Marijn Schrieken, a body-centered trauma healing practitioner and member of our therapist network, wrote this helpful article.
It all seems so wonderful, if you can believe all the stories, the enthusiasm about the mushroom, the sacred cactus, the medicinal Caapi vine, that can make life so much more pleasant, even in a microdose. Just imagine, you suffer from severe depression, anxiety, pain or other causes of psychological suffering. Anything that comes along that can relieve this suffering is more than welcome. But what to do if, after using these sacred plants for a while, old patterns reappear?
I hear this question often in my body-centered trauma therapy practice. And I speak from personal experience… I too have tasted the longing and hope that these sacred remedies would offer salvation. I have learned the hard way that development and growth also mean that you have to work for it. Henk van Straten (writer and journalist) could not have described it better in his article that recently appeared in the Dutch magazine Happinez. His quest of many years for the right remedy to overcome his demons ended (for now) in Ecuador after a San Pedro journey. Once back in the Netherlands normal life fell over him like a cold shower. He realized that euphoria from such an inner journey is not eternal, that maintaining an open heart is work. Having understood this, he had the tools to regulate his state of mind and he could indeed sense feelings of love in his heart again as he had experienced during the trip.
But Henk was making a high dose trip, that’s not comparable to microdosing, is it?
Believe me, I’ve been there myself, it is. Macro is indeed much more intense and profound. With microdosing you hit the same issues only lighter. I did a lot of self-exploration and ran into the same pain points as Henk and what I read from others in various posts on social media. It was my salvation when I discovered that I needed my nervous system and therefore my body to really live through the experiences of fear, pain, anger, sadness and everything in between. I didn’t tinker with the dosage or the type of plant to get rid of the bad feelings. I have learned to bear and feel what I experienced together with the plant. This brought me the peace and trust in my body that I could endure difficult feelings. It made them diminish, change and sometimes even transform.
Easily said and how do you do it?
Herewith some tips whenever you need ‘help’ with difficult feelings and how to regulate them.
Do what mammals do.
They are always looking around to see where they are. Is there any danger? No, then they can continue eating in peace. We, mammal humans, are rarely in real danger. And also for our nervous system it is very nice to see where we are. Let your eyes wander and let them rest where it is nice, beautiful and pleasant for you. Listen to sounds around you. Do you smell anything from the environment? Notice that your breath is probably already calming down and deepening. For 5 minutes or so or as long as it is fine for you.
Let gravity help you.
Feel the ease of sitting, that you don’t have to do anything for this because gravity pushes you into the chair. Feel the weight of your body on the seat and back. Don’t forget your feet, which are resting on the floor, if necessary, stomp on the floor a few times well and notice the sensations it brings about.
Stretch and yawn until it makes your eyes water.
Start stretching your body slowly and do this slowly. Make a yawning motion, do this just until your body takes over automatically. And surrender to it. Our brain and nervous system love this! It relaxes deeply.
Breathe out longer than you breathe in!
You already do that with the yawning, but if that doesn’t work, breathing out long and deep for a while and in shorter is already very nice for your system.
Stretching as described above, walking, yoga, or just slowly moving your arms and legs starting at your feet and continuing your way up, contribute to giving space to feelings and emotions. Anxiety and frustration are often stuck, by literally moving your limbs you’ll create space for transformation.
If possible, do these things together with another person. This is called co-regulation. Our brain is built on doing things together, sharing and being with each other. It would be nice if you could connect with a friend. And if not available connect with your pet. It is scientifically proved that petting your cat or dog lowers heartrate and eases the nervous system. Being outside in nature watching and listening to birds has the same result.
But won’t those feelings get bigger because of that? Seems terrifying to me!
No… you also like being able to breathe better when that belt is no longer so tight, don’t you? It’s the given space for you belly that makes you relax, right? You see? Sometimes it can be that simple in our bodies.
Yes, but sometimes… When I turn my attention to the fear, I feel how big it is and then I move away from it. What then?
Yeah, been there… Think of your feelings and emotions as water behind a lock in a canal, you set the door ajar so the water can get through a little bit. That way you are not swamped by it. You allow a little bit of the feeling. You know… feelings are like little children, they want to be heard, seen and comforted. Even a glimpse of the feeling being acknowledged will be very much appreciated by your nervous system. And so you do a little bit at a time and if it feels good, make your gap a little bigger.
Great tips, all done before, but they didn’t help me enough!
Last but not least… Reach out for support. The latter can be very difficult: depression and anxiety bring lethargy and feelings of paralysis. Then picking up the phone can be quite a task. But know that some things are too big to solve alone. And therefore seek contact if these exercises for self-regulation are not enough. Underneath certain patterns there are probably unprocessed traumas. Our nervous system wants to be freed from these. As great as I think psychedelics are, in my experience they are not a stand-alone treatment and not enough to process old pain. So, do yourself and your nervous system a favor, reach out!
On behalf of the microdosing coaching team, take advantage of these tips and if you have any questions, feel welcome to send us a message.
For more information on regulating the nervous system, visit SomaticExperiencing.com or read the book Waking The Tiger by Peter Levine.
Marijn Schrieken is one of the therapists in our Coaching and Therapy Network.