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Mindful : October 2019
Research News by B. GRACE BULLOCK MIXING MEDITA- TION AND MAGIC MUSHROOMS In a new study published in NeuroImage, scientists at the University of Zurich explore whether combin- ing meditation with psilocy- bin—the chemi- cal in magic mushrooms— may impact brain function and alter self- consciousness even after the high is gone. Thirty-eight experienced adult meditators were randomly assigned to either a psilocybin or placebo control group. They then participated in a five-day, silent group medita- tion retreat. On day four, each received either a dose of psilocy- bin, or a placebo (lactose). Before and after the retreat, members of both groups com- pleted question- naires about their experiences and perception and underwent an fMRI brain scan, during which they meditated. Four months later they filled out a survey about changes in their attitudes, moods, behav- ior, and social experiences. After the retreat ended, mushroom- assisted medita- tors reported less self-conscious- ness and more illusions and hallucinations than the control group. They also reported better social functioning four months later compared to controls. Of course, nei- ther meditation nor hallucinogen use is a one-size- fits-all proposi- tion. The study authors caution that taking mind- altering drugs, for people who are either unprepared or with certain medical histories, may do more harm than good. A LITTLE MEDITA- TION CAN GO A LONG WAY Researchers at Western Wash- ington University conducted a study to see if mindful- ness meditation could enhance coping flexibil- ity—the ability to pay attention to, and modify strat- egies for dealing with, stress. They recruited 115 students with no prior Research gathered from Australian Catholic University, University of Zurich, and Western Washington University 16 mindful October 2019 top of mind