What Can Buddhist Meditation Teach Us About Psychedelic Science? – Katherine MacLean


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What Can Buddhist Meditation Teach Us About Psychedelic Science?

Katherine MacLean, PhD

Abstract: An increasingly large body of scientific evidence indicates that various types of mental training can improve cognitive performance, psychological well-being and brain function. In particular, meditation techniques drawn from the Buddhist tradition have proven effective for cultivating a calm mind, open heart and healthy body. The re-packaging of ancient Buddhist practices into a suite of modern therapeutic tools is one of the great success stories of so-called complementary and alternative medicine. What, then, can Buddhist meditation teach us about psychedelic science? While evidence is accumulating that psychedelic compounds can promote long-term improvements in behaviors, attitudes and well-being, there remain obstacles to the acceptance of psychedelics as modern medicine. In this talk, I will review and compare data from previous longitudinal studies of meditation and psilocybin, present preliminary findings from ongoing research examining the effects of psilocybin in long-term meditation practitioners, and discuss future directions for the use psychedelics and meditation to promote optimal health and well-being.

Katherine MacLean, PhD, is an Instructor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where she conducts research on psilocybin and meditation. As a graduate student at the University of California, Davis, Katherine was supported by a National Science Foundation research fellowship to study changes in behavior and brain function during three months of intensive meditation training. After obtaining her PhD in psychology in 2009, she joined the Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit at Johns Hopkins as a postdoctoral research fellow. Since 2009, Katherine has trained with Roland Griffiths, Matthew Johnson, Bill Richards, and Mary Cosimano on studies of psilocybin and other hallucinogens (Salvia divinorum) and has guided nearly 40 psilocybin sessions. She is currently investigating the intersection between psilocybin and meditation, including potential brain mechanisms and therapeutic applications. Outside of research, Katherine practices daily meditation, occasional handstands, and perpetual astonishment.

More videos available at http://psychedelicscience.org

At Psychedelic Science 2013, over 100 of the world’s leading researchers and more than 1,900 international attendees gathered to share recent findings on the benefits and risks of LSD, psilocybin, MDMA, ayahuasca, ibogaine, 2C-B, ketamine, DMT, marijuana, and more, over three days of conference presentations, and two days of pre- and post-conference workshops.


11 thoughts on “What Can Buddhist Meditation Teach Us About Psychedelic Science? – Katherine MacLean

  1. The scientific validation is only a precursor to the direct experience. It can help people to open their minds to the possibilities and implications of meditation and allow them to explore it further without automatically dissmissing it as some mystical eastern makebelieve. But essentially, external valdiation is not necessary.. it's just necessary in times like these, where people depend heavily on science to filter truth from fiction.

  2. Ah! But the bigger question is, if the yogis and shamans figured out that there are other dimensions outside the purview of the 5-physical-senses, then what does that mean for us now that the moratorium on psychdelics research has been lifted? it's inevitable that we too will learn a great deal, not just about the therapeutic aspects, which are important, but also the spiritual/yogic/shamanistic value & applicability.. other worlds, other domains. We're only at the tip of the tip of the iceberg.

  3. Yes, the yogis and shamans figured stuff out prior, but today, unless science steps forward to show that meditation has measurable positive effects and outcomes associated with it that are physically verifiable, most people would remain in ignorance about it. And now that science is looking into it and finding stuff out, people are forced to take notice of what they previously overlooked.

  4. She is a pleasant woman, but not a very eloquent speaker. I must admit, I have only watched the video until 12min33sec. What strikes me is something I must express poetically, because it goes beyond words… These are only the foothills. Your idols will shatter and the light will rise from the shards.

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