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Self-care is an important part of integrating a psychedelic experience and in general some good practices are:

  • Spending time in nature
  • Meditation
  • Adequate sleep
  • Exercise
  • Clean diet
  • Journaling

However integration is an individual process and will work best if you personalise and find things that work best for you.

What is Self Care?

Self-care is often be understood as things which promote health, rest and relaxation such as going for a walk or taking hot a bath. However, a much more effective way of understanding self-care is by broadening its definition to anything that replenishes your energetic reservoir. Anything that energizes you, replenishes you or (re) charges you in some way can be considered a self-care practice. This includes activities that really light you up, nourish your soul, and invite your presence. Any activities that fall in to these categories can be considered excellent self-care practices and used to develop your own personalized integration system.

Today I’d like to share an exercise in two parts that can help you to develop your own personalized self care kit.

Creating a Personalised Self Care Kit

1. Make a To Be List

We all have long and seemingly unending to do lists, but what about a to be list? Take a moment to journal your answers to these questions:

  • What are the inner experiences that you love?
  • What are the inner experiences where you feel most at home?

Examples: calm, peaceful, inspired, confident, creative, playful, at ease, humorous, loving, adventurous, kind, powerful, motivated, courageous, disciplined etc.

2. Which activities?

Once you have your to be list, journal answers to:

  • What nourishes those states?
  • What activities help to cultivate those states?
  • What are the activities that really light you up?
  • What activities really serve your soul?

Examples: listening to music, travel, writing, hanging out with friends, cooking, going to see a film, creating art, exercise, cuddling, going camping, getting a massage, going on a retreat etc.

When creating your list of activities do not be afraid to really personalize it and include activities which most people wouldn’t generally expect to be a self-care or recharging practice. Somethings which may energize or inspire you may seem strange to other people but don’t be afraid to write what is true for you. This can really make a big difference and this is the big advantage of creating a personalized self care kit rather than following generic self care practices. You can build a much more complete kit for yourself by including things that are unique to you.

It could be watching a video from a specific influencer that you find inspiring, or reading a challenging book. Some things that are unique to my kit are watching a music documentary, learning to play a song on the guitar and jamming it out with the volume cranked up, and watching a movie with one of my favourite comedy actors.

“In the trance of daily life we can be so organised around shoulds that we lose touch with what we love”
– Tara Brach

Let what you love be what you do

Try to really honour yourself and create space and time for the activities on your list. If you are the type of person who tends to slip in to prioritizing work or doing things for other people ahead of yourself it can be very helpful to actually schedule in your self-care activities. Put them in your calendar and protect them as you would any important meeting. After all, it is a very important meeting: a meeting with life, for yourself. If you think that sounds selfish, consider that you won’t have anything to give to others if you are depleted and empty. Caring for others begins with caring for ourselves.

Weaving Self Care in to Integration

Making time for these activities is especially important in the days and weeks following a psychedelic experience. Psychedelics increase neuroplasticity which means that you are more able to create new connections between neurons in the brain. In plainer English, this means it is a great opportunity for re-wiring; creating new patterns of thought and behaviour. This is a way of wearing in newer, healthier and more self compassionate grooves into your day-to-day life. It can be useful to do this exercise before a psychedelic experience so you have your personalized kit ready afterwards.

Best of luck and take care, of yourself

I first got introduced to the concept of clearing as a psychedelic preparation practice from DMT researcher Rick Strassman’s chapter Preparation For The Journey from the psychedelic compilation book, The Divine Spark. He outlined some basic and practical ways of clearing.

Then a couple of years ago, I saw this concept evolved when I went on on an experience Retreat with the UK psychedelic Society. As part of their preparation guidelines they included clearing and broadened the the idea to include emotional clearing; clearing space in the heart. This included, for example, having difficult conversations that you’ve been putting off, or if this was not possible, writing a letter to that person expressing your feelings (even if if you aren’t going to send it).

Clearing could also be known as creating space, tidying up loose ends, or getting around to doing those things that you have been meaning to do but have been putting off. It could also be known as closing open loops or clearing your mind.

Clearing practices can help to bring about a greater sense of peace by putting to bed nagging thoughts that may be at the back of one’s mind. Those oft subconscious unresolved things can take up space.

Clearing is so important because space is where new things can emerge. If we are hoping for an insight or a new idea to emerge in a psychedelic experience it’s best that we try to clear the way for them to grow and sprout. Nothing new can grow in a garden which is already full.

