A journey is any form of experience, ranging from thirty minutes to several hours, in which you are focusing your mind on an intention designed to improve your life in some way, such as removing limiting beliefs, overcoming trauma, or discovering something new about yourself.
To explain what this means in more detail, I have to briefly review the principles of meditation. Meditation is a practice that has been around for thousands of years, and has been used by people all over the world to cultivate inner peace, clarity, and a deeper connection with oneself. While the benefits of meditation are well-known, many people struggle to incorporate it into their daily lives, or find it difficult to stay consistent with their practice. That’s where a journey comes in – it is a structured approach to meditation that can help individuals develop a consistent practice and experience the many benefits of meditation.
That’s where the similarities with meditation end, however. During a meditation, you are clearing your mind of all thoughts with the goal of only being as present as possible throughout the experience. You may encounter thoughts, but the purpose of meditation is to let those thoughts float by without judgment or concern.
A journey is different. When you begin a journey, the goal is to focus on your thoughts. A proper journey requires an intention, such as I am powerful and hold loving boundaries (one of my recent intentions). This intention sets the stage for your journey’s path and informs your subconscious mind what it is supposed to focus on while you are experiencing the journey.
Diving deep into your journey
At its core, a journey is a process of self-discovery and exploration. It is an intentional and focused practice that involves setting aside time to cultivate awareness and concentration, and to explore one’s inner self. Over time, you can learn how to navigate your minds, reduce stress and anxiety, increase self-awareness, and promote overall well-being.
The journey begins by setting an intention or goal for the practice. This intention could be anything from reducing stress, improving focus, or cultivating greater self-compassion. Once the intention is set, you can begin to explore various techniques that can help you achieve their goal.
One common technique used in journeys is breathwork. This involves focusing on the breath, observing its natural rhythm, and using it as an anchor for the mind. By bringing the attention back to the breath whenever the mind wanders, individuals can learn how to cultivate greater focus and concentration.
There is an excellent meditation track from Boreta featuring Alan Watts guiding a meditation in which he explains, quite beautifully, how to use the breath as an anchor for your mind. Just keep in mind that while he is talking about meditation, a journey will involve the addition of an intention, as I addressed above. Breathwork is an equally excellent tool for both meditating and journeying.
Another common technique used in journeys is visualization. This involves using the power of the imagination to create mental images that can help promote relaxation and reduce stress. For example, you may imagine a peaceful scene, such as a beach or a forest, and to visualize yourself in that space, breathing in the tranquility and calm. This sets an amazing scene to which you can bring your intention and focus on it without distraction.
Body scan meditations are also commonly used in journeys. This involves bringing attention to different parts of the body, and observing any sensations or tension that may be present. By bringing awareness to the body in this way, you can learn how to release tension and promote relaxation. This technique is particularly useful when you are having trouble focusing, or if you have a lot happening in your life and need a powerful way to disconnect in order to focus on your intention.
A very powerful way to go on a journey is to use psychedelic medicine. Psychedelics are excellent tools for opening your mind to focus on your intention and come up with solutions that your waking sober mind wouldn’t be able to come up with. For those who are spiritually-oriented, psychedelics are very helpful for tapping into the realms of energy and spirituality, which adds a much deeper and more meaningful element to the journey.
Popular psychedelics used in journeying include psilocybin (magic mushrooms), LSD, MDMA, Ketamine, and DMT. The world of psychedelics is vast and, in many ways, unexplored by science. That being said, the research does show that psychedelics are incredibly safe (much safer than alcohol) and lead to many benefits. You can read more about this in my post: Are psychedelics safe?
Hama supports the pursuit of all safe means of exploring the self, and that includes psychedelics. Although they are still illegal in many states in the USA, we support the work of MAPS, Johns Hopkins, and other institutions that are working hard to bring the healing power of psychedelics, especially MDMA and psilocybin, into the mainstream. They are helping a lot of people through powerful healing journeys.
Set and setting
Regardless of whether or not you are using psychedelics, the set and setting of your journey is of the utmost importance. A journey opens your mind and heart to more sensory inputs than normal, and that means you’ll be taking in information that can influence your journey in unexpected ways. Setting the right mindset (set) and environment (setting) for your journey helps you limit external factors, distractions, and wandering thoughts from entering your mind.
