The Mindfulness of Psychedelic Integration

The Mindfulness of Psychedelic Integration

The pulsating aliveness of a tree … the sensuous softness of a kiss … the mind being blessedly silent and only consciousness exists: These are experiences of mindfulness, whether brought to our attention by psychedelics or meditative awareness.

“When the mind disappears and thoughts disappear you become mindful. You do things – you move, you work, you eat, you sleep, but you are always mindful. The mind is not there, but mindfulness is there. What is mindfulness? It is awareness. It is perfect awareness [1].”  Osho

One of the great joys of both mindfulness and psychedelics is in their facilitation of similar mechanisms. They both dissolve ego boundaries, both direct one’s awareness inward toward the self rather than the environment, and they both collapse time into only the present moment. During both experiences, a person is intensely aware of their feelings and a sense of timelessness, characteristics reminiscent of mystical states, which may be encountered as blissful.

As is well known, however, what goes up must come down. After a psychedelic journey, the loss of the insights from ecstatic levels of awareness may be devastating for some people. As one comes back to everyday consciousness, the return of the mind and its incessant chatter interferes with fully engaging with the present moment. The loss of this higher state of consciousness can bring despair or frustration, and ultimately it can lead some individuals to seek more understanding from these experiences.

When integrating psychedelic experiences, it may be overwhelming for the person re-entering consensual, normal reality. The mind is desperately trying to make sense of what it has experienced, and there may be fear. There is a need to get back to the body, to the everyday world, and for grounding in them.

And here is where mindfulness practices can be helpful for psychedelic journeying. Before, during, and after a psychedelic session, attention can be brought to the body, its sensations, the breath, the sounds, the surroundings, and even one’s thoughts. The tasks of the integration period can be about encouraging a disciplined practice of returning, returning, and returning again to the ecstatic awareness of this, the present moment.

Mindful awareness can also help ease the difficult passages that may come up during a journey, by treating them with a curious mind, an awareness that this state is temporary, and that we are able to witness even this passing of each moment without the interference of the critical mind.

Later we can remember these times of heightened awareness as guideposts – for how we would like to be present more often, for longer periods of time. Our desire is to prevent being ruled by the tyranny of the mind, to sit apart, free, in touch with what is instead of being held captive by demands of the media, the advertising industry, our egos, and our plans. To be in touch with our desire to communicate both internally and with others with compassion.

Exciting new research shows one even further the connection between mindfulness and psychedelics. That is, psychedelics may not only facilitate mindfulness, but that the reverse is also true — the use of psychedelics may enhance post-journey mindfulness in the participant. In a Canadian study conducted at a meditation retreat for long-time meditators, participants were given psilocybin several times after all-day meditative practice. The study found that “psilocybin induced profound mystical experiences and increased both self-reported meditation depth and post-retreat levels of mindfulness” [2].

Albert Hoffman, discover of LSD, recognized similar potentials of LSD. He said,

“I see the true importance of LSD in the possibility of providing material aid to meditation aimed at the mystical experience of a deeper, comprehensive reality. Such a use accords entirely with the essence and working character of LSD as a sacred drug” [3]

Integration of psychedelic experience can be an ongoing process long after the journey has ended. One can continue and deepen the practice of everyday mindfulness, seek out psychotherapy to heal issues uncovered by psychedelics, and decide to begin a disciplined mindfulness practice. In the end, all mindful awareness practices and psychedelic integration ultimately enhance a state of reverence, of the sacredness of all life.
  1. Osho. And the Flowers Showered. Osho Media International, 2012.
  2. Scheidegger, Milan. “Psilocybin enhances mindfulness-related capabilities in a meditation retreat setting: a double-blind placebo-controlled fMRI study.” Psychedelic Science Conference, Oakland, CA 2017.
  3. Hoffman, Albert. LSD: My Problem Child. Oxford University Press, 2013.
  4. Auman, Catherine. Shortcuts to Mindfulness: 100 Ways to Personal and Spiritual Growth. Green Tara Press, 2014.
  5. Fadiman, James. The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic and Sacred Journeys. Park Street Press, 2011.
Catherine Auman, LMFT
Find out more about Catherine's integration and mental health services on her profile page in the Psychedelic Support Network. Contact her for a therapeutic appointment.
Group Meditation for the Heartspace

Group Meditation for the Heartspace

Most of the time our meditation is done in solitude, which is helpful to slow our mind down and focus on less. It also enables us to clear out racing thoughts and allow each moment to pass with a self-awareness. Meditation is one of my personal favorite ways to be alone, because I can come out of the meditation with deeper reflections of myself. I can see my spirit and who I am on a more vulnerable level.

That being said, let’s try something opposite: a group meditation. Sharing a mindful exercise with others can be very rewarding! As a society, we are evolving to understand how connected we all are to each other, not just physically but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

Connect Without Words

Here’s a short group meditation that will leave you feeling connected to others:

  1. Begin by putting your right hand on your heart. Breathe in for four seconds and out for six seconds. Notice your chest rise and fall, and allow your right shoulder to drop and hang while the elbow gently bends. In other words, truly relax as many muscles as possible.
  2. Form a circle with each person putting their left hand on the upper back of someone else. This is the space between the shoulder blades, what could be considered the back of the heart. This will form a circle of people each with a left hand on the back on the person in front of them.
  3. Begin the mindful deep breathing in Step 1 again. Now when you inhale, visualize vitality and love coming into your heart from your breath. And when you exhale, push that vitality and love through your left hand into the heartspace of the person in front of you. Breathe love into you, and breathe it out to the next person’s heart. Shift your focus towards the hand on your back, and visualize vitality being passed around the circle.

Put Your Mind Into Breathing

Five minutes of silence doing this can be a great way to see people with a more powerful and nonverbal understanding. I’ve had great success with this in corporate wellness seminars or with groups of friends. Let’s jive with a connection to others!

Leah Hearst OTR/L
Leah Hearst is an Occupational Therapist, Vinyasa Yoga Instructor, TRX Personal Trainer, and facilitator for “Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction”. She is the founder of “The Wolf of Wellness” and provides concierge therapy and wellness services in San Francisco. Get more great tips and practices on her website.

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