I’ve gotten used to the look of inquisitive befuddlement and occasional horror that washes over peoples faces when I tell them I work with Salvia Divinorum. They either look at me as if I have two heads, or as if I have tendencies towards psychological masochism. Common refrains are, “Oh man, I did Salvia once in highschool…I’m *never* doing that again…it was so…weird…”
Salvia Divinorum is a type of Sage that contains very interesting and unique properties. Traditionally, it is used by healers and shamans as a powerful medicine for treating physical illness, addiction, depression and anxiety.
Unlike the type of Sage you cook with, or the type of Sage that can be burned as incense, Salvia Divinorum, when ingested, creates a rapid and marked shift in consciousness. It is in this shift of consciousness where the opportunity for transformational healing lays, but given Salvia’s unique and sometimes bizarre characterestic, many users find it to be an odd experience.
Before I go into the state-specific benefits of low dose Salvia use, I’ll cut straight to the chase and give my most important piece of advice right upfront: Don’t smoke a large bowl of Salvia. Just. Don’t.
Low Doses Are More Digestable for the Psyche
There are a few reasons as to why it’s not a good idea to smoke a large bowl of Salvia, but the main reason is that if you do you’ll probably have an unpleasant and potentially terrifying time. Even seasoned psychonauts who have experience with large doses of other substances find themselves thrown for a loop after taking a large hit of Salvia.
Salvia is a very potent plant. The consciousness shifting effects are quite unlike any other psychotropic substance. Taking one large hit of Salvia catalyses a rapid and marked shift in consciousness on multiple levels: psychologically, kinesthetically and energetically.
The shift that occurs on large doses of Salvia can be overwhelming, even traumatic. A fitting description of a traumatic event is when there is overwhelm to the body and mind. Too much, too fast, too soon.
Because the effects of smoked Salvia begin quickly (within about 5 seconds after inhalation, peaking within 1-2 minutes), taking a large dose of Salvia doesn’t give the mind and body time to adjust and comfortably integrate the unique and distinct changes. This can create a sense of terror, confusion and meaninglessness towards the experience. This does not have to be the case. A tiny amount of Salvia Divinorum is all that is needed to start reaping and enjoying therapeutic benefits.
Consider what it’s like to get into a hot bath. If you were to jump straight in you’d probably yelp, “Gah!” and, instinctively, jump out of the water. Too much, too fast, too soon. But if you were to slowly ease yourself into the water, giving yourself time to adjust and acclimate, the very same water that would previously have caused pain and retraction would be manageable, even pleasurable.
I take the same slow-and-steady approach when I’m working with Salvia by myself and with my clients. I slowly bring them into Salvia Space as we track the experience mindfully, with alert repose.
Instead of taking a large hit of Salvia Divinorum, opt for a few very small doses. Separate each dose by at least 5 minutes.
A Gateway to the Subtle Realms
I’ve found that the majority of Salvia Divinorum’s benefits come from mindful self-inquiry and meditation on low doses. Low dose Salvia, coupled with mindfulness practices, provides a gateway to the subtle realms of our being. In these subtle realms we remain close to our normal, everyday consciousness, yet we are simultaneously able to connect with some fundamentally higher/deeper part of ourselves. A bridge of Salviac Awareness is created, and you’re free to travel deep within yourself.
An anecdotal experience from one of my clients quite perfectly describes one of the main benefits of low dose Salvia. It was our first time working together. She had previous experience with other plant medicines, predominantly Ayahuasca, but she had not used Salvia before.
During a period of silence, she simply stated, “So this is what it feels like to be still.” There was a sense of wonder in her voice. Salvia Divinorum had taken her to a place of experiencing deep inner stillness on a level she had not experienced before. Out of her experience of stillness came the message about how her body and mind were always ‘on the go’.
Salvia was teaching her, through direct experience, about the healing and rejuvenating effects of being effortlessly attuned to the part of her being that is still, strong, and spacious. It is from this felt sense of inner space where we experience deep rest and gain emotional capacity.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the felt experience of physical movement that often accompanies a Salvia journey. Described by many as “Salvia Gravity,” one senses outside forces pulling and pushing on the body in a very distinct manner. At high doses, this feeling of Salvia Gravity can be very intense and uncomfortable. It can feel as if you’re being physically separated, rolled flat, or unzipped.
It’s quite unnerving for most. However, at low doses this feeling of Salvia Gravity is grounding, stabilizing, cleansing, and nurturing. This sense of movement can be very helpful when feeling ‘“stuck” in old patterns and in need of a reset.
I had a client that was experiencing quite a lot of anxiety and anger. We had a low dose session together and, within minutes, the Salvia Gravity came in. Gently, yet decisively, the effects brought a sense of movement, fluidity, and flow to his being.
Salvia not only made him aware that he was holding onto his anxiety and anger, but also showed him where in his body he was physically holding onto these emotions. Once he could feel where he was physically harboring old and unnecessary negativity, Salvia proceeded to bring a felt sense of movement to that area. It was like opening a window and letting the fresh air flow into a stale room.
Salvia Divinorum brings to one what one needs. Even though both of the clients described had the same dose of the same substance, the effects were different, yet highly suitable for what they needed right then. One needed to feel deep stillness within and the other needed to feel a directional flow of movement washing through their emotional body.
The list of experiences and effects of mindful, low-dose Salvia use is long and varied. For now, know that very light doses are all that’s needed.
This article first appeared on the writer’s blog and is used with permission. Christopher Solomon is a Salvia Guide who provides group and one-on-one therapeutic Salvia Sessions, where he incorporates somatic therapy techniques and the lessons learned from working with Salvia for over a decade. https://www.salviahealings.com