Technological / Artificial Ways
to Affect States of Consciousness
By: Mark Bancroft, MA
A variety of technological devices have been developed to quickly and easily produce an altered state of consciousness. The want for rapid results with the least amount of effort is indicative of our society. Therefore, technological altered state devices have become fairly popular even though the same effects can be achieved through meditation and self-hypnosis.
One of the more popular devices is based upon the concept of entrainment through brain-wave synchronization. Flashing red LED's mounted to a pair dark glasses are worn with the eyes closed. The LEDs pulsate at the frequency corresponding to the CPS of discrete brain-wave states (beta, alpha, theta). Typically, rapid pulsations "entrained" with the beta state are experienced for the first few minutes. As time elapses the LED flash rate slows to resemble alpha and/or theta patterns. The theory is that the brain, through entrainment, will mirror the LED cycle causing a person to enter into the desired altered state. In practice the device does appear to enhance the user's ability to experience deep relaxation; yet only during its initial use. Within twenty sessions the device typically becomes an annoyance. This could indicate that the device can help "teach" people how to enter an altered state, and that its continued use may then become a distraction.
A second technological device aimed to produce an altered state is the Alphatronic, developed by Lowell Boke. This device emits a 9-volt electrical charge through a pair of headphones. The headphones are worn behind the ears with the aid of electro-surgical gel. An altered state is believed to result by having an electrical charge stimulate the mastoid bone. Though not as common as the previous device the alphatronic demonstrates the variety of ways people seek to quickly and easily experience altered states of consciousness.
Mark Bancroft, MA, CHT
Nevada City, CA