As a community, we see many people get stuck in the same pitfalls again and again. Here are some topics/recommendations to keep in mind while walking the medicine path.
Consider waiting 30 days before making any major life decisions after a big medicine experience. If it’s true now, it will be true in a month. Remember the ego rushes, not the inner healer.
DO NOT get off any medication without supervision by a qualified physician. Weaning off psychological medication can be destabilizing enough, then combined with medicine work can cause suicidality and psychotic breaks.
Be honest with yourself and your providers about your mental stability and support network. There are other more gentle transformational tools that won’t trigger disruptive psychological breaks that create lasting damage to your life, career, and relationships. It’s not worth the gamble to your life or to the whole medicine community if you go down in flames.
Give yourself digestion/integration time. A big transformational experience is like a big meal, give yourself time to digest. The bulk of the work is not done under the influence but in the integration time in between Ceremonial experiences.
Grounding and checking in – our fast paced lives have us sometimes speeding on a boat on moving water, if we don’t take the time to check in with the ground, our centers, we won’t know how fast we are moving or where we are going.
Have mentors and trusted friends to help reality check you. It can be easy to get swept up in the magic of this world and forget where the ground is and what we truly want to accomplish with the work.
Spiritual bypassing – ‘if we really want the light, we cannot afford to flee the heat… True spirituality is not a high, not a rush, not an altered state. It has been fine to romance it for a while, but our times call for something far more real, grounded, and responsible…’ – R. A. Masters. Being open to feedback from multiple mentors, especially ones with therapeutic training, can help reflect our blind spots.
Medicine work can support therapy but not replace it. There is no replacement for a trained mental health professional when it comes to deep psychological and traumatic issues. Find a therapist that can support, supplement, and contextualize your medicine work. This is particularly helpful in spotting blind spots and spiritual bypassing.
Be careful of the American mantra of ‘more is better.’ In a desensitized culture, the pattern is to seek the extremes, medicine work teaches us to instead learn subtlety and sensitivity. Consider finding the minimum effective dose.
Consider keeping a medicine calendar. Writers of ‘Stealing Fire’ suggest to have different kinds of experiences that you space out, there are daily practices, monthly practices, quarterly practices, and yearly practices. They also suggest to take fasts from all your practices to see what that brings up for you.