Lucid Dreaming And Psychedelics For Spiritual Practice?

Lucid Dreaming And Psychedelics For Spiritual Practice?
Photo by Bruce Christianson / Unsplash

In spiritual growth, there are "tamer" practices and more "mature" ones.

Meditation, yoga, and breathing practice are the spiritual versions of biking with training wheels. Lucid dreaming and psychedelics are like biking without training wheels, away from a Megalodon, in space.

For most of my spiritual growth, I have been skeptical about delving into lucid dreaming or psychedelics. Until four years ago, I had been the poster child of purity. When I walked into a room, water turned into kombucha—okay, not really, but I firmly believed I would never engage in mind altering experiences.

I had heard horror stories of people getting addicted to the lucid dreaming reality and wanting to sleep all the time. My brother had told me about the bad trip he had on shrooms where everyone turned into his psychotic ex.*

I was a little scared.

But I kept reading stories and seeing studies of the profound spiritual growth lucid dreaming and psychedelics could provide. After stagnating in my growth in traditional spiritual practices, I decided to open my mind. Finally, on Sunday, June 2nd, at 4:20 p.m. I took 2 grams of mushrooms with my dad and friend John for the first time. You can read about my experience here.

Me on the couch tripping out of my mind on shrooms lol.

This article isn't meant to reflect my experience. Instead, it encapsulates my research into how these two practices can enhance our spiritual growth. I hope to remove some of the stigma surrounding these two practices—a stigma I held myself to for a long time.

Before I go any further, let me make it clear: I'm not advocating you do either of these things without proper preparation and consideration of legality. What you do is entirely up to you. Doing either of these things, especially psychedelics, without lots of forethought is a recipe for disaster.

With that being said, let's dive in.

Three Ways Lucid Dreaming And Psychedelics Can Enhance Our Spiritual Practice

Psychedelics and lucid dreaming help us not only realize but experience three of the most fundamental ideas I see inside spirituality:

  • Everything is imaginary
  • You are the awareness behind everything
  • Everything in the Universe is connected

Firstly, they help us see how everything is imaginary.

By this, I mean everything we sense, feel, or think comes from the mind--it's all imagined.

The colors we see are unique not only to other organisms but to each other, as any colorblind person can attest to. The emotions we feel and power of those emotions change across individuals. The labels we use to think about things change how we experience them--for example, seeing an argument as war versus as a dance changes your perception of arguments[1].

There's no reason things must be perceived this way--it's all imagined.

There are two reasons a lot of people struggle to accept this.

The first reason is many people ascribe to materialism--things exist in the real world objectively, and through science, we can parse truths about the world.

The problem is science is done through the senses, which as we just discussed, are inherently subjective. Alongside this, for something to be scientifically valid it must be falsifiable. That's how theories we once thought fundamental to science like Newton's laws of motion can get proven wrong. So even well-founded theories of science aren't entirely objective--that's a feature, not a bug.

Therefore, there is no way to parse "objective truths" about the world, only seemingly "truer" ones.

The second reason most people don't accept that everything is imaginary is "normal" waking reality is incredibly stable.

While there are variations among how people and cultures perceive daily life, it's generally quite consistent. Unfortunately, I can't walk through walls which sucks because I was hoping this time was it. Physical objects remain in place unless acted upon by some outside force. Someone is unlikely to go into the street with their pants on their head screaming, "Unkulakotokuyamokami!" Most people stick to social norms.

"Normal" reality feels, well, normal. It looks stable. It feels stable. It couldn't all just be in the mind, could it?

This is where lucid dreaming and psychedelics come in.

While lucid dreaming or on psychedelics, "normal" stable reality begins to break down. In lucid dreams, for example, you can walk through walls, teleport objects, and experience people breaking all sorts of social norms on the regular.

Underwater Fashion Shoot of model Savanna comfortably floating underwater in a purple pool.

Photo by Bruce Christianson on Unsplash

The limits of your ability are largely constrained by your expectations coming to them. Waggoner R. (2008) says it beautifully in his book Lucid Dreaming: Gateway To The Inner Self[2]: "The dream space largely mirrors your ideas, expectations, and beliefs about it. By changing your expectations and beliefs, you change the dream space. Realizing mental space responds best to mental manipulations, you let go of physical manipulations and use the wings of your mind" (p. 31).

Materialists explain this by saying dreams aren't "real." But what we experience in dreams is still a product of the mind, just as what we experience in real life is a product of the mind. To say one is real and the other fake is a logical fallacy.

They are both creations of the mind.

Lucid dreaming and psychedelics experiences in which normal, stable reality becomes unstable, which helps us notice the imaginary nature of life more distinctly.

Another way both lucid dreaming and psychedelics help us practice spirituality is by tapping into the foundational awareness behind the experience.

