This is a guest blog post from Álvaro Zárate and Adolfo Schmitt, Co founders at Microhuasca (Peru).
After having guided over 200 participants in our Ayahuasca Microdosing Integration program, our biggest insight is simple yet striking: To make microdosing work in the long term, one has to commit to deep work around learning from insights and taking action from learnings. Here’s the framework we use to get there.
How microdosing helps us transform
Psychedelic integration means to take the obtained effects, experiences or insights and incorporate them as an established part of your life.
Microdosing psychedelics is not taking a magic pill that will just make you feel better and keep bad things away. It’s understandable some microdosers would approach psychedelics this way since it’s how palliative pharmaceuticals work, and the instant magic sure feels like it’s there.
Expanded states of consciousness work differently, though, and the real magic comes from the gained ability to learn and transform.
The beneficial effects and states we feel when microdosing are actually just the first step. The better mood, focus, energy, calmness or connection we feel are really a trigger for reflection towards a learning process that, if taken action upon, can lead to lasting transformation.
A common mistake within a therapeutic context is thinking that these series of experiences and sensations are the final objective, being satisfied with them and stopping going further.
Side effects of microdosing are actually triggers for transformation
We’ve also found common challenges when microdosing, such as headaches, tiredness, anxiety, irritability or remembering difficult things to confront. These are usually opportunities to balance, learn and grow.
For example, all of our participants who experience tiredness as a challenge actually live an accelerated lifestyle and don’t necessarily take enough time for themselves. When they heed to this clear requirement from their bodies, microdosing helps them deeply reconnect and enjoy the simple yet significant things in life as a frequent and essential form of self-care.
We rarely approach this through a narrative of side effects of microdosing. While there can be pharmacological risks (especially with Ayahuasca) and we do carefully evaluate participants before accepting them and assess reports of those who are, most “side effects” turn out to be challenges to be navigated to achieve the deep transformation we’re looking for.
How to integrate microdosing effectively
At Microhuasca, we’re creating and studying a framework of 50 Integration Elements that can surround a microdosing process. These include daily factors we suggest to permanently take care of (Integration Elements of Care) and external/complementary aids (Integration Elements of Support) both which, if navigated appropriately, can make the difference between having a superficial experience of sensations and truly integrating enduring results.
Integration Elements of Result (18)
Results a microdoser could experience. The path towards a successful microdosing process. They are impacted by integration elements of care and integration elements of support.
Effects, States or Experiences
The first manifestations in a microdosing process. For lasting change, we see this as a first step.
- Sleep quality: How does the user experience having good sleeping patterns, positive or revealing dreams, ease of falling asleep, waking up feeling fresh? Or on the contrary, how do they deal with sleeping problems, insomnia, negative dreams or nightmares, bad sleeping habits? What could this be related to?
- Physical energy: How does the user experience feeling alert, active, awake, stimulated, with vitality, without fatigue? Or on the contrary, how do they experience feeling tired, sleepy, fatigued, mentally foggy, or with excessive energy: restless, nervous? What could this be related to?
- Mood: How does the user experience happiness, well-being, relief from depression, emotional stability, positivity, optimism, fulfillment, satisfaction or feeling that life is worth living? Or on the contrary, how do they experience discontent, sadness, emotional difficulties, emotional instability, mood swings, feeling strange, irritability, bad mood, sullen, fear, mania? What could this be related to?
- Self-efficacy: How does the user experience motivation, drive, ambition, productivity, self-confidence, security, sense of agency, control, overcoming procrastination? Or on the contrary, how do they experience demotivation, dissociation, depersonalization, detachment, self-sabotage, thought rumination, self-interference, over-analysis, hyperactive ego, internal monologues? What could this be related to?
- Social skills: How does the user experience social facilitation, sociability, extraversion, better communication, empathy, verbal fluency? Or on the contrary, how do they experience communication problems, problems articulating thoughts, problems producing words, sharing too much, social awkwardness, being too talkative? What could this be related to?
- Calmness: How does the user experience calmness, relaxation, peace, equanimity, balance? Or on the contrary, how do they experience anxiety, social anxiety, existential anxiety, stress, nervousness, discomfort? What could this be related to?
- Agreeableness: How does the user experience generosity, compassion, friendliness, cooperativeness, warmness, being considerate, being nice? Or on the contrary, how do they experience self-preservation, coldness, self-interest, thoughtlessness, greed, selfishness, lack of compassion, little interest in helping others? What could this be related to?
