Psychedelic Synergy: How Meditation and Psychedelics Could Have Complimentary Effects

Evan Lewis-Healey
5 min readMar 31, 2021

Meditation and psychedelics seem to have similar experiential effects. A new paper highlights how they could work in harmony when applied together.

Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash

One of the most famous proponents of the ’60s psychedelic movement was researcher and former Harvard professor, Richard Alpert, who later became the spiritual teacher Ram Dass. A few years after pioneering some of the first academic studies with LSD and psilocybin, Alpert went on a spiritual journey to the Indian subcontinent. He studied with Neem Karoli Baba, a Hindu guru who taught many students from the States seeking salvation, and gifted Alpert with his new name and path.

Dass devoted the rest of his life to bringing the knowledge he gained from his time in India back to the US. Since then, meditation and Eastern spiritual traditions have permeated psychedelic culture in the West. But researchers are still puzzled by the similarities between meditation and psychedelics. Dass certainly demonstrated that a psychedelic experience may propel someone to become more interested in meditation, but why?

Recently, a paper published by Jake Payne and other researchers from Monash University argues that meditation may be a powerful tool in any psychedelic therapists’ arsenal. That is, meditation should be used to maximise the clinical potential of psychedelic treatments.

The Problems with Psychedelic Therapy

Over the past ten years, there has been a spike in interest in the use of psychedelics to treat mental health issues. From psilocybin for end-of-life anxiety, to ketamine for major depression, psychedelic researchers are yet to discover the limits of these compounds.

However, psychedelic therapy is an intensive protocol; psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy often comprises one to three ‘dosing sessions’, with the drug being administered in a safe and comfortable space alongside the presence of therapists to act as guides for the trip. These dosing days are sandwiched between preparatory sessions — to ensure the patient is sufficiently ready to take the psychedelic plunge — and integration sessions in order to allow the patient to incorporate any lessons from the psychedelic experience into…



Evan Lewis-Healey

PhD candidate at Cambridge University. Studying the cognitive neuroscience of altered states of consciousness.