Why is Music so Important in a Psychedelic Experience?
by Hayley Braxton
There are many factors that can influence your experience during your ketamine session. These include your intention and your set and setting among others. Your intention might be a concept, idea or question that you choose to guide your journey. Your set describes the mindset that you bring to your experience and your setting is about creating the right space to nurture your journey. Most will undertake their session in their bed or a comfortable chair, wearing an eye mask and listening to music, as this leads to a more immersive experience. Therefore a large part of your journey will be guided by the music you choose.
We are well aware of the power that music can have on our emotional landscape. A song might remind us of a distant time in our lives –memories and emotions can come flooding back. We play music or sing to celebrate, to express ourselves, and to soothe our babies. Music and singing are certainly not new to the healing toolkit of humanity. In fact, it has been identified that our ancestors had the anatomical structure that would have allowed us to sing since the beginning of homo sapiens. Music has been shown to have therapeutic benefits for a myriad of human conditions.
It has been shown repeatedly that music can be beneficial in supporting us with a range of medical conditions. There are many studies that have shown that music therapy has been beneficial to people diagnosed with depression (here and here) as well as schizophrenia. It has been a successful support to people with dementia and also for end-of-life care. Music has been effective in supporting cancer patients, lung and heart conditions. This is just the beginning of conditions that research has shown the effectiveness of music as a therapy for humans.
Many of us understand that music has the ability to affect our emotions, but this effect can also be heightened by psychedelics. Choosing the right music to increase its benefit can be highly subjective. What will spark joy for one person may be distressing for another. This is why we recommend choosing a playlist that will be the right fit for you. In order to allow the ketamine to take your mind to whatever space it needs to, we recommend choosing a playlist that will be neutral and not too influential. For example, we wouldn’t recommend a song that you may have danced to when you were younger as it may bring up memories of this time for you. Our ideal is to create a soundscape that will be a neutral backdrop, allowing you to explore with your mind. We also recommend choosing music that does not contain lyrics as these may influence your thoughts and feelings.
Evidence shows that music that is ideally resonant with the person experiencing psychedelics can lead to increased inner eye visuals. (Interestingly, it is the same area of the brain activated as is in the deja vu experience.) Resonance, however, is not necessarily a song that you like or know, but the tone or timbre that resonates with you best. For some people this will be electronic music, for others it may be soft piano. Your age, geographical location and cultural background can all influence the way that you may or may not align with certain music.
The playlists we recommend are all designed for a sublingual ketamine experience. However, some like to create or find their own playlist, and we are happy to support you with this process. If you’re looking to create your own playlist, here are a few things to keep in mind. You will want it to last approximately 2-3 hours and below is a general guide for the types of sounds that are optimal for each time interval. An example playlist is our ‘Curio 1-Letting Go’ playlist.
0-20 minutes | Meditation & Flight instructions
Soft, Ambient sounds, appropriate for voice over body scan & flight instructions. Example here.
21-40 minutes | The Build Up
Songs slowly building in intensity. Gentle, some melodic interest, medicine will be starting to take effect so something gentle with positive emotive drive. Example here.
41-80 minutes | The Peak
More harmonic tones +/- some experimental and simple sounds to both heighten psychedelic effects and allow space, respectively. Example here.
81-100 minutes | The Return
Softer songs to guide you back into your space. Gentle, earthly sounds that are soft and delicate in nature. You will start to feel more alert, waiting for the energy to return to your body. Example here.
101-130+ minutes | Easing Out
Continue with the softer sounds to integrate your experience. We recommend gentle melodies, and/or light vocals that are reflective and mellow. Example here.