Clearing can be done on many levels, both big and small. A lot of it can be very mundane. Here are some examples:

  • selling or donating clothes/things you no longer use
  • household jobs you’ve been putting off
  • paying overdue bills
  • filing
  • cleaning the apartment

Digital Clearing

Computers and tech are such a big part of our lives these days and I think it’s very useful to also do digital clearing. Digital clearing may seem less obvious because you can close your laptop and lose sight of your mess, where as if you are in a dirty room, it’s hard to ignore. However, a cluttered digital life can take up a lot more mental space than we might imagine.

Some examples of digital clearing practices:

  • cleaning up your computer; sorting download and document folders
  • responding to any unanswered emails or messages across all messaging platforms
  • inbox zero
  • sending any other emails you’ve been meaning to get around to

Emotional Clearing

If we want to experience some kind of deep rebirth or renewal from a psychedelic experience then we need to prepare to let go of old things and to say goodbye to things from our past. In this way a thorough clearing practice can be seen as preparing for death. Opening and clearing the heart can be a difficult, but ultimately, powerful preparation. Some examples:

  • Calling loved ones and touching base with them
  • Expressing a feeling to a friend or partner that you’ve been holding back
  • Having that difficult conversation with a flatmate or co worker
  • Reaching out to someone you wronged and apologising to them
  • Saying things that shouldn’t be left unsaid

If your time is going to be up, what needs to be cleared up before you can pass on in peace?

woman breathing air

Here’s an easy and effective way to get more mindfulness, patience and peace in your life. With this technique you’ll open up lots of opportunities for mindful moments. Even better, those moments will replace time that would normally be filled with impatience, boredom, or mindless distraction. It’s like the six point swing of mindfulness practices.

Here it is:

Waiting Is Meditating

Or, waiting is mindfulness.

That’s it. You remove waiting from your life, and replace it with awareness.

Anytime you find yourself in a state of ‘waiting’ for something, use this as a reminder to be present and practice mindfulness. Take 3 long deep breaths, relaxing yourself, then bringing your attention to your body. (Or, whatever other mindfulness practice you like).

woman peaceful

Sounds easy, and in principle it is, but it takes some practice and mental reprogramming to get there consistently. I won’t pretend I practice this everywhere, but I do it often and find it to be a great tool to have in the mindful kit, and certainly most worthy of a share.

How To Practice

An example to demonstrate….

supermarket

You enter the supermarket to do some grocery shopping. You’re in a hurry and just want to buy your stuff and get on with your day. You whip round and with your basket full you join the queue for the checkout. It’s a little longer than you’d like.

Now, instead of entering a state of ‘waiting’ and whatever that might normally bring up, (maybe a feeling of hurried restlessness and/or a compulsive urge to get your phone out and check some feed), you check yourself. You stop for a moment.

and breathe

You take 3 deep breaths.
You bring your attention to the sensations in your body.
You observe them patiently until you reach the front of the line.

When you reach the cashier you’re more relaxed and focused, and go on with your day, happy to have taken the opportunity for a mindful moment.

Opportunity Is Everywhere

queue line

If you consider how many times you find yourself waiting, you’ll see how many opportunities there are for mindfulness:

  • Any queue or line: shops, airports, banks, post offices etc.
  • Stopping at a red light
  • Something is downloading, buffering, loading, converting
  • Coffee is brewing/tea steeping/water boiling
  • Bus stop/tram station/train station platform

I’m sure you can think of many more.

Try to think of one now. What is something you often have to wait for? Think of how it would affect you if you slowed down every time.

Mental Reprogramming

To frequently and effectively use this in your life, it helps to mentally program yourself to associate waiting with this practice, so you catch those opportunities rather than missing them in a blur of hurried and unconscious thoughts (hey, we all do it).

To do this, first find a short phrase that is catchy for you. Some examples:
‘Waiting is breathing’
‘Waiting is slowing down’
‘Waiting is mindfulness’

breathe sign

Then once you have your phrase, drill it in. As if you were learning a new word or other behaviour; repetition repetition repetition.

Sit down for 5 minutes and meditate on it, repeating it like a mantra. Saying, over and over again, ‘waiting is breathing, waiting is breathing, waiting is breathing…’.

You can also write your phrase down and leave it somewhere you’ll see it a lot, like your desk or mirror (post its work!), whilst you train yourself to associate waiting with your practice.

mindfulness sign

Implement this in to your life and over time you’ll naturally become more patient in times when you’ve found yourself mentally (or loudly) saying ‘hurry up!’ Or ‘come oooon’. You know what I’m talking about 😉

As with anything, it takes practice, so keep it up!