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Linkages between Psychedelics and Meditation in
a Population-Based Sample in the United States
Otto Simonsson & Simon B. Goldberg
To cite this article: Otto Simonsson & Simon B. Goldberg (2022): Linkages between Psychedelics
and Meditation in a Population-Based Sample in the United States, Journal of Psychoactive Drugs,
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/02791072.2021.2022816
© 2022 The Author(s). Published with
license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
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Published online: 09 Jan 2022.
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Linkages between Psychedelics and Meditation in a Population-Based Sample in
the United States
and Simon B. Goldberg
Center for Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Madison, WI, USA;
Center for Psychiatry Research, Department of Clinical
Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Sweden;
Department of Sociology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK;
Department of Counseling
Psychology, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Madison, WI, USA
There are neurophysiological and phenomenological overlaps between psychedelic and meditative
states, but there is little evidence on how exposure to psychedelics might be associated with
meditation-related variables. We assessed lifetime classic psychedelic use, ego dissolution during
one’s most intense experience using a classic psychedelic, and exposure to meditation in
a representative sample (n = 953) of American adults. Those who reported experience with
meditation were invited to complete a follow-up survey (n = 536, 92.1% response rate) measuring
meditation-related variables. Models controlled for a range of potential confounds. Exposure to
meditation was associated with lifetime classic psychedelic use and ego dissolution in covariate-
adjusted models. In addition, among meditators, greater ego dissolution was associated with more
frequent meditation practice. Both lifetime classic psychedelic use and ego dissolution were
associated with enlightenment as motivation to practice meditation as well as lower likelihood of
overall perceived barriers to meditation practice. Ego dissolution was positively associated with
nding meditation more eective. Neither lifetime classic psychedelic use nor ego dissolution was
associated with greater likelihood of meditation-related adverse eects. Taken together, results
support potential synergy between psychedelics and meditation, but randomized controlled trials
are necessary to establish safety and evaluate potential causal relationships.
Received 27 May 2021
Revised 1 October 2021
Accepted 18 October 2021
Psychedelics; Psilocybin; LSD;
ego dissolution; meditation;
There has been a dramatic reemergence of research
into the therapeutic eﬀects of psychedelics over the
past decades. Although experimental studies remain
few in number and limited in sample size, the avail-
able evidence suggests psychedelics may hold thera-
peutic potential, particularly in the context of
psychiatric disorders (Goldberg et al. 2020; Romeo
et al. 2020; Sessa 2018). This research has mainly
focused on classic psychedelics, which commonly
refers to psychoactive substances known to act as
agonists principally at serotonin 2A receptors (Nutt
and Carhart-Harris 2021). Most notably, classic psy-
chedelics include N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT),
the DMT-containing brew ayahuasca, psilocybin,
lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), mescaline, and the
mescaline-containing cactus peyote (Sexton, Nichols,
and Hendricks 2019). The evidence to date suggests
that classic psychedelics have a good safety and toler-
ability proﬁle and can be eﬀective in the treatment of
internalizing disorders (Davis et al. 2021; Luoma
et al. 2020; Nutt, King, and Phillips 2010).
One aspect of the psychedelic experience that
appears to be particularly important for producing
therapeutic eﬀects is a phenomenon known as ego
dissolution (Kettner et al. 2019; Lebedev et al. 2016;
Nour, Evans, and Carhart-Harris 2017; Uthaug et al.
2018), which broadly refers to a loss of subjective
self-identity (Nour et al. 2016). There are intriguing
overlaps in phenomenology and neurophysiology
between psychedelic-induced ego dissolution and
experiences that have been reported in the context
of meditation practice (Millière et al. 2018). And as
with classic psychedelics, alterations in one’s experi-
ence of the self has been proposed as a causal
mechanism underlying potential beneﬁts of medita-
tion practice (Dahl, Lutz, and Davidson 2015).
Despite this overlap, limited research has examined
potential associations between use of classic psyche-
delics and meditation practice.
The available research suggests there may be potential
linkages and perhaps synergy between classic psychede-
lics and meditation practice. In two randomized con-
trolled trials, the use of classic psychedelics was shown to
CONTACT Otto Simonsson email@example.com Center for Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Madison, WI
Supplemental data for this article can be accessed on the publisher’s website.
