7   The Octopus's Garden 

Human beings are hardwired to ruminate, and all to often it’s on negative thoughts. We chew away obsessively on upsetting events in our past, or catastrophise about things that might happen in the future, and it can spin us into depression, anxiety, and obsessive or even addictive rituals. 

Luckily, over the centuries, some cultures have been tinkering away at this particular part of the human condition, trying to find ways of quietening our minds. They’ve come up with some clever ways keep us on the emotional straight and narrow: concentration meditation, mindfulness practice, or contemplative movement like yoga.

Boosting our emotional wellbeing with these techniques is a bit like good oral hygiene: if we want to take care of our teeth, we need to brush and floss and visit the dentist regularly. But every now and then, we might need something a bit more drastic. Like a root canal.   

That’s where a psychedelic session can come in. As some of the masters of consciousness studies have learned over the decades, psychedelic therapy sessions don’t replace the daily flossing and brushing that we need for good emotional hygiene. But they can be a really good add on.  

Some links to the material used in this episode:

  • Trauma and addiction specialist Dr Gabor Mate, on the podcast Voiceclub, based in Melbourne, Australia. 
  • Dr Peter Attia, in conversation with author Tim Ferris, on how meditation and psychedelics complement each other. 
  • Neuroscientist and author Sam Harris in conversation with science writer Michael Pollan, about the book How to change your mind, where they also talk about the similarities between meditation and the psychedelic state.