First Time Tripper/Trip-Sitter’s Guide

In the name of spreading psychedelic socialism.

Some of these are things trip sitters should do for first time trippers, some of these are things to explain to first-time trippers, ie might be good for them to read first before taking the plunge.

I’m not saying I’ve always followed these.  In fact quite not, and I should probably feel bad.

They basically break down into four categories:

  • Awareness of effects
  • Managing feelings
  • Navigating practical reality
  • Providing environment


Awareness of Effects

This is simple.  A first-time tripper should do their own research.  A trip sitter should have a full articulation of what effects are and talk a first-time tripper through them.  Visual effects are an obvious one, but make sure to mention ones you might not think of, and yet might be overwhelming – for example, LSD can give you a racing heart rate and racing thoughts in addition to visuals, and people might not know that or think of that.


Managing Feelings

Emotional self-control while tripping is striking a balance between hard repression and controlled expression, until you finally get to an emotional range where you feel you can trust yourself and won’t fly into lunacy if you let go and simply allow things to happen spontaneously a little.  You can then keep your guard up in the back of your mind watching the edges rather than fighting for control actively as a central focus and preoccupation.

It’s a balance between emotional levity and gravity, hype and relaxation.  You will find yourself veering towards floors and ceilings that feel dangerously manic and depressive, and reinforcing cyclic loops toward them.  However you can also cyclically break these loops.  There are floors and ceilings of highs and lows which feel dangerously likes breaking points where something bad might happen if you get too close too them, or too far in that direction.  I’ve gotten close to them, and have friends who’ve gone further toward them, and often what is felt is a sort of unpleasant snapping sensation of your nervous system as it automatically, involuntarily readjusts you violently back toward the center.  I recommend against beginners doing this.  Just try to stay away from the edges.

You can largely control your emotional and temperamental elevation, if you simply decide you can, if you believe if you can.

To quote Hermann Hesse’s Demian at length, on the sensation of flying in dreams:

“I dreamed I was able to fly, but in such a way that I seemed catapulted into the air and lost all control.  The feeling of flying exhilarated me, but exhilaration turned to fear when I saw myself driven higher and higher, becoming more and more powerless.  At that instant I made the saving discovery that I could regulate the rise and fall of my flight by holding or releasing my breath.

Pistorius comment was: ‘The impetus that makes you fly is our great human possession.  Everybody has it.  It is the feeling of being linked with the roots of power, but one soon becomes afraid of this feeling.  It’s damned dangerous!  That is why most people shed their wings and prefer to walk and obey the law.  But not you.  You go on flying.  And look!  You discover that you gradually begin to master your flight, that to the great general force that tears you upward there is added a delicate, small force of your own, an organ, a steering mechanism.  How marvelous!  Lacking that, you would be drawn up to the heights, powerless — which is what happens to madmen.  They possess deeper intimations than people who remain earthbound, but they have no key and no steering mechanism roar off into infinity.  But you, Sinclair, you are going about it the right way.  How?  You probably don’t know yourself.  You are doing it with a new organ, with something that regulates your breathing.  And now you will realize how little ‘individuality’ your soul has in its deepest reaches.  For it does not invent this regulator!  It is not new!  You’ve borrowed it: it has existed for thousands of years.  It is the organ with which fish regulate their equilibrium — the air bladder.  And in fact among the fish there are still a few strange primeval genera where the air bladder functions as a kind of lung and can be used on occasion as a breathing mechanism.  In other words, exactly like the lung which you in your dream use as a flying bladder.’”

Your trip may be front-loaded with all of their life’s repressed negative emotions in the beginning, and you may be forced to confront and process all of it in the beginning.  And then once you’ve accomplished that it’s all a happy trip.  Or that may just be skipped over and the entire thing may be pure bliss the entire time.  Or the precise sequence of positive and negative phases may be more unpredictable.  Simply be prepared that the shifts in mood may be sudden, and rapidly alternate back and forth.  You may want to use it as an opportunity to let the negative emotions be expressed to process and confront your demons, and come out cohering some new life philosophy.  Or you may need to put the brakes on the intensity, in a hard or moderate manner.

