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How Meditation Enhances Psychedelic Experiences

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in this article
  • Introduction
  • Meditation for Preparation
  • Meditation for Navigation
  • Meditation for Integration
  • Conclusion

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Chemical Collective or any associated parties.

Introduction

Read almost any psychedelic preparation or integration article or book suggesting something that is going to help you as you explore psychedelics, and it will not be long before you come across meditation.

You are going to come across it again and again and again.

Almost any and every seasoned psychonaut will probably have something to say to you about meditation. Not only that, but a basic practice of mindfulness meditation is used as a standard in every single clinical trial of psychedelic-assisted therapy. Yes, all of those with the incredibly positive and impressive results.

But why do the two seem to go together so well?

How does meditation combine with psychedelics?

How does it help in the preparation, navigation, and integration of psychedelic experiences for healing, insight, and growth?

I am going to answer all of those questions in this blog post. My intention with this post is to share with you how meditation can aid your psychedelic-assisted growth, support you on your way, and hopefully, I will inspire you to incorporate meditation into your psychedelic protocols and your life.

For this post, I will use the words mindfulness and meditation interchangeably, referring to practices of focusing one’s awareness on the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.

So, if you are ready to get serious about your psychedelic practice, then get comfortable and grab a drink. Let us get you clued up about meditation and psychedelics.

Meditation for Preparation

“While it is true that the setting and the techniques used at traditional Buddhist retreats are not geared toward the use of psychedelics, it is quite obvious that skills in meditation, the practice of being at peace within one’s body and mind, even in uncomfortable places, can be of great help in the course of a psychedelic session.”
— Vanja Palmers, Meditation & Psychedelics

Meditation can serve as a foundational tool for exploring psychedelics. That starts in the preparation phase; before even beginning to take any psychedelics.

Cultivating the Mindset and Emotional State

The last thing we want to be feeling as we are heading into a psychedelic experience is extremely anxious, fidgety and nervous. A few nerves are okay and healthy, but ideally we want to be feeling as centred and at ease as possible. Meditation can help with this.

Meditation and mindfulness activities have been shown to cultivate acceptance and relieve anxiety. They promote a greater sense of calm and ease. Meditation can help to feel more grounded and open. When we are considering the ideal set to enter a psychedelic experience from, these are all beneficial states that we want to cultivate.

Psychedelic Warmup: Being With Our Minds

Meditation is a practice of being with ourselves and the contents of our minds. When we meditate, we close our eyes. We sit with whatever is coming up, and we allow it. We observe thoughts and feelings, observing them as they come and go.

Doing this brings us a familiarity with our inner state. It brings us an experience of our inner worlds; our feelings and thoughts. This can help us to gain self-awareness and familiarity with them. We can gain a greater understanding of what is on our mind.

This process in itself can be thought of as psychedelic in the literal meaning of the word: mind revealing. In this sense, meditation is a psychedelic warm-up. The process already starts getting us familiar with our minds, setting us up to be more prepared to traverse the deeper levels of our psyche that we may explore in psychedelic states.

Meditation for Navigation

The foundation laid by any previous inner work will hold us in good stead at such times by virtue of the attention skills we have developed. These skills make it easier to remain focused when confronted with the unexpected. […] We regain our balance through the proper application of attention and awareness. This is the slowing down, which we can facilitate physically through relaxed, deep breathing and helps release any tension in our bodies. Once we’ve slowed ourselves down and replanted our psychic feet, it is easier to move our consciousness through the resistance or block.

Rick Strassman, author of DMT The Spirit Molecule

Cultivating Acceptance

Studies have shown that meditation practice helps to cultivate acceptance. In human psychology, acceptance is a person’s assent to the reality of a situation, recognizing a process or condition, often a potentially distressing or uncomfortable situation, without attempting to change it, protest, or exit.

Three facets of mindfulness that fall under ‘acceptance’:

  • Decentering: The capacity to observe one’s thoughts and inner experiences in a detached manner
  • Non-judging: The ability to take non-judgmental stances toward emotions, thoughts and experiences
  • Non-reacting: The ability to allow thoughts and feelings to come and go, without getting caught up in or carried away by them.

These abilities are not only helpful in making the most of psychedelic experiences, but they are extremely useful in navigating challenging experiences, or what we might call ‘bumpy rides’. They do happen!

Guidelines as Psychedelic Navigation 101

Mindfulness practices can also help with navigation because basic meditation instructions work excellently as psychedelic navigation guidelines.

Meditation encourages you to be with what is and to accept the entirety of your experience. It encourages you to allow your body to let go of tension and tightness, to be physically calm, and to simply observe your experience in a detached way.

These are the 101 of psychedelic navigation.

Taking time to learn and practice these instructions and cultivate these abilities and skills is incredibly useful for navigating psychedelic experiences. It builds the muscle memory and mode of mental practice that is ideal for navigating psychedelic waters.

Moreover, for similar reasons that meditation is useful in the preparationin cultivating a calm and open state it is useful in navigation. It can help again bring someone into a more calm state during challenging moments in their psychedelic sessions or when there is a wave of emotion or mental content.

