psychonauts, advise please!
January 3, 2009 10:15 PM   Subscribe

Calling all psychonauts! Are their any great ways to alter you state of consciousness for any duration(longer than seconds like spinning to get dizzy) that aren't the standard illegal drugs?

I don't mean lifestyle choices really, like yoga or whatnot. I have had some success with homemade ganzfield goggles combined with binaural beats, but not too much with just light and sound machines like dream machines.. I have also had some success with non-illegal substances like phenibut and kratom(not illegal in the us, at least).
Are their effective novel other keys to unusual states of mind? Any that would knock my socks thru my shoes? I remember years ago being told about some kind of hyperventilating breathing that Stanislav Grof was working with, and vaguely remember some breathing device that Tim Leary was connected to(at least in the advertisement of) that had you breathe into a straw and look at some disc, or something strange like that, but I can't for the life of me remember what is was enough to hunt it down online, or to find out if was worthwhile at all.
posted by donabean to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (35 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Fasting was one of the standards that many cultures used.
posted by slavlin at 10:23 PM on January 3, 2009

There is the vast collection of legal pharmaceuticals that do this. Although using them purely for fun/experimentation might be illegal.
posted by pseudonick at 10:32 PM on January 3, 2009

How about carbogen? Never tried it; have always wanted to.

Nitrous oxide? If you mix it with some oxygen, you can stay quite high without any real side effects--nitrous is only dangerous when you allow yourself to suffocate on it. Even just oxygen will get you happy and grinning.

Nutmeg (in sufficient quantities) is psychoactive (through myristic acid), but I wouldn't call it enjoyable. More like being stuck in what feels like a boring, undecorated Tim Burton movie for two days--although it doesn't look any different from normal.

Salvia divinorum? Doesn't last much longer than dizziness, though. Definitely strong though.

Tobacco, despite what many folks think, is psychoactive in a noticeable way. Not much more interesting than a buzz, though.

Datura is very powerful and very deep. But it induces delirium more than hallucination, as you're literally unable to distinguish the real from the unreal. I once called my dad to apologize for calling and rambling at him for two hours while all fucked up, and that I was sorry I'd made him talk about all that weird shit. He told me I'd never called him and laughed at me.
posted by Netzapper at 10:44 PM on January 3, 2009

Yeah, I remember the breath-powered strobe mask. It definitely produced an altered state. Haven't seen one for twenty years or so.
posted by telstar at 10:46 PM on January 3, 2009

Oh, also kava. But, the effects aren't apparently much different from alcohol.

Have a look at the plants offered by these people. I'm not endorsing their store, mind you. Only that they seem to have a fairly inclusive list of US-legal entheogenic plants.
posted by Netzapper at 10:52 PM on January 3, 2009

dietary modification - try eating only fresh fruit, veges and nuts and drinking only water and fruit juices then dancing for a couple of hours.
posted by Nooster at 10:54 PM on January 3, 2009

Sleep deprivation?

Just have a sober party monitor around so you don't overdose and die.
posted by davidstandaford at 11:05 PM on January 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

beer....makes all the women beautiful...
posted by Confess, Fletch at 11:10 PM on January 3, 2009

Strong cheese (like Stilton) just before bed? Link. Personal experience gives this a thumbs up in agreement. Plus, cheese is yummy.
posted by The otter lady at 11:29 PM on January 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Have you looked into meditation classes? It's certainly not the instantaneous state change of a bong rip of Salvia, but with the right instructor you can certainly achieve profound mental state changes.
posted by JimmyJames at 11:52 PM on January 3, 2009

Datura dosing is critical: even if you get it right, you need a sitter. Dont believe me? Horror stories abound. Story 1 on that page is enought to convince me I aint playing that game alone
posted by lalochezia at 12:01 AM on January 4, 2009

If you stay awake long enough shit gets really weird. I've been so sleep deprived (due to being on call at work) that I started momentarily seeing people and things that weren't there. A friend of mine in college decided he was so busy he would just stay awake all week and by about the 4th day he was completely delusional and talking to plants that he thought were magical elfs or something.

This is why emergency room doctors scare the shit out of me btw.
posted by fshgrl at 12:11 AM on January 4, 2009

This wikipedia page might be useful. You could also try a sensory deprivation tank.
posted by euphorb at 12:23 AM on January 4, 2009

Wearing a nicotine patch while you sleep will usually produce extremely vivid dreams.

Not particularly healthy, though, I'd imagine.

