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Samwise

Mindfulness meditation enhances positive effects of psilocybin: study

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Samwise

This may be pretty obvious to people, but thought it may be of interest to some people here all the same...the research suggests that psilocybin can enhance measures of mindfulness and psychosocial functioning at four month follow up post experience when administered at a five day mindfulness retreat, and that meditation itself enhances the psilocybin experience.

Smigielski, L. Kometer, M., Milan Scheidegger, M., Krähenmann, Huber, R.T & Vollenweider, F.X. (2019) Characterization and prediction of acute and sustained response to psychedelic psilocybin in a mindfulness group retreat. Scientific Reports, 9, 14914.

Full paper:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-50612-3?fbclid=IwAR2wONqXnl3eBHZpUwUdGTC7jwhFPmPeoA5ki3byvdvaRSSNhebc5jk5EEM

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Abstract

Meditation and psychedelics have played key roles in humankind’s search for self-transcendence and personal change. However, neither their possible synergistic effects, nor related state and trait predictors have been experimentally studied. To elucidate these issues, we administered double-blind the model psychedelic drug psilocybin (315 μg/kg PO) or placebo to meditators (n = 39) during a 5-day mindfulness group retreat. Psilocybin increased meditation depth and incidence of positively experienced self-dissolution along the perception-hallucination continuum, without concomitant anxiety. Openness, optimism, and emotional reappraisal were predictors of the acute response. Compared with placebo, psilocybin enhanced post-intervention mindfulness and produced larger positive changes in psychosocial functioning at a 4-month follow-up, which were corroborated by external ratings, and associated with magnitude of acute self-dissolution experience. Meditation seems to enhance psilocybin’s positive effects while counteracting possible dysphoric responses. These findings highlight the interactions between non-pharmacological and pharmacological factors, and the role of emotion/attention regulation in shaping the experiential quality of psychedelic states, as well as the experience of selflessness as a modulator of behavior and attitudes. A better comprehension of mechanisms underlying most beneficial psychedelic experiences may guide therapeutic interventions across numerous mental conditions in the form of psychedelic-assisted applications.

 

Article: 

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Mindfulness meditation enhances positive effects of psilocybin: study
 
Recent years have seen a renewed interest in the clinical application of classic psychedelics in the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders. Researchers of the University of Zurich have now shown that mindfulness meditation can enhance the positive long-term effects of a single dose of psilocybin, which is found in certain mushrooms.

Hallucinogens such as LSD or psilocybin, the active ingredient in "magic mushrooms," alter the perception of those who take them. The boundaries between the self and the world begin to dissolve and feelings of bliss and unity are triggered. Such experiences of self-transcendence and reduced self-focus are similar to those induced by mindfulness meditation. They can reduce stress, prompt feelings of enduring happiness and increase empathy and altruism. In contrast, exaggerated self-focus, recurring negative thoughts and emotions about oneself, and impaired social interactions are characteristic features of psychiatric disorders such as depression.

Enhanced experience of self-transcendence

Researchers at the University Hospital of Psychiatry Zurich have now, for the first time, examined the potential synergistic effects of combining mindfulness meditation and psilocybin. The scientists recruited 40 meditation experts who were taking part in a five-day mindfulness retreat. In the double-blind study, the participants were administered either a single dose of psilocybin or a placebo on the fourth day of the group retreat.
 
Using various psychometric and neurocognitive measurements, the researchers were able to show that mindfulness meditation increased the positive effects of psilocybin while counteracting possible dysphoric responses to the psychedelic experience. "Psilocybin markedly increased the incidence and intensity of self-transcendence virtually without inducing any anxiety compared to participants who received the placebo," says first author Lukasz Smigielski, who conducted the study directed by UZH professor of psychiatry Franz Vollenweider.

Sustained beneficial effects

At the four-month follow-up, the meditation experts who had been given psilocybin demonstrated more beneficial changes in psychosocial functioning, better self-acceptance and more empathy than the placebo control group. According to Vollenweider, the intensity of self-transcendence experienced during the retreat played a key role for these enduring changes. In a previously published study, he and his team used magnetic resonance imaging to show that experiences of self-transcendence result in lasting changes to neural connections in the brain, and more specifically in the regions that are active when we think about ourselves.

The research group found that besides meditation depth, the participants' openness and optimism were conducive to a positive response to psilocybin. "These factors can help us predict a positive response," says Vollenweider. At the same time, skills that are trained during mindfulness meditation, such as regulating attention and reappraising emotions, seem to buffer potential negative reactions to psilocybin.

Potential for treating affective disorders

"Our findings shed light on the interplay between pharmacological and extra-pharmacological factors in psychedelic states of mind," says Vollenweider. "They indicate that mindfulness training enhances the positive effects of a single dose of psilocybin, and can increase empathy and permanently reduce egocentricity. This opens up new therapeutic avenues, for example for the treatment of depression, which is often accompanied by increased self-focus and social deficits."

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-10-mindfulness-meditation-positive-effects-psilocybin.html

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Mush Zombie

I personally practiced right concentration and right mindfulness for many years. I still do from time to time. Sometimes I just do the things that are done or not done and do not know that is what mind is doing, because of the ritual mediations I used to practice.

I would just like to say that I disagree that one should attempt shamatha or vipassana while on psychedelics (in order to improve these skills). Instead one should practice those two skill sets in order to better understand the psychedelic experience.

enlightenment is not a status. It is not something to be gained. It is simply a way of life.  Psychedelics are useful, but how do you know the difference between the fabrications of mind, and existence, if you have not been mindful of them to begin with. 

these are skills. hone them with a reasonable mind.

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El_Piraña

Meditation is a funny thing.  At first you meditate for a reason, and there are all kinds of reasons. Often people meditate because they think they have a problem and they want to rid themselves of that problem.

 I’m glad MZ mentioned enlightenment...he is right that it is not a status. Actually enlightenment seems to contradict our entire culture....it is not the gaining of anything, not even of wisdom, knowledge or insight (although those generally are a result of the process). In fact enlightenment is simply the falling away of beliefs, of seeing what is true, of knowing your true nature.

And what is your true nature? It is said that which is true is unchanging. You are not your body. You are not your emotions. You are not your senses. You are not your mind. What is left? There remains an awareness, a being-ness, a knowing.  That awareness is never ceasing, always bright and alert.

You are not the doer of your actions or thoughts.  Realizing this, you find there is no right or wrong. You are not doing your actions anyway, so there’s no sense in judging yourself. You will find you can actually have compassion for yourself and this leads to compassion for others. 

So about meditation and tripping, well there’s no one doing those things and no one deciding to do them. Once that is realized, questions seem to answer themselves, life calms, nothing is taken so seriously anymore. You can simply enjoy the ride, what else is there to do?

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Mush Zombie

@Samwise man we go way back

 

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