|Secret of the Golden Flower|
Friday, January 4, 2019
Drugs, meditation: What's a "psychonaut"?
Psychonaut -- from the ancient Greek psyche ("soul," "spirit" or "pranic breath," "mind") and naútes ("sailor" or "navigator") -- is a "navigator of the mind" or "sailor of the soul."
Psychonautics (similar to Argonautics) refers both to a methodology for describing and explaining the subjective effects of altered states of consciousness, especially an important subgroup called breathwork or holotropic (yogic pranayama) states.
This includes those induced by meditation or mind-altering substances (like entheogens), and to a research paradigm in which the researcher voluntarily immerses him or herself into an altered mental state in order to explore the accompanying experiences.
The term has been applied diversely to cover all activities by which altered states are induced and utilized for spiritual purposes or the exploration of the human condition.
This includes shamanism (a word derived from shramanism, "wandering asceticism," which is what the Buddha practiced) and lamas of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.
It also includes sensory deprivation and archaic and modern drug ingestion utilizing entheogenic substances to gain deeper insights through spiritual and mystical experiences.
A person who uses altered states for such exploration is known as a psychonaut. More