Sensory deprivation chambers or isolation tanks also come to mind, although I've never tried them.
posted by kprincehouse at 12:27 AM on January 4, 2009

I fail at preview.
posted by kprincehouse at 12:28 AM on January 4, 2009

Have you seen the Simpsons movie? There's a Native American throat singing which can make your hallucinate.
posted by big open mouth at 1:22 AM on January 4, 2009

posted by mjao at 2:59 AM on January 4, 2009

Nthing sleep deprivation. My best friend was put through serious sleep deprivation as part of a really hardcore military training course. By the end of it, she was hallucinating about dancing goblins. No, really, dancing goblins. And gnomes. Took her about a week of TLC for her to get back to normal, though the goblins were kinda the least of it, if you catch my drift.
posted by Grrlscout at 3:20 AM on January 4, 2009

get yourself an hour in a sensory deprivation chamber. should do the trick.
posted by gonzo_ID at 4:01 AM on January 4, 2009

Damn you, askmefi! *shakes fist* Here I was, being all Stalwart and Sober Citizens Brigade, and your question got me reliving old times and checking out Erowid! Lots there, if you haven't seen it already...

If you're trying to do this without drugs but with other cues (sound, rhythm, breathing, movement, sleep or lack thereof), I'd think about a sweat lodge. I have no idea where you are, but I'd bet that there's one near you. I've been in a sweat lodge outside of Dublin, Ireland, so yeah I'm really not kidding about the idea of finding one anywhere. Get in touch with a local drumming circle. Or your local new age emporium and ask them if there's someone they'd recommend to you for vision questing. Sweat lodges can be really intense, if they're done correctly. And yeah, you'll see and experience some pretty mindblowing things in a proper sweat lodge. Dehydration, intense heat & repetitive drumming for, oh, 10 hrs straight just speed up what sleep deprivation would do in days.
posted by Grrlscout at 4:55 AM on January 4, 2009

you're talking about holotropic breathwork. my one experience with it is that it does, indeed, alter your consciousness & does so much better than a sensory deprivation tank. my understanding is that graf was searching for a legal way to mimic the psycho-effects of lsd after its use was banned. i wouldn't recommend trying it on your own (although your homemade ganzfield goggles combined with binaural beats would be a bit of a start on it), but i'd think you would be able to find facilitated sessions through the association for holotropic breathwork international.

i had some very weird experiences with tetany, which is a cramping sometimes attendant to the experience.

i'd like to add that it was a very, very cool thing to do. if it was more easily available, i'd probably have done it at least a half dozen times by now. individual experiences with it vary greatly, though. my partner/sitter got nothing out of it, and i felt that while it was definitely unlike anything i'd ever experienced (i tried lsd a half dozen times & various other hallucinogenics over the years & did NOT like them) that i didn't quite get to the place i could have gone (if that makes any sense).

good luck with it. if you find a facilitator & end up doing a session or two, drop me a memail & let me know how it goes.
posted by msconduct at 7:03 AM on January 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

Why not just go for a natural high?

Go bungee jumping, get involved in a high speed chase, do public speaking, or try prostate stimulation.

You can get those squirts of adrenaline and dopamine without putting substances (which may harm your health) into your body.
posted by sixcolors at 7:07 AM on January 4, 2009

Haven't tried Holotropic Breathwork (Grof's technique), but Rebirthing is apparently similar, and it's definitely the simplest, diy, nothing-else-needed path to an altered state I've ever experienced.

Forcing yourself to over-breathe long enough (10-15 minutes?) to get the heightened experience is enough of a chore that having a guide/encourager (i.e., a Rebirther) around is a big help the first few times, but once you get the idea, you can definitely do it on your own.

The main things the guide does are to keep you at it through the tendency to space out (i.e., get overwhelmed by the increasing force of your internal dialog) and forget to breathe as you're getting there ("there" meaning the point at which your breathing efforts suddenly become effortless and begin to feel unnecessary, and your mental/emotional focus sort of tops out), and then to interact with you once you're there, which makes sense if you're doing this with any kind of therapeutic goal. It does tend to lead to emotionally cathartic experiences more so than to simple peak ones, but the aftermath in either case is usually quite exhilarating.
posted by dpcoffin at 8:05 AM on January 4, 2009

Listening to Boards of Canada can do it for me.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:25 AM on January 4, 2009

train yourself to lucid dream,it seems way safer than any of the things suggested here!
posted by spacefire at 8:31 AM on January 4, 2009

