Aristotle suggested that contemplation is the highest form of human activity. Similarly, Buddha maintained that meditation is the core practice of the path to Buddhahood.
Meditation is both practical and mystical. To meditate is to develop positive qualities of mind that improve our ability to live and to form a relationship with the present moment that connects us to the Great Mystery.
When I began taking psychedelics, I did not meditate. I had heard of it and even tried it many times, but I did not feel particularly compelled to sit and do nothing. Despite the vast history surrounding the benefits of observing the present moment, meditation seemed boring and unnecessary–until psychedelics. Once I began using psychedelics, I had to meditate. Meditation has since become a crucial practice for me throughout the last decade..
Psychedelics helped me realize how precious human life is. I wanted to be fully present for all of it, so I began to meditate. Psychedelics showed me how delicate sanity is and horrific insanity could be, so I began to meditate. As I dove deeper into my psyche, I recognized the need to be focused, mindful, and equanimous during ordinary and non-ordinary states, so I began to meditate. Finally, as I ventured further into psychedelic integration, spiritual practices, personal healing and growth, I realized how the abundance of insights conjured by psychedelic experiences could be more thoroughly understood and integrated if I cultivated positive qualities of mind.
So I began to meditate.
What are the benefits of meditation?
Meditation supports responsible psychedelic use and encourages the integrative process on a conscious and unconscious level.
Biographical and transpersonal material naturally emerges as we journey into the mind’s shadows. This material is often unpleasant to encounter and even more challenging to integrate. However, meditation enhances our ability to make sense of and transform from our experiences with this material, no matter how painful.
As the mind develops concentration, mindfulness, equanimity, selflessness, devotion, and eventually compassion through meditation, it improves its ability to process all of its contents, regardless of whether that content comes from a psychedelic experience.
A concentrated mind is less likely to be distracted or seek distraction. Concentration allows us to stay present in all of the psychedelic experience, pleasant or unpleasant, without getting distracted by the delusions that often accompany high-dose journeys.
A mindful mind enables an awareness capable of deeper noticing and deciphering. Mindfulness helps us see more and see further, helping us avoid blind spots that may stand in the way of our healing or growth. However, mindfulness can be a double-edged sword. It can increase our awareness of difficult, traumatic and painful material during a psychedelic experience, which may make already unpleasant material feel even more unpleasant. With great power comes great responsibility.
An equanimous mind helps us stay calm and present. As psychedelics lead us into the dark recesses of our minds, our meditation practice helps us stay equanimous with whatever arises, beautiful or ugly. With equanimity, we can find peace amidst the chaos. We remain composed and present.
A devotional mind helps us relate with loving dedication to our path. Devotion helps us turn meditation into a spiritual practice and an act of reverence to what is. As psychedelic integration is a lifelong dedication to the unfoldment of our highest potential, this devotional approach to our path can make the entire journey feel lighter and more delightful.
A selfless mind can place others and the world above the ego. Our self-serving ego can be tamed through meditation. As we acquaint ourselves with the impermanent nature of our sense of self, psychedelics and meditation help us become less attached to concepts of who we are and how we should be. We become less attached to preconceived ideas that may not serve us, or anyone.
A compassionate mind is accepting and loving. Psychedelics can unveil dark and ugly truths about ourselves and how other people have injured us. It’s natural to feel anger, resentment, or regret, and compassion prevents us from getting lost in the maelstrom. We no longer judge from a place of fear or insecurity. Instead, with compassion, we can better navigate and live in acceptance of our shadows and the ups and downs of life.
Ultimately, a meditator’s mind is ideal for safely and effectively using psychedelics because meditation improves the mind’s ability to process novel information revealed by these medicines effectively. Meditation also allows us to better stay grounded in the midst of challenging or powerful experiences.
A meditative mind and psychedelics
As we continue cultivating beneficial qualities of mind and shed attachments through meditation, we feel increasingly at home in the present moment, whatever that might look or feel like. We become more comfortable with discomfort, uncertainty and change. We live life with joy, love, acceptance, mindfulness, and peace. Our experience of life is more spacious, relaxed and pleasant.
Meditation maximizes our ability to receive the many gifts of psychedelic exploration. Without meditation, we can get lost. With meditation, no matter how treacherous the journey, we are always aligned with True North: right here, right now, in the bliss of the present moment.
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