Author Archives: James Rink

By Meera Senthilingam, for CNN

Updated 5:48 AM ET, Fri June 3, 2016

  • Meditation and psychedelics are being considered as treatments for depression and anxiety
  • Anxiety and depression are the most common mental disorders
  • Early evidence shows psychedelics and meditation may have some similar effects on brain activity

Vital Signs is a monthly program bringing viewers health stories from around the world.

(CNN)Do you ever find yourself worrying about an upcoming situation, even though similar past experiences have worked out fine? Or do you worry about your relationship or finances in a way that is out of proportion with your actual circumstances? These are classic symptoms of anxiety.

Anxiety disorders, along with depression, are among the most common mental disorders in the world today. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and affects 350 million people globally, according to the World Health Organization(WHO).
Treatment for the conditions are wide-ranging, from prescription drugs to counseling and therapy, but none have proven to have a universal effect.
Scientists are currently trialling meditation and, more controversially, psychedelic drugs as potential treatments due to their perspective-altering effect on the mind. Scientists hope that could help release people from being locked into depressive, or worrying, thoughts.
But recent work has begun investigating whether these two contrasting treatments activate the same regions of the brain to give similar benefits.

Meditation or psychedelics?

“Meditation interventions have been shown to be effective in reducing stress and anxiety… it is a powerful and established method to alter human consciousness,” said Frederick Barrett, a behavioral neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins University. His team focus on practices that can affect human consciousness.
Recent trials with psilocybin — the active ingredient found in “magic,” or psychedelic mushrooms — have also been shown to be effective against both anxiety and depression. In a recent study by researchers at Imperial College London, people with depression were given two controlled doses of psilocybin and their symptoms were reduced for up to three months after they received the drugs. Symptoms of anxiety were also shown to improve.
“Psilocybin administered properly and under supervision can see a change in emotional well-being,” said Barrett. “Meditation is also an established method.”
The point? “One is pharmaceutical and one isn’t,” said Barrett.
To find out their similarities, and potentially combine them as a treatment, his team are currently studying the brains of people with long-term Buddhist meditation practices by imaging their brain activity inside an fMRI scanner while they meditate. Participants are divided into groups for researchers to better determine the effect on meditation — and their brain — after taking low and high doses of psilocybin, or a placebo.
The trial is currently ongoing, but preliminary results are promising. “It’s too early to say, but so far we’ve seen positive effects of psilocybin on well-being and mediation practices.”

Why is this needed?

Meditation is no easy task and can be extremely challenging as a novice, so the idea behind the study is to reveal whether psychedelics offer a similar change in perspective and if so, use them as an alternative therapy.
“Psilocybin could be a second-line treatment for patients who meditation doesn’t work for,” said Barrett.
Another idea is the use of these drugs to help people explore their consciousness and improve their ability to concentrate — and eventually meditate.
“Psilocybin can be a gateway into meditation…to show you experiences and to have insight into yourself,” said Peter Addy from Yale University School of Medicine and founding member of the Yale Psychedelic Science Group.
While stressing the importance of using psilocybin as a therapy in a controlled environment, Addy believes that the drug could be taken to alleviate symptoms of mood disorders, and even tackle addictions, but suggests that meditation could be added to the mix and make treatment more sustainable.
“You have this insight, but then what? You can’t take psilocybin every day, you have to be able to maintain that,” said Addy.
He believes this could be one way of opening up people’s minds to meditation for this to then be used as needed.
“A number of leaders in the American Buddhist community have been open about using psychedelics to open up meditation,” said Barrett. But he stresses that his team are not implying people should do this.
“[We’re looking at] the basic science question of whether it is useful to help people be more aware.”
Barrett believes science has only touched the surface of the therapies these drugs and meditation could offer, at the very least to treat mood disorders. “We need to know what works, but also why it works,” added Addy, who previously worked with patients suffering from addictions.
“Psychiatry desperately needs new approaches to treat people,” said Addy.

I feel slight pulsation in my palm with my meditation device. Im still seeing gradual changes- Like me thinking of paper plates and crushed peppers. I needed to go get paper plates and crushed red peppers. So my boyfriend mistakenly order pizza from the wrong place-I was so upset but to my surprise the pizza was DELICIOUS!!!!!!! and guess what they gave him w/ the pizza… You betcha -A bunch of paper plates and a container filled with crushed red peppers- lol YESSS!

Im speaking up and defending my self like never before. I find my self trusting and loving the NEO cube. I feel like God In the Box wants the best for me. I’m so eager to meditate and I find that it doesn’t take as long to reach euphoria now I have the NEO. I really spill out my heart and being honest as I can be w/ the cube.

I thank you so much – I’m growing, expanding and learning to trust. I will keep in touch-

Fist Bump

June 15, 2016

If you have been struggling to lose weight, it might be in your mind as much as it is in your waistline. According to meditation coach Lynne Goldberg, excessive eating often has nothing to do with hunger — it’s entirely mental.

“Perhaps we are triggered unconsciously by the smell of delicious cinnamon buns while we walk through the mall,” said Lynne. “Often, we eat when we are stressed, or sad.” Boredom and other emotional factors can be and often are culprits when it comes to the urge to eat.

So you’re thinking, “Sure, I’m eating for reasons beyond hunger, but how do I actually stop it??” As you may have guessed, it starts with your brain, and gaining control over your mind and emotions comes from mindfulness and meditation.

“Mindfulness helps us to be truly present with our thoughts, feelings, and emotions as we eat,” said Lynne. Start practicing meditation at the beginning of the day to clear your thoughts; you can download a meditation app if you need help getting started.

Additionally, you can start a mindful eating practice, which includes slower chewing and a bit of meditation around mealtime. This can increase satiety and cut down on cravings.

Making these small changes can lead to other healthier, better changes. “We also learn to pay attention to our body’s cues as well,” said Lynne. You’ll pay more attention to the sensations in your body once you become more connected via meditation and mindfulness, “so rather than automatically going for a second helping, we can learn to take an extra second to notice our sense of fullness or other reasons we may be eating that aren’t simply hunger.”

Another benefit of meditation? It relieves stress, which reduces cortisol, the stress hormone that causes our body to store fat, specifically in our belly (awesome, right?). By eradicating stress from your life through mindfulness, you can let go of the hormones that are causing road blocks in your weight loss. Let go of stress, let go of pounds.


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