Floris | Psychedelic Insights ๐Ÿง 

Jun 10, 2022

Meet the man making mystical experiences without psychedelics

While people have reported having a mystical-type experience without the help of psychedelics โ€“ the drugs undoubtedly increase the likelihood of such effects.

To date, many psychedelic studies have found that the therapeutic effects of psychedelics are entangled with the mystical experience they endure. Researchers are always striving to understand more about the nature of this experience โ€“ and โ€“ while it has now been quantified thanks to the MEQ, thereโ€™s still a lot we donโ€™t know.

With rapidly evolving VR technology at our disposal โ€“ many wonder if it will soon be possible to induce a mystical experience without the need for psychedelics โ€“ in short, the answer is yes.

David Glowacki and his team are proving that is possible through their project โ€œIsness,โ€ โ€“ a project exploring how VR tools can be adapted to enable participants to experience the energetic essence of matter and elicit perceptual responses comparable to the psychedelic experience.

Our editor-at-large, George Fejer had to chance to speak with David about the potential of VR and psychedelic experiences.

๐—ฆ๐—ถ๐—บ๐—ถ๐—น๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐˜€ ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐˜๐˜„๐—ฒ๐—ฒ๐—ป ๐—ฉ๐—ฅ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ฝ๐˜€๐˜†๐—ฐ๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐˜€

David and his team began analysing โ€œa lot of phenomenological accounts of people who had drug-induced and nondrug-induced mystical-type experiences.โ€

The researchers noticed a particularly common theme in these accounts - sensitivity to the energetic nature that is underlying matter all around us.

โ€œWe realised that there was a synergy between these phenomenological accounts of energy and our quantum mechanical simulations of energy,โ€ says David โ€“ a short while after, โ€œIsnessโ€ was born.

๐—ช๐—ต๐˜† ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—บ๐˜†๐˜€๐˜๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—ฒ๐˜…๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ฒ?

Alongside his Ph.D. in molecular physics, David holds a Masterโ€™s degree in religious studies and has had a longstanding interest in spirituality.

However, it wasnโ€™t until he โ€œstarted looking into how mystical-type experiences were measured and stumbled upon the research on psychedelics by Roland Griffiths at Johns Hopkinsโ€ that he became interested in using a scale similar to the MEQ to measure such experiences induced by VR.

While the MEQ may have been an inspiration, it wasnโ€™t used as a template when designing Isness.

Ultimately, whether or not these experiences arise from psychedelics, spiritual practices, meditation or elsewhere โ€“ โ€œThese different classes of experiences fall under the larger umbrella term of mystical-type experience, and it makes sense that they can be measured consistently and reproducibly via questionnaire.โ€

๐—ง๐—ต๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ด๐—ต๐˜๐˜€ ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ณ๐˜‚๐˜๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ฒ

โ€œWe would like to start doing systematic studies of cohorts whose preparation/integration involves VR and compare the outcomes to those which do not,โ€ says David.

Other potential avenues for VR in this space could be combing psychedelics with VR to optimise the psychedelic experience โ€“ or, one step further โ€“ designing a VR psychedelic experience.

Check out the full interview with David on the Blossom website.

Floris | Psychedelic Insights ๐Ÿง 

Floris knows his way around both the psychedelic experience & science behind it | Founder of Blossom psychedelic database (10k entries)