I attempted to initiate something called a "ganzfeld effect" yesterday. What it does essentially is block out incoming sensory signals to the brain and the brain is left to "fill in the gaps" with whatever it can. It almost induces a kind of waking dream state. The brain's encephalogram (EEG, or electrical recording of its activity) changes during this so-called "effect".
So, to do this, I followed the directions. Yes. There are directions for the do-it-yourselfers out there like moi. I halved ping pong balls and put them over my eyes to eliminate all vision. The point is to keep the eyes open and only see white. Much like the explorers in the North Pole who got lost and experienced snow blindness or "white outs". They had no vision input, so their vision cortex filled in the gaps. I'm so intrigued by this idea. It is what is experienced by some people with macular degeneration. Anyway, I placed the halved ping pong balls on my eyes. Bye bye visual stimuli.
Next, I put on my ear phones and turned up the volume so I couldn't hear anything else. The doors and windows were shut and I separated the dogs so there wouldn't be any barking. The sound I was hearing was recorded rainfall, which, when played loudly, sounds like static...lots and lots of static.
This next point is where I may have screwed up. I should have laid down on the bed with the temperature at the exact same as my skin temp. I didn't. I continued to rock in my chair. But, given my neural wiring, I chose to rock because that's how I numb-out. There are some out there who may understand that. What laying quiet does for some people, rocking does for me. I'm wired differently.
Anyway, the "rain" is pre-recorded to last for 30 minutes. Perfect. I sat there, seeing white, hearing nothing but "static" for 30 minutes. It was very interesting. I couldn't do it for more than 20 minutes, however. That's about how long I lasted. It's very challenging to quiet one's mind. Interesting, stupid and weird things popped up. I've learned and practiced transcendental meditation (TM) long enough to know that those thoughts are significant but they need to just float away. But they were odd! Snippets of theme songs, familiar faces, a lingering and powerful dream, etc. Also, towards the end of the 20 minutes, I needed to blink to make sure my eyes were open, which is an odd experience.
Anyway, I'm going to try it again today. Oh yea...time off for me can be had for better or worse. I've discovered the empiricist side of myself...and the jury's out on if that's a good thing or not...
Further updates forthcoming...