“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you”
— Anne Lamott
Brain scans have demonstrated two interesting phenomena from psychedelic therapy:
- The 1st observation was suspected: brains show a dramatically increased level of neural connectivity. This effect is especially pronounced across disparate regions of the brain that don’t normally “talk” with each other
- The 2nd was surprising: one particular region of the brain is much less active, the default mode network (DMN). This part of the brain kicks in while we’re awake but technically inactive… like a car sitting at a stoplight
The engine of an older car — for example a ’74 Chevy — continues running. The newer car — let’s say a Tesla — shuts off to conserve energy.
If your mind is like the Chevy, when idle, it’s still burning through “gas” and cranking out thoughts.
If, however, you have a quiet DMN at the many “stoplights” in life, your mind is able to rest in a serene idle state.
There’s another way of describing that experience: you are in the moment.
To recap, psychedelic therapy A) helps your brain regions collaborate more effectively, and B) helps you to be more in the moment.
Alone, each of these two phenomena is intriguing for mental health and cognitive performance. Together, they create a potent cocktail.
There’s another word for that cocktail: the Mozart Zone.
These two phenomona are very pronounced for 4–5 weeks after a psychedelic therapy session.
That 4–5 week period, the Mozart Zone, is an extended flow state thanks to increased connectivity and a quieter DMN.
I’ve noticed a few manifestations you can expect during the MZ.
Seven Mozart Zone effects:
1) Fewer pangs of anxiety
We all have anxious thoughts. But less cumulative thoughts, thanks to a quieter DMN, also means less anxious thoughts.
On a related note, if you pay close attention to when anxious thoughts hit, they’re usually accompanied by an unpleasant physical sensation.
Perhaps a stomach-drop or tightness in the neck.
The anxious thoughts are more infrequent during the MZ, and curiously, even when they do hit, the physical unpleasantness is more rare.
2) Athletic performance is enhanced
I’ve noticed this especially in sports where the millimeters really matter for execution… e.g. tennis, golf, basketball.
Even one ill-timed thought can affect your tennis serve, golf swing, or jump shot.
The quieter mind seems to do a better job of getting out of the way and letting the body perform.
3) Musical performance is bolstered
There’s a reason the Beatles unabashedly supported psychedelics.
My experience on the bongos was one of the first clues that something was different in the MZ.
Quantifying musical performance is a precarious proposition. It’s one of those “you know it when you hear it” things. However, the individual notes, riffs and mini-musical-zones you’re able to hit can be breathtaking.
While we’re on the subject of creativity…
4) The overall creativity muscle is dialed-in
There’s a reason Steve Jobs unambiguously supported psychedelics.
Writing, artwork, and product development are just a few of the areas that benefit.
You’ll see more novelty and impactful ideas, especially when there’s a need to connect disparate concepts.
5) Meditation is easier
There’s a reason Jack Kornfield unequivocally supported psychedelics.
The big complaint with meditation is that it’s just really hard to quiet the mind and feel like you’re “doing it right.”
A quieter mind with just a few less thoughts can be the difference between having a frustrating meditation vs a satisfying one.
6) You’re more comfortable being brought to tears
This is enjoyable because the majority of the emotional moments are tears of joy.
Tough to pinpoint if this is caused by the more communicative mind or the quieter DMN, but it feels like the result of a better domestication of one’s emotions.
It’s cathartic, poignant, and results in a beautiful sense of perspective.
7) You’ll have more ideas
One idea can change everything.
Much like Neo and Kung Fu, you will feel struck by serendipitous ideas as if they’re a download from up-above.
Or, perhaps the ideas manifest more naturally because your quiet DMN is giving space for the subconscious brain to transfer ideas onto the “big screen” of your waking consciousness.
The old Chevy or the state-of-the-art Tesla… which sounds better for your brain?
The Mozart Zone is special: a month with a collaborative brain that’s also hyper-efficient.
It can quite literally be life-changing to spend extended time in the MZ. On a personal note, this is why once-a-month macrodosing is right for me.
See Volume IX here: Seven strange aspects of macrodosing
The promised topic for this week (“what’s the price of admission for a mystical experience?”) was punted. As I started writing the article it felt belabored so I’m holding off on the topic for now.