Let’s go back in time for a moment: we are in the 1950s and LSD research is exploding. Scientists are fascinated by this mind-blowing compound and are conducting experiments to explore its effects on the brain and body.
But disturbing discoveries are beginning to emerge. In some studies, participants experience paranoia infused with anxiety, while in others, participants experience a sense of radiant wholeness and peace. Some subjects say their thought processes are blocked, while others say their cognitive faculties are sharper. Some are eager to repeat the experience, others swear never to touch it again.
How can a compound trigger such a spectrum of responses?
Psychedelic scientists of that time put these glaring differences down to scenery and setting – your state of mind and surroundings during the trip. However, the widespread banning of psychedelics in the 1960s halted this research.
Nowadays, a new generation of researchers is studying this phenomenon and asking the question: to what extent does setting and setting influence the way a person experiences a drug? Can the effects of a substance be separated from the context in which it is consumed?
What are psychedelics?
What is a set and setting?
The term “set and frame” was introduced by Harvard psychologist Timothy Leary, who argued that psychedelic drugs work like a magnifying glass on consciousness.
Leary defined the set, or state of mind, as an individual’s personality, level of readiness to experience, expectations, and intention when taking a psychedelic. The setting refers to the environment in which the psychedelic journey takes place.
This notion of set and setting suggests that non-pharmacological factors strongly influence drug effects in several ways.
Research on setting and setting in psychedelics
Awareness of setting and setting began to emerge with LSD Research in the 1950s and 60s. Psychedelic researchers saw how seemingly small factors in studies were strongly correlated with different outcomes. An adjustment as simple as changing a staff member’s demeanor toward a patient from warm and friendly to cold and impersonal increased the severity of unpleasant effects during an LSD trip.
Other changes also affected participants’ experiences. Patients who were required to complete the tests experienced more negative effects in their response to the drug. In contrast, those who could choose their activities had more positive experiences. Moreover, familiar surroundings tended to lead to uplifting LSD trips; unfamiliar surroundings often caused unease and anxiety.
Pioneering LSD researchers and therapists began to use this knowledge in the late 1950s, improve the decor and staging using relaxing music, candles and flowers. They also carefully prepared patients for the experience and encouraged them to set intentions for their journeys.
Today, researchers recognize that these intangible factors, including how an individual feels about using a substance, can either enhance or diminish the effects of a substance. There is a growing awareness that the right context can optimize a psychedelic experience and minimize harm.
But set and setting don’t just apply to psychedelics. There is evidence that decor and setting can influence consumer experience other substances also, like alcohol, cocaine, Ritalin and cannabis.
Set, frame and cannabis
Although the idea of set and set originated in psychedelic science, many cannabis users and experts argue that it is also relevant to cannabis, although there is less research on the effects of set and set about cannabis.
In a study Of 97 baby boomer cannabis users, most participants used the set and setting to practice self-control and minimize risk. Some avoided smoking weed when they were feeling down, improving their mood; others refrained from using cannabis in public to avoid feelings of anxiety or paranoia about being judged or apprehended by authorities, thereby improving the setting.
“Whether you enjoy cannabis while relaxing alone or amidst the joy of laughter with friends, cannabinoids can have the effect of amplifying the pleasure chemical molecules that are already circulating,” said clinician Dr. Ben Caplan. cannabis specialist and chief medical officer at CED Clinic and eo care. “On the other hand, if the body is filled with anxiety, worry, or negativity, cannabis products can also amplify the unpleasant.”
Caplan noted that for cannabis beginners, it’s especially essential to prepare and prepare properly. He also stated that setting is not only psychological, it can also contribute to physical reality. An individual’s state of mind triggers a cascade of biochemical responses in the body, resulting in physical and emotional reactions to its environment. Smoking weed in an anxious and agitated state of mind can not only make you uncomfortable, but can also lead to rapid heartbeat and nervousness.
“Cannabis is a spice cabinet full of opportunities for positive experiences, but mixed with a soup of negativity or pessimism, it can still make for a very sour experience,” Caplan said. “On the other hand, for someone with a positive mindset, the chemical experience of cannabis can magnify those positive feelings to be even more enjoyable and joyful.”
Ultimately, Caplan pointed out that a negative mindset can overpower the beneficial properties inherent in cannabis. “The cannabis stuff is, basically, quite enjoyable, but it’s not so potent that it can overcome a strongly negative state of mind.”
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The Benefits of Set and Staging
Harnessing the whole and the frame isn’t just about increasing your chances of a wellness experience: it can also lead to better treatment outcomes. Whether you work with cannabis or psychedelics, awareness of setting and setting can be a key to unlocking powerful and positive experiences.
Psychedelic Researchers reported that a favorable context most likely contributes to favorable results. A peak experience—a transformative experience defined by awe, wonder, or euphoria—while taking psychedelics has been linked to improvements in psychological well-being two weeks after the experience.
Stimulating psychedelic experiences can be beneficial, but only if the individual allows time to process personal ideas and emotions after the experience, indicating the role of mindset.
Music also seems to help improve well-being. A study 2018 found that the music patients listened to during a psilocybin session positively influenced their experience. Participants said the music offered a source of orientation and grounding, transporting the listener to various psychological landscapes they might otherwise be afraid to venture into. Positive music experiences were significantly predictive of reduction in depression one week after the session.
How to Cultivate a Positive Set and Frame with Psychedelics
Winston Peki, editor of Herbonaut, is a seasoned psychonaut who has traveled with psilocybin mushrooms and ayahuasca several times. He said tapping into the right context is vital with psychedelics because of the potency of the hallucinogenic experience.
“The more you try to control the experience, the more fearful you can be,” he said. “The best mindset for psychedelics is to surrender to the experience and not try to control anything.”
Peki also pointed out that achieving the right sensory environment will enhance a psychedelic trip. “If you listen to joyful and uplifting music, it will color your experience and your emotions towards the uplifting side,” he said. “Same for the visuals. Same for the smells.
Tripping somewhere quiet and peaceful can also help. Many psychonauts recommend stumbling somewhere outdoors, but avoid public parks, or in a comfortable room with soft furnishings and uplifting colors.
“The more chaotic your setting, the more chaotic your experience will be,” Peki said. “That’s a big deal – because the psychedelic experience itself can already be quite overwhelming, you want to reduce unpredictable external stimuli.”
Mental preparation for loss of control, or potential the death of the ego, is also recommended. Setting clear intentions can also be helpful. “Contemplation also helps a lot, to figure out for yourself what the purpose of this psychedelic journey is, what your intention is, what you would like to process,” Peki said.
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