The body knows
We have one body in this life. Psychedelic experiences can remind us to take care of our precious temple.
Maintaining a healthy, balanced, and nutritious diet is a vital self-care practice. After a psychedelic experience, your body and mind will be sensitive to nutrients that enter the system. Practice listening to your body's needs. Be aware of how different foods and drinks affect your thoughts, mood, and energy.
You want to consume things that make you feel healthy, vibrant, and energetic. These may include fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains. Consider incorporating more juices, smoothies, soups, and salads into your routine.
Some people may find reducing or eliminating animal products from their diets beneficial. In contrast, others may benefit from consuming a few extra servings of organic fish, eggs, or goat cheese. Maintaining fluid rather than rigid dietary guidelines may be helpful if we tend to be controlling.
The cleaner and healthier your body and mind become, the more you will want to limit or eliminate the consumption of tobacco, alcohol, processed food, and other substances that either dull or overly excite the senses.
You may find benefits from integrating various nootropics (e.g., l-theanine, bacopa mannieri, panax ginseng, ginkgo biloba), medicinal mushrooms (e.g., reishi, chaga, cordyceps, lion's mane), and other vitamins and supplements into your regimen.
If you eat out often, you may find it beneficial to take more time to cook for yourself. Cooking can help you ground and feel more connected with your food and the source from which it comes: Mother Earth, water, plants, and animals.
Cooking can be especially beneficial if you tend to overthink; using your hands to serve you and nourish you can get you out of your head and into the present moment. Cooking for others can be even more fulfilling.
The bacteria in our digestive system influences our mood and psychological state. When our digestion is smooth, we feel light and happy. Fermented foods like kombucha, sauerkraut, kefir, tempeh, kimchi, miso, and natto contain beneficial probiotics that help maintain our gut flora.
Organic probiotic supplements can also help our bellies break down and absorb nutrients. Here is a guide on fermented foods. Some services like Atlas Biomed analyze your gut health and make dietary recommendations based on the results.
After giving the body and mind enough time to recuperate from the journey and return to a normal state, you may also consider different forms of fasting as a way to practice self-discipline, pray, gain clarity into life's purpose, lose weight, heal from diseases, or to give the digestive system a rest.
For example, intermittent fasting involves alternating planned periods of fasting with regular eating. Some say intermittent fasting results in lasting weight loss, better metabolic health, and a longer life. There are also water fasts, juice fasts, partial fasts (omitting certain foods or meals from one's diet), and dry fasts (completely refraining from drinking or eating).
Only you know what's suitable for your body, so approach your eating habits with a healthy level of respect and honor for yourself. Consider asking for medical advice before you engage in a fasting practice.
When we eat, we can make it a sacred activity. We can know how the food appears on our table and acknowledge everyone involved. We can appreciate how food fuels our body and mind and allows us to live another day.
Thich Nhat Hanh's "Five Contemplations Before Eating" can be helpful.
1. This food is a gift of the earth, the sky, numerous living beings, and much hard and loving work.
2. May we eat with mindfulness and gratitude so as to be worthy to receive this food.
3. May we recognize and transform unwholesome mental formations, especially our greed, and learn to eat with moderation.
4. May we keep our compassion alive by eating in such a way that reduces the suffering of living beings, stops contributing to climate change, and heals and preserves this precious planet.
5. We accept this food so that we may nurture our brotherhood and sisterhood, build our Sangha, and realize our ideal of serving all living beings.
Like our psychedelic experiences, the set and setting for our meals are as important as the physical food. The intention with which we make and consume our food affects how our bodies process the nutrients.
Mindful eating allows us to gain control of our eating habits and feel fuller physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Praying and blessing our food before eating enables us to practice humility and gratitude. We realize how abundant and fortunate we are when we thank all the hands, energies, and beings that worked together to bring food to our table.
We want to take our food in a peaceful and relaxing environment. Where are we eating? Are we eating at a clean table, or are we eating on a cluttered couch or bed while we watch television? Are we listening to music while we eat? Are we distracted, or are we fully present?
Removing devices from our bodies and tables while we eat allows us to give full attention to the food. It can also be a refreshing change to eat in natural settings.