JOURNAL OF PSYCHOACTIVE DRUGS
© 2022 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-
nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built
upon in any way.
increase both frequency and depth of meditation prac-
tice (Griﬃths et al. 2018; Smigielski et al. 2019).
Associations from cross-sectional surveys also suggest
a relationship between psychedelic use and subsequent
interest in Buddhism (Osto 2016). Taken together, the
limited available evidence suggests that classic psyche-
delics may augment interest in and depth of meditation
practice. However, important questions remain at the
intersection of the contemplative and psychedelic
sciences. Based on the possibility that classic psychede-
lics may impact one’s engagement with meditation, it
would be valuable to know whether individuals with
lifetime exposure to classic psychedelics are more likely
to have lifetime exposure to meditation and whether
meditators with and without lifetime classic psychedelic
use show diﬀerent patterns of engagement with medita-
tion (e.g., reasons for practice, amount of practice, type
of practice, barriers to practice). It would also be worth
examining whether meditators with and without psy-
chedelic experience diﬀer in their report of meditation-
related beneﬁts (e.g., overall eﬀectiveness of meditation,
levels of cognitive capacities linked to meditation) and
harms (i.e., adverse eﬀects).
Using data from a nationally representative online
sample of 953 adults in the United States (US), we
sought to investigate the associations between lifetime
classic psychedelic use and ego dissolution during one’s
most intense experience using a classic psychedelic with
various meditation-related variables including (1) life-
time exposure to meditation; (2) current amount of
meditation practice; (3) current type of meditation prac-
tice; (4) current motivation for meditation practice; (5)
perceived barriers to meditation practice; (6) feeling glad
to have practiced meditation; (7) perceived eﬃcacy of
meditation practice; (8) decentering skills; and (9) med-
itation-related adverse eﬀects.
Participants and procedure
The data for the present study were collected as part of
a large-scale online survey (see https://osf.io/pzkmn/).
US residents over 18 years of age were recruited on
Proliﬁc Academic (https://app.proliﬁc.co), with the
sample (n = 953) stratiﬁed across three demographics
(age, sex and ethnicity) to reﬂect the demographic dis-
tribution of the US adult population. In the ﬁrst part of
the study, the participants were asked about demo-
graphic characteristics, lifetime substance use, medita-
tion experience, and attitudes. Participants who failed
the attention check item (“I have been randomly select-
ing responses on this survey”) were screened out
(n = 33). The participants who reported experience
with meditation (n = 582) were invited to complete
the second part of the study (see Supplemental
Material for the study description used during recruit-
ment process), which contained a large battery of ques-
tions about meditation and health. Of those invited,
92.1% (n = 536; 227 males) completed the second part
of the study. As shown in Supplemental Table A1, the
subsample used in this study had a mean age of 44 and
55.8% had a bachelor’s degree or higher. Study proce-
dures were approved by the Institutional Review Board
at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
We assessed two psychedelic-related variables: lifetime
classic psychedelic use and ego dissolution during one’s
most intense experience using a classic psychedelic.
Lifetime classic psychedelic use. A single item, adapted
from the Alcohol, Smoking, and Substance Involvement
Screening Test (ASSIST; The WHO ASSIST Working
Group 2002), assessed lifetime classic psychedelic use:
There is a group of hallucinogens called classic psyche-
delics, which include ayahuasca, DMT, LSD, mescaline,
peyote, and psilocybin (“magic mushrooms”). In your
life, which of the following classic psychedelics have you
EVER used? (select all that apply).
Response options included: ayahuasca; DMT; LSD,
also called “acid”; mescaline; peyote; psilocybin, also
called “magic mushrooms”; other (please specify);
never used a classic psychedelic.
All participants select-
ing other (please specify) also reported use of the options
listed above or wrote the name of one when specifying
other. Responses were coded as 1 when participants
indicated they had used a classic psychedelic (ayahuasca;
DMT; LSD, also called “acid”; mescaline; peyote; psilo-
cybin, also called “magic mushrooms”) and all other
responses were coded as 0.
Ego dissolution. For participants endorsing lifetime use
of classic psychedelics, we assessed ego dissolution dur-
ing one’s most intense experience using a classic psy-
chedelic using the highest loading item from the Ego
Dissolution Inventory (Nour et al. 2016): During your
most intense experience using a classic psychedelic, how
much would you agree with the following statement: “I
experienced a disintegration of my ‘self’ or ego.”
