Medicated Meditator

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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

Medicated Meditator

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Check_Username
Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum

Has anyone here had any experience with, or heard of, the use of medication to enhance concentration or any other faculty that might help with the progress of insight? I was prescribed Provigil for something else and realized it might actually be quite helpful (I haven't started it yet.) That got me thinking of other things; nootropics like Piracetam, Hydergine, etc. Possibly Ritalin or other ADD medication (if it brings broken attention up to par, it should enhance normal attention as well, right?) I don't know what else...

Maybe different things are useful in different ways at different stages? Has there ever been a study on this? If not, shouldn't there be? Anything that could help anyone attain anything more efficiently seems worthwhile to me, no?

[[Also, Hi, I'm new emoticon]]
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Medicated Meditator

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/26/09 Recent Posts
In my own experience, nootropic compounds, and stimulants like caffeine or yohbimbine generally, improve memory, wakefulness, attention and sometimes creativity. They do not improve concentration of the sort we cultivate in meditation. That said they are not necessarily a hindrance. More specifically, stimulants increase what we would call a very gross form of energy.

Likewise, sedative compounds may increase a very gross form of tranquility, but would they aide meditation?
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Medicated Meditator

Posts: 7 Join Date: 9/2/09 Recent Posts
Hi,

I feel a bit obligated to respond to this - I prescribe a fair bit of stimulants, take them myself at my wife's insistence (Vyvanse - was diagnosed at about 13 with ADD - it still had that designation at that time - but it's probably not a typical ADHD - inattentive type though I meet all the criteria), and used to speak for Cephalon about Provigil. I can't say much about Piracetam or Hydergine as they are not approved in this country and I'm not sure that the mechanism of action is well understood. Some of my friends have taken them and say they work well - particularly for cutting through the fog of a ritual if they were stoned (yep - Chaos magicians...). I've also known these friends to take pure ADH which in my opinion is dangerous, and I saw one Endocrinologist self-administer this who became psychotic from it presumably, and died on the unit while I was a resident (from apparently other causes - an MI - but still very alarming).

My own experience with stimulants - and again, I'm a bit unusual in the sense that I have always been capable of extremely deep concentration states - just on the wrong things - I can't not hyperfocus on things I'm interested in, or focus on things I'm not. So if anything stimulants enable me to focus on things that are socially relevant. As sympathomimetics they engender a vigilant wakefulness - one tends to be more aware of the environment. So environmental distractions might be more of an issue. Plus they do alter autonomic function - for instance my refractory time to orgasm is altered - nothing that is impairing, particularly if I'm not trying to have sex right after taking it, but it is noticiable. Sexual orgasm requires a symphony of cooperation between the parasympathetic and sympathetic arms of the autonomic nervous system, and I wonder if a fruition experience requires a similar harmony. Continued...
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Medicated Meditator

Posts: 7 Join Date: 9/2/09 Recent Posts
Continuing...

That being said, anything that increases awareness is likely to be helpful in the short term. What is unclear is exactly what is going on in terms of the neurophysiology of the Enlightenment process, and subtle shifts in balances of neurotransmitters, etc - that's the main problem with any pharmacological intervention - they are blunt instruments, and once they are on board they are there, while the native brain has the ability to subtly titrate substrate levels on a moment to moment basis. One concern about the stimulants that comes to mind is in at least one study I looked at, people will show stages of sleep activity, without the normal sleep architecture progression, which may be part of what's happening (obviously falling into normal sleep is not desirable, but a stimulant might also prevent this effect).

All that being said, Provigil is NOT a stimulant and activates histamine in the brain rather than norepinepherine, is productive of a quiet introspective wakefulness rather than a vigilant wakefulness, and seems to have "neuroharmonizing" effects as well as nootrophic effects. One can sleep on it if sleep is desired, so it would not probably not alter any sleep mimetic process in meditation. If you are prescribed this for one of it's indications (obstructive sleep apnea, or narcolepsy, or shift work sleep disorder) then I believe it could only be helpful, and probably one of the best candidates to enhance meditation if one exists.
David
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Medicated Meditator

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
i have ADD but rarely take medication for it. however, when i do, i have found that adderall potentiates continuity (of attention), sensitivity (to increasingly subtle sensate experience) and sheer persistence. i've never taken my meds on retreat so don't know how it would work long-term.

someone whose style of practice involves a lot of physical relaxation, though, might find this muscular tension that tends to come with stimulants a problem. i personally don't because i settle into the tension quickly enough and the increased persistence more than makes up for it.

when you start meditating with provigil, please post what you find.
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Medicated Meditator

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: smudo

I had some experience with SSRI and meditation. They were prescribed as symptom treatment (restlessness, fear, depression) providing easier and deeper concentration when their effect manifested after about 2 weeks. I also can tell something about sort of threshold of symptoms which prohibits concentration and insight as well. Below that you may meditate, above it there's the area where the one and only advise you will always hear from insight instructors just does not work any more: "observe it". In these cases you rather can forget it, try jogging instead or whatever.

