Episode 69 :: Dr. Roland Griffiths :: Psilocybin and Meditation

| June 17, 2011 | 3 Comments

Dr. Roland Griffiths

Dr. Roland Griffiths speaks with us about his work studying psilocybin’s intersection with meditation.

Many of our Buddhist centers here in the United States got their start and found practitioners in the psychedelic 60’s. Literally. The culture of the time had an exploration of pharmacologicals, especially those which could produce altered perceptions of reality. Some have said these experiences led them to meditation, as it opened their minds (no joke intended) to possibilities such altered states suggested.

Not all studies were scientific, or particularly helpful. In a backlash from the Timothy Leary drug culture, much of the valid scientific work was shut down. It is only recently that some scientists are taking up this particular area of study again. Today’s interview is particularly well timed, as only this week an article about these studies was released to the press. That article is linked on the episode page for this interview.

Dr. Roland Griffiths is a Professor of Behavioral Biology, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, and Professor of Neuroscience, Department of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He has been given the Solvay Award for Outstanding Basic Psychopharmacological Research on Affective Disorders from the American Psychological Association, and the Brady/Schuster Award for Outstanding Behavioral Science Research in Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse.

So, sit back, relax, and have a nice ice tea.

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Music for This Episode

Shakuhachi Meditations

Shakuhachi Meditations

The music heard in the middle of the podcast is from Rodrigo Rodriguez’s CD, Shakuhachi Meditations. The tracks used in this episode are:

  • Cross of Light

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Category: The Secular Buddhist Podcast

Ted Meissner

About the Author ()

Ted Meissner is the host of the podcast Present Moment: Mindfulness Practice and Science. He has been a meditator since the early 90’s, has been interviewed for Books and Ideas, Mindful Lives, and The Whole Leader podcasts, spoken about mindfulness with various groups including Harvard Humanist Hub, and has written for Elephant Journal and The International Journal of Whole Person Care. He is the Executive Director of the Secular Buddhist Association, host of the SBA’s official podcast The Secular Buddhist, and is on the Advisory Board for the Spiritual Naturalist Society. Ted’s background is in the Zen and Theravada traditions, he is a regular speaker on interfaith panel discussions, and is interested in examining the evolution of contemplative practice in contemporary culture. Ted teaches Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care & Society, where he is the Manager of Online Programming and Community Development.

Comments (3)

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  1. StanPengelly StanPengelly says:

    This episode is probably my favorite.

    Steve Jobs and two people I’ve known personally have all said how profound their LSD/Psilocybin/Mescaline experiences were. What I didn’t know, until I heard this podcast, was that some meditators have had mystical experiences which are similar to those that people under the influence of Psilocybin have had.

    Imagine if this research resulted in a pill or perhaps a series of drugs that when taken could accelerate the process of meditation. Monks wouldn’t need to spend years in a cave and the average Joe on the street could achieve the same level of experience. This research could be to the human mind that E-MC^2 was to physics.

  2. Ted Meissner Ted Meissner says:

    Hi, Stan, nice to see you!

    You will also probably be interested in the Katherine MacLean interviews, as she’s working with Roland on these studies. In addition, the Eric Storlie second interview talks about how these substances positively impacted his engagement with meditation over the years.

  3. Mark Knickelbine says:

    Stan —

    While it might be great to have a pill that reliably induced mystical experiences (with fewer of the creepy and even traumatic side effects of current hallucinogens), at best you would have something that would inspire someone to practice. If, as I believe, the real effects of meditation are the result of self-directed neuroplasticity, this is not something that will occur as a result of one or even many mystical experiences. It requires repeated and sustained direction of awareness in order to rewire our brains for greater equanimity and less reactivity. Having said that, I would love to do one of these guided psylocibin sessions IF I COULD DO SO LEGALLY (he said, speaking into the listening device . . .)

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