The first thing to say is that I would caution against the ‘right way’ to do anything. There are certainly wrong ways - in terms of dosage, what you’re mixing it with, who you’re around and what you’re expecting to get out of the experience - but one shouldn’t go after a pre-set or even particularly controlled experience on any psychoactive. (MDMA may not be a psychedelic per se, but it still alters the way the psyche works and experiences the world in a profound way).
The point of getting high on anything, whether it’s a psychedelic, amphetamine, a depressant or whatever else, is to give oneself over to the experience. To trust the process and let it unfold.
The good thing about MDMA is that it tends to make it pretty easy for you.
Now, I do know a few people who have had bad experiences. That’s usually because they are extremely nervous and therefore tensed up before taking it, and therefore push against the trip rather than letting it wash over them. When coming up, MDMA can either feel like a rush of excitement or a rush of anxiety. The difference is essentially defined by your attitude towards it.
So what? Just like, don’t get nervous? Thanks dude.
No, of course I'm not saying you can just STOP yourself getting nervous.
But, there are things that you can do which make your nerves manageable and ensure the trip is a smooth ride.
Here we go:
Set and setting
The most important thing, if doing it socially, is that you trust the people you’re with. You need people who don’t make you more nervous. Who you feel you could rely on if you start to feel a bit off, to give you comfort and support. Who won’t abandon you in the middle of a crowd.
Now, if you feel you are a particular highly strung individual, you will also want to think very carefully about your environment. Whilst a music festival is an incredible place to have your first MDMA experience, it is also chaotic and totally out of your control.
Check in with yourself and ask yourself: am I ready to let go in this kind of environment? There’s absolutely no shame in going slowly.
If you’re having a solo experience, make sure you have your space set up beforehand, with lots of comfy stuff, nice things to drink, something to eat once the experience has worn off, and some good music to listen to.
Consider setting an intention if you are planning on a therapeutic or healing experience, and keep a journal on hand to write down what comes up.
Cautious people typically reduce their doses to the minimum effective dose. I would argue that this could be a mistake. Because what you gain in safety, you lose in terms of having a profound and potentially life-altering experience. That is, never go above the recommended dose, but don’t go below the bottom limit either.
I’ve been with a few people for their first MDMA experience who took a tiny dose, and watched in disappointment as they shrugged their shoulders and said it was OK. What a waste! This is a heart-opening, connective, beautiful and just incredibly fun substance, and you are doing yourself and it a disservice if you don’t dive in enough to feel its magic.
On your first experience, try not to mix it with anything else. Whilst mixing MDMA and alcohol can be fun, it both increases risk as well as dumbing down a lot of the clarity of experience. You will definitely be more fucked up if mixing it with booze, but less in tune with yourself and the experience.
As for mixing with acid or “candy flipping”, wait till you’re more experienced. This can be an amazing experience, but one thing at a time my dear friend.
As for weed, I think that is best left for the comedown. Weed really takes the edge off, soothing your serotonin-depleted circuits, as you close the curtains and watch David Attenborough until the wee small hours.
Like I said: close those curtains and watch David Attenborough. Comfort is the word. Do NOT go outside! (I'm joking, but kind of serious. You want zero on your to-do list the next day and to just have a good ol' veg).
It’s likely that you’ll experience connection to yourself and others that you have never been able to access in normal life. This is amazing and innately healing all by itself. But the real magic in MDMA lies in bringing that connection into your life thereafter.
Reflect on how you felt, the truth in the connection you felt, and ask how you could bring that sense of connection more and more into your life. Journal about it. Speak to the friends who you told 35 times that you loved them and see if you can say, ‘Hey, that was true you know.’ See if you can hug them with the same love that you did when gurning your beans off. It’s all there in you already, MDMA just helped bring it out.
Ronan is a writer, musician and coach, committed to seeking truth, beauty and deepening human connection and community. His mission is to help people come alive to realise their deepest gifts.