Have you ever been to a movie theatre and completely lost your sense of self? The characters, the story, the sounds, and more are so compelling you blend with them. We tend to exit the movie and talk about it thinking we have returned to "real life."

We don't realize that many of us are still in the movie of life.

In daily life, it's easy to think we are the sensations, feelings, thoughts, beliefs, memories, or identities we hold. We build our sense of self off of these things and umbrella them under the term "I." I like video games. I think that person is rude. I am not capable of being loved.

It's easy to get wrapped up in our self so strongly we forget that I is simply an abstraction--a useful way for navigating life. We're so blended with our feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors we lose touch with the foundational awareness that is experiencing the movie in the first place.

When we strip away everything we attribute to the I, however, all that remains is a sense of pure, uncorrupted, all-encompassing awareness.

Psychedelics, in particular, can put us in touch with this awareness through ego-death--the feeling of losing your sense of self. On my first mushrooms trip, I was sitting on the couch next to my friend John about an hour and a half after taking the shrooms.

Sitting there, my sense of "Aidan" suddenly vanished and became a faint flicker, a passing thought that came in and out for only a few seconds. I literally felt myself melt into a sludge on the couch, and fuse with John. I could feel his heartbeat and sense every artery and vein in his body. I was John, and John was me.

I came face to face with what I can only describe as the eternal force running the entire Universe. How do I describe this?

I was everything, everywhere, all at once.

Abstract fibre light painting completed using fiber optic cable. Ideal to visualise the internet, world wide web, datacentres or speed of light. Kind of looks like the infinity sign.

Photo by Compare Fibre on Unsplash

I was a planet, a fetus, a medical doctor, my girlfriend, a caveman, a star, everything in the past, present, and future simultaneously. Romantic music was playing in the background—I think it was "Wait For Me From Hadestown." I could feel love, so much love, between lovers, between my dad and mom, and everyone else in my family and friend group, but also between everything in the Universe and everything else. The song switched to "A Million Dreams In The Greatest Showman" and I could feel countless individuals' dreams being crushed, pursued, and realized.

I experienced all of this without my sense of self as "Aidan."

Clearly, there was something witnessing the experiencing. But it wasn't the self. It was the self's awareness. Upon reuniting my self with the awareness, my self now possesses knowledge of the awareness and can talk about it.

Once again, psychedelics make this experience more distinct by giving me a sense of ego-death. In regular waking life, separating awareness from self is possible through practices like meditation but more difficult.

Finally, lucid dreaming and psychedelics help us tap into our fundamental connectedness with everything in the Universe.

As children, we all start life with a clean window to the world.

We have no feeling, thinking, conceptualizing, or behaving habits in the world. Without a built identity, we see things without judgment, with infinite curiosity and wonder. In a sense, we see things as they really are, with an empty mind.

But as we experience and are socialized by our friends, family, strangers, and society, our window gets foggy. Time passes and we forget what it was like to see the world with a clean window. Because it's the only window we have ever looked through, we assume everyone else sees the world in the same way.

I'm not saying creating an identity or labels for the Universe is bad. They help us act in the world and communicate with others. Imagine how overwhelming life would be if you couldn't chunk the millions of bits of information coming at you into ideas.

But it can become a problem when we feel disconnected from ourselves, each other, and the Universe. Taken to the extreme, we can get in pointless fights over who's window is the right window.

The only way to see the Universe in its purity, is to clean our window of our characteristic feelings, thoughts, and beliefs of the world. To come at reality with an empty mind. To become radically open minded.

I know no better way to do this than through lucid dreaming and psychedelics.

During both, normal ways of feeling, thinking, believing, and behaving in the world drastically change. While lucid dreaming or on psychedelics, the normal barriers between us and the world begin to dissipate. In the previous mushrooms anecdote, I felt I was everything, everywhere, all at once. There was no separation between I and the Universe.

I felt more connected, curious, and compassionate then I ever have in my entire life.

Lucid Dreaming And Psychedelics For Spiritual Practice?

I never expected lucid dreaming or psychedelics to be as powerful as they have been for spiritual growth.

Four years ago, I would never have even considered doing either of them. But now I realize this belief was socialized into me by people who don't know better. It was a defense mechanism of the Ego, which knew it would be destroyed during some of these experiences.

Right now, there is still a large stigma around doing them in many places. Thankfully, some research is being conducted, but it's slow. By confronting our skepticism around psychedelics and lucid dreaming and sharing this article with someone else, we can confront this bias.


While I didn't explicitly reference it anywhere I highly recommend you check out the Psychedelics series made my on YouTube. It dives deep into the benefits of psychedelics, the dangers, and the insights you can have on them:

  1. Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1981). Metaphors we live by. ↩︎
  2. Waggoner, R. (2008). Lucid Dreaming: Gateway To The Inner Self. Moment Point Press. ↩︎