Meditation trips: A thematic analysis of the combined naturalistic use of psychedelics with meditation practices

Author: Kiana Azmoodeh1, Emily Thomas1, Sunjeev K Kamboj1
Affiliation: <sup>1</sup> Research Department Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology.
Conference/Journal: Exp Clin Psychopharmacol
Date published: 2022 Dec 19
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1037/pha0000617. , Word Count: 249

Similarities between meditative and psychedelic states have long been recognized. Recently, parallels in the psychological mechanisms mediating the beneficial effects of mindfulness and psychedelic treatments-as well as their potential therapeutic complementarity-have been noted. However, empirical research in this area remains limited. Here, we explore the naturalistic use of meditation practices among psychedelic users recruited outside of treatment/retreat or research settings. Participants with ≥ 1 psychedelic drug experience(s) were included in an online survey. The majority (n = 875; 66.5%) indicated that they engaged in meditation, 39.4% (n = 345) of whom had combined psychedelic use with meditation practices on ≥ 1 occasion. The majority (74.2%; n = 256) provided written accounts describing their experiences of "psychedelic-meditation," which were the basis for the present thematic analytic study. Six overarching themes were identified: (1) Compatibility Between Psychedelic and Meditative States; (2) Enhancement of the Meditative and Psychedelic Experience; (3) Beneficial Changes in Relating to the Internal and External World (encompassing acceptance, connection, peacefulness, and transformation); (4) Negative Effects of Combined Use; (5) Meditation as a Preparatory and Navigational Tool; and (6) Contextual Considerations (including reflections upon, and practical advice about, combining meditation and psychedelics). Participants' experiences appear to support recent empirical and theoretical work on the parallels and complementarity between psychedelic drug effects and meditation. The findings identify facilitating conditions for combining psychedelics with meditation, which may have implications for their combined therapeutic use. For example, the use of meditation techniques might represent a "psychedelic-sparing" strategy, potentially enabling therapeutically important psychedelic effects to emerge at lower doses. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

PMID: 36534415 DOI: 10.1037/pha0000617