from TheMindUnleashed Website
...have been part of the counter-culture for decades, with evidence that they are used more commonly across a wide class of people than many would have imagined.
...are all famous for experimenting with LSD, and new research proves, at least on a mathematical level, that these psychedelics undoubtedly elevate consciousness.
Leary says his own "reality tunnel" was ripped apart with the use of LSD and psychedelics, at which time it was revealed to him that life is nothing as he understood it to be - arguably a version of higher awareness.
advocate of LSD and psychedelics
since the early 1960s.
Picking up where Leary left off, a study (Increased spontaneous MEG signal diversity for Psychoactive doses of Petamine, LSD and Psilocybin) recently published in the Journal Scientific Reports asked,
Consciousness is roughly defined in the study as "awareness that vanishes when we sleep," but most of us with any experience in an altered state (drug induced or not) can attest that there is much more to consciousness than this.
Nonetheless, the study found a mathematical difference in the activity of certain brain regions in those who were on psychedelics, and those who were not.
The study states,
Moreover, Silicon Valley seems to have rediscovered LSD in the form of microdosing of late, to improve creativity and cognitive function.
At the microdose level (usually about 10-20 micrograms), LSD is potent enough to boost alertness and change the brain'mms function, without causing hallucinations.
Psychedelics like LSD or psilocybin are also credited with reducing anxiety, and enhancing over-all well-being at low doses.
These effects have a biologically proven foundation.
Many hallucinogens, including LSD produce a potent mind-altering effect primarily by mimicking the effects of the brain chemical serotonin, which regulates our mood.
Specifically, LSD activates 5-HT2A receptors in the pre-frontal cortex, which increases activity of the chemical, glutamate, in this region.
Glutamate enables signals to be transmitted between nerve cells, and plays a role in learning and memory.
at Monteray Pop Festival of 1967
where he famously set his guitar on fire.
Image credit: thenational.ae
There are also anecdotes of advanced yogis taking LSD and being completely unaffected by it, with the suggestion that they had already altered their brain chemistry and physiology so profoundly with years of meditation, that the normal influence of such drugs are rendered mute.
Ram Dass tells stories of giving LSD to Neem Karoli Baba aka Maharaj-ji twice, and both times the doses did nothing to him.
As one commenter put it,
Interesting then, that there are practices, even within the Eastern traditions of meditation, where yogis or monks take small doses of psychedelics right along with their meditative practice.
They increase the dose over time but they are not interested in these drugs to conquer the world, only to stay awake long enough to eradicate their egos through longer sessions of meditation and contemplation.
These drugs (sometimes even cobra venom) simply help to keep them alert - awake on the meditation cushion, instead of slumping into a deep sleep. It is still a subtle process, and those who abuse it often go mad or become suicidal.
Those who have been on an acid trip, may abruptly be forced to face whatever comes up from the depths of their subconscious. While this also happens in meditation, it usually happens slowly enough that our awakened level of consciousness can handle it.
Often, these shadows, revealed to someone too quickly, can cause extreme mental duress.
On the other hand, many versions of the spiritual path can be quite brutal when asking us to address our inner demons.
So LSD, psilocybin and other psychedelics may be no worse than a pushy guru. You don't have to look far to find stories of a Zen master slapping a student in the face with his sandal, and the student suddenly having a major spiritual revelation.
This is a compassionate act, at its root, but if the shock is administered at the wrong time, a far worse reaction might result - for instance, turning someone from their spiritual path completely.
Psychedlic ego death is likely not much different than ego death resulting from meditation or deep contemplation, but the truth is we don't really know yet.
There has been increasing interest in psychedelic drugs, but their use must be approached with discernment.
There are promising signs that they can be used to help us wake from our slumber, but just as one can have a premature kundalini awakening simply from "sitting" too long, all methods to achieve enlightenment must be utilized with wisdom and care.
Psychedelics into Therapy
March 22, 2018
(Photo by flickr user afgooey74)
While researchers are becoming more apt at discovering the
neurochemistry of emotional turmoil, too many variables - many
relating to trauma, genetics, and environment - make a silver bullet
Add in the placebo effect and it's unlikely we'll progress far with any singular remedy.
Or maybe we've just been looking in the wrong places. Though it was swept into the pile of supposedly useless (but highly addictive) substances during Nixon's war on drugs (and on the radicals and minorities who consume them), lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), along with other Schedule 1 substances - cannabis, psilocybin, and ecstasy - are proving quite therapeutic indeed.
