Psychedelic Medicine


Psychedelics and Meditation with Nate Macanian


This episode of the Plant Medicine Podcast features a discussion of psychedelics and meditative practices with Nate Macanian. Nate is a meditation teacher and psychedelic guide from New York with a background in cognitive neuroscience. He also creates mindfulness content for leading meditation apps such as Calm, Simple Habit, and Wellness Coach, as well as retreat centers such as Synthesis and Omega Institute.

Nate begins this discussion describing how he was initially exposed to meditation and psychedelics. This first exposure came while Nate was a student at the University of Michigan and his immediate passion for meditation led him to found a student organization to further explore meditative and contemplative practices with his peers. Nate also describes guiding friends through psychedelic experiences in his college arboretum, before he had ever even heard of the idea of trip sitting.

Turning to meditative practices themselves, Nate describes how psychedelics can be incorporated into one’s meditation routine in a variety of ways and for a variety of different forms of meditation. What he stresses, however, is to examine the intention behind bringing plant medicines into the practice. But if they are incorporated mindfully, psychedelics can help bring meditative practices into sharper relief—microdoses help to amplify awareness and reveal the habits of the mind while larger doses work to connect one to layers of experience previously hidden to consciousness.

While meditation and psychedelics share certain goals and can both be used for therapeutic ends, there are also differences between them. Nate describes psychedelics as an elevator which takes people directly to a destination, whereas meditation is more like a winding staircase as the practice requires continual effort and consistency to progress. Nate also distinguishes meditation and psychedelic experiences phenomenologically. He stresses that the goal of meditative practices is not to mimic the feeling of a trip. Instead, meditation works to focus the attention on the whole spectrum of human experience, some of which can be boring, tedious, or dull. Psychedelics, on the other hand, provide specific kinds of experiences which are intense and colorful, but these differences are what allow meditative practices and psychedelic journeys to have a symbiotic relationship.

In This Episode

• Nate’s journey being introduced to mindfulness and psychedelics
• The importance of intention in meditation
• Incorporating plant medicines into one’s meditative practices
• Psychedelics, meditation, and the default mode network in the brain
• Why set and setting is also important for meditation


“If you include a larger dose in your meditation practice, you might find that there are layers that were previously unseen and latent, living under the surface, that start to come up and this is where a lot of shadow work happens.” [14:00]

“When the default mode network is off, we have this increased susceptibility to our immediate environment and this is why it’s so important to surround yourself with positive people and be in a nice, calm, safe place.” [22:24]

“I think there’s absolutely a place for psychedelics to be included in your meditation practice as long as it’s intentional and as long as you feel like your success as a meditator is not attached to your use of any substance.” [26:59]

“Meditation as a practice is not about really forcing ourselves to have some experience, but to train our awareness, to become a more whole person, a more fulfilled person, a more loving person.” [33:33]


* The Psychedelic Medicine Podcast has allowed the Psychedelic Medicine Association to post episodes as an educational resource, and in return the PMA is hosting the podcast show notes.