Study: Psychedelic Drugs May Improve Mindfulness

Study: Psychedelic Drugs May Improve Mindfulness

From breathing exercises to meditation, there’s plenty of ways to practice mindfulness. Now, using psychedelic substances can join the mix, too.

A recent study conducted by researchers in the United Kingdom suggests ingesting psychedelics is associated with an increase in mindfulness and acceptance, specifically “non-judgment of inner experience and non-reactivity.”

Mindfulness, according to the study, can be defined as “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally” and encompasses several practices and processes related to acceptance, attention, attitude, awareness and memory. 

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There were no other systematic reviews of the links between psychedelic usage and mindfulness, the study said, so the researchers sought to create a review and explore how mindfulness practices and using psychedelics can work together.

Researchers conducted a systematic search across multiple databases this past January, using specific key terms related to psychedelic drugs, such as “hallucinogen,” “magic mushroom” and LSD,” and mindfulness, like “meditation,” “attention” and “consciousness.” Out of more than 1,800 screen studies, 13 fit the criteria to be included in the review.

Mindfulness can be divided into five sub-domains, according to the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire: observation, description, aware actions, non-judgmental inner experience and non-reactivity. The review found that, overall, the observed studies showed a tendency toward mindfulness improvements after using psychedelics in all but one of the FFMQ’s listed sub-domains, which was description.

Having increased mindfulness can “aid in the ability to maintain perspective when in a heightened emotional state,” the study said. And having non-judgmental processes as part of mindfulness has been associated with lower anxiety and depression. 

Other known benefits of mindfulness include enhanced well-being and improvements in physical health by reducing stress or improving sleep.

Ultimately, the U.K. study asserts more high-quality studies must be conducted to bolster the relationship between psychedelics and mindfulness, such as observing the effects of specific psychedelic drugs. But this review could mark the beginning of a whole new way to pursue and help maintain mindfulness.

Gabrielle Lewis is a journalist at the University of Maryland College Park. She has written and edited for the school's flagship newspaper, The Diamondback, as well as other campus publications. You can find her on Twitter @gabrielleslewis.

Gabrielle Lewis is a journalist at the University of Maryland College Park. She has written and edited for the school's flagship newspaper, The Diamondback, as well as other campus publications. You can find her on Twitter @gabrielleslewis.

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