Cultivating willingness to do the work of healing with psychedelics is one of the most important aspects of researching and preparing to heal with these tools. Many psychedelics and plant medicines have earned a reputation for miraculous healing abilities, and while this can be true, a lot of what we can heal depends on how willing we are to look at ourselves deeply and honestly, acknowledge our pain, feel our feelings, and release them as we move into a new understanding.
How to Cultivate Willingness? Start with Being Informed
The best way to approach developing willingness is to work with yourself in advance, making sure you totally understand the risks, know what the psychedelic journey entails, and what could happen, and prepare yourself by cultivating practices you can use before, during, and after your journeys to cope with whatever comes up. If you’re in a place where you run away, hide, or are unable to look at yourself or feel pain from previous trauma, you may need to do some inner work to get ready before jumping into a ceremony. Spending extra time preparing your heart and mind for a serious experience will allow you to approach your healing journey with the calm confidence you need to be willing to go wherever the medicines take you.
Find a Safe and Experienced Guide or Retreat Center
It’s pretty impossible to feel like you can go where you need to with psychedelics if you feel threatened or unsafe. This is why finding a safe, reputable, and trustworthy guide, shaman, or retreat center is of paramount importance. Being well cared for throughout your experience, including before and after the journey, is crucial. You should never be left unattended or alone while on medicine, although there are many retreat centers where this is common. There are some really amazing, well vetted, legal retreats for ayahuasca, San Pedro, and psilocybin, and I share more in depth about this in our Psychedelic Integration Academy program.
A good retreat center will have an application and screening process, and you should be able to get the name, background, and information about all leaders, shamans, and facilitators. Be very wary of places that seem too cheap to be true. Most bottom of the barrel places charging rock bottom prices are not paying their staff a living wage, and/or are otherwise exploiting their workforce, their community, or are not cutting the mustard with providing a safe, healthy, comfortable experience.
While you don’t need to go to a luxury resort, make sure the place you are spending your money is operating in an ethical, legal, and sustainable manner. Find out what their protocols are for emergencies, and ask around for feedback from people who have been there. You can usually ask on their Facebook page and have people DM you for privacy.
Feeling safe, protected, and in good hands can help you relax and go where the medicines take you.
Go Within. Are You Ready?
Are you ready and willing to do the work of learning and exploring your own spirit, the nature of your true self, and the essence of who you are? Where in your life do you already feel empowered? This is a great place to start creating willingness to do the often uncomfortable work of radical journeying with psychedelics.
Be ready and willing to have authentic conversations and experiences with yourself, see the truth behind yours or someone else’s point of view, listen to feedback from yourself, go with the flow, work through whatever comes up in a healthy way, and most importantly, show compassion and love to yourself, no matter what you may find inside. This part is something you have to learn as you work with the medicines and build a relationship with them over time.
Think of the psychedelic medicine as your partner, your friend, your guide to a deeper understanding of yourself. They won’t cure, save or fix you. You will be asked to acknowledge truths, receive understanding and lessons, make room to grow from your understanding, and take action in your life to integrate and embody the experiences.
It’s important to be willing to do the work, whatever that looks like in the moment. We often talk about surrender here, and that will be required, repeatedly. My partner often says before a ceremony “Give me the eyes to see, the ears to hear, and the open heart to receive the lessons I need today.”
Your partner, the medicines, will design an experience just for you, and going into the experience with intention, awareness, and the mindset of personal responsibility will create a wonderful opportunity for you to heal and grow as you integrate your experience.
Get Professional Support and Journey with Others
Think about the times in your life when you have felt fearless. Or, better yet, when you felt afraid, but you did it anyway. For me, I always think back to learning to ride a bike. I was scared, I had no idea what I was doing, but my dad was there supporting me. He held the back of my bike and ran behind me as I wobbled and pedaled and ultimately crashed into the curb and flew over the handlebars.
He was there supporting and cheering for me, and he was there when I fell to pick me up, hug me, and take care of me when I needed love and soothing.
Finding a support system to help you through you psychedelic journey works exactly the same way. It is much easier to feel safe and supported when you are in a ceremony full of others doing the same work as you.
When you have the full support of a weekly coaching group, integration circle, or other psychedelic peer community, it’s easier to allow yourself to relax, because no matter what happens, someone is there to help lighten the load, to see you, and to listen. Finding an integration plan, working with a therapist, or joining an online program is a great way to set yourself up for total willingness and success with every ceremony or journey.
Supporting others is also a great way to find willingness to keep doing the hard healing work in your own life. Seeing others heal, transform, and grow is inspiring and helps us feel less alone. Community is a magical healing enabler, and it’s one of the most important pieces of a well-rounded psychedelic journeying plan.
Also, and I say this often, journeying alone can be dangerous. You never know what could happen, and being safe and careful with your life and health is the responsible way to work with psychedelics. Get a guide, go to a retreat, or work with a professional integration coach who can able to support you how you need, and make sure that you are safe throughout.
Want to learn more? Do a deep dive with my 22-page Ultimate Quickstart Guide to Healing with Psychedelics and start getting fully prepared for your next journey.
Looking for community? Join our Psychedelic Integration Family Circle Facebook Group, we are waiting for you!
Feeling ready to go for it, and want personal, professional support throughout your journey? Join the Psychedelic Integration Academy Waiting List and be the first to know when doors to our 12 week holistic healing journey open up.