You've heard it many times before: regular exercise offers countless benefits for your body, mind, and spirit. Especially after a psychedelic experience, you may need to move your body to channel the emotions and energetic currents that have been unlocked and are coursing through your being. If you feel reconnected with the body, you want to encourage and support this opening and remembrance by engaging in a gentle movement practice.
By raising oxygen levels, exercise helps you release stress, tension, and stagnant energy in various parts of your body, including the forehead, jaws, shoulders, back, stomach, and hips. Exercise allows the energy to flow within the system so that creativity, clarity, and optimism can replace anxiety, depression, and feeling stuck.
Exercise can increase cardiovascular fitness and reduce the risk of various health conditions, including heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, and other chronic diseases. Higher energy levels, a more robust immune system, better sleep, and stronger bones and muscles are byproducts of practicing regular movement. You will generally have a higher probability of living a longer, happier, healthier life.
Physical exertion can help you break habits such as overeating, smoking, and excessive alcohol intake. You learn to enjoy the positive buzz from natural endorphins and seek out unnatural and unhealthy highs less often.
We learn how to read other people's body language to understand whether they're interested or bored. In the same way, embodiment is about discovering your own body's language. Embodiment means tuning into the body's wisdom and realizing that mind and body are not separate.
When we tune into the body, we hone our intuition, avoid getting stuck in rigid thinking patterns, and train ourselves to locate where we hold emotions, memories, and traumas (which manifest as aches, pains, etc.). The body carries an intelligence beyond thought and ideas; we tend to make better decisions when we listen to it.
Physical activity can be an enjoyable expression of your body's natural intelligence and creativity. Challenging yourself, increasing your comfort zone, and remembering that exercise is about happiness and not unnecessarily suffering is essential.
Like Bessel van der Kolk, a psychiatrist who wrote The Body Keep the Score, says, "Self-regulation depends on having a friendly relationship with your body. Without it, you have to rely on external regulation — from medication, drugs like alcohol, constant reassurance, or compulsive compliance with the wishes of others." Learning how to live, move, and be happy with our bodies is essential to healing and growth.
Depending on your preference and experience, you can exercise solo, with a partner, or with a local group. You can find indoor and outdoor activities. You can join a gym or follow videos at home.
You can walk, run, hike, mountain bike, swim, row, or lift weights. You can practice a team sport like soccer or beach volleyball or play more individual sports like tennis or golf. You can practice martial arts like kung fu, karate, or taekwondo. You can practice ashtanga, hatha, or vinyasa yoga. You can adopt a more calisthenic approach to exercise with pull-ups, push-ups, and squats.
You can dance in your living room, find a local ecstatic dance, or join a 5rhthyms class or workshop. Dancing can be especially helpful in getting you out of your head and into your body and in moving the body in ways you never imagined possible. Dancing can help break rigid thinking patterns that have held your mind and body hostage. Listen to your body and find activities that resonate with your innermost desires.
If you have been living a relatively sedentary life, incorporating exercise into your life may initially seem daunting. However, little steps and small changes can make a difference. Instead of putting pressure on yourself to become an overnight athlete, you can consciously decide to make your everyday activities more active.
For example, you can take the stairs instead of the elevator, park your car further from your destination, conduct walking meetings, or walk or bike to work instead of driving a car.
Monitoring your progress helps you set goals and stay motivated. Here is a long list of workout apps. Journaling enables you to express the emotions and insights that arise on your path to health and fitness.
Intense lifestyles and burnout are epidemics in the modern world. To counteract the stresses of daily life, you may find solace in more calming practices that allow you to slow down, unwind, and be kind to yourself. These practices activate your body's natural relaxation response and help to relieve stress, ease muscle pain and tension, alleviate anxiety, and improve mood.
The slower-paced and more meditative forms of yoga, such as yin, restorative, and yoga nidra, may draw you. Yin (the passive female principle of the "yin-yang") helps you soften the connective tissues while you hold poses for up to five minutes. Restorative yoga allows you to enter even more passive poses on the floor held for five to twenty minutes. Yoga nidra usually involves a guided meditation to help you enter and abide between wakefulness and sleep while lying on the floor. Many yoga studios offer these gentle-flow classes, and there are countless free and paid options online.
