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LSD Spiritual Awakening, now without drugs (Vipassana and Zen), did LSD sav

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I feel like I have lost connection with my true self as I have grown older my whole life. As a kid (0-9 or 10 years old) I was always really energetic, enthusiastic about life, I was a ball of energy, tripping on life. But as I started to understand things around me, I feel like I have lost connection with myself, possibly as I grew older, I became more lazy, less enthusiastic, more negative and generally more shitty in life. Last summer, a year ago, things started to click because I took LSD and mushrooms for the first time. The first time I did shrooms (first psychedelics) I got it, it was amazing. A few weeks ago same thing on LSD, a spiritual experience. And so, maybe 7 months ago, I had what one could call a Spiritual experience on LSD, I have come to now know as the a Dark Night . This ticked me into being more interested in buddhism and meditation and psychedelics. I have also developed a strong attachment to marijuana since the age of 16 (only been smoking daily this last 1-1.5 years) I am now 18 turning on 19. And also using psychedelics what I personally feel as too much and feel like I need to take a break for a few months (or more?). I don't know what's safe, but I feel like this has been healing and opened myself to a spiritual way to experience life. I am really getting into Zen Buddhism and did a 10 day Silent Vipassana meditation retreat, that I feel actually helped me with getting "shit" out of me, the first night or two, I had nightmares, with the meditation, I felt like it was somewhat therapeutic. I take ADD meds and have not been taking them the past year because I am not in school right now, I feel like if I took those meds to meditate it could help me meditate longer (as I could only meditate 40 minutes at a time almost every time without moving. You had to sit an hour) But I also feel with time maybe if I actually started meditation Vipassana daily I could stop smoking as much weed, not use ADD meds, and do less psychedelics (even though I do still want to explore these) Its annoying that these drugs are stigmatized because I don't know if I am serious with myself and this has seriously woken me up. Am I saying LSD allowed me to take my life as a Spiritual Path? I feel like I will grow out of using it as I grow older and have more responsibility in my life (I am about to go to university, which will add structure in my life) I feel like I can't trust myself fully that this is happening because of the stigma stuck in the bottom of my mind. Am I doing the right thing? I feel like possibly I could start smoking WAYYY less weed if I started practicing more meditation or do art (I like to write or draw or make things) Also, I met some other kid my age at the mediation retreat with similar interests, and he tried LSD for the first time and used a blindfolds and earphones and also felt a spiritual awakening. He only had used psychedelics for art before, but had never gone inwards and had a spiritual experience. He is a good artist, which ticked me into thinking I should do that more and try to get creative on acid, because I am a creative soul, I was when I was a child... I have been doing research on the internet and put shit together and I have been reading a loooot more books on many more subjects including zen buddhism and psychedelics, or even like michio kaku physics books (I hated physics in school) LSD opened me up I feel. I also want to study Psychology and basically what that link is about, The dark night thing. What should I start studying? Psychology? Neurology? Both? I think what I am interested in Transpersonal Psychology, I really feel like helping people now, like it helped me. I do not know if I can do this at university level though, if I hate math... Is this for real? If I was serious about it and got my shit together? Or is Timothy Leary and the CIA tricking me?

I have also taken psych meds, in the past, and been in and out of school for the same reason.  Furthermore, before any of this "psych" stuff happened, I enjoyed my fair share of hallucinogenic drugs.  Here's my advice:

-Fuck all stigmas surrounding psychiatry.  Find an intelligent, humanistic shrink (if possible, within your insurance plan) and get back on meds.  Take small amounts, increasing slowly, and have smart, 3-dimensional conversations with your doctor about why you are doing what with meds.  Expect them to work over a course of months and years, not days and weeks.

-Fuck all stigmas surrounding psychotherapy.  Research various psychotherapuetic modalities and then look up different therapists in your area.  Find one who works within a system you think will be effective for you.  Go to that therapist every week for 4 to 6 months.  If you don't see a major (sudden or gradual) change/healing/breakthrough, switch to a different therapist under a different modality and repeat the process.  Be active in your therapy, establish an aggressive timeline and orientation of wanting progress in learning about yourself and improving your life.

