Mindfulness is the practice of bringing full awareness and focus to the present moment. It helps ground us, reduces stress, and promotes inner peace. Mindfulness is an especially valuable skill when preparing for a psychedelic experience. Through practice, it can provide an anchor and guide during the psychedelic journey.
Below are seven mindfulness exercises that can be incorporated into your daily routine. Approach these practices with patience and non-judgment. The more regularly you do them; the more natural mindfulness will become. Start with a few minutes per day and slowly increase over time.
These exercises will enhance concentration, self-awareness, and equanimity. They will allow you to become a calm and curious observer of your inner landscape. By repeatedly returning your attention to the present, you train your mind to stay focused and centred, even during profoundly altered states.
Make mindfulness a touchstone as you mentally, emotionally, and spiritually prepare for a psychedelic voyage. When done with care and intention, these practices will help provide a strong foundation for your trip.
1. Box Breathing
The following breathing exercise can be done at any moment of the day. The practice is called “box breathing”, and it goes as follows: close your eyes and sit relaxed. First, bring your attention to your breathing. Inhale through your nose while slowly counting to four. Feel how the air streams into your lungs. Then hold your breath while slowly counting to four. Try not to squeeze your mouth or nose shut. Begin to exhale slowly for four counts. Then remain without breath for four counts. Repeat these steps 4 to 8 times.
2. Conscious Activity
Choose a daily activity (e.g. eating, walking, showering or drinking coffee) that you will do with complete attention in the coming period. Which activity do you want to do with conscious awareness? Try to engage all your senses in it. Look, smell, feel, listen and taste with full attention.
3. Noticing Thoughts
Sit in a quiet place, set a timer for 3-5 minutes. Now try to consciously notice your thoughts (also called ‘noting’ in meditation). Whenever you do that, visualize that thought as if it were on a social media post (Instagram) that you are scrolling past. Do not engage with the content of the thought. Look at the thought and see it scroll past you. Each time a new one comes up, ‘post’ that thought again on a social media post.
4. Feeling the Body
Sit or lie down in a quiet place, set a timer for 3-5 minutes. Make sure you are comfortable. Sit or lie down so that you can well notice what can be felt in your body. If you sit or lie down well, focus on what you now feel in your body. These can be physical sensations, emotions or other feelings. You are the only one who can notice what you feel. If you feel something, then you notice it and name it. For example, if you feel tension, you say to yourself, “I notice that there is tension in my neck and shoulders”. Or if you feel an emotion, you say to yourself, “I feel irritation.” Stay with your attention on that feeling until a new feeling arises.
5. Walking Meditation
Find a quiet path, or somewhere you can walk mindfully for 10-15 minutes. As you walk, focus on the sensations in your feet and legs. Feel each step, noticing the ground beneath you. If your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to the sensations of walking. Notice sights, sounds, and smells, but keep bringing your focus back to your feet.
6. Mantra Meditation
Sit comfortably and silently repeat a mantra to yourself, like “let” on the in-breath and “go” on the out-breath. Say the mantra slowly and steadily, focusing only on the sound and sensation of the words. If thoughts arise, note them briefly and return to the mantra. Set a timer for 5-10 minutes. The mantra helps anchor you in the present moment.
7. Body Scan
Lie down in a comfortable position and systematically bring attention to each part of your body. Start by feeling your toes, then feet, ankles, calves, knees, etc, working all the way up to your head. Notice any sensations, tensions, or emotions, without judging them. Breathe into areas that feel tight. If your mind wanders, gently return your focus to the body. Take 5-10 minutes to complete the scan. This grounds you in your physical being.
These mindfulness exercises can be valuable in your preparation and during a session with a guide.
Make these practices part of your routine in the weeks and days leading up to a psychedelic session. Start small, perhaps just 5 minutes daily, and gradually increase your mindfulness training. This will strengthen your focus, awareness, and ability to remain centred.
You may also want to engage in these exercises with your guide before, at the come-up, during, and after your psychedelic trip. Your guide can help lead you through meditations and breathing practices to find calm and stability amidst the experience. Staying grounded in mindfulness will allow you to surrender to and learn from the journey more fully.
At FLO Coaching, we highly recommend clients establish a regular mindfulness practice as part of psychedelic preparation. The inner insight and clarity it provides allow for deeper healing, self-discovery, and therapeutic growth during a psychedelic session. Make mindfulness an integral part of your transformative journey.