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October 8, 2019

Marijuana, Mushrooms, and Meditation

With the legalization of weed in 33 states, the recent decriminalization of psilocybin mushrooms in my home state of Colorado, and even ambitious entrepreneurs going on ayahuasca retreats, people are looking for quick ways to cut through the ego’s BS and taste what exists beyond.

Killing your ego is beneficial, but how you do it makes a big difference. I recently met a guy in Costa Rica who had just gotten out of a two year ayahuasca trip in the jungle. Dude could barely handle reality and became totally nihilistic. He didn’t see the point of living in the material world when he had seen the other side.

I advocate for a regular meditation practice because meditation provides sustainable results by removing your ego and changing reality over time. I’m not saying drugs don’t have a place in the process, but I’m saying in a day and age where people have quick access to powerful drugs, education will help you make better decisions for your own journey.

In this article, I’ll use science to explain what happens to your brainwaves on drugs, look at the ego’s place in your brain structure, and talk about what it’s like to experience a drug induced ego death. Then, I’ll discuss how meditation can achieve the same results over more extended periods and finally, how meditation and drugs may work together.

Your Brainwaves on Drugs

The source of your thoughts, actions, and emotions come from millions of neurons that communicate within your brain. By studying brainwaves, scientists can examine how your neurons fire while you do different tasks like sleeping, writing, talking, meditating, and taking drugs. 

There are five different types of known brainwaves: alpha, beta, theta, delta, and gamma. Each wave is characterized by different wavelengths and frequencies (Hz). Think of brain waves like musical instruments. The slowest delta wave has a slow frequency and a long wavelength like the deep sound of a drum. The fastest gamma wave has a fast frequency and short wavelength like the high pitched sound of a flute.

  • Gamma (38-42 Hz): Brain at peak concentration, focus, and visualization (expert meditators, flow state)
  • Beta (12-38 Hz): Aroused brain engaged in cognitive activities (reading, writing, talking)
  • Alpha (8-12 Hz): Relaxed but alert brain (beginning meditators, exercise, walking)
  • Theta (3-8 Hz): Completely relaxed brain (daydreaming, showering, freeway driving)
  • Delta (1-3 Hz): Resting brain (dreamless sleep)

An incredible collection of research shows that psychedelics and meditation cause a more relaxed brain with altered connectivity between brain regions. This chart shows how different brain waves go up or down with different types of drugs. 


Method Gamma Beta Alpha Theta Delta
LSD Up Down Down Up Neutral
Marijuana Up Up Up Up Neutral
Mushrooms Down Down Down Down Neutral
Ayahuasca Up Down Up Up Neutral
Meditation Up Down Up Up Neutral


Increased gamma wave activity — the kind associated with deep concentration — is experienced in all these drugs except with magic mushrooms. One interesting study discovered gamma waves dominate Tibetan monks’ brains while in deep meditation while focusing on feelings of compassion. Gamma waves also increase activity in brain regions responsible for memory recall and sensory perception. Increased gamma waves during meditation and psychedelic experiences can cause increased focus, sensory perception, and creativity. 

ego death

Does the Ego Really Exist in Your Brain?

Over the past 80 years, neurobiologists have studied psychedelics to investigate psychedelic states and neurobiological functions. Though studies show that different hallucinogens cause slightly different brain states, something called the Default Mode Network (DMN) is repeatedly found to be quieted during psychedelics and meditation. 

What’s interesting is that science is commonly referencing the DMN as the neurobiological ego — basically, where your ego ‘lives’ in your brain. These structures are responsible for processing personal information, describing yourself, reflecting on your emotional state, autobiographical memories, remembering the past, and projecting simulations of the future. 

Basically, a lot of the same functions that the ego has. 

The DMN also plays a key role in what’s called ego-dissolution or ego death, a phenomenon found in schizophrenic patients and people tripping on psychedelics. The experience is a dramatic shift in self-consciousness characterized by losing your sense of self, time, and the boundary between you and the environment. If you’ve ever taken psychedelics, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

The Good and Bad of Ego Death

The ego creates a self-identity by collecting beliefs, memories, and stories that create your reality. The ego continually defends itself and makes you feel separate from everyone else when in fact, we are all the same connected energy. Living out of ego results in a shaky reality built on depression, anger, greed, jealousy, and revenge. It’s the biggest barrier to living a life of purpose and joy. 

The ego is a mutha.

Related: High Vibes 101: A Practical Guide for Emerging Leaders

Ego death sounds like destruction, but the ego can’t be killed till you attain enlightenment. Till then, you can only elevate above your ego so it no longer runs your life and robs you of unity, wholeness, and boundless love. Without your ego in the way, you can be authentic and operate from your soul. 

Psychedelics can get you to ego death faster. For centuries, people have used traditional psychedelics like psilocybin, mescaline, and ayahuasca to connect with higher powers and experience oneness. During ceremonies, daily preparation and rituals with shamans helped people have safe psychedelic spiritual journeys. 

