Mindfulness meditation and psychedelics: potential synergies and commonalities

Author: Paweł Holas1, Justyna Kamińska2
1 Faculty of Psychology, University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland. pawel.holas@psych.uw.edu.pl.
2 Faculty of Psychology, University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland.
Conference/Journal: Pharmacol Rep
Date published: 2023 Nov 6
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1007/s43440-023-00551-8. , Word Count: 256

There has been increasing scientific and clinical interest in studying psychedelic and meditation-based interventions in recent years, both in the context of improving mental health and as tools for understanding the mind. Several authors suggest neurophysiological and phenomenological parallels and overlaps between psychedelic and meditative states and suggest synergistic effects of both methods. Both psychedelic-assisted therapy and meditation training in the form of mindfulness-based interventions have been experimentally validated with moderate to large effects as alternative treatments for a variety of mental health problems, including depression, addictions, and anxiety disorders. Both demonstrated significant post-acute and long-term decreases in clinical symptoms and enhancements in well-being in healthy participants, in addition. Postulated shared salutogenic mechanisms, include, among others the ability to alter self-consciousness, present-moment awareness and antidepressant action via corresponding neuromodulatory effects. These shared mechanisms between mindfulness training and psychedelic intervention have led to scientists theorizing, and recently demonstrating, positive synergistic effects when both are used in combination. Research findings suggest that these two approaches can complement each other, enhancing the positive effects of both interventions. However, more theoretical accounts and methodologically sound research are needed before they can be extended into clinical practice. The current review aims to discuss the theoretical rationale of combining psychedelics with mindfulness training, including the predictive coding framework as well as research findings regarding synergies and commonalities between mindfulness training and psychedelic intervention. In addition, suggestions how to combine the two modalities are provided.

Keywords: Decentering; Meditation; Mindfulness; Mindfulness-based interventions; Mystical experiences; Predictive coding; Psilocybin; Psychedelics.

PMID: 37926796 DOI: 10.1007/s43440-023-00551-8