Psychedelics – now a potential miracle cure, after decades of warnings and illegality. How absurd? Most likely the truth lives somewhere in the middle of sensational claims and criticism – still in the fog. Legalization for the average citizen may take some time. Even then, the experience might be hard to access or understand.
Yet – without ever touching a psychedelic, one can glean insights they deliver, and incorporate them into their life. Namely, the sheer knowledge of how the human mind is able to expand.
Simply put – psychedelics prove immediately to the user – the nature of of our everyday reality is not completely “true”, and, can soften our relationship with this reality – especially unhealthy habits and beliefs.
There is absolutely zero reason anyone MUST use psychedelics to reap this benefit. It’s simply that, when people are severely stuck, depressed, traumatized, or terminally ill, this can help them see – radically and instantaneously – a vastly healthier perspective is available.
If psychedelics are a helicopter to such an experience, mindfulness, flow, and contemplation of philosophy, are the hike, to the exact same destination. And, even if using a helicopter, the hike can be foundational and extremely worthwhile. The “hike” being the broader journey of self discovery and wellbeing. There is and always has been several ways to the summit.
That, in short, is the end of this article – purely to show that the first person experience of psychedelics can be had without them.
Below goes into slightly more technical detail about what science is trying to figure out about psychedelics right now, and how it circles back to this same conclusion.
‘REBUS’ – Relaxed Beliefs Under Psychedelics
So after nearly a decade of research, it is clear psychedelics cause people to loosen their grip on reality and rigid beliefs. In short, relieve suffering. How?
The image above is from the REBUS paper – one of the most recent and prominent articles explaining how psychedelic relief might work.
In the top half, the brain (default mode network) is heavily biased toward past assumptions or “priors” (beliefs). The red ball in the top right represents inhibited brain signals, i.e. emotions, memories, sensory data – having little influence on our reality. Conversely, in the bottom left, the brain relaxes inhibition. Reality is then composed of more signal – memory, emotions, sensory data – symbolized by the red ball splashing in consciousness.
Which brings us precisely back to a point made earlier. The default mode network is “relaxed” in the mind of the meditator, or the person in flow state, or the person exercising. In other words, psychedelics are not the only way someone’s brain can relax in this particular way.
(For those interested in responsibly and subtly exploring psychedelics, see here)