The Dark Side of Good Trips

Psychedelic ego death and its strange aftermath

Psychedelic ego death experiences can lead to disenchantment and suffering
Psychedelic ego death experiences can lead to disenchantment and suffering
Photo by Meritt Thomas on Unsplash

What is this ego death?

So let’s talk about ego death for a moment. In this experience, your entire cognitive structure breaks down, often against your own wishes. The “self” — or ego — is seen to dissolve, which is pretty scary for most people, as it really feels like some profound sort of death.

What happens in the aftermath of an ego death experience?

Many people struggle a bit with integration. That is only natural, as the two states — the ego death experience vs life as you know it — are so very different from each other.

Unresolved psychedelic integration destabilizes

For some, however, the integration phase doesn’t really end. And the longer it goes on, the stronger the tension becomes between the life you made for yourself, and the ego death experience. This can lead to disorientation, where everything is questioned, and every little decision can become fraught. Paralysis and stasis result from this, as well as a sense of not being able to understand the world, and the people around you.

How to work with these difficult experiences

If you’re feeling deeply ungrounded and destabilized, this is the most urgent thing that needs to be addressed. One way to handle this cluster of symptoms is to:

  1. Return to the very basics of what you are able to handle, and postpone — for now — anything that you can’t.
  2. Abandon the recreational use of mind-altering chemicals — yes, that includes alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine — at least until these ungrounded effects have abated.
  3. Ask for and accept help from others.
  4. Spend time reconnecting with your body, and with nature.

Towards a re-enchantment of your life

Such a journey holds the promise of turning your current disenchantment into a genuine re-enchantment with existence, informing every aspect of your life, ultimately leading to great wisdom, intimate engagement, and even sainthood.

Meditation student, and sometimes teacher.

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