Creating Your Set and Setting for a Great Psychedelic Experience

Creating Your Set and Setting for a Great Psychedelic Experience

July 16, 2021

The warmth of the space, the aroma in air, the security in trusted company...your environment is everything during your psychedelic experience. It isn't about what you’re ingesting, it’s about how it's being absorbed. Set and setting can be the difference between a good trip and a challenging one.  


“Set” refers to the person’s mindset, disposition, attitudes, and beliefs brought to the trip. “Setting” refers to the physical, social, or cultural environments that shape the experience. 

The term first emerged in the 1950s and was later popularized by psychedelic luminaries like Al Hubbard, Timothy Leary, and Ram Dass throughout the 1960s. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that you can prepare for your psychedelic experience.

How to Prepare Your "Set" or Mindset

  1. Clear your schedule. Commit to the experience. Do not agree to pick your friend up from the airport afterwards. Finish your taxes beforehand. If you want to ensure a positive therapeutic experience, you’ll want to start by clearing your schedule to alleviate any unnecessary stressors or interruptions. Carve out time for the journey as well as the time you may need to process afterward. The minutes, hours, and even days after can be tender.
  2. Set an intention. Setting an intention can help to align your thoughts and choices in the process. Ask yourself, what matters most to you? Where intention goes, energy flows. Once you have an intention, you can conspire to align your mind, body, and space. If things don’t happen in the way you imagined, that’s okay too. Just roll with it.
  3. Steady yourself. Whatever you’re thinking or feeling can be amplified during a trip. Consider how you might be able to clear your mind of distracting thoughts or feelings before diving in. This way you can focus on whatever your intention may be. Whether it be putting down the phone, meditating, or simply, going for a walk. Do what you need to do to steady yourself.
  4. Trust your points of contact. Every ship needs an anchor. Trip sitters, guides, shamans, and therapists are a tether to a more grounded reality. Make sure they are worth your trust and when they are, trust them deeply. Better social support correlates with higher, more enduring psychological well-being. They can also help with integration.
  5. Make peace. One of the most important things you can do is to let go and surrender to the experience. Make peace where you can and pray if it’s in your practice. Even the most challenging journeys can be rewarding in their own way. Allow the journey to unfold and see where it takes you. It seems counterintuitive but the less you try to understand, the more room there is for insight.

How to Prepare Your “Setting” or Environment

  1. Pick the right kind of music. While it may be tempting, a trip is not the best event to throw Celine Dion on your playlist. Psychedelics can enhance the senses and make many inputs overstimulating. Lyrics can subconsciously influence your thoughts. Opt for mellow, calm, instrumental music.
  2. Pick a place free of distractions. If it’s too close to home or work that you suspect you will be distracted by something, look elsewhere. Find a neutral space. Use an eye mask to block the outside world and go inward.
  3. Give yourself options. A key component to creating a safe space is having some freedom to experience the trip in a way that's comfortable for you. Can you lie down in the space? Can you sit? Can you use the bathroom? Can you warm-up or cool down? Can you go outside? Options are key. Under ketamine, many patients find it difficult to move at all.
  4. Alignment. Find a spot that most aligns with your intention for the trip. If you want a connecting, profound experience you may wish to be close to nature. Wherever you are, know you are safe.

Why Set and Setting Matters

Creating a set and setting is so important to the quality of your psychedelic trip. Be sure to take these tips into consideration if you are interested in psychedelic therapy. As long as you are prepared, you are bound to have an amazing and life-changing experience.

For a more in-depth exploration of “set and setting”, look into Ido Hartogsohn’s Constructing drug effects: A history of set and setting or, American Trip: Set, Setting, and the Psychedelic Experience in the Twentieth Century. Also check out The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead by Timothy Leary.


Disclaimer: Nushama only offers legal ketamine services and many of the substances mentioned are in various states of legalization, decriminalization, and scientific study.

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