-Stop doing drugs.  Replace the drug experience with binuaral beats, absorption meditations, vigorous excercise, healthy sexuality, art, etc.  Cultivate a healthy sense of disguist for recreational (and sacred) drug use by pondering how it is truly imbalancing your already sensitive brain.  Think about this again and again.  Think about how you will be happy you stopped when you did in 10 or 20 years from now.

-Practice meditation.  Find an in-person teacher if possible.  Is there a zen center or just a sitting group around you that has a teacher who offers interviews?  How about a Vipassana or Tibetan Buddhist group?  

Noah's advice here is spot on. You can have spiritual experiences with chemical enhancement, but what you really have to do now is build a foundation for integrating those experiences. Otherwise you get yourself dangerously open to whatever (strong negative stuff as well as the good stuff) and become unbalanced. Not to say that vipassana can't go negative on you (it does), but with the right kind of support you can get through it. All the best to you. 

here is a Michael Pollan article from this past winter in the New Yorker on some current, promising medical clinical trials with illegal drugs in controlled/supervised research places.

Similar to what others have noted I definitely prefer what comes from breathing meditation (anapanasati) than something I'd have to buy, that would be relatively unreliable and in several ways would be inherently troublesome. That said, meditation is not for everyone all the time.
The Trip Treatment
Research into psychedelics, shut down for decades, is now yielding exciting results.

Psilocybin may be useful in treating anxiety, addiction, and depression, and in studying the neurobiology of mystical experience.

On an April Monday in 2010, Patrick Mettes, a fifty-four-year-old television news director being treated for a cancer of the bile ducts, read an article on the front page of the Times that would change his death. His diagnosis had come three years earlier, shortly after his wife, Lisa, noticed that the whites of his eyes had turned yellow. By 2010, the cancer had spread to Patrick’s lungs and he was buckling under the weight of a debilitating chemotherapy regimen and the growing fear that he might not survive. The article, headlined “HALLUCINOGENS HAVE DOCTORS TUNING IN AGAIN,” mentioned clinical trials at several universities, including N.Y.U., in which psilocybin—the active ingredient in so-called magic mushrooms—was being administered to cancer patients in an effort to relieve their anxiety and “existential distress.” One of the researchers was quoted as saying that, under the influence of the hallucinogen, “individuals transcend their primary identification with their bodies and experience ego-free states . . . and return with a new perspective and profound acceptance.” Patrick had never taken a psychedelic drug, but he immediately wanted to volunteer. Lisa was against the idea. “I didn’t want there to be an easy way out,” she recently told me. “I wanted him to fight.”

Patrick made the call anyway and, after filling out some forms and answering a long list of questions, was accepted into the trial. Since hallucinogens can sometimes bring to the surface latent psychological problems, researchers try to weed out volunteers at high risk by asking questions about drug use and whether there is a family history of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. After the screening, Mettes was assigned to a therapist named Anthony Bossis, a bearded, bearish psychologist in his mid-fifties, with a specialty in palliative care. Bossis is a co-principal investigator for the N.Y.U. trial.

After four meetings with Bossis, Mettes was scheduled for two dosings—one of them an “active” placebo (in this case, a high dose of niacin, which can produce a tingling sensation), and the other a pill containing the psilocybin. Both sessions, Mettes was told, would take place in a room decorated to look more like a living room than like a medical office, with a comfortable couch, landscape paintings on the wall, and, on the shelves, books of art and mythology, along with various aboriginal and spiritual tchotchkes, including a Buddha and a glazed ceramic mushroom. During each session, which would last the better part of a day, Mettes would lie on the couch wearing an eye mask and listening through headphones to a carefully curated playlist—Brian Eno, Philip Glass, Pat Metheny, Ravi Shankar. Bossis and a second therapist would be there throughout, saying little but being available to help should he run into any trouble.

I met Bossis last year in the N.Y.U. treatment room, along with his colleague Stephen Ross, an associate professor of psychiatry at N.Y.U.’s medical school, who directs the ongoing psilocybin trials. Ross, who is in his forties, was dressed in a suit and could pass for a banker. He is also the director of the substance-abuse division at Bellevue, and he told me that he had known little about psychedelics—drugs that produce radical changes in consciousness, including hallucinations—until a colleague happened to mention that, in the nineteen-sixties, LSD had been used successfully to treat alcoholics. Ross did some research and was astounded at what he found.

