To improve their mental health and foster positive growth and healing, more and more individuals are turning to psychedelic treatments, such as ketamine therapy.
While the healing potential of ketamine alone is immense, its transformational power is amplified with purposeful preparation for the experience and a commitment to integrating the insights and revelations you take away from the experience. One tool that can be a valuable addition to a psychedelic therapy program is the practice of meditation.
Let’s dive into how you can mobilize meditation as a valuable adjunct to your ketamine treatment program in order to maximize your healing and transform your life.
What is Meditation?
The term meditation comes from the Latin word meditatum, which means “to ponder.” Meditation refers to a family of practices designed to facilitate a state of focused attention, heightened awareness, and mental clarity, calmness, and stability.
The practice dates back thousands of years, with records reporting early forms of meditation existing in ancient Egypt, China, and India.
In the 1960s and 1970s, interest in meditation surged in the West and researchers began to investigate the impacts of the practice on mental and physiological health. In one study, published in 1967, Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Herbert Benson reported that during meditation, individuals use less oxygen, exhibit a lowered heart rate, and produce brain waves linked to promoting sleep.
Today, there are dozens of different types of meditation, with popular techniques including:
- Breath awareness meditation, which involves consciously slowing the breath and gently pushing other thoughts out of the mind as they enter to return focus to the breath alone.
- Mindfulness meditation, which involves acutely tuning into one’s thoughts and emotions, and acknowledging and accepting them without judgment.
- Loving-kindness meditation, which entails focusing on sending warmth, kindness, and compassionate energy towards oneself and towards others.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation is a powerful technique for enhancing both physical and emotional well-being.
Some of the major benefits of the practice that have been documented in research include:
- Enhancing self-awareness and understanding, resulting in increased self-esteem and confidence
- Improving attention span, focus, and memory
- Increasing positive emotions, like compassion and empathy for yourself and others
- Breaking addictions and dependencies
- Improving sleep
- Enhancing cognitive flexibility and creativity
- Decreasing pain
- Lowering blood pressure
- Reducing depression and anxiety
Meditation and Ketamine Treatment
As emerging research continues to support the exciting potential of psychedelics, such as ketamine, to treat mental disorders for depression and anxiety, recent research supports the use of meditation as a powerful complementary treatment that both enhances the efficacy and sustains the beneficial results of psychedelic therapy.
The following outlines how you might effectively integrate meditation into your healing journey both before and after your session.
Meditation to Prepare for a Ketamine Treatment Session
One important function of meditation in optimizing the therapeutic effects of ketamine treatment is in the preparation for the experience.
A widely accepted notion within the field of psychedelics and psychedelic medicine is that the internal and external environment in which a psychedelic experience takes place profoundly affects the course and outcomes of said experience
These internal and external environments are commonly referred to as “set,” referring to an individual’s mindset going into the experience, and “setting,” which refers to the physical space in which the experience occurs. In the bigger picture of psychedelic treatment such as that with ketamine, this is established during intention setting and integration post treatment.
Calming Your Mindset
Entering a ketamine session with a mindset of calmness, trust, curiosity, and openness is an important element to maximize the benefits and healing potential of the experience. Meditation can be a valuable tool for cultivating this ideal “set.”
Surrendering to the Experience
Meditation can help you clear your mind of any anxieties, doubts, fears, and negative thoughts that might hold you back from fully surrendering to the experience.
Acceptance to Receive Insights
The practice also serves to cultivate a mindset of acceptance, compassion, and positivity; and along with sharpening your focus and attention, meditation can help place you in a receptive state where you’re best able to fully absorb the lessons and revelations that may come from your treatment session.
Maintain Unique Intentions
Meditation can also improve your ability to set thoughtful intentions for what you hope to get out of your session. Your journey is unique to you, and taking the time to think deeply about your own personal goals and needs through purposeful intention setting is a powerful tool for optimizing the healing and positive transformation the medicine can facilitate.
Meditating gives you a quiet space to look inward and reflect on where you want to grow and what you want to learn or gain over the course of your healing journey.
Integration of a Healing Ketamine Session
Another essential role meditation can play as a component of a ketamine treatment program commences after the session, when the real “work” of healing begins.
After the psychedelic experience itself concludes, meditation can serve as a useful tool for integrating the insights gained from the session into your daily life in order to create longer lasting positive change.
Be Fully Present
When you practice meditation, you give your mind the time to slow down and be fully present - creating a space for you to reflect and process insights from your experience, and to examine what cognitive and emotional patterns might be holding you back from being your most joyful self.
Tools for Acceptance & Positivity
Meditation also gives you tools to respond to any challenging insights or emotions you encounter, by fostering a mind state of non-judgment, acceptance, and positivity.
Synergistic Effects of Ketamine and Meditation
Research has established practicing meditation can have profound beneficial effects on mental health, and can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Thus, in addition to facilitating proper preparation for and effective reflection on your ketamine experience, meditation can also expand your journey of healing by working in synergy with the medicine to improve mental well-being.
Decreases Stress Hormones
When the body experiences stress, it releases a hormone known as cortisol. One of the functions of cortisol is an increased release of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines, which are responsible for many of the harmful effects of stress and have been implicated in the pathology of both depression and anxiety.
Research has found that certain techniques of meditation decrease cytokine levels and reduce this harmful inflammatory response- decreasing stress and reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Normalizes Brain Function
Meditation has been shown to induce changes in brain regions linked to the pathology of both depression and anxiety, helping to restore normal brain functioning.
In addition, meditation can facilitate sustained positive changes in one’s emotional health, by disrupting cycles of negative thinking and preparing the mind to deal with stressful situations and emotions in a healthy way. Meditation-based practices produce these beneficial effects by changing the structure and function of the brain at a neural level.
Practicing meditation as a complement to your Wondermed treatment program enables you to take advantage of the window of increased neuroplasticity induced by ketamine. In this flexible and open state, you’re more receptive to replacing negative thoughts, behaviors, and habits with more positive ones, and meditation can be a useful tool to provide clarity, self-awareness, and self-compassion, allowing for lasting positive transformation.
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