The Mystical Experience: Insights from Psilocybin Research – Roland Griffiths

The Mystical Experience: Insights from Psilocybin Research – Roland Griffiths

scienceandnonduality scienceandnonduality Published on Jan 12, 2013

Clip from Roland Griffiths presentation at SAND’12, California. For the complete talk please visit:

Mystical-type experiences are profound experiences characterized by a sense of the interconnectedness of all people and things, often accompanied by a sense of sacredness, feelings of joy and peace, and a sense of encountering ultimate reality. Although such experiences have been described by mystics and religious figures throughout the ages, there are few meaningful prospective experimental studies because such experiences usually occur at low rates and often unpredictably. Recent studies at Johns Hopkins showed that, under carefully controlled conditions, psilocybin can occasion profound personally and spiritually meaningful mystical-type experiences in the majority of healthy participants. Analysis showed that mystical-type experiences mediate sustained positive changes in attitudes, moods, personality, and behavior. With regard to attitudes about Self, volunteers endorsed feeling more personal integration, inner authority, creativity, authenticity, and self-confidence. They also reported an increased sense that all of life is interconnected, and less concern with thoughts and feelings about their bodies. An ongoing study in novice meditators is exploring whether psilocybin-occasioned mystical-type experiences can further enhance the positive persisting effects of meditation and other spiritual practices. Therapeutic studies are currently investigating psilocybin-facilitated treatment of anxiety and depression in cancer patients and psilocybin-facilitated cigarette smoking cessation using a cognitive-behavioral approach. Further research with psilocybin can be expected to provide unique insights into the biology and psychology of mystical experience, and may hold promise as a paradigm-shifting treatment approach.

Roland Griffiths, Ph.D. is a professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

2 thoughts on “The Mystical Experience: Insights from Psilocybin Research – Roland Griffiths

  1. It used to be believed that mystical states produced by drugs didn’t have the long term ability to sustain change the way meditation might, so his work is pushing in a new direction. Also found it funny that he went back and interviewed friends and family of the participants. Many people who undergo a spiritual transformation lose friends and family as the new mindset threatens those not having mystical experiences. I know their were many in my previous circle who became outraged that I changed! So in a way, it would be interesting to see how many of those friends and family still have the same kind of relationship a year later.

    • Well they definitely do sustain change and here is the study for the inexperienced and nonbelievers. Yes a mystical experience, no matter how it is obtained, is a life altering experience. Those who have had a near death experience often have trouble living their life as they did before as their mindset has been so dramatically altered. This in turn effects their relationships and many say they go on to form completely new friendships. A mystical experience is a mystical experience as a mountain is a mountain. The pathway one chooses (or is taken) to reach the mountain does not effect the mountain. ^_^

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