TLDR: Altered states of consciousness are changes in the way we perceive reality. They can be induced naturally within the body or through external sources. Examples of endogenous altered states include sleep, meditation, and prayer. Exogenous altered states can be induced through drug use, sensory deprivation, and sleep deprivation. There are various methods for naturally shifting consciousness, including breath work, yoga, drumming, and guided visualizations. The Limitless Guided Visualizations app can help people achieve ASCs. Approach altered states with an open mind and utilize harm reduction techniques. Meanwhile, animals seek ASCs through the consumption of psychoactive plants and sensory deprivation.
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What is an Altered State?
Altered states of consciousness, (ASCs) is simply a change in your mental state. Both external and internal factors can change the normal functioning of the brain and consciousness. In other words, an altered state is a shift in the way we perceive reality and our surroundings. These states can range from mild to extreme and can be either temporary or long-lasting.
Endogenous vs. Exogenous
Altered states of consciousness can be either endogenous or exogenous. Endogenous means originating or being produced from within. Endogenous altered states are naturally occurring within the body, such as sleep, dreams, and meditation. Exogenous means originating or coming from outside. Exogenous altered states are induced by external sources, such as drugs, sensory deprivation, and certain activities or practices.
Examples of Exogenous Altered States
There are many ways to achieve an exogenous altered state of consciousness. Some common examples include:
Certainly, both legal and illegal drugs have the ability to alter consciousness. This includes alcohol, cannabis, psychedelics, and prescription medications.
Depriving the senses of stimuli, such as through the use of a sensory deprivation tank, can lead to altered states.
Lack of sleep can lead to an ASC, characterized by fatigue and impaired cognitive functioning.
Examples of Endogenous Altered States
Various practices and activities can naturally induce endogenous altered states of consciousness within the body. Some examples include:
The brain goes through various stages of activity during sleep, including rapid eye movement (REM). REM sleep is characterized by vivid dreams and increased brain activity.
Meditation is a practice that involves focusing the mind on a single object, thought, or activity to achieve a state of relaxation and heightened awareness.
For some people, prayer can be a form of meditation that leads to an altered state of consciousness.
Undoubtedly, some people who have had near-death experiences (NDE) report an ASC. NDEs are often noted to feel like a sense of peace and clarity, as well as a feeling of being outside of one’s body.
Ways to Naturally Shift Your Consciousness
There are many ways to naturally shift your consciousness and achieve an altered state. Some of the most common methods include:
Focusing on the breath and controlling the rate and depth of inhalation and exhalation can lead to a state of relaxation and altered consciousness.
The repetitive beat of drumming can induce a trance-like state, leading to altered consciousness.
Using the Limitless Guided Visualizations app can help you shift your consciousness by guiding you through visualization exercises.
What Altered States to Expect From Limitless
There are several altered states of consciousness that you may experience while using the Limitless Guided Visualizations app and practicing improving your metacognition. These shifts can range from feeling relaxed and peaceful to feeling more energized and focused. Some people may experience a sense of clarity or insight, while others may feel more emotionally connected or self-aware. Everyone’s experience with ASCs will be unique and may vary from session to session. The key is to be open to the experience and allow yourself to fully immerse in the visualization without judgment or expectation. By approaching the experience with an open mind and a willingness to let go, you may find that you are more receptive to the benefits and able to achieve a deeper level of healing and growth.
Animals Seek Altered States Too!
By the way, it’s not just humans who seek out ASCs – animals do too! Did you know that some species of birds and mammals will intentionally consume psychoactive plants for the purpose of inducing an altered state? Many animals, including cats and dogs, will instinctively seek out sensory deprivation through hiding or burying themselves in small, enclosed spaces. This behavior may be a way for them to relax and escape the stresses of their environment.
The point? The desire to seek out ASCs is natural. There should not be any shame or stigma associated with the desire to explore different states of consciousness. Meanwhile, it’s also important to be mindful of the responsibility, potential risks, and dangers that come along with certain methods.
Why Do Humans Seek This Shift?
Undoubtedly, there are many reasons why humans seek this shift in consciousness. Some people may be seeking a temporary escape from the stress and challenges of daily life, while others may be seeking a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them. Altered states of consciousness can also provide a sense of relaxation and clarity, and can offer a unique perspective on reality. Additionally, some individuals may be drawn to the altered states of consciousness that are induced by psychoactive substances due to the feelings of pleasure or euphoria that they can produce. Ultimately, the motivations for seeking altered states of consciousness can vary widely and may be influenced by a combination of personal, cultural, and societal factors.
Why Do You Seek Altered States?
Whether induced naturally or through outside means, ASCs can offer a range of benefits. Some positive things people experience through ASCs are clarity and a unique perspective on reality. These states can provide a temporary escape from the ordinary functioning of the mind. Ultimately, the experience of ASCs can be a valuable tool for self-exploration and personal growth.
The Limitless Guided Visualizations app is a cognitive harm reduction tool that can help people to safely explore their mind. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any conditions. While Limitless can be a useful tool, it is not a substitute for professional medical care. Utilizing harm reduction techniques is crucial. Have a sober sitter, test your substances, be mindful of your setting, etc. This article is not intended to suggest treatment or diagnose any conditions. Readers should consult a medical professional for any medical concerns.
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We used Chat GPT-3 to write this article. Chat GPT-3 generated the draft language, and the authors reviewed and revised it. Limitless accepts full responsibility for this content.