Teaching the Plant Spirits to Meditate

Psychedelics can be very distracting, to put it mildly. If you’re not careful, they can throw you into a chaotic maelstrom. To work productively with these powerful tools, therefore, requires skill, discipline and preparation.

A good set and setting is essential. But so is a good practice. It should be common knowledge by now that psychedelics and meditation in conjunction greatly improve the experience and increase the lasting benefits. Even a simple mindfulness practice makes a big difference.

Meditation both mitigates the risks of a bad trip and enhances the positive effects of a good one. However, the use of meditative techniques under the influence of a powerful psychedelic requires a certain amount of skill. There is an art to it, an intricate dance of surrender and control.

Meditation should be applied lightly. There should be no forcing. The plant spirits do not take kindly to any hint of arrogant human coercion. They are willing to enter into a symbiotic relationship, but only on equal, respectful terms.

They are also hyper-sensitive to thoughts, which is why it is so important to discipline the mind. Negative or disturbing thoughts can quickly mushroom into an entire nightmarish psychedelic mindscape. Confusing thoughts can lead to tangled webs of madness, which can be very disorientating and unpleasant.

A mantra helps orient the plant spirits. It also helps keep the mind from wandering and spinning unhelpful fantasies. It anchors both “your” consciousness and the “spirit” consciousness. Or if you prefer, if you are averse to personification or spiritual language, your OSC (ordinary state of consciousness) and ASC (altered state of consciousness). Although these two states occasionally merge, the greater part of the psychedelic journey unfolds in a kind of dual-consciousness, experienced, more or less, as “self” and “other”.

It’s best to keep it simple and consistent. I use two body-mantras, the Staff and the Armour. The Staff consists of seven mantras aligned with the seven chakras of Indian Tantra: Amun, Ra, Atum, Ka, Ba, Gaia, Jah. The Armour consists of two sets of seven mantras aligned with the seven points of the double cross (see the diagram on the Home Page). The seventh point (not depicted in the diagram) completes the body-mantra at the heart. The first mantra is Mystic, Shaman, Warrior, Monk/Nun, Philosopher, King/Queen, Friend and the second is Peace, Love, Goodness, Beauty, Truth, Consciousness, Bliss.

(There are actually four sets of mantras associated with the Armour, but it’s easier to wear light armour while tripping.)

After a short group meditation, the ceremonial psychedelic session begins with the sounds of the rainforest. The instruction is simply to keep your awareness on the breath, the body and the sounds. The important thing is not to let the mind wander. If it does, just bring it back to the breath, the body and the sounds.

These three anchors are all you need: the Staff, the Armour and Breath, Body, Sound. The plant spirits are quick learners. Once they’ve got it, you will be able to collaborate in peace and harmony.