Dr. Michael Sapiro – How Meditation, Mindfulness and the Psychedelic Experience Relate

February 26, 2019
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In this episode, Joe holds conversation with Dr. Michael Sapiro, Clinical Psychologist out of Boise, Idaho. They cover topics surrounding how meditation and mindfulness intersect with psychedelia as well as psychic ability, altered states and integration.

3 Key Points:

  1. Meditation and psychedelics have a lot of overlap such as ego dissolution and unity.
  2. Dr. Sapiro believes that meditation and mindfulness bring personal awakening in order to create collective transformation.
  3. Both meditation and psychedelics are the most beneficial when they are integrated into our waking life and when we use our experiences to help others and our planet.

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Navigating Psychedelics

Show Notes

About Dr. Michael Sapiro

  • Attended John F Kennedy University where he received his PsyD
  • He focused on meditation research at the Institute of Noetic Sciences
  • He is from Chicago, IL
  • He spent time in Thailand for the Peace Corps
  • A lot of his experience was from his time in the Bay Area
  • There is more data coming out about awareness based meditative states and psychedelic states and how they relate subjectively to each other

Dr. Sapiro’s Practice

  • Transformational Psychology, Integration based
  • He integrates the Buddhist Dharma, Western Psychology, Non-dual meditation and philosophy, and Noetic Sciences into his practice
  • Michael sees 20-28 patients a week
  • Kashmir Shaivism
    • It’s a dissolving type of experience, Its a non-dualistic style of tradition
    • The non-dual tradition helps one just be “whole and unbroken” and focus on the present and now
  • He does the human work in the Buddhism Dharma style, and the spiritual work with the restful piece of being in the now, the focus being integration


  • His vision has been on enhancing personal awakening in order to create collective transformation
  • He wants to help communities and states and nations to transform via individual awakening
  • He has worked with law enforcement agents, military vets, community members, a variety of people at different levels all the way from grounding to stability to thriving
  • He always ends each Sangha with saying ‘take this work and apply it to your neighbors’
    • A Sangha is a buddhist community of monks/individuals in support of each other
  • “People have such a deep connection to nature when you come out of the psychedelic experience. You start taking care of the environment differently than before went you went in.” – Michael
    • “We now have data on greater environmental concern and stewardship after the psychedelic experience.” – Joe
    • People who are consciously interacting with things outside of themselves have a greater care for those things. “If I am hurting the world I am hurting myself.” – Michael
    • “Hopefully one of the bigger things that come out of the psychedelic movement are greater levels of environmentalism and global stewardship” – Joe
  • The psychedelic movement helps us see systems that are made up are a part of our tangible reality and our responsibility to take care of the people in the systems
    • We can use psychedelics and meditation, and integration from these experiences, to see how we can operate in these systems and help people find resources in these systems

Dr. Sapiro’s Work

  • He teaches as Esalen Institute leading workshops
  • One of his colleagues has reached over 200,000 people with their work since 2011
  • His goal isn’t to be the lead, but the support of leaders, especially women because he feels the need for a balance and the need for more female leaders
  • Michael says he loves surrounding himself around ‘world-changers’ and loves doing anything to be around them and learn from them

Boise, Idaho

  • Michael says its surprisingly conscious state
  • Its very community oriented
  • There are 6-7 Buddhist Sanghas, groups of dedicated folks to their practice
  • There is a lot of nature and nature is Dharma, it is the teacher

Psychic Ability and Altered States

  • It’s very normal for humans to have psychic experiences
    • All of us have access to these states, we just have to tap into them
    • Michael encourages people to accept and cultivate these experiences
    • It may be better to accept these experiences than to deny them
  • There is a difference between energetic flow and psychosis
    • Crazy Wise is a documentary that touches on spiritual emergence issues

The Overlap of Psychedelic States and Meditation

  • The Institute of Noetic Sciences had a program called The Future of Meditation Research
    • They found in the research that they were only looking at reducing anxiety and depression, the clinical applications
    • But they found that more than half of the people experienced psychic phenomenon, mystical experiences, terrifying experiences, the things that overlap/correlate with psychedelic experiences
    • Both meditative and psychedelic experiences point to ego dissolution and unity at the same time
  • Ego and anxiety both have wisdom in them, we don’t want to lose them completely, but learn how to balance them and use them wisely
  • “We need to be mindful of how we integrate what we learn in the psychedelic/meditative state into our waking life” – Michael
  • “How can meditation and psychedelics lend themselves to being the best version of ourselves while committing to others well being? That is what I am most passionate about.” – Michael
  • David Trellen and Willoughby Britton – Trauma Sensitive Mindfulness
  • “If we are choosing to be more compassionate to our fellow humans and the earth, let’s not tough it out, let’s help each other.” – Joe
    • “Let’s do the work that it takes to heal it.” – Michael
  • Be open, be curious. What might meditation be able to bring to personal awakening in order to create collective transformation?



About Dr. Michael Sapiro

Michael Sapiro, PsyD is a clinical psychologist, Dharma teacher, meditation researcher, and former Buddhist monk.  He is on faculty at Esalen Institute and is a Fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences where he engages in research on meditation, transformation, and consciousness.  He completed his postdoctoral fellowship in advanced psychology at the Boise VA Medical Center where he specialized in rural health, PTSD, and combat trauma.  Dr. Sapiro teaches nationally on the art and science of transformation, expanded human capabilities, self-care, and meditation for personal and community growth.  He is the founding teacher of Maitri Sangha Boise, an integrated Buddhist community, and director of Maitri House Yoga, LLC, serving the community through integrating meditation practices, psychology, noetic sciences, and social justice.  He can be found at  He and his wife, Chef Sararak, own and operate Lime and a Coconut: The Art of Thai Cuisine, and together lead international meditation and culinary retreats to Thailand.