There are a few different meditation techniques which can be used for navigating psychedelics depending on the dosage and the point in the session. Classic mindfulness of the breath, letting go, body scan as a means of conscious relaxation, and RAIN, are all useful mindfulness exercises and techniques that can be used by psychedelic explorers. To find out more about these, read more in the blog post: Mindfulness Practices for Psychedelic Explorers.

Learning to meditate and having some familiarity with just one of these mindfulness techniques before a psychedelic experience can help with navigation. Even if you have already had multiple psychedelic experiences, enhancing these skills can still be beneficial for continuing to explore expanded psychedelic states of awareness.

Meditation for Integration

The longer I have worked with psychedelics, the more convinced I have become that a daily meditation practice is vital to harnessing the waves of energy and insight that sweep through us on a session day. My sessions have deepened my meditation practice and my meditation practice has helped ground my psychedelic practice. In my experience, these are complementary and mutually reinforcing undertakings that can be integrated well.

Christopher Bache, Ph.D. Author of LSD & the Mind of the Universe

Processing, Reflection, and Making Sense of Experiences

Psychedelic experiences can be intense and dense. They can contain a whole lot of information and are not always easy to interpret. Another way of putting it; they can be pretty freaking crazy.

Taking the time to meditate—simply sitting with oneself and being present for whatever thoughts, feelings, or sensations that may arise—allows a space to open up inside oneself.

After a psychedelic experience, this space can help to process and make sense it. 

This personal space can be crucial for further processing of what might have been a content-heavy experience. This can allow space for reflection, for understanding to develop, and for further resulting insights to bubble up into our awareness. This can further aid our learning and growth following an experience.

The space for reflection that meditation opens up can also help with the meaning-making aspect of a psychedelic experience. After an experience that might have been somewhat confusing—or at least not easily interpreted—this space can be essential in turning an experience from a confusing one to a meaningful one. Journaling in conjunction with a meditation practice can further aid this process.

Emotional Regulation for Taking Integrative Action

Once we have identified some insights from our experience, in many cases, we will need to take action to continue integration. Some of these actions may require courage to carry out. This might include having difficult conversations, embarking on a new creative or professional venture, or taking a new course of learning. And when we need to move forward through fear or nerves, meditation can help.

As I have already noted in the preparation and navigation sections, meditation can help with emotional regulation. It can help to calm us down and take the sting out of waves of anxiety. This can help us as we move from insight to action in our integration process. With a daunting action ahead of us, simply taking a moment to stop and breathe can help to recentre us before we move forward into action.

Training in meditation is an excellent preparation for confronting the expanded states of consciousness which entheogens generate and, conversely, the intensity and forthrightness of these expanded states can provide a great impetus to apply the achievements attained during meditation in an emphatic way.

— Dokusho Villalba – The Spiritual Potential Of Entheogens, Dissolving The Roots Of Suffering

Benefits of Meditation for Psychedelic-Assisted Healing and Growth

I hope you are now ready to start incorporating mindfulness and meditation into your psychedelic protocols and practices. 

To summarise, here are the benefits of meditation in psychedelic exploration:

  • Cultivates acceptance and relieves anxiety, promoting a calm and open mindset before, during, and after psychedelic experiences.
  • Enhances self-awareness and familiarity with inner thoughts and feelings, aiding in navigation through challenging moments.
  • Aligns with classic psychedelic navigation guidelines, promoting acceptance, observation, and letting go.
  • Provides tools and techniques for navigating expanded states of awareness, such as mindfulness of the breath, conscious relaxation, and body scanning.
  • Supports the integration process by creating space for reflection, insight development, and emotional regulation post-session.
  • Offers continued opportunities for growth and preparation for future psychedelic experiences.

Conclusion

Both meditation and psychedelics are ancient tools and methods used for expanding awareness and exploring consciousness. The Buddha taught meditation techniques as a way to gain a deeper understanding of the mind and psychedelics can also help us to do this. This enhanced awareness and understanding of ourselves is one of the main mechanisms by which psychedelics help us to grow and heal.

For all the reasons I have covered today, meditation often becomes a cornerstone practice for psychedelic explorers, aiding and supporting them on their journey of growth. It can help you prepare by gaining familiarity with your mind, to enter an ideal state for navigating psychedelic states, give you solid guidelines for when you are navigating, and the emotional regulation and space for insights will help you in your integration.

So, I invite you to try incorporating meditation as you approach your next psychedelic experience.

Do you meditate? What type of meditation do you use? Have you found it to help or enhance your psychedelic experiences? Let us know and share in the comments below.

Stay safe, stay mindful.

John Robertson | Community Blogger at Chemical Collective | mapsofthemind.com

John is one of our community bloggers here at Chemical Collective. If you’re interested in joining our blogging team and getting paid to write about subjects you’re passionate about, please reach out to David via email at blog@chemical-collective.com

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josefedele11@gmail.com
6 days ago

Mindblowing

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