Participants responded on a slider scale from 0 to 100
(0 = No, not more than usually, 100 = Yes, entirely or
2O. SIMONSSON AND S. B. GOLDBERG
We assessed several aspects of meditation practice,
including lifetime exposure to meditation; current
amount of meditation practice; current type of medita-
tion practice; current motivation for meditation prac-
tice; perceived barriers to meditation practice; feeling
glad to have practiced meditation; perceived eﬃcacy of
meditation practice; decentering skills; and meditation-
related adverse eﬀects.
Lifetime exposure to meditation. All participants were
assessed on lifetime exposure to meditation using
a single item: “Have you ever tried any of the following
types of meditation, even just once? (select all that
apply)” Response options included mantra meditation,
mindfulness meditation, spiritual meditation, Tibetan
meditation, yogic meditation, meditation as a part of
a movement practice (e.g., yoga), and other meditation
practices (see Supplemental Material for details on
Current amount of meditation practice. For partici-
pants who reported experience with meditation,
a single item assessed current amount of meditation
practice: “How often do you currently practice medita-
tion?” (1 = Never, 2 = Several times per year,
3 = Monthly, 4 = Weekly, 5 = Daily).
Current type of meditation practice. For participants
who reported experience with meditation, a single item
assessed current type of meditation practice: “Which of
the following is your current primary meditation prac-
tice? (select one)” The participants were presented with
a list of response options (e.g., body scan, pranayama,
centering prayer). The responses were coded as
“Buddhist meditation,” “Hindu meditation,” “Spiritual
meditation,” “Meditation as part of yoga, tai-chi, or qi
gong,” and “Other type of meditation” (see
Supplemental Material for details on response options
and how the responses were coded).
Current motivation for meditation practice. For parti-
cipants who reported experience with meditation,
a single item assessed current motivation for meditation
practice: “Why do you currently practice meditation?
(select all that apply)” The responses were coded as
“Physical health,” “Mental health,” “Part of social, cul-
tural, or religious identity,” “General spiritual,”
“Enlightenment,” and “Other reason.”
Perceived barriers to meditation practice. All partici-
pants were asked to complete the 12-item Determinants
of Meditation Practice Inventory-Revised (DMPI-R;
Hunt et al. 2020). The measure has previously shown
a four-factor structure and convergent validity with
relevant constructs (e.g., experiential avoidance, curios-
ity; Hunt et al. 2020). However, in the current sample,
internal consistency was unacceptably low for the cul-
tural barriers subscale (alpha = .40). The three remain-
ing subscales assessed perceived beneﬁt (e.g., “I don’t
believe meditation can help me”), knowledge (e.g., “I
don’t know much about meditation”), and pragmatic
barriers (e.g., “I don’t have time”). We also calculated
a total score across all items. Higher subscale and total
score values indicate greater barriers to meditation prac-
tice. Internal consistency was adequate for all three sub-
scales and total score (alphas = .72 to .78).
Feeling glad to have practiced meditation. For partici-
pants who reported experience with meditation, a single
item assessed whether they feel glad to have practiced
Consider the various experiences you have had through
meditation, including any challenging, diﬃcult, or dis-
tressing experiences. How much do you agree with the
following statement: “I am glad I have practiced
The responses were rated on a 1- (Strongly disagree)
to 6-point (Strongly agree) Likert scale.
Perceived eﬃcacy of meditation practice. For partici-
pants who reported experience with meditation, a single
item assessed eﬃcacy of meditation practice: “In general,
how eﬀective have you found meditation practice?” The
responses were rated on a 1- (Not at all eﬀective) to
6-point (Very eﬀective) Likert scale.
Decentering skills. For participants who reported
experience with meditation, we assessed decentering
skills using the 11-item Experiences Questionnaire –
Decentering subscale (EQ – Decentering), which
included items such as “I can separate myself from my
thoughts and feelings” and “I can treat myself kindly.”
The responses were rated on a 1- (Never) to 5-point (All
the time) Likert scale. EQ – Decentering has shown good
reliability and validity in previous research (Fresco et al.
2007; Gecht et al. 2014; Naragon-Gainey et al. 2020;
Soler et al. 2014). A subscale score was calculated by
summing across all items, with higher scores indicating
greater decentering skills. Internal consistency was ade-
quate (alpha = .91).