Outside tradition, there are accounts of psychedelics successfully breaking mental barriers, replacing false beliefs, and transforming people’s lives. Scientists are even studying how psychedelics can treat crippling mental disorders like depression, PTSD, and anxiety

However, with the recreational psychedelic industry, there are some risks. Easier access to these drugs encourages people to skip preparation rituals and experienced guides. Instead, they go straight into the trip. People searching for ego death take excessive amounts of psychedelics without proper guidance. When you remove your ego in one blow without any foundation or emotional support, you can become cynical and nihilistic. Some people unsafely achieve ego dissolution only to feel disillusioned afterward and convinced there is no point in this material world. 

Meditation as a Substitute 

Ego death is alluring. It promises clarity when you’re uncertain and boundless love when you’re depressed. But since the ego can’t be killed overnight and screwing up your reality trying to achieve it is risky, a more sustainable option is to quiet your ego instead.

Ego death does not require drugs. It can be achieved in a spiritual journey called enlightenment. Hindus believe with a dedicated meditation practice, you can break down the ego and reach the point of oneness. Achieving enlightenment or nirvana breaks the cycle of suffering and reveals a powerful truth — we’re not our bodies or minds but a soul connected to the universe. Not only do we know it, we feel what it means to be universally connected. It is pure love and joy.

However, meditation is not for people who like shortcuts because it works over long periods of time. If you’re already meditating, psychedelics used correctly can enhance meditation and give you access to deeper levels of awareness. In fact, a recent study showed that large doses of psilocybin, along with a meditation practice, produced enduring positive social attributes like closeness, gratitude, and forgiveness. 

Related: How to Legit Control Your Thoughts

I’m sure there are tons of benefits from blending the two, but there is a fine line between dependency and enhancement. It’s important to be educated on the risks and be guided by an experienced practitioner before mixing marijuana or mushrooms with meditation.

The Bottom Line

Everybody should go on an inner journey to overcome their ego, and the path to get there is what I outline in my book, Bling. The abundance of psychedelics, coupled with the lack of experienced guides or shamans, makes ego death convenient but risky. 

Meditation is powerful because you can experience what otherwise requires drugs in a totally safe and sustainable way, while gaining a ton of other benefits like increased focus and less stress. If you do choose to do any of these drugs at your own risk, then meditation can act as a foundation that will help you return from your trip in a way that keeps you grounded in this world while knowing you touched a world beyond your ego. 

Fam, what are your thoughts on mixing drugs with meditation? Drop your comments below. I’d love to hear about your experiences!

ego death



  1. Dambrun, M. & Ricard, M. (2011). Self-Centeredness and Selflessness: A Theory of Self-Based Psychological Functioning and Its Consequences for Happiness. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1037/a0023059
  2. Davidson, R. J. &  Lutz, A. (2008). Buddha’s Brain: Neuroplasticity and Meditation. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2944261/
  3. Galindo, L. & Berge, D. (2018). Default Mode Network Aberrant Connectivity Associated with Neurological Soft Signs in Schizophrenia Patients and Unaffected Relatives. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5767074/
  4. Griffiths, R.R & Johnson M. W & Richards W. A & Richards B. D & Jesse, R. & MacLean, K.A, & Barrett, F.S, Cosimano, M.P & Klinedinst M. A. (2018). Psilocybin-Occasioned Mystical-Type Experience in Combination with Mediation and other Spiritual Practices Produces Enduring Positive Changes in Psychological Functioning and in Trait Measures of Prosocial Attitudes and Behaviors. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29020861/
  5. Herrman, N. (1997). What is the Function of the Various Brainwaves? Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-is-the-function-of-t-1997-12-22
  6. Hoffman, E. & Keppel-Hesselink, M. J. & Da Silveira, M. Y. (2018). Effects of a Psychedelic, Tropical Tea, Ayahuasca on the Electroencephalographic (EEG) Activity of the Human Brain During a Shamanistic. Ritual Retrieved from https://maps.org/news-letters/v11n1/11125hof.html
  7. Millière, R. (2017). Looking for the Self: Phenomenology Neurophysiology and Philosophical Significance of Drug-Induced Ego Dissolution. Retrieved from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2017.00245/full
  8. Millière, R. & Carhart-Harris, L. R. & Roseman, L. & Trautwein, F. & Berkovich-Ohana, A. (2018). Psychedelics, Meditation, and Self-Consciousness. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6137697/
  9. Muthukumaraswamy, D. S. & Carhart-Harris, L. R. (2013). Broadband Cortical Desynchronization Underlies the Human Psychedelic State
  10. Muttoni, S. & Ardissino, M. & John, C. (2019). Classical Psychedelics for the Treatment of Depression and Anxiety: A Systematic Review. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31382100
  11. Nour, M. M. (2016). Ego-Dissolution and Psychedelics: Validation of the Ego-Dissolution Inventory. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4906025/
  12. Sampedro, F. (2017). Assessing the Psychedelic “After-Glow” in Ayahuasca Users. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/317578695_Assessing_the_Psychedelic_After-Glow_in_Ayahuasca_Users_Post-Acute_Neurometabolic_and_Functional_Connectivity_Changes_Are_Associated_with_Enhanced_Mindfulness_Capacities_Formatted_Article
  13. Sanches, R.F (2016). Antidepressant Effects of a Single Dose of Ayahuasca in Patients with Recurrent Depression: A SPECT Study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26650973
  14. Schenberg, E. E. (2018). Recording Brain Waves in Extreme Situations: The Psychoactivity of Ayahuasca. Retrieved from https://pressrelease.brainproducts.com/extreme-eeg/