“I felt a little like an archeologist unearthing a completely buried body of knowledge,” he said. Beginning in the nineteen-fifties, psychedelics had been used to treat a wide variety of conditions, including alcoholism and end-of-life anxiety. The American Psychiatric Association held meetings centered on LSD. “Some of the best minds in psychiatry had seriously studied these compounds in therapeutic models, with government funding,” Ross said.

Between 1953 and 1973, the federal government spent four million dollars to fund a hundred and sixteen studies of LSD, involving more than seventeen hundred subjects. (These figures don’t include classified research.) Through the mid-nineteen-sixties, psilocybin and LSD were legal and remarkably easy to obtain. Sandoz, the Swiss chemical company where, in 1938, Albert Hofmann first synthesized LSD, gave away large quantities of Delysid—LSD—to any researcher who requested it, in the hope that someone would discover a marketable application. Psychedelics were tested on alcoholics, people struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder, depressives, autistic children, schizophrenics, terminal cancer patients, and convicts, as well as on perfectly healthy artists and scientists (to study creativity) and divinity students (to study spirituality). The results reported were frequently positive. But many of the studies were, by modern standards, poorly designed and seldom well controlled, if at all. When there were controls, it was difficult to blind the researchers—that is, hide from them which volunteers had taken the actual drug. (This remains a problem.)

By the mid-nineteen-sixties, LSD had escaped from the laboratory and swept through the counterculture. In 1970, Richard Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act and put most psychedelics on Schedule 1, prohibiting their use for any purpose. Research soon came to a halt, and what had been learned was all but erased from the field of psychiatry. “By the time I got to medical school, no one even talked about it,” Ross said.

The clinical trials at N.Y.U.—a second one, using psilocybin to treat alcohol addiction, is now getting under way—are part of a renaissance of psychedelic research taking place at several universities in the United States, including Johns Hopkins, the Harbor-U.C.L.A. Medical Center, and the University of New Mexico, as well as at Imperial College, in London, and the University of Zurich. As the drug war subsides, scientists are eager to reconsider the therapeutic potential of these drugs, beginning with psilocybin. (Last month The Lancet, the United Kingdom’s most prominent medical journal, published a guest editorial in support of such research.) The effects of psilocybin resemble those of LSD, but, as one researcher explained, “it carries none of the political and cultural baggage of those three letters.” LSD is also stronger and longer-lasting in its effects, and is considered more likely to produce adverse reactions. Researchers are using or planning to use psilocybin not only to treat anxiety, addiction (to smoking and alcohol), and depression but also to study the neurobiology of mystical experience, which the drug, at high doses, can reliably occasion. Forty years after the Nixon Administration effectively shut down most psychedelic research, the government is gingerly allowing a small number of scientists to resume working with these powerful and still somewhat mysterious molecules.

As I chatted with Tony Bossis and Stephen Ross in the treatment room at N.Y.U., their excitement about the results was evident. According to Ross, cancer patients receiving just a single dose of psilocybin experienced immediate and dramatic reductions in anxiety and depression, improvements that were sustained for at least six months. The data are still being analyzed and have not yet been submitted to a journal for peer review, but the researchers expect to publish later this year.
“I thought the first ten or twenty people were plants—that they must be faking it,” Ross told me. “They were saying things like ‘I understand love is the most powerful force on the planet,’ or ‘I had an encounter with my cancer, this black cloud of smoke.’ People who had been palpably scared of death—they lost their fear. The fact that a drug given once can have such an effect for so long is an unprecedented finding. We have never had anything like it in the psychiatric field."...

continues here:

RE: LSD Spiritual Awakening, now without drugs (Vipassana and Zen), did LSD
6/12/15 2:20 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Katy, thank you for this posting. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I went to the the articles' website and read the whole thing. After reading the entirety of the article I came to understand several things I needed that related to my own life. Not through the use or abuse of any psychedelic drugs, but mental health stuff.