Meditation-related adverse eﬀects. For participants
who reported experience with meditation, we assessed
meditation-related adverse eﬀects using the 11-item
JOURNAL OF PSYCHOACTIVE DRUGS 3
Meditation-Related Adverse Eﬀects Scale –
Mindfulness-Based Program (MRAES-MBP; Britton,
Lindahl, and Cooper 2018). This measure is designed
to assess meditation-related adverse eﬀects and asks
participants “Have you ever had any of the following
occur as a result of meditation?” It includes items that
have previously been reported in qualitative interviews
with meditation practitioners (Lindahl et al. 2017) such
as “I felt anxious” and “Feeling disconnected from every-
thing around me.” Responses indicate frequency
(1 = Never, 2 = For a few days to 1 week, 3 = 1 week
to 1 month, 4, 1 month to 1 year, 5 = 1 year or longer).
Given low rates of most response options (< 5%), items
were dichotomized and a total score computed across
the 10 speciﬁc adverse eﬀects items. Internal consistency
was adequate (Kuder-Richardson = .89).
Participants were also asked three additional single
items on meditation-related adverse eﬀects: “I person-
ally have had challenging, diﬃcult, or distressing experi-
ences as a result of my meditation practice” (1 = Never,
2 = Rarely, 3 = Occasionally, 4 = Regularly,
5 = Frequently; recoded as 1 = Yes, 0 = Never); “My
meditation-related challenging, diﬃcult, or distressing
experiences impaired my ability to function” (1 = Not at
all, 2 = Somewhat, 3 = Moderately, 4 = Severely; recoded
as 1 = Yes, 0 = Not at all); and “How long did your
impairment last?” (1 = 1 day or less, 2 = For a few days to
1 week, 3 = 1 week to 1 month, 4 = 1 month to 1 year,
5 = 1 year or longer; recoded as 1 = 1+ day, 0 = 1 day or
We controlled for a number of demographic and other
covariates that may confound potential associations
between lifetime classic psychedelic use and meditation-
related variables. Given the cross-sectional nature of our
design and the possibility of spurious associations
between classic psychedelics and meditation (e.g., both
being driven by third variables), covariates were
included in all analyses. The covariates broadly mirrored
the covariates of a recent cross-sectional study to the
extent the same or similar variables were included in this
survey (Nour, Evans, and Carhart-Harris 2017).
However, given the relatively modest sample size,
many covariates were dichotomized by collapsing less
common responses into one value.
Demographic covariates included age in years (con-
tinuous), sex (male, other), and educational attainment
(Bachelor’s degree or higher, other). We also controlled
for lifetime use of cocaine (yes, no) and alcohol (yes, no)
with an item adapted from ASSIST (The WHO ASSIST
Working Group 2002).
We used linear and logistic regression models to evalu-
ate associations between meditation-related variables
with lifetime classic psychedelic use and ego dissolution
during one’s most intense experience using a classic
psychedelic. In these models, lifetime classic psychedelic
use or ego dissolution (z-scored) were entered as the
independent variables along with the covariates
described above while meditation-related variables
were entered as the dependent variables. Bivariate asso-
ciations between study variables were also examined
using the Pearson correlation coeﬃcient, the point biser-
ial correlation coeﬃcient, and the Phi coeﬃcient.
Table 1 presents the associations between psychedelic-
related and meditation-related variables when a range of
covariates are controlled for. Sample descriptive statistics
for all independent and dependent variables are reported in
Supplemental Table A1. Zero-order associations between
study variables are reported Supplemental Table A2.
Across the full sample, lifetime classic psychedelic
use was associated with lifetime exposure to medita-
tion (aOR = 2.04, p = .002), with 28% of those
exposed to meditation reporting lifetime classic psy-
chedelic use compared to 17% of those not exposed
to meditation. Ego dissolution was also associated
with lifetime exposure to meditation (aOR = 1.39,
p = .047).
Among meditators, ego dissolution but not lifetime
classic psychedelic use was associated with greater
amount of current meditation practice (β = .19 and
.03; p = .032 and .554, respectively) as well as current
use of Buddhist meditation practice (aOR = 1.58 and
0.97; p = .019 and .890, respectively). However, neither
lifetime classic psychedelic use nor ego dissolution were
associated with current use of Hindu meditation prac-
tice, spiritual meditation practice, meditation as part of
movement practice, or other type of meditation practice.