Keep in mind, being on drugs is not really that weird, the effects are real but any moment it feels like it’s getting out of control are often your own projected expectations and placebo effect, it might just be you being dramatic, and if you ever feel the need to come back down from whatever freakout you may be experiencing, it could be self-induced, just remember that your brain is always full of chemicals all the time anyway and life is always radically weird, you are literally a conscious bag of flesh and there is never any moment that this is not weird anyway, weird is normal, so there’s no reason this particular moment should be so ridiculously special, just take a deep breath.


Navigating Practical Reality

Some of this is an extension of managing emotions.  Tripping confronts you with infinity.  It overwhelms you sometimes.  Sometimes that infinity is bad.  So you have to break problems down into manageable chunks, and then flip problems into solutions by creatively looking for positive possibilities in supposedly negative situations.  While tripping this should be more possible than ever.

If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Do one thing at a time.

If you have infinite lemons, forget about all the lemons except one, and turn that lemon into lemonade.  Then work on the next lemon at a reasonable pace.

This is the only way to handle it.

A lot of navigating practical reality while tripping is dealing with self-perception.  It’s about moderation between paranoid self-consciousness and neglectful lack of self-awareness.  For example, I’ve walked out of the bathroom with my zipper down while tripping before.  That’s something a sober person might forget too, but it’s good to just double-check things like that.  You might find yourself struggling to cohere your normal awareness of personal belongings: keys, phone, wallet, etc, what is in which pocket, etc.  It’s good to double-check these things while tripping.

Awareness of time and speeds can be particularly distorted so any crossing of any streets has got to be careful.

Like alcohol, this stuff can make you feel invincible, and more competent when actually you are less.  It’s tricky because on the other hand the rule applies that sometimes people are limited by their own perceptions and a person on psychedelics can be just as or even far more competent than a person off of them if they would only realize they are for more than laying down or staring at pretty colors.  But for a beginner it’s definitely important to err on the side of caution and not put them in harm’s way physically or socially.

You may suddenly find you forget what you were in the middle of doing and need to recall.

Follow the ultimate advice of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Don’t Panic.

Ask yourself logical questions like: what is this thing in my hand?  What was the immediate thing I was doing right now?  What was that a step toward?  Did that fit into some ultimate goal?  How?  Just work your way back from one clue at a time and the pieces will come back together.

Ultimately tripping is a condensed iteration of life itself so same rules apply.


Providing Environment

While I myself love intense environments for psychedelics like mosh pits and dance floors or concerts, this is probably not safe or ideal for a first time tripper, and has the potential to be traumatic and wrongfully turn a person off to psychedelics for their whole life.  So the corny cliches about “set and setting,” ie only do psychedelics in a good frame of mind and friendly environment, while they might not apply so much for grizzled veterans who are able to repress the life out of our most exposed vulnerable emotions and navigate public interactions and technical work while a mile high, apply all the more so for helping start out beginners.

If possible provide easily consumable food that doesn’t involve having to tell whether it’s hot or cool enough to eat safely, ie room temperature or refrigerated food.  Provide water, and an easily accessible bathroom.

If for whatever reason a person suddenly becomes uncomfortable with the whole situation or with you personally, which would totally suck and hurt for sure but if you’re being a responsible trip sitter their psychological security and ability to get home safe has to come first, do everything you can to be understanding and help them exit the situation and help them think through where they want to be instead, and help them think through the steps of safely getting whatever transport they need to go wherever they want to go.  In the state they’re in, they may want to leave, but panic and literally not know how.  That would turn you into their accidental captor which you definitely don’t want to be.

Definitely think through your transit situation before tripping.  If you’re trip-sitting, are you tripping too?  Are you sufficiently competent while tripping to manage providing an environment?  Will things have worn off enough to handle transit situations?

Possibly the most important thing, provide a notebook and pen/pencil so people can jot down their thoughts as they occur.

If possible, provide an environment that allows easy access between a calm indoor environment with needed creature comforts like bathroom etc. with pleasant outdoor scenes of nature (beach, park, etc).  Striking this balance might be hard though and you might just have to choose one.


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