Hypnosis/NLP can bring on hallucinations and ecstatic states in the right circumstances.
posted by medea42 at 9:38 AM on January 4, 2009

A meal of Rytak pure rye crackers (I generally ate them with cheese, interestingly in light of The otter lady's comment) at night has given me almost full-scale LSD flashbacks (albeit mimicking a very low dose) the next day on multiple occasions. It took me a couple of years to realize what was going on (LSD was originally prepared from extracts of ergot, a fungus which preferentially infects rye).
posted by jamjam at 9:40 AM on January 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

Search for "legal highs".
posted by nihraguk at 11:39 AM on January 4, 2009

Salvia and sleep deprivation, hands down. On salvia, I did not know I was on salvia. That should say enough about its effects, I think. Sleep dep is stronger than any amount of the standard hallucinogens and some research chems I've tried. Salvia though? A different realm- seriously.

(sleep dep is free, and easily accessible!)
posted by sunshinesky at 1:08 PM on January 4, 2009

On salvia, I did not know I was on salvia.

No offense, but I think you were doing it wrong. Salvia is quite powerful as evidenced by reports all over the internet (and by my own personal experience).
posted by !Jim at 1:58 PM on January 4, 2009

Response by poster: salvia freaked me out in a most horrible way-but yup, no doubt it works.I blank it from my list as an effective altered state producer, i think , because it was such a negative experience(for me and my sitter). the rye crackers and stilton cheese are tops for novelty and deliciousness!
really glad to know the name of holotropic breathing, and the info explaining it. sleep deprivation seems like getting a horrible fever, dangerous and effective, but not so useful. What ways are self hypnosis used to cause extended altered states that last longer than the self hypnosis trance, anyone? I've been trying to cause lucid dreams for years, seriously , using steven laberge's methods, and dammit! it won't happen for me.
Thanks for all the great suggestions so far!
posted by donabean at 2:43 PM on January 4, 2009

Burgmansia, (devil's weed/angel's trumpet) is an insanely poisonous plant. It is almost impossible to create a quantifiable dose. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for exploring inner space, but some things are just stupidly dangerous. Burgmansia is one of those things.

"Herbal blends" meant to mimic weed...almost universally useless and generally a pretty harsh and unpleasant smoke too. that stuff, but be aware that over-use can lead to liver damage. (It would take a lot of it.) Also, the tinctures are worthless. Get fresh ground root if at all possible. Alternately, there's some products that are like honey, and chocolate and other products with the consistency of honey butter. Those are yummy.

Kratom: After I got my braces, I made an extract of dried leaves, and then used the extract, some peppermint essential oil and some other ingredients to make chewing gum...made the pain of braces significantly better. The leaves are similar to raw coca leaves, in that it has a lot of numbing properties, but in leaf form, I'm not sure it's terribly psychoactive. Kratom has a long history of use, and dosage is pretty easy to figure out. However, there's a lot of crap on the market purporting to be Kratom, and it isn't. I got mine from a friend who was in Indonesia.

All that said: I've purchased other things from, and run them through the spectrometer, and everything they've sold me has lab tested to be what they said it was. That's no guarantee, and I'm not affiliated with them, so your mileage may vary.

The very real problem with buying from vendors who are selling "legal highs" is that they are well aware of the fact that their target demographic isn't going to complain, or report them when they sell crap. And the market is so big, because so many people would very much like to be high without crawling into a booze bottle, that they don't need or care about return customers.

This, my friends, is just one more reason why the drug war is insane.
posted by dejah420 at 5:19 PM on January 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

!Jim you don't seem to get what I'm saying- that salvia was so strong I no longer knew I was high. I thought I had crossed over to some other universe, peeled up from under my own. I was most certainly 'doing it right'.
posted by sunshinesky at 6:06 PM on January 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have friends who are seriously into 'legal highs' because they want to get high but don't want to run amok of law enforcement. According to them blends like 'Spice Gold' and 'Yucatan Fire' definitely have strong, noticeable effects. Apparently there are online forums dedicated to discussing this sort of thing and exchanging personal accounts/testimonials; you might want to check them out for more information if you're interested.

Personally, quality alcohol and awesome music do it for me.
posted by nihraguk at 1:50 AM on January 5, 2009

sunshinesky: Ahh, my mistake.
posted by !Jim at 11:54 AM on January 6, 2009

« Older I can haz Xzibit?   |   Step Up and Give 110% Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.