For thousands of years, our ancestors have used psychedelics in their spiritual traditions.
From the ancient Mayans to the ancient Egyptians, the use of psychoactive plants such as Ayahuasca, psilocybin mushrooms, and Peyote has appeared all over the world.
More recently, a 2006 study out of Johns Hopkins found that around 70% of people rate their psychedelic experience as among the top 5 most spiritually significant experiences of their entire lives.
This remarkable finding speaks to the power of psychedelics to open doors of perception, and enable us to connect in a deeper way with life.
But how exactly do psychedelics and spirituality intersect? What might the role of psychedelic substances be on the path of spiritual growth? In this article, we’ll explore these questions, and offer 5 key insights for using psychedelics towards spiritual evolution.
The role of psychedelics on the spiritual path
As Lao Tzu once said, “Self-knowledge is the beginning of true wisdom.” Spiritual growth can be broadly defined as a process of increasing self-knowledge and awareness. While there are endless varieties of spiritual practice and expression, they share this same core theme. By increasing our self-awareness, we can begin to discover our true nature, who we really are at the deepest level, beyond our name, ego, or identity.
Psychedelics represent a powerful tool in this inner exploration. Just in the same way that an astronomer uses a telescope to peer outwardly into the cosmos, psychedelics represent a tool allowing us to peer inwardly into the mind and consciousness.
Aldous Huxley used the metaphor of Doors of Perception to explain how these substances open up new perspectives through non-ordinary states of consciousness. We begin to realize that there is more to the mystery of life than we had previously supposed. And we begin to perceive that there is more to the mystery of self than we had previously supposed, as well.
Psychedelic users often report mystical experiences, peak experiences of cosmic unity and oneness with life. Experiencing a sense of interconnectedness with the natural world can fundamentally shift our sense of self and the cosmos- instilling a deeper spiritual connection to life.
However, like all tools, psychedelics are only effective towards spiritual growth if they are used in the proper context. Below are 5 key insights for using psychedelics on the spiritual path.
5 Tips for Spiritual Uses of Psychedelics
1) Psychedelics are not an “instant fix” nor do they deliver enlightenment. It’s important to recognize that psychedelics do not take us to the “finish line”- rather they open up a new beginning, a new way of seeing the world.
No matter how profound one’s psychedelic experience may be, bringing this spiritual wisdom into one’s everyday life is another challenge altogether. Psychedelics are only truly effective as tools for spiritual evolution if we are intentional about “integrating” these experiences into our daily lives.
2) In order to awaken, we also must heal. As we utilize psychedelics to expand our self-knowledge, inevitably we’re going to encounter emotional or psychological wounds.
Some people use psychedelics in search of a mystical experience, and it can feel scary, overwhelming, or even disappointing to instead face challenging emotions.
It’s important to recognize that these healing experiences are a huge part of our spiritual evolution. By opening up and allowing challenging emotions to move through us, we can process them in new ways, and get them “unstuck.” And this is a massive step in our evolution and spiritual growth.
3) The importance of meditation and “surrendering” to the experience. By letting go of the need to control the psychedelic/spiritual experience, we unlock more profound journeys.
This is where meditation is of utmost importance in the psychedelic experience. A meditation practice enables us to remain centered, present, and non-judgmentally observe whatever is arising.
By simply breathing through the ups and the downs and opening to the natural flow of the experience, we move into more profound and expansive states of consciousness.
4) Inwardly-oriented attention is key. It’s a simple, but profoundly important tip. The key to gaining spiritual insight is to turn our attention inwardly during our psychedelic trips.
All of the most incredible mystical or spiritual experiences are inner experiences that arise through an inner channel. Thus, focusing inwards on the trip as it unfolds is essential.
This requires becoming present, letting go of any external distractions, and looking inward in a conscious and intentional way- becoming aware of awareness.
5) The importance of integration. It’s worth repeating that none of these psychedelic experience mean anything for our spiritual growth without integration.
After we’ve come down from the psychedelic journey, we need to give ourselves time and space to reflect on the experience. Effective integration means that we consciously reflect on how we can bring any new insights or wisdom into our everyday human lives.
I often recommend taking a full day for integration, to meditate and allow the experience to “sink in.” Journaling, creative expression, and conversation with like-minded individuals can help us process and unpack our psychedelic experiences.
See the video below where I offer further guidance on how to effectively utilize psychedelics towards spiritual evolution.
When it comes to the path of spiritual awakening, there’s no denying that psychedelics are among the most powerful tools that we have at our disposal. But like any other tool, these substances are only effective when we use them in the proper way, with the right approach.
To connect further and explore psychedelic spirituality with me, please book a session here!