The cover of Lauren Alderfer’s new book, “Mindful Microdosing.”
Courtesy photo
The cover of Lauren Alderfer’s new book, “Mindful Microdosing.”

Psychedelics as a path to personal growth

In a new book, Lauren Alderfer explores the complementary benefits of mindfulness and the therapeutic use of minuscule doses of psychedelic drugs to achieve ‘a state of authenticity, loving kindness, equanimity, and wisdom’

BRATTLEBORO-Microdosing, writes author Lauren Alderfer, is not a pill to be taken like an aspirin to get rid of a headache.

Instead, she said, the practice "offers the possibility to connect and live in a greater presence of being. [It] supports overall health and well-being and in so doing the headache may very well disappear."

According to Peter Grinspoon of Harvard Health Publishing, microdosing "involves taking a fraction of a regular dose" of psychedelic substances such as LSD or psilocybin, which may be between one-fifth and one-twentieth of a so-called recreational dose, which would involve a "trip" or hallucination.

A longtime teacher of mindfulness practice who lives in West Brattleboro, Alderfer has also been an advocate for the interweaving of mindfulness and psilocybin microdosing for therapeutic purposes, rather than recreation.

On Sunday, April 28, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Alderfer will celebrate the release of her new book, Mindful Microdosing: A Guidebook and Journal, illustrated by Mariana Juárez and published by Brattleboro-based Green Writers Press.

The event, featuring interactive stations and two presentations by the award-winning author and teacher, at noon and again at 2 p.m., will take place at Brattleboro's newest bookstore, Byway Books, at 399 Canal St.

A guidebook and a journal

As Alderfer put forth in a contribution to The Commons' Voices section ["Psilocybin for the people," Viewpoint, April 3], recreational psilocybin can aid "mental health conditions such as depression, addiction, existential anxiety [...], and eating disorders, to name just a few," and that "a growing body of clinical evidence" supports its therapeutic use.

Alderfer's guidebook and journal aim to lead the microdosing reader and documenter toward, according to her website, a state of authenticity, loving kindness, equanimity, and wisdom.

The book opens with several pages of context-setting background on mindfulness and microdosing, including guidance on preparation, active microdosing, and integration (i.e., self-reflection and transformation).

These sections are followed by 65 pages intended for journaling, most graced with illustrations in soft half-tones, which welcome the journaler to fill in the empty spaces with colors or thoughts. The book ends with two more pages on the basics of microdosing.

A career of mindfulness

Alderfer first came to southern Vermont in 1971 as a participant in the Experiment in International Living, which allowed her to spend her last semester of high school in France.

With bachelor's and master's degrees from the School for International Training (SIT), she began her career in the Andean region as an English language fellow through the Fulbright Foundation, and lived there for more than 20 years.

She was an adjunct faculty member at SIT Graduate Institute/World Learning for over 25 years. With a doctorate in global leadership, she also served on the adjunct graduate faculty of Marlboro College, which closed in 2020.

"My whole trajectory has been through contemplative practice - mainly mindfulness practice," Alderfer explained. "Over many decades, that was interwoven with writing books about mindfulness - particularly a children's book, Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda (Simon & Schuster), and then, in 2015, a mindfulness book for educators."

That book, Teaching from the Heart of Mindfulness (Green Writers Press) with a foreword by His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama, won a Foreword INDIES award for educational literature.

Two worlds intersect

A certified microdosing coach and certified yoga therapist, Alderfer sums up her approach on her LinkedIn profile as "a Western perspective from both the North and South Americas with the deep spirituality of the East."

Alderfer first engaged in microdosing after a "macro-dosing journey" that yielded awareness of the complementary benefits of mindfulness and the therapeutic use of psychedelics.

Curiosity and an eagerness to delve into the intersections of those two worlds led Alderfer to further her education with an online course from the Microdosing Institute in the Netherlands, a 10-month training for becoming a microdosing facilitator.

"It wasn't with any intent but to understand more about microdosing," she recalled.

"I'm not a person to just go and do something. I want to learn about it. To be educated. Just like meditation: I wouldn't just dive into meditation without having some kind of structure, some background," Alderfer said.

"I was compelled to learn more because my own experience of mindful practice became very much alive in a microdosing process. To me the two were so similar: microdosing brings out the benefits of mindfulness [more readily], not after years and years of practice."