Researchers at the University of Zurich recently dosed twenty-four volunteers with 100 micrograms of LSD (or a placebo; or LSD alongside ketanserin, which blocks LSD's effects) and scanned their brains.
The volunteers were instructed to make eye contact with an avatar while inside the scanner.
Only the LSD group exhibited proof a reduced sense of self, which the researchers believe could help patients suffering from a variety of emotional disorders, including depression.
As Robin Carhart-Harris, who holds the wonderful title of head of psychedelic research at Imperial College London, says:
One's sense of self is comprised of myriad factors.
Identity is fluid dependent upon the situation:
has long been in circulation,
signaling a shift in consciousness
after ingesting these substances.
This shift could help reduce psychological disorders
by changing our relationship
to our environment - and our "self."
(Photo by flickr user sa71ar)
A change in a variable can shift your mood.
Such shifts produce chemical reactions inside of your body.
A chicken-or-egg dilemma:
A definitive answer might never arrive given the interdependence of our identity with our environment.
But we do know changing the environment can alter your chemistry, just as altering your chemistry has the potential to change your relationship with your environment. Sometimes a pill works. Sometimes an extended vacation. And sometimes it's a psychedelic.
That's the feeling Lauren Slater gets. The author and psychologist devotes two chapters (and part of the epilogue) of her latest book, Blue Dreams: The Science and the Story of the Drugs That Changed Our Minds, to discuss the therapeutic possibilities of psychedelics.
Ironically, she's never taken one - her longtime battle with depression has kept her on a variety of SSRIs, which blunt any effect a psychedelic might have.
Yet that doesn't mean she's not curious.
As she recently told me,
The "right way" is not throwing LSD into the punch bowl.
Set and setting, as Timothy Leary would say, are necessary. So are the people joining in.
While Leary was an advocate for the transformational elements but not necessarily clinical study (or at least he confused the two), an entire crop of serious researchers are looking into psychedelics as potential interventions for depression, anxiety, PTSD, and addiction.
So far these substances are standing up to scrutiny.
Research on psilocybin is proving effective for those in hospice care. This has larger social consequences, as contentment is not as socially lauded as happiness, romance, or money, the lack of which helps lead to depression.
Still, those facing their final days were comforted by their experiences on psilocybin. They underwent the same loosening of identity, which made them feel an integral part of a larger community, not an isolated island about to sink.
This profound effect can do wonders for anyone at any stage of life.
The above study is not the only showing promising results with LSD.
Other research (Nondirective Meditation Activates Default Mode Network and areas associated with Memory Retrieval and Emotional Processing) has shown that the substance deactivates your brain's default mode network, which is another way of saying your ego dissolves.
While many religious practices advocate such mental fortitude, the fact that psychedelics create this feeling is a boon that should be more thoroughly explored.
Which is why Slater is recommending them.
As I previously wrote, she points out that even though prescriptions for anti-depressants are rising, so is the number of depressed people. That's not a winning formula.
Psychedelics have long been used in rituals. Slater believes we should continue this practice. Under proper supervision and with the right intention, teenagers could undergo a powerful experience at a pivotal junction in the formation of their identity.
She even speculates on another intervention:
For many people suffering from depression, pharmaceuticals provide necessary relief. Slater says they've both saved her life and ruined it, given the side effects that decades of SSRI usage cause.
She also writes that sometimes a disorder is created and then an entire population suddenly suffers from it - attention deficit disorder is one such example.
Of course, this is usually dependent upon a recently patented drug that happens to treat the problem.
Our minds are more malleable than we think.
While prescriptions for anti-depressants rise,
so does the rate of clinical depression.
(Photo by flickr user Mario Kociper)
Psychedelics have a long, in some cases ancient, track record.
Shamans were tribal psychologists long before couches were used; their transformational tools involved the plants around them. In making its decision, the US government was wrong:
Yet they are potent.
Given the mess our health care system is in, we need to integrate substances such as,
...into our toolbox, provided they stand up to clinical scrutiny.
After reading her insightful book and chatting about a range of topics with Lauren, I was struck by how well she describes the psychedelic experience having never experienced one herself.
Perhaps being so in tune with her inner world has expanded her imagination.
When I mention this to her, she replies,