Can you get high off meditation?

To some it may be surprising, yet to others not surprising that, yes, meditation can produce a high. Now we’re not talking about the same kind of high you might experience from drug use, but a high from meditation can be just as intense. It’s hard to explain it all in just a few, concise words, so let’s get into some more of the meat of it.

A natural high

Many have described the high they were able to experience while meditating as an extreme clarity of being, a natural high that is somewhat akin to a runner’s high, but much more elevated. Of course, if there are no drugs used, we can’t call it anything other than a “natural high.” The high you would experience would be 100% induced by your own body and the chemicals it naturally produces.

Some that have tried both drugs and meditation, separately, have noted that a high produced by drugs feels like dulling the senses and awareness, whereas a high produced by meditation does the opposite. Another difference mentioned has been that with drugs, getting high happens as expected: you take the drug, you’re high, that’s just how it goes. With meditation, trying to achieve a high on purpose may not give you the desired results. The high from meditation is more of a byproduct rather than the end goal.

The chemicals in a natural high because chemicals are natural too

Not the chemicals in a drug. This time we mean the chemicals naturally produced by your own body. Tibetan Buddhist monks participated in a study where their brains were scanned while in a meditative state. The findings were that, while meditating, the monks accessed a part of their brain that is responsible for attention and emotion monitoring. They were able to increase their ability to ignore distracting information from their surroundings and regulate emotions.

Moreover, meditators, even novice ones, showed a change to the limbic systems in their brains. This part of the brain handles reward processing, which just happens to be the same area affected by drug use. So, meditation can achieve something very similar to a drug high, but without the impairment. The focused breathing and mental state while you meditate can also release dopamine in your brain, which is one of the feel-good chemicals involved with pleasure and addiction. Simply put, meditation can lead to a high that is different from drugs, but just as potent.

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