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What is a Psychedelic Trip Sitter and what do they do?

A trip sitter is a person who stays sober while others are under the influence of some form of hallucinogen. The trip sitter is there to help and ensure the safety of the users during there trip. A sitter can help you when you have a bad trip or just comfort those who are tripping by his calming presence.

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What is a trip sitter?

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Trip sitting is a very common and important aspect of the psychedelic community.   

When you trip sit, you are taking care of another person who is under the influence of psychoactive substances.  The drug does not necessarily need to be a psychedelic drug, the sitter can be present for any context involving a potent drug. 

A trip sitter is usually a friend you trust and that you have to know for some time, but that is not always the case.  For example, if you go to an ayahuasca retreat, shamans present there will be your trip sitters (more on this later).  There are also web sites offering a professional trip sitter you can hire.

A good trip sitter will have ample experience with psychedelic substances, otherwise, it will be difficult for a novice to actually be of assistance, and worse, he might even increase the level of anxiety of those tripping.  

A person who has experience with different kinds of drugs, like LSD, magic mushrooms or salvia would be ideal.  Some basic first aid skills would be nice to have too. But the most important it must be a person that you trust. 

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Can the trip sitter be high?

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Most people believe that the trip sitter needs to be sober because you are the only barrier between someone having a good trip and someone having a full-on bad one.  We agree with that but, if you are experienced, it could be beneficial to microdose with the trippers as it can help to put the sitter in the right frame of mind to connect at a spiritual level.  But remember that microdosing is a very small dose that does not make you trip, a dose that is so small that you can go about your daily life and notice the effects barely enough. 

In any case, the trip sitting decision needs to be a conscious and intentional effort.  By this we mean that the decision to trip with a trip sitter needs to be taken before anyone starts tripping, it is not a spontaneous affair.  

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The trip sitter responsibilities 

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You should know what kind of substances people are taking and what quantities.  We like to say that you should have experience with the substance taken and what the effects can be. Read up about the substance the trippers will ingest, research the web for advice and go to specialized forums online. 

the main responsibility is to contribute to a calming and opening environment so the trippers can explore their mind and the immediate environment easily and safely.   

The focus on creating an environment (the set) that is cozy and welcoming, and when things get uncomfortable, they take care of the tripper, relaxing him.  The best trippers are the ones that can prevent a full breakdown or a panic attack happening at all.  But if they do happen, they can end it very fast. 

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The Trippers responsibilities

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That's right folks, the trippers also have some responsibilities when tripping with a trip sitter, if you respect each one of these, you are making sure that your experience will be a pleasant one. 

  • We spoke about his one earlier, but it is important to tell the trip sitter what substance you will be taking and how much of it will be used. 
  • Every trip with psychedelics should have an intention, whether fun, exploratory, spiritual), whatever it is, it is important to let the tripper know about your intention. 
  • Set up some pre-trip agreements. 
  • Tell the tripper what your experience is with the drug, are you a beginner, an experienced user?  They need to know this. 
  • Are there any health concerns the trip sitter should know about?  

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What do Shaman's and Timothy Leary have to say about trip sitting?

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Trip sitting is a tradition that goes back ages, it has always been a necessary component of the psychedelic experience.  Many indigenous populations in Central America have a Shaman who guides participants, they are in a certain way,  very experienced Trip Sitters.  

When you go to an Ayahuasca retreats, trip sitters are Shaman's whom participants have never met before.  These shamans are accomplished and very capable trip sitters who also perform other important tasks.

What do more contemporary psychonauts have to say about the subject?  Lets take a look at what Timothy Leary has to say: it is actually very useful and practical advice: 

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“The guide must never be bored, talkative, intellectualizing. He must remain calm during the long periods of swirling mindlessness.

He is the ground control in the airport tower. Always there to receive messages and queries from high-flying aircraft. Always ready to help navigate their course, to help them reach their destination.

An airport-tower-operator who imposes his own personality, his own games upon the pilot is unheard of. The pilots have their own flight plan, their own goals, and ground control is there, ever waiting to be of service.

The pilot is reassured to know that an expert who has guided thousands of flights is down there, available for help.

But suppose the flier has reason to suspect that ground control is harboring his own motives and might be manipulating the plane toward selfish goals. The bond of security and confidence would crumble.”

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(Taken from:  “The Psychedelic Experience: a manual based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead”, by Timothy Leary et al (1964))

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Extra Information: 

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How to Trip Sit From the Double Blind website

Read more about Bad trip

Read or responsible use page

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Have a safe and pleasant trip!

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