By How Much Does THC Oil Improve Meditative Absorption in a Self-Blinded RCT?
Basic
10
230
2025
26%
Cohen's d of d<0
·
7mo
22%
Cohen's d of 0<d<0.2
·
7mo
27%
Cohen's d of 0.2<d<0.6
·
7mo
18%
Cohen's d 0.6<d<1.0
·
7mo
7%
Cohen's d 1.0<d
·
7mo

This is a market in a series on markets for possible quantified self experiments I might run.

Context here, in short: I will put up >10 of these markets, run the "best" one (my own judgment, but probably just the one with the highest expected Cohen's d), and a random one (resolving them to the outcome), and will resolve all the others as N/A. In all experiments, I will be using the statistical method detailed here, code for it here.

50 samples in the morning, 25 intervention (4mg THC in oil, orally), and 25 placebo (whatever oil I can find that is closest in taste to the THC oil). Expected duration of the trial: ~2½ months (taken ~every day, with possible pauses).

However: I might not be able to run this market even if it looks good to run in expectation, because it turns out to be more difficult to get hold of THC oil than I expected, or potentially I'll have to go with a slightly different dose, or I'll have to vape it (and thus the placebo changes). I put 25% on not being able to run this experiment at all, and 65% on not being able to run it exactly as described.

In general, by meditative absorption I mean the concentration/tranquility (in Buddhist terms samatha) during a ≥30 minute meditation session in the morning, ~45 minutes after waking up and taking the substance (less if the substance starts working immediately). I will be doing at least 15 minutes of anapanasati during that meditation session, but might start (or end) with another practice).

Past meditation data can be found here.

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From the Buddhist perspective it seems to me like any “tranquility” from this approach would not be samma samadhi, given that one of the necessary defining characteristics of samma samadhi is seclusion from sensuality and unskillful states.

You are entirely welcome to meditate as you see fit, of course, and with whatever belief system you have, but does the premise of this experiment not contradict the premise of Buddhist absorption?

@Soren I don't think I buy a strong version of the fifth precept (I'm not a Buddhist of any variety, to be clear) and as detailed here I think there's α in using substances to enhance meditation (surely there are substances which can increase sensory clarity!):

I am especially interested in testing many different substances for their effect on meditation, while avoiding negative side effects. The benefits from high meditational attainments valuable to me, and seem especially likely to benefit from chemical intervention, since the Algernon argument likely doesn't apply: Meditative attainments might've not led to a fitness advantage (even, by opportunity cost, to a fitness disadvantage), and so were likely selected against, but most of us don't care that much about inclusive genetic fitness and more about psychological well-being. Evolutionary dynamics favor being like Dschingis Khan (dozens to hundreds of offspring) over Siddharta Gautama (one son), but I'd rather attain sotāpanna than pillage and murder.

And meditative attainments are costly: they take tens to hundreds to thousands of hours to reach, which would make simple psychopharmacological interventions worthwhile. I also don't buy that they miss the point of meditation—most people already struggle enough, so some help doesn't make it a cakewalk; "reach heaven through fraud". One must be careful not to fall into the trap of taking substances that feel good but lessen sensory clarity (which I believe was the original intent behind the fifth precept, and so I'll exclude e.g. opiates from the substances to test).

In that context, absorption is of course a slippery term, but I have meditated for ~1.5k hours (with a little bit of access concentration & jhanas), so I think I can distinguish e.g. subtle dullness from absorption/tranquility/concentration.

2.5mg is still low, but I found similar doses to be unnerving, liver genetics affect vulnerability to the effects, the experience versus sober to a usually sober Buddhist meditator could be distracting or even disabling (actually ruin what they call absorption), it's a weird question with so many variables

@VAPOR Interesting! I'll change it to 2mg before anyone predicts the market. Sounds like you want to buy d<0 though?

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