Psychedelics & Meditation: Theories, Evidence and Future Directions

  • Wed 20th Apr 2022, 7pm – 9pm UK time (UTC +01:00)
  • Online
meditation neuroscience consciousness perception self
Hosted by The Psychedelic Society
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How can psychedelics increase the range, depth, and subtlety of meditation practices?

And how can meditation practices contribute to preparing, shaping, and integrating psychedelic experiences?

To begin answering these complex questions, I will explore historical, theoretical, and empirical perspectives. First, I will briefly trace the history of Psychedelic Buddhism, highlighting factors that helped forge this unique lineage in the fires of the Buddhist and psychedelic revolutions.

Against this historical backdrop, I will map some of the views that characterise present-day discourses on meditation and psychedelics (e.g., “things as they are”, “bare attention”, “cleansing the doors of perception”, “ego death”, “true self”). I will invite us to playfully question how some of these ways of looking could, at times, limit rather than open up valuable practice possibilities and freedoms. Any practice is inevitably embedded in a particular framework, and any framework is inevitably steeped in a particular set of views, assumptions, and beliefs. Rather than framing this as a problem to be overcome, we will ask:

  • How could the exploration of concepts – whether consciously adopted or unconsciously inherited – become a fruitful and exciting part our meditation and psychedelic practice?
  • To what extent does our commitment to certain views participate in shaping how we perceive ourselves, others, and the world?
  • How could models of the psychedelic experience and theories of meditation inform and challenge each other?
  • How could meditation and psychedelic practices increase the malleability of perception and thus our capacity to skilfully fabricate perceptions in the service of insight, beauty or meaningfulness?

I will touch on new modes of practice that are emerging in contemporary dharma circles, including ways of looking that seek to expand the phenomenological playground of meditation and stretch our conceptions of what-practice-is.

After these historical and theoretical excursions, I will briefly review existing research on the use of psychedelics in meditation training. I will then present data from the largest study to date investigating experienced meditators’ relationship with psychedelics. More than 1,000 experienced meditators reported on how their psychedelic use (including microdosing) has affected their meditation practice and vice versa. 

We also collected information about meditators’ most meaningful and most difficult meditation and psychedelic experiences, personality traits, and perceived changes in well-being and personal ethics. To conclude, I will propose questions and directions that could contribute to the maturation of this budding research field. 

There will be plenty of time for questions, comments, and discussions.

About MARCO SCHLOSSER, M.SC.

Marco is a researcher at University College London, Division of Psychiatry. As part of the European Medit-Ageing Research Group, he investigates the impact of meditation training on mental health and well-being in the ageing population. He is also leading the IMPRINT project, which aims to deepen and refine the relationship between meditation and psychedelic research. 

​Marco received his BSc in Psychology from the University of Groningen, his MSc in Clinical Mental Health Sciences from University College London, and research training at McGill University. He has been awarded a fellowship from the German Academic Scholarship Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes) and is currently completing a PhD in psychology at the University of Geneva. 

Marco has spent one year on silent meditation retreats. 

 

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