- Focus: How does the user experience concentration, being aware, being present, mindfulness, intuition, interest, discipline, perception? Or on the contrary, how do they experience having low concentration, distraction, being careless, being clueless? What could this be related to?
- Creativity: How does the user experience having new perspectives, openness to new ideas or experiences, curiosity, divergent thinking, disruptive patterns? Or on the contrary, how do they experience the lack of the characteristics mentioned above? What could this be related to?
- Cognitive abilities: How does the user experience their raw intelligence, good judgment, reason, logical mindset, lucidity, understanding of concepts, problem solving, comprehension, clarity of thought, good memory? Or on the contrary, how do they experience poor judgment, feeling confusion, disorientation, erratic thoughts, racing thoughts, poor memory? What could this be related to?
- Contemplation: How does the user experience gratitude, admiration, inspiration, noticing things that normally go unnoticed, appreciation of life, seeing beauty in everyday life? Or on the contrary, how do they experience monotony, boredom, routine, ingratitude, contempt? What could this be related to?
- Connection: How does the user experience connection with nature, with the world or with others, with themselves, unity, interbeing? Or on the contrary, how do they experience individuality, dissociation, separation, or disconnection with the world? What could this be related to?
- Spirituality: How does the user experience the sacred or spiritual? What could this be related to?
- Post-materialist / unexplained events: How does the user experience having immaterial, paranormal, dissociative experiences? Includes: Clairvoyance, astral travel, hypnotic trance, regressions, connection to ancestors, connection to past lives, out of body experiences, contact with entities (superior beings, from other worlds, the deceased), near-death experiences, remote viewing, telepathy, transmutations? What could this be related to?
Learning and Action
Some states or experiences lead to learnings and insights, and some of these should be acted upon if the user wants to pursue change.
- Learning / Insights / Awareness: What insights did the user have this week? How was their process of identifying, introspecting, analyzing, understanding, accepting, confronting their learnings?
- Taking action: What actions did the user take about their insights this week to generate progressive positive change? Do they accomplish what they set out to do?
The consolidated transformations or improvements.
- Changes / Improvements: What have been the most important improvements this week? Are they consolidating?
- Worldview (Cosmovision): How are their ways of interpreting, acting and relating to the world/universe/existence?
Integration Elements of Care (23)
Elements that surround a microdoser’s daily life. Related to harm reduction and other areas, they can impact results through benefits or challenges.
- Microdosing intention: What is the user’s intention for their process? Does it require rephrasing or refocusing? User feels progress and clarity? Are they aware of other ways to reach their intention?
- Other motivations: How the user navigates new motivations that appear that may or may not be related to their intention?
Use of the Portal
- Dosage and calibration (how much): How does the user navigate their dosage amounts and calibration period? How do they decide and fluctuate their ideal dosage for the day? Suggested dosage unit: ” X% from a full dose”. Pay attention to calculation errors or sudden changes.
- Dosing schedule (when): How dosing in their selected schedule impacts their process. Pay attention to errors, forgetfulness, or sudden changes. Relevant mention to the famous “Fadiman schedule” (one day on, two days off).
- Relationship with the substance / plant spirit: Which substance is the user taking? Have they fostered a conscious connection with it?
Attitude and Mindset
- Commitment to the process: How does their willingness and commitment to carry out personal work have an impact on their process?
- Openness / Mental barriers: How being open-minded or closed-minded impacts their process? Pay attention if this changes. How do they experience denial, rejection, self-judgment, self-ignorance, lack of motivation to improve, resentment? What could this be related to?
- Expectations about the process: How having expectations impacts their process? Are they an aid or a challenge for their process?
Health and Consumption
Physical and Mental Health Conditions
- Health conditions (active or inactive): How does the user’s physical, psychological or psychiatric health conditions impact their process? Ask for conditions, diagnoses, previous surgical interventions and/or relatives with worrying health history. Pay attention to new conditions or relief of conditions.
Consumption of Food and Other Substances
- Nutrition (dieta): How food and ‘dieta’ impacts their process? It is suggested to avoid red meats, fats, sweets, processed, artificial or spicy food. Pay attention to changes in their relationship with food.
- Medications and supplements: How taking medications or supplements impacts their process? (synthetic or natural). It is suggested not to medicate and passing a filter before microdosing, but pay attention if for some reason they should take medication. Pay attention to changes in consumption habits or their relationship with these substances.