For current motivation for meditation practice,
both lifetime classic psychedelic use and ego dissolu-
tion were associated with enlightenment as motiva-
tion (aOR = 2.38 and 1.64; p = .009 and .043,
respectively). Ego dissolution but not lifetime classic
psychedelic use was associated with mental health as
motivation (aOR = 1.69 and 0.97; p = .008 and .905,
respectively). However, neither lifetime classic psy-
chedelic use nor ego dissolution were associated
with other motivations for practice (physical health;
part of social, cultural, or religious identity; general
spiritual; or other reason).
4O. SIMONSSON AND S. B. GOLDBERG
Both lifetime classic psychedelic use and ego dissolu-
tion were associated with lower likelihood of overall
perceived barriers to meditation practice (i.e., total
score; β = −.16 and −.23; p = < .001 and .001, respec-
tively) as well as with lower likelihood of perceived bar-
riers related to beneﬁt (β = −.13 and −.23; p = .001 and
.001, respectively) and pragmatism (β = −.14 and −.14;
p = .001 and .045, respectively). Lifetime classic psyche-
delic use but not ego dissolution was associated with
lower likelihood of perceived barriers related to knowl-
edge (β = −.12 and −.13; p = .004 and .062, respectively).
Ego dissolution but not lifetime classic psychedelic
use was associated with perceived eﬃcacy of meditation
practice (β = .20 and .06; p = .025 and .259, respectively).
Neither lifetime classic psychedelic use nor ego dissolu-
tion were associated with likelihood of feeling glad to
have practiced meditation (β = .06 and .12; p = .250 and
.160, respectively) or decentering skills (β = −.05 and .11;
p = .369 and .213, respectively).
Contrary to the possibility that classic psychedelic use
is associated with higher likelihood of meditation-
related adverse eﬀects, neither lifetime classic psychede-
lic use nor ego dissolution were associated with total
score of meditation-related adverse eﬀects (β = −.01 and
.05; p = .850 and .560, respectively), lifetime occurrence
of adverse eﬀects (aOR = 1.36 and 1.31, p = .256 and
.179, respectively), functional impairment (aOR = 0.94
and 1.01, p = .876 and .987, respectively), or impaired
function lasting longer than a day (aOR = 1.56 and 1.25,
p = .380 and .577, respectively).
Against a backdrop of clinical, phenomenological, and
neurophysiological overlap, the current study sought to
examine associations between classic psychedelic use
and meditation practice in a population-based sample.
Several associations were noted between lifetime classic
psychedelic use and a key element of the acute psyche-
delic experience (i.e., ego dissolution) with variables
related to meditation practice. Lifetime exposure to
meditation was associated with lifetime classic psyche-
delic use and ego dissolution during one’s most intense
experience using a classic psychedelic. Although causal-
ity cannot be inferred in the current design, this ﬁnding
suggests that merely being exposed to classic
Table 1. Associations between psychedelic-related and meditation-related variables.
