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Set And Setting: What's The Difference And How Can They Impact Your Trip?
5 min

Set & Setting: Two Essential Variables For A Psychedelic Trip

5 min
Effects News

Tripping can either be an incredible, uplifting experience, or a complete downer. In order to prepare yourself for the best situation possible, it's important to understand the differences between "set" and "setting," as well as the necessary precautions to take for each.

When taking a psychedelic substance like magic mushrooms or LSD, you want it to be a positive experience. One key element to ensuring your trip turns out great is being well-prepared.

Two essential variables that have a big influence on how your trip will proceed are set and setting—and they come as a packaged deal. We’ll explain their meaning and the role they play in shaping a psychedelic experience below. Then, we’ll offer some tips on how to create the best mental and physical environment for your trip!

Set And Setting: What Does It Mean?

Set and Setting: two important psychedelic experience factors

The term “set and setting” was coined by Timothy Leary in the flower power era of the 1960s, and describes two important factors that influence a psychedelic experience: your mindset (“set”) and your surroundings (“setting”).

Set

The “set” mostly revolves around yourself—your mindset and state of being at the time of taking a psychedelic. You might feel happy and carefree, or worried and tense. Your thoughts, your mood, how you feel about the impending psychedelic experience—even your physical health—all comprise the set.

Setting

The “setting” is your environment, which includes your surroundings and the people you’re with. But the setting isn’t just about the physical; it also extends to how you feel about being in a given space. For instance, certain people might generate good or bad vibes that will influence your trip, and the same goes for your surroundings. A cold and uncomfortable environment is much more likely to promote a bad trip than somewhere familiar and safe.

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The Importance Of Set And Setting For A Psychedelic Trip

The Importance Of Set And Setting For A Psychedelic Trip

Now you know that set and setting can impact a psychedelic trip, but why are these variables so important? Although other drugs can benefit from the considerations of set and setting, psychedelics are especially contingent on these factors. This is because, unlike party drugs or alcohol, psychedelics amplify your current feelings rather than change them.

Thus, if you’re feeling worried or down, your psychedelic experience will bring out these negative emotions even more. In regards to the setting, a place or person may give you an uneasy feeling that causes your trip to turn south.

Again, it’s important to prepare for a great experience. Psychedelics won’t necessarily cheer you up if you’re feeling down. They will not relax you if you’re feeling nervous, or make you happy if you’re really not. Your psychedelic trip will bring to light all kinds of stuff—the good and the bad.

How To Create The Best Set And Setting

Know that, even with the best preparations, your trip can still turn out different than you planned. After all, it’s really not possible to say beforehand exactly what one will experience. The kind of psychedelic you are taking, the dose, your tolerance, and your own experience with psychedelics all play a role.

But with the right mindset (set) and a suitable environment (setting), the likelihood of a negative experience will be much less. Let’s look at how you can create the best set and setting.

Set

Set your mindset and state of being while using psychedelics

When it comes to the set, it’s all about knowing yourself and your experience. If you follow your gut, your trip should turn out just fine.

Resist Peer Pressure

Don’t go tripping if you don’t want to! Don’t let peer pressure influence your decisions. If you have doubts or simply don’t feel like it, just opt out this time. Going on a psychedelic trip isn’t something you do to impress someone.

Don’T Take Psychedelics If You’Re Feeling Nervous

Don’t take psychedelics if you’re feeling nervous, uneasy, or sad. While there’s a chance your trip will turn out just fine, it’s always better to trip in a positive state of mind.

Don’T Trip If You’Re Sick

If you're not feeling well, are injured, or tired, this will likely have a negative effect on your trip. In fact, chances are the trip will make you feel worse.

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Consider Your Mental Health Status

Be cautious taking psychedelics if you have a mental health condition, especially one that makes you prone to panic or dissociation. Know that family history can play a role herein, and that some conditions can be temporarily exacerbated by psychedelics.

Research The Drug Beforehand

Every psychedelic is different. Make sure you are familiar with what to expect from each experience, and plan accordingly. Ask reliable friends for anecdotes if they have any, but know that people are prone to exaggeration.

Go With The Flow

Don’t try to micromanage your trip. Overthinking the experience and trying to find meaning in everything can actually prevent you from having positive breakthroughs. Accept that a trip is, by definition, something surreal, and some things are perhaps not meant to be intellectualised or fully understood. Relax and enjoy the ride.

Be Smart With Dosing

Even if you’re feeling amped and ready to trip, be mindful of your dose. If it’s your first time trying a new psychedelic, start with a mild dose to become acquainted with its range of effects. On subsequent journeys, you can up your dose to find your sweet spot. Taking a “heroic dose” will only make it more difficult to come down should your trip go south.

Setting

Setting includes surroundings and people while tripping

Remember, your social surroundings are just as important as your physical environment. Preparation is key with the setting, and can save you a lot of discomfort later down the line.

Location, Location, Location

Choose a nice location for your trip; one without distractions, where you feel comfortable and safe. If you’re still inexperienced with psychedelics, a familiar place like your home may be best. Avoid crowded and loud places. A rock concert may be lots of fun on other substances, but when tripping, it could make for an awful experience.

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Prepare Your Setting

Put on some nice trippy music, set up a comfortable launching spot with pillows and blankets, turn down the lights, and light some incense. You get the idea. Note that the music you choose can significantly influence how your psychedelic journey develops. You may like techno or rock when sober, but for a good psychedelic experience, soothing music and sounds will be better. We recommend compiling a long playlist before embarking on your journey to save yourself some trouble.

Turn Off Electronic Devices

Power down your phone and set it aside. With the exception of music or visuals, it’s best to keep electronic devices to a minimum while tripping. Just do it.

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Set Aside Time And Space

Make sure you can trip without unwanted surprises—this includes unexpected visitors and phone calls. Obviously, you don’t want to trip if you’re expecting your in-laws to come over within the hour, or if you have something else important to do that day. It’s best to set aside an entire day to enjoy your journey. A trip can easily last several hours, so plan accordingly.

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Surround Yourself With People You Enjoy

Mind the people around you. You don’t want to trip among strangers, and you definitely don’t want to trip with people you don’t trust or like. Make sure the people you’re with understand and approve of what you are doing. Otherwise, they may bring on unwanted panic or paranoia.

Don’T Trip In A Dangerous Place

It goes without saying that you want to keep it safe when taking psychedelics. Tripping will affect your cognition and motor skills, so don’t go tripping somewhere dangerous. And definitely don’t drive while tripping.

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Get A Trip Sitter!

This one is very important. An experienced trip sitter will be an immense help should your trip not go to plan. You may be tripping balls and not even understand what your friend is saying, but just their presence can help turn a bad experience into a better one. It is important for your trip sitter to be experienced with psychedelics and to understand what you are going through. That said, your trip sitter should be sober while you’re on your journey.

Georg

Written by: Georg
Based in Spain, Georg spends a lot of his time not only geeking out at his computer but in his garden as well. With a burning passion for growing cannabis and researching psychedelics, Georg is well versed in all things psychoactive.

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