USA Today Best Selling Author Kiki Howell shares her experience with at-home psychedelic ketamine-assisted therapy. Stayed tuned for future installments from Kiki, as she takes us through her ketamine therapy experiences.
Settling Into The Experience
I remember thinking when getting ready for my first experience after I’d spit the pill out and rested my head back onto my pillow, what now? My nerves due to a new-to-me endeavor were already starting to ebb at that point, so I went to my go-to for anxiety, breath work. Again, blame the other day job, being a yoga teacher. We’re always so focused on the breath. And, for good reason. One, mimicking the breathing pattern of someone who is calm can activate the parasympathetic nervous system in an anxious person. Two, it turns people inward, helping them to focus on their body rather than letting it continue to operate on auto-pilot. That comes with a whole host of benefits.
While extending the exhale beyond the length of the inhale is the most common breath pattern for calming, for meditation usually a square breathing pattern is used to help one focus on the breath rather than our usual swirl of thoughts. Most start with a Four Square Breathing Pattern, but many, like me, who’ve worked with breath for a long time use a Seven Square Breathing Pattern for mediation purposes. Whichever count you use, a square breathing pattern simply means inhaling to a set count, let’s use four. Then holding the breath for four counts. Next exhaling to the tune of four counts, and last pausing before the next inhale for four counts.
Despite this practice, for me, the thoughts came anyway, as they do in an anxious brain, so I began thinking of my thoughts as notes on small pieces of paper, and let them float away with an imaginary breeze. Now, this process is supposed to be simply a thought, yet I, with an overactive imagination, often envision the brightly colored Post-it notes being blown away by a fierce breeze in my mind. Either way, it helps not to focus on the thoughts, to simply let them go by whatever means necessary.
The last thing I did was envision my Sacred Garden. It is basically the most serene and glorious place I can imagine. It doesn’t have to be an actual garden either. Mine isn’t really. For me, I walk, barefoot, on a soft moss-covered trail through a dense forest, because there are no bugs or snakes, or anything creepy crawly or bitey in my garden. I come upon a large ancient tree with gnarled yet glossy bark of every shade of brown you can imagine. My tree sits in front of a waterfall, a steep cascade that plunges from a rocky ledge. There are white daisies and black-eyed Susans scattered around, but no formal garden.
A Safe Place
Once you build this place in your mind, you will have it to go to any time you want to get away. Think of it as another tool in your calming toolbox. To create your own, start with the base, mountain, ocean, or actual garden, whatever place seems most serene and beautiful to you. Pick day or night, maybe even sunrise or dusk. Then start to add in all the details you would love there. Think through the five senses as you do this. The more detail for each, the more real and alive your sacred place will become. I sometimes go to a full moon over a large lake that is surrounded by white flowers that glow under the starlight. Whatever suits you. Change as often as necessary. Before you know it, you will have drifted off into your ketamine dream.
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Kirstein Howell is a USA Today Bestselling Author who writes fiction under the pen name of Kiki Howell. A life-long learner, she’s currently a CYT 200 Yoga Teacher with a collection of other certifications that include Reiki, Feng Shui, and Essential Oils. At this moment, she’s studying to be a shaman.
Experiences with ketamine are individual and vary by user.