Microdosing has become very popular, and many people believe it’s a life changer. It involves taking a small amount — a fraction of a dose — of a hallucinogenic drug to achieve psychological benefits while minimizing any undesirable side effects.
Most microdosers ingest LSD (lysergic acid diethyl amide) or mushrooms (psilocybin), which are psychedelics that can create profoundly intensified sensory perception. These drugs became popular in the 1960s and ’70s, and for anyone who used them then, they too espoused the drugs’ mind-altering effects. The difference back then was that people weren’t microdosing, but experiencing full-blown hallucinogenic trips, which lasted anywhere from 6 to 15 hours.
But now, most users take small amounts of the powerful drugs, like LSD, to minimize any undesirable mind-altering side effects. More people are turning on by taking microdoses and, reportedly, some Silicon Valley engineers are even microdosing LSD as an alternative to Adderall to increase focus and attention.
Regardless of what your jam is for keeping yourself “turned on and tuned in,” as Harvard psychology professor and psychedelics pioneer Dr. Timothy Leary once said, psychedelic drugs have been found to treat mental illness by profoundly changing neurological pathways that keep people stuck in unhealthy thought patterns. Leary discovered these benefits more than 50 years ago, but the stigma associated with LSD and other hallucinogens led Harvard to fire Leary in 1963, and to the suppression of psychedelics for treating anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and more.
Today they are back in a big “micro” kind of way. Yet another item to put on the dosing menu is Mindfulness. It’s not a hallucinogenic drug, but Mindfulness can raise awareness to such a degree that you experience an intensified sensory perception similar to that of psychedelics. Mindfulness also reduces stress and anxiety — another reason some people microdose.
Whether you use drugs to alter the chemicals in your brain, or prefer a practice like Mindfulness, which Buddhists have used for thousands of years, you are creating what’s perceived as an opening of the mind. You experience an increased sense of insight and wellbeing. One might say that Timothy Leary was hacking his own mind by experimenting with LSD. Similarly, through Mindfulness, Buddhist monks are believed to be doing the same by sitting for long hours in meditation. Both microdosing psychedelics and Mindfulness give you an ability to harness your mind, especially if you struggle with stress, anxiety or depression.
The popularity of microdosing hallucinogens today is less about people wanting to engage in mind altering fun — even though some people do it solely for that reason — but more about people wanting to experience an overall feeling of wellness and inner calm.
Yet, if you don’t have a mindful awareness of why you need to be high all day, even if it’s by using only a fraction of a dose of a hallucinogenic, then what type of intensified sensory perception do you want to realize — or is that something that even matters to you? If you’re engaging in microdosing, you may want to ask yourself: “What purpose is low level dosing serving? Is it just to feel a controlled high all day to induce a state of happiness? If your intent through microdosing is really to help better yourself, would practicing Mindfulness serve the same purpose? With Mindfulness, you can discipline your mind to stay present and heighten your awareness to a level that can feel intoxicating naturally.
I’d like to see Mindfulness grow in popularity in the same way that microdosing has grown. First, Mindfulness is harmless and has absolutely no risk associated with using it regularly. This may not be the case with frequent psychedelic microdosing. Many psychedelic drugs are synthetic, and long periods of use may be damaging to overall health. While a drug like MDMA is known to produce an energizing effect, distort time and perception, and enhance enjoyment from sensory experiences,” a practice of Mindfulness can have the same results, but without any harmful side effects.
Addiction is another possible long-term risk of microdosing. The mood boosting feeling psychedelics create can be addictive. The “transcendent ecstasy” many people describe while on a drug like psilocybin, can create “peak states of super fluidity,” which evokes a state of harmony and increased energy.
Who wouldn’t want to feel blissed out? But we can achieve a similar state of altered consciousness with Mindfulness, which some describe as a sense of transcendence and of wholeness or “oneness.”
Ask yourself what state of mind you want to experience, and whether you want to experience it all day. Some people describe microdosing as a transformative experience, saying it makes them feel like the most productive version of themselves. If that’s the case for you, do you want to feel productive all day long, or do you want to give your mind an occasional rest?
Mindfulness lets us feel present with total awareness. Whether we want to feel productive, blissful and more focused, or feel less anxious, stressed or depressed, we need to learn how to self-regulate what we feel and not have to rely on a substance to do it for us. Feeling high is great, but isn’t it better to feel it through our own ability than through a low dosage of a mind-altering drug?
Whatever turning on or tuning in means to you, do it mindfully. Be present whether you’re high on psychedelics or from your own control over feelings of happiness and awe.
And keep this anonymous quote in mind: “Don’t spend your life getting high on drugs; get high on life.”