Set (Your state of mind)
The set, or mindset, going into your journey has an enormous influence over the experience you will have throughout the journey. If you are anxious, in the middle of a fight with your significant other, or otherwise mentally engaged with a stressful or overwhelming situation, you aren’t ready for a journey.
My suggestion is that you wait until you are in a calm state of mind, or use traditional meditation techniques to get there, in order to prepare properly for a journey. The deeper you go into your journey experience, the more important this “starting mindset” is. You want to go into the experience with a clear mind and a clear intention.
Setting (your surroundings)
The environment in which you choose to enter a journey has an equal impact on your experience as your mindset. You’ll want to choose a place that is quiet, secluded, and free from distractions that will pull you out of your journey. Speaking from experience, it’s really frustrating when you are on the verge of discovering something important, or coming up with a truly creative idea, when an alarm goes off, a truck blares its horn, or something else happens that pulls you out of the experience. Limiting the possibility for these external factors will ensure you have an uninterrupted journey experience.
My wife Melanie and I, upon moving into our home, decided that instead of a traditional living room, we would build a journey room. This is a dedicated room in our home for holding journeys together, and it’s our favorite room in the house (perhaps besides our bedroom). I wrote a brief post on how to build your own journey room, which you can find here: How to build a journey room in your home
Depending on what journeying techniques you use, you can choose to be alone or work with a partner, friend, or professional facilitator.
“Lighter” journeying techniques, such as breathwork and body scanning, can easily be done alone in the comfort of your own home.
For those experienced with psychedelics, mild to moderate journeys can be done safely in your home. It is up to you to decide where to draw the line when deciding on the dosage for a psychedelic journey; this is why I say you should be experienced with psychedelics first. I can’t recommend more highly that if you haven’t experienced psychedelics before, you find a professional facilitator to help ease you into the experience and guide your journey if you need assistance or encouragement.
Professional facilitation includes individuals and businesses which have years of experience, including (and especially) first-hand experience, with using psychedelic medicine. This is why an increasing number of people are traveling to South America to experience the wisdom and power of shamans, who have cultivated psychedelic medicine for their whole lives and based their knowledge on thousands of years of tradition surrounding plant medicine.
Regardless of whether you choose to travel to another country to experience plant medicine from the source, or you happen to find a source locally, please journey responsibly. If you feel at all lost or insecure, don’t try to do it alone.
While a facilitated meditation journey can be undertaken with psychedelics, many people find it helpful to start with traditional techniques, such as those I mentioned above (breathwork, body scanning, and visualization). There are thousands of professional facilitators for these techniques as well, from sound healers to breathwork experts. I’ve personally worked with many of these people and have had deep experienced equal in intensity and depth to psychedelic experiences. Don’t underestimate the power of these techniques. Finding a facilitator to provide you with support and guidance is a powerful way to stay accountable to your practice and ensure you’re getting the most out of your time journeying.
A journey is a powerful tool for self-discovery and growth. By committing to a regular practice, you can learn how to cultivate greater awareness, reduce stress, and develop greater self-compassion. Whether done alone or with the support of a teacher or community, journeying can help you find greater peace and well-being in your life. It has for me and many of my friends who are on the path of self-discovery.
Getting started begins with finding some uninterrupted time. Check your calendar for some time when you can sit quietly, without distraction. Ideally, you should have 2-3 hours, but schedules can be tricky (especially with kids), so do what you can.
Once you’ve found some time, decide where you want to conduct your journey (your setting). Make sure it’s comfortable, and again, free from distractions. I don’t recommend using your bedroom, though, as that room has a very specific energy that you don’t want to screw around with (plus you may feel more tempted to just fall asleep).
Finally, begin to think about your intention while focusing on clearing your mind to get ready for the experience. Your intention is the key to having a meaningful journey. It can be specific, such as I want to figure out this challenge I’ve been facing, or it can be general, such as Show me what is standing in my way. Both are fine; the important thing is that your intention means something to you. It will be your guide throughout the experience.
I hope this has been a valuable introduction to journeying and that you have a clearer idea of what it means to “journey.” If you haven’t experienced a journey before, I encourage you to try it out for yourself! And if you’re an experienced journeyer, I hope this has added some new depth or dimension to your existing practice.