When seeking altered states of consciousness, psychedelics often come to mind. However, there are non-pharmacological alternatives that can lead to transformative experiences, offering relief to those suffering from symptoms of depression, anxiety, trauma, and other mental health conditions. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the more common ways you can naturally induce an altered state of consciousness free from psychopharmaceuticals.
Holotropic breathwork (HB) is a technique that involves regulating and speeding up breathing patterns to influence your physical, mental, and emotional states. It has gained popularity among individuals looking to learn about a unique self-healing method to achieve a state of wholeness. Psychiatrists Stanislav and Christina Grof created this unconventional technique in the 1970s to induce altered states of consciousness (without psychedelics) as a potential therapeutic aid. Holotropic breathwork is a spiritual practice for advancing to greater awareness. Others employ the technique as a mental health tool, often achieving an awakening that becomes a type of catharsis.
Sensory deprivation is a practice that reduces external stimuli to facilitate altered states of consciousness. John C. Lilly’s isolation tanks are a popular approach to sensory deprivation, promoting relaxation, heightened awareness, time distortion, and even hallucinations. Sensory deprivation tanks, and the weightlessness sensation that comes with float therapy, create a sense of detachment from the world. In essence, it fosters a space in which you are not even bound by the rules of gravity. Sensory deprivation chambers have been found to lessen stress and relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression. Studies also reveal that those who utilize sensory deprivation tanks for float therapy express higher levels of optimism, which can improve creativity, focus, and even athletic performance.
Indigenous cultures have long used chanting and rhythmic drumming to induce altered states of consciousness. In modern times, sound healing practices like “sound baths” offer profound relaxation and visual experiences, and some may achieve a loss of time and space perception. Sound therapy targets the cerebellum, an area near the brainstem that controls many autonomic functions and sensory-motor integration. Studies suggest high-frequency sounds stimulate increased neuron firing, creating new inter-neuronal connections and promoting personal growth and transformation.
Hypnotherapy uses hypnosis to shift awareness to the subconscious mind, helping relaxation of the body, a reduced focus on external stimuli, and detachment from your surroundings. Studies have shown that hypnosis can effectively treat conditions like depression, anxiety, and emotional stress, and is highly effective in forming new habits. Self-hypnosis, similar to meditation, also allows individuals to condition their minds toward specific goals. It provides a powerful tool for changing habits and addressing life struggles. While there is less research on self-hypnosis, it is believed to work like hypnotherapy. The brain enters a unique state where your attention is narrowly focused, and your level of awareness of things outside of yourself is diminished.
Altered States of Consciousness at Nushama
Achieving altered states of consciousness can be accomplished through various methods, both pharmacological and non-pharmacological. While psychedelics are often the go-to option, non-pharmacological alternatives can also offer transformative experiences without psychopharmaceuticals. These holistic techniques, including the implementation of integration therapy, form an integral part of our ketamine-assisted therapy treatment program. Moreover, the role of integration, incorporating the various techniques discussed in this post, is needed for optimal results.
The pursuit of altered states of consciousness at Nushama encompasses an approach combining pharmacological and non-pharmacological methods to provide relief and facilitate personal transformation. Through these practices, individuals can achieve personal growth, promote new inter-neuronal connections, and address conditions like depression, anxiety, trauma, alcohol use disorders, and more.