I have no idea about a sort of "doping-approach" for meditators who do not have symptoms at all in a psychiatric meaning of the term. If you want deeper concentration this may work in some way, but for insight practices there's no benefit whatsoever. Good insight practice does not necessarily mean pleasent or highly focused meditation, it just means accurate perception of what is there in the present moment, even if the only thing perceivable is the inability to perceive well, as it may seem. Maybe one tricky aspect at this point is, no to be fooled by hidden desire or aversion usually manifesting in a style of oservation which says: "ok, I observe this crap in order to change it to something that follows my implicit concept of good mediataion" . The orthodox approach is: just observe ALL this.

Well, doping... the best way to increase insight is increased dosage of attention. Did you try a strict retreat of ten days minimum duration? Strict means: try to maintain awareness in every moment as far as possible. No distractive activity (reading, talking...).In these circumstances speed and accuracy of attention should peak to quite unusaual levels, increasing chances for deep insight.

Hope this helps, greetings.
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Medicated Meditator

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
just wanted to update this. i got path while taking my adderall on intensive retreat. while it may not work for everyone - i want to emphasise caution here so people don't read this and go out and become speed freaks - it definitely worked for me.
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Medicated Meditator

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/26/09 Recent Posts
The question i would have is, where you using the dexedrine to stay awake longer (what i assume would be the ideal use)? To stay focused? Or just taking it as prescribed?
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Medicated Meditator

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
to stay focused, primarily, and be harder to distract from the monotony of discipline (especially when concentration waned). it also had the great added effect of keeping me fully alert after lunch (normally i get drowsy then and take a nap) so i kept steaming right along. also, i have no trouble sleeping in all sorts of conditions so taking a dose late in the afternoon or evening didn't stop me from getting the rest i needed.

btw, adderall is a mix of dextro- and levo- amphetamine (dexedrine is only dextro-).
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Medicated Meditator

Posts: 3183 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
While I am really very far down the anti-substance, do it on your own power, suck it up, you baby, etc. end of things, two points here are worth mentioning:

1) Caffeine has some similar effects to the amphetamines and is basically universally found in meditation communities.

2) There definitely is a pretty strong literature that says that there are some people that simply do a whole lot better when trying to accomplish concentration based tasks while on drugs like those mentioned above, and while this truly rankles some deep-seated idealistic side of me, it is clear that there may in certain people and in certain situations be a place for medicines like that for those who are trying to do something that generally really does require strong concentration and persistent diligence. How to determine exactly who those people are and exactly when they should be doing what and in what dose, I have no idea, but that's not the same thing as saying they may not sometimes be of benefit, and clearly, as they journal articles always say, more research is needed.
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Squirrel Master, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Medicated Meditator

Posts: 28 Join Date: 7/8/11 Recent Posts
Im about to try Ritalin for Meditaion as i have already 12 month of Retreat time (over 10 years in the Dharma) and cant see much progress on my Samadhi.

Daniel:
Do u think there are any dangers in taking Ritalin etc. like bypassing some stages of development?


Tarin:
What path did u attain when taking Adderall the first time on retreat? Did u use it on the subsequent pathes as well or did ur samadhi increase after SE so that u did not needet it any more?


Greetings. Peace+ Love. Squirrell Master.
A D R, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Medicated Meditator

Posts: 693 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
I just got on a 100mg dose of Zoloft about a month ago for OCD symptoms.

I can see benefits and drawbacks. The benefits would include such matters as having difficulty "owning" sensations due to the presence of drugs in the body (something I would normally be adverse to), which leads to my letting go of sensations more readily. Drawbacks are the fact that I am on drugs and I don't like to be on drugs because it makes me feel dis-empowered.
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Rachel Lane, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Medicated Meditator

Posts: 13 Join Date: 3/6/13 Recent Posts
Hi, I'm new here, but I figured I would share my experience with medication and meditation.

I take cymbalta, trileptal, and clonazepam for bipolar disorder, anxiety, and pain issues. None of these medications have affected my concentration for better or worse.

The only time I cannot concentrate is if I have taken painkillers, such as vicuprofen, lortab, etc.

I do not drink caffeine (due to anxiety), butwhenever I have it has actually hindered concentration. It's like I'm sitting for the first time again.

Developing and balancing the five spiritual faculties was the turning point for me in my concentration abilities. There is a section on the faculties in MCTB. Very helpful.
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Medicated Meditator

Posts: 3183 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Nice to see that old thread revived and good to get more data points. I think that eventually these individual case reports will inform more formal studies, and, in the meantime, we here can all play around and see what works and share.

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