Psychedelic Trip Sitting

A How-to on Facilitating a Friend’s Psychedelic Experience

  • graphic Sam Jones

“Trip sitting” entails a sober person being present while one or more people take a psychedelic drug such as magic mushrooms or LSD. Let’s take a brief look at some things you should be thinking about if you’re going to be someone’s trip sitter.

The presence of a caring sitter provides safety and comfort, ensuring the trip goes smoothly and allowing those tripping to immerse themselves in their experience more freely and without some of the worries or concerns they might otherwise have.

For starters, you must be well-informed about the substance in question. Do some research until you are comfortable answering questions about duration, dosage, effects and possible side effects.

Having personal experience with the substance is useful, but not necessary. Read reports of people’s experiences, both positive and negative, to get an idea of what an experience on this substance looks like. A great place to find such trip reports is on Erowid (erowid.org).

Having a conversation prior to the trip is important. Ask what they expect from you as a sitter. One person might want you to be quietly present unless something is needed, whereas someone else might want you to play a more active role in the experience, perhaps by talking or guiding a meditation.

Additionally, ask how they would like you to respond if they feel anxious or panicked.

You can also use this opportunity to set some ground rules, such as establishing that it’s okay for the tripper to express sexual or aggressive feelings, should they arise, but that they cannot act on them.

Another ground rule could be that sexual contact can only take place between people who have a pre-existing relationship. Setting such boundaries helps ensure that the trip goes smoothly and without confusion as to what is and isn’t appropriate.

During the trip, your role is to create a safe and comfortable setting in which they can have their experience. The setting includes things like lighting, music, room temperature and, more generally, location. A good place for a trip is in the comfort of someone’s home, where the sitter can easily regulate the environment. Being outside or at a party are less ideal places for tripping, as the setting is more unpredictable and difficult to control.

Above all, remember that you are there to facilitate someone else’s experience, and not to have your own. Don’t treat their trip as your novelty by asking them how they’re feeling, what they’re seeing or trying to show them things that you think might be “trippy” to see how they’ll react. It’s not that you shouldn’t talk at all, but the idea is that you’re not there to take up space.

Instead, try to keep an open and receptive mindset. If you meditate regularly, those skills will come in handy here. Rather than actively searching for whether you should intervene, try to remain uninvolved unless you’re needed. Make it clear that you are there to help and that they shouldn’t hesitate to ask if they want snacks or water, to talk or have a change of setting, or if they feel anxious or uncomfortable.

If the tripper finds themselves in a state of panic or anxiety, the presence of a caring sitter is itself very comforting. A gentle touch on the arm or shoulder can be reassuring, and a change in setting can also help, but be sure to ask and get their consent prior to either of these.

Unless agreed upon before the trip, it’s best not to probe them about what they’re going through, as having to explain in the moment can be an added stress. Instead, remind them that they’re safe, that you’re there with them, and that it’s okay for them to let themselves experience whatever they are experiencing.

In the days following the experience, make yourself available to discuss it. Psychedelic experiences can be profound and rich in content, and you can help them understand and integrate this experience by providing a space for them to process it. Talking it through can also ensure that important aspects of the trip are not forgotten.

Sitting for someone’s trip is a privilege. Being asked to be someone’s sitter is an expression of their trust and of their willingness to have you be part of a highly personal and intimate experience, so approach it with care and respect. Done right, it can be an insightful experience for both parties. And who knows, they might be willing to return the favour.

Safe and happy travels!

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