Around the same time, Dede Cummings, founder and publisher at Green Writers Press, had encouraged Alderfer to do another book.

She struggled with what that might look like until the answer arrived.

"I spoke to Dede. I said, 'How about I do a journal for mindfully microdosing?' And she was totally behind that. In my research at the time I wrote it, there wasn't anything out there in the microdosing landscape or even in the psychedelic community that was specifically about microdosing and doing it mindfully."

That, she said, is "how the idea of a journal came about, and then it morphed into more than just a journal. I had to give some kind of context, so there's a guidebook that maps out a way of mindfully approaching microdosing."

For one practitioner, a change of heart

While it is not yet the case, she said the hope is that in Vermont, psilocybin and related substances will become decriminalized "so folks could gain access safely and easily right here."

"You can microdose with certain other substances that are legal, so there are options," she said. "Many people reading the book are in places where it is legal or decriminalized."

Alderfer stressed that "it's really the process I'm educating on; the sourcing I leave to the person. My support is more in education."

The Vermont Legislature is currently considering the formation of a working group to study how entheogens [psychoactive substances] might benefit physical and mental health.

Kurt White, vice president of community partnerships at the Brattleboro Retreat, hopes to serve in that group if the bill, S.114, passes.

"I've been following the research on psychedelics closely for a number of years," White said. "I was initially a skeptic, and someone who was professionally trained to think of 'drugs' as all quite similar to one another - especially with respect to their harm and addictive potential."

But after following the research in the U.S. and in Europe, White has changed his outlook.

"I've come to be quite confident that these drugs - entheogens, psychedelics - are not only quite safe for most people, but have enormous potential to many people who are suffering in a variety of ways," he said.

He cautioned that psychedelic drugs are "not for everyone and not theanswer to everything - and wholly not without some risks."

But, he added, "these substances, used in a healing context, are far, far safer than even commonly and widely used substances such as alcohol."

"The way I see it," said Alderfer, "it's a wave that keeps growing whether the government supports it or not."

"The evidence and benefits of microdosing are so great," she said. "I know 10 years from now it's going to look so completely different. We're just at the cusp of all this change."

She believes the "stigma around microdosing" will change.

"People are seeing the benefits - physical, emotional, spiritual, cognitive well-being - and more focus, more endurance, the ability to stay with a task much longer," she said.

"Even with athletes, they're seeing it pays off. Golf Digest just had a spread on microdosing a little while ago. It's really becoming normalized; people are looking at it differently. The younger generation already normalizes it much more than my generation. Emotionally, we see that it's being used for anxiety."

"Lastly, the spiritual piece: It yields a deeper connection to one's self, to people around them; people tend to get out more in nature - feel more connected to our natural world," Alderfer said.

"I'm not here to say everyone should microdose," Alderfer said. "It's not a panacea, but if it's a good match, it can really help."

As people access such substances ("in this case, psilocybin"), she believes that decriminalizing them can "bring about more information, education,and [potential] harm reduction."

She adds that one would not macrodose psilocybin every week.

"But you can microdose pretty much on a regular basis, so you're going to keep building those neural connections in a soft, gentle, subtle way [...] without any side effects," Alderfer said. "With microdosing you function completely normally through your normal day."

She notes the need for the microdoser to start slowly to find the sweet spot - the right balance - and to take breaks between cycles.

Setting intentions

In addition to Alderfer's talks and book signing on April 28, she says, "We're going to set up interactive stations where people can do different activities. We'll invite people to color beautiful illustrations, all with the metaphor of a garden."

The event on April 28 will also include "a brief sound bath demo" as well as a question-and-answer session.

As for the book launch, "We looked at it as an opportunity to collaborate so people get to know that [new] space is there," Alderfer said.

Another station will focus on intention setting - "the key to microdosing mindfully," she said.

"With mindfulness or microdosing, you start with an intention and then that's basically like the nutrition or fertilizer for your garden," Alderfer said.

"You don't know what's going to happen, but you watch the miracle as things start to grow while some things fade away like the weeds," she continued. "These are the things we no longer need."

Mindful Microdosing can be purchased online and at the Byway Books event on April 28, for which pre-registration is offered at

This Arts item by Annie Landenberger was written for The Commons.

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