Published: April 20th, 2017
Categories: Other subjects
If you have any experience with psychedelics (for example Magic Mushrooms or other psychoactive plants), you probably came across the phrase “set and setting”. It describes the mental, physical and environmental context, that leads to a psychedelic experience. Set stands for the mindset of the person and setting stands for the physical and social environment where the experience is taking place. Norman Zinberg coined this term, that is now widely accepted in the field of psychedelic therapy.
By the end of this article, we will find out why set and setting are of such importance to psychedelic experiences and how it affects them.
As was written earlier, set stands for mindset, but for a better understanding, we should broaden the definition to include the mental and physical state a person brings to the psychedelic experience.
Concerning mental state, one of the most important things to consider before a psychedelic experience is the person’s current state of mind. Psychedelics tend to enhance your emotions and state of mind, which can prove to be unbearable if they enhance stress and negative thoughts. Not only that, these kinds of substances are known to force you to face your deepest problems and fears. If you don’t have a clear head or happen to find yourself in a negative period of your life, you increase the chances of having an unpleasant experience or bad trip.
During the experience, the best advice is to stay calm and relaxed and go with the flow. It is important, that the user allows the effects to take charge and that they try to not control the experience, instead just let it unfold by itself.
As for the physical state, the condition a person’s body is in is as important as its mental state. Whether you are ill, tired or injured, it isn’t advised to partake in taking psychedelics in these conditions. These sensations will manifest themselves as amplified versions during the trip, which will surely make for an unpleasant experience. It is better to wait for a suitable time when you are fit and healthy.
The other key factor in ensuring that your psychedelic experience will have a positive outcome is setting. The best setting would be a familiar and safe indoor environment, where you can relax and be sure that you won’t be surprised by the outside world.
There are a couple of things you can do to make your setting even more comfortable. You can make sure that you don’t have any responsibilities during the duration of the trip and the day after. In these states, even the simplest of tasks can be extremely difficult and it is advised to leave your chores and obligations for later.
Avoid irrelevant people, crowds, loud and unfamiliar environments, as all of these could trigger unwanted stressful reactions, that can lead to a negative state of mind. Also, finding a trip sitter (a sober person who will take care of the participants and serve as a quasi-guide) is another way to make the experience more pleasant and bearable.
It is best to think about set and setting as guidelines, that make sure, that your psychedelic experience (especially for the inexperienced user) will have a positive outcome. These guidelines have shown to have a positive influence on the overall experience and have been used by psychotherapists in psychedelic therapy.
After you become familiar with a substance you will make your own decision whether you are comfortable with tripping in a more recreational environment such as nature, parties, museums, etc. However, the importance of set and setting on a psychedelic experience shouldn’t be questioned as we have learned the magnitude of its influence on it.