You may resonate with tai chi and qi gong, rooted in Chinese philosophy, medicine, spirituality, and martial arts. These practices cultivate qi (life energy flowing through the body's energetic channels) by blending relaxing, slow, gentle movement, breathing, and meditation.
Sound baths or healing ceremonies allow you to lie down and let the vibrations of various instruments (e.g., gongs, crystal bowls, Tibetan bowls) and voices nourish and calm you. Many of these ceremonies are held in conjunction with yoga practices, and the flow between movement and the subsequent stillness of the ceremonies can feel balanced.
If you feel called to receive healing touch, connect with a practitioner who offers Craniosacral therapy, acupuncture, acupressure, or massage. You can easily practice the latter two on yourself, but you may find it easier to surrender when you let someone else take care of you.
You may also enjoy sessions in a flotation tank, also known as a sensory deprivation or isolation tank. Another option is to add a few drops of essential oils such as lavender, lemon oil, eucalyptus, or chamomile to a hot bath. Listening to soothing music can heighten the mood.
You can stretch, pray, meditate, or practice breathing exercises at home. You can also practice progressive muscle relaxation, which involves tensing a group of muscles as you breathe in and releasing them as you breathe out.
The idea with these and other practices listed in this document is not to create another to-do list but to give you an idea of the various healing modalities available. Whenever you practice these methods, the key to happiness is surrendering to the moment and letting go of any desire for more. Finding and connecting with an experienced teacher, guide, or practitioner you resonate with is often more important than the technique or practice itself.
You may feel tired and drained in the days after your psychedelic experience. Your body is letting you know that it needs to rest and recover. Sometimes, you only know how tired you are once you experience a psychedelic journey. When you sleep or rest, you give the body time and space to heal, restoring cells and replenishing energy levels.
Besides physical recovery, sleep facilitates mental recovery: the mind uses sleep to process new stimuli and make sense of all the information it receives during the day. Rest is invaluable after a psychedelic experience as the mind processes what it saw and felt.
How much recovery time you need depends on the nature and intensity of your experience and how tired you were in the days, weeks, and months before your journey. Some people can return to regular routines quickly, whereas others need more time to readjust.
A deep breathing exercise may help you fall and stay asleep. This exercise focuses on breathing from the belly rather than the chest, activating the relaxation response and lowering heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels to help you drift off to sleep.
Here is a body scan exercise to help you sleep. By focusing attention on different parts of the body, you can identify where you're holding any stress or tension and release it.
Like many others, you may regularly or occasionally find it difficult to fall or stay asleep. Along with these exercises, various herbs may help this process: lavender, chamomile, magnolia bark, valerian root, hops, skullcap, passionflower, and red ginseng all have relaxing and calming qualities.
Keep in mind even herbs can be misused. Do your research and consider consulting a doctor, especially if you already take other medications. Sometimes, medications and herbs interact with each other. Nevertheless, once cleared by a physician, you may want to try these herbs to help with insomnia and restless nights.
Following a regular sleeping schedule can give your biological clock the consistency it needs to sleep better. While it may require some lifestyle changes, establishing a bedtime routine can promote good sleep.
Do your best to develop a practice that begins around the same time each evening. A warm bath, soothing music, or a good book can help the mind calm and wind down and give the body a signal that bedtime is coming.
Keeping electronics near your bed can be a significant factor in being unable to sleep. As soon as you look at a screen, your body suppresses the production of melatonin, a vital hormone for sleep. Therefore, as much as possible, avoid having electronics near you as you sleep, and keep them off the bed during other times so the mind does not associate the bed with anything other than rest.
Watching television or checking your phone before bedtime or in bed can confuse the mind. Strengthening the association between your bed and sleep may help you clear your mind at bedtime.
Evaluate your sleeping environment. Is it comfortable? Do you enjoy the way your sheets feel? Is your bed big enough? Quiet, dark, and cool environments lead to the best sleep. Earplugs or machines that produce white noise can be helpful if you are a light sleeper.
Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and other stimulants close to bedtime. Drinking a calming beverage, such as herbal tea, before bed can be helpful.