There is often a big discrepancy in one's logic and emotions. You probably thought you were ready because logically you understood the concept / philosophy. However, our emotions can surprise us. It takes them an inordinately long time to catch up with our logic. And here's the rub, unless you immerse yourself in the experience, your emotions will never catch up. Sucks, I know.
So you're kind of asking the question, how can I learn to swim without getting wet.
That said, I appreciate the fact that you do not want to cause harm to others or yourself. (In my book, that shows you're not an asshole.
) I think the trick lies in getting to know yourself well, respect your own needs well enough to state them confidently and respectfully, owning your own shit (which it sounds like you do), and not trying to own anyone else's shit - that is up to them.
(Anyone who uses the phrase "you should" is not owning his or her shit.)
As for the situation at hand, it doesn't sound like you were alone in failing to cope as well as you would like. While needing to go slow was a request you made of salamander, it was up to him to agree or not - honestly. It appears he has trouble owning his own shit.