Monday, September 25, 2017

4 Rituals for Happiness

Advice on happiness from neuroscientist Alex Korb.

  • Ask “What am I grateful for?” No answers? Doesn’t matter. Just searching helps.
  • Label those negative emotions. Give it a name and your brain isn’t so bothered by it.
  • Decide. Go for “good enough” instead of “best decision ever made on Earth.”
  • Hugs, hugs, hugs. Don’t text — touch.
Notice the noting style instruction to label your felt experience.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Do Nothing For 2 Minutes

Do Nothing For 2 Minutes.  An opportunity to meditate?  A challenge?  A break?  Betcha can't.  If you last it out, it takes you to a book and app called Calm.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

On the Construction of a Self

Nice video on the construction of the Self.

Western psychology holds that humans are not born with a sense of self, but rather that the self is constructed over time, gradually emerging within the first two years of life. Further, much scientific research says that everything that exists in human awareness – sight, sound, even time itself – is all a construction of the mind. So what are the pitfalls of treating these constructs as objective truths? According to Mahāmudrā Buddhist teaching, explored here by the clinical psychologist Daniel Brown at Harvard University, the more enamoured we are of our selves, the more fixed we are in our own ‘realities’, limiting the possibilities of our awareness. Playing with these reflections on the self and awareness, the San Francisco-based animator Claudia Biçen uses a series of ink-and-pencil portraits of Brown to bring him into being and then let him disappear.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Research Identifies 27 Emotional Categories

In the wake of research that tended to reduce the number of basic emotions down to sometimes four (mad, glad, sad, afraid), a recent study found 27 unique categories of emotions.  Probably useful from the standpoint of noting meditation.  From the study:

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Talking to Yourself in 3rd Person & Emotions

The study "talking to yourself in the third person can help you control emotions" reveals that this form of distancing oneself from emotions can alleviate emotional suffering.  This is not particularly surprising given that this is a very literal form of de-identifying and detaching, similar to the goals of meditation.  It also reminds me of one of my recommended practices, thinking out loud, which in itself is related to noting practice (link at right).

Part of the study included an inquiry type practice of "what is [ParticipantsName] feeling right now?"

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Emotions may be more changeable than we thought

Radical Theory Overturns Old Model of How Emotions are Made.

According to Barrett, emotions aren’t reactions to the world. Rather, emotions actually construct our world.

Meditation continues to show benefits

General article on recent research showing reductions in stress, etc.

Ecstasy now FDA Breakthrough Drug for PTSD

Ecstasy Was Just Labelled a 'Breakthrough Therapy' For PTSD by The FDA.  We are now that much closer to stage 3 clinical trials for MDMA.

This on the heels of recent research showing that MDMA facilitates changes in basic personality traits such as openness and neuroticism, traits that were previously thought to be fixed in adults until psilocybin was shown to make people more open.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Testing Psychedelic Microdosing

Monday, August 7, 2017

Buddhist Geeks - Meditating on Psychedelics

Buddhist Geeks
I was interested to see this podcast show up, both because of the subject matter (Meditating on Psychedelics), and the fact that for me it marked the return of Buddhist Geeks, a podcast that had been more or less pronounced dead.

Apparently this was an introductory podcast to usher in a series of episodes on the topic, which in theory I look forward to.  This was a fairly lukewarm, delicate, kind of "make sure we're not stepping on anyone's toes" kind of thing, mainly focusing on the need to be flexible and open about what is for some a controversial topic.  It is what it is.  The last 20 percent of the podcast was a plea for funding, which I understand, but sheesh.

A survey had been sent out to followers to gauge where people are on the subject of Buddhism and psychedelics.  For myself, I didn't feel like I fit into any of the categories and it's not as if I have no views on the subject.  To me it's kind of like anything else - psychedelics are neither "good" nor "bad".  There is an entire spectrum of experiences.  After listening to the podcast and decoding the thrust of the survey I would have to pick the "Psychedelic Buddhist" category, which is essentially a "maybe" category, saying “yes to the mixing of the Psychedelics and Buddhism and at the same time acknowledging that there are downsides, things to watch out for, and much that is still not well understood about the pairing."

I do sincerely wish that every person could get to the point where they could feel good about themselves, become familiar with their psychological makeup, maybe do a bit of meditation, and slowly work up to a psychedelic experience starting from low/medium doses in a safe setting, keeping in mind the advice from any number of reasonable Psychedelic Trip Guides.

My view might be something like Sam Harris', who when thinking about his daughter growing older and experimenting with substances, felt that his greatest fear was that his daughter wouldn't try a psychedelic at some point.  Of course Sam is perhaps being strong in making a point, but the fear is that to live a human life, and to not experience what is possible, and perhaps even probable given the considerations above, the unimaginable power, glory, and freedom of a genuine mystical experience, that would indeed be a tragedy.  Your mileage may vary.

As to the Buddhist or spiritual direction, I would say the psychedelic experience is indeed conducive to these kind of insights, and more generally insights of any kind.  The other side of that is that the mind may be presented with so many ideas and connections that it may tend to run off into those and lose itself in them.  Keeping the mind in a meditative mode while under the influence of a psychedelic is actually the best way to raise the odds for an amazing experience.

As far as the BG podcast, a bit more "meat" in the form of some surprising views from Vince Horn on the subject of Buddhism can be found in the previous episode Stirrings from the Bardo.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Your Brain Hallucinates Your Reality

No human being has ever experienced anything other than their own consciousness.  The universe we experience is a map of what may or may not be "out there".  This is the insight being pointed at in Your Brain Hallucinates Your Reality on YouTube.