"Nevertheless, Carhart-Harris believes that the psychedelic experience can help people by relaxing the grip of an overbearing ego and the rigid, habitual thinking it enforces. The human brain is perhaps the most complex system there is, and the emergence of a conscious self is its highest achievement. By adulthood, the mind has become very good at observing and testing reality and developing confident predictions about it that optimize our investments of energy (mental and otherwise) and therefore our survival.Much of what we think of as perceptions of the world are really educated guesses based on past experience (“That fractal pattern of little green bits in my visual field must be a tree”), and this kind of conventional thinking serves us well.

But only up to a point. In Carhart-Harris’s view, a steep price is paid for the achievement of order and ego in the adult mind. “We give up our emotional lability,” he told me, “our ability to be open to surprises, our ability to think flexibly, and our ability to value nature.” The sovereign ego can become a despot. This is perhaps most evident in depression, when the self turns on itself and uncontrollable introspection gradually shades out reality. In “The Entropic Brain,” a paper published last year in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Carhart-Harris cites research indicating that this debilitating state, sometimes called “heavy self-consciousness,” may be the result of a “hyperactive” default-mode network. The lab recently received government funding to conduct a clinical study using psychedelics to treat depression.

Existential distress at the end of life bears many of the psychological hallmarks of a hyperactive default-mode network, including excessive self-reflection and an inability to jump the deepening grooves of negative thought. The ego, faced with the prospect of its own dissolution, becomes hypervigilant, withdrawing its investment in the world and other people. It is striking that a single psychedelic experience—an intervention that Carhart-Harris calls “shaking the snow globe”—should have the power to alter these patterns in a lasting way.

This was a most insightful article for me. As for using these types of drugs, I don't think I'm going there. That does not imply any negative associations with any use of them. I will not make any judgements either way for others. Just myself. I want to go through this journey as sober, and clear minded as I can. I believe I may get more from it this way. Each of us have our own journey to make, however we need to, so we can arrive where we need to be.

RE: LSD Spiritual Awakening, now without drugs (Vipassana and Zen), did LSD
6/12/15 8:43 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
A recent radio program from the CBC also covers some of this ground.

"Scientists push to renew psychedelic drug research for psychiatry" from Monday June 08, 2015

The first person interviewed is Professor David J Nutt, about his brain research with psilocybin and LSD. At about the 4:10 mark he says: "The circuit that is disrupted is called the default mode network, the circuit which is really what drives your sense of self and your thinking about yourself, and in conditions such as depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, that network is overactive, people ruminate too much about themselves and about what they are doing wrong etc. So we believe that by disrupting that circuit you can let people break out of this terrible self imposed prison they created (by) what they are thinking..."

There are two others interviewed in the program.

CPM, thanks for the link and post.
I will check it out when I get home from work. I can't access it here. Filters :-)
Your short description has me interested.

Big question for you. Can you analyze your ego? Can you see it as an object and study it? Learn insight about your own ego?

RE: LSD Spiritual Awakening, now without drugs (Vipassana and Zen), did LSD
6/13/15 9:12 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Hi Don

I assume you are using ego as it used and referenced in the research you were quoting – from a psychological perspective. The modern psychological definition is pretty broad and I'm not familiar with it enough to relate to it in a personal way.

The only thing I can say that may relate to your question (from the context of meditation) is that I am often aware of thoughts, mind states, emotions, and body sensations. By being aware of these things I sometimes see patterns and have insights.

"The circuit that is disrupted is called the default mode network, the circuit which is really what drives your sense of self and your thinking about yourself, and in conditions such as depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, that network is overactive, people ruminate too much about themselves and about what they are doing wrong etc. So we believe that by disrupting that circuit you can let people break out of this terrible self imposed prison they created (by) what they are thinking..."

It's interesting that this is also the part of the brain that seems to be shut down or suppressed in deep meditation. There was a study done on Tibetan monks doing MRIs while they were in meditation that showed this to be the case:

RE: LSD Spiritual Awakening, now without drugs (Vipassana and Zen), did LSD
6/13/15 10:54 AM as a reply to Lewis James.
Yes, I'm very interested in these findings as well. I'm hearing more about various researchers looking into this part of the brain and I think a lot of good will come from it.

I used to work with a team of people who developed software for the neuroscience field. I drifted away from that and regret it now. It's an exciting field.

