5 Tips to Navigate the Ups and Downs of Psychedelic Integration

The ups and downs of psychedelic integration can be a lot to navigate! Learn 5 tips to make this journey successful.
ups and downs of psychedelic integration
Author: Nina Izel
By Nina Izel
May 9, 2023(Updated: February 12, 2024)

The ups and downs of psychedelic integration can be a lot to navigate! A couple of days ago, one of my clients wisely stated, or more accurately shouted:

“This healing is really confusing. Just when you think you made progress, you feel like you’re thrown 10 steps back!”

This made me think back to the time when I felt exactly the same way on my journey. I doubted myself. I wasn’t sure if I was on the right path or if I was still totally lost.

I wished desperately to understand why I was feeling that way.

And I did, in the end. That’s what integration is for, to make sense out of your experience. Not only do I mean the ceremony experience but your life experience in general. With this in mind, I offer you the following insights to help you ‘make sense’ of your experience!

1. Understanding the Nature of Time

Why do we keep revisiting the same old wounds, the same old places, over and over again? What do we do about the many ups and downs of psychedelic integration?

Does this mean we are stuck in a vicious cycle? It is possible, but not necessarily so.

In the West, most of us have an understanding of time as something linear and progress as something exponential, meaning that things have to be better and better. In case they don’t, if things get worse, we talk about regression, which is understood as the opposite of progress.

So, most people, during their healing process, when temporarily they feel worse or relapse into old dysfunctional behavior, think that they are doing something wrong, or the medicine is not working for them anymore, or they need more medicine to feel better again.

To resolve this situation, first, you have to understand that time is not linear.

Imagine it more like a spiral following cycles and rhythms, as many have described. One of the most famous examples is the Mayan Calendar.

Based on this model, progress is not something straightforward, linear, or exponential.

More like ebb and flow, expansion, contraction – up and down while expanding and moving forward.

When you can tune into the movement of this energy, you will feel what I am talking about.

From this perspective, we understand that temporary regression is part of progression in general, and growth happens through many ups and downs. In terms of healing, things often get worse before they get better, and going through a dark night of the soul is a vital part of the healing process.

Tip: When you find yourself in a temporary relapse in your healing process, remember that it is a natural part of growth and ask for support to continue on your path. Don’t give up on yourself.

2. Why Healing Happens in Layers

The healing process also has cycles and rhythms. You can learn to go with the flow.

There is a lot you carry. If you would let it all go, all at once, you couldn’t bear it; it would be so overwhelming. But thankfully, your higher intelligence knows how much you are ready to let go of and when you are ready for the next level. It is all guided by your higher self, who wants you to have the least painful experience. Surrender to your higher guidance.

Healing happens in layers, and as such, many times, we revisit the same story to get to the core wound.

This is a natural process. It takes time to uproot your suffering, and you often feel worse before you feel better. This doesn’t mean that you failed. It just means that there is still more to understand and let go of.

Tip: Stop beating yourself up and do the best that you can do, which is to learn to go with this natural flow. When you give up your resistance, your journey will be filled with more grace and ease.

ups and downs of psychedelic integration

3. How to Measure Real Progress in the Ups and Downs of Psychedelic Integration

Real progress can only be measured over time. When working with Mother Ayahuasca, many people experience temporary relief after the ceremony. We call this 4–6-week period the Ayahuasca afterglow. Most of the time, this sudden improvement is not sustainable. You must participate in your healing process and do your dedicated healing work long-term to reach real, long-lasting results.

Without deeper healing, many people regress to old habits when under stress/duress.

We can talk about real progress and healing when the new behavior sustains over time, over the years, and even under difficult circumstances. When you are really healed from something and have uprooted your suffering, you will navigate your life with confidence and handle your challenges in a conscious and responsible way.

Tip: Dedicate yourself to your healing process long term. See how you feel in your life one year from now.

4. Accepting Reality in the Ups and Downs of Psychedelic Integration

Another problem we have in the West is that we are conditioned to expect a miracle.

We wait for a savior, a hero, to suddenly make our lives better. We hope that the handsome prince will take us into the palace and the promised land. And we believe that we just have to drink Ayahuasca, and our lives will get magically and suddenly get better.

We all want health, love, and happiness, and we are told to believe that we can buy these.

Nobody told us that to have health, love and happiness, first you have to face and let go of unhealthy habits, your deepest fears, traumas, wounds and suffering. When this happens, it hurts. That’s why we call it the Dark Night of the Soul. Most people want love, riches, and happiness, but they don’t want to do the work and get uncomfortable. So sorry to break it to you, but there is no magic pill.

Follow your Curiosity

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I tell my clients all this way before the ceremony. I tell them that it’s not going to be easy, their journey. I tell them that probably they will want to give up at one point or another and abandon this path. I tell them that they have to go through the shadow to get to the light. And I also tell them that they have everything they may possibly need to get to the other side. And if they keep going, they for sure will succeed. With this mindset, it is easier to face challenges, have realistic expectations, and make real progress.

In healing, you get out what you put into your healing work. If you commit yourself 100% to your journey, make a great effort, and keep going while receiving all the necessary support, you will succeed.

Your wound might not be your fault, but healing is your responsibility.

Tip: Take full responsibility for your healing process. Set realistic expectations about your goals and make a commitment to achieve them.

5. Get Support – Ask, and You Shall Receive

If you are new to this profound healing work with Mother Ayahuasca, your best assets are a personal guide/therapist/healer and a supportive community. Doing it all alone is probably possible, but it will take way longer and be much harder.

Help is always available, why wouldn’t you take it, and learn from those who walked this path many times before?

A safe healing container is a must to be able to process deep wounding and face your deepest shadows. Asking for and receiving continuous support, especially in the first few years, will greatly ease your journey. Isolation is a trauma response, and thinking that you can do it all alone just shows the arrogance of the Ego. Humbleness and receptivity are steps in the right direction on your healing path.

Tip: Research what kind of support groups, therapists, and events are available online or in your area for psychedelic integration and commit to participate regularly, at least for the first year.

You Are the Healer

Healing is possible. Once you realize that you are your own healer and take 100% responsibility for your healing, in that moment, you take your power back. Now you can create powerful change.

Part of the process is to remember to trust and continue with your journey. 

You are a powerful creator!

The content provided is for educational and informational purposes only and should be a substitute for medical or other professional advice. Articles are based on personal opinions, research, and experiences of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Psychedelic Support.

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Author: Nina Izel
Nina Izel
Nina Izel is a healer, teacher, and author of the book: Heart Medicine, Ayahuasca Assisted Therapy and the Integration Process. Nina combines psychology, holistic healing tools and shamanic healing technologies to assist individuals to take back the power over their health and life. Nina's motto is "You are the healer and love is the medicine!" Learn more at Nina's website or her Psychedelic Support community group.

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