Ketamine produces anti-anxiety effects

Ketamine, the dissociative anesthetic with psychedelic properties,
"can reduce symptoms of treatment–resistant anxiety disorders.

Previous research had found that ketamine produced an antidepressant effect in patients with treatment-resistant major depressive disorder. The new study provides the first evidence that ketamine improves symptoms of anxiety in patients with treatment-resistant anxiety who are not currently depressed."

Psilocybin helps depressed patients ‘re-connect’ to the world

Study: Psychedelic drug psilocybin helps depressed patients ‘re-connect’ to the world

“The reset switch had been pressed so everything could run properly, thoughts could run more freely, all these networks could work again. It unlocked certain parts which were restricted before,” one participant explained.
“I got a wider perspective, I stepped back. It helped me appreciate that the world is a big place that there’s a lot more going on than just the minor things that were going on in my head,” another participant told the researchers.
A third remarked: “My previous treatments, talking therapy and meds, were next to useless, utterly useless. My experience of psilocybin has been very positive. I believe there is an unknown physiological and neurochemical change in me, I am absolutely convinced of that.”

Saturday, July 1, 2017


I seem to be posting meditation type writing/ranting over at the other blog, so for those who are interested, here are some thoughts:

What Is Spiritual Enlightenment?

Upping Your Game

It's Not About Thinking With Your Eyes Closed

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

2017 Psychedelic Science videos

Apparently the entire 2017 Psychedelic Science Conference has been uploaded in video form, a staggering amount of video.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Higher Consciousness on Bicycle Day

Evidence for a so-called "higher" (or different) state of consciousness was published today, on the 74th anniversary of the first human LSD experience.

The entropy or diversity of EEG signals has successfully been used as a measure of consciousness, with lower levels indicating sleep or anesthesia and higher levels indicating wakefulness.  Experimenters found that this measure of entropy was higher under the influence of several psychedelics.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Finders Course Techniques and Protocol

This Finders Course Techniques and Protocol post on Reddit contains some of the best estimates about what constitutes the Finders Course.  I have been interested in the course due to both the unusual and specific research efforts and the results of the participants.  The post also contains a reasonable amount of information about the controversial background of the course founder.

I found the group awareness exercise where a small group (over video chat) attempts to discuss awareness itself, to be very interesting, kind of a participatory direct pointing exercise that I felt could be very useful, if a bit difficult.  The videos of this exercise are being rapidly taken down apparently as a result of the post.  2 out of 6 are still available as of this writing.

I had spent a lot of time attempting to suss out the contents of the course myself, and had stumbled onto most of the same material.  In part, it inspired me to provide a bare bones guide to these greatest hits of the meditation world in the Basic Meditation Styles post on the other blog, also linked at the upper right.

Again, what I saw happening in the group awareness exercise, that's a very interesting exercise and it's something that I imagine helps keep people motivated and on track, because it gets people to address the key "direction" of meditation in a very direct way and it provides some social pressure to really delve into it.

I suspect the group activities as well as the weekly accountability and the cost of the program to be vital in motivating people to commit to a substantial amount of daily practice.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Dan Harris interviews Shinzen Young

Dan Harris, author of 10% Happier, interviews Shinzen Young. One of the better interviews with Shinzen, an American who became fascinated with Japanese culture at an early age, leading him eventually to Japan and the study of Zen and Shingon. Within Buddhism, Shinzen would be considered one of the pragmatic crowd.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Dan Harris interviews Vince Horn

Dan Harris, author of 10% Happier, interviews Vince Horn, founder of Buddhist Geeks and  Vince offers up some good content from a pragmatic perspective while describing his experience on the path.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Roland Griffiths on Psilocybin, Psychedelic Therapies & Mystical Experiences

Roland Griffiths on Psilocybin, Psychedelic Therapies & Mystical Experiences (Youtube, 75 minutes) is probably one of the more wide ranging interviews with Griffiths, covering a large breadth of material.  Perhaps a few new scraps in addition to the usual information.  I'm kind of amazed at how prolific Griffiths is with these outreach interviews and talks.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Mind not confined to body

After much discussion, they decided that a key component of the mind is: “the emergent self-organizing process, both embodied and relational, that regulates energy and information flow within and among us.” It’s not catchy. But it is interesting, and with meaningful implications.

The most immediately shocking element of this definition is that our mind extends beyond our physical selves. In other words, our mind is not simply our perception of experiences, but those experiences themselves. Siegel argues that it’s impossible to completely disentangle our subjective view of the world from our interactions.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Tabloid reporting of EEG + Psychedelics

The article "brains of stoned scientists challenge old stereotypes about drugs" reports on several intrepid travelers, including myself, who experimented with various combinations of drugs and EEG biofeedback.  I am slightly dismayed with the spin and slight misquotes, but I guess that's the way it works.  Close enough, I suppose.

Brains of stoned scientists challenge old stereotypes about drugs - See more at:
Brains of stoned scientists challenge old stereotypes about drugs - See more at:

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Mapping the Mindful Path

Mapping the Mindful Path is Vincent and Emily Horn's version of the stages of mindfulness practice first outlined in the Theravada Progress of Insight.

They see it as:
  • Seeking
  • Breakthrough
  • Disillusionment
  • Resilience
  • Completion
This material is presented as part of an apparently free course.  If you click on the top video at the link it will play through 5 short videos describing the stages, about 10 minutes total.