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music sky mdma playlist

MDMA has long been known as a party drug but it’s effects have shown it to be an ideal tool for use in therapy. If you are planning a therapeutically oriented MDMA session and looking for a ready made playlist to use, this post contains links to two music playlists.

mdma effects therapy tool music playlists

Ben Sessa, speaking at Beyond Psychedelics 2018, explaining why MDMA is such a useful tool for therapy

Playlists:

1. Psychedelic Therapy Playlist 3 – Mendel Kaelen
2. Heart Playlist – Shannon Clare

Timeline and Dose

Similar to the psilocybin playlists, these have been designed to follow the arc of the drug’s effects. The music is more gentle at the beginning, then intensifies and becomes more evocative as the drug’s effects reach their peak. The music then winds down in sync with the drug, gently bringing the session to a close.

You will notice that these sessions are both over 5 hours, which is longer than the effects of a single dose of MDMA. That is because these playlists have been created to cover a session which includes a supplemental ‘booster’ dose. In most research studies, a full 125 mg dose of MDMA is taken at the start of the session, and then a booster dose of half that, 62.5 mg, is offered 1.5 to 2 hours later.

When I am doing an MDMA session, I will typically weigh out both the initial and booster dose before the start of the session. I make a note of the time of the first dose in my journey log, and set an alarm for 70 minutes later for the booster dose (I have personally found this to be the best timing for me). When the alarm goes off, I take a moment to check in with myself and make a decision on the booster. This timing extends the duration of the session by around an hour, without increasing the intensity. Due to the short length of MDMA’s effects, you might consider doing something similar.

Psychedelic Therapy Playlist 3 – Mendel Kaelen

  • Psychedelic Therapy Playlist 3: Spotify

Here is another one from Mendel Kaelen, who designed two psilocybin playlists for use at Imperial and now Usona. If you are especially interested in the role of music in psychedelic therapy and would like to learn more, I recommend keeping an eye on Mendel’s current project, Wavepaths, who are providing adaptive music for psychedelic therapy.

This playlist was originally created for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy studies at Bristol University, Imperial College London, and MAPS. It is a similar vibe to his psilocybin playlists, and even contains a few of the same tracks. I have not personally used it, as I generally prefer other styles of music with MDMA. However, a good friend of mine has and highly recommends. Also, knowing it’s from Mendel Kaelen, I’m sure it’s excellent.

Heart Playlist – Shannon Clare

Shannon Clare has been working in key roles in some of the most important modern day research involving MDMA. After graduating with a masters in Integral Counseling Psychology at CIIS, one of the leading institutes in psychedelic education today, she has worked a co-therapist in MAPS-sponsored clinical trials, researching MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for anxiety associated with life-threatening illness. She has also served as the therapist training program coordinator at MAPS.

This playlist has a somewhat similar vibe to other modern therapy playlists, using similar styles of music, such as neo-classical, ambient, but also some more indigenous type music, including drumming and more traditional instruments such as flutes.

Shannon also has collections of music for various stages of a session in playlists on her spotify profile, such as Active, Returning, Inner Exploration, and Joy Peace. These can be very helpful if you’d like to make your own playlists. You can find more information about what role the music will play on the top of each’s spotify page. For example, the Active playlist contains ‘music that energizes or activates, may be evocative or stimulating, possibly triggering’.

As a bonus, Shannon also has a playlist called MDMA Mountain Magical Movement, which looks like a very fun one 🙂

I wish you wonderful journeys!

Music is such an integral part to the setting of an experience, so finding a good playlist is an important part of preparing. If you have any other playlists, please get in contact, I am always on the hunt for more!

Best of luck in your sessions!

psychedelic menus options activities session

Welcome to PSYJuly day 22! 🙂

Yesterday I wrote about psychedelic sessions that are focused on one specific theme. However, sometimes it’s nice to be more flexible and take an open-ended approach, without any fixed plans for the session.

That said, it can still be nice to have some options available to us, rather than going in completely empty handed. That’s when a session menu can be helpful.

What is a session menu?

A session menu is a list of activities that are available to you during your session. At a glance, it gives you options for things you might like to do.

Remembering things can be hard when high. A menu is useful in that you don’t have to remember your options during the session. It holds them all in one place for you. The menu can act like a butler, who asks you ‘what would you like to do now? Do any of these options interest you?’.

