’s dive in…

Integration of Past Experiences

The first thing to consider is your integration, or lack thereof, of any previous experiences.

Integration is a bridge that connects insights gleaned from your past encounters with your present self. It’s a process of assimilating, digesting, and applying wisdom gained during your inner voyages.

If you imagine integration as the process of tending to a garden. Just as you wouldn’t plant new seeds without nurturing the existing blooms, it’s best to nurture your psychedelic insights before inviting new ones.

Properly integrating past experiences is key. Don’t rush to pick up the phone again until you’ve processed your previous experiences and made efforts to integrate them. Try to resolve any significant things which have come up, or at least make some significant progress on them.

If there is a theme that keeps coming up during your psychedelic journeys, and you don’t seem to be making any progress on it, then it should be an indicator that continually picking up the phone isn’t helping with this. You might want to change your strategy for how to integrate this. 

Consider seeking further education, support, a coach, or some type of accountability, on this.

For example, if you keep getting insights into the importance of your physical health, yet fail to integrate and make relevant changes to your diet or go for your intended regular runs, then you might make further efforts before journeying again. You might try something new; signing up for a class instead of doing solo workouts, trying meal prep plans, asking for help from a friend, or hiring a coach.

If, however, between psychedelic sessions, you notice progress, and each one helps to further cement the learnings and offer new insights, then it’s a sign that the continued sessions are supporting you in your growth.

Some of our most profound experiences can take a lifetime to fully integrate, but that doesn’t mean we must wait a whole lifetime to re-engage with psychedelics.

Even if you haven’t 100% integrated a previous experience, have you made progress with any learnings or lessons? Then you may well be ready to embark on another journey.

Refresher Journeys: Rekindling Fading Wisdom

Just as the embers of fire require a gentle nudge to reignite their brilliance, sometimes the insights from your past journeys can benefit from a refresher journey.

This is where the concept of refresher journeys comes into play. 

Life moves pretty fast, and any wisdom gained from your psychedelic experiences can fade surprisingly, and sometimes disappointingly, quickly.

A refresher journey can help you touch base again. It’s like rekindling the fading embers of insight.

You can think of these journeys as revisiting a cherished book—one that you’ve read before, but each time you pick it up, you uncover new layers of meaning. Similarly, by reconnecting with the psychedelic experience, you rekindle the wisdom that may have faded into the background of everyday life.

Refresher journeys, or revisits to the psychedelic realm, can be a way of deepening your understanding. They can breathe new life into insights that may have grown faint.

I often receive useful reminders, bringing me back to old lessons that are helpful to remember: the importance of relationships, my family, following my heart, and living with honesty and integrity. They pull me back to my centre, and my values, and help me to relocate my North Star. It’s a continual process.

If you choose to embark on a journey again, you can honour the progress you’ve made while still allowing yourself the chance to touch upon old truths and delve deeper into the realms of consciousness.

The act of revisiting is not necessarily a step backwards. It can be a step forward and a reawakening of the insights that have the power to help light your path forward.

Lower Doses: Gentle Reconnection with Insight

When we talk about revisiting psychedelic experiences, it’s also important to remember that experiences can vary widely, and a key consideration is dose. 

Picking up the phone again need not be a high-dose affair. A refresher journey, or a revisit to psychedelic realms, might be on a lower dose. 

Lower doses can act as gentle reminders, guiding you to revisit the realms you’ve previously explored. 

Some people think that ‘bigger is better’ when it comes to psychedelic dosages. But dialling back the dosage isn’t necessarily a downgrade. Sometimes it’s a strategic move. Using lower doses to reconnect with past insights is a gentle nudge rather than a full-on conversation.

Lower doses can also help to continue processing higher dose journeys, and ‘finish thought processes’ – as one friend put it – that began in recent experiences.

It can be like a dialogue with your own wisdom, a conversation that echoes the lessons you’ve learned while inviting you to deepen your understanding. By choosing a lower dose, you’re not stepping away from the journey; you’re opening yourself to other ways of engaging with psychedelics.

You may also wish to try different styles of sessions, seeing if the experience has something different to offer you when you change your activity and setting.

For instance, mini doses can become your companions during activities that typically wouldn’t involve altered states—running, journaling, nature walks. These micro-experiences can infuse ordinary moments with extraordinary insights.

Also, if you’ve become fearful of psychedelic experiences, perhaps due to a difficult experience or otherwise, lower doses can help to reconnect to psychedelic realms with a greater feeling of safety.

This can help to re-establish trust and build a healthier relationship with psychedelics. This can be a good stepping point if you’d still like to explore higher doses of psychedelics again in the future.

Growth Occurs Outside The Comfort Zone

It’s common to hear that you shouldn’t journey with psychedelics when you’re not feeling good.

It is common to hear messages of caution and restraint, and for good reason. 

On the other side of this, there is an alternative viewpoint. A perspective that encourages you to consider journeying when you might be feeling resistance to it.

Consider this our deepest growth often stems from confronting the shadows we’d rather keep hidden.

Those uncomfortable truths or emotions, the ones we tend to run from, often hold the key to healing and transformation. When you dare to venture into territories that cause unease, you embark on a journey of self-discovery. These are moments that can catalyze monumental personal growth.

Uncomfortable truths serve as mirrors reflecting back the shadows of ourselves we’ve yet to acknowledge. They guide us to areas of our psyche that require attention, care, and understanding. By journeying into these shadows, we not only learn about ourselves, but we also embrace a path of healing and self-evolution. It’s a process of peeling back layers, revealing the raw core of who you are, and giving yourself the chance to rebuild stronger and wiser.

It can be more comfortable to avoid psychedelic journeys when there is something uncomfortable lurking in our unconscious. Yet, consider that growth comes from confronting them.

Sometimes tackling a problem head-on, even if it’s more challenging in the short term, can yield greater long-term benefits. Just as an uncomfortable conversation can lead to resolution, facing your hesitations around psychedelics may unearth insights that transform your life.

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek”
– Joseph Campbell

Now am I saying that if you’re scared to journey, then you should do it?
Absolutely not.

I am saying it is wise to look at your resistance…

Look at Your Why: Confronting Fear with Honesty

Fear can be a powerful deterrent. It can also be overblown. It’s easy to let apprehension drive decisions, steering you away from the unknown territory of the psychedelic experience. But what if your fear is a smokescreen, an avoidance mechanism keeping you from confronting deeper, unresolved issues?

If you are feeling resistance, consider why.

Is it because you genuinely think you could be doing yourself some harm? That you don’t have a sufficiently safe setting?
Or is it because you are afraid to face something uncomfortable about yourself?

Do you know that it will actually serve you, but you’re avoiding it because you know there might be a few bumps on the road? 

Being honest with yourself is essential in this process.

When it comes to examining your reasons for avoiding a trip, take a close look.

Is any reluctance stemming from a genuine awareness that you wouldn’t benefit, or is it your own resistance to confronting your reality?

Asking these questions, as well as considering the other points in this article, can help bring about clarity on whether it is a good idea to plan a session, or if you’re better off waiting a while.

Final Thoughts

Of course, deciding to take psychedelics again is a complex topic. There are no simple criteria to judge when you should or shouldn’t. 

When you think about when you might want to pick up the phone again, take into careful consideration your approach and your why.

Take a look at your integration of previous experiences, consider if you’d benefit from a refresher on your wisdom, and what dose would be appropriate. Look at your reasons why, or why not, and consider if they serve and benefit you. And of course, consider that you may well still need a break from psychedelics.

Stay safe, journey well.