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  1. Kristaps

    I like meditating when high on weed . But not much weed. With moderation similar like microdosing I achieve deep meditation self healing and even channeling.

  2. Sam

    This is a cool article, I recently took magic mushrooms and experienced a quieting of the ego.
    I’m realizing now that life is what you make it and I choose to not let the negative aspects of the ego into my life while embracing the good. I like the part you mention about meditating helps you stay grounded in reality and the risks of losing your ego quickly. I never thought about that.
    Maybe when tripping with newcomers have them make sure they want to help others deep down so the aftermath with that thought in mind keeps them grounded in reality.
    Great article.

  3. Kjell

    “we’re not our bodies or minds but a soul connected to the universe. Not only do we know it, we feel what it means to be universally connected. It is pure love and joy.”
    How do you know that? Where is your proof?

    Not even buddhists believe in an intrinsic ‘soul’.

    Personally I’ve been more kind of a philosophical materialist for a while now. ‘Mind’ = matter/natural (so not supernatural) energy
    I don’t believe there really is something like a ‘soul’, ‘spirit’, ‘mind’, ‘consciousness’ in the strict sense.
    My guess is that what we call ‘consciousness’, ‘mind’, ‘thoughts’, ’emotions’, ‘perception’, etc.
    Is an illusionary result of life evolving throughout billions of years, adapting so diversely, that the complexity increases almost exponentially. (multicellular life is only like a mere third as old as unicellular! for example)
    And life is an illusion, as it’s a mere extension of organic chemistry. Organic chemistry is an illusion, as there is no actual division between ‘organic’ & ‘inorganic’ chemistry. Organic molecules are abundant in the cosmos, even in nebula. We’ve been able to synthesize ‘organic’ molecules out of ‘inorganic’ ones.

    Chemistry is also an illusion, it’s actually just a form of applied physics. The application of the electromagnetic force. Say the Vander Waals forces between water molecules, it’s just electromagnetism. Metal bonds, covalent bonds, ionic bonds, ions, etc.
    It’s just electromagnetism.

    So yeah, life is an illusion. There is no ‘higher goal’ or ‘meaning’, ‘life’ just is in my opinion.

    Life is just chemistry. There wasn’t just one day a cell out of nowhere. It began with chemistry to became ever so complex.
    There is not one specific date that the hypothesized common ancestor of life on earth came into being. It likely started with amino acids, then so many countless years later the first membranes, and so forth and so forth.
    RNA & DNA as free molecules were found to be very efficient energy dispersers, when considering the atmospheric conditions & the spectra of light coming through + 4 billion years ago on Earth. So our ‘genetic code’ might’ve just came into ‘being’ due to basic entropy/chemistry. The universe in the end, is just trying to achieve the lowest potential energy state after all.

    In short: the border between biochemistry and ‘life’ is just that, a man-made border.
    ‘Life’ just exists of the exact same matter/energy as all the rest in the universe.
    But that doesn’t mean hurting a human being is equal to hurting a plant, let alone a rock!
    It’s not because consciousness, feelings, etc. are illusions. That we don’t experience them as the illusion whom we are.
    Plants have no evolutionary benefit in experiencing pain, like a mammal as us does.

  4. Alex

    Great article thanks,
    I’d like to share my experience… since 15 years I’ve been leading meditation ceremonies with a group of friends using cannabis (home grown and blessed with mantras) monthly twice, for full moons and new moons, in a sacred space invoking our Masters and the Divine.
    The rest of the time, we don’t use cannabis and stay sober.
    The experiences are always very profound, full of insight and healing processes.
    Absolutely I recommend regular meditation practice with exercise and healthy diet, and also determination and focus to put into practice the wisdom of the experiences into daily life, that’s very important, otherwise apathy and discouragement will take over.
    Cannabis is a help not a substitute for transformation, and real transformation always happens in small increments and mostly in a sober state without shortcuts caused by psychedelics.
    So, having this maturity and stability, psychedelics taken ceremonially with hight intentions, can cuase great benefits, especially in helping us heal trauma and in getting to know our true Self better and better.