Psychonautics ABC

I was just reading an excellent article by fellow substack essayist Sol Luckman on “cults”, when I saw he used the word “psychonaut” in it.

My article today is not about cults, but about the ins and outs of being “psychonauts”, and one of the best protocols I have found to enter altered states of consciousness, which also happens to be drug-free.

Sol’s article on the topic of cults is great, by the way, and if you are interested in that topic, I would encourage you to go over and give it a read. The name of his article (chapter one of a book about it) is: Be Mindful While Cultivating Your Interests That You Don’t Find Yourself in a CULT.

Going back to the word “psychonaut”; it really pulled my attention as I have not heard this word for many, many years.  The word psychonaut refers to someone who explores the nature of reality by entering altered states of consciousness.

I used to absolutely love that word and the concept behind it. I think that it describes a great interest shared by many of the people I know.

A quick internet search showed that the word made its appearance in the 1950s. This did not surprise me as the exploration of the mind, altered states of awareness, meditation and use of psychedelics and herbs to induce altered perceptions took off in the West in a big way at that time.

The word itself is made up of two ancient Greek words: psychē ‘soul, spirit, mind’ and ναύτης naútēs ‘sailor, voyager’.

Exploring the human condition, and reality itself, through contemplation, meditation, shamanic practices and mind altering substances is still popular to this day. However, at some point in the mid to late 60s, it turned from “exploring our reality and the human condition”, to “exploring my reality and my life”.

Sad, to say the least, that such practices would be turned to the singular, when it is the singular focus that limits our perception of the true Universe.

It is no secret that I encourage people to stay away from mind altering drugs. After decades observing people use them, I can say that the results in life improvement are few, if any at all. Especially by chronic users of these substances. The methodology and services around them are not generally reliable. For example, if you puke during an Ayahuasca experience, it means it wasn’t done right. To do it right, it takes months to prepare the body, mind and herbs. It’s not about flying to Peru, doing a few meditations with a shaman and puking for three days, then coming home after “fighting your shadows”.

I digress. 

Anyway, complaints aside, being a psychonaut is extremely interesting. Today I want to share my most favorite, effective, and drug free method of quickly and easily going into an expansive altered state of awareness. I learned this in a book many years ago. Unfortunately I don’t remember the book, but I do remember that the method was credited to Thomas Edison.

Basically, you need to make sure to have no more than four hours of sleep at night so you will quickly be able to take naps during the day. 

During the day, sit up on a comfortable chair with armrests. Make sure your hands are hanging over the armrests and are holding marbles or metal balls (something that will make sounds), and place cookie sheets under them on the floor.

As you nod-off (start to go to sleep), your hands will drop the balls or marbles, and the sound they make when they hit the cookie sheet, wakes you up. Write down everything that is still fresh in your mind from that half awake state.

You can also set yourself a question or statement, such as “I want to see the physical universe correctly perceived”, and then close your eyes and sit back on the chair. When the marbles’ noise wakes you up, record whatever it is you remember as you come back to “reality”.

Rinse and repeat. Give yourself a month for this. Obviously, take longer sleep periods when you need them during the night, to keep you healthy. My suggestion would be to start with one day per week, and build up to about 4 days out of 7 if your work schedule and lifestyle allows it.

I look forward to hearing of your results!

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