Skip to main content

The Mindful Hedonist

I'm an accredited journalist working at the intersections of science, food and public health, and a certified nutritional practitioner.

the-mindful-hedonist

A longing for something more

Throughout my spiritual journey, I asked myself: is it possible to be a spiritual hedonist? And if so, was that a bad thing?

On one hand, it's possible to take tremendous pleasure in this world, to be receptive and have an appreciation for the simplest things. There is a lot of freedom in that.

On the other hand, we can become attached to an object of hedonistic pleasure, end up getting addicted or harming our body and this attachment causes suffering.

Perhaps the answer depends on one’s definition of ‘spiritual’. Some psychologists discuss spirituality in terms of a ‘longing’ that we have as humans. A longing for something more, something deeper, something greater than who we are.

I, too, was a seeker of curious experience. My main aim was to get as much out of life as I could. I believed that since I was only going to be on this planet once, I should try everything. My “try everything” philosophy led me to experiment with the use of mind-expanding substances, including LSD and MDMA.

Besides pleasure, as the greek origin of ecstasy suggests, I was looking to “step outside of myself” and to induce transcendence: moments where everything clicks, our own critic shuts off and life is joyful, effortless and inspired.

the-mindful-hedonist

As science is catching up on the patterns of activity in the brain of people who are tripping, we are learning that some psychedelics appear to shut off the default mode network. This hub is involved with self-reflection and worrying.

I started to wonder whether I had been drawn to those substances because I couldn’t stand to be with myself and the more uncomfortable thoughts and, more importantly, emotions that came from being on my own.

I could see how easy it would be to try to suppress deep hopelessness and meaninglessness with such a psychological experience.

Although I had experiences that were ultimately transformative, I began contemplating the possibility that these mind-opening drugs may actually rob us of true spirituality.

I find it interesting that these drugs are swimming back into our conscious awareness at the time when what they have to offer is something we sorely need.

Whenever I am being sad, inhibited, or anxious, I can feel the pull toward a ‘self-medicating’ path to cope with those painful feelings. But I am also reminded that a deep bondage with a substance would prevent me from becoming rooted, from becoming whole, from becoming connected.

the-mindful-hedonist

Over the years, I became more attuned to signs of my own mental health issues and what life imbalances they may be signalling instead of reaching for the band-aid.

I found a new appreciation for the search of meaning and fulfilment in a life based on flow, altruism and introspection. I became more acquainted with activities that are focused towards enhancing the perception, such as yogic practices and transcendental meditation.

In particular, I found fascinating the notion that it is possible to deliberately hack into our conscious mind when in a certain state of experience, in other words, without any substance. And how the yogic systems of India focus on the pineal gland system to enable it.

More importantly, I came to understand that all of these genuine spiritual awakening practices—that respond to our search for something larger than what is happening now to happen to us—only work when we already have sustained pleasantness within ourselves.

© 2022 Camille Bienvenu

Related Articles