Lifetime Classic Psychedelic Use Ego Dissolution
β aOR (CI 95%) pβ aOR (CI 95%) p
Past and current use of meditation
Lifetime exposure to meditation 2.04 (1.31–3.18) .002 1.39 (1.01–1.91)
Current amount of meditation practice .03 .554 .19 .032
Current type of meditation practice
Buddhist meditation 0.97 (0.59–1.58) .890 1.58 (1.08–2.32) .019
Hindu meditation 2.03 (0.48–8.63)
.340 0.71 (0.26–1.91)
Spiritual meditation 0.44 (0.15–1.28) .132 0.38 (0.15–1.02)
Meditation as part of yoga, tai-chi, or qi gong 0.92 (0.41–2.05) .833 0.89 (0.46–1.71) .727
Other type of meditation 4.66 (0.93–23.21)
.061 1.00 (0.34–2.96)
Current motivation for meditation practice
Physical health 0.95 (0.54–1.68) .859 1.21 (0.80–1.83)
Mental health 0.97 (0.57–1.64) .905 1.69 (1.15–2.48)
Part of social, cultural, or religious identity 0.99 (0.37–2.70) .991 1.07 (0.49–2.32)
General spiritual 1.13 (0.65–1.96) .659 1.48 (0.99–2.23)
Enlightenment 2.38 (1.24–4.57) .009 1.64 (1.02–2.64)
Other reason 1.63 (0.36–7.24) .524 0.94 (0.37–2.37)
Perceived barriers to meditation practice
Beneﬁt −.13 .001 −0.23 .001
Knowledge −.12 .004 −.13 .062
Pragmatic barriers −.14 .001 −.14 .045
Total −.16 <.001 −.23 .001
Perception of meditation practice
Feeling glad to have practiced meditation .06 .250 .12 .160
Perceived eﬃcacy of meditation practice .06 .259 .20 .025
Decentering Skills −.05 .369 .11 .213
Meditation-Related Adverse Eﬀects −.01 .850 .05 .560
Adverse Eﬀects – Ever 1.36 (0.80–2.31) .256 1.31 (0.88–1.94) .179
Impaired Function – Any 0.94 (0.42–2.08) .876 1.01 (0.54–1.86)
Impaired Function – 1+ Day 1.56 (0.58–4.18) .380 1.25 (0.57–2.76) .577
β = standardized coeﬃcients; aOR = adjusted Odds Ratios; β and aOR are adjusted for age, sex, educational attainment, lifetime cocaine use, and lifetime alcohol
use; results in linear regression models are reported with β and results in logistic regression models are reported with aOR. Note: a = lifetime alcohol use
omitted from model due to collinearity reported by Stata. For ease of understanding, Supplemental Table A3 shows full speciﬁcation of ﬁrst regression model
(lifetime classic psychedelic use and lifetime meditation exposure).
JOURNAL OF PSYCHOACTIVE DRUGS 5
psychedelics as well as greater ego dissolution during
one’s most intense psychedelic experience increases the
likelihood that one later practices meditation (or vice
versa, that exposure to meditation increases the likeli-
hood that one later uses classic psychedelics or experi-
ences greater ego dissolution). In addition, greater ego
dissolution but not lifetime classic psychedelic use was
associated with greater current meditation practice as
well as current use of Buddhist meditation speciﬁcally.
A similar divergence emerged in associations between
lifetime classic psychedelic use and ego dissolution for
motivations for practice, with ego dissolution but not
lifetime classic psychedelic use showing an association
with mental health motivation. However, both lifetime
classic psychedelic use and ego dissolution were asso-
ciated with enlightenment motivation (aOR = 2.38 and
One of the most robust ﬁndings was a consistent
linkage between both of the psychedelic-related vari-
ables and perceived barriers to meditation practice.
Speciﬁcally, meditators with lifetime classic psychedelic
use or greater ego dissolution tended to report lower
barriers to meditation (e.g., related to perceived beneﬁt,
pragmatic barriers). This association could certainly be
caused by an unmeasured third variable (e.g., openness
to experience, openness to spiritual experiences speciﬁ-
cally, psychological mindedness), but it is also possible
that resemblance between the acute psychedelic experi-
ence and meditative states decreases confusion about
how to practice meditation and reduces barriers that
inhibit engagement with meditation (Payne, Chambers,
and Liknaitzky 2021).
While neither lifetime classic psychedelic use nor ego
dissolution was associated with feeling glad to have prac-
ticed meditation, ego dissolution showed associations that
were not observed for lifetime classic psychedelic use.
