There are various forms of anxiety and stress in our lives – these are normal and unavoidable aspects of human life. However, sometimes they become redundant, uncontrollable and difficult to bear. What do they depend on, how to recognize if they start to dominate our lives and impair its functioning? What is their evolutionary sense and what psychological and neurophysiological mechanisms are behind them? Finally – what are the scientifically documented methods of their reduction and prevention, and how to implement them? These are the questions I would like to answer in this lecture.
On the one hand, I will discuss the forms, prevalence and science behind the phenomenon of anxiety and stress, and on the other hand, I will present scientifically proven ways to treat, prevent and tame these problems based on the methods of mindfulness, psychotherapy and broader medicine.
In principle, we all (albeit to varying degrees) try to climb the Mountain, although each of us may understand it differently and have a different motivation to climb it. We are looking for, among other things, a way to happiness, reduction of suffering, intimacy with others, absolute or nirvana, but in the face of our own ignorance of how to do it, we want to find the right path and guide that will lead us there.
Psychedelic therapy, meditation and psychotherapy are the paths we often take for these purposes. But do they lead to the same mountain? Are these paths similar, and if so, to what extent? Or rather different? Through what mechanisms do they work and what do we know scientifically about their effects? These are the main questions to which I would like to seek answers with you during this lecture, reaching beyond my own experience to sources in contemplative sciences as well as in modern findings of psychology, neuroscience and psychiatry.
Both the experiences of meditators and people taking psychedelics, as well as the scientific literature, indicate the existence of phenomenological and neurophysiological convergences between psychedelic and meditative states. Research indicates that there are potential links, and perhaps synergy, between classical psychedelics and meditation practice, and in a more distant sense, some similarities with some processes and phenomena in psychotherapy. For example, the therapeutic effects of psychedelics depend to a large extent on creating the right context and the possibility of integrating one’s own experience – phenomena related to psychotherapy.
The aim of the lecture will be to discuss the theoretical premises and the results of research on the relationship between meditation practice and mindfulness, and the use and effects of psychedelics, as well as in a broader context. Looking at the similarities and differences with psychotherapy. I will also refer to the results of my own research on the attitudes of Poles towards psychedelics and psychedelic therapy, research on meditation and mindfulness, and research on the understanding of enlightenment.
Habilitated doctor of medicine Paweł Holas, prof. UW – clinician, researcher and educator. Cognitive-behavioral (CBT) therapist and supervisor, mindfulness teacher (MBCT/MBSR/MSC), psychiatry. Professor at the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Warsaw, where he heads the Department of Clinical Neuropsychology and Psychotherapy and the e-MPAT Lab. Head of postgraduate studies: Mindfulness and Compassion. Foundations, research and psychotherapy at the SWPS University in Warsaw. President of the Mindfulness Development Foundation leading, among others, teacher training in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) in cooperation with the Oxford Mindfulness Center (OMC). The main area of scientific interest concerns the phenomena of mindfulness and compassion as well as the effectiveness and mechanisms of interventions based on them. In addition, experimental clinical psychology, psychedelic therapy, behavioral addictions and research on the psychotherapy process and Internet interventions.