- Common stimulants: How consuming or avoiding caffeine, theine, energizers, etc. impacts their process? Pay attention to changes in consumption habits or their relationship with these substances.
- Psychoactive substances: How the use or its relationship with cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, etc. impacts their process? Pay attention to changes in habits or attitudes or their relationship with these substances.
Energy and Environment
- Leisure and fun: How leisure and fun activities they carry out impact their process.
- Money and materialism: How their relationship with money, material things, their personal economic situation, personal or family assets, material ambitions, etc. impact their process.
- Sex / Sexuality: How their sexual energy, libido, contact with pleasure, eroticism, sexual identity, among others, impact or are impacted in their process.
- Menstruation / Ovulation: How feminine cycles impact their process. Pay attention to how/if they change with microdosing.
- Use of electronic devices: How being close to electronics or TV screens, PCs, mobile phones, etc. impacts or are impacted in their process.
- Dense situations or concerns: How other situations that are emotionally or energetically charged impact their process.
- Social, cultural, political context: How the external context that they cannot control impacts their process.
- Personal and social relationships: How their relationships with family, partner, friends, others (from outside to inside) impact their process.
- Work or Academics: How their work or academic contexts impact their process.
- Physical environment: How their physical environment (spaces they frequent or new ones) impacts their process.
Integration Elements of Support (9)
Complementary and usually external elements that can aid a microdoser’s process. They can impact results with benefits thus helping achieve a successful process.
- Receiving close support from a professional: How receiving professional one-to-one support and accompaniment by a trained psychedelic facilitator, guide, monitor, therapist, coach, healer, etc., impacts their process.
- Receiving close support from other microdosers: How receiving non-professional one-to-one support from a microdosing peer or partner impacts their process.
- Giving close support to other microdosers: How providing accompaniment (professional or non-professional) to the microdosing process of others (the user being a peer/partner, facilitator, therapist, coach, etc. impacts their personal process.
Community Support Group
- Sharing experiences in community: How sharing their microdosing experiences as a group impacts their process: Sharing circles, virtual channels, safe spaces, etc.
- Listening to community experiences: How listening to microdosing experiences from a group impacts their process: Sharing circles, virtual channels, safe spaces, etc.
Education and Experience
Knowledge and experience (prior or acquired during the process)
47.Knowledge or experience in personal development practices: How performing or educating themselves about personal development practices impacts their process. eg: therapies, programs, studies, retreats, coaching, rituals, etc. (individually or collectively)
48.Knowledge or experience in psychedelics or similar forms of consciousness expansion: How educating themselves or having experience in the use of psychedelics, plant medicine (macro or micro) or other similar methods of expanded states of consciousness impacts their process.
Use of Tools
- Journal: How does keeping a historical record of their experience impact their process?
- Amplifiers: How contact with nature, meditation/prayer, breathwork, listening to music, artistic practices, dancing, physical exercise, isolation or other portals to amplify states of consciousness impact their process.
We’re working on a new series of content about our lessons on how to navigate each Integration Element, and will of course be sharing it with the Microdosing Institute community.
In psychedelics, Set and Setting is defined as the mindset and environment to take care of for a specific moment in time like a ceremony or trip, and which could shape its results. Since microdosing is a permanent part of a microdoser’s daily life, we propose to rethink Set and Setting as a constant practice of taking care of your Integration Elements, which can be a beneficial mindshift for macrodosing as well.
After 10 generations of our programs, we have seen time and time again that microdosing integration occurs daily. Learning from insights and taking action transform the initial effects and experiences into lasting changes in habits and personal worldviews, which helps participants make healthier decisions throughout their lives. Even on “non-dosing days” or once a program is over, plant medicine can still be connected with us, recalling our own ability to overcome what we need in certain moments in life.
During Microhuasca’s Facilitator Training Program, we meet regularly with microdosing practitioners to explore their strategies and results in navigating their users’ benefits and challenges in Integration Elements. We’re planning on opening these exciting conversations to a wider public soon. If you’d like to participate or want to share with us on this subject, please reach out. We’d love to hear from you!
This article was written in collaboration with
- Federico Infante, Head of Therapeutic Development in Microhuasca
- Ana Platzer, Head of Facilitation and wellbeing
- Jenica Soto, Microhuasca Facilitator
- Jakobien van der Weijden, Co Founder of Microdosing Institute