CPM, thanks for the reply.

"I assume you are using ego as it used and referenced in the research you were quoting – from a psychological perspective. The modern psychological definition is pretty broad and I'm not familiar with it enough to relate to it in a personal way." No, not exactly. It was my fault for not being clearer. Ok, can you look at your ego like an object? Like it has a shape and size you can "see" for yourself.

Sorry for the misunderstanding.

RE: LSD Spiritual Awakening, now without drugs (Vipassana and Zen), did LSD
6/13/15 1:57 PM as a reply to Lewis James.
Lewis, thanks for the post.

Yes, that also jumped out at me when I read the article.

Yes, I read that article about the monks too. Its about time that science begins to have advancements to allow them such diagnostics. :-)

RE: LSD Spiritual Awakening, now without drugs (Vipassana and Zen), did LSD
6/13/15 3:09 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Don Merchant:
can you look at your ego like an object? Like it has a shape and size you can "see" for yourself.

No, I haven't seen my ego in this way.

While meditating, I once saw a bright purple/white light that seemed to be originating in space outside of me. It didn't move as I moved my eyes to look at it, but seemed to float at a specific location in space, and then explode like fireworks. I'm not sure what this was, some sort of visual artifact I haven't found reporting of yet, or a visual hallucination. I even asked my optometrist about it, but he didn't have anything for me.

I often get pin points, or flashes of lights while meditating, there is a meditation term for this which I forget. But I think this is related to changes in the brain while meditating, or perhaps they are always there but unnoticed until meditating.

I also sometimes get a visual purple blob at the center of my vision which I believe would be called a nimitta in meditation terms. I think this is also a visual artifact related to changes in the brain while meditating.

Unrelated to meditation, so far twice in my life I have gotten a scintillating scotoma and this is due to a temporary disruption of the blood flow to the visual processing part of the brain.

Thanks for the link. Now I have a name to it :-) I too suffer from this but not that often. I suffer from migraines and ocular migraines. BUT, I haven't had a migraine since I started meditating again emoticon.

Oh, uh I was asking,.......because I did somehow hold it in my hand and study it during a session. Can't tell you what was going on as to HOW I did this. It was just presented to me and I was told it was my ego. I was to study it, see what I could figure out, and was left with it. It was so disconcerting, bizarre, and one of the strangest experience I've ever had. Not the most bizarre, but it was up there on my list.

I'm very much against the purists on this subject since my experience is that psychedelics when used correctly significantly speed up spiritual progress. My experience with mushrooms, ayahuasca, DMT, LSD and MDMA is extremely positive. Of course there has been intense fears, panic, grief and dread coming up sometimes, but I see that too as a good thing.

It's also wrong in my view to classify these as "drugs" or group them in with harmful checmical compounds such as crack or heroin. Hallucinogens have pretty much zero addictive qualities and are almost impossible to overdose on. If anything they are sacred medicines that allow us to break down the illusions (albeit temporarily) and experience what we need to experience without wasting 20 years in a zendo.

My two disclaimers would be these:

1. HOW you use them is of extreme importance. "Getting high" and going to a party may be fun (or not) but is not considered spiritual progress, and WILL expose you to energies or enteties that are unhelpful to say the least. Use them reverently and in combination with spiritual work.

2. The combination with practice such as meditation and yoga is what makes them effective. Only using psychedelics is akin to getting into a race car without a steering wheel. Through meditation you will learn to move comfortable through the experiences and get the most out of them.

Good luck and have fun on your journey.

RE: LSD Spiritual Awakening, now without drugs (Vipassana and Zen), did LSD
6/25/15 4:02 PM as a reply to Mattias Wilhelm Stenberg.
Aw man. I very much agree. Except I do feel at this point in my life. I might have to give up drugs entirely or only use them on the rare occasion as I have found to easily fall into a routine if I smoke marijuana daily, I will do it daily for a long time. So I am trying to make it something to enjoy on the rare occasion. Same as any other psychedelic. This last year though, since I did them for my first time last year, I think I slightly abused them, even though used with good purpose. If you don't mind me asking, how old are you? How long have you been using psychedelics? and how often do you use psychedelics? thanks man