Depending on your tastes and the day, menus might look very different to different people. 

Here is an example of a menu:

  • consult I Ching
  • Listen to new Tame Impala album (I often save first album listens for sessions)
  • meditate
  • brainstorm dreams and goals
  • draw
  • guitar

Other items I have seen on friends menus have included: take photos, dance, have sex, watch documentary.

Really, you can include anything. I have a friend who likes to look at profound quotes during his trips. Another likes to draw a tarot card. In both these cases, they find that they are able to connect more deeply to the meaning and message .

Creating a Menu

Writing up a menu can take as little as two minutes before starting a session, and you then have it there for your reference throughout. Depending on the items on your menu, you might need a little extra time to ready any necessary materials before the session starts. Once settled into your session, you can take a glance at the menu and see if anything takes your fancy. 

You might also have menus for different purposes. Here is an example of a chill out menu I made in the form of a deck of cards. I have it around in case I or others feel uncomfortable or agitated.

chill out deck menu

My Experience

I use menus on various kinds of sessions: both solo and with friends, introspective and recreational. I find them to be very useful and a nice reminder to check in and think: ‘what would I like to do now? Where do I want to go next?’. 

On one session with a friend, after riding the stormy come up and settling into an LSD and MDMA session, we gathered ourselves, then sat down and looked at our menu together. We had a list of fun activities for us to explore together before our eyes. I looked at him and said;

‘Is there anything here you’d like to do? We have the whole day ahead of us’.

Smiling, he took a moment, ‘you know, this is actually quite a nice situation to be in.’

Free time, with a friend, enjoying the wonders of life, and a beautiful psychedelic menu in front of us. All that was left to do was pick one and enjoy!

psilocybin magic truffles microdose scales

Taking drugs is widely considered a cool and badass thing to do. Wild, crazy, indulgent, rock’n’roll. Certainly not something that should be done in a nerdy way. But, (and thats a big ass but) I would like to tell you why taking drugs like a nerd is actually a very good, nay, a great, worthwhile, and even honourable thing to do.

I will present my argument in two parts:

  1. What it means to ‘Take Drugs Like a Nerd’
  2. Outcomes of Taking Drugs Like a Nerd

Los geht’s!

What It Means To Take Drugs Like A Nerd

In the simplest terms, it means honouring your inner research scientist. Donning a metaphorical lab coat and experimenting with your mind and experience through the means of first person large scale bioassay. 

Here is what it means in more concrete terms:

  • Taking them in a comfortable and controlled environment
    i.e. at home (as opposed to a party, club or festival), being very selective of company, wearing comfortable clothes.
  • Being well prepared
    Coming to the session fed, rested and generally in a good mood.
    E.g. having a healthy, light meal approx 2 hours before an MDMA roll.
    Having basic cosy-time-at-home supplies ready to hand.
    See: A Simple Checklist for Psychedelic Therapy Sessions At Home
  • Taking a well considered and accurately measured dose
    That means using a set of scales, rather than eye balling it. And choosing the dose based on what you are looking for from the experience.
  • Following a set procedure for ingestion
    AKA taking the drugs in a particular and conscious way
    E.g. putting on certain music and stating out loud your aim (much as toasting a “cheers” is a way of expressing good intentions before drinking)
  • Logging and tracking ingestions
    Making a note every time you consume, including substance, quantity, route of administration, and time of ingestion.
  • Taking notes on inner experience
    Occasionally writing down your thoughts and feelings as they come to you, with timestamps.
  • Not mixing with booze or continually boosting
    Not taking more doses to increase or extend the high through the night.
  • Having certain rules for the session
    Such as no breaking things or calling exes.
  • Doing a simple evaluation the next day
    To improve the future sessions. Evaluation on how the session was conducted rather than the introspective content. Can be done using a simple WWW-EBI-AN structure (what went well, even better if, additional notes).
  • Filing your records of experiences and evaluations
    This will be useful for integration work.

Outcomes of Taking Drugs Like A Nerd

A More Comfortable Experience

Drugs by their nature change the landscape of our reality. Via physiological and neurochemical manipulation, they change our perceptions, feelings, and ultimately our experience of being a human in the world. To varying degrees, depending on the substance and the dose,  they can trigger quite radical and rapid shifts.

