Gary Weber: Exploring the Self Scientifically – Magic Mushrooms or Meditation

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Exploring the Self Scientifically – Magic Mushrooms or Meditation – The Same Route, The Same Result

Magic mushrooms, with psilocybin as their active ingredient, have been used at least since 10,000 BCE for purposes ranging from shamanic healing to spiritual awakening through mystical experiences. Meditation has similarly been used for millennia for various purposes, including spiritual awakening in many traditions, often accompanied with mystical experiences. Only recently has the cognitive neuroscience been developed to determine how each of these powerful approaches operates in/on the brain.

Just released work on psilocybin in one of the most prestigious journals done at some of the world’s top universities is the first known scientific investigation to reveal the operations of the centers and networks in the brain involved in generating the effects of psilocybin. The latest fMRI technology and arterial spin labeling perfusion have been coupled to determine what the cerebral blood flow in individual brain centers is and how those centers are activated and coupled with other centers as the psilocybin levels are increased.

Comparing this work with the latest work coupling cognitive neuroscience and meditation, the astonishing finding is that the same centers involved in generating the transcendent and mystical effects in meditation are the same ones that are manipulated by psilocybin.

Not only that, but recent studies on the mystical experiences of persistently non-dual meditators as measured by the Hood Mystical Scale show that some of these meditators score at the highest possible score; a group of them has the highest average on this scale. Surprisingly, the group that had the average mystical score closest to the persistent non-dual meditators was the psychedelics.

The amazing conclusion is that both non-dual meditation and magic mushrooms produce very similar or the same mystical experiences by the same cognitive neuroscientific route.

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