"Set" and "Setting" in your microdosing journey

Sabrina Viitasaari
February 27, 2023
 min read
Microdosing has become increasingly popular as a means of achieving various mental and physical benefits, such as increased creativity, productivity, and reduced anxiety or depression. 

While microdosing typically involves taking small amounts of psychedelic substances, such as LSD or psilocybin, it is important to consider the factors of both the set and setting in order to optimise the experience.

Therefore, it is important to approach microdosing with a positive and open mindset, and to take the microdose in a calm and comfortable environment.

In their 1964 psychedelic guidebook, The Psychedelic Experience; A manual based on the Tibetan book of the Dead, Timothy Leary and his Harvard colleagues introduced the concept of “set and setting”. This was during the second psychedelic wave. The term "set" refers to the mental and emotional state of the person taking the drug, while "setting" refers to the person's physical and social environment.

If we go deeper we can look at both “set” and “setting” from these perspectives:


  1. Mindset: It is important to approach microdosing with a positive and open mindset. If you are feeling anxious, stressed, or depressed, it may not be the best time to take a microdose, as it may exacerbate those feelings. In case you do, you will have to prepare yourself for it.
  1. Intention: Set an intention for the microdosing experience. What do you hope to achieve? Is there a particular problem you are hoping to solve or a creative project you are hoping to work on? Focusing on a clear intention can help guide the experience.
  1. Physical health: Consider your physical health. If you are feeling physically unwell or have a medical condition, it may not be the best time to microdose.
  1. Dosage: Consider the appropriate dosage for your individual needs. In order to determine the amount that is best suited to your body, it is essential to begin with a low dose and gradually increase it.
  1. Physical environment: The physical environment can affect the microdosing experience. Consider creating a safe and comfortable environment with appropriate lighting, comfortable seating, and calming music.
  1. Social environment: The social environment can also play a role in the experience. Consider who you want to be with, if anyone, and what activities you want to engage in.Having a partner or friend you can rely on can be helpful.
  1. Distractions: Eliminate distractions, such as phones or other electronic devices, that may interfere with the experience.
  1. Timing: Consider the timing of the microdosing experience. It may be helpful to set aside a specific time when you can focus solely on the experience and not have any other commitments or responsibilities.

As it can be seen above, the psychedelic experience relies heavily on both "set" and "setting." Setting clear, measurable goals before you begin can help you shape your experience, which is important for you.

How do you prepare yourself mentally for your microdosing session?

In his book The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys, Dr. James Fadiman says: "it is invaluable to write out beforehand what you hope to learn, experience, understand, or resolve," 

By selecting a few questions to organise the direction of your microdose session, you can assist in directing your own journey. Before the dose, take this opportunity to write down any questions you have about your mental, social, or spiritual well-being. Here are some examples:
  • What emotions am I experiencing right now? What emotions have I experienced over the past days and weeks?
  • What challenges have I come up against in the last several months?
  • Is there any trauma that may surface when microdosing with psychedelics?
  • What are your goals? Do you have spiritual goals? Psychological goals? Social goals?

TIP: Be specific in your doubts and questions and be receptive to the responses you might get. Although psychedelics might not give you the relief you need right away, if you keep an open mind, you might be able to find the direction you need.

Lastly, here are some extra tips you can always consider to make your practical tips you can follow on your journey with the best set possible. 

  • Journal / write down your intentions
  • Take long, deep breaths to calm your nervous system. 
  • Meditate to help you focus. 
  • Go for a walk 
  • Spend some time in nature. 
  • Listen to relaxing music.
  • Do some light exercise like yoga and pay attention to how your body feels.
  • Express yourself creatively by playing music, singing, or dancing.

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