Friday, January 18, 2013

Meditation Increases Sensitivity to Psychedelics

It has been my experience that meditation has increased my sensitivity to psilocybin.

Fairly early on (pre stream entry and pre jhanas in meditation terms) I experimented with around 2 grams of mushrooms, eventually working up to a peak of around 6 grams.  But at some point (after stream entry) I slowly began to notice that higher doses seemed to be a bit too much, that there was a certain load of tension from the drug that I found unpleasant, and I've been decreasing the doses of my "experiments" ever since.

Even last summer I was tolerating doses of 1 or 2 grams, but that seems a bit much now.  I've experimented with low doses before, but now I'm getting into a range that some might legitimately consider a microdose.  Lately (post 2nd path) .06 - .08 grams seems to be plenty, and I've alternated with doses of around .15 - .17 grams which now seem slightly high.  My guess would be that .06 - .08 grams might barely get the average person to the equivalent of a mild cannabis high.

The early FMRI research showing similarities between the effects of psilocybin and meditation might explain this.  Or, I could be an anomaly.

At these lower doses I don't get nearly so much in terms of visuals, but the "mind-freeing" aspect seems to work just fine, which is mainly what I'm looking for.  Higher doses seem to cause this tension that I referred to, kind of playing off the stimulant effects of the drug, and seem to emphasize the more unpleasant aspects (dukkha).

I would also mention that I haven't noticed this kind of "reverse tolerance" in other recreational substances that I use, i.e. cannabis, alcohol, and nitrous oxide.  Just psilocybin.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Three Videos - Psychonauts, Gary Weber, Roland Griffiths

Psychonauts is a 40 minute documentary that shows interviews with some relatively young and intelligent people about psychedelics.  It seems to me like most of these people "got it" and are integrating their psychedelic experience into their lives and their spirituality.  Subtitled.

A 19 minute clip of Gary Weber's talk at Science and Nonduality, Exploring the Self Scientifically - Magic Mushrooms or Meditation.  Gary talks about his experience of no-thought, the default mode network, the effects of meditation and the effects of psilocybin.

An 11 minute clip of Roland Griffith's talk at Science and Nonduality, The Mystical Experience: Insights from Psilocybin Research.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Hallucination Goggles

The Laxman mind machine (link to cheesy BBC Gadget Show coverage) boasts trippy ganzfeld induced multicolor visuals.  But it's expensive ($650).

Various information for a do it yourself version are supplied on the We Alone On Earth blog, as well as interesting information on related topics like "The Origin and Properties of Flicker-Induced Geometric Phosphenes."

Meditation Improves Telomerase Activity ... Maybe

For longevity, you want long telomeres, and that requires telomerase.  If you have an increased sense of purpose in life, you might just have longer telomeres.

From the article "Meditation improves telomerase activity: a healthier life – but not for all!"

The study furthermore showed that the increase in telomerase activity was a result of psychological factors, namely the increase in perceived control and the decrease in negative affectivity the participants experienced as a result of the retreat.

In sum, the meditation practice resulted in increased telomere activity, which is considered to indicate improved physiological health with implications for telomere length and immune cell longevity.

However, there also is a small catch. When scrutinising the results further, the researchers found that only those participants of the 3-month shamatha retreat who experienced an increase of ‘Purpose in Life’ had higher telomerase activity at the end of the retreat, whereas those who did not experience such an increase did not. It seems that just sitting in a retreat and practicing meditation does not suffice – our biology seems to respond even to our views and motivations. The study did, however, not investigate what exactly the purpose of life is the participants experienced, but defined it in rather general terms as experiencing life as meaningful, organised around clear aims, and clearly directed.

As loving kindness and compassion meditations were a central part of the retreat programme, I dare speculating that the increased purpose in life may be related to this: Seeing one’s purpose in life as bringing benefit, meaning and fulfilment to others, may have the side-effect of better biological health and reduced effects of age on the body. – This would be good news!