At its best, this can be exciting and awe inspiring, but at its worst, overwhelming and extremely uncomfortable.

Taking drugs like a nerd helps to counter the possibility of negative outcomes that can sour an experience and make it not only less enjoyable, but even have long lasting negative consequences.

Increased Access To Insight

Ah insight, that juicy stuff that helps us gain deeper understanding. Deeper understanding of ourselves, others and the realities we live in. Why is insight a good thing? It can help us to navigate the journey of our lives, make better decisions, be better people, and have a deeper sense of appreciation for the richness and complexity of the great mystery of the universe.

Improving How You Take Drugs

The notes you’ve taken and evaluation will help you refine your protocol and how you use drugs. You’ll glean useful info on things like how long it takes the drugs to hit you and how different doses effect you. Over time you’ll also notice patterns on how your sessions vary with different kinds of music, company and activities.

Being Responsible

Taking care when taking drugs means taking responsibility for your own safety and wellbeing. Family and friends who know about your hobby don’t need to worry about your safety, and neither do you. By doing geeky things like time stamping ingestions, you won’t prematurely take a booster and end up overdosing. You also won’t end up in hospital and place extra strain on the health service of your country.

Minimise Damage and Disruption

Being nerdy and so controlled about taking drugs means that occurrences like knocking things like glasses or lamps over are less frequent. It could also be that someone is hyped up and decides it would be fun or somehow necessary to smash or destroy things. (I mean tbh, it is fun, but dealing with the consequences isn’t). If you think that sounds crazy, well, powerful mild altering substances are crazy. Tao Lin deciding to smash his laptop whilst on shrooms because he felt the evil of technology (documented in his book Trip) is a perfect example which springs to mind.

Geeky drug taking can also mean minimising disruption to your non-drug taking self. To illustrate, lets begin with a typical day-after scenario of a Saturday night MDMA sesh.

You wake up tired and groggy late in the day, still dressed in the now smelly clothes from the night before and in desperate need of a shower. You instinctively know that you’re not only running behind and missing one of your precious days off, but at a distance that you can’t make up. You also have the added bonus annoyance of figuring out how the hell you’re going to resync your sleep schedule so you don’t feel like total shit at work on Monday.

Let’s contrast this with the end of a nerdy session and the day after.

After having enjoyed the wonders and magic of your chosen substance, the effects begin to subside and you land gently, helping your body to recover with a nutritious meal that you’ve already prepared. You put on a JJ Cale album to listen to whilst you clear up your space and then run a nice warm bath. Finally, upon leaving the tub, you stick on a movie to snuggle down to as you drift off to sleep. Boom, you wake up the next day refreshed with a cheeky and knowing inner wink. You can enjoy a leisurely brunch and coffee in the sunshine whilst you consider your plans for the Sunday. Life is difficult as you have two equally good options of catching up with a friend or sticking on an episode of Midnight Gospel.

Depending on your substance, dosage and length of session, you may even be fit to go to work the next day. Imagine that, the joys of drugs on a weeknight with no negative consequences. It’s a beautiful thing 😉

Social Progress

Geeky drug taking is geared towards self betterment and becoming a more connected and healthier individual. And healthy not in spite of fact that you use drugs, but actually because you do.

By being a responsible consumer of drugs you are contributing to changing the cultural and public perception of a drug user. Through your example, friends and acquaintances’ image of a drug user will begin to shift from that of a reckless and unhealthy burden on society to that of a thoughtful and responsible, well-functioning individual . Through your example, you will gently tug at the thread of the negative and deeply ingrained culturally conditioned stereotype. Through your nerdiness, arguments for decriminalisation and legalisation become stronger and we will get closer to sensible drug policy. Legalisation would mean easy access to quality controlled drugs – yes, imagine that.

Take Drugs Like A Nerd… With Me!

I’ve been taking drugs like a nerd since 2011 and it is my no.1 tool for personal growth. I believe it could be the same for many others and enjoy sharing knowledge and offering guidance on how to best utilise these incredible tools.

If you’d like a private session with me, contact me to set up a call. If you’d like to join a group retreat, you can do so through New Moon Psychedelic Retreats.

Be safe, explore well!