Although research has shown that psychedelics are not physically addictive and do not harm mental health, they can come with some risks. To mitigate risks and maximize benefits, Leary suggested that the most important key is set and setting.
Set and setting describe the physical, mental, social, and environmental context that an individual brings into a profound or psychedelic experience.
- Setting is fairly straight-forward. It’s the physical environment where you undergo your experience, whether it’s in your living room, in a ceremony with a shaman, or at wellness facility. It can include music, light, pillows, blankets, or anything that is physically in your space as embark on your journey.
- Set is the “mindset” of the individual preparing for the experience. It’s the thoughts, desires, feelings, general mood, and any preconceived notions or expectations about what they are about to experience.
In order to facilitate a positive experience, both set and setting have to be taken into consideration. We have taken great care to ensure that the setting is relaxed and comfortable and we offer music, soft lighting, blankets, sleep masks, etc. in order for you to allow yourself to let go. But how do you prepare your mindset for an experience? The best way to do this is through setting intentions. An intention is a guiding principle for how you want to live, and a way to bring heart and mind into alignment.
To use a plant analogy, intention setting before an experience is similar to preparing the soil and choosing a good spot to plant your seed. It sets the framework for your experience.
Having a little trouble getting started? Here are a few prompts to get you thinking about what intentions you would like to set:
- What would you like to change about your behavior?
- What would you like to change about your life?
- What is holding you back?
- What are your short- and long-term goals?
Next, you’ll want to write down 1-2 intentions as it is important to know what you are aiming for. These may include themes such as:
- Overcoming a chronic addiction
- Healing from a past trauma
- Discover one’s purpose in life
- Cultivating love and gratitude
- Expanding creativity
- Improving awareness of strengths, weaknesses, or roadblocks.
For the days preceding your ketamine session, go over your intentions and/or meditate on them daily.
After the experience is over, reexamining your intentions helps you to deconstruct and explore the perceptions and insights of your journey within the context of your stated goals/intentions, rather than as just random occurrences.
A Caution About Expectations
Unfortunately, many times expectations can lead to disappointment so it’s best to go into an experience with a solid intention or two and not have any expectations about what will or could happen. This allows you to open yourself up for a profound experience. Sometimes what you are shown could have absolutely nothing to do with your intentions but can still be just as or even more insightful that what you were expecting.