Something Awaits On The Other Side Of Meditation

Something I glimpsed on psychedelics.

Michael Papas
4 min readNov 25, 2020


Photo by Ian Stauffer on Unsplash

The state of higher consciousness achieved on psychedelics can be accessed through meditation.

It was a meditation like any other. Before bed, I settled down to watch my breath for 10 minutes.

I wasn’t feeling tranquil. There were two days to Boards— entrance exams for attorneys — and I wasn’t sleeping well. My mind was busy— thoughts babbling unabetted. And I didn’t really feel like watching that circus.

Still, a practice is a practice. So I closed my eyes and began to breathe. Soon, something remarkable happened.

The first few minutes were fitful. I couldn’t silence my thoughts, even with Jim Dethmer’s 4 x 4 breaths technique. They weren’t cooperating. So eventually, I stopped wrestling and let them prattle.

Suddenly I remembered a remark Yuval Noah Harari made in a recent chat with Tim Ferris about Vipassana meditation. The trick is not to focus on breathing — it’s to watch the breath like an external observer.

So I began to watch. And little changed for some minutes.

But then, something happened that’s difficult to describe.

My attention was fixed on my breath. By that, I mean my conscious attention. The awareness I take for granted to be me. That awareness was absorbed with the air moving gently in and out of my nostrils.

But, as I breathed, something else began rising into consciousness. It felt like a calm intensity had climbed up my spine into my brain, pushing outwards against my cranium with a force equal to its intensity.

At the same time, what felt like a bubble that contained my thoughts fell. Like a bubble in a bath, it came gently to rest on the surface. Then it popped, revealing emptiness inside.

Not one involuntary thought remained after that. I could still think, of course—but with more clarity and by my volition. If I did think, the thought boomed through a cavernous consciousness.

But I didn’t need to think. Because what remained was so satisfying:

  • A calm intensity.
  • An enlarged awareness.



Michael Papas

Insights from neuroscience, non-dual mindfulness, and psychedelics to upgrade your awareness. For gigs or just to chat, get me at