Speciﬁcally, meditators reporting greater ego dissolution
during their most intense experience using a classic psy-
chedelic were also more likely to report ﬁnding meditation
more eﬀective. It is possible that the acute psychedelic
experience could give people without meditation experi-
ence a reference point with which they can orient their
practice, thereby leading to greater eﬃcacy. Likewise, med-
itation practice may develop the psychological capacity to
support the experience of ego dissolution (Payne,
Chambers, and Liknaitzky 2021). However, contrary to
the possibility that psychedelics increase eﬃcacy, we did
not observe linkages between either of the psychedelic-
related variables with a mindfulness-related cognitive skill
A ﬁnal intriguing ﬁnding was the lack of association
between either lifetime classic psychedelic use and ego
dissolution with meditation-related adverse eﬀects. This
ﬁnding contrasts the view that psychedelics may confer
risk for meditators. An important caveat for interpreting
this ﬁnding, however, was the modest amount of medita-
tion experience within the sample. For example, 65% of the
meditators reported between 0 and 100 hours of cumula-
tive meditation experience and only 6% reported having
ever attended a meditation retreat. Given evidence that
more intensive meditation practice is linked with adverse
eﬀects (Lindahl et al. 2017), it would be valuable to replicate
these analyses in a sample with greater lifetime exposure to
retreat. Moreover, it would be important to carefully assess
the time course of both meditation practice and classic
psychedelic use. As both meditation and classic psychede-
lics become more popular, it will be crucial to carefully
determine whether, for whom, and under what circum-
stances (e.g., practice intensity) combining meditation and
classic psychedelics confers increased risk for adverse
The present ﬁndings are novel, but there are several
limitations. First, the sample was stratiﬁed across age,
sex and ethnicity to reﬂect the demographic distribu-
tion of the US population, but previous research has
found Democrats to be overrepresented on online plat-
forms (Arechar and Rand 2021; Paolacci and Chandler
2014). The survey did not ask respondents to report
political identity, which meant the sample’s political
representativeness could not be determined. The per-
centage of participants who reported lifetime classic
psychedelic use in the present study’s full sample
(23%) was higher than prevalence in the US (14%)
found in recent investigations using the National
Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH;
Simonsson, Sexton, and Hendricks 2021). The
NSDUH does not ask speciﬁc questions about aya-
huasca or DMT use alone, but prior investigations
have instead derived ayahuasca and DMT use from
a write-in section, which may underestimate the per-
centage of ayahuasca and DMT users in the population.
Nonetheless, the higher prevalence of lifetime classic
psychedelic exposure in the current sample raises some
questions regarding representativeness. Second, as
noted, the meditators in the sample had limited experi-
ence with meditation practice. It is therefore possible
that the associations would be diﬀerent for experienced
meditators or meditators with experience primarily in
intensive settings. Third, the survey did not ask respon-
dents to describe the set and setting of their use of
classic psychedelics. The set and setting-speciﬁc asso-
ciations (e.g., context, frequency, dose, intentions, and
psychological support) between past use of classic psy-
chedelics and meditation-related variables could there-
fore not be evaluated. Fourth, the question about
perceived eﬃcacy of meditation practice may have
6O. SIMONSSON AND S. B. GOLDBERG
been interpreted diﬀerently across respondents (e.g.,
eﬃcacy in improving mental health, physical health),
which makes it diﬃcult to understand in what way
meditation practice might have been eﬀective for the
respondents. Fifth, the relatively modest sample size
meant that a few variables had to be dichotomized
while lifetime alcohol use had to be dropped due to
collinearity in some of the regression models. Sixth,
causality could not be inferred due to the cross-
sectional design. It is, for example, possible that the
emphasis on non-self in Buddhism may have increased
the likelihood of respondents who had a Buddhist med-
itation practice to experience high degrees of ego dis-
solution during the acute psychedelic experience. The
issue of causality is further muddied by not assessing
the time course of classic psychedelic use or meditation
Notwithstanding these limitations, the current study
highlights several potentially intriguing linkages
between psychedelic-related and meditation-related
variables. Future research should use larger samples
and would ideally use randomized controlled trials to
help clarify the potential synergy between classic psy-
chedelics and meditation practice.
1. Note: PCP was included as a response option but not
counted as a classic psychedelic in analyses. All partici-
pants who reported lifetime PCP use also reported life-
time classic psychedelic use.
Data availability statement
Data are available by request.
No potential conﬂict of interest was reported by the
OS was supported by the Sweden-America Foundation and
Osmond Foundation. SG was supported by a grant
(K23AT010879) from the National Center for
Complementary and Integrative Health.
Otto Simonsson http://orcid.org/0000-0003-4197-7566
Simon B. Goldberg http://orcid.org/0000-0002-6888-0126
All procedures performed involving human participants were
in accordance with the ethical standards of the 1964 Helsinki
declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical
standards. The study was approved by the Internal Review
Board (IRB) at UW-Madison.
SG conceptualized and designed the study, with input from
OS. OS analyzed the data with assistance from SG. OS wrote
the manuscript, with comments from SG. SG supervised the
Informed consent was obtained from all individual partici-
pants included in the studies.
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