Dr. Katherine MacLean leads a meditation practice called RAFT: Remembering to be Aware of Feelings in your body and Trust your experience. Katherine says that mushrooms shared this practice with her as a way to help others access the space of psychedelics from a sober standpoint.
[00:00:00] Katherine MacLean: Welcome, this is a meditation practice called RAFT: Remembering to be Aware of Feelings in your body and Trust your experience.
This experience tonight is of your choosing, so before we begin I’d love for you to think about a time in your past, a specific memory. For people who aren’t really sure where to begin, I often ask them to think about a time they were on a really nice vacation in a beautiful outdoor spot.
Ideally not with too much family drama or emotions or strong negative memories, but just a really lovely, content, beautiful spot. If you have had experiences in the past that are strongly spiritual or maybe inspired by meditation or psychedelics, you can think about a particular memory like that.
Again, this would be if you have experience with meditation and you want to go back to that memory to revisit it. But there’s absolutely no requirement for the memory to be anything special. It just needs to be something very clear in your mind.
To begin, find yourself in a comfortable, upright posture. This meditation can work if you’re laying down, if that’s a formal posture for you, that’s totally fine.
Take a few deep breaths, breathing as deeply into your lower diaphragm, into your abdomen as you can, and out.
If at any point in the meditation you find yourself overwhelmed by memories or emotions or sensations, it’s perfectly fine to turn your attention to your breath and have that be the focus of the meditation.
I’d like you to imagine that you are laying on a raft or something floating in a body of water. This body of water could be an ocean, a still lake, or even your favorite swimming pool.
The raft can be as small or as big as you need it to be so that you feel safe letting go and trusting all of the water that’s around the raft.
We start from our place on the raft and are breathing in and out, feeling the motion of the water moving our own body and the raft.
If it feels comfortable, you could imagine starting to move to the edge of the raft and maybe dangling one foot into the water, or one hand, just kind of testing things out, knowing that you are still completely safe and supported by the raft.
If it feels comfortable, you could imagine moving your body off of the raft, maybe holding on to the raft with your arms and letting your lower body float.
Maybe you have one arm on the raft and the rest of your body submerged in the water. Or maybe you try out the water and you’d really prefer to just stay on the raft for the rest of the meditation. It’s totally fine.
Of course, I’m sure there are some of you who would rather take a deep dive, which is also encouraged if it feels okay. If that is you, now is the time to let go of the raft and let your body sink into the water.
Now, of course, this is your imagination. It’s magical water, this space of consciousness that you’re swimming in, so you can breathe underwater. There is nothing here to harm you. You are just as safe in the water as you are on the raft.
Now is the time that I would love for you to remember and bring to mind that memory.
The first way we’ll remember the memory is to imagine everything we were seeing with our eyes at that time, as if you’re opening your mind’s eye in at that point in the past to the colors and light, everything in your visual domain.
Welcoming in sound, imagine and really hear the same sounds that you were hearing at the time of the memory. It could be music, people’s voices, sounds of nature, just opening your ears in your mind to allow that auditory information to come back online.
Now welcoming in the sense of touch, all tactile sensations. This includes how your body feels, the weight of your body, the position, the feeling of the temperature of the air against your skin, any textures or things that you can physically remember touching around you.
Remembering that your breath is always available to you. If you feel yourself either being overwhelmed or distracted, you can always come back to the breath.
Now we’ll welcome in smell, all of the smells from that moment in time, as you breathe right now, imagine the little molecules of air and everything they carried coming into your nose again.
Smell in particular is a very strong memory tag. Our brains use smell to remember very, very old memories.
Yet it’s often something we don’t really think about. Take this time to let your nose open up in your imagination and let all of that olfactory information in.
Finally, taste, remembering anything that you were eating or drinking. The taste in your mouth at that moment in time, again, somewhat a forgotten sense, but very powerful.
Now the final synthesis is to invite all of the sense information from vision, hearing, touch, smell, and taste to join together, as strongly as you can, remembering completely in your body how it felt at that moment in your experience.
Now we will start to make our way back to the raft.
For those of you who took a very deep dive, I’d like you to turn your head toward the surface, and notice the light coming in and slowly allow your body to float back toward the raft. For those of you who were hanging off of the raft, you can make your way back on.
Taking deep breaths as you feel yourself reconnecting with your body here and now. Knowing that your memories and everything you just reimagined is yours, it’s always with you, you can tap into it whenever you like. By remembering and re-experiencing, you have changed that memory. And you, after returning from this little journey, are also changed.
Take another few deep breaths and remember that you are back in your chair or lying on your couch or a bed. You can move your fingers and feel the temperature of the air here in this room. The sounds of the room. The particular smell around you right now. The taste in your mouth.
Then finally, as you open your eyes, you can re-experience all of the the visual information in your surrounding environment, and welcome all of those sensory experiences back in.